The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:26 am

Part 2 of 2

12. Of the three opposite qualities by which the Platonists distinguish between the nature of men and that of demons.

But at present we are speaking of those beings whom he described as being properly intermediate between gods and men, in nature animals, in mind rational, in soul subject to[Pg 366] passion, in body aerial, in duration eternal. When he had distinguished the gods, whom he placed in the highest heaven, from men, whom he placed on earth, not only by position but also by the unequal dignity of their natures, he concluded in these words: "You have here two kinds of animals: the gods, widely distinguished from men by sublimity of abode, perpetuity of life, perfection of nature; for their habitations are separated by so wide an interval that there can be no intimate communication between them, and while the vitality of the one is eternal and indefeasible, that of the others is fading and precarious, and while the spirits of the gods are exalted in bliss, those of men are sunk in miseries."[346] Here I find three opposite qualities ascribed to the extremes of being, the highest and lowest. For, after mentioning the three qualities for which we are to admire the gods, he repeated, though in other words, the same three as a foil to the defects of man. The three qualities are, "sublimity of abode, perpetuity of life, perfection of nature." These he again mentioned so as to bring out their contrasts in man's condition. As he had mentioned "sublimity of abode," he says, "Their habitations are separated by so wide an interval;" as he had mentioned "perpetuity of life," he says, that "while divine life is eternal and indefeasible, human life is fading and precarious;" and as he had mentioned "perfection of nature," he says, that "while the spirits of the gods are exalted in bliss, those of men are sunk in miseries." These three things, then, he predicates of the gods, exaltation, eternity, blessedness; and of man he predicates the opposite, lowliness of habitation, mortality, misery.

13. How the demons can mediate between gods and men if they have nothing in common with both, being neither blessed like the gods, nor miserable like men.

If, now, we endeavour to find between these opposites the mean occupied by the demons, there can be no question as to their local position; for, between the highest and lowest place, there is a place which is rightly considered and called the middle place. The other two qualities remain, and to them we must give greater care, that we may see whether they are[Pg 367] altogether foreign to the demons, or how they are so bestowed upon them without infringing upon their mediate position. We may dismiss the idea that they are foreign to them. For we cannot say that the demons, being rational animals, are neither blessed nor wretched, as we say of the beasts and plants, which are void of feeling and reason, or as we say of the middle place, that it is neither the highest nor the lowest. The demons, being rational, must be either miserable or blessed. And, in like manner, we cannot say that they are neither mortal nor immortal; for all living things either live eternally or end life in death. Our author, besides, stated that the demons are eternal. What remains for us to suppose, then, but that these mediate beings are assimilated to the gods in one of the two remaining qualities, and to men in the other? For if they received both from above, or both from beneath, they should no longer be mediate, but either rise to the gods above, or sink to men beneath. Therefore, as it has been demonstrated that they must possess these two qualities, they will hold their middle place if they receive one from each party. Consequently, as they cannot receive their eternity from beneath, because it is not there to receive, they must get it from above; and accordingly they have no choice but to complete their mediate position by accepting misery from men.

According to the Platonists, then, the gods, who occupy the highest place, enjoy eternal blessedness, or blessed eternity; men, who occupy the lowest, a mortal misery, or a miserable mortality; and the demons, who occupy the mean, a miserable eternity, or an eternal misery. As to those five things which Apuleius included in his definition of demons, he did not show, as he promised, that the demons are mediate. For three of them, that their nature is animal, their mind rational, their soul subject to passions, he said that they have in common with men; one thing, their eternity, in common with the gods; and one proper to themselves, their aerial body. How, then, are they intermediate, when they have three things in common with the lowest, and only one in common with the highest? Who does not see that the intermediate position is abandoned in proportion as they tend to, and are depressed towards, the lowest extreme? But perhaps we are to accept them as[Pg 368] intermediate because of their one property of an aerial body, as the two extremes have each their proper body, the gods an ethereal, men a terrestrial body, and because two of the qualities they possess in common with man they possess also in common with the gods, namely, their animal nature and rational mind. For Apuleius himself, in speaking of gods and men, said, "You have two animal natures." And Platonists are wont to ascribe a rational mind to the gods. Two qualities remain, their liability to passion, and their eternity,—the first of which they have in common with men, the second with the gods; so that they are neither wafted to the highest nor depressed to the lowest extreme, but perfectly poised in their intermediate position. But then, this is the very circumstance which constitutes the eternal misery, or miserable eternity, of the demons. For he who says that their soul is subject to passions would also have said that they are miserable, had he not blushed for their worshippers. Moreover, as the world is governed, not by fortuitous haphazard, but, as the Platonists themselves avow, by the providence of the supreme God, the misery of the demons would not be eternal unless their wickedness were great.

If, then, the blessed are rightly styled eudemons, the demons intermediate between gods and men are not eudemons. What, then, is the local position of those good demons, who, above men but beneath the gods, afford assistance to the former, minister to the latter? For if they are good and eternal, they are doubtless blessed. But eternal blessedness destroys their intermediate character, giving them a close resemblance to the gods, and widely separating them from men. And therefore the Platonists will in vain strive to show how the good demons, if they are both immortal and blessed, can justly be said to hold a middle place between the gods, who are immortal and blessed, and men, who are mortal and miserable. For if they have both immortality and blessedness in common with the gods, and neither of these in common with men, who are both miserable and mortal, are they not rather remote from men and united with the gods, than intermediate between them? They would be intermediate if they held one of their qualities in common with the one party, and the other with[Pg 369] the other, as man is a kind of mean between angels and beasts,—the beast being an irrational and mortal animal, the angel a rational and immortal one, while man, inferior to the angel and superior to the beast, and having in common with the one mortality, and with the other reason, is a rational and mortal animal. So, when we seek for an intermediate between the blessed immortals and miserable mortals, we should find a being which is either mortal and blessed, or immortal and miserable.

14. Whether men, though mortal, can enjoy true blessedness.

It is a great question among men, whether man can be mortal and blessed. Some, taking the humbler view of his condition, have denied that he is capable of blessedness so long as he continues in this mortal life; others, again, have spurned this idea, and have been bold enough to maintain that, even though mortal, men may be blessed by attaining wisdom. But if this be the case, why are not these wise men constituted mediators between miserable mortals and the blessed immortals, since they have blessedness in common with the latter, and mortality in common with the former? Certainly, if they are blessed, they envy no one (for what more miserable than envy?), but seek with all their might to help miserable mortals on to blessedness, so that after death they may become immortal, and be associated with the blessed and immortal angels.

15. Of the man Christ Jesus, the Mediator between God and men.

But if, as is much more probable and credible, it must needs be that all men, so long as they are mortal, are also miserable, we must seek an intermediate who is not only man, but also God, that, by the interposition of His blessed mortality, He may bring men out of their mortal misery to a blessed immortality. In this intermediate two things are requisite, that He become mortal, and that He do not continue mortal. He did become mortal, not rendering the divinity of the Word infirm, but assuming the infirmity of flesh. Neither did He continue mortal in the flesh, but raised it from the dead; for it is the very fruit of His mediation that those, for the sake of whose redemption He became the Mediator,[Pg 370] should not abide eternally in bodily death. Wherefore it became the Mediator between us and God to have both a transient mortality and a permanent blessedness, that by that which is transient He might be assimilated to mortals, and might translate them from mortality to that which is permanent. Good angels, therefore, cannot mediate between miserable mortals and blessed immortals, for they themselves also are both blessed and immortal; but evil angels can mediate, because they are immortal like the one party, miserable like the other. To these is opposed the good Mediator, who, in opposition to their immortality and misery, has chosen to be mortal for a time, and has been able to continue blessed in eternity. It is thus He has destroyed, by the humility of His death and the benignity of His blessedness, those proud immortals and hurtful wretches, and has prevented them from seducing to misery by their boast of immortality those men whose hearts He has cleansed by faith, and whom He has thus freed from their impure dominion.

Man, then, mortal and miserable, and far removed from the immortal and the blessed, what medium shall he choose by which he may be united to immortality and blessedness? The immortality of the demons, which might have some charm for man, is miserable; the mortality of Christ, which might offend man, exists no longer. In the one there is the fear of an eternal misery; in the other, death, which could not be eternal, can no longer be feared, and blessedness, which is eternal, must be loved. For the immortal and miserable mediator interposes himself to prevent us from passing to a blessed immortality, because that which hinders such a passage, namely, misery, continues in him; but the mortal and blessed Mediator interposed Himself, in order that, having passed through mortality, He might of mortals make immortals (showing His power to do this in His own resurrection), and from being miserable to raise them to the blessed company from the number of whom He had Himself never departed. There is, then, a wicked mediator, who separates friends, and a good Mediator, who reconciles enemies. And those who separate are numerous, because the multitude of the blessed are blessed only by their participation in the one God; of which[Pg 371] participation the evil angels being deprived, they are wretched, and interpose to hinder rather than to help to this blessedness, and by their very number prevent us from reaching that one beatific good, to obtain which we need not many but one Mediator, the uncreated Word of God, by whom all things were made, and in partaking of whom we are blessed. I do not say that He is Mediator because He is the Word, for as the Word He is supremely blessed and supremely immortal, and therefore far from miserable mortals; but He is Mediator as He is man, for by His humanity He shows us that, in order to obtain that blessed and beatific good, we need not seek other mediators to lead us through the successive steps of this attainment, but that the blessed and beatific God, having Himself become a partaker of our humanity, has afforded us ready access to the participation of His divinity. For in delivering us from our mortality and misery, He does not lead us to the immortal and blessed angels, so that we should become immortal and blessed by participating in their nature, but He leads us straight to that Trinity, by participating in which the angels themselves are blessed. Therefore, when He chose to be in the form of a servant, and lower than the angels, that He might be our Mediator, He remained higher than the angels, in the form of God,—Himself at once the way of life on earth and life itself in heaven.

16. Whether it is reasonable in the Platonists to determine that the celestial gods decline contact with earthly things and intercourse with men, who therefore require the intercession of the demons.

That opinion, which the same Platonist avers that Plato uttered, is not true, "that no god holds intercourse with men."[347] And this, he says, is the chief evidence of their exaltation, that they are never contaminated by contact with men. He admits, therefore, that the demons are contaminated; and it follows that they cannot cleanse those by whom they are themselves contaminated, and thus all alike become impure, the demons by associating with men, and men by worshipping the demons. Or, if they say that the demons are not contaminated by associating and dealing with men, then they are better than the gods, for the gods, were they to do so, would be contaminated.[Pg 372] For this, we are told, is the glory of the gods, that they are so highly exalted that no human intercourse can sully them. He affirms, indeed, that the supreme God, the Creator of all things, whom we call the true God, is spoken of by Plato as the only God whom the poverty of human speech fails even passably to describe; and that even the wise, when their mental energy is as far as possible delivered from the trammels of connection with the body, have only such gleams of insight into His nature as may be compared to a flash of lightning illumining the darkness. If, then, this supreme God, who is truly exalted above all things, does nevertheless visit the minds of the wise, when emancipated from the body, with an intelligible and ineffable presence, though this be only occasional, and as it were a swift flash of light athwart the darkness, why are the other gods so sublimely removed from all contact with men, as if they would be polluted by it? as if it were not a sufficient refutation of this to lift up our eyes to those heavenly bodies which give the earth its needful light. If the stars, though they, by his account, are visible gods, are not contaminated when we look at them, neither are the demons contaminated when men see them quite closely. But perhaps it is the human voice, and not the eye, which pollutes the gods; and therefore the demons are appointed to mediate and carry men's utterances to the gods, who keep themselves remote through fear of pollution? What am I to say of the other senses? For by smell neither the demons, who are present, nor the gods, though they were present and inhaling the exhalations of living men, would be polluted if they are not contaminated with the effluvia of the carcases offered in sacrifice. As for taste, they are pressed by no necessity of repairing bodily decay, so as to be reduced to ask food from men. And touch is in their own power. For while it may seem that contact is so called, because the sense of touch is specially concerned in it, yet the gods, if so minded, might mingle with men, so as to see and be seen, hear and be heard; and where is the need of touching? For men would not dare to desire this, if they were favoured with the sight or conversation of gods or good demons; and if through excessive curiosity they should desire it, how could they accomplish their wish without[Pg 373] the consent of the god or demon, when they cannot touch so much as a sparrow unless it be caged?

There is, then, nothing to hinder the gods from mingling in a bodily form with men, from seeing and being seen, from speaking and hearing. And if the demons do thus mix with men, as I said, and are not polluted, while the gods, were they to do so, should be polluted, then the demons are less liable to pollution than the gods. And if even the demons are contaminated, how can they help men to attain blessedness after death, if, so far from being able to cleanse them, and present them clean to the unpolluted gods, these mediators are themselves polluted? And if they cannot confer this benefit on men, what good can their friendly mediation do? Or shall its result be, not that men find entrance to the gods, but that men and demons abide together in a state of pollution, and consequently of exclusion from blessedness? Unless, perhaps, some one may say that, like sponges or things of that sort, the demons themselves, in the process of cleansing their friends, become themselves the filthier in proportion as the others become clean. But if this is the solution, then the gods, who shun contact or intercourse with men for fear of pollution, mix with demons who are far more polluted. Or perhaps the gods, who cannot cleanse men without polluting themselves, can without pollution cleanse the demons who have been contaminated by human contact? Who can believe such follies, unless the demons have practised their deceit upon him? If seeing and being seen is contamination, and if the gods, whom Apuleius himself calls visible, "the brilliant lights of the world,"[348] and the other stars, are seen by men, are we to believe that the demons, who cannot be seen unless they please, are safer from contamination? Or if it is only the seeing and not the being seen which contaminates, then they must deny that these gods of theirs, these brilliant lights of the world, see men when their rays beam upon the earth. Their rays are not contaminated by lighting on all manner of pollution, and are we to suppose that the gods would be contaminated if they mixed with men, and even if contact were needed in order to assist them? For there is contact between the earth[Pg 374] and the sun's or moon's rays, and yet this does not pollute the light.

17. That to obtain the blessed life, which consists in partaking of the supreme good, man needs such mediation as is furnished not by a demon, but by Christ alone.

I am considerably surprised that such learned men, men who pronounce all material and sensible things to be altogether inferior to those that are spiritual and intelligible, should mention bodily contact in connection with the blessed life. Is that sentiment of Plotinus forgotten?—"We must fly to our beloved fatherland. There is the Father, there our all. What fleet or flight shall convey us thither? Our way is, to become like God."[349] If, then, one is nearer to God the liker he is to Him, there is no other distance from God than unlikeness to Him. And the soul of man is unlike that incorporeal and unchangeable and eternal essence, in proportion as it craves things temporal and mutable. And as the things beneath, which are mortal and impure, cannot hold intercourse with the immortal purity which is above, a mediator is indeed needed to remove this difficulty; but not a mediator who resembles the highest order of being by possessing an immortal body, and the lowest by having a diseased soul, which makes him rather grudge that we be healed than help our cure. We need a Mediator who, being united to us here below by the mortality of His body, should at the same time be able to afford us truly divine help in cleansing and liberating us by means of the immortal righteousness of His spirit, whereby He remained heavenly even while here upon earth. Far be it from the incontaminable God to fear pollution from the man[350] He assumed, or from the men among whom He lived in the form of a man. For, though His incarnation showed us nothing else, these two wholesome facts were enough, that true divinity cannot be polluted by flesh, and that demons are not to be considered better than ourselves because they have not flesh.[351] This, then, as Scripture says, is the "Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,"[352] of whose divinity,[Pg 375] whereby He is equal to the Father, and humanity, whereby He has become like us, this is not the place to speak as fully as I could.

18. That the deceitful demons, while promising to conduct men to God by their intercession, mean to turn them from the path of truth.

As to the demons, these false and deceitful mediators, who, though their uncleanness of spirit frequently reveals their misery and malignity, yet, by virtue of the levity of their aerial bodies and the nature of the places they inhabit, do contrive to turn us aside and hinder our spiritual progress; they do not help us towards God, but rather prevent us from reaching Him. Since even in the bodily way, which is erroneous and misleading, and in which righteousness does not walk,—for we must rise to God not by bodily ascent, but by incorporeal or spiritual conformity to Him,—in this bodily way, I say, which the friends of the demons arrange according to the weight of the various elements, the aerial demons being set between the ethereal gods and earthy men, they imagine the gods to have this privilege, that by this local interval they are preserved from the pollution of human contact. Thus they believe that the demons are contaminated by men rather than men cleansed by the demons, and that the gods themselves should be polluted unless their local superiority preserved them. Who is so wretched a creature as to expect purification by a way in which men are contaminating, demons contaminated, and gods contaminable? Who would not rather choose that way whereby we escape the contamination of the demons, and are cleansed from pollution by the incontaminable God, so as to be associated with the uncontaminated angels?

19. That even among their own worshippers the name "demon" has never a good signification.

But as some of these demonolators, as I may call them, and among them Labeo, allege that those whom they call demons are by others called angels, I must, if I would not seem to dispute merely about words, say something about the good angels. The Platonists do not deny their existence, but prefer to call them good demons. But we, following Scripture, according to which we are Christians, have learned that some of the angels are good, some bad, but never have we read in[Pg 376] Scripture of good demons; but wherever this or any cognate term occurs, it is applied only to wicked spirits. And this usage has become so universal, that, even among those who are called pagans, and who maintain that demons as well as gods should be worshipped, there is scarcely a man, no matter how well read and learned, who would dare to say by way of praise to his slave, You have a demon, or who could doubt that the man to whom he said this would consider it a curse? Why, then, are we to subject ourselves to the necessity of explaining away what we have said when we have given offence by using the word demon, with which every one, or almost every one, connects a bad meaning, while we can so easily evade this necessity by using the word angel?

20. Of the kind of knowledge which puffs up the demons.

However, the very origin of the name suggests something worthy of consideration, if we compare it with the divine books. They are called demons from a Greek word meaning knowledge.[353] Now the apostle, speaking with the Holy Spirit, says, "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity buildeth up."[354] And this can only be understood as meaning that without charity knowledge does no good, but inflates a man or magnifies him with an empty windiness. The demons, then, have knowledge without charity, and are thereby so inflated or proud, that they crave those divine honours and religious services which they know to be due to the true God, and still, as far as they can, exact these from all over whom they have influence. Against this pride of the demons, under which the human race was held subject as its merited punishment, there was exerted the mighty influence of the humility of God, who appeared in the form of a servant; but men, resembling the demons in pride, but not in knowledge, and being puffed up with uncleanness, failed to recognise Him.

21. To what extent the Lord was pleased to make Himself known to the demons.

The devils themselves knew this manifestation of God so well, that they said to the Lord, though clothed with the[Pg 377] infirmity of flesh, "What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us before the time?"[355] From these words, it is clear that they had great knowledge, and no charity. They feared His power to punish, and did not love His righteousness. He made known to them so much as He pleased, and He was pleased to make known so much as was needful. But He made Himself known, not as to the holy angels, who know Him as the Word of God, and rejoice in His eternity, which they partake, but as was requisite to strike with terror the beings from whose tyranny He was going to free those who were predestined to His kingdom and the glory of it, eternally true and truly eternal. He made Himself known, therefore, to the demons, not by that which is life eternal, and the unchangeable light which illumines the pious, whose souls are cleansed by the faith that is in Him, but by some temporal effects of His power, and evidences of His mysterious presence, which were more easily discerned by the angelic senses even of wicked spirits than by human infirmity. But when He judged it advisable gradually to suppress these signs, and to retire into deeper obscurity, the prince of the demons doubted whether He were the Christ, and endeavoured to ascertain this by tempting Him, in so far as He permitted Himself to be tempted, that He might adapt the manhood He wore to be an example for our imitation. But after that temptation, when, as Scripture says, He was ministered to[356] by the angels who are good and holy, and therefore objects of terror to the impure spirits, He revealed more and more distinctly to the demons how great He was, so that, even though the infirmity of His flesh might seem contemptible, none dared to resist His authority.

22. The difference between the knowledge of the holy angels and that of the demons.

The good angels, therefore, hold cheap all that knowledge of material and transitory things which the demons are so proud of possessing,—not that they are ignorant of these things, but because the love of God, whereby they are sanctified, is very dear to them, and because, in comparison of that not merely immaterial but also unchangeable and ineffable beauty,[Pg 378] with the holy love of which they are inflamed, they despise all things which are beneath it, and all that is not it, that they may with every good thing that is in them enjoy that good which is the source of their goodness. And therefore they have a more certain knowledge even of those temporal and mutable things, because they contemplate their principles and causes in the word of God, by which the world was made,—those causes by which one thing is approved, another rejected, and all arranged. But the demons do not behold in the wisdom of God these eternal, and, as it were, cardinal causes of things temporal, but only foresee a larger part of the future than men do, by reason of their greater acquaintance with the signs which are hidden from us. Sometimes, too, it is their own intentions they predict. And, finally, the demons are frequently, the angels never, deceived. For it is one thing, by the aid of things temporal and changeable, to conjecture the changes that may occur in time, and to modify such things by one's own will and faculty,—and this is to a certain extent permitted to the demons,—it is another thing to foresee the changes of times in the eternal and immutable laws of God, which live in His wisdom, and to know the will of God, the most infallible and powerful of all causes, by participating in His spirit; and this is granted to the holy angels by a just discretion. And thus they are not only eternal, but blessed And the good wherein they are blessed is God, by whom they were created. For without end they enjoy the contemplation and participation of Him.

23. That the name of gods is falsely given to the gods of the Gentiles, though Scripture applies it both to the holy angels and just men.

If the Platonists prefer to call these angels gods rather than demons, and to reckon them with those whom Plato, their founder and master, maintains were created by the supreme God,[357] they are welcome to do so, for I will not spend strength in fighting about words. For if they say that these beings are immortal, and yet created by the supreme God, blessed but by cleaving to their Creator and not by their own power, they say what we say, whatever name they call these beings by. And that this is the opinion either of all or the best of[Pg 379] the Platonists can be ascertained by their writings. And regarding the name itself, if they see fit to call such blessed and immortal creatures gods, this need not give rise to any serious discussion between us, since in our own Scriptures we read, "The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken;"[358] and again, "Confess to the God of gods;"[359] and again, "He is a great King above all gods."[360] And where it is said, "He is to be feared above all gods," the reason is forthwith added, for it follows, "for all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens."[361] He said, "above all gods," but added, "of the nations;" that is to say, above all those whom the nations count gods, in other words, demons. By them He is to be feared with that terror in which they cried to the Lord, "Hast Thou come to destroy us?" But where it is said, "the God of gods," it cannot be understood as the god of the demons; and far be it from us to say that "great King above all gods" means "great King above all demons." But the same Scripture also calls men who belong to God's people "gods:" "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you children of the Most High."[362] Accordingly, when God is styled God of gods, this may be understood of these gods; and so, too, when He is styled a great King above all gods.

Nevertheless, some one may say, if men are called gods because they belong to God's people, whom He addresses by means of men and angels, are not the immortals, who already enjoy that felicity which men seek to attain by worshipping God, much more worthy of the title? And what shall we reply to this, if not that it is not without reason that in holy Scripture men are more expressly styled gods than those immortal and blessed spirits to whom we hope to be equal in the resurrection, because there was a fear that the weakness of unbelief, being overcome with the excellence of these beings, might presume to constitute some of them a god? In the case of men this was a result that need not be guarded against. Besides, it was right that the men belonging to God's people should be more expressly called gods, to assure and certify them that He who is called God of gods is their God; because,[Pg 380] although those immortal and blessed spirits who dwell in the heavens are called gods, yet they are not called gods of gods, that is to say, gods of the men who constitute God's people, and to whom it is said, "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you the children of the Most High." Hence the saying of the apostle, "Though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, as there be gods many and lords many, but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him."[363]

We need not, therefore, laboriously contend about the name, since the reality is so obvious as to admit of no shadow of doubt. That which we say, that the angels who are sent to announce the will of God to men belong to the order of blessed immortals, does not satisfy the Platonists, because they believe that this ministry is discharged, not by those whom they call gods, in other words, not by blessed immortals, but by demons, whom they dare not affirm to be blessed, but only immortal, or if they do rank them among the blessed immortals, yet only as good demons, and not as gods who dwell in the heaven of heavens remote from all human contact. But, though it may seem mere wrangling about a name, yet the name of demon is so detestable that we cannot bear in any sense to apply it to the holy angels. Now, therefore, let us close this book in the assurance that, whatever we call these immortal and blessed spirits, who yet are only creatures, they do not act as mediators to introduce to everlasting felicity miserable mortals, from whom they are severed by a twofold distinction. And those others who are mediators, in so far as they have immortality in common with their superiors, and misery in common with their inferiors (for they are justly miserable in punishment of their wickedness), cannot bestow upon us, but rather grudge that we should possess, the blessedness from which they themselves are excluded. And so the friends of the demons have nothing considerable to allege why we should rather worship them as our helpers than avoid them as traitors to our interests. As for those spirits who are good, and who are therefore not only immortal but also blessed, and to whom[Pg 381] they suppose we should give the title of gods, and offer worship and sacrifices for the sake of inheriting a future life, we shall, by God's help, endeavour in the following book to show that these spirits, call them by what name, and ascribe to them what nature you will, desire that religious worship be paid to God alone, by whom they were created, and by whose communications of Himself to them they are blessed.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:31 am

Part 1 of 3

BOOK TENTH.

ARGUMENT. IN THIS BOOK AUGUSTINE TEACHES THAT THE GOOD ANGELS WISH GOD ALONE, WHOM THEY THEMSELVES SERVE, TO RECEIVE THAT DIVINE HONOUR WHICH IS RENDERED BY SACRIFICE, AND WHICH IS CALLED "LATREIA." HE THEN GOES ON TO DISPUTE AGAINST PORPHYRY ABOUT THE PRINCIPLE AND WAY OF THE SOUL'S CLEANSING AND DELIVERANCE.

1. That the Platonists themselves have determined that God alone can confer happiness either on angels or men, but that it yet remains a question whether those spirits whom they direct us to worship, that we may obtain happiness, wish sacrifice to be offered to themselves, or to the one God only.


It is the decided opinion of all who use their brains, that all men desire to be happy. But who are happy, or how they become so, these are questions about which the weakness of human understanding stirs endless and angry controversies, in which philosophers have wasted their strength and expended their leisure. To adduce and discuss their various opinions would be tedious, and is unnecessary. The reader may remember what we said in the eighth book, while making a selection of the philosophers with whom we might discuss the question regarding the future life of happiness, whether we can reach it by paying divine honours to the one true God, the Creator of all gods, or by worshipping many gods, and he will not expect us to repeat here the same argument, especially as, even if he has forgotten it, he may refresh his memory by reperusal. For we made selection of the Platonists, justly esteemed the noblest of the philosophers, because they had the wit to perceive that the human soul, immortal and rational, or intellectual, as it is, cannot be happy except by partaking of the light of that God by whom both itself and the world were made; and also that the happy life which all men desire cannot be reached by any who does not cleave with a pure and holy love to that one supreme good,[Pg 383] the unchangeable God. But as even these philosophers, whether accommodating to the folly and ignorance of the people, or, as the apostle says, "becoming vain in their imaginations,"[364] supposed or allowed others to suppose that many gods should be worshipped, so that some of them considered that divine honour by worship and sacrifice should be rendered even to the demons (an error I have already exploded), we must now, by God's help, ascertain what is thought about our religious worship and piety by those immortal and blessed spirits, who dwell in the heavenly places among dominations, principalities, powers, whom the Platonists call gods, and some either good demons, or, like us, angels,—that is to say, to put it more plainly, whether the angels desire us to offer sacrifice and worship, and to consecrate our possessions and ourselves, to them, or only to God, theirs and ours.

For this is the worship which is due to the Divinity, or, to speak more accurately, to the Deity; and, to express this worship in a single word, as there does not occur to me any Latin term sufficiently exact, I shall avail myself, whenever necessary, of a Greek word. Λατρεία, whenever it occurs in Scripture, is rendered by the word service. But that service which is due to men, and in reference to which the apostle writes that servants must be subject to their own masters,[365] is usually designated by another word in Greek,[366] whereas the service which is paid to God alone by worship, is always, or almost always, called λατρεία in the usage of those who wrote from the divine oracles. This cannot so well be called simply "cultus," for in that case it would not seem to be due exclusively to God; for the same word is applied to the respect we pay either to the memory or the living presence of men. From it, too, we derive the words agriculture, colonist, and others.[367] And the heathen call their gods "cœlicolæ," not because they worship heaven, but because they dwell in it, and as it were colonize it,—not in the sense in which we call those colonists who are attached to their native soil to cultivate it[Pg 384] under the rule of the owners, but in the sense in which the great master of the Latin language says, "There was an ancient city inhabited by Tyrian colonists."[368] He called them colonists, not because they cultivated the soil, but because they inhabited the city. So, too, cities that have hived off from larger cities are called colonies. Consequently, while it is quite true that, using the word in a special sense, "cult" can be rendered to none but God, yet, as the word is applied to other things besides, the cult due to God cannot in Latin be expressed by this word alone.

The word "religion" might seem to express more definitely the worship due to God alone, and therefore Latin translators have used this word to represent θρησκεία; yet, as not only the uneducated, but also the best instructed, use the word religion to express human ties, and relationships, and affinities, it would inevitably introduce ambiguity to use this word in discussing the worship of God, unable as we are to say that religion is nothing else than the worship of God, without contradicting the common usage which applies this word to the observance of social relationships. "Piety," again, or, as the Greeks say, εὐσέβεια, is commonly understood as the proper designation of the worship of God. Yet this word also is used of dutifulness to parents. The common people, too, use it of works of charity, which, I suppose, arises from the circumstance that God enjoins the performance of such works, and declares that He is pleased with them instead of, or in preference to sacrifices. From this usage it has also come to pass that God Himself is called pious,[369] in which sense the Greeks never use εὐσεβεῖν, though εὐσέβεια is applied to works of charity by their common people also. In some passages of Scripture, therefore, they have sought to preserve the distinction by using not εὐσέβεια, the more general word, but θεοσέβεια, which literally denotes the worship of God. We, on the other hand, cannot express either of these ideas by one word. This worship, then, which in Greek is called λατρεία, and in Latin "servitus" [service], but the service due to God only; this worship, which in Greek is called θρησκεία, and in[Pg 385] Latin "religio," but the religion by which we are bound to God only; this worship, which they call θεοσέβεια, but which we cannot express in one word, but call it the worship of God,—this, we say, belongs only to that God who is the true God, and who makes His worshippers gods.[370] And therefore, whoever these immortal and blessed inhabitants of heaven be, if they do not love us, and wish us to be blessed, then we ought not to worship them; and if they do love us and desire our happiness, they cannot wish us to be made happy by any other means than they themselves have enjoyed,—for how could they wish our blessedness to flow from one source, theirs from another?

2. The opinion of Plotinus the Platonist regarding enlightenment from above.

But with these more estimable philosophers we have no dispute in this matter. For they perceived, and in various forms abundantly expressed in their writings, that these spirits have the same source of happiness as ourselves,—a certain intelligible light, which is their God, and is different from themselves, and illumines them that they may be penetrated with light, and enjoy perfect happiness in the participation of God. Plotinus, commenting on Plato, repeatedly and strongly asserts that not even the soul which they believe to be the soul of the world, derives its blessedness from any other source than we do, viz. from that Light which is distinct from it and created it, and by whose intelligible illumination it enjoys light in things intelligible. He also compares those spiritual things to the vast and conspicuous heavenly bodies, as if God were the sun, and the soul the moon; for they suppose that the moon derives its light from the sun. That great Platonist, therefore, says that the rational soul, or rather the intellectual soul,—in which class he comprehends the souls of the blessed immortals who inhabit heaven,—has no nature superior to it save God, the Creator of the world and the soul itself, and that these heavenly spirits derive their blessed life, and the light of truth, from the same source as ourselves, agreeing with the gospel where we read, "There was a man sent from God whose name was John; the same came for a witness to bear witness of that Light, that through Him[Pg 386] all might believe. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of the Light. That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world;"[371]—a distinction which sufficiently proves that the rational or intellectual soul such as John had cannot be its own light, but needs to receive illumination from another, the true Light. This John himself avows when he delivers his witness: "We have all received of His fulness."[372]

3. That the Platonists, though knowing something of the Creator of the universe, have misunderstood the true worship of God, by giving divine honour to angels, good or bad.

This being so, if the Platonists, or those who think with them, knowing God, glorified Him as God and gave thanks, if they did not become vain in their own thoughts, if they did not originate or yield to the popular errors, they would certainly acknowledge that neither could the blessed immortals retain, nor we miserable mortals reach, a happy condition without worshipping the one God of gods, who is both theirs and ours. To Him we owe the service which is called in Greek λατρεία, whether we render it outwardly or inwardly; for we are all His temple, each of us severally and all of us together, because He condescends to inhabit each individually and the whole harmonious body, being no greater in all than in each, since He is neither expanded nor divided. Our heart when it rises to Him is His altar; the priest who intercedes for us is His Only-begotten; we sacrifice to Him bleeding victims when we contend for His truth even unto blood; to Him we offer the sweetest incense when we come before Him burning with holy and pious love; to Him we devote and surrender ourselves and His gifts in us; to Him, by solemn feasts and on appointed days, we consecrate the memory of His benefits, lest through the lapse of time ungrateful oblivion should steal upon us; to Him we offer on the altar of our heart the sacrifice of humility and praise, kindled by the fire of burning love. It is that we may see Him, so far as He can be seen; it is that we may cleave to Him, that we are cleansed from all stain of sins and evil passions, and are consecrated in His name. For He is the fountain of our happiness,[Pg 387] He the end of all our desires. Being attached to Him, or rather let me say, re-attached,—for we had detached ourselves and lost hold of Him,—being, I say, re-attached to Him,[373] we tend towards Him by love, that we may rest in Him, and find our blessedness by attaining that end. For our good, about which philosophers have so keenly contended, is nothing else than to be united to God. It is, if I may say so, by spiritually embracing Him that the intellectual soul is filled and impregnated with true virtues. We are enjoined to love this good with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. To this good we ought to be led by those who love us, and to lead those we love. Thus are fulfilled those two commandments on which hang all the law and the prophets: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and with all thy soul;" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."[374] For, that man might be intelligent in his self-love, there was appointed for him an end to which he might refer all his actions, that he might be blessed. For he who loves himself wishes nothing else than this. And the end set before him is "to draw near to God."[375] And so, when one who has this intelligent self-love is commanded to love his neighbour as himself, what else is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him the love of God? This is the worship of God, this is true religion, this right piety, this the service due to God only. If any immortal power, then, no matter with what virtue endowed, loves us as himself, he must desire that we find our happiness by submitting ourselves to Him, in submission to whom he himself finds happiness. If he does not worship God, he is wretched, because deprived of God; if he worships God, he cannot wish to be worshipped in God's stead. On the contrary, these higher powers acquiesce heartily in the divine sentence in which it is written, "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed."[376]

4. That sacrifice is due to the true God only.

But, putting aside for the present the other religious services[Pg 388] with which God is worshipped, certainly no man would dare to say that sacrifice is due to any but God. Many parts, indeed, of divine worship are unduly used in showing honour to men, whether through an excessive humility or pernicious flattery; yet, while this is done, those persons who are thus worshipped and venerated, or even adored, are reckoned no more than human; and who ever thought of sacrificing save to one whom he knew, supposed, or feigned to be a god? And how ancient a part of God's worship sacrifice is, those two brothers, Cain and Abel, sufficiently show, of whom God rejected the elder's sacrifice, and looked favourably on the younger's.

5. Of the sacrifices which God does not require, but wished to be observed for the exhibition of those things which He does require.

