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St Augustine, Part 2 (of 3): Use vs. Enjoyment

May 11, 2010

Remember what a “thing” is, from yesterday? Okay.

In Chapter 3, Augustine introduces the idea that some things are to be used, while some things are enjoyed. Chapter 4 discusses the difference and the danger inherent in the difference.

For to enjoy a thing is to rest with satisfaction in it for its own sake. To use, on the other hand, is to employ whatever means are at one’s disposal to obtain what one desires, …

Pretty simple. If you enjoy a thing, it satisfies you in itself. You use a thing to attain a different thing, which you hope to enjoy.

Then, he gives an example to illustrate said inherent danger:

Suppose, then, we were wanderers in a strange country, and could not live happily away from our fatherland, and that we felt wretched in our wandering, and wishing to put an end to our misery, determined to return home. We find, however, that we must make use of some mode of conveyance, either by land or water, in order to reach that fatherland where our enjoyment is to commence.

But the beauty of the country through which we pass, and the very pleasure of the motion, charm our hearts, and turning these things which we ought to use into objects of enjoyment, we become unwilling to hasten the end of our journey; and becoming engrossed in a factitious delight, our thoughts are diverted from that home whose delights would make us truly happy.

Such is a picture of our condition in this life of mortality. We have wandered far from God; and if we wish to return to our Father’s home, this world must be used, not enjoyed, … that is, that by means of what is material and temporary we may lay hold upon that which is spiritual and eternal.

That is a difficult concept.

If you’re unconvinced, or unamazed, or still somehow comfortable in your life of faith – Chapter 22, tomorrow, should drive it home.

Remember: “Thing,” “Use,” and “Enjoyment.”

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