“My entire hope is exclusively in your very great mercy. Grant what you command, and command what you will. You require continence. A certain writer has said (Wisd. 8. 21): ‘As I knew that no one can be continent except God grants it, and this very thing is part of wisdom, to know whose gift this is.’ By continence we are collected together and brought to the unity from which we disintegrated into multiplicity. He loves you less who together with you loves something which he does not love for your sake. O love, you ever burn and are never extinguished. O charity, my God, set me on fire. You command continence; grant what you command, and command what you will.” Augustine of Hippo, Confessions X. xxix. trans. Henry Chadwick (Oxford 1991), p. 202. [Emphasis added]
These famous words demonstrate Augustine’s understanding of the gift of God’s mercy and grace. He realized that self control and the love of God were gifts that no sinner could generate from their own souls. Therefore, he asked God to grant the gift of obedience to His divine commands. Augustine knew God’s gift was necessary in order to fulfill God’s command. This gift is grace.