And who is so foolish as to suppose that the things offered to God are needed by Him for some uses of His own? Divine Scripture in many places explodes this idea. Not to be wearisome, suffice it to quote this brief saying from a psalm: "I have said to the Lord, Thou art my God: for Thou needest not my goodness."[377] We must believe, then, that God has no need, not only of cattle, or any other earthly and material thing, but even of man's righteousness, and that whatever right worship is paid to God profits not Him, but man. For no man would say he did a benefit to a fountain by drinking, or to the light by seeing. And the fact that the ancient church offered animal sacrifices, which the people of God now-a-days reads of without imitating, proves nothing else than this, that those sacrifices signified the things which we do for the purpose of drawing near to God, and inducing our neighbour to do the same. A sacrifice, therefore, is the visible sacrament or sacred sign of an invisible sacrifice. Hence that penitent in the psalm, or it may be the Psalmist himself, entreating God to be merciful to his sins, says, "If Thou desiredst sacrifice, I would give it: Thou delightest not in whole burnt-offerings. The sacrifice of God is a broken heart: a heart contrite and humble God will not despise."[378] Observe how, in the very words in which he is expressing God's refusal of sacrifice, he shows that God requires sacrifice. He does[Pg 389] not desire the sacrifice of a slaughtered beast, but He desires the sacrifice of a contrite heart. Thus, that sacrifice which he says God does not wish, is the symbol of the sacrifice which God does wish. God does not wish sacrifices in the sense in which foolish people think He wishes them, viz. to gratify His own pleasure. For if He had not wished that the sacrifices He requires, as, e.g., a heart contrite and humbled by penitent sorrow, should be symbolized by those sacrifices which He was thought to desire because pleasant to Himself, the old law would never have enjoined their presentation; and they were destined to be merged when the fit opportunity arrived, in order that men might not suppose that the sacrifices themselves, rather than the things symbolized by them, were pleasing to God or acceptable in us. Hence, in another passage from another psalm, he says, "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?"[379] as if He should say, Supposing such things were necessary to me, I would never ask thee for what I have in my own hand. Then he goes on to mention what these signify: "Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows unto the Most High. And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."[380] So in another prophet: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? Hath He showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"[381] In the words of this prophet, these two things are distinguished and set forth with sufficient explicitness, that God does not require these sacrifices for their own sakes, and that He does require the sacrifices which they symbolize. In the epistle entitled "To the Hebrews" it is said, "To do good and to communicate, forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."[382] And so,[Pg 390] when it is written, "I desire mercy rather than sacrifice,"[383] nothing else is meant than that one sacrifice is preferred to another; for that which in common speech is called sacrifice is only the symbol of the true sacrifice. Now mercy is the true sacrifice, and therefore it is said, as I have just quoted, "with such sacrifices God is well pleased." All the divine ordinances, therefore, which we read concerning the sacrifices in the service of the tabernacle or the temple, we are to refer to the love of God and our neighbour. For "on these two commandments," as it is written, "hang all the law and the prophets."[384]

6. Of the true and perfect sacrifice.

Thus a true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed.[385] And therefore even the mercy we show to men, if it is not shown for God's sake, is not a sacrifice. For, though made or offered by man, sacrifice is a divine thing, as those who called it sacrifice[386] meant to indicate. Thus man himself, consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God, is a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world that he may live to God. For this is a part of that mercy which each man shows to himself; as it is written, "Have mercy on thy soul by pleasing God."[387] Our body, too, is a sacrifice when we chasten it by temperance, if we do so as we ought, for God's sake, that we may not yield our members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but instruments of righteousness unto God.[388] Exhorting to this sacrifice, the apostle says, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."[389] If, then, the body, which, being inferior, the soul uses as a servant or instrument, is a sacrifice when it is used rightly, and with reference to God, how much more does the soul itself become[Pg 391] a sacrifice when it offers itself to God, in order that, being inflamed by the fire of His love, it may receive of His beauty and become pleasing to Him, losing the shape of earthly desire, and being remoulded in the image of permanent loveliness? And this, indeed, the apostle subjoins, saying, "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed in the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."[390] Since, therefore, true sacrifices are works of mercy to ourselves or others, done with a reference to God, and since works of mercy have no other object than the relief of distress or the conferring of happiness, and since there is no happiness apart from that good of which it is said, "It is good for me to be very near to God,"[391] it follows that the whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who offered Himself to God in His passion for us, that we might be members of this glorious head, according to the form of a servant. For it was this form He offered, in this He was offered, because it is according to it He is Mediator, in this He is our Priest, in this the Sacrifice. Accordingly, when the apostle had exhorted us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed in the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, that is to say, the true sacrifice of ourselves, he says, "For I say, through the grace of God which is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us."[392] This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which[Pg 392] she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God.

7. Of the love of the holy angels, which prompts them to desire that we worship the one true God, and not themselves.

It is very right that these blessed and immortal spirits, who inhabit celestial dwellings, and rejoice in the communications of their Creator's fulness, firm in His eternity, assured in His truth, holy by His grace, since they compassionately and tenderly regard us miserable mortals, and wish us to become immortal and happy, do not desire us to sacrifice to themselves, but to Him whose sacrifice they know themselves to be in common with us. For we and they together are the one city of God, to which it is said in the psalm, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God;"[393] the human part sojourning here below, the angelic aiding from above. For from that heavenly city, in which God's will is the intelligible and unchangeable law, from that heavenly council-chamber,—for they sit in counsel regarding us,—that holy Scripture, descended to us by the ministry of angels, in which it is written, "He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed,"[394]—this Scripture, this law, these precepts, have been confirmed by such miracles, that it is sufficiently evident to whom these immortal and blessed spirits, who desire us to be like themselves, wish us to sacrifice.

8. Of the miracles which God has condescended to adhibit, through the ministry of angels, to His promises for the confirmation of the faith of the godly.

I should seem tedious were I to recount all the ancient miracles, which were wrought in attestation of God's promises which He made to Abraham thousands of years ago, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed.[395] For who can but marvel that Abraham's barren wife should have given birth to a son at an age when not even a prolific woman could bear children; or, again, that when Abraham sacrificed, a flame from heaven should have run between the divided parts;[396] or that the angels in human form, whom he had hospitably entertained, and who had renewed God's promise[Pg 393] of offspring, should also have predicted the destruction of Sodom by fire from heaven;[397] and that his nephew Lot should have been rescued from Sodom by the angels as the fire was just descending, while his wife, who looked back as she went, and was immediately turned into salt, stood as a sacred beacon warning us that no one who is being saved should long for what he is leaving? How striking also were the wonders done by Moses to rescue God's people from the yoke of slavery in Egypt, when the magi of the Pharaoh, that is, the king of Egypt, who tyrannized over this people, were suffered to do some wonderful things that they might be vanquished all the more signally! They did these things by the magical arts and incantations to which the evil spirits or demons are addicted; while Moses, having as much greater power as he had right on his side, and having the aid of angels, easily conquered them in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. And, in fact, the magicians failed at the third plague; whereas Moses, dealing out the miracles delegated to him, brought ten plagues upon the land, so that the hard hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians yielded, and the people were let go. But, quickly repenting, and essaying to overtake the departing Hebrews, who had crossed the sea on dry ground, they were covered and overwhelmed in the returning waters. What shall I say of those frequent and stupendous exhibitions of divine power, while the people were conducted through the wilderness?—of the waters which could not be drunk, but lost their bitterness, and quenched the thirsty, when at God's command a piece of wood was cast into them? of the manna that descended from heaven to appease their hunger, and which begat worms and putrefied when any one collected more than the appointed quantity, and yet, though double was gathered on the day before the Sabbath (it not being lawful to gather it on that day), remained fresh? of the birds which filled the camp, and turned appetite into satiety when they longed for flesh, which it seemed impossible to supply to so vast a population? of the enemies who met them, and opposed their passage with arms, and were defeated without the loss of a single Hebrew, when[Pg 394] Moses prayed with his hands extended in the form of a cross? of the seditious persons who arose among God's people, and separated themselves from the divinely-ordered community, and were swallowed up alive by the earth, a visible token of an invisible punishment? of the rock struck with the rod, and pouring out waters more than enough for all the host? of the deadly serpents' bites, sent in just punishment of sin, but healed by looking at the lifted brazen serpent, so that not only were the tormented people healed, but a symbol of the crucifixion of death set before them in this destruction of death by death? It was this serpent which was preserved in memory of this event, and was afterwards worshipped by the mistaken people as an idol, and was destroyed by the pious and God-fearing king Hezekiah, much to his credit.

9. Of the illicit arts connected with demonolatry, and of which the Platonist Porphyry adopts some, and discards others.

These miracles, and many others of the same nature, which it were tedious to mention, were wrought for the purpose of commending the worship of the one true God, and prohibiting the worship of a multitude of false gods. Moreover, they were wrought by simple faith and godly confidence, not by the incantations and charms composed under the influence of a criminal tampering with the unseen world, of an art which they call either magic, or by the more abominable title necromancy,[398] or the more honourable designation theurgy; for they wish to discriminate between those whom the people call magicians, who practise necromancy, and are addicted to illicit arts and condemned, and those others who seem to them to be worthy of praise for their practice of theurgy,—the truth, however, being that both classes are the slaves of the deceitful rites of the demons whom they invoke under the names of angels.

For even Porphyry promises some kind of purgation of the soul by the help of theurgy, though he does so with some hesitation and shame, and denies that this art can secure to any one a return to God; so that you can detect his opinion vacillating between the profession of philosophy and an art which he feels to be presumptuous and sacrilegious. For at[Pg 395] one time he warns us to avoid it as deceitful, and prohibited by law, and dangerous to those who practise it; then again, as if in deference to its advocates, he declares it useful for cleansing one part of the soul, not, indeed, the intellectual part, by which the truth of things intelligible, which have no sensible images, is recognised, but the spiritual part, which takes cognizance of the images of things material. This part, he says, is prepared and fitted for intercourse with spirits and angels, and for the vision of the gods, by the help of certain theurgic consecrations, or, as they call them, mysteries. He acknowledges, however, that these theurgic mysteries impart to the intellectual soul no such purity as fits it to see its God, and recognise the things that truly exist. And from this acknowledgment we may infer what kind of gods these are, and what kind of vision of them is imparted by theurgic consecrations, if by it one cannot see the things which truly exist. He says, further, that the rational, or, as he prefers calling it, the intellectual soul, can pass into the heavens without the spiritual part being cleansed by theurgic art, and that this art cannot so purify the spiritual part as to give it entrance to immortality and eternity. And therefore, although he distinguishes angels from demons, asserting that the habitation of the latter is in the air, while the former dwell in the ether and empyrean, and although he advises us to cultivate the friendship of some demon, who may be able after our death to assist us, and elevate us at least a little above the earth,—for he owns that it is by another way we must reach the heavenly society of the angels,—he at the same time distinctly warns us to avoid the society of demons, saying that the soul, expiating its sin after death, execrates the worship of demons by whom it was entangled. And of theurgy itself, though he recommends it as reconciling angels and demons, he cannot deny that it treats with powers which either themselves envy the soul its purity, or serve the arts of those who do envy it. He complains of this through the mouth of some Chaldæan or other: "A good man in Chaldæa complains," he says, "that his most strenuous efforts to cleanse his soul were frustrated, because another man, who had influence in these matters, and who envied him purity, had prayed to the powers, and bound them by his conjuring[Pg 396] not to listen to his request. Therefore," adds Porphyry, "what the one man bound, the other could not loose." And from this he concludes that theurgy is a craft which accomplishes not only good but evil among gods and men; and that the gods also have passions, and are perturbed and agitated by the emotions which Apuleius attributed to demons and men, but from which he preserved the gods by that sublimity of residence, which, in common with Plato, he accorded to them.

10. Concerning theurgy, which promises a delusive purification of the soul by the invocation of demons.

But here we have another and a much more learned Platonist than Apuleius, Porphyry, to wit, asserting that, by I know not what theurgy, even the gods themselves are subjected to passions and perturbations; for by adjurations they were so bound and terrified that they could not confer purity of soul,—were so terrified by him who imposed on them a wicked command, that they could not by the same theurgy be freed from that terror, and fulfil the righteous behest of him who prayed to them, or do the good he sought. Who does not see that all these things are fictions of deceiving demons, unless he be a wretched slave of theirs, and an alien from the grace of the true Liberator? For if the Chaldæan had been dealing with good gods, certainly a well-disposed man, who sought to purify his own soul, would have had more influence with them than an evil-disposed man seeking to hinder him. Or, if the gods were just, and considered the man unworthy of the purification he sought, at all events they should not have been terrified by an envious person, nor hindered, as Porphyry avows, by the fear of a stronger deity, but should have simply denied the boon on their own free judgment. And it is surprising that that well-disposed Chaldæan, who desired to purify his soul by theurgical rites, found no superior deity who could either terrify the frightened gods still more, and force them to confer the boon, or compose their fears, and so enable them to do good without compulsion,—even supposing that the good theurgist had no rites by which he himself might purge away the taint of fear from the gods whom he invoked for the purification of his own soul. And why is it that there is a god who has power to terrify the inferior gods, and none who has[Pg 397] power to free them from fear? Is there found a god who listens to the envious man, and frightens the gods from doing good? and is there not found a god who listens to the well-disposed man, and removes the fear of the gods that they may do him good? O excellent theurgy! O admirable purification of the soul!—a theurgy in which the violence of an impure envy has more influence than the entreaty of purity and holiness. Rather let us abominate and avoid the deceit of such wicked spirits, and listen to sound doctrine. As to those who perform these filthy cleansings by sacrilegious rites, and see in their initiated state (as he further tells us, though we may question this vision) certain wonderfully lovely appearances of angels or gods, this is what the apostle refers to when he speaks of "Satan transforming himself into an angel of light."[399] For these are the delusive appearances of that spirit who longs to entangle wretched souls in the deceptive worship of many and false gods, and to turn them aside from the true worship of the true God, by whom alone they are cleansed and healed, and who, as was said of Proteus, "turns himself into all shapes,"[400] equally hurtful, whether he assaults us as an enemy, or assumes the disguise of a friend.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:31 am

Part 2 of 3

11. Of Porphyry's epistle to Anebo, in which he asks for information about the differences among demons.

It was a better tone which Porphyry adopted in his letter to Anebo the Egyptian, in which, assuming the character of an inquirer consulting him, he unmasks and explodes these sacrilegious arts. In that letter, indeed, he repudiates all demons, whom he maintains to be so foolish as to be attracted by the sacrificial vapours, and therefore residing not in the ether, but in the air beneath the moon, and indeed in the moon itself. Yet he has not the boldness to attribute to all the demons all the deceptions and malicious and foolish practices which justly move his indignation. For, though he acknowledges that as a race demons are foolish, he so far accommodates himself to popular ideas as to call some of them benignant demons. He expresses surprise that sacrifices not only incline the gods, but also compel and force them to do what men wish; and he is at a loss to understand how the[Pg 398] sun and moon, and other visible celestial bodies,—for bodies he does not doubt that they are,—are considered gods, if the gods are distinguished from the demons by their incorporeality; also, if they are gods, how some are called beneficent and others hurtful, and how they, being corporeal, are numbered with the gods, who are incorporeal. He inquires further, and still as one in doubt, whether diviners and wonderworkers are men of unusually powerful souls, or whether the power to do these things is communicated by spirits from without. He inclines to the latter opinion, on the ground that it is by the use of stones and herbs that they lay spells on people, and open closed doors, and do similar wonders. And on this account, he says, some suppose that there is a race of beings whose property it is to listen to men,—a race deceitful, full of contrivances, capable of assuming all forms, simulating gods, demons, and dead men,—and that it is this race which brings about all these things which have the appearance of good or evil, but that what is really good they never help us in, and are indeed unacquainted with, for they make wickedness easy, but throw obstacles in the path of those who eagerly follow virtue; and that they are filled with pride and rashness, delight in sacrificial odours, are taken with flattery. These and the other characteristics of this race of deceitful and malicious spirits, who come into the souls of men and delude their senses, both in sleep and waking, he describes not as things of which he is himself convinced, but only with so much suspicion and doubt as to cause him to speak of them as commonly received opinions. We should sympathize with this great philosopher in the difficulty he experienced in acquainting himself with and confidently assailing the whole fraternity of devils, which any Christian old woman would unhesitatingly describe and most unreservedly detest. Perhaps, however, he shrank from offending Anebo, to whom he was writing, himself the most eminent patron of these mysteries, or the others who marvelled at these magical feats as divine works, and closely allied to the worship of the gods.

However, he pursues this subject, and, still in the character of an inquirer, mentions some things which no sober judgment could attribute to any but malicious and deceitful powers.[Pg 399] He asks why, after the better class of spirits have been invoked, the worse should be commanded to perform the wicked desires of men; why they do not hear a man who has just left a woman's embrace, while they themselves make no scruple of tempting men to incest and adultery; why their priests are commanded to abstain from animal food for fear of being polluted by the corporeal exhalations, while they themselves are attracted by the fumes of sacrifices and other exhalations; why the initiated are forbidden to touch a dead body, while their mysteries are celebrated almost entirely by means of dead bodies; why it is that a man addicted to any vice should utter threats, not to a demon or to the soul of a dead man, but to the sun and moon, or some of the heavenly bodies, which he intimidates by imaginary terrors, that he may wring from them a real boon,—for he threatens that he will demolish the sky, and such like impossibilities,—that those gods, being alarmed, like silly children, with imaginary and absurd threats, may do what they are ordered. Porphyry further relates that a man Chæremon, profoundly versed in these sacred or rather sacrilegious mysteries, had written that the famous Egyptian mysteries of Isis and her husband Osiris had very great influence with the gods to compel them to do what they were ordered, when he who used the spells threatened to divulge or do away with these mysteries, and cried with a threatening voice that he would scatter the members of Osiris if they neglected his orders. Not without reason is Porphyry surprised that a man should utter such wild and empty threats against the gods,—not against gods of no account, but against the heavenly gods, and those that shine with sidereal light,—and that these threats should be effectual to constrain them with resistless power, and alarm them so that they fulfil his wishes. Not without reason does he, in the character of an inquirer into the reasons of these surprising things, give it to be understood that they are done by that race of spirits which he previously described as if quoting other people's opinions,—spirits who deceive not, as he said, by nature, but by their own corruption, and who simulate gods and dead men, but not, as he said, demons, for demons they really are. As to his idea that by means of herbs, and stones, and animals, and[Pg 400] certain incantations and noises, and drawings, sometimes fanciful, and sometimes copied from the motions of the heavenly bodies, men create upon earth powers capable of bringing about various results, all that is only the mystification which these demons practise on those who are subject to them, for the sake of furnishing themselves with merriment at the expense of their dupes. Either, then, Porphyry was sincere in his doubts and inquiries, and mentioned these things to demonstrate and put beyond question that they were the work, not of powers which aid us in obtaining life, but of deceitful demons; or, to take a more favourable view of the philosopher, he adopted this method with the Egyptian who was wedded to these errors, and was proud of them, that he might not offend him by assuming the attitude of a teacher, nor discompose his mind by the altercation of a professed assailant, but, by assuming the character of an inquirer, and the humble attitude of one who was anxious to learn, might turn his attention to these matters, and show how worthy they are to be despised and relinquished. Towards the conclusion of his letter, he requests Anebo to inform him what the Egyptian wisdom indicates as the way to blessedness. But as to those who hold intercourse with the gods, and pester them only for the sake of finding a runaway slave, or acquiring property, or making a bargain of a marriage, or such things, he declares that their pretensions to wisdom are vain. He adds that these same gods, even granting that on other points their utterances were true, were yet so ill-advised and unsatisfactory in their disclosures about blessedness, that they cannot be either gods or good demons, but are either that spirit who is called the deceiver, or mere fictions of the imagination.

12. Of the miracles wrought by the true God through the ministry of the holy angels.

Since by means of these arts wonders are done which quite surpass human power, what choice have we but to believe that these predictions and operations, which seem to be miraculous and divine, and which at the same time form no part of the worship of the one God, in adherence to whom, as the Platonists themselves abundantly testify, all blessedness consists, are the pastime of wicked spirits, who thus seek to seduce and hinder[Pg 401] the truly godly? On the other hand, we cannot but believe that all miracles, whether wrought by angels or by other means, so long as they are so done as to commend the worship and religion of the one God in whom alone is blessedness, are wrought by those who love us in a true and godly sort, or through their means, God Himself working in them. For we cannot listen to those who maintain that the invisible God works no visible miracles; for even they believe that He made the world, which surely they will not deny to be visible. Whatever marvel happens in this world, it is certainly less marvellous than this whole world itself,—I mean the sky and earth, and all that is in them,—and these God certainly made. But, as the Creator Himself is hidden and incomprehensible to man, so also is the manner of creation. Although, therefore, the standing miracle of this visible world is little thought of, because always before us, yet, when we arouse ourselves to contemplate it, it is a greater miracle than the rarest and most unheard-of marvels. For man himself is a greater miracle than any miracle done through his instrumentality. Therefore God, who made the visible heaven and earth, does not disdain to work visible miracles in heaven or earth, that He may thereby awaken the soul which is immersed in things visible to worship Himself, the Invisible. But the place and time of these miracles are dependent on His unchangeable will, in which things future are ordered as if already they were accomplished. For He moves things temporal without Himself moving in time. He does not in one way know things that are to be, and, in another, things that have been; neither does He listen to those who pray otherwise than as He sees those that will pray. For, even when His angels hear us, it is He Himself who hears us in them, as in His true temple not made with hands, as in those men who are His saints; and His answers, though accomplished in time, have been arranged by His eternal appointment.

13. Of the invisible God, who has often made Himself visible, not as He really is, but as the beholders could bear the sight.

Neither need we be surprised that God, invisible as He is, should often have appeared visibly to the patriarchs. For as the sound which communicates the thought conceived in[Pg 402] the silence of the mind is not the thought itself, so the form by which God, invisible in His own nature, became visible, was not God Himself. Nevertheless it is He Himself who was seen under that form, as that thought itself is heard in the sound of the voice; and the patriarchs recognised that, though the bodily form was not God, they saw the invisible God. For, though Moses conversed with God, yet he said, 'If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me Thyself, that I may see and know Thee.'[401] And as it was fit that the law, which was given, not to one man or a few enlightened men, but to the whole of a populous nation, should be accompanied by awe-inspiring signs, great marvels were wrought, by the ministry of angels, before the people on the mount where the law was being given to them through one man, while the multitude beheld the awful appearances. For the people of Israel believed Moses, not as the Lacedæmonians believed their Lycurgus, because he had received from Jupiter or Apollo the laws he gave them. For when the law which enjoined the worship of one God was given to the people, marvellous signs and earthquakes, such as the divine wisdom judged sufficient, were brought about in the sight of all, that they might know that it was the Creator who could thus use creation to promulgate His law.

14. That the one God is to be worshipped not only for the sake of eternal blessings, but also in connection with temporal prosperity, because all things are regulated by His providence.

The education of the human race, represented by the people of God, has advanced, like that of an individual, through certain epochs, or, as it were, ages, so that it might gradually rise from earthly to heavenly things, and from the visible to the invisible. This object was kept so clearly in view, that, even in the period when temporal rewards were promised, the one God was presented as the object of worship, that men might not acknowledge any other than the true Creator and Lord of the spirit, even in connection with the earthly blessings of this transitory life. For he who denies that all things, which either angels or men can give us, are in the hand of the one Almighty, is a madman. The Platonist Plotinus discourses[Pg 403] concerning providence, and, from the beauty of flowers and foliage, proves that from the supreme God, whose beauty is unseen and ineffable, providence reaches down even to these earthly things here below; and he argues that all these frail and perishing things could not have so exquisite and elaborate a beauty, were they not fashioned by Him whose unseen and unchangeable beauty continually pervades all things.[402] This is proved also by the Lord Jesus, where He says, 'Consider the lilies, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is and to-morrow is cast into the oven, how much more shall He clothe you, O ye of little faith!'[403] It was best, therefore, that the soul of man, which was still weakly desiring earthly things, should be accustomed to seek from God alone even these petty temporal boons, and the earthly necessaries of this transitory life, which are contemptible in comparison with eternal blessings, in order that the desire even of these things might not draw it aside from the worship of Him, to whom we come by despising and forsaking such things.

15. Of the ministry of the holy angels, by which they fulfil the providence of God.

And so it has pleased Divine Providence, as I have said, and as we read in the Acts of the Apostles,[404] that the law enjoining the worship of one God should be given by the disposition of angels. But among them the person of God Himself visibly appeared, not, indeed, in His proper substance, which ever remains invisible to mortal eyes, but by the infallible signs furnished by creation in obedience to its Creator. He made use, too, of the words of human speech, uttering them syllable by syllable successively, though in His own nature He speaks not in a bodily but in a spiritual way; not to sense, but to the mind; not in words that occupy time, but, if I may so say, eternally, neither beginning to speak nor coming to an end. And what He says is accurately heard, not by the bodily but by the mental ear of His ministers and messengers, who are immortally blessed in the enjoyment[Pg 404] of His unchangeable truth; and the directions which they in some ineffable way receive, they execute without delay or difficulty in the sensible and visible world. And this law was given in conformity with the age of the world, and contained at the first earthly promises, as I have said, which, however, symbolized eternal ones; and these eternal blessings few understood, though many took a part in the celebration of their visible signs. Nevertheless, with one consent both the words and the visible rites of that law enjoin the worship of one God,—not one of a crowd of gods, but Him who made heaven and earth, and every soul and every spirit which is other than Himself. He created; all else was created; and, both for being and well-being, all things need Him who created them.

16. Whether those angels who demand that we pay them divine honour, or those who teach us to render holy service, not to themselves, but to God, are to be trusted about the way to life eternal.

What angels, then, are we to believe in this matter of blessed and eternal life?—those who wish to be worshipped with religious rites and observances, and require that men sacrifice to them; or those who say that all this worship is due to one God, the Creator, and teach us to render it with true piety to Him, by the vision of whom they are themselves already blessed, and in whom they promise that we shall be so? For that vision of God is the beauty of a vision so great, and is so infinitely desirable, that Plotinus does not hesitate to say that he who enjoys all other blessings in abundance, and has not this, is supremely miserable.[405] Since, therefore, miracles are wrought by some angels to induce us to worship this God, by others, to induce us to worship themselves; and since the former forbid us to worship these, while the latter dare not forbid us to worship God, which are we to listen to? Let the Platonists reply, or any philosophers, or the theurgists, or rather, periurgists,[406]—for this name is good enough for those who practise such arts. In short, let all men answer,—if, at least, there survives in them any spark of that natural perception which, as rational beings, they possess when created,—let them, I say, tell us whether we should sacrifice to the gods or angels who[Pg 405] order us to sacrifice to them, or to that One to whom we are ordered to sacrifice by those who forbid us to worship either themselves or these others. If neither the one party nor the other had wrought miracles, but had merely uttered commands, the one to sacrifice to themselves, the other forbidding that, and ordering us to sacrifice to God, a godly mind would have been at no loss to discern which command proceeded from proud arrogance, and which from true religion. I will say more. If miracles had been wrought only by those who demand sacrifice for themselves, while those who forbade this, and enjoined sacrificing to the one God only, thought fit entirely to forego the use of visible miracles, the authority of the latter was to be preferred by all who would use, not their eyes only, but their reason. But since God, for the sake of commending to us the oracles of His truth, has, by means of these immortal messengers, who proclaim His majesty and not their own pride, wrought miracles of surpassing grandeur, certainty, and distinctness, in order that the weak among the godly might not be drawn away to false religion by those who require us to sacrifice to them and endeavour to convince us by stupendous appeals to our senses, who is so utterly unreasonable as not to choose and follow the truth, when he finds that it is heralded by even more striking evidences than falsehood?

As for those miracles which history ascribes to the gods of the heathen,—I do not refer to those prodigies which at intervals happen from some unknown physical causes, and which are arranged and appointed by Divine Providence, such as monstrous births, and unusual meteorological phenomena, whether startling only, or also injurious, and which are said to be brought about and removed by communication with demons, and by their most deceitful craft,—but I refer to these prodigies which manifestly enough are wrought by their power and force, as, that the household gods which Æneas carried from Troy in his flight moved from place to place; that Tarquin cut a whetstone with a razor; that the Epidaurian serpent attached himself as a companion to Æsculapius on his voyage to Rome; that the ship in which the image of the Phrygian mother stood, and which could not be moved by a host of men and oxen, was moved by one weak woman, who[Pg 406] attached her girdle to the vessel and drew it, as proof of her chastity; that a vestal, whose virginity was questioned, removed the suspicion by carrying from the Tiber a sieve full of water without any of it dropping: these, then, and the like, are by no means to be compared for greatness and virtue to those which, we read, were wrought among God's people. How much less can we compare those marvels, which even the laws of heathen nations prohibit and punish,—I mean the magical and theurgic marvels, of which the great part are merely illusions practised upon the senses, as the drawing down of the moon, "that," as Lucan says, "it may shed a stronger influence on the plants?"[407] And if some of these do seem to equal those which are wrought by the godly, the end for which they are wrought distinguishes the two, and shows that ours are incomparably the more excellent. For those miracles commend the worship of a plurality of gods, who deserve worship the less the more they demand it; but these of ours commend the worship of the one God, who, both by the testimony of His own Scriptures, and by the eventual abolition of sacrifices, proves that He needs no such offerings. If, therefore, any angels demand sacrifice for themselves, we must prefer those who demand it, not for themselves, but for God, the Creator of all, whom they serve. For thus they prove how sincerely they love us, since they wish by sacrifice to subject us, not to themselves, but to Him by the contemplation of whom they themselves are blessed, and to bring us to Him from whom they themselves have never strayed. If, on the other hand, any angels wish us to sacrifice, not to one, but to many, not, indeed, to themselves, but to the gods whose angels they are, we must in this case also prefer those who are the angels of the one God of gods, and who so bid us to worship Him as to preclude our worshipping any other. But, further, if it be the case, as their pride and deceitfulness rather indicate, that they are neither good angels nor the angels of good gods, but wicked demons, who wish sacrifice to be paid, not to the one only and supreme God, but to themselves, what better protection against them can we choose than that of the one God whom the good angels serve, the angels who bid us[Pg 407] sacrifice, not to themselves, but to Him whose sacrifice we ourselves ought to be?

17. Concerning the ark of the covenant, and the miraculous signs whereby God authenticated the law and the promise.

On this account it was that the law of God, given by the disposition of angels, and which commanded that the one God of gods alone receive sacred worship, to the exclusion of all others, was deposited in the ark, called the ark of the testimony. By this name it is sufficiently indicated, not that God, who was worshipped by all those rites, was shut up and enclosed in that place, though His responses emanated from it along with signs appreciable by the senses, but that His will was declared from that throne. The law itself, too, was engraven on tables of stone, and, as I have said, deposited in the ark, which the priests carried with due reverence during the sojourn in the wilderness, along with the tabernacle, which was in like manner called the tabernacle of the testimony; and there was then an accompanying sign, which appeared as a cloud by day and as a fire by night; when the cloud moved, the camp was shifted, and where it stood the camp was pitched. Besides these signs, and the voices which proceeded from the place where the ark was, there were other miraculous testimonies to the law. For when the ark was carried across Jordan, on the entrance to the land of promise, the upper part of the river stopped in its course, and the lower part flowed on, so as to present both to the ark and the people dry ground to pass over. Then, when it was carried seven times round the first hostile and polytheistic city they came to, its walls suddenly fell down, though assaulted by no hand, struck by no battering-ram. Afterwards, too, when they were now resident in the land of promise, and the ark had, in punishment of their sin, been taken by their enemies, its captors triumphantly placed it in the temple of their favourite god, and left it shut up there, but, on opening the temple next day, they found the image they used to pray to fallen to the ground and shamefully shattered. Then, being themselves alarmed by portents, and still more shamefully punished, they restored the ark of the testimony to the people from whom they had taken it. And what was the manner of[Pg 408] its restoration? They placed it on a wagon, and yoked to it cows from which they had taken the calves, and let them choose their own course, expecting that in this way the divine will would be indicated; and the cows, without any man driving or directing them, steadily pursued the way to the Hebrews, without regarding the lowing of their calves, and thus restored the ark to its worshippers. To God these and such like wonders are small, but they are mighty to terrify and give wholesome instruction to men. For if philosophers, and especially the Platonists, are with justice esteemed wiser than other men, as I have just been mentioning, because they taught that even these earthly and insignificant things are ruled by Divine Providence, inferring this from the numberless beauties which are observable not only in the bodies of animals, but even in plants and grasses, how much more plainly do these things attest the presence of divinity which happen at the time predicted, and in which that religion is commended which forbids the offering of sacrifice to any celestial, terrestrial, or infernal being, and commands it to be offered to God only, who alone blesses us by His love for us, and by our love to Him, and who, by arranging the appointed times of those sacrifices, and by predicting that they were to pass into a better sacrifice by a better Priest, testified that He has no appetite for these sacrifices, but through them indicated others of more substantial blessing,—and all this not that He Himself may be glorified by these honours, but that we may be stirred up to worship and cleave to Him, being inflamed by His love, which is our advantage rather than His?

18. Against those who deny that the books of the Church are to be believed about the miracles whereby the people of God were educated.

Will some one say that these miracles are false, that they never happened, and that the records of them are lies? Whoever says so, and asserts that in such matters no records whatever can be credited, may also say that there are no gods who care for human affairs. For they have induced men to worship them only by means of miraculous works, which the heathen histories testify, and by which the gods have made a display of their own power rather than done any real service. This is the reason why we have not undertaken in this work,[Pg 409] of which we are now writing the tenth book, to refute those who either deny that there is any divine power, or contend that it does not interfere with human affairs, but those who prefer their own god to our God, the Founder of the holy and most glorious city, not knowing that He is also the invisible and unchangeable Founder of this visible and changing world, and the truest bestower of the blessed life which resides not in things created, but in Himself. For thus speaks His most trustworthy prophet: "It is good for me to be united to God."[408] Among philosophers it is a question, what is that end and good to the attainment of which all our duties are to have a relation? The Psalmist did not say, It is good for me to have great wealth, or to wear imperial insignia, purple, sceptre, and diadem; or, as some even of the philosophers have not blushed to say, It is good for me to enjoy sensual pleasure; or, as the better men among them seemed to say, My good is my spiritual strength; but, "It is good for me to be united to God." This he had learned from Him whom the holy angels, with the accompanying witness of miracles, presented as the sole object of worship. And hence he himself became the sacrifice of God, whose spiritual love inflamed him, and into whose ineffable and incorporeal embrace he yearned to cast himself. Moreover, if the worshippers of many gods (whatever kind of gods they fancy their own to be) believe that the miracles recorded in their civil histories, or in the books of magic, or of the more respectable theurgy, were wrought by these gods, what reason have they for refusing to believe the miracles recorded in those writings, to which we owe a credence as much greater as He is greater to whom alone these writings teach us to sacrifice?

19. On the reasonableness of offering, as the true religion teaches, a visible sacrifice to the one true and invisible God.

As to those who think that these visible sacrifices are suitably offered to other gods, but that invisible sacrifices, the graces of purity of mind and holiness of will, should be offered, as greater and better, to the invisible God, Himself greater and better than all others, they must be oblivious that these visible sacrifices are signs of the invisible, as the words we[Pg 410] utter are the signs of things. And therefore, as in prayer or praise we direct intelligible words to Him to whom in our heart we offer the very feelings we are expressing, so we are to understand that in sacrifice we offer visible sacrifice only to Him to whom in our heart we ought to present ourselves an invisible sacrifice. It is then that the angels, and all those superior powers who are mighty by their goodness and piety, regard us with pleasure, and rejoice with us and assist us to the utmost of their power. But if we offer such worship to them, they decline it; and when on any mission to men they become visible to the senses, they positively forbid it. Examples of this occur in holy writ. Some fancied they should, by adoration or sacrifice, pay the same honour to angels as is due to God, and were prevented from doing so by the angels themselves, and ordered to render it to Him to whom alone they know it to be due. And the holy angels have in this been imitated by holy men of God. For Paul and Barnabas, when they had wrought a miracle of healing in Lycaonia, were thought to be gods, and the Lycaonians desired to sacrifice to them, and they humbly and piously declined this honour, and announced to them the God in whom they should believe. And those deceitful and proud spirits, who exact worship, do so simply because they know it to be due to the true God. For that which they take pleasure in is not, as Porphyry says and some fancy, the smell of the victims, but divine honours. They have, in fact, plenty odours on all hands, and if they wished more, they could provide them for themselves. But the spirits who arrogate to themselves divinity are delighted not with the smoke of carcases, but with the suppliant spirit which they deceive and hold in subjection, and hinder from drawing near to God, preventing him from offering himself in sacrifice to God by inducing him to sacrifice to others.

20. Of the supreme and true sacrifice which was effected by the Mediator between God and men.

And hence that true Mediator, in so far as, by assuming the form of a servant, He became the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, though in the form of God He received sacrifice together with the Father, with whom He is one God, yet in the form of a servant He chose rather to[Pg 411] be than to receive a sacrifice, that not even by this instance any one might have occasion to suppose that sacrifice should be rendered to any creature. Thus He is both the Priest who offers and the Sacrifice offered. And He designed that there should be a daily sign of this in the sacrifice of the Church, which, being His body, learns to offer herself through Him. Of this true Sacrifice the ancient sacrifices of the saints were the various and numerous signs; and it was thus variously figured, just as one thing is signified by a variety of words, that there may be less weariness when we speak of it much. To this supreme and true sacrifice all false sacrifices have given place.

21. Of the power delegated to demons for the trial and glorification of the saints, who conquer not by propitiating the spirits of the air, but by abiding in God.

The power delegated to the demons at certain appointed and well-adjusted seasons, that they may give expression to their hostility to the city of God by stirring up against it the men who are under their influence, and may not only receive sacrifice from those who willingly offer it, but may also extort it from the unwilling by violent persecution;—this power is found to be not merely harmless, but even useful to the Church, completing as it does the number of martyrs, whom the city of God esteems as all the more illustrious and honoured citizens, because they have striven even to blood against the sin of impiety. If the ordinary language of the Church allowed it, we might more elegantly call these men our heroes. For this name is said to be derived from Juno, who in Greek is called Hêrê, and hence, according to the Greek myths, one of her sons was called Heros. And these fables mystically signified that Juno was mistress of the air, which they suppose to be inhabited by the demons and the heroes, understanding by heroes the souls of the well-deserving dead. But for a quite opposite reason would we call our martyrs heroes,—supposing, as I said, that the usage of ecclesiastical language would admit of it,—not because they lived along with the demons in the air, but because they conquered these demons or powers of the air, and among them Juno herself, be she what she may, not[Pg 412] unsuitably represented, as she commonly is by the poets, as hostile to virtue, and jealous of men of mark aspiring to the heavens. Virgil, however, unhappily gives way, and yields to her; for, though he represents her as saying, "I am conquered by Æneas,"[409] Helenus gives Æneas himself this religious advice:

"Pay vows to Juno: overbear
Her queenly soul with gift and prayer."[410]


In conformity with this opinion, Porphyry—expressing, however, not so much his own views as other people's—says that a good god or genius cannot come to a man unless the evil genius has been first of all propitiated, implying that the evil deities had greater power than the good; for, until they have been appeased and give place, the good can give no assistance; and if the evil deities oppose, the good can give no help; whereas the evil can do injury without the good being able to prevent them. This is not the way of the true and truly holy religion; not thus do our martyrs conquer Juno, that is to say, the powers of the air, who envy the virtues of the pious. Our heroes, if we could so call them, overcome Hêrê, not by suppliant gifts, but by divine virtues. As Scipio, who conquered Africa by his valour, is more suitably styled Africanus than if he had appeased his enemies by gifts, and so won their mercy.

