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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 26

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 26.—That We are to Believe that in Paradise Our First Parents Begat Offspring Without Blushing.

In Paradise, then, man lived as he desired so long as he desired what God had commanded.  He lived in the enjoyment of God, and was good by God’s goodness; he lived without any want, and had it in his power so to live eternally.  He had food that he might not hunger, drink that he might not thirst, the tree of life that old age might not waste him.  There was in his body no corruption, nor seed of corruption, which could produce in him any unpleasant sensation.  He feared no inward disease, no outward accident.  Soundest health blessed his body, absolute tranquillity his soul.  As in Paradise there was no excessive heat or cold, so its inhabitants were exempt from the vicissitudes of fear and desire.  No sadness of any kind was there, nor any foolish joy; true gladness ceaselessly flowed from the presence of God, who was loved “out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” 760   The honest love of husband and wife made a sure harmony between them.  Body and spirit worked harmoniously together, and the commandment was kept without labor.  No languor made their leisure wearisome; no sleepiness interrupted their desire to labor. 761   In tanta facilitate rerum et felicitate hominum, absit ut suspicemur, non potuisse prolem seri sine libidinis morbo:  sed eo voluntatis nutu moverentur illa membra qua cætera, et sine ardoris illecebroso stimulo cum tranquillitate animi et corporis nulla corruptione integritatis infunderetur gremio maritus uxoris.  Neque enim quia experientia probari non potest, ideo credendum non est; quando illas corporis partes non ageret turbidus calor, sed spontanea potestas, sicut opus esset, adhiberet; ita tunc potuisse utero conjugis salva integritate feminei genitalis virile semen immitti, sicut nunc potest eadem integritate salva ex utero virginis fluxus menstrui cruoris emitti.  Eadem quippe via posset illud injici, qua hoc potest ejici.  Ut enim ad pariendum non doloris gemitus, sed maturitatis impulsus feminea viscera relaxaret:  sic ad   p. 282 fœtandum et concipiendum non libidinis appetitus, sed voluntarius usus naturam utramque conjungeret.  We speak of things which are now shameful, and although we try, as well as we are able, to conceive them as they were before they became shameful, yet necessity compels us rather to limit our discussion to the bounds set by modesty than to extend it as our moderate faculty of discourse might suggest.  For since that which I have been speaking of was not experienced even by those who might have experienced it,—I mean our first parents (for sin and its merited banishment from Paradise anticipated this passionless generation on their part),—when sexual intercourse is spoken of now, it suggests to men’s thoughts not such a placid obedience to the will as is conceivable in our first parents, but such violent acting of lust as they themselves have experienced.  And therefore modesty shuts my mouth, although my mind conceives the matter clearly.  But Almighty God, the supreme and supremely good Creator of all natures, who aids and rewards good wills, while He abandons and condemns the bad, and rules both, was not destitute of a plan by which He might people His city with the fixed number of citizens which His wisdom had foreordained even out of the condemned human race, discriminating them not now by merits, since the whole mass was condemned as if in a vitiated root, but by grace, and showing, not only in the case of the redeemed, but also in those who were not delivered, how much grace He has bestowed upon them.  For every one acknowledges that he has been rescued from evil, not by deserved, but by gratuitous goodness, when he is singled out from the company of those with whom he might justly have borne a common punishment, and is allowed to go scathless.  Why, then, should God not have created those whom He foresaw would sin, since He was able to show in and by them both what their guilt merited, and what His grace bestowed, and since, under His creating and disposing hand, even the perverse disorder of the wicked could not pervert the right order of things?


Footnotes

281:760

1 Tim. 1.5.

281:761

Compare Basil’s Homily on Paradise, and John Damascene, De Fide Orthod. ii. 11.


Next: Chapter 27

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