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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 17

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 17.—That to Obtain the Blessed Life, Which Consists in Partaking of the Supreme Good, Man Needs Such Mediation as is Furnished Not by a Demon, But by Christ Alone.

I am considerably surprised that such learned men, men who pronounce all material and sensible things to be altogether inferior to those that are spiritual and intelligible, should mention bodily contact in connection with the blessed life.  Is that sentiment of Plotinus forgotten?—“We must fly to our beloved fatherland.  There is the Father, there our all.  What fleet or flight shall convey us thither?  Our way is, to become like God.” 354   If, then, one is nearer to God the liker he is to Him, there is no other distance from God than unlikeness to Him.  And the p. 176 soul of man is unlike that incorporeal and unchangeable and eternal essence, in proportion as it craves things temporal and mutable.  And as the things beneath, which are mortal and impure, cannot hold intercourse with the immortal purity which is above, a mediator is indeed needed to remove this difficulty; but not a mediator who resembles the highest order of being by possessing an immortal body, and the lowest by having a diseased soul, which makes him rather grudge that we be healed than help our cure.  We need a Mediator who, being united to us here below by the mortality of His body, should at the same time be able to afford us truly divine help in cleansing and liberating us by means of the immortal righteousness of His spirit, whereby He remained heavenly even while here upon earth.  Far be it from the incontaminable God to fear pollution from the man 355 He assumed, or from the men among whom He lived in the form of a man.  For, though His incarnation showed us nothing else, these two wholesome facts were enough, that true divinity cannot be polluted by flesh, and that demons are not to be considered better than ourselves because they have not flesh. 356   This, then, as Scripture says, is the “Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” 357 of whose divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father, and humanity, whereby He has become like us, this is not the place to speak as fully as I could.


Footnotes

175:354

Augustin apparently quotes from memory from two passages of the Enneades, l. vi. 8, and ii. 3.

176:355

Or, humanity.

176:356

Comp. De Trin. 13. 22.

176:357

1 Tim. 2.5.


Next: Chapter 18

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