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First published in the "Early Church Classics' series, igoo. 


The occasion of the work. 

This colossal work, a monument of pious wisdom and 
painstaking research, was undertaken by Augustine 
shortly after the sack of the Imperial City (a.d. 410), 
which Gibbon describes so pathetically in his Decline and 
Fall (Book II. c. xxxi.). Then, the State which had played 
so prominent a part in the history of the world was given 
over to the unbridled passions of the tribes of Scythia 
and Germania, who for six days worked out their lust and 
rage upon the defenceless citizens and their wives and 
children. Such a national calamity, not even to be 
paralleled by the fall of Paris, filled the Roman world 
with the greatest fear and consternation. " My tongue 
cleaves to the roof of my mouth, and sobs choke my 
utterance, to think that the city is a captive which led 
captive the whole world," was the exclamation of Jerome 
when the report reached him in Bethlehem. The clergy 
were confident that the end of the world was coming 
because of the evil deeds and "plagues" of the great 
world-city, while the Pagan writers were as firmly con- 1 
vinced that the fall of Rome was due to the neglect of/ 
her country's gods. Yet those awful scenes of murder 
and outrage worse than death were not unredeemed by 
some "rare and extraordinary examples of barbarian 
virtue," as Gibbon himself admits, and even he relates 
some of the generous deeds of the Christian ladies in that 


terrible time. It was a difficult matter, however, for 
men, even though they were Christians of the Arian sect, 
to remember at such a time, when they had the power to 
indulge every evil passion, the principles of a faith they 
had but half learnt. However, on the whole, Church 
property was respected, and thousands of the pagan 
Romans who had taken refuge in the churches were 
saved from the fury of heretic Goth and unbelieving 

The fall of Rome was due, in a measure, to her over- 
weening confidence in the power of her wealth and the 
prestige of her name; the demoralization of the middle 
class ; the corruption of the officials; the luxury of the rich 
and the sloth of the masses, and that supreme contempt 
for the barbarians, whose tide of invasion, checked for a 
moment here and there, was, after some six centuries of 
unceasing efforts, to surge over the barriers with irre- 
sistible force, swallowing up all opposition in the waves of 
its mighty onset, sweeping onwards towards the inviolable 
boundaries of the doomed city in a deluge that was not 
to be resisted. The sack of the city assumed, however, a 
different aspect in relation to the Christian Church, which 
was to reap the fruits of this downfall of the State by 
means of its efficient system of organization, and by reason 
of its inspiring principle of spiritual regeneration. Here 
was a subject for the rhetorician. But who was to under- 
take it ? A providential chance seemed to ordain that 
the lot should fall upon Augustine. 

Letter from Marcelhnus to Augustine. 

Some two years after the event referred to, a group of 
Pagans and Christians were debating the. relative merits 
of Christianity and the old religion of Rome, when one 
of the former, Volusianus by name, as we learn from a 
letter to Augustine, proposed that the Christians present 
should explain how the Master's precept of " turning the 
other cheek " could be reconciled with the Roman policy 


*of rule, and endeavoured to show that Christianity was a 
weakness in the State, and had accelerated its fall. 
Marcellinus, 1 who was present, reported the matter to 
Augustine, who answered the charge in a letter, which we 
are to regard as the germ of the great treatise On the City I 
of God. In that letter (138 ad Ml) the great father entered ^ >~ n^ 
as fully as space allowed him into the matter, pointing out / 5, ~-+ 

that the Gospel is not opposed to a righteous war; that 
Christian principles, instead of being a weak point in the 
armour of a State, must prove its safeguard; that the work 
of the city's ruin had long ago been set in motion by the 
venality, corruption, and immorality of her own citizens, 
and that the Cross was now her only hope. Such were the 
dominant ideas that were afterwards worked out in the 
City of God, which was commenced in 413 a.d., and 
concluded after many interruptions in the year 426, four t 
years before the author's death, and which may be regarded 
as one of the greatest efforts of Latin Christianity. 

Augustine's survey of his work. 

In the second book of his Retractations (c. xliii.) he thus 
describes his object in writing this treatise : " After the 
storming and the sack of Rome by the Goths under their 
king, Alaric, the worshippers of false gods or heathen, as 
we call them, tried to prove that this calamity was due 
to the Christian religion, and began more fiercely and 
bitterly than ever to blaspheme the true God. This it 
was that kindled my zeal for the House of God, and 
induced me to defend the City of God against the , 
calumny and misrepresentations of her foes. After many 
serious interruptions this great undertaking, which was 
extended over many years, was at length finished in 
twenty-two books. Of these, the first five are written in 
answer to those who believe that worldly prosperity is 

1 The Tribune and Notary who presided at the Conference 
between Catholics and Donatists at Carthage, June 411 A.D. 


insured by the old polytheistic religion of Rome, and that 
calamities have followed by reason of its neglect. The 
next five are addressed to those who admit that the human 
race is always exposed to such misfortunes, and yet believe 
that the old religion is a good preparation for the life to 
come ; . . . while the last twelve books of this extensive 
work are devoted to a comparison of the different origins, 
histories, and destinies of the City of God and the City of 
the World." 

He also makes two corrections in the tenth and 
seventeenth books. Referring to his description of the 
flames that descended from heaven, he tells us that it 
was a mistake to regard it as a miracle, seeing that it 
occurred in a vision, and he alters the statement with 
regard to Samuel that " he was not of the sons of 
Aaron," to "he was not the son of the priest." 

Notices of the ' De Civitate Dei.'' 

Such is the brief summary Augustine himself gives of 
this, his greatest work, which Gibbon in his sorrow for the/ 
fall of the city of letters was unable to appreciate, and 
dismissed with the brief and bitter notice : " The learned 
work, concerning the City of God, was professedly 
composed by St. Augustine to justify the ways of Provi- 
dence in the destruction of the Roman greatness. He 
celebrates, with peculiar satisfaction, this memorable 
triumph of Christ ; and insults his adversaries by chal- 
lenging them to produce some similar example of a town 
taken by storm, in which the fabulous gods of antiquity 
had been able to protect either themselves or their 
deluded votaries" (ii. 346). This statement is unjust ;t 
for though Augustine does certainly trace the plagues of 
the pagan city to her pagan cult, he does not do it in the 
spirit of rivalry or partisanship. He sits, as it were, amid 
the ruins of the city of Rome, and beholds a vision of 
the City of God descending from heaven, the new Jeru- [ 
salem which is to take the place of the worn-out social 


organization which has succumbed alike to the will of 
God and the violence of man. Generally speaking the 
work may be styled as " a confused mass of excel- 
lent materials," with regard to the variety of subjects 
discussed in it, or perhaps more suitably as " the 
encyclopaedia of the fifth century," inasmuch as it is a 
book in which one may read the predominant feelings 
and ideas of the age. We have to put ourselves, at least 
in imagination, in the times of Augustine, and endeavour 
to enter into the feelings and sentiments of his age, if we 
are to fully appreciate this grand resume of classical ( 
philosophy and religion, which has been so well described 
by Ozanam as "the first genuine effort to produce a \\ 
philosophy of history." We shall now glance at the 
various editions and manuscripts of the text. 

Editions and Manuscripts of the text. 

The first corrected edition of modern times of the City 
of God was made by Juan Luis Vives under the direction 
of the great Erasmus, and published by Froben of Basle, 
1523. A copy of this book was sent to King Henry VIII. 
of England, who replied by saying that he did not know 
which of the two to congratulate most Lodovicus on 
his learned and masterly performance, or Augustine on the 
restoration of his ancient text from the obscurity and 
mutilation of the past. 

Lodovicus Vives' Edition. 

In his introduction, Vives tells us that Erasmus, after 
his labours on Cyprian and Jerome, was anxious to 
emend the text of Augustine, and gave him the twenty- 
two books of the De Civitate to work upon. "These 
books," he tells us, " were faulty beyond all description, 
and misrepresented Augustine's views by wrong readings. 
Hence I had no small difficulty in correcting the ancient 
copies and in guessing the reading; and, indeed, the true 


reading had often to be conjectured. Having to return 
to Bruges in bad health, I set about collating some of 
the books with the old copies (exemplaria), of which 
Marcus Laurinus gave me one, the Carmelites of Bruges 
gave me another, and Erasmus gave me a third, which 
had been sent to him from Colonia Agrippinensis, written, 
they say, by the hand of the late Bishop Lutger. . . . 
There is a remarkable discrepancy in the MSS., each 
of the copyists thinking himself at liberty to use his own 
words, as if transcription was not the best interpreta- 
tion. Thus you will find in one book 'arbitror,' and in 
another ' puto ' ; in this ' ergo,' in that ' igitur ' ; in 
this ' aeternus,' in that ' immortalis ' ; in one ' flexisse ' 
and in another ' deflexisse,' to say nothing of the 
omissions, additions, and inversions ! How often have 
errors sprung up from their desire to adapt the reading 
of the Septuagint, which Augustine always uses, to our 
version (i.e. the Vulgate), and to make one (i.e. con- 
flate) reading out of two different texts ! To examine 
these variants and to reduce them to their different 
sources, was to me a work of extreme difficulty and 
labour." This great work of Lodovicus Vives formed 
the foundation of later editions, and some of his 
emendations have been retained in the last recension of 
the text (Dornbart's). Of these ' inscensum Capitolium ' 
for 'incensum ' (iii. 17) is perhaps the best. 

Benedictine Edition. 

The next edition of Augustine's works was published 
in Paris (1679 1700) by the Benedictine Fathers. 

Deubners Edition. 

Of the new Parisian Edition (1836 1839) Deubner 
is responsible for the City of God. This reviser had 
access to several important MSS. The oldest of these 
he calls the Corbeiensis (C), now Germanensis, belonging 


to the seventh century and the old monastery of Corbey. 
This is an uncial, and only contains the first nine books 
and the arguments of ten. He had also the use of 
seven other MSS. of a later date, three hailing from the 
same monastery in Picardy, and the other four from the 
Royal Library at Paris. In two of these, numbered 
respectively 2050 and 2051, the Vulgate readings of 
Scripture are found. This edition often errs through a 
misunderstanding of the sense and construction. For 
instance, it reads ' animalium ' for ' animarum 'in v. 9 ; 
'nascentis sorte' for 'nascendi sorte' (the birth-lot) in iv. 
12; 'afficiendum medicina' for 'accipiendum medicina' 
(ironical; cf. egote miseris jam accipiam modis: 'accipere' 
being Plautine for ' treating ') in v. 2 ; ' honore dignos 
ducunt ' for a well-known idiom 'honori ducunt' (ii. n); 
and ' ei adolemus incensum ' for 'eum adolemus incenso' 
(x. 4), but preserves the important reading ' Credo ' 
(v. 1. cedo) in Vergil vi. 848. This editor also had a 
tendency to finish off and simplify a sentence, e.g. read- 
ing 'prosperatus est' for 'prosperatus' in v. 25; ' sig- 
nificaverunt et praenuntiaverunt ' for ' significata et 
praenuntiata sunt' in v. 32. 

DombarCs Edition. 

The last and best edition of the text was edited by 
B. Dombart, and published by Triibner, 1876. This 
editor had the assistance of Dr. Charles Halm, Librarian 
in Munich, who lent him three ancient MSS., hitherto 
not collated, belonging to the library of Munich, which are 
lettered respectively R, A, and F. Monacensis R, formerly 
Frisingensis, containing Books XV. XXII., is a clearly 
written parchment of the latter end of the tenth century. 
Monacensis A, formerly Augustanus, and containing all 
the books, shows traces of interpolations, and substitutes 
the Vulgate readings for the Italian, agrees with the 
oldest MS., the Corbeiensis, more than any of the others, 
and belongs to the tenth century; and Monacensis F, 


formerly Frisingensis, containing the first eighteen books, 
and of the ninth century, is by different hands ; XII. 
XVII. being copied by an older and more careful hand 
from a slightly better original than the others. Dr. 
Hoerner collated for Dombart the readings of the 
Veronensis, Codex V., an ancient MS., thought to belong 
to the seventh century, and containing books XL XVI., 
while he himself examined the readings of K., Coloniensis, 
now in Darmstadt, containing Books I. X., of the eighth 
century, and much interpolated, and of L. Alderspacensis, 
containing all the books, belonging to the twelfth cen- 
tury, and fairly sound. Dombart blames Deubner for 
not reading more of his own emendations and newly- 
discovered readings in the text, and for following the 
Benedictine recension too faithfully. He himself, having 
so many excellent MSS. and commentaries to examine, 
succeeded in recovering several good readings, of which 
we may mention the following : ' citius ' for ' inertius ' 
(i. 14); 'litor' for'lictor'(vi. 10); 'nobilitatae'for ' nobili- 
tate' (viii. 4); 'diserta' for 'secura' (viii. 4); 'initio 
vitiatae ' for vitio vitiatae ' (xii. 3) ; < ratione gaudentes ' 
for ' cluentes ' (ix. 8) ; ' nee quisquam ex eorum stirpe 
iniquitate committeret quod damnatione reciperet ' (/'. e. 
sow in crime to reap in consequence) for iniquitatem 
committeret quod damnationem reciperet' (xiv. 10) ; 'de 
superbia transgressoris ' for 'de superbia transgressionis ' 
(xiv. 14, heading); 'omnino ' for * omne ' (xii. 22), and 
vinculo' for 'cingulo' (xxii. 8). He cleverly restores 
the punctuation of the Veronensis in xii. 3, 'Sed 
vitium, quia malum est, contrarium est bono,' where 
the Parisian edition destroyed sense and grammar by 
punctuating : ' sed vitium. Omne quod malum ' ; and 
rather happily suggests 'nisi unus esset'for 'si unus esset' 
(xv. 5). But his emendation in BookV. (c. 5), 'publice 
sacro et sacrificio colere quemque,' is most unhappy, and 
is due to his not observing the double use of ' colere.' 
He adheres to peculiar spellings, e.g. 'zabulo' for 



' diabolo ' (R) in xx. 5, and ' zaritum ' for ' Diarrhytum ' 
(V.R.) in xvi. 8. 

The Versions of Augustine, Tertullian, and Jerome compared. 

All of the MSS. used by Dombart, with the exception 
of A., which follows the Vulgate, adhere to the Septuagint 
readings. If Augustine did use, as he is said to have 
done, the old Latin version, the Peshitto of the West, 
which was made in North Africa in the second century, 
and the principal MS. of which is the Codex Speculum 
Augustini, now in Rome, it must have been a different 
recension of the text from that used by Tertullian, as is 
evident from a comparison of the following pairs of 
passages : 

Matthew xv. 24 : 
Non sum missus nisi ad oves quae perierunt domus Israel (Tertullian 

and Vulgate). 
Non sum missus nisi ad oves perditas domus Israel (Augustine). 

John xxi. 13 :- 
Ipse vos deducit in omnem veritatem (Tertullian, De P. H. c. 22). 
Docebit vos omnem veritatem (Augustine and Vulgate). 

Colossians ii. 8 : 
Videte ne quis vos circumveniat per philosophiam et inanem seduc- 

tionem secundum traditionem hominum (Tertullian). 
Cavete ne quis vos decipiat per philosophiam et inanem seductionem 

secundum elementa mundi (Augustine). 

For the difference between the text of the Scriptures 
which Augustine seems to use and that of the Vulgate, 1 
compare the following passages : 

Versions of Augustine and Jerome compared. 
Matthew viii. 22 : 
Sine mortui mortuos suos sepeliant (Aug.). 
Dimitte mortuos sepelire mortuos suos (Jer.). 

1 See also page 51. For another view see "The Old Latin and 
the Itala," by F. C. Burkitt, who holds that the Itala commended 
in De Doctrina Christiana by Augustine was the Vulgate itself. 
See p. 54. 


Colossians ii. 8 : 

Cavete ne quis vos decipiat per philosophiam et inanem seductionem 

secundum elementa mundi (Aug.). 
Videte ne quis vos decipiat per philosophiam et inanem fallaciam, 

secundum traditionem hominum, secundum elementa mundi 


They agree, however, in a strange reading of i Cor. 
xv. 51, Augustine noticing on De C. D. xx. 20, a variant 
in the MSS. for ' omnes resurgemus,' for which he says 
some MSS. read 'omnes dormiemus.' In this passage 
the Vulgate and D* (Claromontanus) read 'omnes 
resurgemus ' ; while M and C read ' omnes dormiemus.' 
Here the A.V., following the best attested reading, trans- 
lates, " we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." 

Augustine and the Septuagint. 

A reading not now found in the Septuagint on 1 Samuel 
xv. 23 is preserved in xvii. 7 : ' Ipse minatur et non per- 
manet' It is also not improbable that a variation in the 
Greek of the Epistle to the Hebrews xi. 17 is preserved 
in xvi. 32 : 'Fide praecessit Abraham' {Trpozv-qvoyp* for 
7rpoo-o/r;vo^v). Augustine adheres so closely to the 
Greek that he follows the Greek construction even when 
it differs from the Latin. For example, in his rendering 
of the 88th Psalm in xviii. 9, he reads nocebit eum after 
the Greek Kcuwa airov, which is correctly rendered 
nocere ei in the Vulgate. In his translation of Genesis 
xiii. 14, in xvi. 21, Augustine retains earn, which is in the 
Greek (d/r^v), but is omitted in the Vulgate ; and in 
Genesis (xvii. 1 sqq.) he renders hiaOrjK-q by 'testamentum,' 
whereas the Vulgate following the Hebrew reads 'pactum.' 
He also had evidently before him the Alexandrian variant 
cv o-r/^ieio), which he translated 'in signo,' while Jerome 
has ' in signum.' Augustine also follows the order of the 
Codex Alexandrinus of the Septuagint in 1 Samuel ii, 1. 
There is, however, a divergence on this point among the 
MSS. of the De Civitate; A in particular adhering to the 


Greek on several occasions, e. g. in Psalm xliv. 6, reading 
' in saeculum saeculi' (instead of ( tn saecula saeculorum'); 
'oleum' instead of 'oleo' in v. 7 ; 'perfecit' (KaTcipyaWro) 
instead of 'perficit' on 1 Cor. vii. 8; and in Genesis iv. 22, 
malleator aerarius (a-tfyvpoKoiros x a ^ K us)> f r which the 
Vulgate has ' malleator et faber.' R also follows the 
Greek more closely than other MSS. in certain places, 
reading 'quam' for 'qua' (Vulgate), and 'digit homo' fo; 
* elegit homo ' (Vulgate, parcit) in Malachi iii. 1 7 sqq. 
In xxii. 18 we notice a departure from the Greek text 
of Ephesians i. 22, which is also made by the Vulgate, 
" et ipsum dedit caput super omnem ecclesiam quae est 
corpus ejus " (a translation of virep iraa-av tt)v tKKAr/o-iW, 
which seems preferable to vnrlp iravra rrj iKKXrjcria). 

Augttstine on the Canon. 
Jerome in his Vulgate limited his special work of 
recension to the books of the Hebrew canon, saying, 
"Whatever book is beyond these must be reckoned 
among the Apocrypha." He was with difficulty per- 
suaded to make a hasty version of Tobit and Judith, 
and drew the line very sharply between the ecclesiastical 
and the canonical books ; writing in his preface to the 
books of Solomon (a.d. 404 circa), "As the Church reads 
the books of Judith and Tobit and Maccabees, but does 
not count them among the canonical Scriptures, so let 
it read these two books (Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus) 
for the edification of the people, and not for the authori- 
tative declaration of doctrine." Augustine would also 
seem to emphasize the difference between the Hebrew 
Canon and the Apocrypha, and to regard the former 
books alone as canonical. He allows that the books of 
Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus are not of unquestioned 
authority, and of the books of the Maccabees he writes 
(De Civ. xviii. 36) : " from the date of the restoration 
of the temple not kings but princes ruled until the time 
of Aristobulus ; the chronology of this period not being 


found in the holy scriptures which are called canonical, 
but in other writings, among which are also the books of 
the Maccabees, which the Jews did not regard as canonical, 
but which the Church considers such on account of the 
marvellous 'passions' of certain martyrs." In theory, 
Augustine followed the famous distinction of Jerome, 
but, in practice, he would seem to disregard it, permitting 
such books as Tobias, Judith, and the Maccabees to be 
read as canonical scriptures {vide decree of Council of 
Carthage, and De Doctri?ia Christiana, ii. 12). Not 
reading Hebrew he had a strong prejudice to the great 
work of criticism on which Jerome was engaged, and 
indeed wrote a letter (397 a.d.) beseeching him to desist 
from it. It is to be noticed that Augustine quotes 
Jerome's statement concerning the prophet Malachi,that 
he was Esdras the Priest, which is found in the prologue 
to that prophet's writings in the Vulgate (xx. 25). 

