The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws,
changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
—Isa. 24.5

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A Collection of Notes

On Augustine’s Of True Religion.

Shared for the sake of other readers, or those who might find the references of useful service.

By Jeremy T. Kerr.


Of True Religion

De Vera Religione

From Library of Christian Classics, Volume VI.

Finished reading 2014.11.16.

Read because of references in William Perkins.

Overall conclusion: much wisdom, many interesting ideas, but a great balance of the religious discussion was of a very philosophical type. So the work amounts to something of a disappointment in light of the name. If it had been titled "Of True Philosophy" a religious person would not say that it was a disappointment, but a philosophical person might, considering what he would consider to be missing. Perhaps the title, "The Philosophy of True Religion" or "The True Philosopher's Religion" might have best identified the content.

--------- Notes ------------

[ First few sections deal with advantages of Christianity over the ancient philosophers (Socrates and Plato); and what the philosophers might have thought or said if they had seen the displacement of paganism by Christianity. ]

Sect/ParaNote / Info
5/8Those whose doctrine we do not approve do not share in our sacramental rites.
5/9Ophites and Manichaeans have different religious rites than us
5/9Photinians and Arians have more similar rites
5/9Some carried off by wind of pride and separated of their own accord
6/10The Catholic Church Described
6/11Good men driven from congregation of Christ, described *****
7/12Even Heretics must refer to us as the "Catholic Church"
10/20Presumes to define what *kind* of men God helps and to require pupil to believe what is doubtful until the Church determines otherwise
11/21All existence as such is good
11/22Death no creature of God - contrasted with life & existence
12/23"Bodily Grief" and "Spiritual Grief" Defined (p 236)
12/25The body lives by the soul and the soul lives by the immutable truth
13/26God alone is immutable -> Angels are mutable
14/27Sin is a voluntary evil and is no sin if not voluntary
Souls have "free choice in willing" (when they sin)
God considers it better for men to serve him freely, not by necessity
14/28The angels serve God freely, which is for their advantage
14/28"Movements of the soul are affections, depending on the will"
15/29"The beauty of Justice is in complete accord with the Grace of loving kindness"
16/30God heals souls using means suitable to the times ordered by his wisdom
16/30When he became a man born of a woman, he showed that the creator of sex did not despise sex
16/31Christ refused to acknowledge his mother when speaking as God
Bible Method of Teaching "fulfills the rule of all rational discipline"
17/33OT & NT adapted to "complete instruction & exercise of soul"
OT observances now set aside [are] still for teaching: Compare W. Lyford.
17/34"Divine Providence remains entirely without change, but comes to the aid of mutable creatures in various ways..."
18/35"That out of which God created all things had neither form nor species, and was simply nothing."
18/36Formable matter and potential existence come from God
19/37All things are good which have vice opposed to them

[ Notes page 1-V ]

20/38There is a good which is sinful for the rational soul to love because it belongs to a lower order of being
20/38"The sin is evil, not the substance that is sinfully loved"
Example of an iron style used for writing: misuse does not make evil
20/39Light seen by the mind to be worshipped, not light seen with eyes
Man still entangled with lust of eye, even when he deceives himself otherwise
20/40"It is very easy to execrate the flesh, but very difficult not to be carnally minded
22/42The beauty of poetry
22/43The beauty of History
23/44Created universe without fault because of these three: (1) Condemnation of sinners, (2) Proving of the Just, (3) The perfecting of the blessed.
Two different treatments used upon the soul in stages: authority and reason
24/46To whom human faith should be given in temporal matters / history
26/48Several stages of man's life in the body described
26/49Several stages or ages of the new man described
28/51Public instruction must be seasonable; some things reserved to the few ready for stranger meat; but none should be taught lies
29/52"Any living substance is... to be preferred to any inanimate substance"
29/53Animals may be able with better senses to perceive objects, but rational beings can judge of objects and senses too, which is yet better
30/54Speculations about art and beauty
Ability to judge works produced is better than ability to produce works
Symmetry gives pleasure, preserves unity, and beautifies whole
30/56Equality and squareness are absolute standards seen by the mind
30/56But the mind can err :There4: Standard of Truth is higher than our minds
God above rational mind: primal life, primal essence, primal wisdom
31/57The soul is excelled by the nature according to which it judges
31/58Even the Father does not judge the Truth, but judges by means of the Truth
31/58Why all judgment has been given to the Son
31/58Temporal Laws: Judges may not judge them but judge according to them
32/59Are things beautiful because they give pleasure? or give pleasure because they beautiful?
32/60True Unity is nowhere present spatially, but its potency is nowhere absent
33/61Corporeal things appear to have unity which they do not
33/61Every deceiver has the will to deceive, whether he is believed or not
* Implication of 33/61: There are no atoms - All substances break down into sub-components infinitesimally ****
33/62Vanity of those who would know carnal things and see spiritual things with the mind (*)
34/62Every corporeal thing is a true body but a false unity
34/64The man who truly sees unity knows that the Rome, the Sun, the friend he contemplates in his imagination is false
(*) Above from 33/62 is effectively a rebuke to all Image Worship

