Augustine on True Humility


As a man habitually drowning in pride, Augustine’s words on humility (through the mouth of Calvin), buoyed me up this morning.

When a certain rhetorician was asked what was the chief rule in eloquence, he replied, ‘Delivery’; what was the second rule, ‘Delivery’; what was the third rule, ‘Delivery’; so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, first, second, third, and always I would answer, ‘Humility.’

For Augustine, humility is not abstaining from pride and arrogance; but is a man who truly feels that he has no refuge except humility. He said it like this:

“When anyone realizes that in himself he is nothing and from himself he has no help, the weapons within him are broken, the wars are over. But all the weapons of impiety must be shattered, broken, and burned; you must remain unarmed, you must have no help in yourself. The weaker you are in yourself, the more readily the Lord will receive you.”

- from Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 Vol., 2.2.11, 268-269.