The Internet is a spawning ground for bogus quotes — often attributed vaguely to figures such as Lincoln, Plato, Lao-Tzu, or Augustine. One that I have seen often of late says:
“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but he has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”
Often this sort of quote is floated in reverse text over a sunset or a landscape, because Facebook readers seem more likely to look at pictures than text.
After a conversation about such bogus quotes, I went looking for this one: Google finds it everywhere on the Internet, but never with any more citation than “Augustine.”
After searching in Augustine’s sermons and commentaries, eventually I was pleasantly surprised to find this quote, in a form not too different from its Internet incarnation, and indeed meaning essentially the same thing in context.
Here is Saint Augustine of Hippo commenting on John 8:1-11:
The Lord is gentle, the Lord is long-suffering, the Lord is merciful; but the Lord is also just, the Lord is also true.
He gives you space for correction; but you love the delay of judgment more than you love the amendment of your ways. Were you a bad man yesterday? Today be a good man. Have you gone on in your wickedness today? At any rate change tomorrow.
You are always expecting, and from the mercy of God you make exceeding great promises to yourself. As if he, who has promised you pardon through repentance, had also promised you a longer life.
How do you know what tomorrow may bring? Rightly you say in your heart: After I correct my ways, God will put all my sins away.
We cannot deny that God has promised pardon to those who have amended their ways and are converted.
For in the prophet from whom you read to me that God has promised pardon to him that repents, you do not read to me that God has promised you a long life.
Read it in context online in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.