Augustine's Quotations. 

The quotations in the De Civitate are both numerous 
and varied. The following classical authors are amongst 
those laid under contribution : Apuleius, Cicero {passim), 
Claudian, Ennius, Eutropius, Florus, Homer, Horace, 
Livy, Lucan, Persius, Plato, Plautus, Pliny, Plotinus, 
Porphyry, Sallust, Seneca, Terence, Varro, and Vergil. 
























OF EVIL . . " . . . 78 













INDEX - 115 






[In his opening chapters Augustine introduces his 
glorious theme of the City of God by a comprehensive 
review of the varying fortunes of the earthly city, the 
queen of the world and the slave of her own ambition. 
The success of Rome in past centuries, he declares, was 
not due to the false gods she worshipped but to the 
old Roman virtues. Much less is their present calamity 
to be attributed to the Christian religion and the neglect 
of the old pagan deities. 1 ] 

Preface. The illustrious City of God, whether in 
this temporal stage on its pilgrim's progress among the 
wicked, and living by faith, or established in yonder 
eternal habitation which it now patiently awaits .... 
I have undertaken, according to an old promise, my 
dear son Marcellinus, to champion against those who 

1 As a complete version of the De Civitate would not be possible 
within the limits of this series, the author has adopted the plan of 
selecting the most important passages for translation, linking these 
together by arguments in brackets. 


prefer their gods to its Founder. In this great and 
arduous work God is my helper. . . . 

Ch. I. It is from Rome that the enemies arise against 
whom the City of God must be defended. Many, 
indeed, of such have been reformed and become worthy 
citizens in this City, but numbers are incensed with 
animosity against her, and ungrateful for the manifest 
benefits of her Redeemer. For they would not be able 
to raise their voices against her to-day, were it not that 
they had received that life, of which they are so proud, 
in her sanctuaries where they had fled from the foeman's 
sword. Were not those very Romans, whom the bar- 
barians spared for the sake of Christ, the enemies of that 
name? ... 

Ch. II. Let them read the history of all the wars 
waged before the founding of Rome, or after its rise and 
dominion, and let them show in any similar instance of 
a city taken by men of a different 1 nation, when and 
where the enemy spared those they discovered taking 
refuge in the sanctuary of their gods, or when and where 
any foreign general gave orders that when a city was 
stormed, no one should be touched who was found in 
this or that temple. Did not Aeneas see Priam amid 
the altars, 

"Defiling with his blood the fires he blessed"? 2 

Did not Diomedes and Ulixes, 

" Slaying the guards who kept the citadel, 
Snatch forth the sacred image, and with palms 
Blood-stained pollute the chaplets on her brow " ? 

Nor yet was there 

"An ebb and flowing-past of Danaan hopes ;" 

i Alienigenis v. 1. alienis (A) not so good ; cf. "et haecnon ab 
alienigenis hostibus sed aCatilinaet sociisejus" {L.I. c. v.), where 
the fact of birth is emphasized as here. 

2 All translations from ancient and modern poets in this little 
work are the author's own. 


for afterwards they prevailed; afterwards they sacked Troy 
with fire and sword ; afterwards they slew Priam as he 
fled to the altars. Troy did not perish because it lost 
Minerva. For what had Minerva previously and fatally 
lost herself ? Was it not her own custodians ? 

Conquered gods bad omens. 

Ch. III. And what divinities are they to whom the 
Romans boasted their city was entrusted ? . . . What 
of Aeneas himself, often called the pious ? Did he not 
say : 

"The son of Othrys, Phoebus' priest, drags here 
The vanquished gods he worshipped and his child 
From citadel, in mad haste to my doors"? 

Does he not say of the gods themselves, whom he does 
not hesitate to describe as vanquished, that they are con- 
signed to his charge rather than he to theirs ? If Vergil, 
then, speaks of such deities as vanquished, and as en- 
trusted to the care of man, that somehow, although 
vanquished, they might escape, what madness is it to 
think that Rome was wisely committed to the keeping of 
such guardians, and could not be destroyed while she 
had them safe ! 

Nay, what is the worship of conquered gods as one's 
guardian angels but the keeping of those who are not 
good divinities but bad omens ? How much wiser would 
it be to believe, not that Rome would have been saved 
from such disaster had they not been previously lost, 
but that they would have been lost long ago, had not 
Rome saved them as long as she could ? . . . But now, 
as I have arranged, I shall deal for a short space with 
the case of those ungrateful ones, who blasphemously 
attribute to Christ the misfortunes which their own per- 
versity has duly brought upon themselves. They do not 
deign to remember that even such as they were spared for 
His sake. Nay, in their profane and mad impiety they 


come forth from their retreats, where their lives were 
shielded by the sanctity of His name, and turn all the 
bitterness of their tongues against that name which 
they had loudly professed or silently pretended to adore 
when danger threatened. 

The sanctuaries of the heathen compared zvith the sanctuaries 
of Christianity. 

Ch. IV. Compare now that sanctuary (asylum), I do not 
mean of any ordinary god or of one among the crowd, but 
of the sister and spouse of Jupiter himself, and the queen 
of all the gods, with the basilicae of our apostles. There, 
temples are burnt and the spoils stolen from the gods 
are carried away, not to be restored to the vanquished, 
but to be divided among the victors ; whereas, here, 
whatever is found to pertain to these places is restored 
with the most reverent ceremony and homage. There, 
liberty was lost ; here, it is preserved ; there, captivity 
holds fast ; here, it is forbidden ; finally, it was the 
pride and avarice of fickle Greeklings that selected that 
temple of Juno, but it was the mercy and humility of 
even ruthless barbarians that spared those churches of 
Christ. . . . 

Ch. V. Even Cato, 1 so Sallust a truthful historian 
writes, did not omit to mention " that virgins and boys 
were outraged, children torn from their parents' arms, 
matrons dishonoured, sanctuaries and houses plundered." 
. . . And these things the Roman temples feared, not 
from the hands of foreign foes, but from Catiline and 
his associates^ leaders in the senate, citizens of Rome. 

Ch. VI. Let us look at the Romans the Romans, I 
say who have made it their special boast that it was ever 
their principle 

1 It was Caesar, not Cato, that made this speech recorded in 
Sallust, but as the principal MSS. C, A, K, F read Cato, we have 
no authority to make a textual alteration, and therefore would draw 
attention to Augustine's mistake. 


" To spare the humbled, and subdue the proud." 

Marcus Marcellus, a noble Roman, who took Syracuse, 
a handsomely built city, is said to have wept to think of 
its fall. Fabius, the conqueror of Tarentum, is praised 
for sparing the images. ..." Let us leave," he said, 
"the Tarentines their angry gods." . . . Would it not 
have been recorded if they had spared any men in 
honour of these gods, and forbidden slaughter or slavery 
in any one temple ? 

Ch. VII. Such deeds of red-handed violence, of fire and 
sword, as were perpetrated in that most recent calamity of 
Rome ever followed in the train of wars ; but as to the 
new thing that has been done, the strange clemency of 
those savage barbarians in setting apart and selecting the 
most spacious churches, where the people might find 
refuge, where no one should receive hurt or injury, where 
many through the compassion of their captors might be 
brought to freedom, whence no one through the cruelty 
of his foes might be led to slavery that has been solely 
due to the name of Christ and the Christian age. Who- 
ever thinks otherwise is blind. . . . 

Augustine here enters into a discussion on the relative uses of 
prosperity and adversity. 

Ch. VIII. Some one may ask, " Why, then, was that 
divine mercy extended even to the ungodly and ungrate- 
ful ? " Why, but because it is from Him Who maketh 
His " sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth 
rain on the just and on the unjust"? . . . It is a divine 
patience that invites the wicked to repentance, while it is 
a divine penance that educates the good in patience. 
He has willed that good and evil should be common to 
the righteous and the unrighteous, that we may not covet 
the good things which the evil as well as the good enjoy, 
and that we might not shrink from the evils which the 
good often endure. . . . Good and bad suffer alike in 
this world, but though the sufferings be the same the 


sufferers are not. . . . Hence it is that the good pray 
and praise in the same misfortunes in which the wicked 
curse and blaspheme. The difference accordingly lies, 
not in the suffering, but in the way in which it is borne. 

Yet all the time God's working can be plainly seen 
in the present distribution of good and evil ; for, if every 
sin were now clearly punished, nothing would seem to be 
reserved for the last judgment ; while, on the other hand, 
if no sin were manifestly punished here, the providence 
of God might be denied. In like manner, with regard to 
the good things of this world ; if God did not respond 
to some requests with abundant kindness, men might 
say that He had not such things at His disposal ; while 
if every such petition were answered, one might suppose 
that it was only right to serve Him for these worldly 
things. . . . 

Sundry reflections on the benefit of trials to the righteous who are 
not sufficiently weaned from the lusts of the flesh and the ways of 
the world, who are too slow to find fault with the sins they would 
not commit themselves, and too ready to effect a compromise with the 
customs of society. 

Ch. IX. The good are offended by the life of the 
wicked, and they do not, therefore, fall into the con- 
demnation which is prepared for such after death. But 
because they deal leniently with the notorious sins of 
others through dread of reprisals for their own venial 
offences, they are justly made to share the temporal 
chastisement of the wicked, although they are not to be 
punished eternally. Being afflicted by God with the 
rest, they are duly made to feel the bitterness of this 
life beguiled by the sweetness of which they were loth 
to be bitter to its sinners. . . . Finally, another excel- 
lent reason why the good, like Job, suffer tribulation, is 
that the human mind may be proved, and the measure 
of its love to God may be known to itself. 

Ch. X. Having considered and examined into these 
things closely, now see whether any evil can happen the 


good and faithful which might not be converted into a 
blessing for them. . . . They lost all that they had. 
But did they lose their faith ? Did they lose their godli- 
ness ? Did they lose the treasures of the heart ? This 
is the wealth of the Christian. . . . Wherefore, our 
dear friend Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola, a man of the 
amplest means, who in the fulness of his heart became 
extremely poor, yet abundantly sanctified, after the bar- 
barians had looted the country, and while he was kept 
a prisoner in bonds, used to pray in his heart, as I after- 
wards learnt from him, "Lord, let me not be troubled 
for gold and silver, for where all my treasure is, Thou 
knowest." . . . 

Augustine now passes on to other topics; the period of life, the rites 
of burial, and the infamy of suicide. 

Ch. XL It is not a material thing whether life be long 
or short. For there can be neither a better nor a worse, 
a longer nor a shorter where there is no existence in either 
case. But what difference does it make how a man dies, 
seeing that he is not called upon to die a second time ? 
... I am not unaware of the fact that men choose more 
readily * to live long under the shadow of so many forms 
of death than to die once for all and be free, once and 
for all from that fear. . . . That death is not to be re- 
garded as a calamity which was preceded by a good 
life. . . . 

Ch. XII. Nor are pious people much distressed by the 
fact that the rites of burial can not be given when there 
has been a long list of casualties. . . . Many bodies of 
Christians have not been covered with earth, but no 
one can separate any of them from the heaven and the 

1 CitiusMSS., Parisian edition of 1838, had inertius (more slowly), 
perhaps through reading the m of qua m twice over, a frequent cause 
of error in MSS. Inertius is manifestly wrong, conveying the very 
opposite meaning. (Cf. viii. 23.) 


earth which is filled with the presence of Him Who knows 
from where to raise that which He has created. . . . 

Ch. XIII. Tobias is commended by an angel for 
his service to God in burying the dead. . . . The Lord 
also, though about to rise on the third day, praised the 
good work of the pious woman which was done for His 
entombment, and desired that it should be preached 
in all the world. And they are honourably mentioned in 
the gospel who took the body from the cross and gave it 
a decent covering and burial. But these authorities do 
not prove that there was any sense in those dead bodies, 
but that such pious offices are pleasing to God because 
they cherish faith in the resurrection, and because His 
Providence embraces the dead as well as the living. 
Accordingly, when the bodies of Christians slain in that 
sack of the great city or of other towns lie unburied, it is 
neither the fault of the living who cannot give, nor is 
it an affliction to the dead who cannot perceive the lack 
of funeral rites. 

Augustine discusses other lamentable incidents in the war, and 
declares that to escape violence and dishonour after the manner of 
Lucretia and Cato is to obviate one evil by another. 1 

Ch. XVII. He who kills himself kills nothing less than 
man (lit. is a homicide). . . . But why should a man 
who has done no wrong, commit an offence against 
himself, doing himself, though innocent, to death, lest he 
should become the victim of another's violence ? Why 
should he perpetrate a felony upon himself merely to 
save another's hand from guilt ? 

Ch. XVIII. But some one may say, there is a reason- 
able fear that the lust of another may bring pollution. 2 

1 Augustine deals briefly with the absurdity of a remote motive for 
suicide, /. e. after baptism, that the soul may go straight to heaven. 

2 It is hinted by our author that certain women killed themselves 
at the sack of the city to escape worse things. Gibbon sneers at 
his intimation (II. c. xxxi.). 


It will not pollute, if it is another's; and if it does 
pollute, it is not another's. . . . For if chastity is lost in 
this way, surely it cannot be a virtue of the mind, and 
is not to be reckoned among the things which are 
essential to a good life, but must be counted among 
personal advantages such as physique, beauty, health, and 
strength, 1 or as something of that kind. . . . Away with 
this delusion. Let us rather be assured that as personal 
sanctity is lost when the mind is defiled, although the 
body has not been touched, so the personal sanctity is 
intact, if the mind be pure, even when the body has 
been violated. . . . 

Ch. XXIX. Accordingly, the whole family of God Most 
High and True has a consolation of its own, one that does 
not fail, and one that is not anchored to the hope of waver- 
ing and unstable fortunes, so that even this mortal life in 
which a man is trained for life eternal is by no means to be 
regretted. For the pilgrim enjoys but is not engrossed 
by its advantages while his character is tested and formed 
by its sorrows. And let those who scoff at her upright- 
ness 2 and say to her when she has fallen upon unhappy 
days, " Where is thy God ? " tell us where are their gods 
when they suffer calamities, from which those gods are 
supposed to save them. For she replies, " My God is 
everywhere present, wholly everywhere, confined by no 
special locality, Who can be present though unseen, and 
absent though unmoved ; when He exposes me to sufA 
fering, it is to prove my faith, reprove my faults, and to 
prepare my soul in the stern school of adversity for the/ 
eternal reward." . . . 

Ch. XXXV. In such terms, or perhaps more fully and 
aptly, the redeemed family of our Lord, the pilgrim city 
of the King Christ, would reply to her enemies. . . . 

1 Sanitas valetttdo (so C), v. 1. sana valetudo (A, K, F) not so 
good. However, valetudo may be a gloss on sanitas. 

2 Probitati is read by C, A, K, F. The Parisian edition of 1838 
reads probationi probation. 


Since those two states are intimately connected and 
promiscuously blended with one another in this life until 
they are separated by the final judgment, I shall set 
forth, with the help of God, all that I think can be said 
of the rise, progress, and ultimate issue of each. For so 
the glory of that state of God will appear all the more 
excellent by comparison. 



[Having replied to the direct attack made by the 
heathen, whose ignorance had given rise to the proverb, 
" There is no rain, the Christians are the reason " 1 (c. iii.), 
Augustine now assumes the role of the attacking party. 
He traces the worst of all the calamities which have 
befallen the Imperial city of Rome, her social degrada- 
tion, and her immoral licentiousness, to that State religion 
which disparaged purity, and that philosophy which 
despised godliness (chaps, v. vii.). The Roman honour, 
he points out, had been ta; \i;hed, and the Roman republic 
had been ruined by Roman depravity, exemplified in the 
obscenity of her public entertainments and embodied in 
her Syllas and Marii long before the advent of Christ 
(chaps, viii. xx.). This sweeping statement is supported 
by a long quotation from Cicero's work, De Refiublica, of 
which the peroration shall now be given] : 

Ch. XXI. ". . . What now survives of that primitive 
morality which Ennius 2 described as the safeguard of 
Rome ? It is so antiquated and obliterated that so far 
from being practised it is now forgotten. What shall I 
say of the men? Morality has perished through the 
want of good men. It is our fault and not our misfor- 

1 Pluvia defit, causa Christiani sunt. 

8 Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virisque. 


tune, therefore, that our republic is now but a tradition 
and a name." . . . 



[Augustine continues his relentless exposure of the 
helplessness of the Roman divinities in times of danger 
to moral and physical life, and passes in review the 
disastrous episodes in the thrilling story of the rise and 
fall of the pagan city, those 

" Moving accidents by flood and field," 

from the death of Remus by his brother's hand down to 
the days of Augustus in whose reign Christ was born 
among which are numbered Sabine foray, Latin warfare, 
Punic victory, Parthian massacre, and Gaulish triumph, 
dire events, crowned by the suicidal slaughter of the civil 
wars. In c. xvii. the author rises to a great height of 
eloquence, and presents his point with telling force.] 

Ch. XVII. Where then were those gods, on whose 
worship is thought to depend the trivial and transient 
happiness of this life, when the Romans, whose service 
they had won by consummate falsehood, were harassed 
by such adversities ? Where were they, when the Consul 
Valerius was slain in the defence of the Capitol which 
had been scaled by exiles 1 and slaves ? . . . 

Ch. XXX. With what a face and daring, with what 
insolence, presumption, aye madness, do they avoid 
imputing those misfortunes to their own divinities, and 
yet ascribe these to our Christ ? . . . 

Ch. XXXI. Such is the folly which we have to endure, 
and to which we are forced to reply. . . . Which of those 

1 Inscensum (Lo<\. Vives), v. 1. incensum (fired) MSS. and Parisian 


calamities would it not attribute to the Christian religion, 
if it happened in a Christian age ? And yet they do not 
ascribe those calamities to their own gods, whose cult 
they now demand to have restored as a safeguard from the 
lighter evils of the present, although such deities were 
never able to save their votaries from the greater reverses 
of the past. 



[Augustine proceeds to show that the glory and 
extent of the Roman power is to be ascribed not to 
this or that tutelar divinity who were altogether power- 
less, but to the " one true God, the author of all 
human felicity and authority" (c. xxxiii.). In c. xi. 
he gives an interesting resumS of the mythological 
deities, which were identified by the pagan doctors 
with Jupiter. In c. ii. he combats the opinion that an 
extended empire is a proof of prosperity or wisdom. 

In c. iv. he asks, " What are kingdoms without justice 
but organized brigandage {latrocinia) ? " The extension 
of the Roman name cannot, he argues, be ascribed to 
those gods to whom, as Cicero says, " Homer transferred 
human qualities ; would that he had in like manner 
transferred divine ones to us " (chaps, xxvi. xxviii.). He 
traces a tendency to unify the deity in Varro and Cicero 
(c. xxxi.), the former of whom he tells us (c. ix.) 
believed that Jupiter was venerated by those who worship 
one only God, though without an image, and under 
a different name.] 

Ch. XXXI. That most acute and learned authority 
(Varro) also declared that they alone seem to him to have 
a true conception of the Deity, who believe that He is 
Soul controlling the world by motion and reason. Accord- 
ingly, although he had not yet grasped the whole truth 
(for the true God is not a soul, but the maker and creator 


of the soul), still, since he could rise so superior to the 
prejudices of custom as to confess and argue that men 
should worship one God, our only question .to him 
would be why he had called Him Soul, and not rather 
the Creator of soul ? For he asserts that the ancient 
Romans worshipped their gods for more than one 
hundred and seventy years without an image. And he 
observes, " if they had adhered to that custom, their 
worship would be purer to-day." In confirmation of this 
statement he appeals to the Jewish nation, and does not 
hesitate to conclude his remarks by saying that they who 
were the first to set up images of their gods for their 
nation removed them and fear of them from their States. 
For it was his just inference that the gods in the stolid 
form of images would easily pass into contempt. . . . 

Ch. XXXIII. The Lord therefore is the author and 
giver of felicity, because He only is the true God. It is 
He Who entrusts kingdoms to good and bad alike, not 
without design and not by chance, but according to 
some arrangement hidden from our ken, but well known 
to Himself; an arrangement, indeed, to which He is not 
subservient, but of which He is the controller. But He 
only confers happiness on the good. 




[In this book Augustine discusses the perplexing 
problem of the relation of the Divine fore-knowledge 
to the human will, but returns from this digression 
to his theme, the contrast between the heavenly and 
the earthly city, and points out with due appreciation 
the virtues of the ancient Romans, and the noble deeds of 
heroism and self-sacrifice of which they were capable, 
when inspired by the love of their country and the praise 
of men.] 

