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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 11

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 11.—Of the Substance of the People of God, Which Through His Assumption of Flesh is in Christ, Who Alone Had Power to Deliver His Own Soul from Hell.

But after having prophesied these things, the prophet betakes him to praying to God; yet even the very prayer is prophecy:  “How long, Lord, dost Thou turn away in the end?” 1059   “Thy face” is understood, as it is elsewhere said, “How long dost Thou turn away Thy face from me?” 1060   For therefore some copies have here not “dost,” but “wilt Thou turn away;” although it could be understood, “Thou turnest away Thy mercy, which Thou didst promise to David.”  But when he says, “in the end,” what does it mean, except even to the end?  By which end is to be understood the last time, when even that nation is to believe in Christ Jesus, before which end what He has just sorrowfully bewailed must come to pass.  On account of which it is also added here, “Thy wrath shall burn like fire.  Remember what is my substance.” 1061   This cannot be better understood than of Jesus Himself, the substance of His people, of whose nature His flesh is.  “For not in vain,” he says, “hast Thou made all the sons of men.” 1062   For unless the one Son of man had been the substance of Israel, through which Son of man many sons of men should be set free, all the sons of men would have been made wholly in vain.  But now, indeed, all mankind through the fall of the first man has fallen from the truth into vanity; for which reason another psalm says, “Man is like to vanity:  his days pass away as a shadow;” 1063 yet God has not made all the sons of men in vain, because He frees many from vanity through the Mediator Jesus, and those whom He did not foreknow as to be delivered, He made not wholly in vain in the most beautiful and most just ordination of the whole rational creation, for the use of those who were to be p. 351 delivered, and for the comparison of the two cities by mutual contrast.  Thereafter it follows, “Who is the man that shall live, and shall not see death? shall he snatch his soul from the hand of hell?” 1064   Who is this but that substance of Israel out of the seed of David, Christ Jesus, of whom the apostle says, that “rising from the dead He now dieth not, and death shall no more have dominion over Him?” 1065   For He shall so live and not see death, that yet He shall have been dead; but shall have delivered His soul from the hand of hell, whither He had descended in order to loose some from the chains of hell; but He hath delivered it by that power of which He says in the Gospel, “I have the power of laying down my life, and I have the power of taking it again.” 1066



Ps. 89.46.


Ps. 13.1.


Ps. 89:46, 47.


Ps. 89.47.


Ps. 144.4.


Ps. 89.48.


Rom. 6.9.


John 10.18.

Next: Chapter 12

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