City of God: Book Twelve

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Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past. 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. How These Persons are to Be Answered, Who Find Fault with the Creation of Man on the Score of Its Recent Date. 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. 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. 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. How We are to Understand God’s Promise of Life Eternal, Which Was Uttered Before the ‘Eternal Times.’

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. Against Those Who Assert that Things that are Infinite Cannot Be Comprehended by the Knowledge of God. Of Worlds Without End, or Ages of Ages. 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 Labor and Misery. That There Was Created at First But One Individual, and that the Human Race Was Created in Him.

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. Of the Nature of the Human Soul Created in the Image of God. Whether the Angels Can Be Said to Be the Creators of Any, Even the Least Creature. That God Alone is the Creator of Every Kind of Creature, Whatever Its Nature or Form. Of that Opinion of the Platonists, that the Angels Were Themselves Indeed Created by God, But that Afterwards They Created Man’s Body. 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 Honored and Rewarded, and that Which Was to Be Condemned and Punished.

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Satan

THAT THERE IS NO ENTITY 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.
Book 12 Chapter 2
City of God

In the thought of St Augustine, God will have the final Word:
God created all things and they were made good
Evil is the corruption of being (something is missing – like a hole in a shirt, the rot in a tree, disease of the body, or a blindness in the eye)
The ordered relation of better or worse, nobler and inferior, even punishment, all contribute to the overall good of the universe and therefore are not ultimately evil.
Evil originates from the being’s free will, whether it is Satan or man

‘So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”’
Gen 4:6

The Lord has not yet given up on Cain. In great mercy he expostulates with him. He poses a question, which implies that there is no just cause for his present feelings. Neither anger at his brother, because his offering has been accepted, nor vexation in himself, because his own has not, is a right feeling in the presence of the just and merciful God, who searches the heart. Submission, self-examination, and amendment of what has been wrong in his approach to God, alone benefit the occasion. To this, accordingly, the Lord directs his attention in the next sentence.

To do well is to retrace one’s steps, to reconsider his ways, and attempt to discover wherein he has been wrong, and then to amend both his offering and his intention accordingly. Cain has yet to duly consider the relation where he stands in God’s presence as the guilty sinner, whose life is presently forfeited, but to whom the hand of mercy is extended; and accordingly he has not felt this in his offering, or given expression to it in the nature of his offering. Yet, the Lord does not immediately reject him, but with long-suffering patience directs his attention to this, that it may be amended. And on making such amendment, he holds out to him the clear and certain hope of acceptance still. But he does more than this. As Cain seems to have been of a particularly hard and unresponsive disposition, he completes his expostulation, and deepens its awful solemnity, by stating the other alternative, both in its condition and consequence.

St Augustine thinks that Satan far surpassed God’s mercy and there is no way back. Those who believe that there is a power equal to that of God will never accept this, thus the numerous disagreements in Christian theology.

EJ




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