22. Whence the saints derive power against demons and true purification of heart.

It is by true piety that men of God cast out the hostile power of the air which opposes godliness; it is by exorcising it, not by propitiating it; and they overcome all the temptations of the adversary by praying, not to him, but to their own God against him. For the devil cannot conquer or subdue any but those who are in league with sin; and therefore he is conquered in the name of Him who assumed humanity, and that without sin, that Himself being both Priest and Sacrifice, He might bring about the remission of sins, that is to say, might bring it about through the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, by whom we are reconciled to God, the cleansing from sin being accomplished.[Pg 413] For men are separated from God only by sins, from which we are in this life cleansed not by our own virtue, but by the divine compassion; through His indulgence, not through our own power. For, whatever virtue we call our own is itself bestowed upon us by His goodness. And we might attribute too much to ourselves while in the flesh, unless we lived in the receipt of pardon until we laid it down. This is the reason why there has been vouchsafed to us, through the Mediator, this grace, that we who are polluted by sinful flesh should be cleansed by the likeness of sinful flesh. By this grace of God, wherein He has shown His great compassion toward us, we are both governed by faith in this life, and, after this life, are led onwards to the fullest perfection by the vision of immutable truth.

23. Of the principles which, according to the Platonists, regulate the purification of the soul.

Even Porphyry asserts that it was revealed by divine oracles that we are not purified by any sacrifices[411] to sun or moon, meaning it to be inferred that we are not purified by sacrificing to any gods. For what mysteries can purify, if those of the sun and moon, which are esteemed the chief of the celestial gods, do not purify? He says, too, in the same place, that "principles" can purify, lest it should be supposed, from his saying that sacrificing to the sun and moon cannot purify, that sacrificing to some other of the host of gods might do so. And what he as a Platonist means by "principles," we know.[412] For he speaks of God the Father and God the Son, whom he calls (writing in Greek) the intellect or mind of the Father;[413] but of the Holy Spirit he says either nothing, or nothing plainly, for I do not understand what other he speaks of as holding the middle place between these two.[Pg 414] For if, like Plotinus in his discussion regarding the three principal substances,[414] he wished us to understand by this third the soul of nature, he would certainly not have given it the middle place between these two, that is, between the Father and the Son. For Plotinus places the soul of nature after the intellect of the Father, while Porphyry, making it the mean, does not place it after, but between the others. No doubt he spoke according to his light, or as he thought expedient; but we assert that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit not of the Father only, nor of the Son only, but of both. For philosophers speak as they have a mind to, and in the most difficult matters do not scruple to offend religious ears; but we are bound to speak according to a certain rule, lest freedom of speech beget impiety of opinion about the matters themselves of which we speak.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:32 am

Part 3 of 3

24. Of the one only true principle which alone purifies and renews human nature.

Accordingly, when we speak of God, we do not affirm two or three principles, no more than we are at liberty to affirm two or three gods; although, speaking of each, of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost, we confess that each is God: and yet we do not say, as the Sabellian heretics say, that the Father is the same as the Son, and the Holy Spirit the same as the Father and the Son; but we say that the Father is the Father of the Son, and the Son the Son of the Father, and that the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son is neither the Father nor the Son. It was therefore truly said that man is cleansed only by a Principle, although the Platonists erred in speaking in the plural of principles. But Porphyry, being under the dominion of these envious powers, whose influence he was at once ashamed of and afraid to throw off, refused to recognise that Christ is the Principle by whose incarnation we are purified. Indeed he despised Him, because of the flesh itself which He assumed, that He might offer a sacrifice for our purification,—a great mystery, unintelligible to Porphyry's pride, which that true and benignant Redeemer brought low by His humility, manifesting Himself to mortals by the mortality which He assumed, and which[Pg 415] the malignant and deceitful mediators are proud of wanting, promising, as the boon of immortals, a deceptive assistance to wretched men. Thus the good and true Mediator showed that it is sin which is evil, and not the substance or nature of flesh; for this, together with the human soul, could without sin be both assumed and retained, and laid down in death, and changed to something better by resurrection. He showed also that death itself, although the punishment of sin, was submitted to by Him for our sakes without sin, and must not be evaded by sin on our part, but rather, if opportunity serves, be borne for righteousness' sake. For he was able to expiate sins by dying, because He both died, and not for sin of His own. But He has not been recognised by Porphyry as the Principle, otherwise he would have recognised Him as the Purifier. The Principle is neither the flesh nor the human soul in Christ, but the Word by which all things were made. The flesh, therefore, does not by its own virtue purify, but by virtue of the Word by which it was assumed, when "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."[415] For, speaking mystically of eating His flesh, when those who did not understand Him were offended and went away, saying, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" He answered to the rest who remained, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing."[416] The Principle, therefore, having assumed a human soul and flesh, cleanses the soul and flesh of believers. Therefore, when the Jews asked Him who He was, He answered that He was the Principle.[417] And this we carnal and feeble men, liable to sin, and involved in the darkness of ignorance, could not possibly understand, unless we were cleansed and healed by Him, both by means of what we were, and of what we were not. For we were men, but we were not righteous; whereas in His incarnation there was a human nature, but it was righteous, and not sinful. This is the mediation whereby a hand is stretched to the lapsed and fallen; this is the seed "ordained by angels," by whose ministry the law also was given enjoining the worship of one God, and promising that this Mediator should come. [Pg 416]

25. That all the saints, both under the law and before it, were justified by faith in the mystery of Christ's incarnation.

It was by faith in this mystery, and godliness of life, that purification was attainable even by the saints of old, whether before the law was given to the Hebrews (for God and the angels were even then present as instructors), or in the periods under the law, although the promises of spiritual things, being presented in figure, seemed to be carnal, and hence the name of Old Testament. For it was then the prophets lived, by whom, as by angels, the same promise was announced; and among them was he whose grand and divine sentiment regarding the end and supreme good of man I have just now quoted, "It is good for me to cleave to God."[418] In this psalm the distinction between the Old and New Testaments is distinctly announced. For the Psalmist says, that when he saw that the carnal and earthly promises were abundantly enjoyed by the ungodly, his feet were almost gone, his steps had well-nigh slipped; and that it seemed to him as if he had served God in vain, when he saw that those who despised God increased in that prosperity which he looked for at God's hand. He says, too, that, in investigating this matter with the desire of understanding why it was so, he had laboured in vain, until he went into the sanctuary of God, and understood the end of those whom he had erroneously considered happy. Then he understood that they were cast down by that very thing, as he says, which they had made their boast, and that they had been consumed and perished for their iniquities; and that that whole fabric of temporal prosperity had become as a dream when one awaketh, and suddenly finds himself destitute of all the joys he had imaged in sleep. And, as in this earth or earthy city they seemed to themselves to be great, he says, "O Lord, in Thy city Thou wilt reduce their image to nothing." He also shows how beneficial it had been for him to seek even earthly blessings only from the one true God, in whose power are all things, for he says, "As a beast was I before Thee, and I am always with Thee." "As a beast," he says, meaning that he was stupid. For I ought to have sought from Thee such things as the ungodly could[Pg 417] not enjoy as well as I, and not those things which I saw them enjoying in abundance, and hence concluded I was serving Thee in vain, because they who declined to serve Thee had what I had not. Nevertheless, "I am always with Thee," because even in my desire for such things I did not pray to other gods. And consequently he goes on, "Thou hast holden me by my right hand, and by Thy counsel Thou hast guided me, and with glory hast taken me up;" as if all earthly advantages were left-hand blessings, though, when he saw them enjoyed by the wicked, his feet had almost gone. "For what," he says, "have I in heaven, and what have I desired from Thee upon earth?" He blames himself, and is justly displeased with himself; because, though he had in heaven so vast a possession (as he afterwards understood), he yet sought from his God on earth a transitory and fleeting happiness,—a happiness of mire, we may say. "My heart and my flesh," he says, "fail, O God of my heart." Happy failure, from things below to things above! And hence in another psalm he says, "My soul longeth, yea, even faileth, for the courts of the Lord."[419] Yet, though he had said of both his heart and his flesh that they were failing, he did not say, O God of my heart and my flesh, but, O God of my heart; for by the heart the flesh is made clean. Therefore, says the Lord, "Cleanse that which is within, and the outside shall be clean also."[420] He then says that God Himself,—not anything received from Him, but Himself,—is his portion. "The God of my heart, and my portion for ever." Among the various objects of human choice, God alone satisfied him. "For, lo," he says, "they that are far from Thee shall perish: Thou destroyest all them that go a-whoring from Thee,"—that is, who prostitute themselves to many gods. And then follows the verse for which all the rest of the psalm seems to prepare: "It is good for me to cleave to God,"—not to go far off; not to go a-whoring with a multitude of gods. And then shall this union with God be perfected, when all that is to be redeemed in us has been redeemed. But for the present we must, as he goes on to say, "place our hope in God." "For that which is seen," says the apostle, "is not hope. For what[Pg 418] a man sees, why does he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."[421] Being, then, for the present established in this hope, let us do what the Psalmist further indicates, and become in our measure angels or messengers of God, declaring His will, and praising His glory and His grace. For when he had said, "To place my hope in God," he goes on, "that I may declare all Thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Zion." This is the most glorious city of God; this is the city which knows and worships one God: she is celebrated by the holy angels, who invite us to their society, and desire us to become fellow-citizens with them in this city; for they do not wish us to worship them as our gods, but to join them in worshipping their God and ours; nor to sacrifice to them, but, together with them, to become a sacrifice to God. Accordingly, whoever will lay aside malignant obstinacy, and consider these things, shall be assured that all these blessed and immortal spirits, who do not envy us (for if they envied they were not blessed), but rather love us, and desire us to be as blessed as themselves, look on us with greater pleasure, and give us greater assistance, when we join them in worshipping one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, than if we were to offer to themselves sacrifice and worship.

26. Of Porphyry's weakness in wavering between the confession of the true God and the worship of demons.

I know not how it is so, but it seems to me that Porphyry blushed for his friends the theurgists; for he knew all that I have adduced, but did not frankly condemn polytheistic worship. He said, in fact, that there are some angels who visit earth, and reveal divine truth to theurgists, and others who publish on earth the things that belong to the Father, His height and depth. Can we believe, then, that the angels whose office it is to declare the will of the Father, wish us to be subject to any but Him whose will they declare? And hence, even this Platonist himself judiciously observes that we should rather imitate than invoke them. We ought not, then, to fear that we may offend these immortal and happy subjects[Pg 419] of the one God by not sacrificing to them; for this they know to be due only to the one true God, in allegiance to whom they themselves find their blessedness, and therefore they will not have it given to them, either in figure or in the reality, which the mysteries of sacrifice symbolized. Such arrogance belongs to proud and wretched demons, whose disposition is diametrically opposite to the piety of those who are subject to God, and whose blessedness consists in attachment to Him. And, that we also may attain to this bliss, they aid us, as is fit, with sincere kindliness, and usurp over us no dominion, but declare to us Him under whose rule we are then fellow-subjects. Why, then, O philosopher, do you still fear to speak freely against the powers which are inimical both to true virtue and to the gifts of the true God? Already you have discriminated between the angels who proclaim God's will, and those who visit theurgists, drawn down by I know not what art. Why do you still ascribe to these latter the honour of declaring divine truth? If they do not declare the will of the Father, what divine revelations can they make? Are not these the evil spirits who were bound over by the incantations of an envious man,[422] that they should not grant purity of soul to another, and could not, as you say, be set free from these bonds by a good man anxious for purity, and recover power over their own actions? Do you still doubt whether these are wicked demons; or do you, perhaps, feign ignorance, that you may not give offence to the theurgists, who have allured you by their secret rites, and have taught you, as a mighty boon, these insane and pernicious devilries? Do you dare to elevate above the air, and even to heaven, these envious powers, or pests, let me rather call them, less worthy of the name of sovereign than of slaves, as you yourself own; and are you not ashamed to place them even among your sidereal gods, and so put a slight upon the stars themselves?

27. Of the impiety of Porphyry, which is worse than even the mistake of Apuleius.

How much more tolerable and accordant with human feeling is the error of your Platonist co-sectary Apuleius! for he[Pg 420] attributed the diseases and storms of human passions only to the demons who occupy a grade beneath the moon, and makes even this avowal as by constraint regarding gods whom he honours; but the superior and celestial gods, who inhabit the ethereal regions, whether visible, as the sun, moon, and other luminaries, whose brilliancy makes them conspicuous, or invisible, but believed in by him, he does his utmost to remove beyond the slightest stain of these perturbations. It is not, then, from Plato, but from your Chaldæan teachers you have learned to elevate human vices to the ethereal and empyreal regions of the world and to the celestial firmament, in order that your theurgists might be able to obtain from your gods divine revelations; and yet you make yourself superior to these divine revelations by your intellectual life, which dispenses with these theurgic purifications as not needed by a philosopher. But, by way of rewarding your teachers, you recommend these arts to other men, who, not being philosophers, may be persuaded to use what you acknowledge to be useless to yourself, who are capable of higher things; so that those who cannot avail themselves of the virtue of philosophy, which is too arduous for the multitude, may, at your instigation, betake themselves to theurgists by whom they may be purified, not, indeed, in the intellectual, but in the spiritual part of the soul. Now, as the persons who are unfit for philosophy form incomparably the majority of mankind, more may be compelled to consult these secret and illicit teachers of yours than frequent the Platonic schools. For these most impure demons, pretending to be ethereal gods, whose herald and messenger you have become, have promised that those who are purified by theurgy in the spiritual part of their soul shall not indeed return to the Father, but shall dwell among the ethereal gods above the aerial regions. But such fancies are not listened to by the multitudes of men whom Christ came to set free from the tyranny of demons. For in Him they have the most gracious cleansing, in which mind, spirit, and body alike participate. For, in order that He might heal the whole man from the plague of sin, He took without sin the whole human nature. Would that you had known Him, and would that you had committed yourself[Pg 421] for healing to Him rather than to your own frail and infirm human virtue, or to pernicious and curious arts! He would not have deceived you; for Him your own oracles, on your own showing, acknowledged holy and immortal. It is of Him, too, that the most famous poet speaks, poetically indeed, since he applies it to the person of another, yet truly, if you refer it to Christ, saying, "Under thine auspices, if any traces of our crimes remain, they shall be obliterated, and earth freed from its perpetual fear."[423] By which he indicates that, by reason of the infirmity which attaches to this life, the greatest progress in virtue and righteousness leaves room for the existence, if not of crimes, yet of the traces of crimes, which are obliterated only by that Saviour of whom this verse speaks. For that he did not say this at the prompting of his own fancy, Virgil tells us in almost the last verse of that 4th Eclogue, when he says, "The last age predicted by the Cumæan sibyl has now arrived;" whence it plainly appears that this had been dictated by the Cumæan sibyl. But those theurgists, or rather demons, who assume the appearance and form of gods, pollute rather than purify the human spirit by false appearances and the delusive mockery of unsubstantial forms. How can those whose own spirit is unclean cleanse the spirit of man? Were they not unclean, they would not be bound by the incantations of an envious man, and would neither be afraid nor grudge to bestow that hollow boon which they promise. But it is sufficient for our purpose that you acknowledge that the intellectual soul, that is, our mind, cannot be justified by theurgy; and that even the spiritual or inferior part of our soul cannot by this act be made eternal and immortal, though you maintain that it can be purified by it. Christ, however, promises life eternal; and therefore to Him the world flocks, greatly to your indignation, greatly also to your astonishment and confusion. What avails your forced avowal that theurgy leads men astray, and deceives vast numbers by its ignorant and foolish teaching, and that it is the most manifest mistake to have recourse by prayer and sacrifice to angels and principalities, when at the same time, to save yourself from the charge of spending labour in vain on such arts, you direct[Pg 422] men to the theurgists, that by their means men, who do not live by the rule of the intellectual soul, may have their spiritual soul purified?

28. How it is that Porphyry has been so blind as not to recognise the true wisdom—Christ.

You drive men, therefore, into the most palpable error. And yet you are not ashamed of doing so much harm, though you call yourself a lover of virtue and wisdom. Had you been true and faithful in this profession, you would have recognised Christ, the virtue of God and the wisdom of God, and would not, in the pride of vain science, have revolted from His wholesome humility. Nevertheless you acknowledge that the spiritual part of the soul can be purified by the virtue of chastity without the aid of those theurgic arts and mysteries which you wasted your time in learning. You even say, sometimes, that these mysteries do not raise the soul after death, so that, after the termination of this life, they seem to be of no service even to the part you call spiritual; and yet you recur on every opportunity to these arts, for no other purpose, so far as I see, than to appear an accomplished theurgist, and gratify those who are curious in illicit arts, or else to inspire others with the same curiosity. But we give you all praise for saying that this art is to be feared, both on account of the legal enactments against it, and by reason of the danger involved in the very practice of it. And would that in this, at least, you were listened to by its wretched votaries, that they might be withdrawn from entire absorption in it, or might even be preserved from tampering with it at all! You say, indeed, that ignorance, and the numberless vices resulting from it, cannot be removed by any mysteries, but only by the πατρικὸς νοῦς, that is, the Father's mind or intellect conscious of the Father's will. But that Christ is this mind you do not believe; for Him you despise on account of the body He took of a woman and the shame of the cross; for your lofty wisdom spurns such low and contemptible things, and soars to more exalted regions. But He fulfils what the holy prophets truly predicted regarding Him: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nought the prudence of the prudent."[Pg 423][424] For He does not destroy and bring to nought His own gift in them, but what they arrogate to themselves, and do not hold of Him. And hence the apostle, having quoted this testimony from the prophet, adds, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men."[425] This is despised as a weak and foolish thing by those who are wise and strong in themselves; yet this is the grace which heals the weak, who do not proudly boast a blessedness of their own, but rather humbly acknowledge their real misery.

29. Of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the Platonists in their impiety blush to acknowledge.

You proclaim the Father and His Son, whom you call the Father's intellect or mind, and between these a third, by whom we suppose you mean the Holy Spirit, and in your own fashion you call these three Gods. In this, though your expressions are inaccurate, you do in some sort, and as through a veil, see what we should strive towards; but the incarnation of the unchangeable Son of God, whereby we are saved, and are enabled to reach the things we believe, or in part understand, this is what you refuse to recognise. You see in a fashion, although at a distance, although with filmy eye, the country in which we should abide; but the way to it you know not. Yet you believe in grace, for you say it is granted to few to reach God by virtue of intelligence. For you do not say, "Few have thought fit or have wished," but, "It has been granted to few,"—distinctly acknowledging God's grace, not man's sufficiency. You also use this word more expressly, when, in[Pg 424] accordance with the opinion of Plato, you make no doubt that in this life a man cannot by any means attain to perfect wisdom, but that whatever is lacking is in the future life made up to those who live intellectually, by God's providence and grace. Oh, had you but recognised the grace of God in Jesus Christ our Lord, and that very incarnation of His, wherein He assumed a human soul and body, you might have seemed the brightest example of grace![426] But what am I doing? I know it is useless to speak to a dead man,—useless, at least, so far as regards you, but perhaps not in vain for those who esteem you highly, and love you on account of their love of wisdom or curiosity about those arts which you ought not to have learned; and these persons I address in your name. The grace of God could not have been more graciously commended to us than thus, that the only Son of God, remaining unchangeable in Himself, should assume humanity, and should give us the hope of His love, by means of the mediation of a human nature, through which we, from the condition of men, might come to Him who was so far off,—the immortal from the mortal; the unchangeable from the changeable; the just from the unjust; the blessed from the wretched. And, as He had given us a natural instinct to desire blessedness and immortality, He Himself continuing to be blessed, but assuming mortality, by enduring what we fear, taught us to despise it, that what we long for He might bestow upon us.

But in order to your acquiescence in this truth, it is lowliness that is requisite, and to this it is extremely difficult to bend you. For what is there incredible, especially to men like you, accustomed to speculation, which might have predisposed you to believe in this,—what is there incredible, I say, in the assertion that God assumed a human soul and body? You yourselves ascribe such excellence to the intellectual soul, which is, after all, the human soul, that you maintain that it can become consubstantial with that intelligence of the Father whom you believe in as the Son of God. What incredible thing is it, then, if some one soul be assumed by Him in an ineffable and unique manner for the salvation of many?[Pg 425] Moreover, our nature itself testifies that a man is incomplete unless a body be united with the soul. This certainly would be more incredible, were it not of all things the most common; for we should more easily believe in a union between spirit and spirit, or, to use your own terminology, between the incorporeal and the incorporeal, even though the one were human, the other divine, the one changeable and the other unchangeable, than in a union between the corporeal and the incorporeal. But perhaps it is the unprecedented birth of a body from a virgin that staggers you? But, so far from this being a difficulty, it ought rather to assist you to receive our religion, that a miraculous person was born miraculously. Or, do you find a difficulty in the fact that, after His body had been given up to death, and had been changed into a higher kind of body by resurrection, and was now no longer mortal but incorruptible, He carried it up into heavenly places? Perhaps you refuse to believe this, because you remember that Porphyry, in these very books from which I have cited so much, and which treat of the return of the soul, so frequently teaches that a body of every kind is to be escaped from, in order that the soul may dwell in blessedness with God. But here, in place of following Porphyry, you ought rather to have corrected him, especially since you agree with him in believing such incredible things about the soul of this visible world and huge material frame. For, as scholars of Plato, you hold that the world is an animal, and a very happy animal, which you wish to be also everlasting. How, then, is it never to be loosed from a body, and yet never lose its happiness, if, in order to the happiness of the soul, the body must be left behind? The sun, too, and the other stars, you not only acknowledge to be bodies, in which you have the cordial assent of all seeing men, but also, in obedience to what you reckon a profounder insight, you declare that they are very blessed animals, and eternal, together with their bodies. Why is it, then, that when the Christian faith is pressed upon you, you forget, or pretend to ignore, what you habitually discuss or teach? Why is it that you refuse to be Christians, on the ground that you hold opinions which, in fact, you yourselves demolish? Is it not because Christ came in lowliness, and ye are proud? The[Pg 426] precise nature of the resurrection bodies of the saints may sometimes occasion discussion among those who are best read in the Christian Scriptures; yet there is not among us the smallest doubt that they shall be everlasting, and of a nature exemplified in the instance of Christ's risen body. But whatever be their nature, since we maintain that they shall be absolutely incorruptible and immortal, and shall offer no hindrance to the soul's contemplation by which it is fixed in God, and as you say that among the celestials the bodies of the eternally blessed are eternal, why do you maintain that, in order to blessedness, every body must be escaped from? Why do you thus seek such a plausible reason for escaping from the Christian faith, if not because, as I again say, Christ is humble and ye proud? Are ye ashamed to be corrected? This is the vice of the proud. It is, forsooth, a degradation for learned men to pass from the school of Plato to the discipleship of Christ, who by His Spirit taught a fisherman to think and to say, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."[427] The old saint Simplicianus, afterwards bishop of Milan, used to tell me that a certain Platonist was in the habit of saying that this opening passage of the holy gospel, entitled "According to John," should be written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches in the most conspicuous place. But the proud scorn to take God for their Master, because "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."[428] So that, with these miserable creatures, it is not enough that they are sick, but they boast of their sickness, and are ashamed of the medicine which could heal them. And, doing so, they secure not elevation, but a more disastrous fall.

30. Porphyry's emendations and modifications of Platonism.

If it is considered unseemly to emend anything which Plato has touched, why did Porphyry himself make emendations,[Pg 427] and these not a few? for it is very certain that Plato wrote that the souls of men return after death to the bodies of beasts.[429] Plotinus also, Porphyry's teacher, held this opinion;[430] yet Porphyry justly rejected it. He was of opinion that human souls return indeed into human bodies, but not into the bodies they had left, but other new bodies. He shrank from the other opinion, lest a woman who had returned into a mule might possibly carry her own son on her back. He did not shrink, however, from a theory which admitted the possibility of a mother coming back into a girl and marrying her own son. How much more honourable a creed is that which was taught by the holy and truthful angels, uttered by the prophets who were moved by God's Spirit, preached by Him who was foretold as the coming Saviour by His forerunning heralds, and by the apostles whom He sent forth, and who filled the whole world with the gospel,—how much more honourable, I say, is the belief that souls return once for all to their own bodies, than that they return again and again to divers bodies? Nevertheless Porphyry, as I have said, did considerably improve upon this opinion, in so far, at least, as he maintained that human souls could transmigrate only into human bodies, and made no scruple about demolishing the bestial prisons into which Plato had wished to cast them. He says, too, that God put the soul into the world that it might recognise the evils of matter, and return to the Father, and be for ever emancipated from the polluting contact of matter. And although here is some inappropriate thinking (for the soul is rather given to the body that it may do good; for it would not learn evil unless it did it), yet he corrects the opinion of other Platonists, and that on a point of no small importance, inasmuch as he avows that the soul, which is purged from all evil and received to the Father's presence, shall never again suffer the ills of this life. By this opinion he quite subverted the favourite Platonic dogma, that as dead men are made out of living ones, so living men are made out of dead ones; and he exploded the idea which Virgil seems to have adopted from Plato, that the purified souls which have been sent into the Elysian fields (the poetic[Pg 428] name for the joys of the blessed) are summoned to the river Lethe, that is, to the oblivion of the past,

"That earthward they may pass once more,
Remembering not the things before,
And with a blind propension yearn
To fleshly bodies to return."[431]


This found no favour with Porphyry, and very justly; for it is indeed foolish to believe that souls should desire to return from that life, which cannot be very blessed unless by the assurance of its permanence, and to come back into this life, and to the pollution of corruptible bodies, as if the result of perfect purification were only to make defilement desirable. For if perfect purification effects the oblivion of all evils, and the oblivion of evils creates a desire for a body in which the soul may again be entangled with evils, then the supreme felicity will be the cause of infelicity, and the perfection of wisdom the cause of foolishness, and the purest cleansing the cause of defilement. And, however long the blessedness of the soul last, it cannot be founded on truth, if, in order to be blessed, it must be deceived. For it cannot be blessed unless it be free from fear. But, to be free from fear, it must be under the false impression that it shall be always blessed,—the false impression, for it is destined to be also at some time miserable. How, then, shall the soul rejoice in truth, whose joy is founded on falsehood? Porphyry saw this, and therefore said that the purified soul returns to the Father, that it may never more be entangled in the polluting contact with evil. The opinion, therefore, of some Platonists, that there is a necessary revolution carrying souls away and bringing them round again to the same things, is false. But, were it true, what were the advantage of knowing it? Would the Platonists presume to allege their superiority to us, because we were in this life ignorant of what they themselves were doomed to be ignorant of when perfected in purity and wisdom in another and better life, and which they must be ignorant of if they are to be blessed? If it were most absurd and foolish to say so, then certainly we must prefer Porphyry's opinion to the idea of a circulation of souls through constantly alternating[Pg 429] happiness and misery. And if this is just, here is a Platonist emending Plato, here is a man who saw what Plato did not see, and who did not shrink from correcting so illustrious a master, but preferred truth to Plato.

31. Against the arguments on which the Platonists ground their assertion that the human soul is co-eternal with God.

Why, then, do we not rather believe the divinity in those matters, which human talent cannot fathom? Why do we not credit the assertion of divinity, that the soul is not co-eternal with God, but is created, and once was not? For the Platonists seemed to themselves to allege an adequate reason for their rejection of this doctrine, when they affirmed that nothing could be everlasting which had not always existed. Plato, however, in writing concerning the world and the gods in it, whom the Supreme made, most expressly states that they had a beginning and yet would have no end, but, by the sovereign will of the Creator, would endure eternally. But, by way of interpreting this, the Platonists have discovered that he meant a beginning, not of time, but of cause. "For as if a foot," they say, "had been always from eternity in dust, there would always have been a print underneath it; and yet no one would doubt that this print was made by the pressure of the foot, nor that, though the one was made by the other, neither was prior to the other; so," they say, "the world and the gods created in it have always been, their Creator always existing, and yet they were made." If, then, the soul has always existed, are we to say that its wretchedness has always existed? For if there is something in it which was not from eternity, but began in time, why is it impossible that the soul itself, though not previously existing, should begin to be in time? Its blessedness, too, which, as he owns, is to be more stable, and indeed endless, after the soul's experience of evils,—this undoubtedly has a beginning in time, and yet is to be always, though previously it had no existence. This whole argumentation, therefore, to establish that nothing can be endless except that which has had no beginning, falls to the ground. For here we find the blessedness of the soul, which has a beginning, and yet has no end. And, therefore, let the incapacity of man give place to the[Pg 430] authority of God; and let us take our belief regarding the true religion from the ever-blessed spirits, who do not seek for themselves that honour which they know to be due to their God and ours, and who do not command us to sacrifice save only to Him, whose sacrifice, as I have often said already, and must often say again, we and they ought together to be, offered through that Priest who offered Himself to death a sacrifice for us, in that human nature which He assumed, and according to which He desired to be our Priest.

32. Of the universal way of the soul's deliverance, which Porphyry did not find because he did not rightly seek it, and which the grace of Christ has alone thrown open.

This is the religion which possesses the universal way for delivering the soul; for, except by this way, none can be delivered. This is a kind of royal way, which alone leads to a kingdom which does not totter like all temporal dignities, but stands firm on eternal foundations. And when Porphyry says, towards the end of the first book De Regressu Animæ, that no system of doctrine which furnishes the universal way for delivering the soul has as yet been received, either from the truest philosophy, or from the ideas and practices of the Indians, or from the reasoning[432] of the Chaldæans, or from any source whatever, and that no historical reading had made him acquainted with that way, he manifestly acknowledges that there is such a way, but that as yet he was not acquainted with it. Nothing of all that he had so laboriously learned concerning the deliverance of the soul, nothing of all that he seemed to others, if not to himself, to know and believe, satisfied him. For he perceived that there was still wanting a commanding authority which it might be right to follow in a matter of such importance. And when he says that he had not learned from any truest philosophy a system which possessed the universal way of the soul's deliverance, he shows plainly enough, as it seems to me, either that the philosophy of which he was a disciple was not the truest, or that it did not comprehend such a way. And how can that be the truest philosophy which does not possess this way? For what else is the universal way of the soul's deliverance than that by[Pg 431] which all souls universally are delivered, and without which, therefore, no soul is delivered? And when he says, in addition, "or from the ideas and practices of the Indians, or from the reasoning of the Chaldæans, or from any source whatever," he declares in the most unequivocal language that this universal way of the soul's deliverance was not embraced in what he had learned either from the Indians or the Chaldæans; and yet he could not forbear stating that it was from the Chaldæans he had derived these divine oracles of which he makes such frequent mention. What, therefore, does he mean by this universal way of the soul's deliverance, which had not yet been made known by any truest philosophy, or by the doctrinal systems of those nations which were considered to have great insight in things divine, because they indulged more freely in a curious and fanciful science and worship of angels? What is this universal way of which he acknowledges his ignorance, if not a way which does not belong to one nation as its special property, but is common to all, and divinely bestowed? Porphyry, a man of no mediocre abilities, does not question that such a way exists; for he believes that Divine Providence could not have left men destitute of this universal way of delivering the soul. For he does not say that this way does not exist, but that this great boon and assistance has not yet been discovered, and has not come to his knowledge. And no wonder; for Porphyry lived in an age when this universal way of the soul's deliverance,—in other words, the Christian religion,—was exposed to the persecutions of idolaters and demon-worshippers, and earthly rulers,[433] that the number of martyrs or witnesses for the truth might be completed and consecrated, and that by them proof might be given that we must endure all bodily sufferings in the cause of the holy faith, and for the commendation of the truth. Porphyry, being a witness of these persecutions, concluded that this way was destined to a speedy extinction, and that it, therefore, was not the universal way of the soul's deliverance, and did not see that the very thing that thus moved him, and deterred him from becoming a Christian, contributed to the confirmation and more effectual commendation of our religion. [Pg 432]

This, then, is the universal way of the soul's deliverance, the way that is granted by the divine compassion to the nations universally. And no nation to which the knowledge of it has already come, or may hereafter come, ought to demand, Why so soon? or, Why so late?—for the design of Him who sends it is impenetrable by human capacity. This was felt by Porphyry when he confined himself to saying that this gift of God was not yet received, and had not yet come to his knowledge. For, though this was so, he did not on that account pronounce that the way itself had no existence. This, I say, is the universal way for the deliverance of believers, concerning which the faithful Abraham received the divine assurance, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed."[434] He, indeed, was by birth a Chaldæan; but, that he might receive these great promises, and that there might be propagated from him a seed "disposed by angels in the hand of a Mediator,"[435] in whom this universal way, thrown open to all nations for the deliverance of the soul, might be found, he was ordered to leave his country, and kindred, and father's house. Then was he himself, first of all, delivered from the Chaldæan superstitions, and by his obedience worshipped the one true God, whose promises he faithfully trusted. This is the universal way, of which it is said in holy prophecy, "God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us; that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations."[436] And hence, when our Saviour, so long after, had taken flesh of the seed of Abraham, He says of Himself, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."[437] This is the universal way, of which so long before it had been predicted, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the[Pg 433] word of the Lord from Jerusalem."[438] This way, therefore, is not the property of one, but of all nations. The law and the word of the Lord did not remain in Zion and Jerusalem, but issued thence to be universally diffused. And therefore the Mediator Himself, after His resurrection, says to His alarmed disciples, "These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened He their understandings that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."[439] This is the universal way of the soul's deliverance, which the holy angels and the holy prophets formerly disclosed where they could among the few men who found the grace of God, and especially in the Hebrew nation, whose commonwealth was, as it were, consecrated to prefigure and fore-announce the city of God which was to be gathered from all nations, by their tabernacle, and temple, and priesthood, and sacrifices. In some explicit statements, and in many obscure foreshadowings, this way was declared; but latterly came the Mediator Himself in the flesh, and His blessed apostles, revealing how the grace of the New Testament more openly explained what had been obscurely hinted to preceding generations, in conformity with the relation of the ages of the human race, and as it pleased God in His wisdom to appoint, who also bore them witness with signs and miracles, some of which I have cited above. For not only were there visions of angels, and words heard from those heavenly ministrants, but also men of God, armed with the word of simple piety, cast out unclean spirits from the bodies and senses of men, and healed deformities and sicknesses; the wild beasts of earth and sea, the birds of air, inanimate things, the elements, the stars, obeyed their divine commands; the powers of hell gave way before them, the dead were restored to life. I say nothing of the miracles peculiar and proper to the Saviour's own person, especially the nativity[Pg 434] and the resurrection; in the one of which He wrought only the mystery of a virgin maternity, while in the other He furnished an instance of the resurrection which all shall at last experience. This way purifies the whole man, and prepares the mortal in all his parts for immortality. For, to prevent us from seeking for one purgation for the part which Porphyry calls intellectual, and another for the part he calls spiritual, and another for the body itself, our most mighty and truthful Purifier and Saviour assumed the whole human nature. Except by this way, which has been present among men both during the period of the promises and of the proclamation of their fulfilment, no man has been delivered, no man is delivered, no man shall be delivered.

As to Porphyry's statement that the universal way of the soul's deliverance had not yet come to his knowledge by any acquaintance he had with history, I would ask, what more remarkable history can be found than that which has taken possession of the whole world by its authoritative voice? or what more trustworthy than that which narrates past events, and predicts the future with equal clearness, and in the unfulfilled predictions of which we are constrained to believe by those that are already fulfilled? For neither Porphyry nor any Platonists can despise divination and prediction, even of things that pertain to this life and earthly matters, though they justly despise ordinary soothsaying and the divination that is connected with magical arts. They deny that these are the predictions of great men, or are to be considered important, and they are right; for they are founded, either on the foresight of subsidiary causes, as to a professional eye much of the course of a disease is foreseen by certain premonitory symptoms, or the unclean demons predict what they have resolved to do, that they may thus work upon the thoughts and desires of the wicked with an appearance of authority, and incline human frailty to imitate their impure actions. It is not such things that the saints who walk in the universal way care to predict as important, although, for the purpose of commending the faith, they knew and often predicted even such things as could not be detected by human observation, nor be readily verified by experience. But there[Pg 435] were other truly important and divine events which they predicted, in so far as it was given them to know the will of God. For the incarnation of Christ, and all those important marvels that were accomplished in Him, and done in His name; the repentance of men and the conversion of their wills to God; the remission of sins, the grace of righteousness, the faith of the pious, and the multitudes in all parts of the world who believe in the true divinity; the overthrow of idolatry and demon worship, and the testing of the faithful by trials; the purification of those who persevered, and their deliverance from all evil; the day of judgment, the resurrection of the dead, the eternal damnation of the community of the ungodly, and the eternal kingdom of the most glorious city of God, ever-blessed in the enjoyment of the vision of God,—these things were predicted and promised in the Scriptures of this way; and of these we see so many fulfilled, that we justly and piously trust that the rest will also come to pass. As for those who do not believe, and consequently do not understand, that this is the way which leads straight to the vision of God and to eternal fellowship with Him, according to the true predictions and statements of the Holy Scriptures, they may storm at our position, but they cannot storm it.

And therefore, in these ten books, though not meeting, I dare say, the expectation of some, yet I have, as the true God and Lord has vouchsafed to aid me, satisfied the desire of certain persons, by refuting the objections of the ungodly, who prefer their own gods to the Founder of the holy city, about which we undertook to speak. Of these ten books, the first five were directed against those who think we should worship the gods for the sake of the blessings of this life, and the second five against those who think we should worship them for the sake of the life which is to be after death. And now, in fulfilment of the promise I made in the first book, I shall go on to say, as God shall aid me, what I think needs to be said regarding the origin, history, and deserved ends of the two cities, which, as already remarked, are in this world commingled and implicated with one another.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:35 am

Part 1 of 2

BOOK ELEVENTH.

