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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 3

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 3.—That We Need Only to Read History in Order to See What Calamities the Romans Suffered Before the Religion of Christ Began to Compete with the Worship of the Gods.

But remember that, in recounting these things, I have still to address myself to ignorant men; so ignorant, indeed, as to give birth to the common saying, “Drought and Christianity go hand in hand.” 88   There are indeed some among them who are thoroughly well-educated men, and have a taste for history, in which the things I speak of are open to their observation; but in order to irritate the uneducated masses against us, they feign ignorance of these events, and do what they can to make the vulgar believe that those disasters, which in certain places and at certain times uniformly befall mankind, are the result of Christianity, which is being everywhere diffused, and is possessed of a renown and brilliancy which quite eclipse their own gods. 89   Let them then, along with us, call to mind with what various and repeated disasters the prosperity of Rome was blighted, before ever Christ had come in the flesh, and before His name had been blazoned among the nations with that glory which they vainly grudge.  Let them, if they can, defend their gods in this article, since they maintain that they worship them in order to be preserved from these disasters, which they now impute to us if they suffer in the least degree.  For why did these gods permit the disasters I am to speak of to fall on their worshippers before the preaching of Christ’s name offended them, and put an end to their sacrifices?



Pluvia defit, causa Christiani.  Similar accusations and similar replies may be seen in the celebrated passage of Tertullian’s Apol. c. 40, and in the eloquent exordium of Arnobius, C. Gentes.


Augustin is supposed to refer to Symmachus, who similarly accused the Christians in his address to the Emperor Valentinianus in the year 384.  At Augustin’s request, Paulus Orosius wrote his history in confutation of Symmachus’ charges.

Next: Chapter 4

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