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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 32

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 32.—Of the Opinion that the Angels Were Created Before the World.

But if some one oppose our opinion, and say that the holy angels are not referred to when it is said, “Let there be light, and there was light;” if he suppose or teach that some material light, then first created, was meant, and that the angels were created, not only before the firmament dividing the waters and named “the heaven,” but also before the time signified in the words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;” if he allege that this phrase, “In the beginning,” does not mean that nothing was made before (for the angels were), but that God made all things by His Wisdom or Word, who is named in Scripture “the Beginning,” as He Himself, in the gospel, replied to the Jews when they asked Him who He was, that He was the Beginning; 511 —I will not contest the point, chiefly because it gives me the liveliest satisfaction to find the Trinity celebrated in the very beginning of the book of Genesis.  For having said “In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” meaning that the Father made them in the Son (as the psalm testifies where it says, “How manifold are Thy works, O Lord! in Wisdom hast Thou made them all” 512 ), a little afterwards mention is fitly made of the Holy Spirit also.  For, when it had been told us what kind of earth God created at first, or what the mass or matter was which God, under the name of “heaven and earth,” had provided for the construction of the world, as is told in the additional words, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” then, for the sake of completing the mention of the Trinity, it is immediately added, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”  Let p. 224 each one, then, take it as he pleases; for it is so profound a passage, that it may well suggest, for the exercise of the reader’s tact, many opinions, and none of them widely departing from the rule of faith.  At the same time, let none doubt that the holy angels in their heavenly abodes are, though not, indeed, co-eternal with God, yet secure and certain of eternal and true felicity.  To their company the Lord teaches that His little ones belong; and not only says, “They shall be equal to the angels of God,” 513 but shows, too, what blessed contemplation the angels themselves enjoy, saying, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones:  for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” 514


Footnotes

223:511

Augustin refers to John 8.25; see p. 195.  He might rather have referred to Rev. 3.14.

223:512

Ps. 104.24.

224:513

Matt. 22.30.

224:514

Matt. 18.10.


Next: Chapter 33

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