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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 19

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 19.—Of Worlds Without End, or Ages of Ages. 561

I do not presume to determine whether God does so, and whether these times which are called “ages of ages” are joined together in a continuous series, and succeed one another with a regulated diversity, and leave exempt from their vicissitudes only those who are freed from their misery, and abide without end in a blessed immortality; or whether these are called “ages of ages,” that we may understand that the ages remain unchangeable in God’s unwavering wisdom, and are the efficient causes, as it were, of those ages which are being spent in time.  Possibly “ages” is used for “age,” so that nothing else is meant by “ages of ages” than by “age of age,” as nothing else is meant by “heavens of heavens” than by “heaven of p. 239 heaven.”  For God called the firmament, above which are the waters, “Heaven,” and yet the psalm says, “Let the waters that are above the heavens praise the name of the Lord.” 562   Which of these two meanings we are to attach to “ages of ages,” or whether there is not some other and better meaning still, is a very profound question; and the subject we are at present handling presents no obstacle to our meanwhile deferring the discussion of it, whether we may be able to determine anything about it, or may only be made more cautious by its further treatment, so as to be deterred from making any rash affirmations in a matter of such obscurity.  For at present we are disputing the opinion that affirms the existence of those periodic revolutions by which the same things are always recurring at intervals of time.  Now whichever of these suppositions regarding the “ages of ages” be the true one, it avails nothing for the substantiating of those cycles; for whether the ages of ages be not a repetition of the same world, but different worlds succeeding one another in a regulated connection, the ransomed souls abiding in well-assured bliss without any recurrence of misery, or whether the ages of ages be the eternal causes which rule what shall be and is in time, it equally follows, that those cycles which bring round the same things have no existence; and nothing more thoroughly explodes them than the fact of the eternal life of the saints.



De sæculis sæculorum.


Ps. 148.4.

Next: Chapter 20

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