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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 25

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 25.—Of True Blessedness, Which This Present Life Cannot Enjoy.

However, if we look at this a little more closely, we see that no one lives as he wishes but the blessed, and that no one is blessed but the righteous.  But even the righteous himself does not live as he wishes, until he has arrived where he cannot die, be deceived, or injured, and until he is assured that this shall be his eternal condition.  For this nature demands; and nature is not fully and perfectly blessed till it attains what it seeks.  But what man is at present able to live as he wishes, when it is not in his power so much as to live?  He wishes to live, he is compelled to die.  How, then, does he live as he wishes who does not live as long as he wishes? or if he wishes to die, how can he live as he wishes, since he does not wish even to live?  Or if he wishes to die, not because he dislikes life, but that after death he may live better, still he is not yet living as he wishes, but only has the prospect of so living when, through death, he reaches that which he wishes.  But admit that he lives as he wishes, because he has done violence to himself, and forced himself not to wish what he cannot obtain, and to wish only what he can (as Terence has it, “Since you cannot do what you will, will what you can” 759 ), is he therefore blessed because he is patiently wretched?  For a blessed life is possessed only by the man who loves it.  If it is loved and possessed, it must necessarily be more ardently loved than all besides; for whatever else is loved must be loved for the sake of the blessed life.  And if it is loved as it deserves to be,—and the man is not blessed who does not love the blessed life as it deserves,—then he who so loves it cannot but wish it to be eternal.  Therefore it shall then only be blessed when it is eternal.



Andr. ii. 1, 5.

Next: Chapter 26

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