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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 8

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 8.—What We are to Understand of God’s Resting on the Seventh Day, After the Six Days’ Work.

When it is said that God rested on the seventh day from all His works, and hallowed it, we are not to conceive of this in a childish fashion, as if work were a toil to God, who “spake and it was done,”—spake by the spiritual and eternal, not audible and transitory word.  But God’s rest signifies the rest of those who rest in God, as the joy of a house means the joy of those in the house who rejoice, though not the house, but something else, causes the joy.  How much more intelligible is such phraseology, then, if the house itself, by its own beauty, makes the inhabitants joyful!  For in this case we not only call it joyful by that figure of speech in which the thing containing is used for the thing contained (as when we say, “The theatres applaud,” “The meadows low,” meaning that the men in the one applaud, and the oxen in the other low), but also by that figure in which the cause is spoken of as if it were the effect, as when a letter is said to be joyful, because it makes its readers so.  Most appropriately, therefore, the sacred narrative states that God rested, meaning thereby that those rest who are in Him, and whom He makes to rest.  And this the prophetic narrative promises also to the men to whom it speaks, and for whom it was written, that they themselves, after those good works which God does in and by them, if they have managed by faith to get near to God in this life, shall enjoy in Him eternal rest.  This was pre-figured to the ancient people of God by the rest enjoined in their sabbath law, of which, in its own place, I shall speak more at large.


Next: Chapter 9

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