32 st. Augustine's treatise 

Ch. VIII. One need not enter into a long and laboured 
controversy of words with those who mean by fate not 
the disposition of the stars at a conception, birth, or com- 
mencement, but the whole connection and order of 
causes in the history of creation. For that very order 
and connection of causes is attributed by such to the will 
and power of the supreme God, Who is believed most 
truly both to know all things before they are made, and 
to leave nothing unarranged for, and from Whom pro- 
ceeds every authority, although the wills of all are not 
from Him. That some are accustomed to describe 
under the name of fate that very will of God supreme, 
Whose power dominates all things, may be proved by 
these verses, which, I believe, are by Annaeus Seneca : 

" Father supreme ! Lord of the heav'ns above, 
Lead on where it pleaseth Thee, I am here 
Not loath, but ready ; were it otherwise, 
Weeping I should be forced to follow and 
Bear all the good may wreak upon the bad. 
Fates drag reluctant, lead the willing hearts." 

Ch. IX. Against these (the Stoics) Cicero tries to 
establish his case by putting divination out of the question. 
And this he did by asserting and maintaining with all 
his might that there is no knowledge of the future either 
in God or man, and no such thing as prediction. Accord- 
ingly he denies the foreknowledge of God, and en- 
deavours to set aside every prophecy which is as clear as 
the light of day by foolish arguments, and by setting up 
certain oracles as men of straw to be knocked down 
with ease, and yet he is not able to do it. . . . They 
are far less provoking who even hold starry influ- 
ences on destiny than he who denies foreknowledge of 
the future. For to confess that there is a God and to 
deny that He has this prescience is a sure proof of 
insanity. . . . What is the reason, then, why Cicero 
objected so much to the prescience of the future, that 
he sought to overthrow it by a most vicious form of 


argument ? Apparently because if all things future were 
foreknown, they would occur in that order in which it 
was known beforehand that they would occur; and if 
they should occur in that order, there would be a fixed 
order of things for the God Who has the foreknowledge ; 
and if there were a fixed order of things, there would be 
a fixed order of causes, for nothing can happen which 
has not been preceded by an efficient cause ; but if there 
is a fixed order of causes ruling the progress of life, 
everything which happens must happen by fate. And if 
that were so, nothing would be in our power, and there 
would be no freedom of will. This would mean that 
human life would be ruined, that laws and censure, praise 
and blame, would be rendered null and void. Nor could 
punishment be meted out with any justice to evil-doers, 
much less rewards be made to the righteous. 1 It is to 
avoid such a dreadful and disastrous result that he resents 
the doctrine of prescience, and forces the religious mind to 
such a dilemma that it must choose one or other of two 
alternatives, the free agency of man or foreknowledge, 
holding that if we choose one of these, the other is re- 
moved ; and that if one is taken the other will be left. . . . 
But the religious mind chooses both, confesses both, and 
maintains both in its piety and faith. 2 Again, Cicero 
argues that if aught lies in our power there can be no 
prescience, in this way If there is freedom of will, 
everything is not regulated by fate ; if everything is not 
regulated by fate, there is no fixed order of causes ; if 
there is no fixed order of all causes there can be no fixed 
order of things in the mind of God that foreknows, and 
if there is not this order there can not be the foreknow- 
ledge of all things in the mind of God. . . . Now the 
very concession that Cicero makes, that whatever happens 

1 Because they would no longer be responsible agents. 

2 The gist of this argument is, that while the freedom of man's 
will is reconcilable with the foreknowledge of God, that freedom 
could not exist side by side with blind fate. 



must be preceded by a cause, will suffice to render his 
position untenable. For what advantage does he gain 
by saying that nothing can happen without a cause, while 
he allows that every cause is not fatal, there being the 
fortuitous cause, the natural cause, and the voluntary 
cause? It is sufficient for our purpose that he admits 
that anything that happens must have had a preceding 
cause. . . . For we do not deny that those causes 
which are called fortuitous, are causes ; they are only 
latent, and we impute them either to the will of the 
true God or some spirit. The natural causes cannot 
be separated from the will of the God of nature, while 
the voluntary causes are either the wills of God or 
angels, or men or animals (if, indeed, those natural 
instincts of seeking or avoiding in souls l devoid of 
reason can be called such). . . . Hence, we gather that 
the only efficient causes in the world are the voluntary, 
and that they belong to the domain of spirit. The Spirit 
therefore of life ... is God Himself, at least, Spirit 
uncreated: in His will lies supreme power. . . . As He is 
the creator of every nature, He is the giver of every power, 
but not of wills. For the evil wills do not proceed from 
Him, being contrary to the nature which is given by Him. 
. . . But all things are subject to the supreme cause, the 
Will of God, to which also all wills are subservient 
because they have no power but such as He grants. . . . 
Therefore God is the cause of things, the Maker who is not 
made. . . . How then can an order of causes which is 
fixed for the foreknowledge of the Deity undermine our 
freedom of will, when in that very order of causes our 
own wills have a place ? Let Cicero, then, argue with 
those who call this order fate, a word we dislike on 
account of its name, which is often misunderstood. But 
indeed we urge our case against him more vehemently 

1 The Parisian edition reads animaliitm .; the MSS. have anima- 
rum, which we prefer. This passage shows Augustine in the light 
of a natural historian as well as metaphysician. 


than against the Stoics because he denies the certainty of 
the order of causality and the Deity's cognizance of that 
order. For, either he denies the existence of God, . . . 
or if he admits that there is a God, but One Who is 
ignorant of things future, he does the same as the fool 
in the proverb who says, "There is no God." For he 
who has not prescience of things yet to be is at any rate 
not God. Wherefore, our wills have just so much power, 
extent, and work as God willed them to have, and 
foresaw that they would have. 1 

Ch. X. It does not follow, however, that there is 
nothing in the power of our will, because God knows 
what lies therein. For He Who foreknows, does not 
foreknow nothing, but something. Therefore we are right 
to retain both the prescience of God and the freewill of man. 
... Be it far from us to deny His prescience in order 
that our freedom of will may be established, seeing that 
our present and future freedom rests with Him. For man 
does not sin because God foreknew he would. But it is 
the man himself who sins when he does sin. For it is 
not fate or necessity that God foreknew would or would 
not sin, but the will of man. 

[Having vindicated the compatibility of the integrity of 
the human will with the omniscience and omnipotence of 
the Divine Foreknower and explained this antinomy of 
faith, as far as it was possible for the limited capacity of 
man to do, Augustine now resumes his subject, the 
contrast between the standards of the two cities, the 
heavenly and the earthly.] 

Ch. XVIII. . . . These are the two motives, liberty and 
desire of human praise, that inspired the Romans to do 
noble deeds. If, then, for the freedom of mortals and for 
mortal fame a man (*. e. Brutus) could put his sons to 

1 This argument may be expressed in the following syllogistic 
form : God has foreknowledge of the effects of every cause. The 
human will is a cause. God has foreknowledge of all effects of the 
human will. 


36 st. augustine's treatise 

death, is it a great thing for us not indeed to sacrifice cur 
children but to be reckoned among the poor children of 
Christ ; and this not for the sake of false liberty, but for 
that which frees us from the thraldom of sin, death, and the 
devil ; nor for the sake of human popularity, but for the 
love of delivering men not from King Tarquin, but 
from demons and the prince of demons? . . . 

Ch. XXIV. Nor do we call certain Christian emperors 1 
fortunate because they have reigned long . . .or have 
been successful in subduing their public enemies and 
crushing their secret foes. . . . But we count them happy 
if they rule justly, if in the midst of the flattery and 
servility of a court they are not lifted up, but remember 
that they are but men ; if they fear God, love and worship 
Him . . . and if for their sins they do not neglect to offer 
the sacrifice of humility and prayer. . . . 



Preface. In the first five books I think I have 
sufficiently answered those who maintain that the gods 
of the heathen, proved by Christian truth to be worth- 
less images, unclean spirits, pernicious demons, and 

1 The account in c. xxiif. of the destruction of the barbarian 
Rhadagaisus, King of the Goths, and more than 100,000 of his 
soldiers by the army of Stilicho in which not even one casualty 
occurred, must be acknowledged to be what Gibbon described it, 
"pious nonsense." In c. xxv. he gives an interesting account of 
the prosperity and successes of Constantine, and devotes the con- 
cluding chapter to the goodness, faith, and bravery of Theodosius, 
quoting the well-known lines of Claudian : 

" O thou dear child of Heav'n, for whom the God 
That rules the winds poured forth an host of storms 
From secret haunts : for thee yon Aether wars 
And winds conspiring blow their trumpet-blasts." 


creatures, should be venerated and adored with that 
worship and homage which is called in Greek Xarpeia, 
and which belongs to the one true God, for the sake of 

temporal and earthly prosperity 

Ch. I. So now, I am bound by the plan of my work to 
answer and refute those who maintain that the pagan 
deities, which are overthrown by Christianity, have in 
their hands the eternal welfare of men. . . . But who 
could endure such a statement and tolerate such a 
contention that they can bestow eternal life, they who 
have even in the most trivial concerns their special 
province marked out? And with regard to those well- 
read and learned scholars, who make it their boast that 
they have given instruction on such matters as the reason 
why each god should be supplicated, and what is to be 
sought from each, lest (to avoid such frivolities as are 
caricatured in the mime) water should be sought from 
Liber and wine from the Lymphae, do they indeed ad- 
vise that, when wine is asked from the Lymphae and they 
reply, " We have water, you must get wine from Liber," 
one may rightly answer, " If you have not wine, at least 
give me eternal life " ? Is it possible to conceive any- 
thing more preposterous ? ... Is the human heart so 
foolish as to imagine that this worship of such gods, which 
it recognizes as absurdly unprofitable for even those 
temporal and transient advantages of life in which each 
god has his own special gift, can be profitable for life 
eternal ? . . . 

Varro brought into the witness-box against his own people. 

Ch. II. Who has studied these matters more thoroughly, 
weighed them with more pains, and written upon 
them with greater fulness and accuracy, than Marcus 
Varro ; who, though by no means graceful in diction, is 
so of thought and argument all compact that in the 
domain of letters which we call secular, but they liberal, 


he teaches one who is interested in facts as much as 
Cicero delights one who is a student of composition ? 

In fine, even Tullius himself says of him, in his books 
on the Academy, where this person is introduced, that he 
had a discussion with Marcus Varro, a man clever beyond 
all others, and without question the most learned. . . . 

Ch. III. He wrote forty-one books on Antiquities, 
treating of human and divine affairs, giving twenty-five 
books to the human and sixteen to the divine. . . . 

The 'Antiquities' 1 of Varro examined by Augustine. 

Ch. IV. Varro, himself, alleges as his reason for giving 
human affairs the precedence of divine matters, that States 
were established before their institutions. True religion 
is, however, not a thing established by a State, but it 
truly is the foundation on which the heavenly State is 
established. It is the true God Who inspires and teaches 
His true servants. This, then, is the argument of Varro, 
who has followed this order and regarded religion 
as an affair of state : ' ' As the painter is before the 
picture, so states are before those things which are insti- 
tuted by states." . . . He did not, therefore, intend to 
put human concerns before divine subjects, but he decided 
to put truth before falsehood. . . . 

Ch. V. With reference to his own division of theology, 
that is of the knowledge of the gods, into three depart- 
ments, the mythical, the natural, and the civil, he says : 
" That kind is mythical which the poets use, the physical 
being the subject of the philosophers, and the civil belong- 
ing to the common folk. In the mythical religion which 
I have mentioned first, there are many fictions which are 
contrary to the dignity and character of the immortals, 
such as the birth of one god from a head, another 
from a thigh, another from drops of blood, and, in fine, 
such thievish and lewd practices that would not be be- 
coming in a man, nay, that would not be tolerated even in 


the worst of men." ..." The second class which I have 
pointed out," he goes on to say, " has been discussed in 
many books by the philosophers who have written on the 
gods, who, where, and what they may be ; whether they 
have been for a stated time, or from everlasting ; from 
fire, as Heraclitus held ; or from numbers, as Pythagoras 
affirmed ; or from atoms, as Epicurus taught ; and such 
other topics which are more suited to the school than 
to the street." . . . "The third kind," he says, "is that 
which citizens in cities, and, above all, the priests, ought 
to know and administer. The work of this department 
is to arrange what gods shall be worshipped in public, 
and what sacrifices and offerings shall be made in the 
worship of each. 1 The first kind of theology is especially 
adapted to the stage, the second to the world, and the 
third to the city. ..." 

Ch. IX. Lastly, Varro himself proceeded to describe 
and enumerate the gods from the very conception of man 
. . . showing what is the special function and gift of 
each, but in all that work he never named or pointed 
out any god from whom one should implore the eternal 
life, on account of which alone we are really Christians. 
Who then can be so slow as not to perceive that that 
man, in his capacity as a writer on the popular religion, 
by carefully exposing its similarity with the fabulous, 
indecent, and impure religion, and by showing that the 
latter was but a division of it, left no place in the mind 
of man for any religion but the natural, which he said 
was the domain of philosophers ? And this he did with 
such cleverness that while he did not dare to disparage 

1 There is a gap here in the MSS., which the old editions supplied 
by quae. The construction, "In quo est, quos deos publice quae 
sacra et sacrificia colere quemque par est," is difficult, but we have 
been told that Varro was not a stylist. The verb colere here does 
double duty by the figure syllepsis, and therefore such an alteration as 
" publice sacro et sacrificio colere quemque " (suggested by Dombart) 
is uncalled for, 


the popular religion, he was able to expose it in his in- 
dictment of the so-called mythical religion and to recom- 
mend the na^iral religion to the intellect and refinement 
of his day. 

Having shown kcnv one Roman philosopher undermined the legends 
and folk-lore of the rustic population, Augustine now makes another 
philosopher, Seneca, appear against the more elaborate but equally 
besotted superstition of the city. 

Ch. X. The freedom of openly censuring the religion 
of the State, which was very similar to that of the theatre, 
although withheld from Varro, was exercised to a certain 
degree by Annaeus Seneca, who is proved by many 
things to have flourished in the time of the apostles. . . . 
When discussing the subject of images this philosopher 
ventured to write: "They dedicate images of the 
holy and inviolable immortals in the vilest and stiffest 
material. These are fashioned after the appearance of 
men, beasts, and fishes, mixed sexes, and heterogeneous 
bodies. Such things men call deities, but if they should 
receive life and come face to face with them in the road, 
they would regard them as monsters." . . . Varro was not 
so brave. He only dared to censure the theology of the 
poets, but spared that of the people which Seneca cut 
up. . . . But if we look at the matter in its true light, 
the temples where these rites are performed are really 
worse than the theatres where those myths are represented. 
And so when Seneca was dealing with sacred matters, he 
drew the attention of the philosopher to these features of 
the State religion not as embodying the principles of 
religion but as representing its popular form. "For," 
said he, " the philosopher will observe and do all these 
things as the laws decree and not as the gods ordain." 

Ch. XII. Accordingly, from the three theologies, 
which are called in Greek mythical, physical, political, 
but in Latin fabulous, natural, and civil, eternal life 
cannot be expected ; not from the fabulous, which has 


been most freely censured by men brought up in all 
the associations and traditions of that superstition ; nor 
from the civil, of which the other is a much inferior 
department. After what has been said, no one should 
believe for a moment that any of these gods whose 
worship is characterized by such infamy can be the 
bestower of happiness. And how can he who cannot 
give happiness grant eternal life ? For that we call 
eternal life where there is happiness without end. But 
if the soul lives in eternal punishment, by which the 
unclean spirits themselves are tortured, that is eternal 
death rather than life, since no death is worse or more 
terrible than that death from which death does not 
release ('ubi non moritur mors'). But because the 
nature of the soul, being immortal, cannot exist without 
some life, the supreme death is separation from the life of 
God in an eternity of punishment. Therefore life eternal, 
that is, the life of unending happiness, He alone can 
give who can confer true felicity. 1 . . . 

Seneca's opinion of the Jews. 

Ch. XI. He (Seneca) also censures, among other 
superstitious practices of the popular religion, the sacra- 
ments of the Jews, and especially their sabbaths, say- 
ing that it was utterly useless for them to waste almost 
a seventh part of life in idleness, and so to allow many 
things which required constant supervision to be spoiled. 
Yet he did not venture to make any reference, good 
or bad, to the Christians who were even then most 
hostile to the Jews, not willing to praise them contrary to 
the custom of his nation, and loth to censure what he 
himself did not condemn. But, speaking of the Jews, 
he says, " meanwhile the customs of that most accursed 
nation have gained so much ground that they have now 

1 It was necessary to transpose the order of chaps, xii. and xi., 
its the latter does not bear directly upon the point at issue. 


been received in all lands, and the vanquished have given 
laws to the victors." 1 



Varro's statement " God is the soul oj the world." Criticism. 

[In this book Augustine continues his theme the 
worthlessness of the pagan superstition by exposing the 
infamous rites connected with the worship of the "select" 
gods, Janus, Jupiter, Saturn, Ceres, Liber, Mater Magna, 
and others. He shows that the opinion of Varro that 
God is the soul of the world, which the Greeks call 
ko'o-/xo9, marked a great advance beyond this elementary 
stage of crude superstition, and in the direction of 
Theism, although it is in its turn marred by the corre- 
sponding statement that " this world itself is God " (c. vi.). 
In c. xxiii. Augustine deprecates this material pantheism, 
which would confound the Creator with the work of His 
hands, and would regard " the very stones and earth in 
the world as the bones and nails of Deity."] 

Ch. XXIX. With respect to all these matters which 
their theology teaches them to refer, without any scruple on 
the score of impiety, to the world for their explanation, 
rather than to the true God Who made that world, and 
created every soul and every body, we would observe 
that we worship God, not the heaven or the earth, of 
which two parts the world consists, not a soul or souls 
diffused through every living thing, but God Who made 
heaven and earth and all that is therein, Who created 
every soul, no matter how it exists, whether devoid of 
sense or reason, or whether sentient and intelligent. 

1 He had, however, the grace to acknowledge that "the Jews 
knew the reasons for their rites and ceremonies, whereas the majority 
of the people act without knowing the reason why." Seneca, the 
tutor of Nero and the brother of Gallio, proconsul of Achaia, 
flourished p. c. 465 A. D. 




[This concluding sentiment of the seventh book 
prepares us for the elaborate discussion of the eighth 
book, in which Augustine takes up the third order of 
theology mentioned by Varro, the natural; and debates 
the question whether the gods of the natural theology 
can confer that eternal blessedness which the popular 
and fabulous gods can not. In this book, by far the ablest 
in treatment and the grandest in conception, Augustine 
joins issue with the Platonists, who held at this time 
the first rank in logic and philosophy, and whose 
tenets more nearly than those of any other school 
approach the doctrines of Christianity. In fact, this book 
may be regarded as a compendious treatise on Greek 
philosophy from a Christian standpoint. He concludes 
by comparing the creed of the Neo-Platonists with that 
of the Christians. 1 ] 

Augustine and the Platonists. 

Ch. I. The following discussion requires greater atten- 
tion than the problems and subjects of the preceding 
books. . . . For we are about to compare notes on 

1 This Neo-Platonism was a mixture of Platonism and Orientalism, 
that grew in favour with the upper classes of pagan Rome, because 
it could accommodate its teaching to the ancient mythology of the 
city, and found a fervid disciple in Plotinus, who dreamed of found- 
ing a Platonic Republic in Campania, and entreated his audience to 
fly to " that beloved fatherland, where the Father is and all things 
are," and who was succeeded by Porphyry, the determined foe of a 
religion that would brook no rival and accept no myth. With 
these unexpected allies of paganism, the champions of the Christian 
faith had now to cross swords. The unsparing logic of the City of 
Cod inflicted a crushing blow upon this new foe., 


natural theology, not with the general public, but with 
the philosophers, a name which means, by interpretation, 
lovers of wisdom. And further, if God is wisdom by 
whom all things were made, . . . the true philosopher 
is a lover of God. But since the thing, of which this 
is the name, is not found in all who glory in it, we must 
confine our debate to foemen worthy of our steel. Nor, 
indeed, have I undertaken to refute all the false tenets 
of the philosophers, but I am compelled to restrict myself 
altogether to the domain of theology, and particularly 
to the opinions of those savants who, while believing 
that there is a divine nature, and that this divine nature 
is concerned with the world and the affairs of man, still 
deny that the worship of the One True God is sufficient 
for the securing of eternal blessedness, and therefore have 
invented a number of intermediary and lesser divinities. 
These are nearer the truth than Varro. For while he 

(could regard the world and the soul as extensions of the 
deity of God, they believe in a God Who is above and 
beyond the whole nature of the soul, Who is not merely 
yonder visible world which is called heaven and earth, 
but Who has even made every soul, and Who enables 
the rational and intellectual soul of man to participate in 
His own incorporeal blessedness and unchangeable 
light. ... 