ARGUMENT. HERE BEGINS THE SECOND PART[440] OF THIS WORK, WHICH TREATS OF THE ORIGIN, HISTORY, AND DESTINIES OF THE TWO CITIES, THE EARTHLY AND THE HEAVENLY. IN THE FIRST PLACE, AUGUSTINE SHOWS IN THIS BOOK HOW THE TWO CITIES WERE FORMED ORIGINALLY, BY THE SEPARATION OF THE GOOD AND BAD ANGELS; AND TAKES OCCASION TO TREAT OF THE CREATION OF THE WORLD, AS IT IS DESCRIBED IN HOLY SCRIPTURE IN THE BEGINNING OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS.

1. Of this part of the work, wherein we begin to explain the origin and end of the two cities.


The city of God we speak of is the same to which testimony is borne by that Scripture, which excels all the writings of all nations by its divine authority, and has brought under its influence all kinds of minds, and this not by a casual intellectual movement, but obviously by an express providential arrangement. For there it is written, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God."[441] And in another psalm we read, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness, increasing the joy of the whole earth."[442] And, a little after, in the same psalm, "As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of hosts, in the city of our God. God has established it for ever." And in another, "There is a river the streams whereof shall make glad the city of our God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved."[443] From these and similar testimonies, all of which it were tedious to cite, we have learned that there is a city of God, and its Founder has inspired us with a love which makes us covet its citizenship. To this Founder of the holy city the citizens of the earthly city prefer their own gods, not knowing that He is the God[Pg 437] of gods, not of false, i.e. of impious and proud gods, who, being deprived of His unchangeable and freely communicated light, and so reduced to a kind of poverty-stricken power, eagerly grasp at their own private privileges, and seek divine honours from their deluded subjects; but of the pious and holy gods, who are better pleased to submit themselves to one, than to subject many to themselves, and who would rather worship God than be worshipped as God. But to the enemies of this city we have replied in the ten preceding books, according to our ability and the help afforded by our Lord and King. Now, recognising what is expected of me, and not unmindful of my promise, and relying, too, on the same succour, I will endeavour to treat of the origin, and progress, and deserved destinies of the two cities (the earthly and the heavenly, to wit), which, as we said, are in this present world commingled, and as it were entangled together. And, first, I will explain how the foundations of these two cities were originally laid, in the difference that arose among the angels.

2. Of the knowledge of God, to which no man can attain save through the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

It is a great and very rare thing for a man, after he has contemplated the whole creation, corporeal and incorporeal, and has discerned its mutability, to pass beyond it, and, by the continued soaring of his mind, to attain to the unchangeable substance of God, and, in that height of contemplation, to learn from God Himself that none but He has made all that is not of the divine essence. For God speaks with a man not by means of some audible creature dinning in his ears, so that atmospheric vibrations connect Him that makes with him that hears the sound, nor even by means of a spiritual being with the semblance of a body, such as we see in dreams or similar states; for even in this case He speaks as if to the ears of the body, because it is by means of the semblance of a body He speaks, and with the appearance of a real interval of space,—for visions are exact representations of bodily objects. Not by these, then, does God speak, but by the truth itself, if any one is prepared to hear with the mind rather than with the body. For He speaks to that part of man which is better than all else that is in him, and than which God Himself[Pg 438] alone is better. For since man is most properly understood (or, if that cannot be, then, at least, believed) to be made in God's image, no doubt it is that part of him by which he rises above those lower parts he has in common with the beasts, which brings him nearer to the Supreme. But since the mind itself, though naturally capable of reason and intelligence, is disabled by besotting and inveterate vices not merely from delighting and abiding in, but even from tolerating His unchangeable light, until it has been gradually healed, and renewed, and made capable of such felicity, it had, in the first place, to be impregnated with faith, and so purified. And that in this faith it might advance the more confidently towards the truth, the truth itself, God, God's Son, assuming humanity without destroying His divinity,[444] established and founded this faith, that there might be a way for man to man's God through a God-man. For this is the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. For it is as man that He is the Mediator and the Way. Since, if the way lieth between him who goes, and the place whither he goes, there is hope of his reaching it; but if there be no way, or if he know not where it is, what boots it to know whither he should go? Now the only way that is infallibly secured against all mistakes, is when the very same person is at once God and man, God our end, man our way.[445]

3. Of the authority of the canonical Scriptures composed by the Divine Spirit.

This Mediator, having spoken what He judged sufficient, first by the prophets, then by His own lips, and afterwards by the apostles, has besides produced the Scripture which is called canonical, which has paramount authority, and to which we yield assent in all matters of which we ought not to be ignorant, and yet cannot know of ourselves. For if we attain the knowledge of present objects by the testimony of our own senses,[446] whether internal or external, then, regarding objects remote from our own senses, we need others to bring their[Pg 439] testimony, since we cannot know them by our own, and we credit the persons to whom the objects have been or are sensibly present. Accordingly, as in the case of visible objects which we have not seen, we trust those who have, (and likewise with all sensible objects,) so in the case of things which are perceived[447] by the mind and spirit, i.e. which are remote from our own interior sense, it behoves us to trust those who have seen them set in that incorporeal light, or abidingly contemplate them.

4. That the world is neither without beginning, nor yet created by a new decree of God, by which He afterwards willed what He had not before willed.

Of all visible things, the world is the greatest; of all invisible, the greatest is God. But, that the world is, we see; that God is, we believe. That God made the world, we can believe from no one more safely than from God Himself. But where have we heard Him? Nowhere more distinctly than in the Holy Scriptures, where His prophet said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."[448] Was the prophet present when God made the heavens and the earth? No; but the wisdom of God, by whom all things were made, was there,[449] and wisdom insinuates itself into holy souls, and makes them the friends of God and His prophets, and noiselessly informs them of His works. They are taught also by the angels of God, who always behold the face of the Father,[450] and announce His will to whom it befits. Of these prophets was he who said and wrote, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." And so fit a witness was he of God, that the same Spirit of God, who revealed these things to him, enabled him also so long before to predict that our faith also would be forthcoming.

But why did God choose then to create the heavens and earth which up to that time He had not made?[451] If they who put this question wish to make out that the world is eternal and without beginning, and that consequently it has[Pg 440] not been made by God, they are strangely deceived, and rave in the incurable madness of impiety. For, though the voices of the prophets were silent, the world itself, by its well-ordered changes and movements, and by the fair appearance of all visible things, bears a testimony of its own, both that it has been created, and also that it could not have been created save by God, whose greatness and beauty are unutterable and invisible. As for those[452] who own, indeed, that it was made by God, and yet ascribe to it not a temporal but only a creational beginning, so that in some scarcely intelligible way the world should always have existed a created world, they make an assertion which seems to them to defend God from the charge of arbitrary hastiness, or of suddenly conceiving the idea of creating the world as a quite new idea, or of casually changing His will, though He be unchangeable. But I do not see how this supposition of theirs can stand in other respects, and chiefly in respect of the soul; for if they contend that it is co-eternal with God, they will be quite at a loss to explain whence there has accrued to it new misery, which through a previous eternity had not existed. For if they said that its happiness and misery ceaselessly alternate, they must say, further, that this alternation will continue for ever; whence will result this absurdity, that, though the soul is called blessed, it is not so in this, that it foresees its own misery and disgrace. And yet, if it does not foresee it, and supposes that it will be neither disgraced nor wretched, but always blessed, then it is blessed because it is deceived; and a more foolish statement one cannot make. But if their idea is that the soul's misery has alternated with its bliss during the ages of the past eternity, but that now, when once the soul has been set free, it will return henceforth no more to misery, they are nevertheless of opinion that it has never been truly blessed before, but begins at last to enjoy a new and uncertain happiness; that is to say, they must acknowledge that some new thing, and that an important and signal thing, happens to the soul which never in a whole past eternity happened it before. And if they deny that God's eternal purpose included this new experience of the soul, they deny that He is the Author[Pg 441] of its blessedness, which is unspeakable impiety. If, on the other hand, they say that the future blessedness of the soul is the result of a new decree of God, how will they show that God is not chargeable with that mutability which displeases them? Further, if they acknowledge that it was created in time, but will never perish in time,—that it has, like number,[453] a beginning but no end,—and that, therefore, having once made trial of misery, and been delivered from it, it will never again return thereto, they will certainly admit that this takes place without any violation of the immutable counsel of God. Let them, then, in like manner believe regarding the world that it too could be made in time, and yet that God, in making it, did not alter His eternal design.

5. That we ought not to seek to comprehend the infinite ages of time before the world, nor the infinite realms of space.

Next, we must see what reply can be made to those who agree that God is the Creator of the world, but have difficulties about the time of its creation, and what reply, also, they can make to difficulties we might raise about the place of its creation. For, as they demand why the world was created then and no sooner, we may ask why it was created just here where it is, and not elsewhere. For if they imagine infinite spaces of time before the world, during which God could not have been idle, in like manner they may conceive outside the world infinite realms of space, in which, if any one says that the Omnipotent cannot hold His hand from working, will it not follow that they must adopt Epicurus' dream of innumerable worlds? with this difference only, that he asserts that they are formed and destroyed by the fortuitous movements of atoms, while they will hold that they are made by God's hand, if they maintain that, throughout the boundless immensity of space, stretching interminably in every direction round the world, God cannot rest, and that the worlds which they suppose Him to make cannot be destroyed. For here the question is with those who, with ourselves, believe that God is spiritual, and the Creator of all existences but Himself. As for others, it is a condescension to dispute with them on a religious question, for they have acquired a reputation only among men[Pg 442] who pay divine honours to a number of gods, and have become conspicuous among the other philosophers for no other reason than that, though they are still far from the truth, they are near it in comparison with the rest. While these, then, neither confine in any place, nor limit, nor distribute the divine substance, but, as is worthy of God, own it to be wholly though spiritually present everywhere, will they perchance say that this substance is absent from such immense spaces outside the world, and is occupied in one only, (and that a very little one compared with the infinity beyond,) the one, namely, in which is the world? I think they will not proceed to this absurdity. Since they maintain that there is but one world, of vast material bulk, indeed, yet finite, and in its own determinate position, and that this was made by the working of God, let them give the same account of God's resting in the infinite times before the world as they give of His resting in the infinite spaces outside of it. And as it does not follow that God set the world in the very spot it occupies and no other by accident rather than by divine reason, although no human reason can comprehend why it was so set, and though there was no merit in the spot chosen to give it the precedence of infinite others, so neither does it follow that we should suppose that God was guided by chance when He created the world in that and no earlier time, although previous times had been running by during an infinite past, and though there was no difference by which one time could be chosen in preference to another. But if they say that the thoughts of men are idle when they conceive infinite places, since there is no place beside the world, we reply that, by the same showing, it is vain to conceive of the past times of God's rest, since there is no time before the world.

6. That the world and time had both one beginning, and the one did not anticipate the other.

For if eternity and time are rightly distinguished by this, that time does not exist without some movement and transition, while in eternity there is no change, who does not see that there could have been no time had not some creature been made, which by some motion could give birth to change,—the various parts of which motion and change, as they cannot be[Pg 443] simultaneous, succeed one another,—and thus, in these shorter or longer intervals of duration, time would begin? Since then, God, in whose eternity is no change at all, is the Creator and Ordainer of time, I do not see how He can be said to have created the world after spaces of time had elapsed, unless it be said that prior to the world there was some creature by whose movement time could pass. And if the sacred and infallible Scriptures say that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, in order that it may be understood that He had made nothing previously,—for if He had made anything before the rest, this thing would rather be said to have been made "in the beginning,"—then assuredly the world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time. For that which is made in time is made both after and before some time,—after that which is past, before that which is future. But none could then be past, for there was no creature by whose movements its duration could be measured. But simultaneously with time the world was made, if in the world's creation change and motion were created, as seems evident from the order of the first six or seven days. For in these days the morning and evening are counted, until, on the sixth day, all things which God then made were finished, and on the seventh the rest of God was mysteriously and sublimely signalized. What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!

7. Of the nature of the first days, which are said to have had morning and evening, before there was a sun.

We see, indeed, that our ordinary days have no evening but by the setting, and no morning but by the rising, of the sun; but the first three days of all were passed without sun, since it is reported to have been made on the fourth day. And first of all, indeed, light was made by the word of God, and God, we read, separated it from the darkness, and called the light Day, and the darkness Night; but what kind of light that was, and by what periodic movement it made evening and morning, is beyond the reach of our senses; neither can we understand how it was, and yet must unhesitatingly believe it. For either it was some material light, whether proceeding from the upper[Pg 444] parts of the world, far removed from our sight, or from the spot where the sun was afterwards kindled; or under the name of light the holy city was signified, composed of holy angels and blessed spirits, the city of which the apostle says, "Jerusalem which is above is our eternal mother in heaven;"[454] and in another place, "For ye are all the children of the light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of darkness."[455] Yet in some respects we may appropriately speak of a morning and evening of this day also. For the knowledge of the creature is, in comparison of the knowledge of the Creator, but a twilight; and so it dawns and breaks into morning when the creature is drawn to the praise and love of the Creator; and night never falls when the Creator is not forsaken through love of the creature. In fine, Scripture, when it would recount those days in order, never mentions the word night. It never says, "Night was," but "The evening and the morning were the first day." So of the second and the rest. And, indeed, the knowledge of created things contemplated by themselves is, so to speak, more colourless than when they are seen in the wisdom of God, as in the art by which they were made. Therefore evening is a more suitable figure than night; and yet, as I said, morning returns when the creature returns to the praise and love of the Creator. When it does so in the knowledge of itself, that is the first day; when in the knowledge of the firmament, which is the name given to the sky between the waters above and those beneath, that is the second day; when in the knowledge of the earth, and the sea, and all things that grow out of the earth, that is the third day; when in the knowledge of the greater and less luminaries, and all the stars, that is the fourth day; when in the knowledge of all animals that swim in the waters and that fly in the air, that is the fifth day; when in the knowledge of all animals that live on the earth, and of man himself, that is the sixth day.[456]

8. What we are to understand of God's resting on the seventh day, after the six days' work.

When it is said that God rested on the seventh day from all His works, and hallowed it, we are not to conceive of this[Pg 445] in a childish fashion, as if work were a toil to God, who "spake and it was done,"—spake by the spiritual and eternal, not audible and transitory word. But God's rest signifies the rest of those who rest in God, as the joy of a house means the joy of those in the house who rejoice, though not the house, but something else, causes the joy. How much more intelligible is such phraseology, then, if the house itself, by its own beauty, makes the inhabitants joyful! For in this case we not only call it joyful by that figure of speech in which the thing containing is used for the thing contained (as when we say, "The theatres applaud," "The meadows low," meaning that the men in the one applaud, and the oxen in the other low), but also by that figure in which the cause is spoken of as if it were the effect, as when a letter is said to be joyful, because it makes its readers so. Most appropriately, therefore, the sacred narrative states that God rested, meaning thereby that those rest who are in Him, and whom He makes to rest. And this the prophetic narrative promises also to the men to whom it speaks, and for whom it was written, that they themselves, after those good works which God does in and by them, if they have managed by faith to get near to God in this life, shall enjoy in Him eternal rest. This was prefigured to the ancient people of God by the rest enjoined in their sabbath law, of which, in its own place, I shall speak more at large.

9. What the Scriptures teach us to believe concerning the creation of the angels.

At present, since I have undertaken to treat of the origin of the holy city, and first of the holy angels, who constitute a large part of this city, and indeed the more blessed part, since they have never been expatriated, I will give myself to the task of explaining, by God's help, and as far as seems suitable, the Scriptures which relate to this point. Where Scripture speaks of the world's creation, it is not plainly said whether or when the angels were created; but if mention of them is made, it is implicitly under the name of "heaven," when it is said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," or perhaps rather under the name of "light," of which presently. But that they were wholly omitted, I[Pg 446] am unable to believe, because it is written that God on the seventh day rested from all His works which He made; and this very book itself begins, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," so that before heaven and earth God seems to have made nothing. Since, therefore, He began with the heavens and the earth,—and the earth itself, as Scripture adds, was at first invisible and formless, light not being as yet made, and darkness covering the face of the deep (that is to say, covering an undefined chaos of earth and sea, for where light is not, darkness must needs be),—and then when all things, which are recorded to have been completed in six days, were created and arranged, how should the angels be omitted, as if they were not among the works of God, from which on the seventh day He rested? Yet, though the fact that the angels are the work of God is not omitted here, it is indeed not explicitly mentioned; but elsewhere Holy Scripture asserts it in the clearest manner. For in the Hymn of the Three Children in the Furnace it was said, "O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord;"[457] and among these works mentioned afterwards in detail, the angels are named. And in the psalm it is said, "Praise ye the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights. Praise ye Him, all His angels; praise ye Him, all His hosts. Praise ye Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars of light. Praise Him, ye heaven of heavens; and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord; for He commanded, and they were created."[458] Here the angels are most expressly and by divine authority said to have been made by God, for of them among the other heavenly things it is said, "He commanded, and they were created." Who, then, will be bold enough to suggest that the angels were made after the six days' creation? If any one is so foolish, his folly is disposed of by a scripture of like authority, where God says, "When the stars were made, the angels praised me with a loud voice."[459] The angels therefore existed before the stars; and the stars were made the fourth day. Shall we then say that they were made the third day? Far from it; for we know what was made that day. The earth was separated from the water, and each[Pg 447] element took its own distinct form, and the earth produced all that grows on it. On the second day, then? Not even on this; for on it the firmament was made between the waters above and beneath, and was called "Heaven," in which firmament the stars were made on the fourth day. There is no question, then, that if the angels are included in the works of God during these six days, they are that light which was called "Day," and whose unity Scripture signalizes by calling that day not the "first day," but "one day."[460] For the second day, the third, and the rest are not other days; but the same "one" day is repeated to complete the number six or seven, so that there should be knowledge both of God's works and of His rest. For when God said, "Let there be light, and there was light," if we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the angels, then certainly they were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable Wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the only-begotten Son of God; so that they, being illumined by the Light that created them, might themselves become light and be called "Day," in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made. "The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,"[461]—this Light lighteth also every pure angel, that he may be light not in himself, but in God; from whom if an angel turn away, he becomes impure, as are all those who are called unclean spirits, and are no longer light in the Lord, but darkness in themselves, being deprived of the participation of Light eternal. For evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name "evil."[462]

10. Of the simple and unchangeable Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, in whom substance and quality are identical.

There is, accordingly, a good which is alone simple, and therefore alone unchangeable, and this is God. By this Good[Pg 448] have all others been created, but not simple, and therefore not unchangeable. "Created," I say,—that is, made, not begotten. For that which is begotten of the simple Good is simple as itself, and the same as itself. These two we call the Father and the Son; and both together with the Holy Spirit are one God; and to this Spirit the epithet Holy is in Scripture, as it were, appropriated. And He is another than the Father and the Son, for He is neither the Father nor the Son. I say "another," not "another thing," because He is equally with them the simple Good, unchangeable and co-eternal. And this Trinity is one God; and none the less simple because a Trinity. For we do not say that the nature of the good is simple, because the Father alone possesses it, or the Son alone, or the Holy Ghost alone; nor do we say, with the Sabellian heretics, that it is only nominally a Trinity, and has no real distinction of persons; but we say it is simple, because it is what it has, with the exception of the relation of the persons to one another. For, in regard to this relation, it is true that the Father has a Son, and yet is not Himself the Son; and the Son has a Father, and is not Himself the Father. But, as regards Himself, irrespective of relation to the other, each is what He has; thus, He is in Himself living, for He has life, and is Himself the Life which He has.

It is for this reason, then, that the nature of the Trinity is called simple, because it has not anything which it can lose, and because it is not one thing and its contents another, as a cup and the liquor, or a body and its colour, or the air and the light or heat of it, or a mind and its wisdom. For none of these is what it has: the cup is not liquor, nor the body colour, nor the air light and heat, nor the mind wisdom. And hence they can be deprived of what they have, and can be turned or changed into other qualities and states, so that the cup may be emptied of the liquid of which it is full, the body be discoloured, the air darken, the mind grow silly. The incorruptible body which is promised to the saints in the resurrection cannot, indeed, lose its quality of incorruption, but the bodily substance and the quality of incorruption are not the same thing. For the quality of incorruption resides entire in each several part, not greater in one and less in[Pg 449] another; for no part is more incorruptible than another. The body, indeed, is itself greater in whole than in part; and one part of it is larger, another smaller, yet is not the larger more incorruptible than the smaller. The body, then, which is not in each of its parts a whole body, is one thing; incorruptibility, which is throughout complete, is another thing;—for every part of the incorruptible body, however unequal to the rest otherwise, is equally incorrupt. For the hand, e.g., is not more incorrupt than the finger because it is larger than the finger; so, though finger and hand are unequal, their incorruptibility is equal. Thus, although incorruptibility is inseparable from an incorruptible body, yet the substance of the body is one thing, the quality of incorruption another. And therefore the body is not what it has. The soul itself, too, though it be always wise (as it will be eternally when it is redeemed), will be so by participating in the unchangeable wisdom, which it is not; for though the air be never robbed of the light that is shed abroad in it, it is not on that account the same thing as the light. I do not mean that the soul is air, as has been supposed by some who could not conceive a spiritual nature;[463] but, with much dissimilarity, the two things have a kind of likeness, which makes it suitable to say that the immaterial soul is illumined with the immaterial light of the simple wisdom of God, as the material air is irradiated with material light, and that, as the air, when deprived of this light, grows dark, (for material darkness is nothing else than air wanting light,[464]) so the soul, deprived of the light of wisdom, grows dark.

According to this, then, those things which are essentially and truly divine are called simple, because in them quality and substance are identical, and because they are divine, or wise, or blessed in themselves, and without extraneous supplement. In Holy Scripture, it is true, the Spirit of wisdom is[Pg 450] called "manifold"[465] because it contains many things in it; but what it contains it also is, and it being one is all these things. For neither are there many wisdoms, but one, in which are untold and infinite treasures of things intellectual, wherein are all invisible and unchangeable reasons of things visible and changeable which were created by it.[466] For God made nothing unwittingly; not even a human workman can be said to do so. But if He knew all that He made, He made only those things which He had known. Whence flows a very striking but true conclusion, that this world could not be known to us unless it existed, but could not have existed unless it had been known to God.

11. Whether the angels that fell partook of the blessedness which the holy angels have always enjoyed from the time of their creation.

And since these things are so, those spirits whom we call angels were never at any time or in any way darkness, but, as soon as they were made, were made light; yet they were not so created in order that they might exist and live in any way whatever, but were enlightened that they might live wisely and blessedly. Some of them, having turned away from this light, have not won this wise and blessed life, which is certainly eternal, and accompanied with the sure confidence of its eternity; but they have still the life of reason, though darkened with folly, and this they cannot lose, even if they would. But who can determine to what extent they were partakers of that wisdom before they fell? And how shall we say that they participated in it equally with those who through it are truly and fully blessed, resting in a true certainty of eternal felicity? For if they had equally participated in this true knowledge, then the evil angels would have remained eternally blessed equally with the good, because they were equally expectant of it. For, though a life be never so long, it cannot be truly called eternal if it is destined to have an end; for it is called life inasmuch as it is lived, but eternal because it has no end. Wherefore, although everything eternal is not therefore blessed (for hell-fire is eternal), yet if no life can be[Pg 451] truly and perfectly blessed except it be eternal, the life of these angels was not blessed, for it was doomed to end, and therefore not eternal, whether they knew it or not. In the one case fear, in the other ignorance, prevented them from being blessed. And even if their ignorance was not so great as to breed in them a wholly false expectation, but left them wavering in uncertainty whether their good would be eternal or would some time terminate, this very doubt concerning so grand a destiny was incompatible with the plenitude of blessedness which we believe the holy angels enjoyed. For we do not so narrow and restrict the application of the term "blessedness" as to apply it to God only,[467] though doubtless He is so truly blessed that greater blessedness cannot be; and, in comparison of His blessedness, what is that of the angels, though, according to their capacity, they be perfectly blessed?

12. A comparison of the blessedness of the righteous, who have not yet received the divine reward, with that of our first parents in paradise.

And the angels are not the only members of the rational and intellectual creation whom we call blessed. For who will take upon him to deny that those first men in Paradise were blessed previously to sin, although they were uncertain how long their blessedness was to last, and whether it would be eternal (and eternal it would have been had they not sinned),—who, I say, will do so, seeing that even now we not unbecomingly call those blessed whom we see leading a righteous and holy life in hope of immortality, who have no harrowing remorse of conscience, but obtain readily divine remission of the sins of their present infirmity? These, though they are certain that they shall be rewarded if they persevere, are not certain that they will persevere. For what man can know that he will persevere to the end in the exercise and increase of grace, unless he has been certified by some revelation from Him who, in His just and secret judgment, while He deceives none, informs few regarding this matter? Accordingly,[Pg 452] so far as present comfort goes, the first man in Paradise was more blessed than any just man in this insecure state; but as regards the hope of future good, every man who not merely supposes, but certainly knows that he shall eternally enjoy the most high God in the company of angels, and beyond the reach of ill,—this man, no matter what bodily torments afflict him, is more blessed than was he who, even in that great felicity of Paradise, was uncertain of his fate.[468]

13. Whether all the angels were so created in one common state of felicity, that those who fell were not aware that they would fall, and that those who stood received assurance of their own perseverance after the ruin of the fallen.

From all this, it will readily occur to any one that the blessedness which an intelligent being desires as its legitimate object results from a combination of these two things, namely, that it uninterruptedly enjoy the unchangeable good, which is God; and that it be delivered from all dubiety, and know certainly that it shall eternally abide in the same enjoyment. That it is so with the angels of light we piously believe; but that the fallen angels, who by their own default lost that light, did not enjoy this blessedness even before they sinned, reason bids us conclude. Yet if their life was of any duration before they fell, we must allow them a blessedness of some kind, though not that which is accompanied with foresight. Or, if it seems hard to believe that, when the angels were created, some were created in ignorance either of their perseverance or their fall, while others were most certainly assured of the eternity of their felicity,—if it is hard to believe that they were not all from the beginning on an equal footing, until these who are now evil did of their own will fall away from the light of goodness, certainly it is much harder to believe that the holy angels are now uncertain of their eternal blessedness, and do not know regarding themselves as much as we have been able to gather regarding them from the Holy Scriptures. For what catholic Christian does not know that no new devil will ever arise among the good angels, as he knows that this present devil will never again return into the[Pg 453] fellowship of the good? For the truth in the gospel promises to the saints and the faithful that they will be equal to the angels of God; and it is also promised them that they will "go away into life eternal."[469] But if we are certain that we shall never lapse from eternal felicity, while they are not certain, then we shall not be their equals, but their superiors. But as the truth never deceives, and as we shall be their equals, they must be certain of their blessedness. And because the evil angels could not be certain of that, since their blessedness was destined to come to an end, it follows either that the angels were unequal, or that, if equal, the good angels were assured of the eternity of their blessedness after the perdition of the others; unless, possibly, some one may say that the words of the Lord about the devil, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth,"[470] are to be understood as if he was not only a murderer from the beginning of the human race, when man, whom he could kill by his deceit, was made, but also that he did not abide in the truth from the time of his own creation, and was accordingly never blessed with the holy angels, but refused to submit to his Creator, and proudly exulted as if in a private lordship of his own, and was thus deceived and deceiving. For the dominion of the Almighty cannot be eluded; and he who will not piously submit himself to things as they are, proudly feigns, and mocks himself with a state of things that does not exist; so that what the blessed Apostle John says thus becomes intelligible: "The devil sinneth from the beginning,"[471]—that is, from the time he was created he refused righteousness which none but a will piously subject to God can enjoy. Whoever adopts this opinion at least disagrees with those heretics the Manichees, and with any other pestilential sect that may suppose that the devil has derived from some adverse evil principle a nature proper to himself. These persons are so befooled by error, that, although they acknowledge with ourselves the authority of the gospels, they do not notice that the Lord did not say, "The devil was naturally a stranger to the truth," but "The devil abode not in the truth," by which He meant us to understand that he[Pg 454] had fallen from the truth, in which, if he had abode, he would have become a partaker of it, and have remained in blessedness along with the holy angels.[472]

14. An explanation of what is said of the devil, that he did not abide in the truth, because the truth was not in him.

Moreover, as if we had been inquiring why the devil did not abide in the truth, our Lord subjoins the reason, saying, "because the truth is not in him." Now, it would be in him had he abode in it. But the phraseology is unusual. For, as the words stand, "He abode not in the truth, because the truth is not in him," it seems as if the truth's not being in him were the cause of his not abiding in it; whereas his not abiding in the truth is rather the cause of its not being in him. The same form of speech is found in the psalm: "I have called upon Thee, for Thou hast heard me, O God,"[473] where we should expect it to be said, Thou hast heard me, O God, for I have called upon Thee. But when he had said, "I have called," then, as if some one were seeking proof of this, he demonstrates the effectual earnestness of his prayer by the effect of God's hearing it; as if he had said, The proof that I have prayed is that Thou hast heard me.

15. How we are to understand the words, "The devil sinneth from the beginning."

As for what John says about the devil, "The devil sinneth from the beginning,"[474] they[475] who suppose it is meant hereby that the devil was made with a sinful nature, misunderstand it; for if sin be natural, it is not sin at all. And how do they answer the prophetic proofs,—either what Isaiah says when he represents the devil under the person of the king of Babylon, "How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"[476] or what Ezekiel says, "Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering,"[477] where it is meant that he was some time without sin; for a little after it is still more explicitly said, "Thou wast perfect in thy ways?" And if these passages cannot well be otherwise interpreted, we must understand by this one also, "He abode not in the truth," that he was once in the truth,[Pg 455] but did not remain in it. And from this passage, "The devil sinneth from the beginning," it is not to be supposed that he sinned from the beginning of his created existence, but from the beginning of his sin, when by his pride he had once commenced to sin. There is a passage, too, in the Book of Job, of which the devil is the subject: "This is the beginning of the creation of God, which He made to be a sport to His angels,"[478] which agrees with the psalm, where it is said, "There is that dragon which Thou hast made to be a sport therein."[479] But these passages are not to lead us to suppose that the devil was originally created to be the sport of the angels, but that he was doomed to this punishment after his sin. His beginning, then, is the handiwork of God; for there is no nature, even among the least, and lowest, and last of the beasts, which was not the work of Him from whom has proceeded all measure, all form, all order, without which nothing can be planned or conceived. How much more, then, is this angelic nature, which surpasses in dignity all else that He has made, the handiwork of the Most High!

16. Of the ranks and differences of the creatures, estimated by their utility, or according to the natural gradations of being.

For, among those beings which exist, and which are not of God the Creator's essence, those which have life are ranked above those which have none; those that have the power of generation, or even of desiring, above those which want this faculty. And, among things that have life, the sentient are higher than those which have no sensation, as animals are ranked above trees. And, among the sentient, the intelligent are above those that have not intelligence,—men, e.g., above cattle. And, among the intelligent, the immortal, such as the angels, above the mortal, such as men. These are the gradations according to the order of nature; but according to the utility each man finds in a thing, there are various standards of value, so that it comes to pass that we prefer some things that have no sensation to some sentient beings. And so strong is this preference, that, had we the power, we would abolish the latter from nature altogether, whether in ignorance of the place they hold in nature, or, though we know it, sacrificing[Pg 456] them to our own convenience. Who, e.g., would not rather have bread in his house than mice, gold than fleas? But there is little to wonder at in this, seeing that even when valued by men themselves (whose nature is certainly of the highest dignity), more is often given for a horse than for a slave, for a jewel than for a maid. Thus the reason of one contemplating nature prompts very different judgments from those dictated by the necessity of the needy, or the desire of the voluptuous; for the former considers what value a thing in itself has in the scale of creation, while necessity considers how it meets its need; reason looks for what the mental light will judge to be true, while pleasure looks for what pleasantly titillates the bodily sense. But of such consequence in rational natures is the weight, so to speak, of will and of love, that though in the order of nature angels rank above men, yet, by the scale of justice, good men are of greater value than bad angels.

17. That the flaw of wickedness is not nature, but contrary to nature, and has its origin, not in the Creator, but in the will.

It is with reference to the nature, then, and not to the wickedness of the devil, that we are to understand these words, "This is the beginning of God's handiwork;"[480] for, without doubt, wickedness can be a flaw or vice[481] only where the nature previously was not vitiated. Vice, too, is so contrary to nature, that it cannot but damage it. And therefore departure from God would be no vice, unless in a nature whose property it was to abide with God. So that even the wicked will is a strong proof of the goodness of the nature. But God, as He is the supremely good Creator of good natures, so is He of evil wills the most just Ruler; so that, while they make an ill use of good natures, He makes a good use even of evil wills. Accordingly, He caused the devil (good by God's creation, wicked by his own will) to be cast down from his high position, and to become the mockery of His angels,—that is, He caused his temptations to benefit those whom he wishes to injure by them. And because God, when[Pg 457] He created him, was certainly not ignorant of his future malignity, and foresaw the good which He Himself would bring out of his evil, therefore says the psalm, "This leviathan whom Thou hast made to be a sport therein,"[482] that we may see that, even while God in His goodness created him good, He yet had already foreseen and arranged how He would make use of him when he became wicked.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:36 am

Part 2 of 2

18. Of the beauty of the universe, which becomes, by God's ordinance, more brilliant by the opposition of contraries.

For God would never have created any, I do not say angel, but even man, whose future wickedness He foreknew, unless He had equally known to what uses in behalf of the good He could turn him, thus embellishing the course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses. For what are called antitheses are among the most elegant of the ornaments of speech. They might be called in Latin "oppositions," or, to speak more accurately, "contrapositions;" but this word is not in common use among us,[483] though the Latin, and indeed the languages of all nations, avail themselves of the same ornaments of style. In the Second Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle Paul also makes a graceful use of antithesis, in that place where he says, "By the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things."[484] As, then, these oppositions of contraries lend beauty to the language, so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged, as it were, by an eloquence not of words, but of things. This is quite plainly stated in the Book of Ecclesiasticus, in this way: "Good is set against evil, and life against death: so is the sinner against the godly. So look upon all the works of the Most High, and these are two and two, one against another."[485] [Pg 458]

19. What, seemingly, we are to understand by the words, "God divided the light from the darkness."

Accordingly, though the obscurity of the divine word has certainly this advantage, that it causes many opinions about the truth to be started and discussed, each reader seeing some fresh meaning in it, yet, whatever is said to be meant by an obscure passage should be either confirmed by the testimony of obvious facts, or should be asserted in other and less ambiguous texts. This obscurity is beneficial, whether the sense of the author is at last reached after the discussion of many other interpretations, or whether, though that sense remain concealed, other truths are brought out by the discussion of the obscurity. To me it does not seem incongruous with the working of God, if we understand that the angels were created when that first light was made, and that a separation was made between the holy and the unclean angels, when, as is said, "God divided the light from the darkness; and God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night." For He alone could make this discrimination, who was able also, before they fell, to foreknow that they would fall, and that, being deprived of the light of truth, they would abide in the darkness of pride. For, so far as regards the day and night, with which we are familiar, He commanded those luminaries of heaven that are obvious to our senses to divide between the light and the darkness. "Let there be," He says, "lights in the firmament of the heaven, to divide the day from the night;" and shortly after He says, "And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness."[486] But between that light, which is the holy company of the angels spiritually radiant with the illumination of the truth, and that opposing darkness, which is the noisome foulness of the spiritual condition of those angels who are turned away from the light of righteousness, only He Himself could divide, from whom their wickedness (not of nature, but of will), while yet it was future, could not be hidden or uncertain. [Pg 459]

20. Of the words which follow the separation of light and darkness, "And God saw the light that it was good."

Then, we must not pass from this passage of Scripture without noticing that when God said, "Let there be light, and there was light," it was immediately added, "And God saw the light that it was good." No such expression followed the statement that He separated the light from the darkness, and called the light Day and the darkness Night, lest the seal of His approval might seem to be set on such darkness, as well as on the light. For when the darkness was not subject of disapprobation, as when it was divided by the heavenly bodies from this light which our eyes discern, the statement that God saw that it was good is inserted, not before, but after the division is recorded. "And God set them," so runs the passage, "in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good." For He approved of both, because both were sinless. But where God said, "Let there be light, and there was light; and God saw the light that it was good;" and the narrative goes on, "and God divided the light from the darkness: and God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night," there was not in this place subjoined the statement, "And God saw that it was good," lest both should be designated good, while one of them was evil, not by nature, but by its own fault. And therefore, in this case, the light alone received the approbation of the Creator, while the angelic darkness, though it had been ordained, was yet not approved.

21. Of God's eternal and unchangeable knowledge and will, whereby all He has made pleased Him in the eternal design as well as in the actual result.

