These chapters end book 1 of The City of God, and Augustine gives us some nice quotable material and some more hints at his overall themes here. He tells us that God allows evil to fall on the righteous in order to correct and test them; he spends a few chapters discussing the immorality of the city of Rome; and he begins to point toward the pilgrim reality that a Christian living in Rome experiences. I enjoyed these chapters.

Some quotes:

On those Christians who suffered in the sack of Rome: “The truth, however, is that sanctity of body and spirit depend solely upon strength of a will assisted by divine aid, and that continence is therefore a good which cannot be taken away as long as the mind does not consent. Perhaps, then, we have relieved some of their error. Let them therefore reflect that they have served God with a good conscience. Let them remember that He will in no way forsake those who serve and call upon Him. And let them not forget how greatly chastity pleases Him.  Then, they will realize that He would never have allowed these misfortunes to befall His saints if that holiness which He has given to them, and which He loves to see in them, could thereby in any degree perish.”

His description of “the life in this age”, for the Christian: “a life which is the school of eternity”.

On the indulgence of the Romans: “When afflicted by adversities, do you not complain of the Christian age only because you wish to remain secure in your own luxury? Only because you wish to wallow in the most abandoned morals, exempt from all hardship and annoyance? You desire to have peace and all kinds of wealth in abundance. You do not, however, desire to have these goods so that you may use them honestly – that is, modestly, soberly, moderately, and with godliness. Rather, you wish to use them to secure an infinite variety of insane pleasures. Thus, you engender from prosperity a plague of moral ills worse than the raging of enemies. […] Thus, those Romans who, when life had possessed more innocence, feared only the evils of their enemies, now, when the innocence of life was lost, suffered more cruelly at the hands of their fellow citizens.” And later: “You were depraved by the prosperity of your affairs, but you could not be corrected by adversity; and the security that you seek is not a peaceful commonwealth, but unpunished luxury.” Ouch.

Lastly, on the city of humanity and the City of God: “Among our most declared enemies – unknown even to themselves – there lie hidden some who are predestined to become our friends. In this world, the two cities are indeed entangled and mingled with one another; and they will remain so until the last judgement shall separate them.”

Blessings,

Josh

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