Ch. II. In the Grecian literature, the most distinguished 
of all, there are two schools of philosophy, the Italian 
and the Ionic, . . . the former founded by Pythagoras 
of Samos ... the head of the latter being Thales of 
Miletus, one of the seven wise men. [Here follows a 
brief summary of the metaphysical and natural science of 
these two schools.] 

Ch. III. Socrates is, accordingly, said to have been 
the first to turn the attention of all philosophers to moral 
questions and principles, all who preceded him having 
devoted themselves principally to physics and natural 
investigations. , . . Distinguished both in his life and 


his death, Socrates left behind him many disciples who 
rivalled one another in the zeal with which they discussed 
the summum bonum, in which the happiness of man 
consists. But this had been so obscured by the destruc- 
tive method of their master that they took from this 
system what pleased them and regarded what seemed 
good in their own eyes as the goal of life. But so divided 
were their opinions on this subject that some like Aris- 
tippus declared that pleasure, and others with Antisthenes 
maintained that virtue was the final good. 

Superiority of Platonism to the other pagan philosophers. 

Ch. IV. But Plato fairly eclipsed all the other pupils 
of the great master. . . . Socrates is praised for his 
excellence in practical philosophy, and Pythagoras seems 
to have devoted all his energies to contemplation. But 
Plato is said to have brought philosophy to the highest 
pitch of perfection by combining the wisdom of the one 
with the studies of the other, and making a threefold 
division of it ; the first, moral, relating to action ; the 
second, natural, which is engaged in investigation ; and 
the third, rational, as being concerned with the discrimin- 
ation of the true from the false. . . . With regard to each 
of these three parts, the end of all action, the cause of 
all natures, and the light of all intelligences, it were 
difficult to say what Plato believed. . . . But it is most 
probable that Plato's closest and most appreciative 
students do believe that God is at once the cause of 
existence, the rational basis of human knowledge, and 
1 the standard with reference to which human life is to be 
I regulated. . . . For man was so created that he should 
' reach that which transcends all things by that which 
excels in himself, that is the one true and good God 
without Whom no nature subsists, no doctrine instructs, 
and no practice is of any use. Let Him therefore be 
sought where all things are eloquent to us, let Him be 


discerned where all things are certain to us, and let Him 
be loved where all things are right to us. 

Ch. V. If, then, Plato has declared the wise man to be 
one who imitates, loves, and knows this God, and shares 
in His blessedness, why should we consult the rest ? 
These have made the nearest approach to Christian 
doctrine. . . . For the doctrines of the fabulous and civil 
religion are clearly inferior to the teaching of the Platonic 
philosophers, who declare that the true God is the author 
of all things, the illuminator of the truth and the be- 
stower of happiness. And other teachers, who, devoted 
as they were to materialism, could only imagine material 
elements of things, must yield position to such followers 
of so great a God. 

Ch. VI. For them a material body is not God. They 
saw that naught variable can be deity supreme. They 
therefore transcended every soul and every changeable 
spirit in their search after the supreme God. . . . But 
as everything pertaining to both body and soul was 
more or less a semblance from their standpoint, if this 
semblance were removed there would be nothing left. 
They were, therefore, compelled to infer that there must 
oe something of which the first form is unchangeable and 
therefore above comparison, and rightly held that the 
principle of things lies in that which is the maker of all 
things and made by none. . . . Thus God manifested to 
them all that is known of Himself, since these invisible 
things were understood and perceived through the things 
that are made. 1 

Ch. VIII. With regard to the remaining branch of 
philosophy, the ethical, which dealt with the subject of 
the chief good, the standard of action, that which we seek 
for itself and for nothing beneath itself, and on account 
of which we seek all other things, but this only for its 

1 Augustine is not quoting Rom. i. 19 directly on this occasion 
but he does in the tenth chapter, where his rendering is almost a 
word-for-word translation of the Greek. 


own sake, . . . this same school excels all others, 
declaring that he is a happy man who enjoys not the 
body or the mind, but God. ... It is now sufficient to 
state that Plato defined the final good as the life according 
to virtue which is possessed only by him who has the 
knowledge of God, and imitates Him, and is happy for 
no other reason. Accordingly he did not hesitate to say, 
that to be a philosopher is to be a lover of God, Whose 
nature is above change. 

[Having shown how closely the Platonists approach 
Christianity in theory, Augustine now proceeds to show 
how far they and their followers, the Neo-Platonists, still 
fall short of the pure doctrines of Christianity, by reason 
of their performance of sacred rites in honour of many 
gods, and their belief in demons as mediators between 
God and man.] 

The Neo-Platonists and their belief in demons as mediators. 

Ch. XIV. All things, they say, which have a rational 
soul are divided into three classes, gods, men, and 
demons. 1 The gods occupy the highest, men the lowest, 
and demons the middle position. The latter have 
corporeal immortality in common with the gods, but 
animal passions in common with men. . . . But what 
could Apuleius himself find to praise in the demons beyond 
the fineness and firmness of their bodies and the 
superiority of their habitation? For when remarking 
on their morals, among other things, he said nothing 
that was good, but much that was bad. . . . 

Ch. XVI. He declared that they are moved by the 
same passions as men are, being irritated by injury, 
mollified by flattery and presents, pleased at the observ- 

1 Augustine refers to the work of Apuleius Platonicus, De Deo 
Socratis, in which the philosopher of Madaura (born a.d. 125) 
discussed the relation Socrates had with the other world, and in 
particular with the demon by which he was said to be accompanied. 
This chapter is a locus classicus on this work of Apuleius. 


ance of their rites, and displeased at their omission. 
Briefly defining them, he says the demons are of an 
animal (/. e. possessing am'ma) nature passive in soul, 
rational in mind, aerial in body, eternal in time. . . . 

Of these five things, the three first are common to them 
and us, the fourth is peculiarly their own, and the fifth is 
common to them with the gods. . . . How much less 
worthy of worship (/. e. than the true God) are these 
beings who are only rational that they may be capable 
of misery, passive that they may be really wretched, and 
eternal that they may not be able to end their wicked- 
ness ? 

Ch. XVII. Is it not a foolish and unhappy mistake to 
humiliate oneself in veneration to one from whose life 
you pray your own may differ ; and to worship one you 
would not obey, seeing that it is the highest religion to 
follow whom you serve ? . . . 

Ch. XVIII. It was foolish for Apuleius, then, and for 
those who think with him, to confer this honour upon the 
demons, and place them between the heaven and the 
earth to convey to God the prayers of men and to carry 
back to men the answers of God, according to the 
principle of Plato that God has no direct intercourse 
with man ('nullus deus miscetur homini , ). 1 . . . 

Augustine attacks the system of spiritualism by which the Neo- 
Platonists pretended to have intercourse with the other world. 

Ch. XX. Truly wonderful is the sanctity of that divine 
presence, which holds no communion with the man who 
prays, but has communion with an arrogant demon, and 
has no intercourse with a penitent soul, but has intercourse 
with a deceitful demon. . . . 

Ch. XXII. Accordingly, we do not believe that such 
demons are mediators between gods and men, but that 

1 In this point Plato differed from his pupil Aristotle, who believed 
in a pervading intelligence. 


they are spirits of evil and malice, remote from righteous- 
ness, swollen with pride, enviously jealous, and falsely 
cruel, who dwell, indeed, in this upper air, being banished 
from the heights of heaven by reason of their unpardon- 
able sin, and condemned to this prison. 

[Augustine here digresses from the subject of demons, 
to which he returns in the following book, in order to 
explain the difference between the Christian reverence 
for, and the pagan adoration of, the departed.] 

Augustine on the cult of the dead. 

Ch. XXVI. It is, indeed, remarkable that Apuleius, 1 
when lamenting that the time would come when these 
institutions, made, as he allows, by an unbelieving 
people who had gone far astray and were very remote 
from true religion, would be removed from Egypt, 
says, among other things : " Then that land, the most 
sacred abode of sanctuaries and temples, will be replete 
with the sepulchres of the dead." ... It seemed to 
trouble him that the shrines (memoriae) of our martyrs 
should occupy the sacred and hallowed sites of his 
country. But they who read his words with a mind 
prejudiced against us might be led to conclude that gods 
were worshipped in the temples by the pagans, but that 
we practise the cult of the dead in the cemeteries. Men 
are so blinded by impiety that they stumble against 
mountains and will not see the things that lie before 
their eyes, so that they do not remark that in all the 
literature of the pagan world there are found scarcely 
any gods who have not been men, raised to divine 
honours after death. I pass over the statement of Varro 
that all the dead are regarded as manes dii by them, 

1 In The Aesculapius, a discourse between Hermes Trismegistus 
and Aesculapius on God, the World, and Man, p. 90. Augustine 
also quotes from the De Mundo, the De Magicd, and De Deo 
Socratis\ of this once famous rhetorician. 



which he establishes by reference to the sacred rites 
which are paid to almost all the dead. . . . 

Ch. XXVII. Nor yet do we build our temples and 
ordain priests, rites, and sacrifices to these martyrs, for 
they are not our gods, but their God is our God. We, 
indeed, respect l their shrines as the shrines of holy men 
who contended for the truth even to the death. But no 
one ever heard a priest of the faithful say in prayer, as he 
stood by an altar erected to the honour and worship of 
God : " I offer to thee a sacrifice, O Peter, or O Paul, 
or O Cyprian ! " 

For it is to the true God Who made them both men 
and martyrs that the sacrifice is offered at their tombs, 
that so we may thank the true God for their victories, and 
may be stirred to imitate their crown of virtues by calling 
to our aid the same God they invoked. Our religion 
does indeed honour the last resting-places of the martyrs, 
with ornaments suitable to their memory, but not with 
sacred rites, and not with sacrifices offered to dead men 
as if they were gods. 



[In this book Augustine answers those who make a 
distinction among the demons, and call some good and 
others bad; a distinction which, according to our author, 
throws no light on the subject, inasmuch as to no demon, 
but to Christ alone, belongs the power of granting 
eternal blessedness to men. Speaking of the passions 
of the demons he is led (c. iv.) into a digression on the 
supposed difference of opinion between the Stoics and 
Peripatetics on the subject of perturbations, and quotes a 

1 Vide original. Augustine does not say colimus (worship), but 
honoramns (respect). 


long passage from the Nodes Atticae of A. Gellius to 
prove that the Stoic's mind may be moved but not 
shaken by the terrible and unexpected ; in the words of 

" His mind is fixed, her tears do idly flow." 

As he has dealt already with the axiom of Plato that 
" there is no communion between man and God," and as 
he will recur in another place to the mediation of Christ, 
we shall hurry through this book with a glance at the 
following passages.] 

Ch. XVII. But I wonder very much that men of such 
education, who have declared the inferiority of everything 
sensible and corporeal to the spiritual and intelligible, 
can speak of the pleasures of touch when a happy life 
is the question. Where is that expression of Plotinus? 
" We must take refuge in that beloved fatherland where 
our Father is, where our all is." " What fleet or flight," 
he exclaims, " can bear us on to the likeness of God ? " 
If, therefore, the more like to God means the nearer to 
Him, remoteness from Him must be due to want of 

Ch. XXIII. We should not argue much about the 
name when the thing is so clear. But our statement that 
angels are sent from the number of those happy immor- 
tals to announce the will of God to men does not please 
them, because they hold that this ministry is not carried 
on by those whom they call gods that is, the happy im- 
mortal but not happy. . . . Although it seems a dispute 
about a name, yet the name of a demon is so detestable 
that we should remove it altogether from the holy angels. 

52 st. augustine's treatise 



[This book is a thesis on the true worship of God, to 
Whom alone the good angels wish that divine honour 
to be paid which is given by sacrifice, and is called Xarpcia 
(a word always rendered in Scripture as service).] 

Augustine states in what the true service of God consists. 

Ch. I. The question now before us is, whether the 
angels desire us to offer sacrifice and worship, and to 
consecrate by religious rites our possessions and ourselves 
to them or only to God, their God and our God. . . . 
That service which the apostle exhorts the servants of 
God to yield to their masters is called by another name 
in Greek (/. e. SiaKovla). But Xarpeta, as used in the sacred 
records, means always, or nearly always, that servitus or 
service which is due to God alone. The word ' cult,' 
however, is not peculiar to God, as it signifies also the 
payment of respect to man by honourable mention or 
constant attendance. . . . 

Ch. II. But we do not join issue with these the most 
noble of the philosophers on every point. For they have 
noticed, and set it down in many eloquent passages of 
their writings, that they owe their happiness to the same 
source as we ourselves, namely, a certain illumination 
of the reason which is divine to them and different from 
them, so that they have light and happiness and holiness 
through sharing in its light. . . . 

Ch. III. Accordingly, if the Platonists and others, 
whoever they are, who perceived this, knowing God as 
God, were to glorify Him and thank Him, and not 
wander off into various questions, and lead or suffer 
themselves to be led by the mass of people into error, 
they would surely acknowledge that there is one God of 


gods, both their God and our God, to be worshipped 
by those happy immortals and by us wretched mortals, 
if we are to become as they are. To Him we owe that 
service, which is called in Greek Xarpeia, both in the 
sacraments and in our own life. For we are one and all 
His temple. When the heart is raised ('sursum') to Him, 
it is His altar; His Only Begotten is our Priest Who 
makes the propitiation ; to Him we offer bleeding victims 
when we contend for the faith to the death ; to Him we 
offer the sweetest incense x when we burn with religious 
love and zeal before Him ; to Him we devote and return 
His own gifts in us and ourselves ; to Him we consecrate 
and set apart the memory of His kindnesses to us by a 
calendar of feasts and holy days, lest forgetfulness and 
ingratitude should steal upon us; and to Him we sacrifice 
the host ('hostia') of humility and praise on the altar of 
the heart with the fire of fervent charity. ... He is 
the font of our blessedness and the object of our desire. 
Choosing Him, or rather choosing Him again (for we had 
lost him through neglect) choosing Him, therefore, again, 
for that is the meaning of religion, 2 we strive towards Him, 
that we may find rest and happiness for our souls in Him. 
Ch. V. No one can be so foolish as to imagine that 
God is profited by any oblation of property or even of 
righteousness. A fountain is not benefited by our 
drinking from it. The fathers of old time, indeed, offered 
animal sacrifices to God, which God's people read of but 
no longer do, for those sacrifices only signified the things 
which are done in us for the purpose of drawing near to 
God and prevailing upon our neighbours to do likewise. 
A sacrifice is, therefore, the visible sacrament or sacred 

1 The MSS. read "eum suavissimo adolemus incenso." In ignor- 
ance of this construction (for which see Vergil, i. 704, "flamniis 
adolere Penates"), the editor of the Paris edition read "ei suavissimum 
adolemus incensum." 

2 Hunc ergo religentes, unde et religio dicta perhibetur. This 
derivation of 'religio' may be fanciful, the meaning certainly is. 


sign of an invisible sacrifice. Wherefore the penitent 
with the prophet, or the prophet himself when imploring 
God to deal mercifully with his sins, said, " If Thou hadst 
wished for sacrifice I had given it. Thou wilt take no 
pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifice of God is a 
contrite spirit, a contrite and humbled heart God will not 
despise." 1 

We shall now see, that when he said that God did not 
require one kind of sacrifice he showed He desired 
I another. For He does not demand the sacrifice of a 
) slain beast, but the sacrifice of a sorrowing heart. The 
sacrifice, therefore, that God does not demand, i.e. the 
slain beast, is merely the symbol of the sacrifice which 
He does demand, i.e. the sorrowing heart. God does 
not require sacrifices, then, to gratify His own pleasure, 
as some are foolish enough to imagine, and had He not 
wished that the sacrifice of a sorrowing heart should be 
symbolized by the sacrifices of slain beasts, the latter had 
never been ordered by the Law. Moreover, the passing 
and temporary nature of these old covenant sacrifices is 
a proof of their symbolical nature, and is a warning to 
us not to imagine that the sacrifices themselves rather 

1 Ps. 1. 16 18, after the LXX. Augustine seems to follow a 
version which was literally translated from the Greek of the Septu- 
agint, and was said to have been commenced in North Africa in 
the second century. But it is difficult to discover whether he is 
quoting from memory, or translating directly from the LXX., or is 
merely using an emended copy of the old Latin Bible, which was 
used long after it had been revised, with the help of Greek, and in 
the light of the Hebrew by Jerome. Generally speaking, the read- 
ings are very different from those found in Tertullian and others 
found in the old Italian edition which Jerome took as the foundation 
of his Vulgate. For example, in the passage from Micah, the old 
Latin version which is followed by Jerome has "aut in multis 
milibus hircorum pin^uium," while Augustine more correctly reads 
" aut in dent's milibus hircorum pinguium," which is nearer to the 
Greek, ij iv iivpiavi x i f i ^P a > v vt6vuv ; which, in its turn, arose from 
a confusion of x e 'f J - L ^ a " / an d x i h- L P wv ' See also Preface, p. xiii 


than the things symbolized by them were acceptable to 
God. As he says in another place in a different psalm : 
" If I were hungry I would not tell thee; for Mine is the 
world and the fulness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of 
bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God 
the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows to the Most 
High, and call on Me in the day of tribulation, and I 
will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." l 

And in another prophet we read : " Wherewith shall I 
find the Lord, and take hold of my God Most High ? 
Shall I find Him in burnt offerings, in calves of a 
year old ? Shall the Lord accept (me) in thousands of 
rams, or in tens of thousands of fat goats ? Shall I give 
my first-born of impiety, the fruit of my womb for 
the sin of my soul ? Is it not announced to thee, man, 
what is good ? Or what doth the Lord require of thee 
but to do judgment, and to love mercy, and to be pre- 
pared to walk with the Lord thy God ? " 2 

And in the words of this prophet it is distinctly stated 
that God does not require those sacrifices for themselves, 
but that He does require the sacrifices they represent. 

And so when it is written, "Mercy I prefer to sacrifice," 3 
we must understand that one sacrifice is preferred to 
another, for that which in ordinary parlance is called a 
sacrifice, is nothing else than the symbol of a sacrifice. 
But mercy is the true sacrifice. That is the meaning of 
the words I have already quoted, "with such sacrifices 
God is well pleased." 4 

The many divine precepts, then, that are read in the 
service of tabernacle or temple have reference to that 
love to God and our neighbour in which they find their 
significance, and on which " hang all the law and the 

1 Ps. xlix. 1215, after the LXX. 

2 Micah vi. 68, after the LXX. 

3 Hosea vi. 6, following the LXX. 
* Heb. vii. 16. 


Augustine now gives that grand definition of sacrifice which 
rises equally above the material conceptions of the many and the 
fantastic theories of the few, and which comprehends every species 
of the genus sacrifice, material and immaterial, literal and spirit- 
ual, bloody and unbloody, pagan and patriarchal, Mosaic and 

Ch. VI. Accordingly a true sacrifice is any work done 
to unite ourselves in holy fellowship with God, that is, work 
which has reference to that supreme good and end by 
which alone we can be truly blessed. Wherefore even 
that mercy which comes to the assistance of another, is 
not a sacrifice if it is not done as for Him. For although 
it be made or offered by a man, a sacrifice is a divine act, 
for that is the original meaning of the Latin word. So man 
consecrated in the name of God and dedicated to Him is 
a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world that he may 
live to God. Our body, likewise, when we chasten it by 
temperance is a sacrifice, if we do this as we should, for 
God's sake. . . . And the soul itself, so much superior 
to the body, is a sacrifice when it offers itself to God, 
that so being kindled by the fire of His love it may 
receive somewhat of His beauty, becoming pleasant to 
Him, losing the form of worldly lust, and being re- 
fashioned in the image of abiding loveliness. As the 
apostle, adds : "Be not conformed to this world, but 
be ye transformed in the renewing of your mind, that 
ye may examine what is the will of God concerning what 
is good and well-pleasing and perfect." x 

Sacrifices being therefore works of mercy to ourselves 
or others, done with a reference to God ; and works of 
mercy being done for no other reason but that we may 
be free from unhappiness or attain happiness (which can 
only pertain to that good man of whom it is written, 
" It is my delight to cling to God "), it follows that the 
whole redeemed city, the congregation or community 
of the saints, is offered to God as a universal sacrifice 

1 Romans xii. 2 


through the High Priest Who offered Himself in His 
passion for us, that we might be members of so glorious 
a Head. ' It was in the form of a servant that He 
offered it ; in it He is Mediator, in it He is Priest, in it 
He is Sacrifice. 

When the apostle, therefore, exhorted l us to present 
our bodies a living host, holy, pleasing to God, which 
is our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to 
this world, but to be reformed in the newness of our 
mind, to prove what is the will of God, which is good 
and well - pleasing and perfect, it was because we 
ourselves are the whole sacrifice. This is the sacrifice of 
Christians : the many who are the one body in Christ. 
This is the sacrifice which the Church continually 
celebrates in the sacrament of the altar known to the 
faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered 
in the offering she presents to God. 

