Augustine: Our thoughts go wandering through eternity

Continuing Pieper’s theme (below) that “the whole world would not suffice” to satisfy man’s “thirst for happiness“, Psalm 73:25 asks, “Whom else have I in the heavens? None beside you delights me on earth.”

Saint Augustine expounds on this theme:

From the very make of our human nature there is not one of us, howsoever weak and sinful and small, but is great enough to be too great to be filled with anything smaller than God. Our thoughts, even the thoughts of the least enlightened amongst us, go wandering through eternity; and as the writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes says:–He hath set eternity in men’s hearts.’ … Nothing short of the fulness of God is enough for the smallest amongst us.

So, because we do not believe this, we try to fill that deep and aching void in our hearts, which is a sign of our possible nobleness, and a pledge of our possible blessedness, with all manner of minute rubbish, which can never fill up the gap that is there.

There is none in the heaven, with all its stars and angels, enough for thee but Him. There is none upon earth, with all its flowers, and treasures, and loves, that will calm and still thy soul but only God.

Then he concludes with an exhortation:

What is the thing that you and I crave most to have? What is the thing that we lament most of all when we lose? Where do our desires go when we take the guiding hand off them, and let them run as they will? For some of us there are dearer hearts on earth than His, Perhaps for some of us there are more dearly loved faces in heaven than His. Taking the two extreme possible cases, and supposing at the one end of the scale a man that had everything but God, and at the other end a man that had nothing but God, do we live as if we believed that the man that had everything minus God is a pauper; and the other who has God minus everything is rich to all the intents of bliss? Let us shape our desires, aspirations, efforts, according to that certain truth.

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