Saturday, April 5, 2014

"City of God" VII.28-32

Chapter 28:
Any attempt to harmonize heaven, earth, and the gods utterly falls apart, unless we assume that the gods were kings of old and/or demons. Otherwise, we end up in silly inconsistencies.

Chapter 29:
All the creative acts which pagan theologians look for in their gods may be assigned to the true God, who alone made heaven and earth, along with all living creatures, their senses, and their reason.

Chapter 30:
All of the things, both good and evil, which Varro and pagan thinkers try to find in the false gods come only from the one true God, who alone is the source of life, art, disease, matter, spirit, everything, in short, that exists. God is the Creator of and sovereign over all things:
But these things the one true God makes and does, but as the same God,—that is, as He who is wholly everywhere, included in no space, bound by no chains, mutable in no part of His being, filling heaven and earth with omnipresent power, not with a needy nature.  Therefore He governs all things in such a manner as to allow them to perform and exercise their own proper movements.  For although they can be nothing without Him, they are not what He is.  He does also many things through angels; but only from Himself does He beatify angels.  So also, though He send angels to men for certain purposes, He does not for all that beatify men by the good inherent in the angels, but by Himself, as He does the angels themselves.
Chapter 31:
Both good and bad alike are blessed by God with the good things of creation, but for His people there is a special additional blessing: the gift of eternal life through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. After so much time spent on bashing the pagan gods, this chapter is worth quoting completely:
For, besides such benefits as, according to this administration of nature of which we have made some mention, He lavishes on good and bad alike, we have from Him a great manifestation of great love, which belongs only to the good.  For although we can never sufficiently give thanks to Him, that we are, that we live, that we behold heaven and earth, that we have mind and reason by which to seek after Him who made all these things, nevertheless, what hearts, what number of tongues, shall affirm that they are sufficient to render thanks to Him for this, that He hath not wholly departed from us, laden and overwhelmed with sins, averse to the contemplation of His light, and blinded by the love of darkness, that is, of iniquity, but hath sent to us His own Word, who is His only Son, that by His birth and suffering for us in the flesh, which He assumed, we might know how much God valued man, and that by that unique sacrifice we might be purified from all our sins, and that, love being shed abroad in our hearts by His Spirit, we might, having surmounted all difficulties, come into eternal rest, and the ineffable sweetness of the contemplation of Himself?

Chapter 32:
This promise of salvation was proclaimed to the whole world from the beginning of the human race and through the Jews, first in their own nation and then as they were spread across the earth. From the Jewish people the world received the Scriptures which taught a way of life that promised the coming salvation through Jesus Christ, "which we who believe in Jesus Christ unto eternal life believe to have been fulfilled, or behold in process of fulfillment, or confidently believe shall yet be fulfilled."

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