Augustine criticizes Porphyry's conception of the Holy Trinity. 

[In the concluding chapters of this book, Augustine has 
some light-giving remarks on the cardinal doctrines of the 
Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. In the 
first place, he points out the mistake of Porphyry, who 
as a Platonist taught that the soul was purified by three 
distinct principles or hypostases. "Of these he called 
one God the Father, another God the Son, Whom he 
termed the mind of the Father, and between these two 
he placed God the Holy Ghost, concerning Whom he has 
written nothing plainly " (c. xxiii.).] 

Ch. XXIV. Now we do not mean by God two or 
three principles, since we cannot speak of two gods or 
three gods, although we do say of each Divine Person 
of the adorable Trinity that He is God ; but yet we do 
not say with the Sabellians, who are heretics, that the 
Father is the same as the Son, and the Holy Spirit the 

1 Romans xii. i 3. 


same as the Father and the Son, and that the Holy Spirit 
is identical with the Father and the Son, but we say that 
the Father is the Father of the Son, and the Son is 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 was changed by a 
Principle, although it is wrong to speak of principles in 
this connection. 1 

[Moreover, Porphyry refused to acknowledge that 
Christ is the Principle by Whose Incarnation we are 

Ch. XXIV. But Porphyry, spurred on by the powers 
of envy, of which he was ashamed and yet afraid, would 
not understand that our Lord Christ is the Principle by 
Whose incarnation we are purged? Forsooth, he de- 
spised Him in that flesh which He assumed on account 
of the sacrifice of our purification. For he did not 
understand this great sacrament by reason of that pride 
of man which the true and merciful Mediator brought 
low by His humility, showing Himself to mortals in that 
mortality which the deceitful and malignant mediators 
having not, bear themselves proudly, and in their char- 
acter of immortals promise an assistance which they have 
never rendered to wretched men. Accordingly, that 
good and true Mediator showed that it is sin and not 
the substance or nature of the flesh that is evil, seeing 
that this latter could be assumed, together with the 
human soul, and retained without sin, and could be laid 

1 The Platonists of the Alexandrian School recognized a Trinity of 
their own : 1st, the One, or the Good ; 2nd, the Word, or Intelli- 
gence ; 3rd, the Soul of Nature. This theory falls very short of 
the glorious doctrine of the Three Persons and one God, a Trinity 
in Unity and a Unity in Trinity. In the religion of the Hindu we 
also find a trinity of Gods, the so-called Trimurtti of Brahma, Vishnu, 
and Siva, respectively described as Creator, Saviour, and Destroyer. 
But we acknowledge three Divine Persons and one God, in Godhead 
not to be divided, in Personality not to be confounded. 

* Principium cujus incarnatione purgamur. 


down in death and changed by the resurrection to a 
better form. Moreover, he demonstrated that even 
death itself, the punishment of sin, which He neverthe- 
less endured for our sakes, yet without sin, is not to be 
avoided by a wrong course ; but, if occasion offer, must 
be endured for righteousness' sake. And, therefore, by 
dying He was able to loose our sins from us, because He 
died, and yet not for His own sin. But that Platonist 
did not recognize Him as the Principle, else he had 
acknowledged Him as purificative. Yet it was not the 
human flesh or soul that is that Principle, but the Word 
by which all things were made. The flesh does not, 
therefore, purify by its own power, but by virtue of the 
Word, Who assumed it ; what time the " Word was 
made flesh and dwelt among us." For when Jesus was 
speaking in mystical language of the eating of His flesh, 
and they who did not understand Him had withdrawn, 
saying, " This is a hard saying, who can hear it ? " He 
answered and said to the rest : l "It is the Spirit Who 
gives life, but the flesh profiteth nothing." The 
Principle, 2 therefore, by assuming flesh and soul, purifies 
the flesh and soul. Accordingly, when the Jews asked 
Him Who He was, He replied that He was the Prin- 
ciple. 3 But this, we carnal and feeble men, prone to 
sin and buried in the shadows of ignorance, could by 
no means understand, did we not receive cleansing and 
healing through that which we both were and were not. 4 
For we were men but we were not righteous, while in 
His Incarnation there was a human nature, but it was 

1 John vii. 25. 

2 Augustine does not use the word Principle in the sense of an 
impersonal emanation from a Person an error of which he has just 
before convicted Sabellianism but in the sense of a Personal Power, 
a Person acting in and through the life of humanity, being both 
the principle of renewal and the principle of life by reason of His 

3 tV apxh" 8 ri Kai \a.\& vfuv. (" In the beginning." R.V.) 

4 i, e. sinless humanity. 


righteous. This is the mediation by which, as it were, a 
hand is stretched out to the lapsed and the fallen. This 
is the seed ordained of angels, by whose disposition the 
law was given, by which also the worship of the one 
God was ordained and the advent of the Mediator was 

Ch. XXV. It was by piously living in the faith of this 
mystery that all the saints of old, both under the law 
and in former ages, were justified. For it was in those 
times that the prophets lived, by whom, as angels, the 
same promise was proclaimed, and of whose number 
was he whose noble and divine sentiment concerning 
the end and summum bonum of man I have quoted some 
while back, namely : " It is good for me to cleave to God." 

[Here follows an excellent summary of the 73rd 
Psalm, in which the writer deals with the perplexing 
problem of the prosperity of the wicked, and relates how 
his own peace of mind was restored by attending the 
public worship of the sanctuary, where the righteousness 
of God and the final triumph of goodness was brought 
home to his soul. The climax of this psalm Augustine 
considers to be the verse, "It is good for me to cleave 
unto God" (v. 28). This union with God will then be 
finally accomplished when all that which was to be 
redeemed has been redeemed. But for the present, we 
must place our hope in God ; for " It is good to put my 
trust in the Lord," as the writer says, adding, "that I 
may declare all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of 
Zion." l The next two chapters, xxvi. and xxvii., Augus- 
tine devotes to exposing the impiety and weakness of 
Porphyry 2 in his wavering between the confession of the 
Incarnation and the cult of demons.] 

1 This verse in the original ends with "praises" or " worksJ' 
The concluding phrase, " in the gates of the daughter of Zion," was 
interpolated in the LXX., and is also reproduced in the Vulgate of 

2 Porphyrius, born 232 A.D. at Tyre, Neo-Platonist pupil of 


Ch. XXVIII. You admit that ignorance and the many 
vices that arise from it cannot be purified by any rites of 
initiation, but by the ttotpikos vovs alone, that is the Mind 
or Intellect of the Father, which is conscious of the 
Father's will. But you fail to see that Christ is that 
Mind, for you despise Him on account of His birth from 
a woman and the shame of His cross . . . not perceiving 
that there was in these things a fulfilment of the words of 
the holy prophets, " I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, 
and will condemn (' reprobabo,' LXX. upv^w) the prudence 
of the prudent." 

[Cf. expansion of these words in i Cor. i. 19 sqq."\ 
Ch. XXIX. . . . But the Incarnation of the unchange- 
able Son of God, by which we are saved (' qua salvamur ') 
. . . you will not acknowledge. Yet you believe in grace, 
seeing that you admit that it is granted (' concessum ') to a 
few to reach God by virtue of their intelligence ; and by 
using the word granted, without doubt you recognize the 
favour of God and not the sufficiency of man. . . . But, 
if you only knew the grace of God through Jesus Christ 
our Lord, and His very Incarnation, by which He 
assumed a human soul and body, you would have found 
therein the highest manifestation of grace. . . . The 
grace of God could not have been recommended to us 
with more grace than by the peerless 1 Son of God 
remaining unchangeable in Himself, taking upon Him 
humanity, and giving the hope of His love to men by the 
mediation of His manhood, through which men might 
have access to Him Who was so far off, by reason of His 
immortality from the mortals, by reason of His justice 

Plotinus, attacked the Christians in his work, /caret xpi<TTiavu>v 
(Eusebius, H. E. vi. 19). Augustine quotes from his Letter to 
Anebon, and his Return of the Soul. 

1 ' Unicus ' means more than ' only.' It expresses an uniqueness, 
a singularity in the relation of the Son to the Father which the word 
' only ' does not convey, involving also a contrast with other sons. 


62 st. augustine's treatise 

from the unjust, and by reason of His blessedness from 
the wretched. And, because He has endowed us with 
the natural desire for blessedness and immortality, He 
Himself remaining blessed but assuming immortality 
that He might give us our hearts' desire, He taught us 
by His own endurance to scorn what we are wont to 
fear. . . . But to see and rest in this truth you require 
humility, a virtue which would not easily commend itself 
to you. For what is there incredible, especially to you 
who are engaged in studies which should predispose you 
to accept this ? 

Augustine employs an argument ad hominem. 

What is there incredible, I say, in the expression 
that God assumed a human soul and body? 1 You, at 
least, attribute so much dignity to the intellectual soul, 
which is, at all events, a human soul, that you say it 
can become consubstantial with that paternal mind, 
which you confess to be the Son of God. What, then, 
is there incredible in His assuming some one intellectual 
soul in an ineffable and unique manner for the salvation 
of many ? Now Nature itself teaches us that a union of 
soul and body is essential to the completeness of our 
nature. But this would be a very hard thing to believe, 
were it not the most ordinary ; for it were easier to 
believe in a union of spirit and spirit, or, to use your 
own expression, " of the immaterial and the immaterial," 
even though the one were human and the other divine, 
the one subject and the other superior to change, than 
in a union of a body and a spirit. Are you offended by 
the unparalleled offspring of a virgin's womb? This 
fact ought rather to lead you to our faith, seeing that 

1 The creed of Porphyry that every body is to be shunned (omne 
corpus est fugiendum) runs parallel to the doctrine of Nirwana, but 
contrary to the doctrine of the Incarnation. 


the wonderful One was born in a wonderful way. 1 Or 
do you find a difficulty in the fact that our Lord rose 

1 Augustine sets forth the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation in 
his 187th Epistle, where he maintains the integrity of both the 
humanity and the divinity of our Lord. 

"His humanity," he says, "consisted of body and soul; the 
human soul, not being a physical or animal soul (as Apollinarius 
held), but a reasonable soul." After death His human body 
descended to the grave, and His soul into Hades. 

Then he proceeds to unfold the doctrine afterwards known as the 
' Communicatio idiomatum ' : 

" For since Christ was God and man, He was able to say as God, 
1 1 and My Father are one,' and as man to say, ' My Father is 
greater than I.'" And as He was at once the Son of God, the Only 
Begotten of the Father, and the son of men of the seed of David 
according to the flesh, we must consider when Scripture speaks of 
Him to which nature reference is made. " For as reasonable soul 
and flesh make up one man, so Word and man is one Christ." 

It is interesting to compare this sentence of Augustine with the 
corresponding clause in the Athanasian Creed, almost word for word 
identical with it 

Augustine Nam sicut unus homo est anima rationalis et caro sic 

unus Christus est Verbum et homo. 
Creed of Athanasius Nam sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est 

Homo ; ita Deus et Homo unus est Christus. 

This doctrine of interchange of properties helps us to understand 
in what sense it might be said that the Lord of glory was crucified, 
and in what sense it might be said that He created the world. 

"In His character as the Word, Christ is Creator, but in His 
character as man, Christ is created and crucified." 

It is pointed out by some who would find parallels to all the 
tenets of our faith in the Pagan world that the Hindus believe in 
the incarnation, Avatara, or descent of their God Vishnu in human 
form, and that they speak of this God as their Preserver; accordingly 
the God Krishna, in whom Vishnu was supposed to have become 
incarnate, said 

"For the preservation of the good and the destruction of the 
For the establishment of religion, I am born from age to age." 

But if any one could have the patience and self-control to read 
the account of this infamous Krishna and his abominable life, one 
would see that in no sense does it offer the smallest parallel or 
approach to the Incarnation of our Lord. 


again from the dead and carried His body, changed by 
being made incorruptible and immortal, up to heaven, 
when you remember that Porphyry taught you in his 
books on the return of the soul that every kind of body 
is to be shunned, that the soul may dwell in blessedness 
with God? And yet, he seems to merit censure for 
that opinion, and you likewise, seeing that you hold 
with him such strange notions about the soul of the 
world. Plato, forsooth, taught you that the world was 
an animal and a very happy one. 1 It is never freed from 
its body, and yet it never loses its happiness. How then 
do you say that every body must be avoided if the soul is 
to be happy ? You forget or pretend to ignore the very 
things you discuss and teach when the faith of Christ is 
offered to you. You make that very thing which you 
yourselves believe an objection to our Christian doctrine. 
I am afraid it is your pride that keeps you from the 
lowly Christ. . . . We know not what will be the precise 
nature of the resurrection bodies of the saints ; but we 
all hold firmly that they will be everlasting and after the 
likeness of Christ's resurrection-body, . . . and that they 
will present no impediment to the soul's free contempla- 
tion of God. Why then do you hold that every body 
should be shunned if happiness is to be secured ? . . . 
Are you ashamed to be corrected ? Forsooth, it were a 
great degradation to pass from the school of Plato to 
that of Christ Who taught a fisherman by His spirit to 
say: "In the beginning was the Word, and the W T ord 
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 " the prelude of the holy gospel 
according to St. John, which a certain Platonic philo- 

1 Timaeus 30 sqq. 


sopher, as Simplician afterwards the bishop of the church 
in Milan used to tell us, declared should be inscribed in 
letters of gold in the most conspicuous place in every 
church. . . . But such a master is despised by those 
proud ones, because " the Word became flesh and dwelt 
among us." Such are not merely sick, they rejoice in their 
sickness, and are ashamed of the remedy ; and their end 
will not be a higher rise, but a greater fall. 

Augustine points out that Porphyry ventured to prefer truth to 
Plato. Therefore let us prefer truth to Porphyry is the inference 
we draw from this argument. 

Ch. XXX. If it is thought presumption to alter any 
of Plato's dogmas, why does Porphyry himself venture to 
correct some yet unimportant opinions of that philo- 
sopher ? Plato believed that the souls of men returned 
after death to the bodies of beasts. But Porphyry re- 
jected this opinion, which was also held by his own 
master (/'. e. Plotinus), and taught that the human souls 
returned to human bodies, but not to the bodies they 
had left. Forsooth, he scrupled to believe that a mother, 
changed into a mule, might carry her own son, but he 
could hold it possible that a mother changed into a girl 
might wed her own son ! How much nobler and more 
worthy of credence is the belief taught by the holy and 
true angels of God, delivered to us by prophets who 
spoke as moved by the Spirit of God and preached by 
Him Whom the prophets foretold would come as the 
Saviour, and proclaimed by His disciples ! How much 
more honourable is the faith that the souls return once 
for all to their own bodies than that they come back 
again and again to different ones ! . . .In this matter 
we have a Platonic philosopher differing for the better 
with his master, seeing what he did not see, and preferring 
the truth to merely human authority. 

Ch. XXXI. Why then do we not rather believe that 
divine authority as it pronounces on those subjects which 



human ingenuity cannot fathom, and as it declares that 
the soul was not co-eternal with God, but was created 
when as yet it was not ? Although the Platonists do not 
believe this, alleging that the soul was never created but 
always existed eternal with God, inasmuch as nothing 
could be everlasting which had a beginning ; yet Plato, 
writing of the world and the gods in it made by the 
Supreme God, expressly says that they had a beginning, 
and yet would have no end, but would remain eternally 
by the sovereign fiat of the Creator. But they have 
managed to discover that he meant not a temporal but 
a causal beginning. 

Now, if the soul has been from everlasting, what of its 
wretchedness? Did it always exist? And if there is 
something in the soul, which was not from eternity but 
began in time, why is it impossible that the soul should 
begin to exist in time ? . . . For we find that its blessed- 
ness began in time, and yet has no end. ... In this 
matter, therefore, human incapacity should yield to divine 
authority, and credence should be given to those blessed 
ones who do not seek sacrifice for themselves but bid us 
sacrifice to Him Whose sacrifice we and they together 
ought to be, being presented through that Priest Who 
offered Himself to death, a sacrifice for us in that 
humanity which He took upon Himself, and according 
to the conditions of which He willed to become our 
Sacrificing Priest (' sacerdos '). 

Ch. XXXII. This is the religion, which contains the 
Catholic (universal) way to deliverance for the soul ; this 
is the royal road towards the kingdom which is established 
on the eternal foundation. But when Porphyry states at 
the end of his book On the Return of the Soul, that he 
has not yet been received into any sect which commands 
the Catholic road to emancipation, by reason of the 
excellence of its philosophy or its system of morality (as 
in the case of the Indians), 1 or its calculation (such as that 
1 The Gymnosophists. 


of the Chaldeans), or by any other method, and that he 
has not yet in all his historical investigation discovered it, 
he undoubtedly admits that there is some way, but that it 
has not yet come to his knowledge. Accordingly, he 
was not satisfied with what he had learnt and appeared 
to others to know concerning the redemption of the 
souls, for he felt that he had not reached the supreme 
seat of authority on this subject. 

What then is the plan of universal redemption which 
that astute person said must be somewhere ? Living as 
he did in times when that Catholic road to redemption, 
which is none other than the Christian truth, was allowed 
to be persecuted by the worshippers of idols and the 
tyrants of the world, so that the order of the martyrs 
might be consecrated as the witnesses to that religion, from 
whom men might learn that every bodily affliction is to be 
endured for the faith of religion and the vindication of 
the truth, he could not see in a religion which seemed 
thus doomed to a speedy extinction, the universal way of 
the soul's deliverance. This, then, is the method by 
which all men may find salvation, and the knowledge of 
it now comes to one and anon shall come to others. 
But let no one ask, " Why so soon ? " or " Why so late ? " 
seeing that this is part of the inscrutable counsels of 
God. He is the Universal Way spoken of by the 
prophets ; . . . Who was born of the seed of Abraham, 
and Who asserted of Himself, " I am the Way, the Truth, 
and the Life." He is the Way not of one nation, but 
of all. . . . Who in His Nativity wrought the sacra- 
ment of a virgin maternity, Who in His Resurrection 
foreshadowed the transfiguration of our bodies, and 
Who now purifies the whole man and prepares the 
mortal in every point for immortality. . . . 

Concluding Summary, 
Of these ten books, the first five were written in 
answer to those who hold that the pagan gods were to 


be worshipped for the sake of the blessings of this life ; 
and the concluding five against those who believed that 
the heathen deities are to be propitiated in view of the 
life to come. 



[Augustine now proceeds, according to his promise, to 
consider the relations of the two states, the polity of this 
world, and the polity of God, to one another.] 

Ch. I. Of the City of God scripture, which excels all 
the writings of every nation and has influenced all sorts 
of human minds through its divine stamp, by no fortu- 
itous movement, but by a providential arrangement, 
bears witness. There the words are written, " Glorious 
things of thee are spoken, City of God," and " God is in 
the midst of her, she shall not be moved." Thus we i 
learn from scripture that there is a City of God of which J 
i we yearn with a divinely inspired affection to be citizens. 
The citizens of the earthly city prefer their own gods, in / 
their ignorance, to the Founder of the Holy City. 1 1 
shall now, remembering what is expected of me, and 
mindful of my promise, and in every step relying on 
the support of our Lord and our King, attempt to 
consider the relations of the two states, the polity of 
God and the polity of the world, so intimately connected 
with each other in this life, and to contrast their respec- 
tive origins, courses, and issues, until they finally diverge 
into hell and heaven. I shall first of all explain how^> 
the beginning of the two states originated in the difference-^ 
of the angels. 

[He pauses here, in duty bound, at the beginning of 
this great argument, to say that the knowledge of God, 
the knowledge necessary for this work, can only be 


attained through the mediator between God and man, 
the man Christ Jesus.] 

Ch. II. It is indeed a very exceptional thing for a 
man after he has traversed in thought the whole universe 
of change, spiritual and material, to pass beyond it and 
reach after the unchanging God, and to learn from Him- 
self that He has created it. Yet God does not address 
man through any physical medium, speaking to him in 
his bodily ears ; nor are we connected with Him as we 
are with one another by the vibrations of air 1 intervening 
between us and Him, nor by the visions that are the 
representation of bodily objects. . . . But He speaks 
to the mind of man, and the truth is His Word. 2 . . . 
But the reason and intelligence of man, having been 
so stultified by darkening and inveterate vices, could 
not ever bear, much less abide in the immutable light, 
until it had been renewed from day to day and made 
capable of such felicity by the purification of faith. . . . 
And with a view that it might advance with more bold- 
ness to the truth, the Truth itself, the Son of God, by 
taking up manhood without laybig down His Godhead 
(' Homine assumpto, non deo consumpto'), established and 
founded this faith so that to the God of man there might 
be a way for man through the God-man. For this is the 
mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. 
Inasmuch as He is man, He is both mediator and way. 
For if there lies a road between him who strives and the 
goal he is making towards, he has the hope of attainment ; 
but if there is not, or if it is not known, what boots it to 
know the goal? But the only scheme that is secure 
against all mistakes is, that the same person be both God 
and man as God the end of the road, and as man the 
road itself (' Deus quo itur : homo qua. itur '). 