For what else is to be understood by that invariable refrain, "And God saw that it was good," than the approval of the work in its design, which is the wisdom of God? For certainly God did not in the actual achievement of the work first learn that it was good, but, on the contrary, nothing would have been made had it not been first known by Him. While, therefore, He sees that that is good which, had He not seen it before it was made, would never have been made, it is plain that He is not discovering, but teaching that it is good.[Pg 460] Plato, indeed, was bold enough to say that, when the universe was completed, God was, as it were, elated with joy.[487] And Plato was not so foolish as to mean by this that God was rendered more blessed by the novelty of His creation; but he wished thus to indicate that the work now completed met with its Maker's approval, as it had while yet in design. It is not as if the knowledge of God were of various kinds, knowing in different ways things which as yet are not, things which are, and things which have been. For not in our fashion does He look forward to what is future, nor at what is present, nor back upon what is past; but in a manner quite different and far and profoundly remote from our way of thinking. For He does not pass from this to that by transition of thought, but beholds all things with absolute unchangeableness; so that of those things which emerge in time, the future, indeed, are not yet, and the present are now, and the past no longer are; but all of these are by Him comprehended in His stable and eternal presence. Neither does He see in one fashion by the eye, in another by the mind, for He is not composed of mind and body; nor does His present knowledge differ from that which it ever was or shall be, for those variations of time, past, present, and future, though they alter our knowledge, do not affect His, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."[488] Neither is there any growth from thought to thought in the conceptions of Him whose spiritual vision all things which He knows are at once embraced. For as without any movement that time can measure, He Himself moves all temporal things, so He knows all times with a knowledge that time cannot measure. And therefore He saw that what He had made was good, when He saw that it was good to make it. And when He saw it made, He had not on that account a twofold nor any way increased knowledge of it; as if He had less knowledge before He made what He saw. For certainly He would not be the perfect[Pg 461] worker He is, unless His knowledge were so perfect as to receive no addition from His finished works. Wherefore, if the only object had been to inform us who made the light, it had been enough to say, "God made the light;" and if further information regarding the means by which it was made had been intended, it would have sufficed to say, "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light," that we might know not only that God had made the world, but also that He had made it by the word. But because it was right that three leading truths regarding the creature be intimated to us, viz., who made it, by what means, and why, it is written, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good." If, then, we ask who made it, it was "God." If, by what means, He said "Let it be," and it was. If we ask, why He made it, "it was good." Neither is there any author more excellent than God, nor any skill more efficacious than the word of God, nor any cause better than that good might be created by the good God. This also Plato has assigned as the most sufficient reason for the creation of the world, that good works might be made by a good God;[489] whether he read this passage, or, perhaps, was informed of these things by those who had read them, or, by his quick-sighted genius, penetrated to things spiritual and invisible through the things that are created, or was instructed regarding them by those who had discerned them.

22. Of those who do not approve of certain things which are a part of this good creation of a good Creator, and who think that there is some natural evil.

This cause, however, of a good creation, namely, the goodness of God,—this cause, I say, so just and fit, which, when piously and carefully weighed, terminates all the controversies of those who inquire into the origin of the world, has not been recognised by some heretics,[490] because there are, forsooth, many things, such as fire, frost, wild beasts, and so forth, which do not suit but injure this thin-blooded and frail mortality of our[Pg 462] flesh, which is at present under just punishment. They do not consider how admirable these things are in their own places, how excellent in their own natures, how beautifully adjusted to the rest of creation, and how much grace they contribute to the universe by their own contributions as to a commonwealth; and how serviceable they are even to ourselves, if we use them with a knowledge of their fit adaptations,—so that even poisons, which are destructive when used injudiciously, become wholesome and medicinal when used in conformity with their qualities and design; just as, on the other hand, those things which give us pleasure, such as food, drink, and the light of the sun, are found to be hurtful when immoderately or unseasonably used. And thus divine providence admonishes us not foolishly to vituperate things, but to investigate their utility with care; and, where our mental capacity or infirmity is at fault, to believe that there is a utility, though hidden, as we have experienced that there were other things which we all but failed to discover. For this concealment of the use of things is itself either an exercise of our humility or a levelling of our pride; for no nature at all is evil, and this is a name for nothing but the want of good. But from things earthly to things heavenly, from the visible to the invisible, there are some things better than others; and for this purpose are they unequal, in order that they might all exist. Now God is in such sort a great worker in great things, that He is not less in little things,—for these little things are to be measured not by their own greatness (which does not exist), but by the wisdom of their Designer; as, in the visible appearance of a man, if one eyebrow be shaved off, how nearly nothing is taken from the body, but how much from the beauty!—for that is not constituted by bulk, but by the proportion and arrangement of the members. But we do not greatly wonder that persons, who suppose that some evil nature has been generated and propagated by a kind of opposing principle proper to it, refuse to admit that the cause of the creation was this, that the good God produced a good creation. For they believe that He was driven to this enterprise of creation by the urgent necessity of repulsing the evil that warred against Him, and that He mixed His good nature[Pg 463] with the evil for the sake of restraining and conquering it; and that this nature of His, being thus shamefully polluted, and most cruelly oppressed and held captive, He labours to cleanse and deliver it, and with all His pains does not wholly succeed; but such part of it as could not be cleansed from that defilement is to serve as a prison and chain of the conquered and incarcerated enemy. The Manichæans would not drivel, or rather, rave in such a style as this, if they believed the nature of God to be, as it is, unchangeable and absolutely incorruptible, and subject to no injury; and if, moreover, they held in Christian sobriety, that the soul which has shown itself capable of being altered for the worse by its own will, and of being corrupted by sin, and so, of being deprived of the light of eternal truth,—that this soul, I say, is not a part of God, nor of the same nature as God, but is created by Him, and is far different from its Creator.

23. Of the error in which the doctrine of Origen is involved.

But it is much more surprising that some even of those who, with ourselves, believe that there is one only source of all things, and that no nature which is not divine can exist unless originated by that Creator, have yet refused to accept with a good and simple faith this so good and simple a reason of the world's creation, that a good God made it good; and that the things created, being different from God, were inferior to Him, and yet were good, being created by none other than He. But they say that souls, though not, indeed, parts of God, but created by Him, sinned by abandoning God; that, in proportion to their various sins, they merited different degrees of debasement from heaven to earth, and diverse bodies as prison-houses; and that this is the world, and this the cause of its creation, not the production of good things, but the restraining of evil. Origen is justly blamed for holding this opinion. For in the books which he entitles περὶ ἀρχῶν, that is, Of origins, this is his sentiment, this his utterance. And I cannot sufficiently express my astonishment, that a man so erudite and well versed in ecclesiastical literature, should not have observed, in the first place, how opposed this is to the meaning of this authoritative Scripture, which, in recounting all the works of[Pg 464] God, regularly adds, "And God saw that it was good;" and, when all were completed, inserts the words, "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good."[491] Was it not obviously meant to be understood that there was no other cause of the world's creation than that good creatures should be made by a good God? In this creation, had no one sinned, the world would have been filled and beautified with natures good without exception; and though there is sin, all things are not therefore full of sin, for the great majority of the heavenly inhabitants preserve their nature's integrity. And the sinful will, though it violated the order of its own nature, did not on that account escape the laws of God, who justly orders all things for good. For as the beauty of a picture is increased by well-managed shadows, so, to the eye that has skill to discern it, the universe is beautified even by sinners, though, considered by themselves, their deformity is a sad blemish.

In the second place, Origen, and all who think with him, ought to have seen that if it were the true opinion that the world was created in order that souls might, for their sins, be accommodated with bodies in which they should be shut up as in houses of correction, the more venial sinners receiving lighter and more ethereal bodies, while the grosser and graver sinners received bodies more crass and grovelling, then it would follow that the devils, who are deepest in wickedness, ought, rather than even wicked men, to have earthly bodies, since these are the grossest and least ethereal of all. But in point of fact, that we might see that the deserts of souls are not to be estimated by the qualities of bodies, the wickedest devil possesses an ethereal body, while man, wicked, it is true, but with a wickedness small and venial in comparison with his, received even before his sin a body of clay. And what more foolish assertion can be advanced than that God, by this sun of ours, did not design to benefit the material creation, or lend lustre to its loveliness, and therefore created one single sun for this single world, but that it so happened that one soul only had so sinned as to deserve to be enclosed in such a body as it is? On this principle, if it had chanced that not[Pg 465] one, but two, yea, or ten, or a hundred had sinned similarly, and with a like degree of guilt, then this world would have one hundred suns. And that such is not the case, is due not to the considerate foresight of the Creator, contriving the safety and beauty of things material, but rather to the fact that so fine a quality of sinning was hit upon by only one soul, so that it alone has merited such a body. Manifestly persons holding such opinions should aim at confining, not souls of which they know not what they say, but themselves, lest they fall, and deservedly, far indeed from the truth. And as to these three answers which I formerly recommended when in the case of any creature the questions are put, Who made it? By what means? Why? that it should be replied, God, By the Word, Because it was good,—as to these three answers, it is very questionable whether the Trinity itself is thus mystically indicated, that is, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, or whether there is some good reason for this acceptation in this passage of Scripture,—this, I say, is questionable, and one can't be expected to explain everything in one volume.

24. Of the divine Trinity, and the indications of its presence scattered everywhere among its works.

We believe, we maintain, we faithfully preach, that the Father begat the Word, that is, Wisdom, by which all things were made, the only-begotten Son, one as the Father is one, eternal as the Father is eternal, and, equally with the Father, supremely good; and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit alike of Father and of Son, and is Himself consubstantial and co-eternal with both; and that this whole is a Trinity by reason of the individuality[492] of the persons, and one God by reason of the indivisible divine substance, as also one Almighty by reason of the indivisible omnipotence; yet so that, when we inquire regarding each singly, it is said that each is God and Almighty; and, when we speak of all together, it is said that there are not three Gods, nor three Almighties, but one God Almighty; so great is the indivisible unity of these Three, which requires that it be so stated. But, whether the Holy Spirit of the Father, and of the Son, who are both good, can be with propriety called the goodness of both, because[Pg 466] He is common to both, I do not presume to determine hastily. Nevertheless, I would have less hesitation in saying that He is the holiness of both, not as if He were a divine attribute merely, but Himself also the divine substance, and the third person in the Trinity. I am the rather emboldened to make this statement, because, though the Father is a spirit, and the Son a spirit, and the Father holy, and the Son holy, yet the third person is distinctively called the Holy Spirit, as if He were the substantial holiness consubstantial with the other two. But if the divine goodness is nothing else than the divine holiness, then certainly it is a reasonable studiousness, and not presumptuous intrusion, to inquire whether the same Trinity be not hinted at in an enigmatical mode of speech, by which our inquiry is stimulated, when it is written who made each creature, and by what means, and why. For it is the Father of the Word who said, Let there be. And that which was made when He spoke was certainly made by means of the Word. And by the words, "God saw that it was good," it is sufficiently intimated that God made what was made not from any necessity, nor for the sake of supplying any want, but solely from His own goodness, i.e., because it was good. And this is stated after the creation had taken place, that there might be no doubt that the thing made satisfied the goodness on account of which it was made. And if we are right in understanding that this goodness is the Holy Spirit, then the whole Trinity is revealed to us in the creation. In this, too, is the origin, the enlightenment, the blessedness of the holy city which is above among the holy angels. For if we inquire whence it is, God created it; or whence its wisdom, God illumined it; or whence its blessedness, God is its bliss. It has its form by subsisting in Him; its enlightenment by contemplating Him; its joy by abiding in Him. It is; it sees; it loves. In God's eternity is its life; in God's truth its light; in God's goodness its joy.

25. Of the division of philosophy into three parts.

As far as one can judge, it is for the same reason that philosophers have aimed at a threefold division of science, or rather, were enabled to see that there was a threefold division[Pg 467] (for they did not invent, but only discovered it), of which one part is called physical, another logical, the third ethical. The Latin equivalents of these names are now naturalized in the writings of many authors, so that these divisions are called natural, rational, and moral, on which I have touched slightly in the eighth book. Not that I would conclude that these philosophers, in this threefold division, had any thought of a trinity in God, although Plato is said to have been the first to discover and promulgate this distribution, and he saw that God alone could be the author of nature, the bestower of intelligence, and the kindler of love by which life becomes good and blessed. But certain it is that, though philosophers disagree both regarding the nature of things, and the mode of investigating truth, and of the good to which all our actions ought to tend, yet in these three great general questions all their intellectual energy is spent. And though there be a confusing diversity of opinion, every man striving to establish his own opinion in regard to each of these questions, yet no one of them all doubts that nature has some cause, science some method, life some end and aim. Then, again, there are three things which every artificer must possess if he is to effect anything,—nature, education, practice. Nature is to be judged by capacity, education by knowledge, practice by its fruit. I am aware that, properly speaking, fruit is what one enjoys, use [practice] what one uses. And this seems to be the difference between them, that we are said to enjoy that which in itself, and irrespective of other ends, delights us; to use that which we seek for the sake of some end beyond. For which reason the things of time are to be used rather than enjoyed, that we may deserve to enjoy things eternal; and not as those perverse creatures who would fain enjoy money and use God,—not spending money for God's sake, but worshipping God for money's sake. However, in common parlance, we both use fruits and enjoy uses. For we correctly speak of the "fruits of the field," which certainly we all use in the present life. And it was in accordance with this usage that I said that there were three things to be observed in a man, nature, education, practice. From these the philosophers have elaborated, as I said, the threefold division of that science by[Pg 468] which a blessed life is attained: the natural having respect to nature, the rational to education, the moral to practice. If, then, we were ourselves the authors of our nature, we should have generated knowledge in ourselves, and should not require to reach it by education, i.e., by learning it from others. Our love, too, proceeding from ourselves and returning to us, would suffice to make our life blessed, and would stand in need of no extraneous enjoyment. But now, since our nature has God as its requisite author, it is certain that we must have Him for our teacher that we may be wise; Him, too, to dispense to us spiritual sweetness that we may be blessed.

26. Of the image of the supreme Trinity, which we find in some sort in human nature even in its present state.

And we indeed recognise in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity, an image which, though it be not equal to God, or rather, though it be very far removed from Him,—being neither co-eternal, nor, to say all in a word, consubstantial with Him,—is yet nearer to Him in nature than any other of His works, and is destined to be yet restored, that it may bear a still closer resemblance. For we both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us; for we do not come into contact with these by some bodily sense, as we perceive the things outside of us,—colours, e.g., by seeing, sounds by hearing, smells by smelling, tastes by tasting, hard and soft objects by touching,—of all which sensible objects it is the images resembling them, but not themselves which we perceive in the mind and hold in the memory, and which excite us to desire the objects. But, without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am.[493] For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am[Pg 469] deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know. And when I love these two things, I add to them a certain third thing, namely, my love, which is of equal moment. For neither am I deceived in this, that I love, since in those things which I love I am not deceived; though even if these were false, it would still be true that I loved false things. For how could I justly be blamed and prohibited from loving false things, if it were false that I loved them? But, since they are true and real, who doubts that when they are loved, the love of them is itself true and real? Further, as there is no one who does not wish to be happy, so there is no one who does not wish to be. For how can he be happy, if he is nothing?

27. Of existence, and knowledge of it, and the love of both.

And truly the very fact of existing is by some natural spell so pleasant, that even the wretched are, for no other reason, unwilling to perish; and, when they feel that they are wretched, wish not that they themselves be annihilated, but that their misery be so. Take even those who, both in their own esteem, and in point of fact, are utterly wretched, and who are reckoned so, not only by wise men on account of their folly, but by those who count themselves blessed, and who think them wretched because they are poor and destitute,—if any one should give these men an immortality, in which their misery should be deathless, and should offer the alternative, that if they shrank from existing eternally in the same misery they might be annihilated, and exist nowhere at all, nor in any condition, on the instant they would joyfully, nay exultantly, make election to exist always, even in such a condition, rather than not exist at all. The well-known feeling of such men witnesses to this. For when we see that they fear to die, and will rather live in such misfortune than end it by death, is it not obvious enough how[Pg 470] nature shrinks from annihilation? And, accordingly, when they know that they must die, they seek, as a great boon, that this mercy be shown them, that they may a little longer live in the same misery, and delay to end it by death. And so they indubitably prove with what glad alacrity they would accept immortality, even though it secured to them endless destruction. What! do not even all irrational animals, to whom such calculations are unknown, from the huge dragons down to the least worms, all testify that they wish to exist, and therefore shun death by every movement in their power? Nay, the very plants and shrubs, which have no such life as enables them to shun destruction by movements we can see, do not they all seek, in their own fashion, to conserve their existence, by rooting themselves more and more deeply in the earth, that so they may draw nourishment, and throw out healthy branches towards the sky? In fine, even the lifeless bodies, which want not only sensation but seminal life, yet either seek the upper air or sink deep, or are balanced in an intermediate position, so that they may protect their existence in that situation where they can exist in most accordance with their nature.

And how much human nature loves the knowledge of its existence, and how it shrinks from being deceived, will be sufficiently understood from this fact, that every man prefers to grieve in a sane mind, rather than to be glad in madness. And this grand and wonderful instinct belongs to men alone of all animals; for, though some of them have keener eyesight than ourselves for this world's light, they cannot attain to that spiritual light with which our mind is somehow irradiated, so that we can form right judgments of all things. For our power to judge is proportioned to our acceptance of this light. Nevertheless, the irrational animals, though they have not knowledge, have certainly something resembling knowledge; whereas the other material things are said to be sensible, not because they have senses, but because they are the objects of our senses. Yet among plants, their nourishment and generation have some resemblance to sensible life. However, both these and all material things have their causes hidden in their nature; but their outward forms, which lend beauty to this[Pg 471] visible structure of the world, are perceived by our senses, so that they seem to wish to compensate for their own want of knowledge by providing us with knowledge. But we perceive them by our bodily senses in such a way that we do not judge of them by these senses. For we have another and far superior sense, belonging to the inner man, by which we perceive what things are just, and what unjust,—just by means of an intelligible idea, unjust by the want of it. This sense is aided in its functions neither by the eyesight, nor by the orifice of the ear, nor by the air-holes of the nostrils, nor by the palate's taste, nor by any bodily touch. By it I am assured both that I am, and that I know this; and these two I love, and in the same manner I am assured that I love them.

28. Whether we ought to love the love itself with which we love our existence and our knowledge of it, that so we may more nearly resemble the image of the divine Trinity.

We have said as much as the scope of this work demands regarding these two things, to wit, our existence, and our knowledge of it, and how much they are loved by us, and how there is found even in the lower creatures a kind of likeness of these things, and yet with a difference. We have yet to speak of the love wherewith they are loved, to determine whether this love itself is loved. And doubtless it is; and this is the proof. Because in men who are justly loved, it is rather love itself that is loved; for he is not justly called a good man who knows what is good, but who loves it. Is it not then obvious that we love in ourselves the very love wherewith we love whatever good we love? For there is also a love wherewith we love that which we ought not to love; and this love is hated by him who loves that wherewith he loves what ought to be loved. For it is quite possible for both to exist in one man. And this co-existence is good for a man, to the end that this love which conduces to our living well may grow, and the other, which leads us to evil may decrease, until our whole life be perfectly healed and transmuted into good. For if we were beasts, we should love the fleshly and sensual life, and this would be our sufficient good; and when it was well with us in respect of[Pg 472] it, we should seek nothing beyond. In like manner, if we were trees, we could not, indeed, in the strict sense of the word, love anything; nevertheless we should seem, as it were, to long for that by which we might become more abundantly and luxuriantly fruitful. If we were stones, or waves, or wind, or flame, or anything of that kind, we should want, indeed, both sensation and life, yet should possess a kind of attraction towards our own proper position and natural order. For the specific gravity of bodies is, as it were, their love, whether they are carried downwards by their weight, or upwards by their levity. For the body is borne by its gravity, as the spirit by love, whithersoever it is borne.[494] But we are men, created in the image of our Creator, whose eternity is true, and whose truth is eternal, whose love is eternal and true, and who Himself is the eternal, true, and adorable Trinity, without confusion, without separation; and, therefore, while, as we run over all the works which He has established, we may detect, as it were, His footprints, now more and now less distinct even in those things that are beneath us, since they could not so much as exist, or be bodied forth in any shape, or follow and observe any law, had they not been made by Him who supremely is, and is supremely good and supremely wise; yet in ourselves beholding His image, let us, like that younger son of the gospel, come to ourselves, and arise and return to Him from whom by our sin we had departed. There our being will have no death, our knowledge no error, our love no mishap. But now, though we are assured of our possession of these three things, not on the testimony of others, but by our own consciousness of their presence, and because we see them with our own most truthful interior vision, yet, as we cannot of ourselves know how long they are to continue, and whether they shall never cease to be, and what issue their good or bad use will lead to, we seek for others who can acquaint us of these things, if we have not already found them. Of the trustworthiness of these witnesses, there will, not now, but subsequently, be an opportunity of speaking. But in this book let us go on as we have begun, with God's help, to speak of the city of God, not in its state of pilgrimage[Pg 473] and mortality, but as it exists ever immortal in the heavens,—that is, let us speak of the holy angels who maintain their allegiance to God, who never were, nor ever shall be, apostate, between whom and those who forsook light eternal and became darkness, God, as we have already said, made at the first a separation.

29. Of the knowledge by which the holy angels know God in His essence, and by which they see the causes of His works in the art of the worker, before they see them in the works of the artist.

Those holy angels come to the knowledge of God not by audible words, but by the presence to their souls of immutable truth, i.e., of the only-begotten Word of God; and they know this Word Himself, and the Father, and their Holy Spirit, and that this Trinity is indivisible, and that the three persons of it are one substance, and that there are not three Gods but one God; and this they so know, that it is better understood by them than we are by ourselves. Thus, too, they know the creature also, not in itself, but by this better way, in the wisdom of God, as if in the art by which it was created; and, consequently, they know themselves better in God than in themselves, though they have also this latter knowledge. For they were created, and are different from their Creator. In Him, therefore, they have, as it were, a noonday knowledge; in themselves, a twilight knowledge, according to our former explanations.[495] For there is a great difference between knowing a thing in the design in conformity to which it was made, and knowing it in itself,—e.g., the straightness of lines and correctness of figures is known in one way when mentally conceived, in another when described on paper; and justice is known in one way in the unchangeable truth, in another in the spirit of a just man. So is it with all other things,—as, the firmament between the water above and below, which was called the heaven; the gathering of the waters beneath, and the laying bare of the dry land, and the production of plants and trees; the creation of sun, moon, and stars; and of the animals out of the waters, fowls, and fish, and monsters of the deep; and of everything that walks or creeps on the earth, and of man himself, who[Pg 474] excels all that is on the earth,—all these things are known in one way by the angels in the Word of God, in which they see the eternally abiding causes and reasons according to which they were made, and in another way in themselves: in the former, with a clearer knowledge; in the latter, with a knowledge dimmer, and rather of the bare works than of the design. Yet, when these works are referred to the praise and adoration of the Creator Himself, it is as if morning dawned in the minds of those who contemplate them.

30. Of the perfection of the number six, which is the first of the numbers which is composed of its aliquot parts.

These works are recorded to have been completed in six days (the same day being six times repeated), because six is a perfect number,—not because God required a protracted time, as if He could not at once create all things, which then should mark the course of time by the movements proper to them, but because the perfection of the works was signified by the number six. For the number six is the first which is made up of its own[496] parts, i.e., of its sixth, third, and half, which are respectively one, two, and three, and which make a total of six. In this way of looking at a number, those are said to be its parts which exactly divide it, as a half, a third, a fourth, or a fraction with any denominator,—e.g., four is a part of nine, but not therefore an aliquot part; but one is, for it is the ninth part; and three is, for it is the third. Yet these two parts, the ninth and the third, or one and three, are far from making its whole sum of nine. So again, in the number ten, four is a part, yet does not divide it; but one is an aliquot part, for it is a tenth; so it has a fifth, which is two; and a half, which is five. But these three parts, a tenth, a fifth, and a half, or one, two, and five, added together, do not make ten, but eight. Of the number twelve, again, the parts added together exceed the whole; for it has a twelfth, that is, one; a sixth, or two; a fourth, which is three; a third, which is four; and a half, which is six. But one, two, three, four, and six make up, not twelve, but more, viz. sixteen. So much I have thought fit to state for the sake of illustrating the perfection of the number six, which is, as I said, the first which[Pg 475] is exactly made up of its own parts added together; and in this number of days God finished His work.[497] And, therefore, we must not despise the science of numbers, which, in many passages of holy Scripture, is found to be of eminent service to the careful interpreter.[498] Neither has it been without reason numbered among God's praises, "Thou hast ordered all things in number, and measure, and weight."[499]

31. Of the seventh day, in which completeness and repose are celebrated.

But, on the seventh day (i.e., the same day repeated seven times, which number is also a perfect one, though for another reason), the rest of God is set forth, and then, too, we first hear of its being hallowed. So that God did not wish to hallow this day by His works, but by His rest, which has no evening, for it is not a creature; so that, being known in one way in the Word of God, and in another in itself, it should make a twofold knowledge, daylight and dusk (day and evening). Much more might be said about the perfection of the number seven, but this book is already too long, and I fear lest I should seem to catch at an opportunity of airing my little smattering of science more childishly than profitably. I must speak, therefore, in moderation and with dignity, lest, in too keenly following "number," I be accused of forgetting "weight" and "measure." Suffice it here to say, that three is the first whole number that is odd, four the first that is even, and of these two, seven is composed. On this account it is often put for all numbers together, as, "A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again,"[500]—that is, let him fall never so often, he will not perish (and this was meant to be understood not of sins, but of afflictions conducing to lowliness). Again, "Seven times a day will I praise Thee,"[501] which elsewhere is expressed thus, "I will bless the Lord at all times."[502] And many such instances are found in the divine authorities, in which the number seven is, as I said, commonly used to express the whole, or the completeness of anything.[Pg 476] And so the Holy Spirit, of whom the Lord says, "He will teach you all truth,"[503] is signified by this number.[504] In it is the rest of God, the rest His people find in Him. For rest is in the whole, i.e. in perfect completeness, while in the part there is labour. And thus we labour as long as we know in part; "but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."[505] It is even with toil we search into the Scriptures themselves. But the holy angels, towards whose society and assembly we sigh while in this our toilsome pilgrimage, as they already abide in their eternal home, so do they enjoy perfect facility of knowledge and felicity of rest. It is without difficulty that they help us; for their spiritual movements, pure and free, cost them no effort.

32. Of the opinion that the angels were created before the world.

But if some one oppose our opinion, and say that the holy angels are not referred to when it is said, "Let there be light, and there was light;" if he suppose or teach that some material light, then first created, was meant, and that the angels were created, not only before the firmament dividing the waters and named "the heaven," but also before the time signified in the words, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;" if he allege that this phrase, "In the beginning," does not mean that nothing was made before (for the angels were), but that God made all things by His Wisdom or Word, who is named in Scripture "the Beginning," as He Himself, in the gospel, replied to the Jews when they asked Him who He was, that He was the Beginning;[506]—I will not contest the point, chiefly because it gives me the liveliest satisfaction to find the Trinity celebrated in the very beginning of the book of Genesis. For, having said, "In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth," meaning that the Father made them in the Son (as the psalm testifies where it says, "How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! in Wisdom[Pg 477] hast Thou made them all"[507]), a little afterwards mention is fitly made of the Holy Spirit also. For, when it had been told us what kind of earth God created at first, or what the mass or matter was which God, under the name of "heaven and earth," had provided for the construction of the world, as is told in the additional words, "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep," then, for the sake of completing the mention of the Trinity, it is immediately added, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Let each one, then, take it as he pleases; for it is so profound a passage, that it may well suggest, for the exercise of the reader's tact, many opinions, and none of them widely departing from the rule of faith. At the same time, let none doubt that the holy angels in their heavenly abodes are, though not, indeed, co-eternal with God, yet secure and certain of eternal and true felicity. To their company the Lord teaches that His little ones belong; and not only says, "They shall be equal to the angels of God,"[508] but shows, too, what blessed contemplation the angels themselves enjoy, saying, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones: for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."[509]

33. Of the two different and dissimilar communities of angels, which are not inappropriately signified by the names light and darkness.

That certain angels sinned, and were thrust down to the lowest parts of this world, where they are, as it were, incarcerated till their final damnation in the day of judgment, the Apostle Peter very plainly declares, when he says that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment."[510] Who, then, can doubt that God, either in foreknowledge or in act, separated between these and the rest? And who will dispute that the rest are justly called "light?" For even we who are yet living by faith, hoping only and not yet enjoying equality with them, are already called "light" by the apostle: "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord."[511] But as for these apostate angels, all[Pg 478] who understand or believe them to be worse than unbelieving men are well aware that they are called "darkness." Wherefore, though light and darkness are to be taken in their literal signification in these passages of Genesis in which it is said, "God said, Let there be light, and there was light," and "God divided the light from the darkness," yet, for our part, we understand these two societies of angels,—the one enjoying God, the other swelling with pride; the one to whom it is said, "Praise ye Him, all His angels,"[512] the other whose prince says, "All these things will I give Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me;"[513] the one blazing with the holy love of God, the other reeking with the unclean lust of self-advancement. And since, as it is written, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble,"[514] we may say, the one dwelling in the heaven of heavens, the other cast thence, and raging through the lower regions of the air; the one tranquil in the brightness of piety, the other tempest-tossed with beclouding desires; the one, at God's pleasure, tenderly succouring, justly avenging,—the other, set on by its own pride, boiling with the lust of subduing and hurting; the one the minister of God's goodness to the utmost of their good pleasure, the other held in by God's power from doing the harm it would; the former laughing at the latter when it does good unwillingly by its persecutions, the latter envying the former when it gathers in its pilgrims. These two angelic communities, then, dissimilar and contrary to one another, the one both by nature good and by will upright, the other also good by nature but by will depraved, as they are exhibited in other and more explicit passages of holy writ, so I think they are spoken of in this book of Genesis under the names of light and darkness; and even if the author perhaps had a different meaning, yet our discussion of the obscure language has not been wasted time; for, though we have been unable to discover his meaning, yet we have adhered to the rule of faith, which is sufficiently ascertained by the faithful from other passages of equal authority. For, though it is the material works of God which are here spoken of, they have certainly a resemblance to the spiritual, so that Paul can say, "Ye are all the children of light, and[Pg 479] the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."[515] If, on the other hand, the author of Genesis saw in the words what we see, then our discussion reaches this more satisfactory conclusion, that the man of God, so eminently and divinely wise, or rather, that the Spirit of God who by him recorded God's works which were finished on the sixth day, may be supposed not to have omitted all mention of the angels, whether he included them in the words "in the beginning," because He made them first, or, which seems most likely, because He made them in the only-begotten Word. And, under these names heaven and earth, the whole creation is signified, either as divided into spiritual and material, which seems the more likely, or into the two great parts of the world in which all created things are contained, so that, first of all, the creation is presented in sum, and then its parts are enumerated according to the mystic number of the days.

34. Of the idea that the angels were meant where the separation of the waters by the firmament is spoken of, and of that other idea that the waters were not created.

Some,[516] however, have supposed that the angelic hosts are somehow referred to under the name of waters, and that this is what is meant by, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters:"[517] that the waters above should be understood of the angels, and those below either of the visible waters, or of the multitude of bad angels, or of the nations of men. If this be so, then it does not here appear when the angels were created, but when they were separated. Though there have not been wanting men foolish and wicked enough[518] to deny that the waters were made by God, because it is nowhere written, "God said, Let there be waters." With equal folly they might say the same of the earth, for nowhere do we read, "God said, Let the earth be." But, say they, it is written, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."[Pg 480] Yes, and there the water is meant, for both are included in one word. For "the sea is His," as the psalm says, "and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land."[519] But those who would understand the angels by the waters above the skies have a difficulty about the specific gravity of the elements, and fear that the waters, owing to their fluidity and weight, could not be set in the upper parts of the world. So that, if they were to construct a man upon their own principles, they would not put in his head any moist humours, or "phlegm" as the Greeks call it, and which acts the part of water among the elements of our body. But, in God's handiwork, the head is the seat of the phlegm, and surely most fitly; and yet, according to their supposition, so absurdly that if we were not aware of the fact, and were informed by this same record that God had put a moist and cold and therefore heavy humour in the uppermost part of man's body, these world-weighers would refuse belief. And if they were confronted with the authority of Scripture, they would maintain that something else must be meant by the words. But, were we to investigate and discover all the details which are written in this divine book regarding the creation of the world, we should have much to say, and should widely digress from the proposed aim of this work. Since, then, we have now said what seemed needful regarding these two diverse and contrary communities of angels, in which the origin of the two human communities (of which we intend to speak anon) is also found, let us at once bring this book also to a conclusion.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:40 am

Part 1 of 2

BOOK TWELFTH.

ARGUMENT. AUGUSTINE FIRST INSTITUTES TWO INQUIRIES REGARDING THE ANGELS; NAMELY, WHENCE IS THERE IN SOME A GOOD, AND IN OTHERS AN EVIL WILL? AND, WHAT IS THE REASON OF THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE GOOD, AND THE MISERY OF THE EVIL? AFTERWARDS HE TREATS OF THE CREATION OF MAN, AND TEACHES THAT HE IS NOT FROM ETERNITY, BUT WAS CREATED, AND BY NONE OTHER THAN GOD.

1. That the nature of the angels, both good and bad, is one and the same.


It has already, in the preceding book, been shown how the two cities originated among the angels. Before I speak of the creation of man, and show how the cities took their rise, so far as regards the race of rational mortals, I see that I must first, so far as I can, adduce what may demonstrate that it is not incongruous and unsuitable to speak of a society composed of angels and men together; so that there are not four cities or societies,—two, namely, of angels, and as many of men,—but rather two in all, one composed of the good, the other of the wicked, angels or men indifferently.

That the contrary propensities in good and bad angels have arisen, not from a difference in their nature and origin, since God, the good Author and Creator of all essences, created them both, but from a difference in their wills and desires, it is impossible to doubt. While some stedfastly continued in that which was the common good of all, namely, in God Himself, and in His eternity, truth, and love; others, being enamoured rather of their own power, as if they could be their own good, lapsed to this private good of their own, from that higher and beatific good which was common to all, and, bartering the lofty dignity of eternity for the inflation of pride, the most assured verity for the slyness of vanity, uniting love for factious partisanship, they became proud, deceived, envious. The cause, therefore, of the blessedness of the good is adherence to God. And so the cause of the others' misery will be found in the contrary,[Pg 482] that is, in their not adhering to God. Wherefore, if when the question is asked, why are the former blessed, it is rightly answered, because they adhere to God; and when it is asked, why are the latter miserable, it is rightly answered, because they do not adhere to God,—then there is no other good for the rational or intellectual creature save God only. Thus, though it is not every creature that can be blessed (for beasts, trees, stones, and things of that kind have not this capacity), yet that creature which has the capacity cannot be blessed of itself, since it is created out of nothing, but only by Him by whom it has been created. For it is blessed by the possession of that whose loss makes it miserable. He, then, who is blessed not in another, but in himself, cannot be miserable, because he cannot lose himself.

Accordingly we say that there is no unchangeable good but the one, true, blessed God; that the things which He made are indeed good because from Him, yet mutable because made not out of Him, but out of nothing. Although, therefore, they are not the supreme good, for God is a greater good, yet those mutable things which can adhere to the immutable good, and so be blessed, are very good; for so completely is He their good, that without Him they cannot but be wretched. And the other created things in the universe are not better on this account, that they cannot be miserable. For no one would say that the other members of the body are superior to the eyes, because they cannot be blind. But as the sentient nature, even when it feels pain, is superior to the stony, which can feel none, so the rational nature, even when wretched, is more excellent than that which lacks reason or feeling, and can therefore experience no misery. And since this is so, then in this nature which has been created so excellent, that though it be mutable itself, it can yet secure its blessedness by adhering to the immutable good, the supreme God; and since it is not satisfied unless it be perfectly blessed, and cannot be thus blessed save in God,—in this nature, I say, not to adhere to God, is manifestly a fault.[520] Now every fault injures the nature, and is consequently contrary to the nature. The creature, therefore, which cleaves to God, differs from[Pg 483] those who do not, not by nature, but by fault; and yet by this very fault the nature itself is proved to be very noble and admirable. For that nature is certainly praised, the fault of which is justly blamed. For we justly blame the fault because it mars the praiseworthy nature. As, then, when we say that blindness is a defect of the eyes, we prove that sight belongs to the nature of the eyes; and when we say that deafness is a defect of the ears, hearing is thereby proved to belong to their nature;—so, when we say that it is a fault of the angelic creature that it does not cleave to God, we hereby most plainly declare that it pertained to its nature to cleave to God. And who can worthily conceive or express how great a glory that is, to cleave to God, so as to live to Him, to draw wisdom from Him, to delight in Him, and to enjoy this so great good, without death, error, or grief? And thus, since every vice is an injury of the nature, that very vice of the wicked angels, their departure from God, is sufficient proof that God created their nature so good, that it is an injury to it not to be with God.

2. That there is no entity[521] contrary to the divine, because nonentity seems to be that which is wholly opposite to Him who supremely and always is.

This may be enough to prevent any one from supposing, when we speak of the apostate angels, that they could have another nature, derived, as it were, from some different origin, and not from God. From the great impiety of this error we shall disentangle ourselves the more readily and easily, the more distinctly we understand that which God spoke by the angel when He sent Moses to the children of Israel: "I am that I am."[522] For since God is the supreme existence, that is to say, supremely is, and is therefore unchangeable, the things that He made He empowered to be, but not to be supremely like Himself. To some He communicated a more ample, to others a more limited existence, and thus arranged the natures of beings in ranks. For as from sapere comes sapientia, so from esse comes essentia,—a new word indeed, which the old Latin writers did not use, but which is naturalized in our day,[523] that our language may not want an equivalent for the Greek οὐσία. For this is expressed word for word by essentia.[Pg 484] Consequently, to that nature which supremely is, and which created all else that exists, no nature is contrary save that which does not exist. For nonentity is the contrary of that which is. And thus there is no being contrary to God, the Supreme Being, and Author of all beings whatsoever.

3. That the enemies of God are so, not by nature but by will, which, as it injures them, injures a good nature; for if vice does not injure, it is not vice.