[ Notes page 2-R ]

35/65Seek stillness and rest of thought free from space, time, & material things
36/66That which has perfect likeness & identity with Unity is Truth, the Word
36/67Those deceived by objects love the works of artificer more than the artificer and more than his art
37/68Loving & Serving the creature: The soul, the Sun, the World - Pantheism
Others follow Superstition, or turn Atheist and think they worship nothing
But all atheists are still slaves of their desires, following pleasures, curiosity, or pride
38/71 Threefold temptation of Christ teaches us to resist all these
38/71Casting Down from pinnacle of Temple would be curious seeking of remarkable experience (Like Sky Diving, Bungee Jumping)
39/72Agreeable things beget pleasure, and God is the greatest agreeableness
Inward man should seek to agree with indwelling truth --> Spiritual Pleasure
39/73Directions on how to conclude Truth exists from our doubts
40/74Summary of Common functions of Life: Nourishment, Reproduction
40/75The beauty of the Human form is not evil
40/75The Role of Devils and evil men in God's Providence
40/76The Beauty of the Universe & Divine Providence: Consider Whole, Not Parts
41/77Rom. 13.2 quoted "All order is of God"
41/77Praise and admiration of the worm
41/77There is beauty in the body of man even when under penalty & unhappy
41/78Being is better than nothingness, but nothing good if it can be better
41/78Augustine's Thoughts about women
42/79"The law of Numbers" described as fixed into nature traces of number found in fleshly pleasure rhythm in succession in sounds of animals without reason [but] having sense
(-) All [discussion of "number"] very difficult to comprehend
43/80The world is beautiful not because of its size but because of the reason in it
43/80Time and space can be infinitely sub-divided
43/80Things of space and time not beautiful by size but by ordered fitness
43/81The mode or rule of order described: changeless, identified with the Son
44/82What it is for rational creatures to be made in the likeness of God and what benefits the soul has thereby
45/83Man's inability to control & moderate himself deprives him of happiness (83-85)
46/86He who has overcome his vices cannot be overcome of man either
46/87Rule of Love to Neighbour: wish them to have all the good things we want for ourselves and wish no evil to him we want to avoid
46/87These who serve this Law are free and cannot be conquered
46/88Skillful speculation leads Augustine astray about the importance and propriety of loving natural relations compared to men in general
Loving our Real Self is not loving body or natural relations
46/89All are brothers who have one heavenly Father who calls by one Testament

[ Notes page 2-V ]

