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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 22

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 22.—The Difference Between the Knowledge of the Holy Angels and that of the Demons.

The good angels, therefore, hold cheap all that knowledge of material and transitory things which the demons are so proud of possessing,—not that they are ignorant of these things, but because the love of God, whereby they are sanctified, is very dear to them, and because, in comparison of that not merely immaterial but also unchangeable and ineffable beauty, with the holy love of which they are inflamed, they despise all things which are beneath it, and all that is not it, that they may with every good thing that is in them enjoy that good which is the source of their goodness.  And therefore they have a more certain knowledge even of those temporal and mutable things, because they contemplate their principles and causes in the word of God, by which the world was made,—those causes by which one thing is, approved, another rejected, and all arranged.  But the demons do not behold in the wisdom of God these eternal, and, as it were, cardinal causes of things temporal, but only foresee a larger part of the future than men do, by reason of their greater acquaintance with the signs which are hidden from us.  Sometimes, too, it is their own intentions they predict.  And, finally, the demons are frequently, the angels never, deceived.  For it is one thing, by the aid of things temporal and changeable, to conjecture the changes that may occur in time, and to modify such things by one’s own will and faculty,—and this is to a certain extent permitted to the demons,—it is another thing to foresee the changes of times in the eternal and immutable laws of God, which live in His wisdom, and to know the will of God, the most infallible and powerful of all causes, by participating in His spirit; and this is granted to the holy angels by a just discretion.  And thus they are not only eternal, but blessed.  And the good wherein they are blessed is God, by whom they were created.  For without end they enjoy the contemplation and participation of Him.


Next: Chapter 23

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