In Scripture they are called God's enemies who oppose His rule, not by nature, but by vice; having no power to hurt Him, but only themselves. For they are His enemies, not through their power to hurt, but by their will to oppose Him. For God is unchangeable, and wholly proof against injury. Therefore the vice which makes those who are called His enemies resist Him, is an evil not to God, but to themselves. And to them it is an evil, solely because it corrupts the good of their nature. It is not nature, therefore, but vice, which is contrary to God. For that which is evil is contrary to the good. And who will deny that God is the supreme good? Vice, therefore, is contrary to God, as evil to good. Further, the nature it vitiates is a good, and therefore to this good also it is contrary. But while it is contrary to God only as evil to good, it is contrary to the nature it vitiates, both as evil and as hurtful. For to God no evils are hurtful; but only to natures mutable and corruptible, though, by the testimony of the vices themselves, originally good. For were they not good, vices could not hurt them. For how do they hurt them but by depriving them of integrity, beauty, welfare, virtue, and, in short, whatever natural good vice is wont to diminish or destroy? But if there be no good to take away, then no injury can be done, and consequently there can be no vice. For it is impossible that there should be a harmless vice. Whence we gather, that though vice cannot injure the unchangeable good, it can injure nothing but good; because it does not exist where it does not injure. This, then, may be thus formulated: Vice cannot be in the highest good, and cannot be but in some good. Things solely good, therefore, can in some circumstances exist; things solely evil, never; for even those natures which are vitiated by an evil will, so far indeed as they are vitiated, are evil, but in so far as they[Pg 485] are natures they are good. And when a vitiated nature is punished, besides the good it has in being a nature, it has this also, that it is not unpunished.[524] For this is just, and certainly everything just is a good. For no one is punished for natural, but for voluntary vices. For even the vice which by the force of habit and long continuance has become a second nature, had its origin in the will. For at present we are speaking of the vices of the nature, which has a mental capacity for that enlightenment which discriminates between what is just and what is unjust.

4. Of the nature of irrational and lifeless creatures, which in their own kind and order do not mar the beauty of the universe.

But it is ridiculous to condemn the faults of beasts and trees, and other such mortal and mutable things as are void of intelligence, sensation, or life, even though these faults should destroy their corruptible nature; for these creatures received, at their Creator's will, an existence fitting them, by passing away and giving place to others, to secure that lowest form of beauty, the beauty of seasons, which in its own place is a requisite part of this world. For things earthly were neither to be made equal to things heavenly, nor were they, though inferior, to be quite omitted from the universe. Since, then, in those situations where such things are appropriate, some perish to make way for others that are born in their room, and the less succumb to the greater, and the things that are overcome are transformed into the quality of those that have the mastery, this is the appointed order of things transitory. Of this order the beauty does not strike us, because by our mortal frailty we are so involved in a part of it, that we cannot perceive the whole, in which these fragments that offend us are harmonized with the most accurate fitness and beauty. And therefore, where we are not so well able to perceive the wisdom of the Creator, we are very properly enjoined to believe it, lest in the vanity of human rashness we presume to find any fault with the work of so great an Artificer. At the same time, if we attentively consider even these faults of earthly[Pg 486] things, which are neither voluntary nor penal, they seem to illustrate the excellence of the natures themselves, which are all originated and created by God; for it is that which pleases us in this nature which we are displeased to see removed by the fault,—unless even the natures themselves displease men, as often happens when they become hurtful to them, and then men estimate them not by their nature, but by their utility; as in the case of those animals whose swarms scourged the pride of the Egyptians. But in this way of estimating, they may find fault with the sun itself; for certain criminals or debtors are sentenced by the judges to be set in the sun. Therefore it is not with respect to our convenience or discomfort, but with respect to their own nature, that the creatures are glorifying to their Artificer. Thus even the nature of the eternal fire, penal though it be to the condemned sinners, is most assuredly worthy of praise. For what is more beautiful than fire flaming, blazing, and shining? What more useful than fire for warming, restoring, cooking, though nothing is more destructive than fire burning and consuming? The same thing, then, when applied in one way, is destructive, but when applied suitably, is most beneficial. For who can find words to tell its uses throughout the whole world? We must not listen, then, to those who praise the light of fire but find fault with its heat, judging it not by its nature, but by their convenience or discomfort. For they wish to see, but not to be burnt. But they forget that this very light which is so pleasant to them, disagrees with and hurts weak eyes; and in that heat which is disagreeable to them, some animals find the most suitable conditions of a healthy life.

5. That in all natures, of every kind and rank, God is glorified.

All natures, then, inasmuch as they are, and have therefore a rank and species of their own, and a kind of internal harmony, are certainly good. And when they are in the places assigned to them by the order of their nature, they preserve such being as they have received. And those things which have not received everlasting being, are altered for better or for worse, so as to suit the wants and motions of those things to which the Creator's law has made them subservient; and[Pg 487] thus they tend in the divine providence to that end which is embraced in the general scheme of the government of the universe. So that, though the corruption of transitory and perishable things brings them to utter destruction, it does not prevent their producing that which was designed to be their result. And this being so, God, who supremely is, and who therefore created every being which has not supreme existence (for that which was made of nothing could not be equal to Him, and indeed could not be at all had He not made it), is not to be found fault with on account of the creature's faults, but is to be praised in view of the natures He has made.

6. What the cause of the blessedness of the good angels is, and what the cause of the misery of the wicked.

Thus the true cause of the blessedness of the good angels is found to be this, that they cleave to Him who supremely is. And if we ask the cause of the misery of the bad, it occurs to us, and not unreasonably, that they are miserable because they have forsaken Him who supremely is, and have turned to themselves who have no such essence. And this vice, what else is it called than pride? For "pride is the beginning of sin."[525] They were unwilling, then, to preserve their strength for God; and as adherence to God was the condition of their enjoying an ampler being, they diminished it by preferring themselves to Him. This was the first defect, and the first impoverishment, and the first flaw of their nature, which was created, not indeed supremely existent, but finding its blessedness in the enjoyment of the Supreme Being; whilst by abandoning Him it should become, not indeed no nature at all, but a nature with a less ample existence, and therefore wretched.

If the further question be asked, What was the efficient cause of their evil will? there is none. For what is it which makes the will bad, when it is the will itself which makes the action bad? And consequently the bad will is the cause of the bad action, but nothing is the efficient cause of the bad will. For if anything is the cause, this thing either has or has not a will. If it has, the will is either good or bad. If good, who is so left to himself as to say that a good will[Pg 488] makes a will bad? For in this case a good will would be the cause of sin; a most absurd supposition. On the other hand, if this hypothetical thing has a bad will, I wish to know what made it so; and that we may not go on for ever, I ask at once, what made the first evil will bad? For that is not the first which was itself corrupted by an evil will, but that is the first which was made evil by no other will. For if it were preceded by that which made it evil, that will was first which made the other evil. But if it is replied, "Nothing made it evil; it always was evil," I ask if it has been existing in some nature. For if not, then it did not exist at all; and if it did exist in some nature, then it vitiated and corrupted it, and injured it, and consequently deprived it of good. And therefore the evil will could not exist in an evil nature, but in a nature at once good and mutable, which this vice could injure. For if it did no injury, it was no vice; and consequently the will in which it was, could not be called evil. But if it did injury, it did it by taking away or diminishing good. And therefore there could not be from eternity, as was suggested, an evil will in that thing in which there had been previously a natural good, which the evil will was able to diminish by corrupting it. If, then, it was not from eternity, who, I ask, made it? The only thing that can be suggested in reply is, that something which itself had no will, made the will evil. I ask, then, whether this thing was superior, inferior, or equal to it? If superior, then it is better. How, then, has it no will, and not rather a good will? The same reasoning applies if it was equal; for so long as two things have equally a good will, the one cannot produce in the other an evil will. Then remains the supposition that that which corrupted the will of the angelic nature which first sinned, was itself an inferior thing without a will. But that thing, be it of the lowest and most earthly kind, is certainly itself good, since it is a nature and being, with a form and rank of its own in its own kind and order. How, then, can a good thing be the efficient cause of an evil will? How, I say, can good be the cause of evil? For when the will abandons what is above itself, and turns to what is lower, it becomes evil—not because that is evil to which it turns, but because the[Pg 489] turning itself is wicked. Therefore it is not an inferior thing which has made the will evil, but it is itself which has become so by wickedly and inordinately desiring an inferior thing. For if two men, alike in physical and moral constitution, see the same corporal beauty, and one of them is excited by the sight to desire an illicit enjoyment, while the other stedfastly maintains a modest restraint of his will, what do we suppose brings it about, that there is an evil will in the one and not in the other? What produces it in the man in whom it exists? Not the bodily beauty, for that was presented equally to the gaze of both, and yet did not produce in both an evil will. Did the flesh of the one cause the desire as he looked? But why did not the flesh of the other? Or was it the disposition? But why not the disposition of both? For we are supposing that both were of a like temperament of body and soul. Must we, then, say that the one was tempted by a secret suggestion of the evil spirit? As if it was not by his own will that he consented to this suggestion and to any inducement whatever! This consent, then, this evil will which he presented to the evil suasive influence,—what was the cause of it, we ask? For, not to delay on such a difficulty as this, if both are tempted equally, and one yields and consents to the temptation, while the other remains unmoved by it, what other account can we give of the matter than this, that the one is willing, the other unwilling, to fall away from chastity? And what causes this but their own wills, in cases at least such as we are supposing, where the temperament is identical? The same beauty was equally obvious to the eyes of both; the same secret temptation pressed on both with equal violence. However minutely we examine the case, therefore, we can discern nothing which caused the will of the one to be evil. For if we say that the man himself made his will evil, what was the man himself before his will was evil but a good nature created by God, the unchangeable good? Here are two men who, before the temptation, were alike in body and soul, and of whom one yielded to the tempter who persuaded him, while the other could not be persuaded to desire that lovely body which was equally before the eyes of both. Shall we say of the successfully tempted man that he[Pg 490] corrupted his own will, since he was certainly good before his will became bad? Then, why did he do so? Was it because his will was a nature, or because it was made of nothing? We shall find that the latter is the case. For if a nature is the cause of an evil will, what else can we say than that evil arises from good, or that good is the cause of evil? And how can it come to pass that a nature, good though mutable, should produce any evil—that is to say, should make the will itself wicked?

7. That we ought not to expect to find any efficient cause of the evil will.

Let no one, therefore, look for an efficient cause of the evil will; for it is not efficient, but deficient, as the will itself is not an effecting of something, but a defect. For defection from that which supremely is, to that which has less of being,—this is to begin to have an evil will. Now, to seek to discover the causes of these defections,—causes, as I have said, not efficient, but deficient,—is as if some one sought to see darkness, or hear silence. Yet both of these are known by us, and the former by means only of the eye, the latter only by the ear; but not by their positive actuality,[526] but by their want of it. Let no one, then, seek to know from me what I know that I do not know; unless he perhaps wishes to learn to be ignorant of that of which all we know is, that it cannot be known. For those things which are known not by their actuality, but by their want of it, are known, if our expression may be allowed and understood, by not knowing them, that by knowing them they may be not known. For when the eyesight surveys objects that strike the sense, it nowhere sees darkness but where it begins not to see. And so no other sense but the ear can perceive silence, and yet it is only perceived by not hearing. Thus, too, our mind perceives intelligible forms by understanding them; but when they are deficient, it knows them by not knowing them; for "who can understand defects?"[527]

8. Of the misdirected love whereby the will fell away from the immutable to the mutable good.

This I do know, that the nature of God can never, nowhere,[Pg 491] nowise be defective, and that natures made of nothing can. These latter, however, the more being they have, and the more good they do (for then they do something positive), the more they have efficient causes; but in so far as they are defective in being, and consequently do evil (for then what is their work but vanity?), they have deficient causes. And I know likewise, that the will could not become evil, were it unwilling to become so; and therefore its failings are justly punished, being not necessary, but voluntary. For its defections are not to evil things, but are themselves evil; that is to say, are not towards things that are naturally and in themselves evil, but the defection of the will is evil, because it is contrary to the order of nature, and an abandonment of that which has supreme being for that which has less. For avarice is not a fault inherent in gold, but in the man who inordinately loves gold, to the detriment of justice, which ought to be held in incomparably higher regard than gold. Neither is luxury the fault of lovely and charming objects, but of the heart that inordinately loves sensual pleasures, to the neglect of temperance, which attaches us to objects more lovely in their spirituality, and more delectable by their incorruptibility. Nor yet is boasting the fault of human praise, but of the soul that is inordinately fond of the applause of men, and that makes light of the voice of conscience. Pride, too, is not the fault of him who delegates power, nor of power itself, but of the soul that is inordinately enamoured of its own power, and despises the more just dominion of a higher authority. Consequently he who inordinately loves the good which any nature possesses, even though he obtain it, himself becomes evil in the good, and wretched because deprived of a greater good.

9. Whether the angels, besides receiving from God their nature, received from Him also their good will by the Holy Spirit imbuing them with love.

There is, then, no natural efficient cause, or, if I may be allowed the expression, no essential cause, of the evil will, since itself is the origin of evil in mutable spirits, by which the good of their nature is diminished and corrupted; and the will is made evil by nothing else than defection from God,—a defection of which the cause, too, is certainly deficient.[Pg 492] But as to the good will, if we should say that there is no efficient cause of it, we must beware of giving currency to the opinion that the good will of the good angels is not created, but is co-eternal with God. For if they themselves are created, how can we say that their good will was eternal? But if created, was it created along with themselves, or did they exist for a time without it? If along with themselves, then doubtless it was created by Him who created them, and, as soon as ever they were created, they attached themselves to Him who created them, with the love He created in them. And they are separated from the society of the rest, because they have continued in the same good will; while the others have fallen away to another will, which is an evil one, by the very fact of its being a falling away from the good; from which, we may add, they would not have fallen away had they been unwilling to do so. But if the good angels existed for a time without a good will, and produced it in themselves without God's interference, then it follows that they made themselves better than He made them. Away with such a thought! For without a good will, what were they but evil? Or if they were not evil, because they had not an evil will any more than a good one (for they had not fallen away from that which as yet they had not begun to enjoy), certainly they were not the same, not so good, as when they came to have a good will. Or if they could not make themselves better than they were made by Him who is surpassed by none in His work, then certainly, without His helpful operation, they could not come to possess that good will which made them better. And though their good will effected that they did not turn to themselves, who had a more stinted existence, but to Him who supremely is, and that, being united to Him, their own being was enlarged, and they lived a wise and blessed life by His communications to them, what does this prove but that the will, however good it might be, would have continued helplessly only to desire Him, had not He who had made their nature out of nothing, and yet capable of enjoying Him, first stimulated it to desire Him, and then filled it with Himself, and so made it better?

Besides, this too has to be inquired into, whether, if the[Pg 493] good angels made their own will good, they did so with or without will? If without, then it was not their doing. If with, was the will good or bad? If bad, how could a bad will give birth to a good one? If good, then already they had a good will. And who made this will, which already they had, but He who created them with a good will, or with that chaste love by which they cleaved to Him, in one and the same act creating their nature, and endowing it with grace? And thus we are driven to believe that the holy angels never existed without a good will or the love of God. But the angels who, though created good, are yet evil now, became so by their own will. And this will was not made evil by their good nature, unless by its voluntary defection from good; for good is not the cause of evil, but a defection from good is. These angels, therefore, either received less of the grace of the divine love than those who persevered in the same; or if both were created equally good, then, while the one fell by their evil will, the others were more abundantly assisted, and attained to that pitch of blessedness at which they became certain they should never fall from it,—as we have already shown in the preceding book.[528] We must therefore acknowledge, with the praise due to the Creator, that not only of holy men, but also of the holy angels, it can be said that "the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them."[529] And that not only of men, but primarily and principally of angels it is true, as it is written, "It is good to draw near to God."[530] And those who have this good in common, have, both with Him to whom they draw near, and with one another, a holy fellowship, and form one city of God—His living sacrifice, and His living temple. And I see that, as I have now spoken of the rise of this city among the angels, it is time to speak of the origin of that part of it which is hereafter to be united to the immortal angels, and which at present is being gathered from among mortal men, and is either sojourning on earth, or, in the persons of those who have passed through death, is resting in the secret receptacles and abodes of disembodied spirits. For from one man, whom God created as the first, the whole[Pg 494] human race descended, according to the faith of Holy Scripture, which deservedly is of wonderful authority among all nations throughout the world; since, among its other true statements, it predicted, by its divine foresight, that all nations would give credit to it.

10. Of the falseness of the history which allots many thousand years to the world's past.

Let us, then, omit the conjectures of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the human race. For some hold the same opinion regarding men that they hold regarding the world itself, that they have always been. Thus Apuleius says when he is describing our race, "Individually they are mortal, but collectively, and as a race, they are immortal."[531] And when they are asked, how, if the human race has always been, they vindicate the truth of their history, which narrates who were the inventors, and what they invented, and who first instituted the liberal studies and the other arts, and who first inhabited this or that region, and this or that island? they reply[532] that most, if not all lands, were so desolated at intervals by fire and flood, that men were greatly reduced in numbers, and from these, again, the population was restored to its former numbers, and that thus there was at intervals a new beginning made, and though those things which had been interrupted and checked by the severe devastations were only renewed, yet they seemed to be originated then, but that man could not exist at all save as produced by man. But they say what they think, not what they know.

They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.[533] And, not to spend many words in exposing the baselessness of these documents, in[Pg 495] which so many thousands of years are accounted for, nor in proving that their authorities are totally inadequate, let me cite only that letter which Alexander the Great wrote to his mother Olympias,[534] giving her the narrative he had from an Egyptian priest, which he had extracted from their sacred archives, and which gave an account of kingdoms mentioned also by the Greek historians. In this letter of Alexander's a term of upwards of 5000 years is assigned to the kingdom of Assyria; while in the Greek history only 1300 years are reckoned from the reign of Bel himself, whom both Greek and Egyptian agree in counting the first king of Assyria. Then to the empire of the Persians and Macedonians this Egyptian assigned more than 8000 years, counting to the time of Alexander, to whom he was speaking; while among the Greeks, 485 years are assigned to the Macedonians down to the death of Alexander, and to the Persians 233 years, reckoning to the termination of his conquests. Thus these give a much smaller number of years than the Egyptians; and indeed, though multiplied three times, the Greek chronology would still be shorter. For the Egyptians are said to have formerly reckoned only four months to their year;[535] so that one year, according to the fuller and truer computation now in use among them as well as among ourselves, would comprehend three of their old years. But not even thus, as I said, does the Greek history correspond with the Egyptian in its chronology. And therefore the former must receive the greater credit, because it does not exceed the true account of the duration of the world as it is given by our documents, which are truly sacred. Further, if this letter of Alexander, which has become so famous, differs widely in this matter of chronology from the probable credible account, how much less can we believe these documents which, though full of fabulous and fictitious antiquities, they would fain oppose to the authority of our well-known and divine books, which predicted[Pg 496] that the whole world would believe them, and which the whole world accordingly has believed; which proved, too, that it had truly narrated past events by its prediction of future events, which have so exactly come to pass!

11. Of those who suppose that this world indeed is not eternal, but that either there are numberless worlds, or that one and the same world is perpetually resolved into its elements, and renewed at the conclusion of fixed cycles.

There are some, again, who, though they do not suppose that this world is eternal, are of opinion either that this is not the only world, but that there are numberless worlds, or that indeed it is the only one, but that it dies, and is born again at fixed intervals, and this times without number;[536] but they must acknowledge that the human race existed before there were other men to beget them. For they cannot suppose that, if the whole world perish, some men would be left alive in the world, as they might survive in floods and conflagrations, which those other speculators suppose to be partial, and from which they can therefore reasonably argue that a few men survived whose posterity would renew the population; but as they believe that the world itself is renewed out of its own material, so they must believe that out of its elements the human race was produced, and then that the progeny of mortals sprang like that of other animals from their parents.

12. How these persons are to be answered, who find fault with the creation of man on the score of its recent date.

As to those who are always asking why man was not created during these countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed since he began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which even Plato himself most plainly declares, though some think his statement was not consistent with his real opinion.[537] If it[Pg 497] offends them that the time that has elapsed since the creation of man is so short, and his years so few according to our authorities, let them take this into consideration, that nothing that has a limit is long, and that all the ages of time being finite, are very little, or indeed nothing at all, when compared to the interminable eternity. Consequently, if there had elapsed since the creation of man, I do not say five or six, but even sixty or six hundred thousand years, or sixty times as many, or six hundred or six hundred thousand times as many, or this sum multiplied until it could no longer be expressed in numbers, the same question could still be put, Why was he not made before? For the past and boundless eternity during which God abstained from creating man is so great, that, compare it with what vast and untold number of ages you please, so long as there is a definite conclusion of this term of time, it is not even as if you compared the minutest drop of water with the ocean that everywhere flows around the globe. For of these two, one indeed is very small, the other incomparably vast, yet both are finite; but that space of time which starts from some beginning, and is limited by some termination, be it of what extent it may, if you compare it with that which has no beginning, I know not whether to say we should count it the very minutest thing, or nothing at all. For, take this limited time, and deduct from the end of it, one by one, the briefest moments (as you might take day by day from a man's life, beginning at the day in which he now lives, back to that of his birth), and though the number of moments you must subtract in this backward movement be so great that no word can express it, yet this subtraction will some time carry you to the beginning. But if you take away from a time which has no beginning, I do not say brief moments one by one, nor yet hours, or days, or months, or years even in quantities, but terms of years so vast that they cannot be named by the most skilful arithmetician,—take away terms of years as vast as that which we have supposed to be gradually consumed by the deduction of moments,—and take them away not once and again repeatedly, but always, and what do you effect, what do you make by your deduction, since you never reach the beginning which has no existence? Wherefore, that[Pg 498] which we now demand after five thousand odd years, our descendants might with like curiosity demand after six hundred thousand years, supposing these dying generations of men continue so long to decay and be renewed, and supposing posterity continues as weak and ignorant as ourselves. The same question might have been asked by those who have lived before us, and while man was even newer upon earth. The first man himself, in short, might, the day after, or the very day of his creation, have asked why he was created no sooner. And no matter at what earlier or later period he had been created, this controversy about the commencement of this world's history would have had precisely the same difficulties as it has now.

13. Of the revolution of the ages, which some philosophers believe will bring all things round again, after a certain fixed cycle, to the same order and form as at first.

This controversy some philosophers have seen no other approved means of solving than by introducing cycles of time, in which there should be a constant renewal and repetition of the order of nature;[538] and they have therefore asserted that these cycles will ceaselessly recur, one passing away and another coming, though they are not agreed as to whether one permanent world shall pass through all these cycles, or whether the world shall at fixed intervals die out, and be renewed so as to exhibit a recurrence of the same phenomena—the things which have been, and those which are to be, coinciding. And from this fantastic vicissitude they exempt not even the immortal soul that has attained wisdom, consigning it to a ceaseless transmigration between delusive blessedness and real misery. For how can that be truly called blessed which has no assurance of being so eternally, and is either in ignorance of the truth, and blind to the misery that is approaching, or, knowing it, is in misery and fear? Or if it passes to bliss, and leaves miseries for ever, then there happens in time a new thing which time shall not end. Why not, then, the world also? Why may not man, too, be a similar thing? So that, by following the straight path of sound doctrine, we[Pg 499] escape, I know not what circuitous paths, discovered by deceiving and deceived sages.

Some, too, in advocating these recurring cycles that restore all things to their original, cite in favour of their supposition what Solomon says in the book of Ecclesiastes: "What is that which hath been? It is that which shall be. And what is that which is done? It is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Who can speak and say, See, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us."[539] This he said either of those things of which he had just been speaking—the succession of generations, the orbit of the sun, the course of rivers,—or else of all kinds of creatures that are born and die. For men were before us, are with us, and shall be after us; and so all living things and all plants. Even monstrous and irregular productions, though differing from one another, and though some are reported as solitary instances, yet resemble one another generally, in so far as they are miraculous and monstrous, and, in this sense, have been, and shall be, and are no new and recent things under the sun. However, some would understand these words as meaning that in the predestination of God all things have already existed, and that thus there is no new thing under the sun. At all events, far be it from any true believer to suppose that by these words of Solomon those cycles are meant, in which, according to those philosophers, the same periods and events of time are repeated; as if, for example, the philosopher Plato, having taught in the school at Athens which is called the Academy, so, numberless ages before, at long but certain intervals, this same Plato, and the same school, and the same disciples existed, and so also are to be repeated during the countless cycles that are yet be be,—far be it, I say, from us to believe this. For once Christ died for our sins; and, rising from the dead, He dieth no more. "Death hath no more dominion over Him;"[540] and we ourselves after the resurrection shall be "ever with the Lord,"[541] to whom we now say, as the sacred Psalmist dictates, "Thou shalt keep us, O Lord, Thou shalt preserve us from this generation."[Pg 500][542] And that too which follows, is, I think, appropriate enough: "The wicked walk in a circle;" not because their life is to recur by means of these circles, which these philosophers imagine, but because the path in which their false doctrine now runs is circuitous.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:40 am

Part 2 of 2

14. Of the creation of the human race in time, and how this was effected without any new design or change of purpose on God's part.

What wonder is it if, entangled in these circles, they find neither entrance nor egress? For they know not how the human race, and this mortal condition of ours, took its origin, nor how it will be brought to an end, since they cannot penetrate the inscrutable wisdom of God. For, though Himself eternal, and without beginning, yet He caused time to have a beginning; and man, whom He had not previously made, He made in time, not from a new and sudden resolution, but by His unchangeable and eternal design. Who can search out the unsearchable depth of this purpose, who can scrutinize the inscrutable wisdom, wherewith God, without change of will, created man, who had never before been, and gave him an existence in time, and increased the human race from one individual? For the Psalmist himself, when he had first said, "Thou shalt keep us, O Lord, Thou shalt preserve us from this generation for ever," and had then rebuked those whose foolish and impious doctrine preserves for the soul no eternal deliverance and blessedness, adds immediately, "The wicked walk in a circle." Then, as if it were said to him, "What then do you believe, feel, know? Are we to believe that it suddenly occurred to God to create man, whom He had never before made in a past eternity,—God, to whom nothing new can occur, and in whom is no changeableness?" the Psalmist goes on to reply, as if addressing God Himself, "According to the depth of Thy wisdom Thou hast multiplied the children of men." Let men, he seems to say, fancy what they please, let them conjecture and dispute as seems good to them, but Thou hast multiplied the children of men according to the depth of thy wisdom, which no man can comprehend. For this is a depth indeed, that God always has been, and that man, whom He had never made before, He willed to make in time, and this without changing His design and will. [Pg 501]

15. Whether we are to believe that God, as He has always been sovereign Lord, has always had creatures over whom He exercised His sovereignty; and in what sense we can say that the creature has always been, and yet cannot say it is co-eternal.

For my own part, indeed, as I dare not say that there ever was a time when the Lord God was not Lord,[543] so I ought not to doubt that man had no existence before time, and was first created in time. But when I consider what God could be the Lord of, if there was not always some creature, I shrink from making any assertion, remembering my own insignificance, and that it is written, "What man is he that can know the counsel of God? or who can think what the will of the Lord is? For the thoughts of mortal men are timid, and our devices are but uncertain. For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things."[544] Many things certainly do I muse upon in this earthly tabernacle, because the one thing which is true among the many, or beyond the many, I cannot find. If, then, among these many thoughts, I say that there have always been creatures for Him to be Lord of, who is always and ever has been Lord, but that these creatures have not always been the same, but succeeded one another (for we would not seem to say that any is co-eternal with the Creator, an assertion condemned equally by faith and sound reason), I must take care lest I fall into the absurd and ignorant error of maintaining that by these successions and changes mortal creatures have always existed, whereas the immortal creatures had not begun to exist until the date of our own world, when the angels were created; if at least the angels are intended by that light which was first made, or, rather, by that heaven of which it is said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."[545] The angels at least did not exist before they were created; for if we say that they have always existed, we shall seem to make them co-eternal with the Creator. Again, if I say that the angels were not created in time, but existed before all times, as those over whom God, who has ever been Sovereign, exercised His sovereignty, then I shall be asked whether, if they were created before all time,[Pg 502] they, being creatures, could possibly always exist. It may perhaps be replied, Why not always, since that which is in all time may very properly be said to be "always?" Now, so true is it that these angels have existed in all time, that even before time was, they were created; if at least time began with the heavens, and the angels existed before the heavens. And if time was even before the heavenly bodies, not indeed marked by hours, days, months, and years,—for these measures of time's periods which are commonly and properly called times, did manifestly begin with the motion of the heavenly bodies, and so God said, when He appointed them, "Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years,"[546]—if, I say, time was before these heavenly bodies by some changing movement, whose parts succeeded one another and could not exist simultaneously, and if there was some such movement among the angels which necessitated the existence of time, and that they from their very creation should be subject to these temporal changes, then they have existed in all time, for time came into being along with them. And who will say that what was in all time, was not always?

But if I make such a reply, it will be said to me, How, then, are they not co-eternal with the Creator, if He and they always have been? How even can they be said to have been created, if we are to understand that they have always existed? What shall we reply to this? Shall we say that both statements are true? that they always have been, since they have been in all time, they being created along with time, or time along with them, and yet that also they were created? For, similarly, we will not deny that time itself was created, though no one doubts that time has been in all time; for if it has not been in all time, then there was a time when there was no time. But the most foolish person could not make such an assertion. For we can reasonably say there was a time when Rome was not; there was a time when Jerusalem was not; there was a time when Abraham was not; there was a time when man was not, and so on: in fine, if the world was not made at the commencement of time, but after some time had elapsed, we can say there[Pg 503] was a time when the world was not. But to say there was a time when time was not, is as absurd as to say there was a man when there was no man; or, this world was when this world was not. For if we are not referring to the same object, the form of expression may be used, as, there was another man when this man was not. Thus we can reasonably say there was another time when this time was not; but not the merest simpleton could say there was a time when there was no time. As, then, we say that time was created, though we also say that it always has been, since in all time time has been, so it does not follow that if the angels have always been, they were therefore not created. For we say that they have always been, because they have been in all time; and we say they have been in all time, because time itself could no wise be without them. For where there is no creature whose changing movements admit of succession, there cannot be time at all. And consequently, even if they have always existed, they were created; neither, if they have always existed, are they therefore co-eternal with the Creator. For He has always existed in unchangeable eternity; while they were created, and are said to have been always, because they have been in all time, time being impossible without the creature. But time passing away by its changefulness, cannot be co-eternal with changeless eternity. And consequently, though the immortality of the angels does not pass in time, does not become past as if now it were not, nor has a future as if it were not yet, still their movements, which are the basis of time, do pass from future to past; and therefore they cannot be co-eternal with the Creator, in whose movement we cannot say that there has been that which now is not, or shall be that which is not yet. Wherefore, if God always has been Lord, He has always had creatures under His dominion,—creatures, however, not begotten of Him, but created by Him out of nothing; nor co-eternal with Him, for He was before them, though at no time without them, because He preceded them, not by the lapse of time, but by His abiding eternity. But if I make this reply to those who demand how He was always Creator, always Lord, if there were not always a subject creation; or how this was created, and not[Pg 504] rather co-eternal with its Creator, if it always was, I fear I may be accused of recklessly affirming what I know not, instead of teaching what I know. I return, therefore, to that which our Creator has seen fit that we should know; and those things which He has allowed the abler men to know in this life, or has reserved to be known in the next by the perfected saints, I acknowledge to be beyond my capacity. But I have thought it right to discuss these matters without making positive assertions, that they who read may be warned to abstain from hazardous questions, and may not deem themselves fit for everything. Let them rather endeavour to obey the wholesome injunction of the apostle, when he says, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."[547] For if an infant receive nourishment suited to its strength, it becomes capable, as it grows, of taking more; but if its strength and capacity be overtaxed, it dwines away in place of growing.

16. How we are to understand God's promise of life eternal, which was uttered before the "eternal times."

I own that I do not know what ages passed before the human race was created, yet I have no doubt that no created thing is co-eternal with the Creator. But even the apostle speaks of time as eternal, and this with reference, not to the future, but, which is more surprising, to the past. For he says, "In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the eternal times, but hath in due times manifested His word."[548] You see he says that in the past there have been eternal times, which, however, were not co-eternal with God. And since God before these eternal times not only existed, but also "promised" life eternal, which He manifested in its own times (that is to say, in due times), what else is this than His word? For this is life eternal. But then, how did He promise; for the promise was made to men, and yet they had no existence before eternal times?[Pg 505] Does this not mean that, in His own eternity, and in His co-eternal word, that which was to be in its own time was already predestined and fixed?

17. What defence is made by sound faith regarding God's unchangeable counsel and will, against the reasonings of those who hold that the works of God are eternally repeated in revolving cycles that restore all things as they were.

Of this, too, I have no doubt, that before the first man was created, there never had been a man at all, neither this same man himself recurring by I know not what cycles, and having made I know not how many revolutions, nor any other of similar nature. From this belief I am not frightened by philosophical arguments, among which that is reckoned the most acute which is founded on the assertion that the infinite cannot be comprehended by any mode of knowledge. Consequently, they argue, God has in His own mind finite conceptions of all finite things which He makes. Now it cannot be supposed that His goodness was ever idle; for if it were, there should be ascribed to Him an awakening to activity in time, from a past eternity of inactivity, as if He repented of an idleness that had no beginning, and proceeded, therefore, to make a beginning of work. This being the case, they say it must be that the same things are always repeated, and that as they pass, so they are destined always to return, whether amidst all these changes the world remains the same,—the world which has always been, and yet was created,—or that the world in these revolutions is perpetually dying out and being renewed; otherwise, if we point to a time when the works of God were begun, it would be believed that He considered His past eternal leisure to be inert and indolent, and therefore condemned and altered it as displeasing to Himself. Now if God is supposed to have been indeed always making temporal things, but different from one another, and one after the other, so that He thus came at last to make man, whom He had never made before, then it may seem that He made man not with knowledge (for they suppose no knowledge can comprehend the infinite succession of creatures), but at the dictate of the hour, as it struck Him at the moment, with a sudden and accidental change of mind. On the other hand, say they, if those cycles be admitted, and if we suppose that[Pg 506] the same temporal things are repeated, while the world either remains identical through all these rotations, or else dies away and is renewed, then there is ascribed to God neither the slothful ease of a past eternity, nor a rash and unforeseen creation. And if the same things be not thus repeated in cycles, then they cannot by any science or prescience be comprehended in their endless diversity. Even though reason could not refute, faith would smile at these argumentations, with which the godless endeavour to turn our simple piety from the right way, that we may walk with them "in a circle." But by the help of the Lord our God, even reason, and that readily enough, shatters these revolving circles which conjecture frames. For that which specially leads these men astray to prefer their own circles to the straight path of truth, is, that they measure by their own human, changeable, and narrow intellect the divine mind, which is absolutely unchangeable, infinitely capacious, and, without succession of thought, counting all things without number. So that saying of the apostle comes true of them, for, "comparing themselves with themselves, they do not understand."[549] For because they do, in virtue of a new purpose, whatever new thing has occurred to them to be done (their minds being changeable), they conclude it is so with God; and thus compare, not God,—for they cannot conceive God, but think of one like themselves when they think of Him,—not God, but themselves, and not with Him, but with themselves. For our part, we dare not believe that God is affected in one way when He works, in another when He rests. Indeed, to say that He is affected at all, is an abuse of language, since it implies that there comes to be something in His nature which was not there before. For he who is affected is acted upon, and whatever is acted upon is changeable. In His leisure, therefore, is no laziness, indolence, inactivity; as in His work is no labour, effort, industry. He can act while He reposes, and repose while He acts. He can begin a new work with (not a new, but) an eternal design; and what He has not made before, He does not now begin to make because He repents of His former repose. But[Pg 507] when one speaks of His former repose and subsequent operation (and I know not how men can understand these things), this "former" and "subsequent" are applied only to the things created, which formerly did not exist, and subsequently came into existence. But in God the former purpose is not altered and obliterated by the subsequent and different purpose, but by one and the same eternal and unchangeable will He effected regarding the things He created, both that formerly, so long as they were not, they should not be, and that subsequently, when they began to be, they should come into existence. And thus, perhaps, He would show in a very striking way, to those who have eyes for such things, how independent He is of what He makes, and how it is of His own gratuitous goodness He creates, since from eternity He dwelt without creatures in no less perfect a blessedness.

18. Against those who assert that things that are infinite[550] cannot be comprehended by the knowledge of God.

As for their other assertion, that God's knowledge cannot comprehend things infinite, it only remains for them to affirm, in order that they may sound the depths of their impiety, that God does not know all numbers. For it is very certain that they are infinite; since, no matter at what number you suppose an end to be made, this number can be, I will not say, increased by the addition of one more, but however great it be, and however vast be the multitude of which it is the rational and scientific expression, it can still be not only doubled, but even multiplied. Moreover, each number is so defined by its own properties, that no two numbers are equal. They are therefore both unequal and different from one another; and while they are simply finite, collectively they are infinite. Does God, therefore, not know numbers on account of this infinity; and does His knowledge extend only to a certain height in numbers, while of the rest He is ignorant? Who is so left to himself as to say so? Yet they can hardly pretend to put numbers out of the question, or maintain that they have nothing to do with the knowledge of God; for Plato,[551] their great authority, represents God as framing the world on[Pg 508] numerical principles; and in our books also it is said to God, "Thou hast ordered all things in number, and measure, and weight."[552] The prophet also says, "Who bringeth out their host by number."[553] And the Saviour says in the Gospel, "The very hairs of your head are all numbered."[554] Far be it, then, from us to doubt that all number is known to Him "whose understanding," according to the Psalmist, "is infinite."[555] The infinity of number, though there be no numbering of infinite numbers, is yet not incomprehensible by Him whose understanding is infinite. And thus, if everything which is comprehended is defined or made finite by the comprehension of him who knows it, then all infinity is in some ineffable way made finite to God, for it is comprehensible by His knowledge. Wherefore, if the infinity of numbers cannot be infinite to the knowledge of God, by which it is comprehended, what are we poor creatures that we should presume to fix limits to His knowledge, and say that unless the same temporal things be repeated by the same periodic revolutions, God cannot either foreknow His creatures that He may make them, or know them when He has made them? God, whose knowledge is simply manifold, and uniform in its variety, comprehends all incomprehensibles with so incomprehensible a comprehension, that though He willed always to make His later works novel and unlike what went before them, He could not produce them without order and foresight, nor conceive them suddenly, but by His eternal foreknowledge.