1 Augustine was familiar with the theory of sound-waves " ut 
inter amantem et audientem aeria spatia verberentur." 

2 " Sed loquitur ipsa veritate, si quis sit idoneus ad audiendum 
mente, non corpore.' 


[In the following chapters Augustine bases the authority 
of the Scriptures on the Word of the Mediator, and then 
proceeds to point out that the world has had a beginning 
in time, as the Scripture saith, " In the' beginning God 
made the heaven and the earth."] 

Augustine describes the Creation. 

Ch. IV. But why did God determine to create the 
heavens and the earth then and not before ? If they who 
ask this question would have it appear that the world was 
eternal, without any beginning, and therefore not made 
by God, they are in extreme error and incurably profane. 
For even if the voice of prophecy were silent, the world 
itself by its regular changes and movements testifies to the 
fact that it has been created, and that it could not have 
been created save by a God ineffably and invisibly great 
and unspeakably and spiritually beautiful. 1 While others 
who maintain that the world was indeed the work of God, 
Who gave it its causal but not its temporal beginning, 
display an officious solicitude to defend the d^jty from 
the charge of instability and uncertainty of purpose. . . . 
But I fail to see how this reasoning can hold good, 
especially in the case of the soul, which they say is co- 
eternal with God. For if it never had a beginning, how 
is it possible that misery is a new chapter in its life ? \j 
But they must admit that the misery of the soul has a 
beginning in time, and so also has the soul that experi- 
ences it, although it has no end. Whereas if they admit 
that it was created in time, but is not to perish in time, 
like number having a beginning but not having an end, 
they cannot hesitate to believe that this is brought about 
by the abiding immutability of the counsel of God. 
And, in like manner, they may believe that the world 

1 For the connection of the beauty of the universe with the 
spirituality of the Maker, see Gore's Bampton Lectures and Dr. 
Kennedy's Natural Theology and Modern Thought. 


could be made in time and yet without any alteration in 
the plans of the Almighty. 

Ch. V. [Augustine warns us not to look into the 
immensity of space that reaches beyond the bounds and 
the infinitude of time that rolled before the commence- 
ment of creation, " for there was no time before the world 
was made. "3 

Ch. VI. For if one rightly distinguishes time from / 
eternity, and regards time as that which cannot exist J 
without change, but eternity as that which admits of no / 
change, one will see that there could be no such thing 
as time had not the creation of some creature caused a 
change. 1 Therefore we rightly say, " in the beginning," 
because there could be no past when as yet there was no 
creature, by whose movements time might be measured. 

The Light. 

[Augustine now describes the beginnings of light and 
order in the creation, and does not fail to point out, that 
in the record of Genesis the sun was not created until the 
fourth day, and yet there was light from the very moment 
when God said, " Let there be light."] 

Ch. VII. What the nature of the light was, and by 
what alternation it made the evening and the morning, is 
beyond our human powers to conceive or imagine. But 
yet we are to believe that there was such a thing as light, 
whether it was a material light proceeding from the upper 
parts of the world or from the place where the sun was 
kindled, or whether it was a spiritual light, the holy City 
of God with the holy angels and blessed spirits concern- 
ing which the Apostle says in one place, " which is the 
Jerusalem above, our eternal mother in the heavens;" 


1 We may notice that Kant's theory of time, that it is only a 
subjective capacity of the mind, its way of looking at things, is 
much inferior to that of Augustine, who here takes into considera- 
tion the objective correlation of time, changes in the external world 

2 Gal. iiL 26. 



and in another passage, " You all are the sons of light, 
and the sons of day ; we are not (children) of the night, 
or of darkness." x . . . For the knowledge of the creature 
in comparison with the knowledge of the Creator is 
as the darkness of eventide to the brightness of the day. 
The day dawns and breaks when the creature is brought 
back to the praise and love of the Creator, and the night 
never falls so long as the man ceases not to love his 
Maker. . . . 

The Sabbath. 

Ch. VIII. But when God rests on the seventh day 
from all His works, and sanctifies it, we must not under- 
stand these words in a childish manner, as if He rested 
after a weary course of labour, which is unthinkable in 
the case of One " Who spoke, and it was done." But the 
rest of God signifies the rest of those who rest in Him, 
just as the joy of a household signifies the joy of those 
who form it, although it is not the household but some 
other thing that creates the joyousness. When it is said 
in Scripture, then, that God rested, it is meant that His 
rest is the rest of His people, who find rest in Him, and 
whom He causes to rest. The Sabbath-rest is then a 
type of the rest of the kingdom of heaven. 

Creation of Angels. 

Ch. IX. When the constitution of the world is de- 
scribed in the Scriptures, nothing is clearly stated con- 
cerning the creation of the angels and the order of that 
creation. If they are not omitted, their creation must 
be included in the creation of the heaven, or rather of 
the light of which I have spoken. And I cannot believe 
they were omitted, because we read that God rested on 
the seventh day from all His works. . . . And are not 
the angels also His work ? . . . Accordingly when God 
said, " Let there be light," and the light was made, if the 

1 i Thess. v. 5. 


creation of the angels was involved in that of this light, 
surely they also were made partakers of the eternal light, 
because that is the immutable wisdom of God, by Whom 
all things were made, even " the Only-begotten Son of 
God." " For the true light which illumines every man 
that comes into the world," 1 also lighteth the whole angelic 
host, so that it is not the light as in itself, but as in God ; 
from which if an angel turns aside, he becomes unclean, 
like the unclean spirits, who are no longer light in God, 
but darkness in themselves, being deprived of the 
participation in the eternal light. For there is no nature 1 ^ 
of evil, but the loss of the good is called evil. 

[Augustine now writes of the simple and unchangeable 
Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, of one 
substance and quality, and throws a light on the simplicity 
of the essence, and the complexity of the existence and 
the wisdom of the deity.] 

Ch. X. That which is begotten of the simple good is 
like the good itself, and is simple as it is. These two 
are the Father and the Son, and both together with their 
Spirit is one God. And He (the Holy Spirit) is another 
than the Father and the Son ; another person ('alius') not 
another thing (' aliud '), because He is equally with them 
the simple ('simplex') Good, unchangeable and co-eternal. 
And this Trinity is one God, and is not the less simple 
because a Trinity. But we do not say it is simple on 
this account because there is only one Person, Father, 
Son, or Holy Ghost, nor do we hold with the Sabellians 
that it is a nominal Trinity without any subsistence of . 

Persons, but we say, " It is simple because it is what it )i ~~-^, * 
has " (that is, of course, when the mutual relations of the ^"^^^j 
Persons are not taken into account). The Father has a 
Son and yet He is not the Son, and the Son has a Father 
and He is not Himself the Father. . . . But in regard 
to Himself, Each is that which_ He has (' Hoc est quod 

1 John i. 9. 


habet ') independently of the Others (' non ad alteram ') ; 
inasmuch as He is in Himself said to be living, by 
reason of having the Life and being the Life He has. . . . 

For there are not many wisdoms, but one Wisdom, 
in Which are untold and infinite treasures of intelligible 
things, in Which are all invisible and unchangeable 
reasons 1 of things visible and changeable, x 

[Augustine now returns to the state of the angels, 
and discusses the quality and quantity of the original 
blessedness of the fallen ones and their creation, aptly 
quoting in this connection our Lord's explanation of the 
devil's fall, "He was a murderer from the beginning, 
and abode not in the truth, for the truth is not in 
him " 2 (c. xiv.).] 

Ch. XV. Nor is that passage in of Job which 
speaks of the devil, " This is the beginning of the work 
of the Lord, which He made to be the scorn of angels," 3 
and which is paralleled in the psalm, " This is the dragon 
whom thou didst make for sport," 4 to be understood as 
signifying that the devil was created a devil from the 
beginning, that he might be the sport of the angels, but 
as meaning that he was ordained to this punishment after 
his sin. His beginning, just as the beginning of all the 
angelic host, was the work of God. . . . 

Ch. XVI. With regard to the different ranks of in- 
telligent life, the angelic is superior to the human, and 
the human to the natural. . . . Though angels in their 
natural order are superior to men, good men by the law 
of righteousness are superior to bad angels. 

Ch. XVII. But we understand these words, "This is 

1 Rationes : The Platonic ideas. Here Augustine anticipates the 
theory of the Realists, who believe that there are existences in 
nature corresponding to general terms. 

2 John viii. 24. 

3 Job xl. 14, after the Septuagint, but xl. 19, in A.V., which has 
a different reading. 

4 Ps. ciii. 26, after the Septuagint. 


the beginning of the work of God," to refer to the nature 
I and not the malice of the devil ; for wickedness has not 
its origin in the creator, but is contrary to nature arising 
from an evil will. But as God is the best creator of 
good natures, 1 so He is the most just regulator of evil wills; 
so that while the latter make an improper use of good ! 
natures, He Himself makes a good use of even the evil 
wills. . . . And since God, when He made him, was well 
aware of his future malignity, He also planned out of his 
evil to bring forth good. 

Ch. XVIII. But God would never have created any i 
I do not say angels, but even man whose future wicked- 
ness He foreknew, unless He knew at the same time 
equally well to what advantage of the good He could 
turn it, 2 and so might set off the progress of the age as 
a beautiful poem is embellished with antitheses, by the 
contrast of the good and the evil. 3 For even as the 
juxtaposition of contraries lends beauty and point to 
language, so the opposition of contrasts adds brilliancy 
to the symmetry of the world by an eloquence of things. 
" Good is set over against evil; life is set over against death, 
and the sinner is set over against the righteous. Look 
upon all the works of the Most High, and you will find 
that these are two and two, one set over against the 
other." 4 

1 According to Kant, the only thing that is good is the good will. 

2 Augustine would accordingly regard evil as a useful ingredient 
in life. 

3 " Contra malum bonum est et contra mortem vita ; sic contra 
pium peccator, et sic intuere in omnia opera Altissimi, bina bina, 
unum contra unum " (Augustine). The Vulgate has, " Contra malum 
bonum est, et contra mortem vita ; sic et contra virum justum 
peccator. Et sic intuere in omnia opera Altissimi. Duo contra 
duo et unum contra unum." Cf. Browning (' Pisgah Sights') : 

" All's lend-and-borrow ; 
Good, see, wants evil, 
Joy demands sorrow, 
Angel weds devil." 
* Eccl. xxxiii. 13. 


The fgure of antithesis as employed in Chapter xii. 

Ch. XII. [In this chapter Augustine himself wields this 
figure of antithesis with effect when contrasting the state 
of the man in Paradise with his present condition.] 

With respect to present happiness, the man in paradise 
was happier than any righteous man in this condition of 
infirmity ; but as regards the future hope, the man who is 
assured of the eternal fruition of the supreme God in the 
angelic community, no matter what suffering he has to 
endure, is more blessed than the man who is uncertain 
of his destiny, no matter what felicity he at present 

The goodness of Creation. 

Ch. XXI. " And God saw that it was good." In these 
words we see the approval of God stamped upon His 
work. For God did not merely discover that His work 
was good after He had finished it, but He teaches us that 
it is good. Plato was more bold, and said that God 
rejoiced in the completion of the universe. He was not, 
indeed, so foolish as to imagine that God was rendered 
more happy by this new work of His, but he wished to 
explain that the idea of the Divine Artist had been realized 
to His own satisfaction. ... If, then, any one should ask 
' who made the world ? ' God, is the answer. If, 'by what?' 
He said, " Let it be," audit was made. If, 'for what?' 
Because it is good. There cannot be a higher author, a 
more effectual instrument, or a more excellent reason, 
than God, His word, and His creation of the good. Plato x 
also states that the reason why God created the world 
was, that good works might be made by a good God. 

[As it would be tedious to follow Augustine 2 through 

1 In Timaeus Plato speaks of the joy of the Creator when He 
beheld the created image of the eternal gods living and moving. 

2 In another part of his writings Augustine suggests that man was 
created to fill the place of the fallen angels. 


the labyrinths of his diatribe against the Manichaeans and 
their doctrine of the evil of matter which had caused him 
in his youth to quit their ranks, we shall pass on to 
c. xxiii., in which he points out the error of Origen, who 
taught that the creation of bodies was a punishment for 
disobedient spirits.] 

Origen's mews of the Creation. 

Ch. XXIII. But it is far more strange that certain who 
hold, as we do, that there is one principle of all things, 
and that any nature which is not what He is can only be 
from Him as Creator, still, do not allow that the cause 
of the Creation was so good and simple, i. e. that a good 
God should create good things, and that those things 
which are not what He is, might be after Him the good 
works of a good God. For they assert that the souls, 
being not, indeed, parts of God, but His handiwork, have 
sinned by withdrawing in different degrees from the 
Creator and His heaven towards the earth, and in con- 
sequence have been burdened with various bodies, and 
they affirm that the motive of the creation was not the 
production of the good, but the imprisonment of the evil 
(' non ut conderentur bona sed mala cohiberentur.') 

Ch. XXXIV. Seeing, however, that we would be led into 
a long discussion and digression from the subject of our 
work, if we were to examine every detail with the requisite 
diligence, and as we seem already to have devoted a 
sufficient space to a description of those two different 
and mutually opposed communities of angels, from which 
the two societies of human life take their rise, we may 
now conclude this book. 




[The following ten books of this treatise are devoted 
to the history of the origin, progress, and issues of the 
two states, the state of God and the state of the world.] 

The disobedient wills of men and angels are bad, but the natures 
of things as created by God are good. 

Ch. I. These states consist of angels and men together, 
and their constitutional difference is due to the essential 
unlikeness that exists between the good and the bad 
angels. Created similar, the angels proved dissimilar in 
will and desire : some regarding it the height of happiness 
to adJiere to God while others pieferred to follow their 
own selfish desires ; the former delighted in God the 
Immutable good, the one true and happy God and are 
happy, while the latter departed fioin Him, and so are 
miserable. . . . 

Ch. II. Since God is then the supreme essence, that 
is, He exists supremely and therefore immutably, no j 
essence can be contrary to Him Who is the highest 
essence and the author of every other essence. . . . 

Ch. III. The enemies of God are so through sin, and 
not by nature. They have no power to injure Him, but 
they injure themselves ; and are more conspicuous for 
their will to resist than for their power to hurt. . . . For 
those natures which have been originally 1 corrupted by 
the evil will, are bad so far as they are corrupt, but good 
so far as they are natures. When such are punished, it 
is a good thing for them, for it is a greater evil to evade 
punishment than to endure it. 2 For one is not punished 
for natural blemishes, but for voluntary faults. 

1 Initio, v. 1. vitio. 

2 An echo of the Socratic argument in the Gorgias, that it is the 
greatest of evils to do wrong and not to suffer for it. 


Augustine on the survival of the fittest in sub-human life. 

Ch. IV. But it is absurd to regard the blemishes of the 
beasts and trees and other things mutable and mortal, 
devoid of intellect, feeling, or life, as deserving blame, 
since these parts of the creation have received that very- 
form from the Maker Who intended that they by giving 
place to one another should perform their role in the order 
of life. For the things of this world have a beauty of their 
own, though much inferior to the heavenly type. In the 
struggle for life, some perish and others succeed; the less 
give way to the greater, and are changed into the qualities 
of the predominant type. 1 But the grand resultant beauty 
of this universal order of things is not apparent to man, 
who is himself involved in a part of the creation. 2 We 
can but see parts of God's plan, and we cannot judge of 
the effect of the whole ; what may seem defects to us may, 
all the while, be contributing to the beauty of the all. . . . 
Nature, therefore, apart from man's advantage or dis- 
advantage, when regarded in itself, gives glory to the 
Divine Architect. 8 . . . 

Ch. V. All natures then, since they have a form pecu- 
liar to themselves, a beauty and a certain harmony of 
their own, are surely good. . . . 

1 An anticipation of the modern theory of " the struggle for life" 
and natural selection, founded most probably on Lucretius, De Rerum 
Naturd, v. 873. In De Gen. v. 23, he anticipates the doctrine of 
evolution. " Porro illud germen ex semine : in semine ergo ilia 
omnia fuerunt primitus, non mole corporeae magnitudinis sed vi 
potentiaque causali " : "ita ipse mundus cogitandus est cum Deus 
simul omnia creavit, habuisse simul omnia quae in illo et cum illo 
facta sunt, quando factus est dies." 

2 Nature is an organism whose parts must be taken in relation to 
each other and the whole. This was the Platonic conception of the 
world which is called (rpov (animal) in the Timacus, c. xi. 

3 Augustine does not, as some philosophers of the evolutionist 
school, regard the end of beauty to be the advantage of the species, 
but the glory of God. 


The pride of the angels. 

. Ch. VI. The cause of the unhappiness of the bad 
angels arose from their abandonment of Him Who 
supremely is, and their concentration of their affections 
upon themselves, who are not supreme. And this fault 
is pride. For pride is the beginning of all sin. They 
would not abide in God, the condition of an ampler life, 
and they were, therefore, reduced to a lower life through 
their preference of self to God. But what was the efficient 
cause of their evil will ? We cannot say. This is a 
question which resolves into another, viz. What is the 
origin of evil ? What is the efficient cause of the evil 
will? Is it something possessed of a will or not? If it 
is possessed of a will, it must be an evil will, because a 
good will could not be the cause of sin. And if it is 
possessed of an evil will, what made the will evil ? 

The Origin of Evil. 

So we may go on for ever, without any likelihood of 
reaching the end of this series of questions that arise 
one out of another. The other alternative, then, remains, 
that that which corrupted even the nature of the angels, 
which was the first to sin, was something without a will, 
and inferior. But everything down to the very earth 
itself is surely good, being a nature and essence, and 
having a mode 1 and beauty of its own after its kind and 
in its order. 

How then can a good thing cause an evil will ? 
How, I say, is good the cause of evil? When the 

1 It would seem that Spinoza had studied the passages on essences 
and modes in the City of God. Augustine speaks of God as "the 
highest essence, that which supremely is " (xii. 2), while Spinoza 
defines the " Causa sui " as that of which the essence involves exist- 
ence, as that which can only be conceived as existing (i.e. not as 
non-existent). Augustine says everything has a certain mode (xii. 
2), or form of being ; while Spinoza defines a mode as the affection 
or modification of substance. 


will, turning from the better of two alternatives, chooses 
the worse, it becomes evil ; not because that is evil 
to which it turns, but because the turning itself is 
vicious ('non quia malum est quo se convertit sed quia 
perversa est conversio '). Therefore it is not the inferior 
thing that has corrupted the will, but it is the desiring of 
the inferior thing, contrary to the dictates of reason, that, 
has corrupted it. Take the case of two men, one of 
whom was tempted by a certain thing and yields to it, 
while the other, equally tempted, controls himself by an 
effort of his will. What makes the one yield to the sin ? 
... Is it because he was tempted by a suggestion of the 
devil ? Just as if he did not consent by his own will to 
this suggestion. But what caused this consent to sin ? 
If this difficulty were removed, and both were tempted 
by the same temptation, and one yielded and the other 
did not, it would seem that it was the will of the one that 
refused and the will of the other that gave consent. 
Behind that will we cannot go. . . . 

Ch. VII. Instead, therefore, of treating the evil will 
as an efficient cause, one should treat it rather as a defect, 
and therefore the result of a deficient cause. It is a 
negative rather than a positive factor in our moral history, 
and may be said to have its origin in time, when it first 
fell away from the higher standard to the lower. 1 . . . 

Perversity the cause of evil will. 

Ch. VIII. The evil of the evil will does not then 
consist in the choosing of the evil because it is evil, as 
much as in its choosing the worse of two alternatives, in 
spite of its being the worse a result of moral perversity. 
Much less does it consist in the things themselves. For 

1 " Deficitur enim non sed mala, sed male, id est non ad malas 
naturas, sed ideo male, quia contra ordinem naturarum ab eo quod 
summe est ad id quod minus est. ... Ac per hoc qui perverse amat 
cujuslibet naturae bonum, ipse fit in bono malus " (xii. 7). 





it would be absurd to say that avarice existed in the gold 
and not in the heart of the man who desired it inordinately 
above justice, or that luxury was the fault of the comforts 
of life rather than of the heart which cherished them im- 
moderately. For the will could not become evil unless 
through its own perversity} 

Ch. IX. Since, then, there is no natural, efficient or 
essential cause of the evil will . . . the evil angels though 
created good became evil by their voluntary defection 
from the good, so that the cause of evil is not the good 
but defection from the good, while the good angels always 
possessed a good will, and the love of God shed abroad 
in their hearts. [The defection of the former was spread 
to humanity], while the good of the latter is equally shared 
by those men who adhere to God and form among them- 
selves a divine society, a state of God, a living sacrifice 
and a living temple of God. . . . Though the will, however 
good, be ineffectual in itself to carry out its own desire, 
by His help Who made the good nature from nothing to 
be capable of receiving Himself, and by His inspiration 
and power it can be raised and strengthened, and by 
communion with Him men may live better and happier 
lives. . . . 