47/90Envy's opposition to true love - Good for self-examination
47/90We should love our neighbours as ourselves but cleave to God alone
  We do not cleave to God to merit something else but to be happy in him
47/91How we ought to make use of all types of people
  - Questionable: Implies that we ought to love all friends equally
Qualities of a man who cannot be hurt or subdued: rejoices in Tribulation
47/92How to know when we are taken captive by mutable goods
If we love liberty we should seek to be free from the love of mutable things
48/93One who delights to rule should submissively cleave to God
48/93We must hate what we are, to become what we desire to be
49/94All want Truth and joy in knowledge: Examples from juggler / magician
49/95How we all confess truth [is] better than falsehood but pursue falsehood
49/95 * (Against Theater) "a matter of fun and games"
49/96The speculative ideas some have about God
49/96"Believing is one thing and knowing another"
49/97God's light makes us rightly understand the light of the mind
49/97* Explanation of Eternity: No Duration
50/98We should be thankful God delivered us from vanity and games in mercy
50/99Several questions about allegorizing, interpretting, applying Scriptures or History
Divine providence has spoken to us by human rational & corporeal creatures
50/99Scripture figurative language acknowledged about spiritual things
51/100We should set aside theatrical and poetic trifling for Scripture as our food & drink
The things of which we are judges remind us to look to the standard by which we judge
52/101Rom. 1:20: Invisible things understood by the things which are made
52/101Certain knowledge requires knowledge of eternal things which do not change
Hell: No reasoning, No shining of the light that lighteth every man (John 1.9) No Confession
53/102Men prefer their endeavors to the ends of their endeavours: learning to knowledge battle preferred to victory, sleeping to non-drowsiness
53/103It is an easier victory not to resist the animosity of anyone
Perfect peace when no "law in my members" fights against "law of my mind"
53/103What Christians "most love in this life will be made perfect... after this life"
54/104Description of the Outer Darkness prepared for those who love visible things
54/104"Those who delight in strife will be aliens from peace."
54/105Fleshly people yet devise Rules of Superstition to deceive themselves
They love the journey and will be sent into distant parts who do not desire home
54/106Augustine mentions "five bodily senses"
54/105Keenness of mind is a talent some do not use: bury it in a napkin
54/106 God will take it from them but give to those of weaker understanding
55/107Exhortation to not love world, fleshly pleasure, strife, spectacles
55/108Any truth is better than any fiction
55/108Do not worship: Human works, men, beasts, dead saints, demons
55/108Saints do not want to be adored with religious rites: want us to worship God
55/108? Reference to "merit" [ perhaps: that which they have gained ]
55/109Do not worship: Lands, waters, air, fire, heavenly bodies, their souls, non-sentient life, sentient life
55/110Do not worship: Rational Soul or Angels: They want us to worship our common Lord
Proud men want us to serve and worship them: safer than having mind ruled by devil
55/111The binding of the soul to God - Origin of term Religion
55/112Trinity: One God: The Principle, His Wisdom, His Gift
55/112All the good love God.
55/112Good men sometimes in Satan's Power to be tried
The Truth: Inward Light by which we know God
55/113Description of Trinity and Salvation in the Trinity

A few excerpts from this work are commended to the reader’s consideration.

First, Some comments provided in this footnote about miracles and their cessation.

Secondly, A passage provided in this footnote about heretics and their effect on the true Catholic Church.

Thirdly, This paragraph stood out as very interesting in light of the present times, when disorder and corruption within the organized Church, has become an occasion for many true Christians, or “Catholics,” to stand outside the organized Church, while also many more sects are devised complaining of the offences of the existing church, and many individuals lurk outside waiting to catch those who are unjustly driven out of the house of our Lord.

vi, 11. Often, too, divine providence permits even good men to be driven from the congregation of Christ by the turbulent seditions of carnal men.  When for the sake of the peace of the Church they patiently endure that insult or injury, and attempt no novelties in the way of heresy or schism, they will teach men how God is to be served with a true disposition and with great and sincere charity.  The intention of such men is to return when the tumult has subsided.  But if that is not permitted because the storm continues or because a fiercer one might be stirred up by their return, they hold fast to their purpose to look to the good even of those responsible for the tumults and commotions that drove them out.  They form no separate conventicles of their own, but defend to the death and assist by their testimony the faith which they know is preached in the Catholic Church.  These the Father who seeth in secret crowns secretly.  It appears that this is a rare kind of Christian, but examples are not lacking.  Indeed there are more than can be believed.  So divine providence uses all kinds of men as examples for the oversight of souls and for the building up of his spiritual people.

(Tr. John H. S. Burleigh. LCC VI. The Westminster Press.)

[ 2014.11.16. Notes Published 2014.11.22. ]