19. Of worlds without end, or ages of ages.[556]

I do not presume to determine whether God does so, and whether these times which are called "ages of ages" are joined together in a continuous series, and succeed one another with a regulated diversity, and leave exempt from their vicissitudes only those who are freed from their misery, and abide without end in a blessed immortality; or whether these are called "ages of ages," that we may understand that the ages remain unchangeable in God's unwavering wisdom, and are the efficient causes, as it were, of those ages which are being spent in time.[Pg 509] Possibly "ages" is used for "age," so that nothing else is meant by "ages of ages" than by "age of age," as nothing else is meant by "heavens of heavens" than by "heaven of heaven." For God called the firmament, above which are the waters, "Heaven," and yet the psalm says, "Let the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord."[557] Which of these two meanings we are to attach to "ages of ages," or whether there is not some other and better meaning still, is a very profound question; and the subject we are at present handling presents no obstacle to our meanwhile deferring the discussion of it, whether we may be able to determine anything about it, or may only be made more cautious by its further treatment, so as to be deterred from making any rash affirmations in a matter of such obscurity. For at present we are disputing the opinion that affirms the existence of those periodic revolutions by which the same things are always recurring at intervals of time. Now, whichever of these suppositions regarding the "ages of ages" be the true one, it avails nothing for the substantiating of those cycles; for whether the ages of ages be not a repetition of the same world, but different worlds succeeding one another in a regulated connection, the ransomed souls abiding in well-assured bliss without any recurrence of misery, or whether the ages of ages be the eternal causes which rule what shall be and is in time, it equally follows, that those cycles which bring round the same things have no existence; and nothing more thoroughly explodes them than the fact of the eternal life of the saints.

20. Of the impiety of those who assert that the souls which enjoy true and perfect blessedness, must yet again and again in these periodic revolutions return to labour and misery.

What pious ears could bear to hear that after a life spent in so many and severe distresses (if, indeed, that should be called a life at all which is rather a death, so utter that the love of this present death makes us fear that death which delivers us from it), that after evils so disastrous, and miseries of all kinds have at length been expiated and finished by the help of true religion and wisdom, and when we have thus attained to the vision of God, and have entered into bliss by the contemplation[Pg 510] of spiritual light and participation in His unchangeable immortality, which we burn to attain,—that we must at some time lose all this, and that they who do lose it are cast down from that eternity, truth, and felicity to infernal mortality and shameful foolishness, and are involved in accursed woes, in which God is lost, truth held in detestation, and happiness sought in iniquitous impurities? and that this will happen endlessly again and again, recurring at fixed intervals, and in regularly returning periods? and that this everlasting and ceaseless revolution of definite cycles, which remove and restore true misery and deceitful bliss in turn, is contrived in order that God may be able to know His own works, since on the one hand He cannot rest from creating, and on the other, cannot know the infinite number of His creatures, if He always makes creatures? Who, I say, can listen to such things? Who can accept or suffer them to be spoken? Were they true, it were not only more prudent to keep silence regarding them, but even (to express myself as best I can) it were the part of wisdom not to know them. For if in the future world we shall not remember these things, and by this oblivion be blessed, why should we now increase our misery, already burdensome enough, by the knowledge of them? If, on the other hand, the knowledge of them will be forced upon us hereafter, now at least let us remain in ignorance, that in the present expectation we may enjoy a blessedness which the future reality is not to bestow; since in this life we are expecting to obtain life everlasting, but in the world to come are to discover it to be blessed, but not everlasting.

And if they maintain that no one can attain to the blessedness of the world to come, unless in this life he has been indoctrinated in those cycles in which bliss and misery relieve one another, how do they avow that the more a man loves God, the more readily he attains to blessedness,—they who teach what paralyzes love itself? For who would not be more remiss and lukewarm in his love for a person whom he thinks he shall be forced to abandon, and whose truth and wisdom he shall come to hate; and this, too, after he has quite attained to the utmost and most blissful knowledge of Him that he is capable of? Can any one be faithful in his love, even to a[Pg 511] human friend, if he knows that he is destined to become his enemy?[558] God forbid that there be any truth in an opinion which threatens us with a real misery that is never to end, but is often and endlessly to be interrupted by intervals of fallacious happiness. For what happiness can be more fallacious and false than that in whose blaze of truth we yet remain ignorant that we shall be miserable, or in whose most secure citadel we yet fear that we shall be so? For if, on the one hand, we are to be ignorant of coming calamity, then our present misery is not so shortsighted, for it is assured of coming bliss. If, on the other hand, the disaster that threatens is not concealed from us in the world to come, then the time of misery which is to be at last exchanged for a state of blessedness, is spent by the soul more happily than its time of happiness, which is to end in a return to misery. And thus our expectation of unhappiness is happy, but of happiness unhappy. And therefore, as we here suffer present ills, and hereafter fear ills that are imminent, it were truer to say that we shall always be miserable, than that we can some time be happy.

But these things are declared to be false by the loud testimony of religion and truth; for religion truthfully promises a true blessedness, of which we shall be eternally assured, and which cannot be interrupted by any disaster. Let us therefore keep to the straight path, which is Christ, and, with Him as our Guide and Saviour, let us turn away in heart and mind from the unreal and futile cycles of the godless. Porphyry, Platonist though he was, abjured the opinion of his school, that in these cycles souls are ceaselessly passing away and returning, either being struck with the extravagance of the idea, or sobered by his knowledge of Christianity. As I mentioned in the tenth book,[559] he preferred saying that the soul, as it had been sent into the world that it might know evil, and be purged and delivered from it, was never again exposed to such an experience after it had once returned to[Pg 512] the Father. And if he abjured the tenets of his school, how much more ought we Christians to abominate and avoid an opinion so unfounded and hostile to our faith? But having disposed of these cycles and escaped out of them, no necessity compels us to suppose that the human race had no beginning in time, on the ground that there is nothing new in nature which, by I know not what cycles, has not at some previous period existed, and is not hereafter to exist again. For if the soul, once delivered, as it never was before, is never to return to misery, then there happens in its experience something which never happened before; and this, indeed, something of the greatest consequence, to wit, the secure entrance into eternal felicity. And if in an immortal nature there can occur a novelty, which never has been, nor ever shall be, reproduced by any cycle, why is it disputed that the same may occur in mortal natures? If they maintain that blessedness is no new experience to the soul, but only a return to that state in which it has been eternally, then at least its deliverance from misery is something new, since, by their own showing, the misery from which it is delivered is itself, too, a new experience. And if this new experience fell out by accident, and was not embraced in the order of things appointed by Divine Providence, then where are those determinate and measured cycles in which no new thing happens, but all things are reproduced as they were before? If, however, this new experience was embraced in that providential order of nature (whether the soul was exposed to the evil of this world for the sake of discipline, or fell into it by sin), then it is possible for new things to happen which never happened before, and which yet are not extraneous to the order of nature. And if the soul is able by its own imprudence to create for itself a new misery, which was not unforeseen by the Divine Providence, but was provided for in the order of nature along with the deliverance from it, how can we, even with all the rashness of human vanity, presume to deny that God can create new things—new to the world, but not to Him—which He never before created, but yet foresaw from all eternity? If they say that it is indeed true that ransomed souls return no more to misery, but that even so no new thing[Pg 513] happens, since there always have been, now are, and ever shall be a succession of ransomed souls, they must at least grant that in this case there are new souls to whom the misery and the deliverance from it are new. For if they maintain that those souls out of which new men are daily being made (from whose bodies, if they have lived wisely, they are so delivered that they never return to misery) are not new, but have existed from eternity, they must logically admit that they are infinite. For however great a finite number of souls there were, that would not have sufficed to make perpetually new men from eternity,—men whose souls were to be eternally freed from this mortal state, and never afterwards to return to it. And our philosophers will find it hard to explain how there is an infinite number of souls in an order of nature which they require shall be finite, that it may be known by God.

And now that we have exploded these cycles which were supposed to bring back the soul at fixed periods to the same miseries, what can seem more in accordance with godly reason than to believe that it is possible for God both to create new things never before created, and in doing so, to preserve His will unaltered? But whether the number of eternally redeemed souls can be continually increased or not, let the philosophers themselves decide, who are so subtle in determining where infinity cannot be admitted. For our own part, our reasoning holds in either case. For if the number of souls can be indefinitely increased, what reason is there to deny that what had never before been created, could be created? since the number of ransomed souls never existed before, and has yet not only been once made, but will never cease to be anew coming into being. If, on the other hand, it be more suitable that the number of eternally ransomed souls be definite, and that this number will never be increased, yet this number, whatever it be, did assuredly never exist before, and it cannot increase, and reach the amount it signifies, without having some beginning; and this beginning never before existed. That this beginning, therefore, might be, the first man was created.

21. That there was created at first but one individual, and that the human race was created in him.

Now that we have solved, as well as we could, this very[Pg 514] difficult question about the eternal God creating new things, without any novelty of will, it is easy to see how much better it is that God was pleased to produce the human race from the one individual whom He created, than if He had originated it in several men. For as to the other animals, He created some solitary, and naturally seeking lonely places,—as the eagles, kites, lions, wolves, and such like; others gregarious, which herd together, and prefer to live in company,—as pigeons, starlings, stags, and little fallow deer, and the like: but neither class did He cause to be propagated from individuals, but called into being several at once. Man, on the other hand, whose nature was to be a mean between the angelic and bestial, He created in such sort, that if he remained in subjection to His Creator as his rightful Lord, and piously kept His commandments, he should pass into the company of the angels, and obtain, without the intervention of death,[560] a blessed and endless immortality; but if he offended the Lord his God by a proud and disobedient use of his free will, he should become subject to death, and live as the beasts do,—the slave of appetite, and doomed to eternal punishment after death. And therefore God created only one single man, not, certainly, that he might be a solitary bereft of all society, but that by this means the unity of society and the bond of concord might be more effectually commended to him, men being bound together not only by similarity of nature, but by family affection. And indeed He did not even create the woman that was to be given him as his wife, as he created the man, but created her out of the man, that the whole human race might derive from one man.

22. That God foreknew that the first man would sin, and that He at the same time foresaw how large a multitude of godly persons would by His grace be translated to the fellowship of the angels.

And God was not ignorant that man would sin, and that, being himself made subject now to death, he would propagate men doomed to die, and that these mortals would run to such enormities in sin, that even the beasts devoid of rational will, and who were created in numbers from the waters and the earth, would live more securely and peaceably with their own[Pg 515] kind than men, who had been propagated from one individual for the very purpose of commending concord. For not even lions or dragons have ever waged with their kind such wars as men have waged with one another.[561] But God foresaw also that by His grace a people would be called to adoption, and that they, being justified by the remission of their sins, would be united by the Holy Ghost to the holy angels in eternal peace, the last enemy, death, being destroyed; and He knew that this people would derive profit from the consideration that God had caused all men to be derived from one, for the sake of showing how highly He prizes unity in a multitude.

23. Of the nature of the human soul created in the image of God.

God, then, made man in His own image. For He created for him a soul endowed with reason and intelligence, so that he might excel all the creatures of earth, air, and sea, which were not so gifted. And when He had formed the man out of the dust of the earth, and had willed that his soul should be such as I have said,—whether He had already made it, and now by breathing imparted it to man, or rather made it by breathing, so that that breath which God made by breathing (for what else is "to breathe" than to make breath?) is the soul,[562]—He made also a wife for him, to aid him in the work of generating his kind, and her He formed of a bone taken out of the man's side, working in a divine manner. For we are not to conceive of this work in a carnal fashion, as if God wrought as we commonly see artisans, who use their hands, and material furnished to them, that by their artistic skill they may fashion some material object. God's hand is God's power; and He, working invisibly, effects visible results. But this seems fabulous rather than true to men, who measure[Pg 516] by customary and everyday works the power and wisdom of God, whereby He understands and produces without seeds even seeds themselves; and because they cannot understand the things which at the beginning were created, they are sceptical regarding them—as if the very things which they do know about human propagation, conceptions and births, would seem less incredible if told to those who had no experience of them; though these very things, too, are attributed by many rather to physical and natural causes than to the work of the divine mind.

24. Whether the angels can be said to be the creators of any, even the least creature.

But in this book we have nothing to do with those who do not believe that the divine mind made or cares for this world. As for those who believe their own Plato, that all mortal animals—among whom man holds the pre-eminent place, and is near to the gods themselves—were created not by that most high God who made the world, but by other lesser gods created by the Supreme, and exercising a delegated power under His control,—if only those persons be delivered from the superstition which prompts them to seek a plausible reason for paying divine honours and sacrificing to these gods as their creators, they will easily be disentangled also from this their error. For it is blasphemy to believe or to say (even before it can be understood) that any other than God is creator of any nature, be it never so small and mortal. And as for the angels, whom those Platonists prefer to call gods, although they do, so far as they are permitted and commissioned, aid in the production of the things around us, yet not on that account are we to call them creators, any more than we call gardeners the creators of fruits and trees.

25. That God alone is the Creator of every kind of creature, whatever its nature or form.

For whereas there is one form which is given from without to every bodily substance,—such as the form which is constructed by potters and smiths, and that class of artists who paint and fashion forms like the body of animals,—but another and internal form which is not itself constructed, but, as the efficient cause, produces not only the natural bodily[Pg 517] forms, but even the life itself of the living creatures, and which proceeds from the secret and hidden choice of an intelligent and living nature,—let that first-mentioned form be attributed to every artificer, but this latter to one only, God, the Creator and Originator who made the world itself and the angels, without the help of world or angels. For the same divine and, so to speak, creative energy, which cannot be made, but makes, and which gave to the earth and sky their roundness,—this same divine, effective, and creative energy gave their roundness to the eye and to the apple; and the other natural objects which we anywhere see, received also their form, not from without, but from the secret and profound might of the Creator, who said, "Do not I fill heaven and earth?"[563] and whose wisdom it is that "reacheth from one end to another mightily; and sweetly doth she order all things."[564] Wherefore I know not what kind of aid the angels, themselves created first, afforded to the Creator in making other things. I cannot ascribe to them what perhaps they cannot do, neither ought I to deny them such faculty as they have. But, by their leave, I attribute the creating and originating work which gave being to all natures to God, to whom they themselves thankfully ascribe their existence. We do not call gardeners the creators of their fruits, for we read, "Neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase."[565] Nay, not even the earth itself do we call a creator, though she seems to be the prolific mother of all things which she aids in germinating and bursting forth from the seed, and which she keeps rooted in her own breast; for we likewise read, "God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body."[566] We ought not even to call a woman the creatress of her own offspring; for He rather is its creator who said to His servant, "Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee."[567] And although the various mental emotions of a pregnant woman do produce in the fruit of her womb similar qualities,—as Jacob with his peeled wands caused piebald sheep to be produced,—yet the mother as little creates her[Pg 518] offspring, as she created herself. Whatever bodily or seminal causes, then, may be used for the production of things, either by the co-operation of angels, men, or the lower animals, or by sexual generation; and whatever power the desires and mental emotions of the mother have to produce in the tender and plastic fœtus, corresponding lineaments and colours; yet the natures themselves, which are thus variously affected, are the production of none but the most high God. It is His occult power which pervades all things, and is present in all without being contaminated, which gives being to all that is, and modifies and limits its existence; so that without Him it would not be thus or thus, nor would have any being at all.[568] If, then, in regard to that outward form which the workman's hand imposes on his work, we do not say that Rome and Alexandria were built by masons and architects, but by the kings by whose will, plan, and resources they were built, so that the one has Romulus, the other Alexander, for its founder; with how much greater reason ought we to say that God alone is the Author of all natures, since He neither uses for His work any material which was not made by Him, nor any workmen who were not also made by Him, and since, if He were, so to speak, to withdraw from created things His creative power, they would straightway relapse into the nothingness in which they were before they were created? "Before," I mean, in respect of eternity, not of time. For what other creator could there be of time, than He who created those things whose movements make time?[569]

26. Of that opinion of the Platonists, that the angels were themselves indeed created by God, but that afterwards they created man's body.

It is obvious, that in attributing the creation of the other animals to those inferior gods who were made by the Supreme, he meant it to be understood that the immortal part was taken from God Himself, and that these minor creators added the mortal part; that is to say, he meant them to be considered the creators of our bodies, but not of our souls. But since Porphyry maintains that if the soul is to be purified, all entanglement with a body must be escaped from; and at the same time agrees with Plato and the Platonists in[Pg 519] thinking that those who have not spent a temperate and honourable life return to mortal bodies as their punishment (to bodies of brutes in Plato's opinion, to human bodies in Porphyry's); it follows that those whom they would have us worship as our parents and authors, that they may plausibly call them gods, are, after all, but the forgers of our fetters and chains,—not our creators, but our jailers and turnkeys, who lock us up in the most bitter and melancholy house of correction. Let the Platonists, then, either cease menacing us with our bodies as the punishment of our souls, or preaching that we are to worship as gods those whose work upon us they exhort us by all means in our power to avoid and escape from. But, indeed, both opinions are quite false. It is false that souls return again to this life to be punished; and it is false that there is any other creator of anything in heaven or earth, than He who made the heaven and the earth. For if we live in a body only to expiate our sins, how says Plato in another place, that the world could not have been the most beautiful and good, had it not been filled with all kinds of creatures, mortal and immortal?[570] But if our creation even as mortals be a divine benefit, how is it a punishment to be restored to a body, that is, to a divine benefit? And if God, as Plato continually maintains, embraced in His eternal intelligence the ideas both of the universe and of all the animals, how, then, should He not with His own hand make them all? Could He be unwilling to be the constructor of works, the idea and plan of which called for His ineffable and ineffably to be praised intelligence?

27. That the whole plenitude of the human race was embraced in the first man, and that God there saw the portion of it which was to be honoured and rewarded, and that which was to be condemned and punished.

With good cause, therefore, does the true religion recognise and proclaim that the same God who created the universal cosmos, created also all the animals, souls as well as bodies. Among the terrestrial animals man was made by Him in His[Pg 520] own image, and, for the reason I have given, was made one individual, though he was not left solitary. For there is nothing so social by nature, so unsocial by its corruption, as this race. And human nature has nothing more appropriate, either for the prevention of discord, or for the healing of it, where it exists, than the remembrance of that first parent of us all, whom God was pleased to create alone, that all men might be derived from one, and that they might thus be admonished to preserve unity among their whole multitude. But from the fact that the woman was made for him from his side, it was plainly meant that we should learn how dear the bond between man and wife should be. These works of God do certainly seem extraordinary, because they are the first works. They who do not believe them, ought not to believe any prodigies; for these would not be called prodigies did they not happen out of the ordinary course of nature. But, is it possible that anything should happen in vain, however hidden be its cause, in so grand a government of divine providence? One of the sacred Psalmists says, "Come, behold the works of the Lord, what prodigies He hath wrought in the earth."[571] Why God made woman out of man's side, and what this first prodigy prefigured, I shall, with God's help, tell in another place. But at present, since this book must be concluded, let us merely say that in this first man, who was created in the beginning, there was laid the foundation, not indeed evidently, but in God's foreknowledge, of these two cities or societies, so far as regards the human race. For from that man all men were to be derived—some of them to be associated with the good angels in their reward, others with the wicked in punishment; all being ordered by the secret yet just judgment of God. For since it is written, "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,"[572] neither can His grace be unjust, nor His justice cruel.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:45 am

Part 1 of 2

BOOK THIRTEENTH.

ARGUMENT. IN THIS BOOK IT IS TAUGHT THAT DEATH IS PENAL, AND HAD ITS ORIGIN IN ADAM'S SIN.

1. Of the fall of the first man, through which mortality has been contracted.


Having disposed of the very difficult questions concerning the origin of our world and the beginning of the human race, the natural order requires that we now discuss the fall of the first man (we may say of the first men), and of the origin and propagation of human death. For God had not made man like the angels, in such a condition that, even though they had sinned, they could none the more die. He had so made them, that if they discharged the obligations of obedience, an angelic immortality and a blessed eternity might ensue, without the intervention of death; but if they disobeyed, death should be visited on them with just sentence—which, too, has been spoken to in the preceding book.

2. Of that death which can affect an immortal soul, and of that to which the body is subject.

But I see I must speak a little more carefully of the nature of death. For although the human soul is truly affirmed to be immortal, yet it also has a certain death of its own. For it is therefore called immortal, because, in a sense, it does not cease to live and to feel; while the body is called mortal, because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it. Therefore the death of both—that is, of the whole man—occurs when the soul, forsaken by God, forsakes the body. For, in this case, neither is God the life of the soul, nor the soul the life of the body. And this death of the whole man is followed by that which, on the authority[Pg 522] of the divine oracles, we call the second death. This the Saviour referred to when He said, "Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."[573] And since this does not happen before the soul is so joined to its body that they cannot be separated at all, it may be matter of wonder how the body can be said to be killed by that death in which it is not forsaken by the soul, but, being animated and rendered sensitive by it, is tormented. For in that penal and everlasting punishment, of which in its own place we are to speak more at large, the soul is justly said to die, because it does not live in connection with God; but how can we say that the body is dead, seeing that it lives by the soul? For it could not otherwise feel the bodily torments which are to follow the resurrection. Is it because life of every kind is good, and pain an evil, that we decline to say that that body lives, in which the soul is the cause, not of life, but of pain? The soul, then, lives by God when it lives well, for it cannot live well unless by God working in it what is good; and the body lives by the soul when the soul lives in the body, whether itself be living by God or no. For the wicked man's life in the body is a life not of the soul, but of the body, which even dead souls—that is, souls forsaken of God—can confer upon bodies, how little soever of their own proper life, by which they are immortal, they retain. But in the last damnation, though man does not cease to feel, yet because this feeling of his is neither sweet with pleasure nor wholesome with repose, but painfully penal, it is not without reason called death rather than life. And it is called the second death because it follows the first, which sunders the two cohering essences, whether these be God and the soul, or the soul and the body. Of the first and bodily death, then, we may say that to the good it is good, and evil to the evil. But, doubtless, the second, as it happens to none of the good, so it can be good for none.

3. Whether death, which by the sin of our first parents has passed upon all men, is the punishment of sin, even to the good.

But a question not to be shirked arises: Whether in very truth death, which separates soul and body, is good to the[Pg 523] good?[574] For if it be, how has it come to pass that such a thing should be the punishment of sin? For the first men would not have suffered death had they not sinned. How, then, can that be good to the good, which could not have happened except to the evil? Then, again, if it could only happen to the evil, to the good it ought not to be good, but non-existent. For why should there be any punishment where there is nothing to punish? Wherefore we must say that the first men were indeed so created, that if they had not sinned, they would not have experienced any kind of death; but that, having become sinners, they were so punished with death, that whatsoever sprang from their stock should also be punished with the same death. For nothing else could be born of them than that which they themselves had been. Their nature was deteriorated in proportion to the greatness of the condemnation of their sin, so that what existed as punishment in those who first sinned, became a natural consequence in their children. For man is not produced by man, as he was from the dust. For dust was the material out of which man was made: man is the parent by whom man is begotten. Wherefore earth and flesh are not the same thing, though flesh be made of earth. But as man the parent is, such is man the offspring. In the first man, therefore, there existed the whole human nature, which was to be transmitted by the woman to posterity, when that conjugal union received the divine sentence of its own condemnation; and what man was made, not when created, but when he sinned and was punished, this he propagated, so far as the origin of sin and death are concerned. For neither by sin nor its punishment was he himself reduced to that infantine and helpless infirmity of body and mind which we see in children. For God ordained that infants should begin the world as the young of beasts begin it, since their parents had fallen to the level of the beasts in the fashion of their life and of their death; as it is written, "Man when he was in honour understood not; he became like the beasts that have no understanding."[575] Nay more,[Pg 524] infants, we see, are even feebler in the use and movement of their limbs, and more infirm to choose and refuse, than the most tender offspring of other animals; as if the force that dwells in human nature were destined to surpass all other living things so much the more eminently, as its energy has been longer restrained, and the time of its exercise delayed, just as an arrow flies the higher the further back it has been drawn. To this infantine imbecility[576] the first man did not fall by his lawless presumption and just sentence; but human nature was in his person vitiated and altered to such an extent, that he suffered in his members the warring of disobedient lust, and became subject to the necessity of dying. And what he himself had become by sin and punishment, such he generated those whom he begot; that is to say, subject to sin and death. And if infants are delivered from this bondage of sin by the Redeemer's grace, they can suffer only this death which separates soul and body; but being redeemed from the obligation of sin, they do not pass to that second endless and penal death.

4. Why death, the punishment of sin, is not withheld from those who by the grace of regeneration are absolved from sin.

If, moreover, any one is solicitous about this point, how, if death be the very punishment of sin, they whose guilt is cancelled by grace do yet suffer death, this difficulty has already been handled and solved in our other work which we have written on the baptism of infants.[577] There it was said that the parting of soul and body was left, though its connection with sin was removed, for this reason, that if the immortality of the body followed immediately upon the sacrament of regeneration, faith itself would be thereby enervated. For faith is then only faith when it waits in hope for what is not yet seen in substance. And by the vigour and conflict of faith, at least in times past, was the fear of death overcome. Specially was this conspicuous in the holy martyrs, who could have had no victory, no glory, to whom there could not even have been any conflict, if, after the laver of regeneration, saints could not suffer[Pg 525] bodily death. Who would not, then, in company with the infants presented for baptism, run to the grace of Christ, that so he might not be dismissed from the body? And thus faith would not be tested with an unseen reward; and so would not even be faith, seeking and receiving an immediate recompense of its works. But now, by the greater and more admirable grace of the Saviour, the punishment of sin is turned to the service of righteousness. For then it was proclaimed to man, "If thou sinnest, thou shalt die;" now it is said to the martyr, "Die, that thou sin not." Then it was said, "If ye transgress the commandments, ye shall die;" now it is said, "If ye decline death, ye transgress the commandment." That which was formerly set as an object of terror, that men might not sin, is now to be undergone if we would not sin. Thus, by the unutterable mercy of God, even the very punishment of wickedness has become the armour of virtue, and the penalty of the sinner becomes the reward of the righteous. For then death was incurred by sinning, now righteousness is fulfilled by dying. In the case of the holy martyrs it is so; for to them the persecutor proposes the alternative, apostasy or death. For the righteous prefer by believing to suffer what the first transgressors suffered by not believing. For unless they had sinned, they would not have died; but the martyrs sin if they do not die. The one died because they sinned, the others do not sin because they die. By the guilt of the first, punishment was incurred; by the punishment of the second, guilt is prevented. Not that death, which was before an evil, has become something good, but only that God has granted to faith this grace, that death, which is the admitted opposite to life, should become the instrument by which life is reached.

5. As the wicked make an ill use of the law, which is good, so the good make a good use of death, which is an ill.

The apostle, wishing to show how hurtful a thing sin is, when grace does not aid us, has not hesitated to say that the strength of sin is that very law by which sin is prohibited. "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law."[578] Most certainly true; for prohibition increases the desire of illicit action, if righteousness is not so loved that the desire of[Pg 526] sin is conquered by that love. But unless divine grace aid us, we cannot love nor delight in true righteousness. But lest the law should be thought to be an evil, since it is called the strength of sin, the apostle, when treating a similar question in another place, says, "The law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is holy made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful."[579] Exceeding, he says, because the transgression is more heinous when through the increasing lust of sin the law itself also is despised. Why have we thought it worth while to mention this? For this reason, because, as the law is not an evil when it increases the lust of those who sin, so neither is death a good thing when it increases the glory of those who suffer it, since either the former is abandoned wickedly, and makes transgressors, or the latter is embraced for the truth's sake, and makes martyrs. And thus the law is indeed good, because it is prohibition of sin, and death is evil because it is the wages of sin; but as wicked men make an evil use not only of evil, but also of good things, so the righteous make a good use not only of good, but also of evil things. Whence it comes to pass that the wicked make an ill use of the law, though the law is good; and that the good die well, though death is an evil.

6. Of the evil of death in general, considered as the separation of soul and body.

Wherefore, as regards bodily death, that is, the separation of the soul from the body, it is good unto none while it is being endured by those whom we say are in the article of death. For the very violence with which body and soul are wrenched asunder, which in the living had been conjoined and closely intertwined, brings with it a harsh experience, jarring horridly on nature so long as it continues, till there comes a total loss of sensation, which arose from the very interpenetration of spirit and flesh. And all this anguish is sometimes forestalled by one stroke of the body or sudden flitting of the soul, the swiftness of which prevents it from being felt. But whatever that may be in the dying which[Pg 527] with violently painful sensation robs of all sensation, yet, when it is piously and faithfully borne, it increases the merit of patience, but does not make the name of punishment inapplicable. Death, proceeding by ordinary generation from the first man, is the punishment of all who are born of him, yet, if it be endured for righteousness' sake, it becomes the glory of those who are born again; and though death be the award of sin, it sometimes secures that nothing be awarded to sin.

7. Of the death which the unbaptized[580] suffer for the confession of Christ.

For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,"[581] made also an exception in their favour, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;"[582] and in another place, "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it."[583] And this explains the verse, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."[584] For what is more precious than a death by which a man's sins are all forgiven, and his merits increased an hundredfold? For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out, have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism. And even had they denied Him under pressure of the fear of death, this too would have been forgiven them in that baptism, in which was remitted even the enormous wickedness of those who had slain Christ. But how abundant in these men must have been the grace of the Spirit, who breathes where He listeth, seeing that they so dearly loved Christ as to be unable to deny Him even in so sore an emergency, and with so sure a hope of pardon! Precious, therefore, is the death of the saints, to[Pg 528] whom the grace of Christ has been applied with such gracious effects, that they do not hesitate to meet death themselves, if so be they might meet Him. And precious is it, also, because it has proved that what was originally ordained for the punishment of the sinner, has been used for the production of a richer harvest of righteousness. But not on this account should we look upon death as a good thing, for it is diverted to such useful purposes, not by any virtue of its own, but by the divine interference. Death was originally proposed as an object of dread, that sin might not be committed; now it must be undergone that sin may not be committed, or, if committed, be remitted, and the award of righteousness bestowed on him whose victory has earned it.

8. That the saints, by suffering the first death for the truth's sake, are freed from the second.

For if we look at the matter a little more carefully, we shall see that even when a man dies faithfully and laudably for the truth's sake, it is still death he is avoiding. For he submits to some part of death, for the very purpose of avoiding the whole, and the second and eternal death over and above. He submits to the separation of soul and body, lest the soul be separated both from God and from the body, and so the whole first death be completed, and the second death receive him everlastingly. Wherefore death is indeed, as I said, good to none while it is being actually suffered, and while it is subduing the dying to its power; but it is meritoriously endured for the sake of retaining or winning what is good. And regarding what happens after death, it is no absurdity to say that death is good to the good, and evil to the evil. For the disembodied spirits of the just are at rest; but those of the wicked suffer punishment till their bodies rise again,—those of the just to life everlasting, and of the others to death eternal, which is called the second death.

9. Whether we should say that the moment of death, in which sensation ceases, occurs in the experience of the dying or in that of the dead.

The point of time in which the souls of the good and evil are separated from the body, are we to say it is after death, or in death rather? If it is after death, then it is not death which is good or evil, since death is done with and past, but[Pg 529] it is the life which the soul has now entered on. Death was an evil when it was present, that is to say, when it was being suffered by the dying; for to them it brought with it a severe and grievous experience, which the good make a good use of. But when death is past, how can that which no longer is be either good or evil? Still further, if we examine the matter more closely, we shall see that even that sore and grievous pain which the dying experience is not death itself. For so long as they have any sensation, they are certainly still alive; and, if still alive, must rather be said to be in a state previous to death than in death. For when death actually comes, it robs us of all bodily sensation, which, while death is only approaching, is painful. And thus it is difficult to explain how we speak of those who are not yet dead, but are agonized in their last and mortal extremity, as being in the article of death. Yet what else can we call them than dying persons? for when death which was imminent shall have actually come, we can no longer call them dying but dead. No one, therefore, is dying unless living; since even he who is in the last extremity of life, and, as we say, giving up the ghost, yet lives. The same person is therefore at once dying and living, but drawing near to death, departing from life; yet in life, because his spirit yet abides in the body; not yet in death, because not yet has his spirit forsaken the body. But if, when it has forsaken it, the man is not even then in death, but after death, who shall say when he is in death? On the one hand, no one can be called dying, if a man cannot be dying and living at the same time; and as long as the soul is in the body, we cannot deny that he is living. On the other hand, if the man who is approaching death be rather called dying, I know not who is living.

10. Of the life of mortals, which is rather to be called death than life.

For no sooner do we begin to live in this dying body, than we begin to move ceaselessly towards death.[585] For in the[Pg 530] whole course of this life (if life we must call it) its mutability tends towards death. Certainly there is no one who is not nearer it this year than last year, and to-morrow than to-day, and to-day than yesterday, and a short while hence than now, and now than a short while ago. For whatever time we live is deducted from our whole term of life, and that which remains is daily becoming less and less; so that our whole life is nothing but a race towards death, in which no one is allowed to stand still for a little space, or to go somewhat more slowly, but all are driven forwards with an impartial movement, and with equal rapidity. For he whose life is short spends a day no more swiftly than he whose life is longer. But while the equal moments are impartially snatched from both, the one has a nearer and the other a more remote goal to reach with this their equal speed. It is one thing to make a longer journey, and another to walk more slowly. He, therefore, who spends longer time on his way to death does not proceed at a more leisurely pace, but goes over more ground. Further, if every man begins to die, that is, is in death, as soon as death has begun to show itself in him (by taking away life, to wit; for when life is all taken away, the man will be then not in death, but after death), then he begins to die so soon as he begins to live. For what else is going on in all his days, hours, and moments, until this slow-working death is fully consummated? And then comes the time after death, instead of that in which life was being withdrawn, and which we called being in death. Man, then, is never in life from the moment he dwells in this dying rather than living body,—if, at least, he cannot be in life and death at once. Or rather, shall we say, he is in both?—in life, namely, which he lives till all is consumed; but in death also, which he dies as his life is consumed? For if he is not in life, what is it which is consumed till all be gone? And if he is not in death, what is this consumption itself? For when the whole of life has been consumed, the expression "after death" would be meaningless, had that consumption not been death. And if, when it has all been consumed, a man is not in death but after death, when is he in death, unless when life is being consumed away? [Pg 531]

11. Whether one can both be living and dead at the same time.

But if it is absurd to say that a man is in death before he reaches death (for to what is his course running as he passes through life, if already he is in death?), and if it outrage common usage to speak of a man being at once alive and dead, as much as it does so, to speak of him as at once asleep and awake, it remains to be asked when a man is dying? For, before death comes, he is not dying but living; and when death has come, he is not dying but dead. The one is before, the other after death. When, then, is he in death so that we can say he is dying? For as there are three times, before death, in death, after death, so there are three states corresponding, living, dying, dead. And it is very hard to define when a man is in death or dying, when he is neither living, which is before death, nor dead, which is after death, but dying, which is in death. For so long as the soul is in the body, especially if consciousness remain, the man certainly lives; for body and soul constitute the man. And thus, before death, he cannot be said to be in death; but when, on the other hand, the soul has departed, and all bodily sensation is extinct, death is past, and the man is dead. Between these two states the dying condition finds no place; for if a man yet lives, death has not arrived; if he has ceased to live, death is past. Never, then, is he dying, that is, comprehended in the state of death. So also in the passing of time,—you try to lay your finger on the present, and cannot find it, because the present occupies no space, but is only the transition of time from the future to the past. Must we then conclude that there is thus no death of the body at all? For if there is, where is it, since it is in no one, and no one can be in it? Since, indeed, if there is yet life, death is not yet; for this state is before death, not in death: and if life has already ceased, death is not present; for this state is after death, not in death. On the other hand, if there is no death before or after, what do we mean when we say "after death," or "before death?" This is a foolish way of speaking if there is no death. And would that we had lived so well in Paradise that in very truth there were now no death! But not only does it now exist, but so grievous[Pg 532] a thing is it, that no skill is sufficient either to explain or to escape it.

Let us, then, speak in the customary way,—no man ought to speak otherwise,—and let us call the time before death come, "before death;" as it is written, "Praise no man before his death."[586] And when it has happened, let us say that "after death" this or that took place. And of the present time let us speak as best we can, as when we say, "He, when dying, made his will, and left this or that to such and such persons,"—though, of course, he could not do so unless he were living, and did this rather before death than in death. And let us use the same phraseology as Scripture uses; for it makes no scruple of saying that the dead are not after but in death. So that verse, "For in death there is no remembrance of thee."[587] For until the resurrection men are justly said to be in death; as every one is said to be in sleep till he awakes. However, though we can say of persons in sleep that they are sleeping, we cannot speak in this way of the dead, and say they are dying. For, so far as regards the death of the body, of which we are now speaking, one cannot say that those who are already separated from their bodies continue dying. But this, you see, is just what I was saying,—that no words can explain how either the dying are said to live, or how the dead are said, even after death, to be in death. For how can they be after death if they be in death, especially when we do not even call them dying, as we call those in sleep, sleeping; and those in languor, languishing; and those in grief, grieving; and those in life, living? And yet the dead, until they rise again, are said to be in death, but cannot be called dying.

And therefore I think it has not unsuitably nor inappropriately come to pass, though not by the intention of man, yet perhaps with divine purpose, that this Latin word moritur cannot be declined by the grammarians according to the rule followed by similar words. For oritur gives the form ortus est for the perfect; and all similar verbs form this tense from their perfect participles. But if we ask the perfect of moritur, we get the regular answer, mortuus[Pg 533] est with a double u. For thus mortuus is pronounced, like fatuus, arduus, conspicuus, and similar words, which are not perfect participles but adjectives, and are declined without regard to tense. But mortuus, though in form an adjective, is used as perfect participle, as if that were to be declined which cannot be declined; and thus it has suitably come to pass that, as the thing itself cannot in point of fact be declined, so neither can the word significant of the act be declined. Yet, by the aid of our Redeemer's grace, we may manage at least to decline the second. For that is more grievous still, and, indeed, of all evils the worst, since it consists not in the separation of soul and body, but in the uniting of both in death eternal. And there, in striking contrast to our present conditions, men will not be before or after death, but always in death; and thus never living, never dead, but endlessly dying. And never can a man be more disastrously in death than when death itself shall be deathless.

