Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book X/Chapter 28
Chapter XXVIII.—On the Misery of Human Life.
39. When I shall cleave unto Thee with all my being, then shall I in nothing have pain and labour; and my life shall be a real life, being wholly full of Thee. But now since he whom Thou fillest is the one Thou liftest up, I am a burden to myself, as not being full of Thee. Joys of sorrow contend with sorrows of joy; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows contend with my good joys; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. Woe is me! Lo, I hide not my wounds; Thou art the Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, I miserable. Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation? Who is he that wishes for vexations and difficulties? Thou commandest them to be endured, not to be loved. For no man loves what he endures, though he may love to endure. For notwithstanding he rejoices to endure, he would rather there were naught for him to endure. In adversity, I desire prosperity; in prosperity, I fear adversity. What middle place, then, is there between these, where human life is not a temptation? Woe unto the prosperity of this world, once and again, from fear of misfortune and a corruption of joy! Woe unto the adversities of this world, once and again, and for the third time, from the desire of prosperity; and because adversity itself is a hard thing, and makes shipwreck of endurance! Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation, and that without intermission?
- Job vii. 1. The Old Ver. rendering צָבָא by tentatio, after the LXX. πειρατήριον. The Vulg. has militia, which =“warfare” in margin of A.V.
- “It will not be safe,” says Anthony Farindon (vol. iv. Christ’s Temptation, serm. 107), “for us to challenge and provoke a temptation, but to arm and prepare ourselves against it; to stand upon our guard, and neither to offer battle nor yet refuse it. Sapiens feret ista, non eliget: ‘It is the part of a wise man not to seek for evil, but to endure it.’ And to this end it concerneth every man to exercise τὴν πνευματικὴν σύνεσιν, ‘his spiritual wisdom,’ that he may discover Spiritus ductiones et diaboli seductiones, ‘the Spirit’s leadings and the devil’s seducements.’” See also Augustin’s Serm. lxxvi. 4, and p. 79, note 9, above.
- We have ever to endure temptation, either in the sense of a testing, as when it is said, “God did tempt Abraham” (Gen. xxii. 1); or with the additional idea of yielding to the temptation, and so committing sin, as in the use of the word in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. vi. 13); for, as Dyke says in his Michael and the Dragon (Works, i. 203, 204): “No sooner have we bathed and washed our souls in the waters of Repentance, but we must presently expect the fiery darts of Satan’s temptations to be driving at us. What we get and gain from Satan by Repentance, he seeks to regain and recover by his Temptations. We must not think to pass quietly out of Egypt without Pharaoh’s pursuit, nor to travel the wilderness of this world without the opposition of the Amalekites.” Compare Augustin, In Ev. Joann. Tract. xliii. 6, and Serm. lvii. 9. See also p. 79, note 3, above.