[In chapters x. xxiii. of this book, Augustine dis- 
cusses a great many curious theories concerning the 
origin and antiquity of the world which were in vogue in 
his time, especially that of Apuleius, that " Individuals 
die, but the race as a whole lasts for ever," and confutes 
with all his power the idea that man could have been 
created by any being less than God, " whose secret power 
penetrating everywhere with His inviolable presence gives 
everything that exists in any way the existence it has " 
(c. xxvi.).] 

1 In this passage Augustine has done ample justice to the will, 
and has anticipated the most popular of the ethical theories of 
our day. (Vide Martineau's Types of Ethical Theory, Part II.) 



The Creation of Man. 
Ch. XXIV. God then made man after His image. 
For He created in him a soul by which through reason 
and intelligence he should have the dominion over all 
things on earth. And when God had formed man out 
of the dust of the earth He made him a help-meet. But 
this story of the Creation is not to be interpreted after a 
carnal fashion, as if God wrought like a common artisan 
moulding a material object ; for the hand of God is the 
work of God, that, working unseen, produces results that 
are visible. . . . 

Men and Women. 
Ch. XXVIII. With regard to the making of the 
woman out of the side of man, this means nothing more 
than that the relation of husband and wife should be a 
tender one. ... In this first man as in a germ was already 
contained the whole plenitude of the human race from 
which the two states were in the Divine foreknowledge 
to be derived in the process of time. . . . 



[The argument of this book is the fall of the first man, 
and the origin and propagation of human sin and death.] 

Ch. I. God did not make man exempt from death like 
the angels, but in the event of their continuing faithful, 
He intended that an angelic immortality should be theirs, 
otherwise death was to be visited upon them. . . . 

Ch. II. It is the death then of the soul when God 
deserts it, just as it is the death of the body when the soul 
leaves it. Therefore it is the death of both, when the soul 
abandoned of God abandons the body. This is death, 
the opposite of life, which is union with God, and is there- 


fore applicable to that state of existence when the soul 
and body united and living are yet bereft of the Divine 
Presence. . . . 

Ch. III. This death, which the sin of the first parents 
brought upon them, passed from them upon all the 
members of the race. Thus a penal antecedent in the 
ancestors became a natural cotisequence x in the descend- 
ants, and man transmitted the damage of his fall to all 
his posterity, whose nature became deteriorated in pro- 
portion to the greatness of the condemnation of sin. For 
man does not spring from man as man sprang from the 
soil. But as the parent is, so is the child. In the first \ 
man there existed the whole human race which was to be V 
transmitted to posterity by the woman. What man 
therefore became after his sin, that character he propa- 
gated so far as the origin of sin and death are concerned. 2 
Human nature became so vitiated in the person of Adam, 
although not reduced to the weakness of infancy, that he 
suffered in his flesh the rebellion of lust, and became 
bound by the law of death. And he having become so 
bound, his descendants are equally bound. However, by 

1 Ut quod paenaliter praecessit in peccantibus hominibus primis 
etiam naturaliter sequeretur in nascentibus ceteris. 

2 This argument demands some explanation. To understand 
how sin is propagated according to the law of heredity which 
Augustine had in his mind, although he had not the modern name 
for it, we should reflect how every fresh sin makes us start from a 
lower position in the moral world. The difficulty is then to rise 

" facilis descensus Averno. 
Sed revocare gradum superasque evadere ad auras 
Hoc opus, hie labor est." 

The same law of continuity that holds good in the individual also 
holds good in the race of man, which we may regard as the life of one 
human organism. We can understand how it is that sin tends 
to perpetuate and propagate itself in such a life, and how the fall of 
the original parent involved all who came after him in his own 
disgrace and death. 


The Sibylline Acrostic. 

Ch. XXIII. Varro says there were more Sibyls than 
one. And truly this Erythraean Sibyl wrote some things 
that clearly refer to Christ. . . . For Flaccianus, a distin- 
guished man, of proconsular rank, showed me a Greek 
manuscript, saying as he did so that it was the composition 
of that Sibyl, the beginning letters of each verse making up 
the Greek words, 1*70-01)? Xpetoros eov ulos a-wr-qp, which 
are in the Latin, Jesus Christus Dei filius salvator. The 
following is a translation of these verses as they stand : 

I n presence of judgment the earth shall sweat. 
E ternal King, to these shores from above, 
S entence on man to give, comes in the flesh. 

God ! the just and unjust shall see Thee 
t' plifted with saints at the end of time, 

S tanding before Thy throne nude in their fear. 

C rude lies the earth, a vast desert of thorns ; 

R ejected are gods and treasures of gold. 

E arth, sea, and heaven shall burn in the fire 

1 n its course destroying the gates of hell. 

S aints shall have free light in body and soul, 
T he flames consume the guilty for ever ; 
O f private deeds must each disclosure make, 
S ecrets, too, are then to be brought to light. 

Th ere will be grief, men gnashing with their teeth, 
E clipsed the sun, stars falling from their course ; 
O f moon the face darkened, sky rolling past, 
V alleys exalted, and all hills brought low. 

U tterly gone is greatness from man's life, 
I n the plains mountains and seas are confused. 
O 'er-past is all, earth breaks now to perish, 
S prings and rivers are burnt up in the flames. 

S ounding from high heaven trumpet peals forth 
O 'er the wretched deeds and trials of men ; 
T he confusion of hell is now made clear, 
E very monarch must stand before his God, 
R ivers of sulphur pouring upon them. 


Antiquity of the Scriptural prophecy. 
[Having alluded to this heathen prophecy, he now in 
chaps, xxiv. xliii. takes up the various predictions of 
the minor, and then those of the greater, prophets, and 
shows how some of these records are more ancient than 
any source of the Greek philosophy, and how they all tell 
the one story and promote the one system ; whereas the 
writings of the Greek sages are full of discrepancies and 
differences. In the course of this argument he points out 
that the well-known prophecy of Haggai, " The glory of 
this house shall be greater than of the former," was 
fulfilled not in the rebuilding of the temple of Solomon, 
but in the building up of the Church of Christ (c. xlviii.). 
In c xliii. he gives his views on the Septuagint, which 
have too important a bearing on his quotations to be 
passed over.] 

Augustine on the Septuagint and Jerome's Vulgate. 

Ch. XLIII. There have been other interpreters who 
translated these holy scriptures from the Hebrew into the 
Greek, such as Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, or 
that version by an unknown author, which is called the 
fifth edition. But this, which is called the Septuagint, 
has been received by the Church as the only one, and 
indeed many Christians are unaware of the fact that there 
are other versions. Latin translations of this Septuagint 
version are in vogue among the Latin churches, but in our 
times a presbyter, Jerome, a most learned man and well 
versed in all three languages, has turned their scriptures 
directly from the Hebrew into the Latin. But, although 
the Jews declare that that erudite work is correct, and 
that the Seventy are often at fault, the Churches of Christ 
declare that the authority of so many men who were 
elected for that great undertaking is supreme; for although 
there was not clearly one divine spirit among them, still 
when seventy learned men discussed, in a scholarly 
fashion, the words of the translation, and chose the 


reading that was agreed upon by all, no single translator 
should take precedence of them. . . . For the same 
Spirit that directed the words of the prophets guided the 
translation of the Septuagint. And He purely by His 
divine authority could say a different thing or the same 
thing in a different way, or He could add or omit in order 
to show that that slavish and human adherence to the 
original which a verbal translator must exhibit is not to 
be looked for in this work, in which we have evidence 
rather of a divine power filling and ruling the mind of 
the interpreter. Whereas some are of opinion that the 
Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint version should be 
emended from the Hebrew manuscripts, they have not 
yet dared to take away aught that is read in the Septuagint 
though not in the Hebrew texts ; and have merely added 
what has been discovered to be in the Hebrew but not in 
the Greek, and have marked these passages with certain 
star-like signs which they call asterisks placed in front of 
the verses, while the passages that are not in the 
Hebrew but in the Septuagint are marked with a virgula 
(/. e. obelus) in the same place. Many Latin manuscripts 
have these marks throughout. ... If then, as is right, 
we see nothing in those scriptures save what the Spirit 
spoke though men, whatever is in the Hebrew authorities 
and not in the Greek, He must be understood to wish 
the former to say and the latter not to say. But what- 
ever is found in the Septuagint and not in the Hebrew, 
the same Spirit preferred should be said by the one and 
not by the other, thus showing that both parties were 
prophets. . . . 


[In chaps, li. liii. of this book he enumerates the 
persecutions of the Church, and shows how heresy and 
oppression have helped to strengthen her (c. lii.). And 
in conclusion (c. liii.) he calls the attention of his 
readers to the fact that the foolish prediction of the 


pagans to wit, that the Christian religion was only to 
last for 365 years had already been refuted by history.] 

The oracle ascribed to St. Peter. 

Ch. LIV. It is not necessary to enquire into what took 
place in the other parts of the world, but, in the meantime, 
we may say what has come to our knowledge. In the 
well-known and illustrious state of Carthage in Africa, 
Gaudentius and Jovius, officers of Honorius, did, on the 
fourteenth day before the Kalends of April, overthrow 
the temples of the false gods and brake their images in 
sunder ; and that was in the year when this religion was 
to cease, if one reckons from the consulship of the 
Gemini 1 to the consulship of Mallius Theodorus. It is 
now thirty years since that time, and the Christian religion 
is daily making progress. 2 . . . 

Augustine on St. Peter. 

[Augustine now refers to St. Peter, the supposed authority 
for this legend, in language which showed how utterly he 
was opposed to the infallibility of that apostle in matters 
of doctrine.] 

We, then, who are Christians in reality as well as in 
name, do not centre our faith in Peter, but in Him on 
Whom Peter believed ; we are edified by Peter's sermons 
on Christ, but we are not bewitched by his predictions 
(' non venenati carminibus '). And we receive help from 
his good deeds, though we are not beguiled by his evil 

1 Augustine would seem to place the death of Christ in the consul- 
ship of Lusius Geminus and Rubelius Geminus, who held office in 
the fifteenth year of Tiberius (29 30 A.D.). The Tract Committee 
of the S. P. C. K. have pointed out to me that this date has been 
corroborated by modern research (see Dr. Hastings, Diet, of Bible, 
art. 'Chronology'). This oracle was really raked up by Flavianus, 
a champion of the dying paganism, with a view to dishearten the 
Christians and encourage the pagan Romans, but his hopes were 
extinguished with his life at the battle of the Frigidus (394 A.D.). 

2 If this computation, in which Augustine follows Lactantius, 
be correct, these words were penned in the year A.D. 424. 


actions. That Christ, who was Peter's master in the 
doctrine that leadeth to eternal life, even He is our 
Master also. 



[This book, which may be entitled " De Finibus 
Bonorum et Malorum," * is an excellent treatise on 
ancient ethics and the different schools of Greek Philo- 
sophy, Stoics and Epicureans, Cynics and Cyrenaics, 
the older and the later Academy. In chaps, i. iii. 
Augustine shows how many conflicting theories were held 
by men concerning the Supreme Good, some regarding 
it as centred in the body, others in the mind, and others 
in the two; some identifying it with pleasure, a few 
with virtue, and others again with both, and proves that the 
efforts of the natural man to secure happiness in this life 
are absolutely fruitless. He calls the philosopher Varro 
again into the witness-box against his own philosophy, 
for he said " in his book on philosophy that two hun- 
dred and eighty-eight sects might be formed out of 
the different opinions which were in vogue on the subject 
of the sumnmm bonum of life " (c. i.), and then showed 
that this was universally regarded as centred in self. 
Whereas in c. iv. Augustine points out that the Christian 
denies that his good is to be estimated from such a 
standpoint. His highest good is not self, but God. His 
happiness is not sought in this world, but is hoped for in 
the life to come. And his end is peace.] . . . 

The Peace of the City of God. 

Ch. XI. So we might say that the end we desire to 
reach is peace. For even the mystical name of the state 
is Jerusalem, which means the vision of peace. . . . 

1 It would seem, however, that Cicer o, who took his views of the 
Greek Philosophy from other writers, not consulting the original 
authorities, was Augustine's master in this branch of knowledge. 



Ch. XII. This peace all men are striving to obtain ; 
the very cruelty of war is an effort to secure it, and even 
the fiercest beasts tend their own progeny in a peaceful 
way. . . . 

Ch. XIII. This peace nature preserves through all 
its disturbances . . . and this peace belongs in some 
measure to all men, for there is no nature in which there 
is not some good. Even the nature of the devil, so far as 
it was nature, not being evil, was made so by perversity. 
There cannot, then, be war without some peace, just as 
there cannot be pain without life, for nature requires 
peace. . . . 

Ch. XIV. Our Lord gave two precepts in which man 
finds three things to love God, himself, and his neigh- 
bour. For he who loves God will not love himself too 
much. . . . 

Ch. XXVII. The true peace, which is complete and 
eternal, Heaven's perfect peace, belongs, however, to the 
Christian only, now in prospect, then in possession. . . 

Ch. XXVIII. And, whereas there is now but an im- 
perfect rest for the citizen of the worldly city, there will 
then be a perpetual unrest and continual disquiet. . . . 

Augustine on Justice ; cf. Ethics of Aristotle, Book V. 

[Augustine shows that justice, which he defines as that 
virtue ' quae sua cuique distribuit' (c. xxi.), is the principle 
that makes for peace in the relations of soul and body, 
and in the relations between man and God (c. xxvii.), 
and in the mutual relations of the members of a state. 
Cf. Plato, who in his Republic defined justice as a sort of 
harmony when each person or power does his or its own 
work (Book iv. passim). 1 '] 

1 Spencer's formula of justice is: " Every man is free to do that 
which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any 
other man." 




[In this book Augustine proceeds to describe the 
resurrection and the final judgment, and to review the 
passages that bear upon this subject in the Old and New 
Testaments. He also condemns Chiliasm. Seep. 112.] 

The Final Judgment. 

Ch. I. What the Church of the true God regards as 
the appointed time for the coming of Christ to judge the 
quick and the dead, she calls the last day of divine judg- 
ment. Therefore, when we speak of the day of God's 
judgment, we add the word 'last' or ' final,' because He 
is judging now, and has judged from the beginning of the 
race of man. . . . 

Ch. XVI. And the sea is no more : for then there 
shall no longer be this life of man so turbulent and 
stormy, which is figuratively termed a sea. . . . 

Ch. XX. But another objection meets us here, because 
the same apostle says when writing of the resurrection of 
the body to the Corinthians, 1 " We shall all rise again," 
or as some manuscripts read, " we shall all sleep." As 
there cannot be a resurrection without a death, and sleep 
must mean death in this passage, how shall all either 
sleep or rise again when so many who are to be found by 
Christ in the body shall neither sleep nor rise again ? 



[Without delaying to illustrate further the eschatology 
of Augustine, we may move on to the next book, in 

1 1 Cor. xv. 51. We have already in the Preface noticed this 
important variant. 

::: st. Augustine's treatise 

which he discusses the final issues of the city of the 
world, and meets two arguments which infidelity brings 
against the eternity of punishment Contrary to modern 
thought, Augustine believed in the physical nature of 
future punishment, which he says (c iL) is an actual 
and continual burning of men's bodies. He ci:;s 
several examples in nature (chaps. iL iv., e. g. chalk, 
the diamond, and the salamander) to prove that bodies 
may remain unconsumed and alive in fire; and in the 

X of the damned he believes their bodies are kept 
burning without being consumed, and in pain without 
dying, by the miraculous power of God " (c viL). In 
c. ix. he discusses the nature of Gehenna and the 
nature of eternal punishment, referring the expression 
which is now held to apply to the spiritual torment of 
regret and disappointment, "Where the worm die. 
not, and the fire is not quenched," to the physical agony 
of the damned as they burn in " a material lake of fire, 
which is well able to torture the solid bodies of men ard 
the aerial bodies of devils." 

He seeks to support bis view of the endlessness of 
punishment by showing that even in th is life punish- 
r..rr.:s Lis: '.:7.z-t: '-* :L.r sins :.t:v.Sr. es. : ] 

CL XL In the case of the man who is punished with 
death for some great crime, does the law regard the 
moment of execution as the sentence, and not rather the 
fact that he is removed for ever from the society of the 
living? Now as removing men from the mortal state is to 
punish them with the first death, to remove them from 
the immortal state is to condemn them to the second 
death. For, as the laws of this state cannot bring back 

:-i : t- i:: ::' :.i -..- ;-; 

: \r z _- fL tz: ::' ~~ i.i 

ox ran ::ty of god ioi 

a man who has been executed, in like ma: m Ac h 
of that state cannot restore to eternal life one sentenc: i 
to the second death. Hc^. the- I :y 5 . . : 
wh._ :r own Christ cie: In what measure ye 

: . it shall be - . : a 1 n of 

tin:. awed by a sentence c: But they do 

not observe that the measure applies not to duration 
of time, but to the law of retribution, so that he who 
has dor; . -nail surfer a 

XIII. [::: _:e [will Jim ill not and solely 

purr at: rial.] The Platonists, indeed, ;h they 
would hare no sin allowed to go unpunished, still hold 
that all p: . whether indicted by human 0: 

;ul ('emc mi adhiberi') in their 

id ha in his i.fe or in the life to come. 
. .as it was that Vergil, after descri'r r . ea-ti:y : : i 
and moribund limbs of man, and remarking of the 

" Fran hence rise griefs and joys, desires and fears, 
- i to jon light their eyes do ne'er look up 

~'.:ti : y ii:,:-;5 ; i::i y r . ; : - . t _ ::. ;y : r 

aiaea mese :: if. ana saia 

" - ; - - : - - . '.'': 

T : . " " : . . 

Z-: _ >r .-:- :t::: . : j- :" - e ; - - ? : y 
Art .:v --: 7 ::: :_t . :: ~ .? :- :: itr - 

:~ii jriL'r. 

T ; - '. : think thus :uli have ail y : n i s h n; e :a : - 
[ my: t trial And we i: indeed recognize that cer:: 
punishments hae th- object b si :-. in the case of 
t me who are constrained by them to lead a better life. 

1 V = ":': .." 


All other punishments, both temporal and eternal, are 
given because of sins past and present, or with a view to 
promote discipline of life and godly example among 
men and angels. 1 . . . 

Origen s theory of the devil's conversion. 

Ch. XVII. [In this chapter Augustine mentions the 
heresy of Origen, who believed in the ultimate conver- 
sion of the devil and his angels, a heresy which was 
condemned by the Fifth (Ecumenical Council.] 

Some merciful people, indeed, believe that there is a 
limit to future misery. But, in this matter, Origen was 
surely more merciful, for he believed that the very devil 
and his angels, after a longer and heavier course of 
punishment, are to be released from their torments, and 
to be associated with the holy angels. . . . And yet he 
is found to be more wrong and perverse in his attitude 
to God, inasmuch as he seems to himself to be more 
kind than God. 

The Antinomian heresy. 

Ch. XVIII. There are indeed some with whom I 
have conversed who though they seem to reverence the 
holy scriptures are to be censured for their morals. In 
excuse they plead a far greater clemency than even the 
above. For they say that the words of inspired prophecy 
concerning the bad and faithless are true ; but that when 
the case is brought up for trial, mercy will carry the 

Ch. XIX. [In this chapter he speaks of a certain 
curious opinion which was held by some concerning the 
salvability of the heretics after their participation in the 
body of Christ. This opinion is interesting as it shows 
that, while there were some who understood our Lord's 

1 This is a just remark, for punishment where it is regarded solely 
as a corrective, as a means to make men better, loses its ethical 
character of retribution. 


words, " I am the living bread which came down from 
heaven," and " If a man eat of this bread he shall live 
for ever," in a literal sense, Augustine was not among the 

There are likewise others who hold out the hope of 
freedom from eternal punishment, not indeed to all men, 
but only to those who have been washed in the baptism 
of Christ, who have been made partakers of His body, 
no matter what their life has been, no matter in what 
heresy or impiety they have been involved, on account 
of that saying of Jesus : "This is the bread which came 
down from heaven, so that if a man shall eat of it, he 
shall not die." " I am the living bread, Who has come 
down from heaven." 