12. What death God intended, when He threatened our first parents with death if they should disobey His commandment.

When, therefore, it is asked what death it was with which God threatened our first parents if they should transgress the commandment they had received from Him, and should fail to preserve their obedience,—whether it was the death of soul, or of body, or of the whole man, or that which is called second death,—we must answer, It is all. For the first consists of two; the second is the complete death, which consists of all. For, as the whole earth consists of many lands, and the Church universal of many churches, so death universal consists of all deaths. The first consists of two, one of the body, and another of the soul. So that the first death is a death of the whole man, since the soul without God and without the body suffers punishment for a time; but the second is when the soul, without God but with the body, suffers punishment everlasting. When, therefore, God said to that first man whom he had placed in Paradise, referring to the forbidden fruit, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,"[588] that threatening included not only the first part of the first death, by which the soul is[Pg 534] deprived of God; nor only the subsequent part of the first death, by which the body is deprived of the soul; nor only the whole first death itself, by which the soul is punished in separation from God and from the body;—but it includes whatever of death there is, even to that final death which is called second, and to which none is subsequent.

13. What was the first punishment of the transgression of our first parents?

For, as soon as our first parents had transgressed the commandment, divine grace forsook them, and they were confounded at their own wickedness; and therefore they took fig-leaves (which were possibly the first that came to hand in their troubled state of mind), and covered their shame; for though their members remained the same, they had shame now where they had none before. They experienced a new motion of their flesh, which had become disobedient to them, in strict retribution of their own disobedience to God. For the soul, revelling in its own liberty, and scorning to serve God, was itself deprived of the command it had formerly maintained over the body. And because it had wilfully deserted its superior Lord, it no longer held its own inferior servant; neither could it hold the flesh subject, as it would always have been able to do had it remained itself subject to God. Then began the flesh to lust against the Spirit,[589] in which strife we are born, deriving from the first transgression a seed of death, and bearing in our members, and in our vitiated nature, the contest or even victory of the flesh.

14. In what state man was made by God, and into what estate he fell by the choice of his own will.

For God, the author of natures, not of vices, created man upright; but man, being of his own will corrupted, and justly condemned, begot corrupted and condemned children. For we all were in that one man, since we all were that one man who fell into sin by the woman who was made from him before the sin. For not yet was the particular form created and distributed to us, in which we as individuals were to live, but already the seminal nature was there from which[Pg 535] we were to be propagated; and this being vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned, man could not be born of man in any other state. And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated the whole train of evil, which, with its concatenation of miseries, convoys the human race from its depraved origin, as from a corrupt root, on to the destruction of the second death, which has no end, those only being excepted who are freed by the grace of God.

15. That Adam in his sin forsook God ere God forsook him, and that his falling away from God was the first death of the soul.

It may perhaps be supposed that because God said, "Ye shall die the death,"[590] and not "deaths," we should understand only that death which occurs when the soul is deserted by God, who is its life; for it was not deserted by God, and so deserted Him, but deserted Him, and so was deserted by Him. For its own will was the originator of its evil, as God was the originator of its motions towards good, both in making it when it was not, and in re-making it when it had fallen and perished. But though we suppose that God meant only this. death, and that the words, "In the day ye eat of it ye shall die the death," should be understood as meaning, "In the day ye desert me in disobedience, I will desert you in justice," yet assuredly in this death the other deaths also were threatened, which were its inevitable consequence. For in the first stirring of the disobedient motion which was felt in the flesh of the disobedient soul, and which caused our first parents to cover their shame, one death indeed is experienced, that, namely, which occurs when God forsakes the soul. (This was intimated by the words He uttered, when the man, stupefied by fear, had hid himself, "Adam, where art thou?"[591]—words which He used not in ignorance of inquiry, but warning him to consider where he was, since God was not with him.) But when the soul itself forsook the body, corrupted and decayed with age, the other death was experienced of which God had spoken in pronouncing man's sentence, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return."[592] And of these two deaths that first death of the whole man is composed. And this first death[Pg 536] is finally followed by the second, unless man be freed by grace. For the body would not return to the earth from which it was made, save only by the death proper to itself, which occurs when it is forsaken of the soul, its life. And therefore it is agreed among all Christians who truthfully hold the catholic faith, that we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

16. Concerning the philosophers who think that the separation of soul and body is not penal, though Plato represents the supreme Deity as promising to the inferior gods that they shall never be dismissed from their bodies.

But the philosophers against whom we are defending the city of God, that is, His Church, seem to themselves to have good cause to deride us, because we say that the separation of the soul from the body is to be held as part of man's punishment. For they suppose that the blessedness of the soul then only is complete, when it is quite denuded of the body, and returns to God a pure and simple, and, as it were, naked soul. On this point, if I should find nothing in their own literature to refute this opinion, I should be forced laboriously to demonstrate that it is not the body, but the corruptibility of the body, which is a burden to the soul. Hence that sentence of Scripture we quoted in a foregoing book, "For the corruptible body presseth down the soul."[593] The word corruptible is added to show that the soul is burdened, not by any body whatsoever, but by the body such as it has become in consequence of sin. And even though the word had not been added, we could understand nothing else. But when Plato most expressly declares that the gods who are made by the Supreme have immortal bodies, and when he introduces their Maker himself promising them as a great boon that they should abide in their bodies eternally, and never by any death be loosed from them, why do these adversaries of ours, for the sake of troubling the Christian faith, feign to be ignorant of what they quite well know, and even prefer to contradict themselves rather than lose an opportunity of contradicting us? Here are Plato's words, as Cicero[Pg 537] has translated them,[594] in which he introduces the Supreme addressing the gods He had made, and saying, "Ye who are sprung from a divine stock, consider of what works I am the parent and author. These (your bodies) are indestructible so long as I will it; although all that is composed can be destroyed. But it is wicked to dissolve what reason has compacted. But, seeing that ye have been born, ye cannot indeed be immortal and indestructible; yet ye shall by no means be destroyed, nor shall any fates consign you to death, and prove superior to my will, which is a stronger assurance of your perpetuity than those bodies to which ye were joined when ye were born." Plato, you see, says that the gods are both mortal by the connection of the body and soul, and yet are rendered immortal by the will and decree of their Maker. If, therefore, it is a punishment to the soul to be connected with any body whatever, why does God address them as if they were afraid of death, that is, of the separation of soul and body? Why does He seek to reassure them by promising them immortality, not in virtue of their nature, which is composite and not simple, but by virtue of His invincible will, whereby He can effect that neither things born die, nor things compounded be dissolved, but preserved eternally?

Whether this opinion of Plato's about the stars is true or not, is another question. For we cannot at once grant to him that these luminous bodies or globes, which by day and night shine on the earth with the light of their bodily substance, have also intellectual and blessed souls which animate each its own body, as he confidently affirms of the universe itself, as if it were one huge animal, in which all other animals were contained.[595] But this, as I said, is another question, which we[Pg 538] have not undertaken to discuss at present. This much only I deemed right to bring forward, in opposition to those who so pride themselves on being, or on being called Platonists, that they blush to be Christians, and who cannot brook to be called by a name which the common people also bear, lest they vulgarize the philosophers' coterie, which is proud in proportion to its exclusiveness. These men, seeking a weak point in the Christian doctrine, select for attack the eternity of the body, as if it were a contradiction to contend for the blessedness of the soul, and to wish it to be always resident in the body, bound, as it were, in a lamentable chain; and this although Plato, their own founder and master, affirms that it was granted by the Supreme as a boon to the gods He had made, that they should not die, that is, should not be separated from the bodies with which He had connected them.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The City of God: The Works of Aurelius Augustine

Postby admin » Sat Mar 24, 2018 4:45 am

Part 2 of 2

17. Against those who affirm that earthly bodies cannot be made incorruptible and eternal.

These same philosophers further contend that terrestrial bodies cannot be eternal, though they make no doubt that the whole earth, which is itself the central member of their god,—not, indeed, of the greatest, but yet of a great god, that is, of this whole world,—is eternal. Since, then, the Supreme made for them another god, that is, this world, superior to the other gods beneath Him; and since they suppose that this god is an animal, having, as they affirm, a rational or intellectual soul enclosed in the huge mass of its body, and having, as the fitly situated and adjusted members of its body, the four elements, whose union they wish to be indissoluble and eternal, lest perchance this great god of theirs might some day perish; what reason is there that the earth, which is the central member in the body of a greater creature, should be eternal, and the bodies of other terrestrial creatures should not possibly be eternal if God should so will it? But earth, say they, must return to earth, out of which the terrestrial bodies of the animals have been taken. For this, they say, is the reason of the necessity of their death and dissolution, and this the manner of their restoration to the solid and eternal earth whence they came. But if any one says the same thing of fire, holding that the bodies which are derived from it to make[Pg 539] celestial beings must be restored to the universal fire, does not the immortality which Plato represents these gods as receiving from the Supreme evanesce in the heat of this dispute? Or does this not happen with those celestials because God, whose will, as Plato says, overpowers all powers, has willed it should not be so? What, then, hinders God from ordaining the same of terrestrial bodies? And since, indeed, Plato acknowledges that God can prevent things that are born from dying, and things that are joined from being sundered, and things that are composed from being dissolved, and can ordain that the souls once allotted to their bodies should never abandon them, but enjoy along with them immortality and everlasting bliss, why may He not also effect that terrestrial bodies die not? Is God powerless to do everything that is special to the Christian's creed, but powerful to effect everything the Platonists desire? The philosophers, forsooth, have been admitted to a knowledge of the divine purposes and power which has been denied to the prophets! The truth is, that the Spirit of God taught His prophets so much of His will as He thought fit to reveal, but the philosophers, in their efforts to discover it, were deceived by human conjecture.

But they should not have been so led astray, I will not say by their ignorance, but by their obstinacy, as to contradict themselves so frequently; for they maintain, with all their vaunted might, that in order to the happiness of the soul, it must abandon not only its earthly body, but every kind of body. And yet they hold that the gods, whose souls are most blessed, are bound to everlasting bodies, the celestials to fiery bodies, and the soul of Jove himself (or this world, as they would have us believe) to all the physical elements which compose this entire mass reaching from earth to heaven. For this soul Plato believes to be extended and diffused by musical numbers,[596] from the middle of the inside of the earth, which geometricians call the centre, outwards through all its parts to the utmost heights and extremities of the heavens; so that this world is a very great and blessed immortal animal, whose soul has both the perfect blessedness of wisdom, and never leaves its own body, and whose body has life everlasting[Pg 540] from the soul, and by no means clogs or hinders it, though itself be not a simple body, but compacted of so many and so huge materials. Since, therefore, they allow so much to their own conjectures, why do they refuse to believe that by the divine will and power immortality can be conferred on earthly bodies, in which the souls would be neither oppressed with the burden of them, nor separated from them by any death, but live eternally and blessedly? Do they not assert that their own gods so live in bodies of fire, and that Jove himself, their king, so lives in the physical elements? If, in order to its blessedness, the soul must quit every kind of body, let their gods flit from the starry spheres, and Jupiter from earth to sky; or, if they cannot do so, let them be pronounced miserable. But neither alternative will these men adopt. For, on the one hand, they dare not ascribe to their own gods a departure from the body, lest they should seem to worship mortals; on the other hand, they dare not deny their happiness, lest they should acknowledge wretches as gods. Therefore, to obtain blessedness, we need not quit every kind of body, but only the corruptible, cumbersome, painful, dying,—not such bodies as the goodness of God contrived for the first man, but such only as man's sin entailed.

18. Of earthly bodies, which the philosophers affirm cannot be in heavenly places, because whatever is of earth is by its natural weight attracted to earth.

But it is necessary, they say, that the natural weight of earthly bodies either keep them on earth or draw them to it; and therefore they cannot be in heaven. Our first parents were indeed on earth, in a well-wooded and fruitful spot, which has been named Paradise. But let our adversaries a little more carefully consider this subject of earthly weight, because it has important bearings, both on the ascension of the body of Christ, and also on the resurrection body of the saints. If human skill can by some contrivance fabricate vessels that float, out of metals which sink as soon as they are placed on the water, how much more credible is it that God, by some occult mode of operation, should even more certainly effect that these earthy masses be emancipated from the downward pressure of their weight? This cannot be impossible to that God by whose almighty will, according to[Pg 541] Plato, neither things born perish, nor things composed dissolve, especially since it is much more wonderful that spiritual and bodily essences be conjoined than that bodies be adjusted to other material substances. Can we not also easily believe that souls, being made perfectly blessed, should be endowed with the power of moving their earthy but incorruptible bodies as they please, with almost spontaneous movement, and of placing them where they please with the readiest action? If the angels transport whatever terrestrial creatures they please from any place they please, and convey them whither they please, is it to be believed that they cannot do so without toil and the feeling of burden? Why, then, may we not believe that the spirits of the saints, made perfect and blessed by divine grace, can carry their own bodies where they please, and set them where they will? For, though we have been accustomed to notice, in bearing weights, that the larger the quantity the greater the weight of earthy bodies is, and that the greater the weight the more burdensome it is, yet the soul carries the members of its own flesh with less difficulty when they are massive with health, than in sickness when they are wasted. And though the hale and strong man feels heavier to other men carrying him than the lank and sickly, yet the man himself moves and carries his own body with less feeling of burden when he has the greater bulk of vigorous health, than when his frame is reduced to a minimum by hunger or disease. Of such consequence, in estimating the weight of earthly bodies, even while yet corruptible and mortal, is the consideration not of dead weight, but of the healthy equilibrium of the parts. And what words can tell the difference between what we now call health and future immortality? Let not the philosophers, then, think to upset our faith with arguments from the weight of bodies; for I don't care to inquire why they cannot believe an earthly body can be in heaven, while the whole earth is suspended on nothing. For perhaps the world keeps its central place by the same law that attracts to its centre all heavy bodies. But this I say, if the lesser gods, to whom Plato committed the creation of man and the other terrestrial creatures, were able, as he affirms, to withdraw from the fire its quality of burning, while[Pg 542] they left it that of lighting, so that it should shine through the eyes; and if to the supreme God Plato also concedes the power of preserving from death things that have been born, and of preserving from dissolution things that are composed of parts so different as body and spirit;—are we to hesitate to concede to this same God the power to operate on the flesh of him whom He has endowed with immortality, so as to withdraw its corruption but leave its nature, remove its burdensome weight but retain its seemly form and members? But concerning our belief in the resurrection of the dead, and concerning their immortal bodies, we shall speak more at large, God willing, in the end of this work.

19. Against the opinion of those who do not believe that the primitive men would have been immortal if they had not sinned.

At present let us go on, as we have begun, to give some explanation regarding the bodies of our first parents. I say then, that, except as the just consequence of sin, they would not have been subjected even to this death, which is good to the good,—this death, which is not exclusively known and believed in by a few, but is known to all, by which soul and body are separated, and by which the body of an animal which was but now visibly living is now visibly dead. For though there can be no manner of doubt that the souls of the just and holy dead live in peaceful rest, yet so much better would it be for them to be alive in healthy, well-conditioned bodies, that even those who hold the tenet that it is most blessed to be quit of every kind of body, condemn this opinion in spite of themselves. For no one will dare to set wise men, whether yet to die or already dead,—in other words, whether already quit of the body, or shortly to be so,—above the immortal gods, to whom the Supreme, in Plato, promises as a munificent gift life indissoluble, or in eternal union with their bodies. But this same Plato thinks that nothing better can happen to men than that they pass through life piously and justly, and, being separated from their bodies, be received into the bosom of the gods, who never abandon theirs; "that, oblivious of the past, they may revisit the upper air, and conceive the longing to return again to the body."[597] Virgil[Pg 543] is applauded for borrowing this from the Platonic system. Assuredly Plato thinks that the souls of mortals cannot always be in their bodies, but must necessarily be dismissed by death; and, on the other hand, he thinks that without bodies they cannot endure for ever, but with ceaseless alternation pass from life to death, and from death to life. This difference, however, he sets between wise men and the rest, that they are carried after death to the stars, that each man may repose for a while in a star suitable for him, and may thence return to the labours and miseries of mortals when he has become oblivious of his former misery, and possessed with the desire of being embodied. Those, again, who have lived foolishly transmigrate into bodies fit for them, whether human or bestial. Thus he has appointed even the good and wise souls to a very hard lot indeed, since they do not receive such bodies as they might always and even immortally inhabit, but such only as they can neither permanently retain nor enjoy eternal purity without. Of this notion of Plato's, we have in a former book already said[598] that Porphyry was ashamed in the light of these Christian times, so that he not only emancipated human souls from a destiny in the bodies of beasts, but also contended for the liberation of the souls of the wise from all bodily ties, so that, escaping from all flesh, they might, as bare and blessed souls, dwell with the Father time without end. And that he might not seem to be outbid by Christ's promise of life everlasting to His saints, he also established purified souls in endless felicity, without return to their former woes; but, that he might contradict Christ, he denies the resurrection of incorruptible bodies, and maintains that these souls will live eternally, not only without earthly bodies, but without any bodies at all. And yet, whatever he meant by this teaching, he at least did not teach that these souls should offer no religious observance to the gods who dwelt in bodies. And why did he not, unless because he did not believe that the souls, even though separate from the body, were superior to those gods? Wherefore, if these philosophers will not dare (as I think they will not) to set human souls above the gods who are most blessed, and yet are tied eternally[Pg 544] to their bodies, why do they find that absurd which the Christian faith preaches,[599] namely, that our first parents were so created that, if they had not sinned, they would not have been dismissed from their bodies by any death, but would have been endowed with immortality as the reward of their obedience, and would have lived eternally with their bodies; and further, that the saints will in the resurrection inhabit those very bodies in which they have here toiled, but in such sort that neither shall any corruption or unwieldiness be suffered to attach to their flesh, nor any grief or trouble to cloud their felicity?

20. That the flesh now resting in peace shall be raised to a perfection not enjoyed by the flesh of our first parents.

Thus the souls of departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope, no matter what indignities it receives after sensation is gone. For they do not desire that their bodies be forgotten, as Plato thinks fit, but rather, because they remember what has been promised by Him who deceives no man, and who gave them security for the safe keeping even of the hairs of their head, they with a longing patience wait in hope of the resurrection of their bodies, in which they have suffered many hardships, and are now to suffer never again. For if they did not "hate their own flesh," when it, with its native infirmity, opposed their will, and had to be constrained by the spiritual law, how much more shall they love it, when it shall even itself have become spiritual! For as, when the spirit serves the flesh, it is fitly called carnal, so, when the flesh serves the spirit, it will justly be called spiritual. Not that it is converted into spirit, as some fancy from the words, "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption,"[600] but because it is subject to the spirit with a perfect and marvellous readiness of obedience, and responds in all things to the will that has entered on immortality,—all reluctance, all corruption, and all slowness being removed. For the body will not only be better than it was here in its best estate of health, but it will surpass the[Pg 545] bodies of our first parents ere they sinned. For, though they were not to die unless they should sin, yet they used food as men do now, their bodies not being as yet spiritual, but animal only. And though they decayed not with years, nor drew nearer to death,—a condition secured to them in God's marvellous grace by the tree of life, which grew along with the forbidden tree in the midst of Paradise,—yet they took other nourishment, though not of that one tree, which was interdicted not because it was itself bad, but for the sake of commending a pure and simple obedience, which is the great virtue of the rational creature set under the Creator as his Lord. For, though no evil thing was touched, yet if a thing forbidden was touched, the very disobedience was sin. They were, then, nourished by other fruit, which they took that their animal bodies might not suffer the discomfort of hunger or thirst; but they tasted the tree of life, that death might not steal upon them from any quarter, and that they might not, spent with age, decay. Other fruits were, so to speak, their nourishment, but this their sacrament. So that the tree of life would seem to have been in the terrestrial Paradise what the wisdom of God is in the spiritual, of which it is written, "She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her."[601]

21. Of Paradise, that it can be understood in a spiritual sense without sacrificing the historic truth of the narrative regarding the real place.

On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured; or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says, "Now that rock was Christ!"[602] No[Pg 546] one, then, denies that Paradise may signify the life of the blessed; its four rivers, the four virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; its trees, all useful knowledge; its fruits, the customs of the godly; its tree of life, wisdom herself, the mother of all good; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the experience of a broken commandment. The punishment which God appointed was in itself a just, and therefore a good thing; but man's experience of it is not good.

These things can also and more profitably be understood of the Church, so that they become prophetic foreshadowings of things to come. Thus Paradise is the Church, as it is called in the Canticles;[603] the four rivers of Paradise are the four gospels; the fruit-trees the saints, and the fruit their works; the tree of life is the holy of holies, Christ; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the will's free choice. For if man despise the will of God, he can only destroy himself; and so he learns the difference between consecrating himself to the common good and revelling in his own. For he who loves himself is abandoned to himself, in order that, being overwhelmed with fears and sorrows, he may cry, if there be yet soul in him to feel his ills, in the words of the psalm, "My soul is cast down within me,"[604] and when chastened, may say, "Because of his strength I will wait upon Thee."[605] These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts.[606]

22. That the bodies of the saints shall after the resurrection be spiritual, and yet flesh shall not be changed into spirit.

The bodies of the righteous, then, such as they shall be in the resurrection, shall need neither any fruit to preserve them from dying of disease or the wasting decay of old age, nor any other physical nourishment to allay the cravings of hunger or of thirst; for they shall be invested with so sure and every[Pg 547] way inviolable an immortality, that they shall not eat save when they choose, nor be under the necessity of eating, while they enjoy the power of doing so. For so also was it with the angels who presented themselves to the eye and touch of men, not because they could do no otherwise, but because they were able and desirous to suit themselves to men by a kind of manhood ministry. For neither are we to suppose, when men receive them as guests, that the angels eat only in appearance, though to any who did not know them to be angels they might seem to eat from the same necessity as ourselves. So these words spoken in the Book of Tobit, "You saw me eat, but you saw it but in vision;"[607] that is, you thought I took food as you do for the sake of refreshing my body. But if in the case of the angels another opinion seems more capable of defence, certainly our faith leaves no room to doubt regarding our Lord Himself, that even after His resurrection, and when now in spiritual but yet real flesh, He ate and drank with His disciples; for not the power, but the need, of eating and drinking is taken from these bodies. And so they will be spiritual, not because they shall cease to be bodies, but because they shall subsist by the quickening spirit.

23. What we are to understand by the animal and spiritual body; or of those who die in Adam, and of those who are made alive in Christ.

For as those bodies of ours, that have a living soul, though not as yet a quickening spirit, are called soul-informed bodies, and yet are not souls but bodies, so also those bodies are called spiritual,—yet God forbid we should therefore suppose them to be spirits and not bodies,—which, being quickened by the Spirit, have the substance, but not the unwieldiness and corruption of flesh. Man will then be not earthly but heavenly,—not because the body will not be that very body which was made of earth, but because by its heavenly endowment it will be a fit inhabitant of heaven, and this not by losing its nature, but by changing its quality. The first man, of the earth earthy, was made a living soul, not a quickening spirit,—which rank was reserved for him as the reward of obedience. And therefore his body, which required meat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst, and which had no absolute and indestructible[Pg 548] immortality, but by means of the tree of life warded off the necessity of dying, and was thus maintained in the flower of youth,—this body, I say, was doubtless not spiritual, but animal; and yet it would not have died but that it provoked God's threatened vengeance by offending. And though sustenance was not denied him even outside Paradise, yet, being forbidden the tree of life, he was delivered over to the wasting of time, at least in respect of that life which, had he not sinned, he might have retained perpetually in Paradise, though only in an animal body, till such time as it became spiritual in acknowledgment of his obedience.

Wherefore, although we understand that this manifest death, which consists in the separation of soul and body, was also signified by God when He said, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,"[608] it ought not on that account to seem absurd that they were not dismissed from the body on that very day on which they took the forbidden and death-bringing fruit. For certainly on that very day their nature was altered for the worse and vitiated, and by their most just banishment from the tree of life they were involved in the necessity even of bodily death, in which necessity we are born. And therefore the apostle does not say, "The body indeed is doomed to die on account of sin," but he says, "The body indeed is dead because of sin." Then he adds, "But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you."[609] Then accordingly shall the body become a quickening spirit which is now a living soul; and yet the apostle calls it "dead," because already it lies under the necessity of dying. But in Paradise it was so made a living soul, though not a quickening spirit, that it could not properly be called dead, for, save through the commission of sin, it could not come under the power of death. Now, since God by the words, "Adam, where art thou?" pointed to the death of the soul, which results when He abandons it, and since in the words, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return,"[610] He signified the death of the body, which results when the soul departs from[Pg 549] it, we are led, therefore, to believe that He said nothing of the second death, wishing it to be kept hidden, and reserving it for the New Testament dispensation, in which it is most plainly revealed. And this He did in order that, first of all, it might be evident that this first death, which is common to all, was the result of that sin which in one man became common to all.[611] But the second death is not common to all, those being excepted who were "called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren."[612] Those the grace of God has, by a Mediator, delivered from the second death.

Thus the apostle states that the first man was made in an animal body. For, wishing to distinguish the animal body which now is from the spiritual, which is to be in the resurrection, he says, "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." Then, to prove this, he goes on, "There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." And to show what the animated body is, he says, "Thus it was written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."[613] He wished thus to show what the animated body is, though Scripture did not say of the first man Adam, when his soul was created by the breath of God, "Man was made in an animated body," but "Man was made a living soul."[614] By these words, therefore, "The first man was made a living soul," the apostle wishes man's animated body to be understood. But how he wishes the spiritual body to be understood he shows when he adds, "But the last Adam was made a quickening spirit," plainly referring to Christ, who has so risen from the dead that He cannot die any more. He then goes on to say, "But that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." And here he much more clearly asserts that he referred to the animal body when he said that the first man[Pg 550] was made a living soul, and to the spiritual when he said that the last man was made a quickening spirit. The animal body is the first, being such as the first Adam had, and which would not have died had he not sinned, being such also as we now have, its nature being changed and vitiated by sin to the extent of bringing us under the necessity of death, and being such as even Christ condescended first of all to assume, not indeed of necessity, but of choice; but afterwards comes the spiritual body, which already is worn by anticipation by Christ as our head, and will be worn by His members in the resurrection of the dead.

Then the apostle subjoins a notable difference between these two men, saying, "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."[615] So he elsewhere says, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ;"[616] but in very deed this shall be accomplished when that which is animal in us by our birth shall have become spiritual in our resurrection. For, to use his words again, "We are saved by hope."[617] Now we bear the image of the earthly man by the propagation of sin and death, which pass on us by ordinary generation; but we bear the image of the heavenly by the grace of pardon and life eternal, which regeneration confers upon us through the Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. And He is the heavenly Man of Paul's passage, because He came from heaven to be clothed with a body of earthly mortality, that He might clothe it with heavenly immortality. And he calls others heavenly, because by grace they become His members, that, together with them, He may become one Christ, as head and body. In the same epistle he puts this yet more clearly: "Since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,"[618]—that is to say, in a spiritual body which shall be made a quickening spirit. Not[Pg 551] that all who die in Adam shall be members of Christ,—for the great majority shall be punished in eternal death,—but he uses the word "all" in both clauses, because, as no one dies in an animal body except in Adam, so no one is quickened a spiritual body save in Christ. We are not, then, by any means to suppose that we shall in the resurrection have such a body as the first man had before he sinned, nor that the words, "As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy," are to be understood of that which was brought about by sin; for we are not to think that Adam had a spiritual body before he fell, and that, in punishment of his sin, it was changed into an animal body. If this be thought, small heed has been given to the words of so great a teacher, who says, "There is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; as it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul." Was it after sin he was made so? or was not this the primal condition of man from which the blessed apostle selects his testimony to show what the animal body is?

24. How we must understand that breathing of God by which "the first man was made a living soul," and that also by which the Lord conveyed His Spirit to His disciples when He said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

Some have hastily supposed from the words, "God breathed into Adam's nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,"[619] that a soul was not then first given to man, but that the soul already given was quickened by the Holy Ghost. They are encouraged in this supposition by the fact that the Lord Jesus after His resurrection breathed on His disciples, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit."[620] From this they suppose that the same thing was effected in either case, as if the evangelist had gone on to say, And they became living souls. But if he had made this addition, we should only understand that the Spirit is in some way the life of souls, and that without Him reasonable souls must be accounted dead, though their bodies seem to live before our eyes. But that this was not what happened when man was created, the very words of the narrative sufficiently show: "And God made man dust of the earth;" which some have thought to render more clearly by the words, "And God formed man of the clay[Pg 552] of the earth." For it had before been said that "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground,"[621] in order that the reference to clay, formed of this moisture and dust, might be understood. For on this verse there immediately follows the announcement, "And God created man dust of the earth;" so those Greek manuscripts have it from which this passage has been translated into Latin. But whether one prefers to read "created" or "formed," where the Greek reads ἔπλασεν, is of little importance; yet "formed" is the better rendering. But those who preferred "created" thought they thus avoided the ambiguity arising from the fact, that in the Latin language the usage obtains that those are said to form a thing who frame some feigned and fictitious thing. This man, then, who was created of the dust of the earth, or of the moistened dust or clay,—this "dust of the earth" (that I may use the express words of Scripture) was made, as the apostle teaches, an animated body when he received a soul. This man, he says, "was made a living soul;" that is, this fashioned dust was made a living soul.

They say, Already he had a soul, else he would not be called a man; for man is not a body alone, nor a soul alone, but a being composed of both. This, indeed, is true, that the soul is not the whole man, but the better part of man; the body not the whole, but the inferior part of man; and that then, when both are joined, they receive the name of man,—which, however, they do not severally lose even when we speak of them singly. For who is prohibited from saying, in colloquial usage, "That man is dead, and is now at rest or in torment," though this can be spoken only of the soul; or "He is buried in such and such a place," though this refers only to the body? Will they say that Scripture follows no such usage? On the contrary, it so thoroughly adopts it, that even while a man is alive, and body and soul are united, it calls each of them singly by the name "man," speaking of the soul as the "inward man," and of the body as the "outward man,"[622] as if there were two men, though both together are indeed but one. But we must understand in what sense man is said to be in the image of God, and is yet dust, and to return to the[Pg 553] dust. The former is spoken of the rational soul, which God by His breathing, or, to speak more appropriately, by His inspiration, conveyed to man, that is, to his body; but the latter refers to his body, which God formed of the dust, and to which a soul was given, that it might become a living body, that is, that man might become a living soul.

Wherefore, when our Lord breathed on His disciples, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," He certainly wished it to be understood that the Holy Ghost was not only the Spirit of the Father, but of the only-begotten Son Himself. For the same Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, making with them the trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit, not a creature, but the Creator. For neither was that material breath which proceeded from the mouth of His flesh the very substance and nature of the Holy Spirit, but rather the intimation, as I said, that the Holy Spirit was common to the Father and to the Son; for they have not each a separate Spirit, but both one and the same. Now this Spirit is always spoken of in sacred Scripture by the Greek word πνεῦμα, as the Lord, too, named Him in the place cited when He gave Him to His disciples, and intimated the gift by the breathing of His lips; and there does not occur to me any place in the whole Scriptures where He is otherwise named. But in this passage where it is said, "And the Lord formed man dust of the earth, and breathed, or inspired, into his face the breath of life;" the Greek has not πνεῦμα, the usual word for the Holy Spirit, but πνοή, a word more frequently used of the creature than of the Creator; and for this reason some Latin interpreters have preferred to render it by "breath" rather than "spirit." For this word occurs also in the Greek in Isa. lvii. 16, where God says, "I have made all breath," meaning, doubtless, all souls. Accordingly, this word πνοή is sometimes rendered "breath," sometimes "spirit," sometimes "inspiration," sometimes "aspiration," sometimes "soul," even when it is used of God. Πνεῦμα, on the other hand, is uniformly rendered "spirit," whether of man, of whom the apostle says, "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?"[623] or of beast, as in the book of[Pg 554] Solomon, "Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?"[624] or of that physical spirit which is called wind, for so the Psalmist calls it: "Fire and hail; snow and vapours; stormy wind;"[625] or of the uncreated Creator Spirit, of whom the Lord said in the gospel, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," indicating the gift by the breathing of His mouth; and when He says, "Go ye and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,"[626] words which very expressly and excellently commend the Trinity; and where it is said, "God is a Spirit;"[627] and in very many other places of the sacred writings. In all these quotations from Scripture we do not find in the Greek the word πνοή used, but πνεῦμα, and in the Latin, not flatus, but spiritus. Wherefore, referring again to that place where it is written, "He inspired," or, to speak more properly, "breathed into his face the breath of life," even though the Greek had not used πνοή (as it has) but πνεῦμα, it would not on that account necessarily follow that the Creator Spirit, who in the Trinity is distinctively called the Holy Ghost, was meant, since, as has been said, it is plain that πνεῦμα is used not only of the Creator, but also of the creature.

But, say they, when the Scripture used the word "spirit,"[628] it would not have added "of life" unless it meant us to understand the Holy Spirit; nor, when it said, "Man became a soul," would it also have inserted the word "living" unless that life of the soul were signified which is imparted to it from above by the gift of God. For, seeing that the soul by itself has a proper life of its own, what need, they ask, was there of adding living, save only to show that the life which is given it by the Holy Spirit was meant? What is this but to fight strenuously for their own conjectures, while they carelessly neglect the teaching of Scripture? Without troubling themselves much, they might have found in a preceding page of this very book of Genesis the words, "Let the earth bring forth the living soul,"[629] when all the terrestrial animals were created. Then at a slight interval, but still in the same book,[Pg 555] was it impossible for them to notice this verse, "All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died," by which it was signified that all the animals which lived on the earth had perished in the deluge? If, then, we find that Scripture is accustomed to speak both of the "living soul" and the "spirit of life" even in reference to beasts; and if in this place, where it is said, "All things which have the spirit of life," the word πνοή, not πνεῦμα, is used; why may we not say, What need was there to add "living," since the soul cannot exist without being alive? or, What need to add "of life" after the word spirit? But we understand that Scripture used these expressions in its ordinary style so long as it speaks of animals, that is, animated bodies, in which the soul serves as the residence of sensation; but when man is spoken of, we forget the ordinary and established usage of Scripture, whereby it signifies that man received a rational soul, which was not produced out of the waters and the earth like the other living creatures, but was created by the breath of God. Yet this creation was so ordered that the human soul should live in an animal body, like those other animals of which the Scripture said, "Let the earth produce every living soul," and regarding which it again says that in them is the breath of life, where the word πνοή and not πνεῦμα is used in the Greek, and where certainly not the Holy Spirit, but their spirit, is signified under that name.

But, again, they object that breath is understood to have been emitted from the mouth of God; and if we believe that is the soul, we must consequently acknowledge it to be of the same substance, and equal to that wisdom, which says, "I come out of the mouth of the Most High."[630] Wisdom, indeed, does not say it was breathed out of the mouth of God, but proceeded out of it. But as we are able, when we breathe, to make a breath, not of our own human nature, but of the surrounding air, which we inhale and exhale as we draw our breath and breathe again, so almighty God was able to make breath, not of His own nature, nor of the creature beneath Him, but even of nothing; and this breath, when He communicated it to man's body, He is most appropriately said to[Pg 556] have breathed or inspired,—the Immaterial breathing it also immaterial, but the Immutable not also the immutable; for it was created, He uncreated. Yet, that these persons who are forward to quote Scripture, and yet know not the usages of its language, may know that not only what is equal and consubstantial with God is said to proceed out of His mouth, let them hear or read what God says: "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth."[631]

There is no ground, then, for our objecting, when the apostle so expressly distinguishes the animal body from the spiritual,—that is to say, the body in which we now are from that in which we are to be. He says, "It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."[632] Of all which words of his we have previously spoken. The animal body, accordingly, in which the apostle says that the first man Adam was made, was not so made that it could not die at all, but so that it should not die unless he should have sinned. That body, indeed, which shall be made spiritual and immortal by the quickening Spirit shall not be able to die at all; as the soul has been created immortal, and therefore, although by sin it may be said to die, and does lose a certain life of its own, namely, the Spirit of God, by whom it was enabled to live wisely and blessedly, yet it does not cease living a kind of life, though a miserable, because it is immortal by creation. So, too, the rebellious angels, though by sinning they did in a sense die, because they forsook God, the Fountain of life, which while they drank they were able to live wisely and well, yet they could not so die as to utterly cease living and[Pg 557] feeling, for they are immortals by creation. And so, after the final judgment, they shall be hurled into the second death, and not even there be deprived of life or of sensation, but shall suffer torment. But those men who have been embraced by God's grace, and are become the fellow-citizens of the holy angels who have continued in bliss, shall never more either sin or die, being endued with spiritual bodies; yet, being clothed with immortality, such as the angels enjoy, of which they cannot be divested even by sinning, the nature of their flesh shall continue the same, but all carnal corruption and unwieldiness shall be removed.

There remains a question which must be discussed, and, by the help of the Lord God of truth, solved: If the motion of concupiscence in the unruly members of our first parents arose out of their sin, and only when the divine grace deserted them; and if it was on that occasion that their eyes were opened to see, or, more exactly, notice their nakedness, and that they covered their shame because the shameless motion of their members was not subject to their will,—how, then, would they have begotten children had they remained sinless as they were created? But as this book must be concluded, and so large a question cannot be summarily disposed of, we may relegate it to the following book, in which it will be more conveniently treated.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 30802
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

PreviousNext

Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests