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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 49

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 49.—Of the Indiscriminate Increase of the Church, Wherein Many Reprobate are in This World Mixed with the Elect.

In this wicked world, in these evil days, when the Church measures her future loftiness by her present humility, and is exercised by goading fears, tormenting sorrows, disquieting labors, and dangerous temptations, when she soberly rejoices, rejoicing only in hope, there are many reprobate mingled with the good, and both are gathered together by the gospel as in a drag net; 1236 and in this world, as in a sea, both swim enclosed without distinction in the net, until it is brought ashore, when the wicked must be separated from the good, that in the good, as in His temple, God may be all in all.  We acknowledge, indeed, that His word is now fulfilled who spake in the psalm, and said, “I have announced and spoken; they are multiplied above number.” 1237   This takes place now, since He has spoken, first by the mouth of his forerunner John, and afterward by His own mouth, saying, “Repent:  for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 1238   He chose disciples, whom He also called apostles, 1239 of lowly birth, unhonored, and illiterate, so that whatever great thing they might be or do, He might be and do it in them.  He had one among them whose wickedness He could use well in order to accomplish His appointed passion, and furnish His Church an example of bearing with the wicked.  Having sown the holy gospel as much as that behoved to be done by His bodily presence, He suffered, died, and rose again, showing by His passion what we ought to suffer for the truth, and by His resurrection what we ought to hope for in adversity; saving always the mystery of the sacrament, by which His blood was shed for the remission of sins.  He held converse on the earth forty days with His disciples, and in their sight ascended into heaven, and after ten days sent the promised Holy Spirit.  It was given as the chief and most necessary sign of His coming on those who had believed, that every one of them spoke in the tongues of all nations; thus signifying that the unity of the catholic Church would embrace all nations, and would in like manner speak in all tongues.


Footnotes

391:1236

Matt. 13.47-50.

391:1237

Ps. 40.5.

391:1238

Matt. 3:2, Matt. 4:17.

391:1239

Luke 6.13.


Next: Chapter 50

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