Holmily of Augustine on Psalm LXIV
11th Sunday after Trinity Home
O GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Source: Gelasius [492-496]. This is the original as Cranmer translated it. It it was altered in the 1662 update by adding the phrase " running the way of thy commandments" The Collect's emphasis on Grace, compliments the story of the Pharisee and the Publican praying in today's Gospel story from Luke.
Augustine concludes his homily on Psalm 64 with this ,
What followeth? If "there shall be praised all men right in heart," there shall be condemned the crooked in heart. Two things are set before thee now, choose while there is time....If of crooked heart thou hast become, there will come that Judgment, there will appear all the reasons on account of which God doeth all these things: and thou that wouldest not in this life correct thy heart by the rectitude of God, and prepare thyself for the right hand, where "there shall be praised all men right in heart," wilt be on the left, where at that time thou shalt hear, "Go ye into fire everlasting, that hath been prepared for the devil and his angels." And will there be then time to correct the heart? Now therefore correct, brethren, now correct. Who doth hinder? Psalm is chanted, Gospel is read, Reader crieth, Preacher crieth; long-suffering is the Lord; thou sinnest, and He spareth; still thou sinnest, still He spareth, and still thou addest sin to sin. How long is God long-suffering? Thou wilt find God just also. We terrify because we fear; teach us not to fear, and we terrify no more. But better it is that God teach us to fear, than that any man teach us not to fear....Thou bringest forth grain, barn expect thou; bringest forth thorns, fire expect thou. But not yet hath come either the time of the barn or the time of the fire: now let there be preparation, and there will not be fear. In the name of Christ both we who speak are living, and ye to whom we speak are living: for amending our plan, and changing evil life into a good life, is there no place, is there no time? Can it not, if thou wilt, be done to-day? Can it not, if thou wilt, be now done? What must thou buy in order to do it, what specifics must thou seek? To what Indies must thou sail? What ship prepare? Lo, while I am speaking, change the heart; and there is done what so often and so long while is cried out for, that it be done, and which bringeth forth everlasting punishment if it be not done.
Will all men will be "saved" eventually and go to heaven regardless of their faith? Will God reconcile even Satan? These very beliefs have worked their way into many unorthodox churches. Even thoughts along this line have been voiced by the leaders of seemingly Catholic and Orthodox denominations.
In the early church, Alexander, Gregory of Nyssa, and Origen leaned toward universal salvation. Origen wrote that even the devil himself might eventually be "saved" [declared heretical in the 5th Council] Augustine was adamantly opposed to these heretical teachings. He preaches the Gospel here. Choose while there is time. Turn while it is the light of day, for when the Day of the Lord comes, it shall be too late. Remember the words of our Lord,
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
The belief our Lord speaks of is not some ephemeral spiritualist belief in a made-up god, but rather in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior from damnation, a belief that is validated and witnessed in a turning of one's heart to God Almighty.
This is the gist of today's collect as well. It is only by the Grace of God through Christ that we may have as a gift that measure of Grace so that we may obtain the promise of life everlasting, and avoid the fate of damnation.
Note: Wikipedia has a page on universalism that cites several passages that purportedly support this heresy. The "all" often used in Scripture is to be taken in context and with cognizance of other scripture. The sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the world, and all men, does not give warrant to every man, regardless of faith, that Christ has saved him in his rebellion and sin. If it did, it would nullify the very words of Christ above and elsewhere.Finis
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"Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another" [St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans 14:19]
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