Ch. XXV. [Augustine proceeds to unfold in this 
chapter the meaning of the words, "Whoso eateth My 
flesh and drinketh My blood ; " and in the course of his 
remarks proves that the Catholics that is, the orthodox 
Christians as opposed to the heretics have no ground 
for their opinion, " that they will be saved by the recep- 
tion of the sacraments of Baptism and of the Body of 
Christ, in spite of their immoral lives."] 

What membership in Christ means. 

For he who is in the unity of that body, that is, in the 
society of Christian members, the sacrament of which 
body the faithful communicants are wont to take from 
the altar, he may be truly said to eat the body of Christ 
and to drink His blood. And, therefore, heretics and 
schismatics, separated from the unity of that body, may 
partake of the same sacrament, but it is not merely 
useless but injurious to them. For they are not in that 
bond of peace which is expressed in that sacrament. 
Such have abandoned the very righteousness of life, which 
Christ is to them, by their sin. They cannot be said to 
abide in Christ, because to abide in Christ is to abide in 
His faith, and "the faith worketh by love, and loveworketh 


no evil." Neither can such persons be said to eat the 
body of Christ, for they cannot be numbered among 
his members. For a man cannot be at one and at the 
same time the member of Christ and the member of a 
harlot. And finally, the words of the Lord Himself: 
" Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth 
in Me, and I in him," show that it is necessary not merely 
in the sacrament ('sacramento tenussedre vera') but also 
in reality to eat the body of Christ and to drink His 
blood. For this is to dwell in Christ, so that Christ may 
also dwell in us. 

Ch. XXVII. [In this chapter he exposes the folly of 
those who fondly imagine that they could purchase 
absolution for their sins by almsgiving and charitable 

For these would be compelled to admit, as the logical 
conclusion of their own premises, that a rich man might 
purchase absolution for all kinds of heinous crimes, 
murders, adulteries, et cetera, by the daily payment of a 
paltry sum. 

And seeing that this is a most absurd and unreasonable 
thing to say, if the question rises what are those alms that 
are due for sins, and concerning which the Forerunner 
said, " Do the deeds meet for repentance," without doubt 
they shall not be found to perform such who bury their 
lives in death by the commission of daily crimes. . . . For 
if they made distribution of all their goods to the needy 
members of Christ, it could not profit them, unless they 
desisted from such deeds by having that charity which 
loveth righteousness. .... So it is of little use to do 
alms, no matter how great, for the smallest crime, and 
still to continue therein. 

But the daily prayer which Jesus Himself taught, 
and which is therefore called the Lord's prayer, does 
indeed destroy the daily sins when the words are daily 
said, " Forgive us our debts," and the clause that follows, 
" as we forgive our debtors," is not only said but done. . . . 


For what is the meaning of " your sins," unless it means 
"sins without which you will not be, even you who 
have been justified and sanctified." 1 



[The burden of the last book is the eternal bliss and 
rest of the City of God. After making a short digression 
on the subject of miracles in c. viii., he describes some 
recent wonders wrought in answer to faith and prayer, 
especially mentioning the miraculous discovery of the 
bones of Protasius and Gervasius, the resting-place of 
which was said to be revealed to Archbishop Ambrose of 
Milan in a dream ; and after recurring to the statement 
so fully developed in Book X., that "the Church does 
not offer the body of Christ in sacrifice to the martyrs, 
for they too belong to that body " (c. x.), he rises gradually 
to the height of his great argument, and in spite of certain 
J pessimistic remarks in c. xxii., vindicates the good- 
ness of God to man as manifested in the natural gifts 
of utility and beauty that lie around his path in life, the 
wonderful harmony of nature, and the unspeakable 
providence of the Maker in a chapter (xxix.) that is 
quite Lucretian in the sweetness of its language and 
the sublimity of its sentiments. 2 ] 

Ch. XXII. To begin with our subject at its very 
commencement, this very life, if it is to be called a life, 
teeming with so many and great evils, testifies that the 
whole race of man was under a curse. For what else 
is signified by so great a depth of ignorance, from which 

1 Augustine did not believe in the doctrine of perfection. 

2 Augustine, like Lucretius, was a keen observer of nature, looking 
on the world with a certain divine delight ('divina voluptas ') and 
reverential awe (horror). Cf. Lucretius, De R. N. I. 1 sqq., and 
Dc C. XXII. c. xxi. 


arises every error which has taken all the sins of Adam 
in its murky bosom, so that the man can only be liber- 
ated from its embrace by pain and sorrow and fear? . . . 
From the misery of this hell of life upon earth only the 
grace of our Saviour Christ can free us by giving us the 
hope of a better life in eternity. . . . 

Ch. XXIII. But in addition to these woes, which are 
common to the good and the evil in this life, the 
righteous have also their own peculiar troubles in con- 
tending with the vices and in battling with the hardships 
and dangers of such a campaign. . . . 

Ch. XXIV. We should now consider the many bless- 
ings which the goodness of Him Who rules His creation 
has poured upon this very wretched existence to which 
His laudable justice has condemned us. There is first 
the blessing of increase pronounced before the sin, and 
not afterwards revoked. But both flow together as it 
were in the stream of humanity, the evil being drawn 
from the parent, the good from God. In original sin there 
are two things, sin and its punishment ; in original good- 
ness there are other two, propagation and conformity of the 
species. . . . But now it is my purpose to speak of the 
blessings of God, which He conferred, and still confers, on 
our blemished nature. For in His condemnation He did 
not take back all He had given, otherwise it were wholly 
gone; nor did He remove it altogether from His own 
power, even when He subjected it to a penal sentence with 
the devil, since He had not entirely removed the devil 
from His control, for He Who supremely is, and makes 
everything that exists, also grants subsistence to the 
nature of the devil. Of the two above-mentioned gifts, 
He gave the propagation by His benediction to the first 
works of the world, but the conformity to that work of 
His on which He is now engaged : for without it propa- 
gation would not preserve the forms and modifications 
of kind. . . . We are now speaking of the nature of the 
human mind with which this mortal life is adorned. See- 


ing that God, the True and Supreme One, is the maker 
of this wonderful nature which has done everything it 
has done by His guidance and with Him at the helm of 
its life, holding supreme command, it had never come to 
such sorrow which is to be eternal save for the redeemed, 
had not the sin of the first man, from whom all are 
descended, been exceeding great 

Augustine on the symmetry of the human frame. 

Even in the body, mortal like the beasts, and even 
more feeble than they, how greatly do the goodness of 
God and the providence of the Maker shine forth ! 
Are not the seats of the senses (' loca sensuum '), the 
dispositions of the limbs, the very appearance and 
form and stature of the whole body, so regulated that 
they seem made to minister to the mind ? For man is 
not fashioned like the beasts that perish stooping to the 
earth, 1 but with a frame erect to heaven that bids him lift 
his thoughts above. Then that marvellous quickness 
of head and tongue, so suitably arranged for writing and 
speaking, and duties and tasks of various kinds does it 
not reveal the dignity of the mind to which such a 
body is given to serve ? And yet apart from such neces- 
sary functions, the symmetry of all parts is so perfectly, 
and their correspondence so exquisitely managed, that 
one could not say whether it is with a view to beauty or 
utility that they were more especially designed. For there 
is nothing which was intended for work therein which is 
utterly devoid of grace. This would be more evident to 
us if we knew the exact proportions and measurements 
of the internal parts. But this has yet to be discovered ; 
although the cruel diligence of certain medical men, 
who are called anatomists, unable to desist from dissect- 
ing the bodies of the dead and of those dying under the 
knife, has penetrated to the very secrets of the human 

1 Cf. Lucretius I. 1061 : " Etsimili ratione animalia suppa vagari." 



frame ; yet still the numbers according to which the 
internal and external parts are attuned to each other 
like the strings of a musical instrument, forming what 
is called in Greek apfxovia, no one can find out, no 
one presumes to inquire. As there are certain parts of 
the body made solely for charm, I think it may be 
easily inferred that the dignity of the human person was 
the first thought of its Maker. For its use will pass 
away, and the time will come when beauty shall be loved 
for its own sake 

The beauty of Nature. 

But with regard to the general beauty and use of the 
creation which man immersed in such a sea of sorrows 
has been graciously allowed to behold and enjoy, what dis- 
course would be adequate to describe the loveliness so 
manifold and so diversified of sea and land, the wondrous 
brightness and abounding fulness of the light, the sun 
and moon and stars, the colours and perfumes of the 
flowers, the shadows of the groves, the variety and 
number of the birds of plumage and the birds of song, 
the unnumbered kinds of animals so many and so great, 
and those tiny forms of bees and ants which are yet 
more wonderful than the large dimensions of the whales, 
and that grand spectacle of the sea, changing ever and 
anon its hue, now green, now a blaze of many colours, 
now purple and now blue ; even in its angry mood how 
pleasant is its aspect to the eye, and its charm is all the 
greater when it soothes the soul of him who watches the 
wild waves and is not tossed upon their rising crests ! l 

What shall I say of the many sorts of food and flavours 
bountifully supplied by nature, and not acquired by art, but 
by toil ? What of the many things that help to maintain 
and recover the health ? How grateful is the change of 
day and night, and the sweet breath of the breezes ! 

1 Cf. Lucretius, De R. N. II. I sqq. 


Who could count them all ? And these all are consola- 
tions for the evil, not compensations for the good. What 
will He, Who has given such gifts to those He has 
predestinated to death, give to those He has fore-ordained 
for life ? What blessings will He bestow in yonder realm 
upon those for whom He here has willed that His Only- 
Begotten Son should die ? " How will He not give us 
all things with Him ? " What shall be our life and nature 
when that promise shall be fulfilled ! What will the spirit 
of man be like, when it is removed from every vice that 
masters and subdues, and is at perfect peace, its warfare 
ended . . . when the wisdom of God is received from 
the divine source itself, freely and happily ! What will 
the body then be like, when in every way the subject of the 
Spirit, and needing nought of sustenance ! For it is no 
more animal, but spiritual ; having indeed the substance 
of flesh, but not its corruption. 

Ch. XXIX. [In this chapter Augustine describes the 
nature of the beatific vision.] I do not know what shall 
be the employment or rather leisure of the saints in their 
immortal and spiritual bodies. And if I should say what 
my mind bids me, what wereall that in comparison of such 
glory ? For there is " the peace of God, which passeth all 
understanding." There is the reward of faith, the vision 
of which John the Apostle wrote, even the manifestation 
of the glory of God, which is described under the figure 
of 'face,' . . . and in which we shall be able to discern 
God everywhere present and governing all things, material 
as well as spiritual. For then God will be so known and 
recognized by us, that we shall see Him by the Spirit in 
ourselves, in one another, in Himself, in the new heavens 
and in the new earth. ... 


The Peace of God. 

Ch. XXX. [The burden of this chapter is the song of 
peace in which the discords of time are resolved into the 
concords of eternity, the sorrows of mortality melt away 
in the presence of the immortal love, and the troubles of 
time vanish before the growing light of the vision of the 
city of God.] How great will be the bliss, when no evil 
remains and no good is forgotten ; when life shall be one 
long sabbath of peace and praise to God, "Who shall 
be all in all ! " For what else shall life be when no 
weariness fatigues and no want compels us to toil ? 
All the members of our incorruptible body shall then be 
employed in the praise of God, and the mind shall discover 
the wondrous harmonies in things. Wherever the spirit 
may desire, the body will go ; but the spirit will not desire 
ought that is unseemly to itself or its body. There will 
be true honour and true peace where there shall be rest 
from external danger and internal discussion. There shall 
be degrees of glory, but there shall be no envy, for each 
will long for that he has alone and nought besides, though 
bound by love to him who other lot obtains. 1 

1 Cf. Dante, who wrote, inspired by this passage, in his Paradiso 
(Canto iii. I sqq.) : 

" Nay tell me, ye, who here live happily, 
Do ye desire a higher place in bliss 
Where ye may see more, also make more friends ? 
She smiled a moment with the other shades, 
And then replied so cheerfully to me, 
That she seemed all aglow with love's first flame : 
' Brother, our will has been composed by that 
Virtue of charity which makes us live 
For that we have alone and nought besides. 
Should we desire in higher state to be, 
Our wills no more would move in harmony 
With that great will of Him who placed us here, 
A thing impossible in climes like these, 
Where life in love is our necessity ; 


The free-will of the blessed. 

They shall have freedom of will, although sin may no 
longer tempt. For the will shall be freed from the 
fascination of evil and won to the unchanging enjoyment 
of righteousness. The first free-will given to man when 
first created had the power to sin and the power not to 
sin j this last free-will will be stronger, for it will not be 
able to sin ; and this by the gift of God, and not by the 
capability of nature. For it is one thing to be God, and 
another thing to be participator in God. God cannot 
sin by reason of His nature ; while he who shares in His 
life has received from Him the power of not sinning. 
But because that nature sinned when it could sin, it is 
redeemed with a larger grace that it may be led onwards 
to that liberty in which it cannot sin. For as that first 
immortality which Adam lost by sin was the power of 
avoiding death, and the last shall be beyond the power of 
death ; so that first free-will was the power of not sinning, 1 
and the last shall be without the power to sin ; for piety 
and righteousness shall be as imperishable as happiness 
itself. Therefore in that city there shall be one will in all 
and in each, free from every evil, filled with every good, 
enjoying the sweetness of eternal delights, oblivious of 
faults and punishments, but not so forgetful of its redemp- 
tion as to be ungrateful to its liberator; and as far as 
knowledge goes, mindful even of its past misfortunes, yet 

And if its nature thou investigate, 
The principle of blessedness is this, 
To keep ourselves within the Will divine, 
So that, as we are ranked from grade to grade 
Through all the realm, we all are satisfied 
Just as the King, who bent us to His Will, 
That Will Divine is man's tranquillity ; 
It is the sea to which creation moves.'" 
1 Ita primum liberum arbitrium posse non peccare, novissimum 
non posse peccare. 


as far as experience goes utterly unconscious of them, 
just as a physician is acquainted with every malady that 
is known, but has only personal experience of those he has 
suffered. ... It were too long to dwell upon each of the 
ages that must pass ere Christ returns. The seventh, 
however, shall be our Sabbath, which ends, not in the 
eventide, but in the dawning of the Lord's day, an eternal 
octave . . . consecrated by the resurrection of Christ. 
There we shall have vision and love and peace and praise 
in that kingdom which knows no end. 1 . . . 


With the help of God, I seem to have finished my 
task. May those who are dissatisfied pardon its defects 
and its faults. Let those who are satisfied give the glory, 
as I do, to God. 

1 In xx. 7-9 Augustine had dealt with Chiliasm, distinguishing 
between a spiritual and a carnal form, and admitting that he had 
once believed in the former, "nam etiam nos hoc opinati fuimus 
aliquando. " He identified the millennium with the history of the 
Church militant here on earth, and the first resurrection with the 
spiritual change referred to in Col. iii. 1, " If ye be risen with Christ." 
This was the death-blow of Chiliasm in the West, which had been 
advocated by Papias, Barnabas, Justin, Irenaeus, Tertullian, 
Lactantius, etc., and was opposed chiefly by Dionysius of Alexandria, 
the Presbyter Caius, and Augustine. It was based on Jewish 
Apocalypses and Rev. xxi., and was found in its most literal form 
among the Montanists. 

Augustine on Miracle, De C. D. xxi. 8. 

Augustine writes, "We say that all miracles (portenta) are con- 
trary to nature, but they are not. For how can that be contrary to 
nature which takes place by the will of God, seeing that the will of 
the Great Creator is the true nature of everything created. So 
miracle is not contrary to nature but only to what is known of 
nature (Portentum ergo fit non contra naturam sed contra quam est 
ncta natura)." Professor Sanday {Life of Christ in Recent Research, 


p. 216) describes this as "a remarkable, far-sighted, philosophical 
passage, which shows that we moderns have no monopoly of deeper 
thought on the relation of miracles to the uniformity of nature." 
Bishop Bernard (Hastings' Diet. iii. 381, Miracles} says "the dis- 
tinction is as old as Augustine and must be carefully borne in mind. 
Nature as we know it is not to be identified with nature as God 
knows it, with the nature of which He is a part, and it is only of 
the latter that we can say that its laws are universally valid." 
Sanday seems to think that Augustine meant that miracles may be 
found to be in accordance with physical nature, as some day it may 
be known when science has made further strides. Bernard, on the 
other hand, seems to include the "natura naturans"in the " natura 
naturata." Augustine used the term in a wider sense than under- 
stood by Sanday, for he embraces all that may be God's will, for 
every created thing is explained by that will. "Dei voluntas 
natura rerum est." 



Abel, 91 
Absolution, 104 
Academy, the Greek, 97 
Adam, 86 
Ambrose, 105 
Angels, 72 

Antediluvians, the, 91 
Antinomian heresy, 102 
Antithesis, 76 
Apuleius, 47 
Aristotle, 48 
Ark, the, 91 

Bernard, Professor, 86 
Browning, 75 
Brutus, 35 

Cain, 91 

Canon, of scripture, xv 

Capitol, the, 29 

Causes, classification of, 34 

Chaldeans, 67 

Christ, passim 

Church, the, 94, 105 

Cicero, 28, 30, 32 

Claudian, 36 

Communicatio idiomatum, 63 

Conversion, 81 
Creation, the, 70 sqq. 
Creator, the, 31 

Dante, no 
Death, 41, 83, 86 
Deities, pagan, 36 
Demons, 47 
Deubner, x 
Devil, the, 98, 102 
Dombart, xi 

Egypt, 49 

Ennius, 28 

Erasmus, ix 

Evil, origin of, 73, 80 

Fall, of man, S3 
Flaccianus, 93 
Foreknowledge, of God, 32 
Freedom, of will, in 

Gellius, A., 51 
Gemini, consulship of, 96 
Gibbon, v, 26, 36 
Gore, Canon, 70 
Gymnosophists, 66 



Hannah, 92 

Heresy, 95, 103 

Hindu, doctrines held by, 58, 

Incarnation, Catholic doctrine 
of, 63 

Jerome, xiii, 94 
Jerusalem, 97 
Jews, 41 
Job, 24, 74 
Judgment, final, 99 
Jupiter, 30 
Justice, 98 

Kant, 71, 75 
Kennedy, Dr., 170 

Lactantius, gS 
Liber, 37 
Light, 71 
Lucretius, 79, 105 
Lymphae, the, 37 

Manes, the, 49 
Manichaeans, 77 
Marcel linus, vii 
Marcellus, 23 
Martineau, 82 
Mediator, Jesus the, 69 
Methuselah, 91 
Milton, 88, 89 
Miracles, 105 

Neo-Platonists, 47 

Origen, 77, 102 

Pantheism, 42 

Paradise, 87 

Paulinus, 25 

Peace, 98 

Persecution, 95 

Peter, St., prediction of, 96 

Philosophy, schools of, 44 

Plato, 47, 48, 66 

Platonism, 43 sjq. 

Plotinus, 65 

Porphyry, 57 

Prayer, 104 

Pride, 89 

Propagation, 106 

Prophecy, 32 

Punishment, purgatorial, Id 

Pythagoras, 45 

Resurrection, the, 99 
Righteousness, 105 
Rites, burial, 25 

Sabbath, 72 

Sabellians, the, 73 

Sacraments, the, 103 

Sacrifice, 56 

Sallust, 22 

Sea, the, 99 

Seneca, 32, 42, 86 

Septuagint, the, xiv, 95 

Sibyl, the Erythraean, 93 

Simplician, 65 

Sin, nature and punishment, 

100, 106 
Shakespeare, 89 
Socrates, 44 
Sound-waves, 69 
Spencer, 98 



Spinoza, 80 
Spiritualism, 48 
Stoics, the, 32, 51 
Suicide, 26 
Survival of fittest, 79 

Tarquin, 36 
Tertullian, xiii 
Timaeus, the, 76, 79 
Tobias, xvi, 26 
Trinity, the, 73 sqq. 

Valerius, 29 
Varro, 30, 37, 38, 42 
Vergil, xi, 92, 101 
Vision, the Beatific, 109 
Vives, L. , ix 
Vulgate, the, xiii, xv 

Will, the evil, 34, 81 
Will, the divine, 35 
Worship, 50 sqq. 

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Aldis, M.A. 6d. 


Helps for Students of History (continued). 

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48. History and Ethnology. By W. R. H. Rivers, M.D., 

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The Story of the English Towns 

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22. The Second Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians. 

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23. Extracts Illustrating Sports and Pastimes in the 

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cop. 2 

August inus, Aurelius, Saint, 
Bp. of Hippo 

St. Augustine's treatise 
on the city of God