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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—That Everything Which the Grace of God Does in the Way of Rescuing Us from the Inveterate Evils in Which We are Sunk, Pertains to the Future World, in Which All Things are Made New.

Nevertheless, in the “heavy yoke that is laid upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother’s womb to the day that they return to the mother of all things,” there is found an admirable though painful monitor teaching us to be sober-minded, and convincing us that this life has become penal in consequence of that outrageous wickedness which was perpetrated in Paradise, and that all to which the New Testament invites belongs to that future inheritance which awaits us in the world to come, and is offered for our acceptance, as the earnest that we may, in its own due time, obtain that of which it is the pledge.  Now, therefore, let us walk in hope, and let us by the spirit mortify the deeds of the flesh, and so make progress from day to day.  For “the Lord know p. 465 eth them that are His;” 1524 and “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God,” 1525 but by grace, not by nature.  For there is but one Son of God by nature, who in His compassion became Son of man for our sakes, that we, by nature sons of men, might by grace become through Him sons of God.  For He, abiding unchangeable, took upon Him our nature, that thereby He might take us to Himself; and, holding fast His own divinity, He became partaker of our infirmity, that we, being changed into some better thing, might, by participating in His righteousness and immortality, lose our own properties of sin and mortality, and preserve whatever good quality He had implanted in our nature perfected now by sharing in the goodness of His nature.  For as by the sin of one man we have fallen into a misery so deplorable, so by the righteousness of one Man, who also is God, shall we come to a blessedness inconceivably exalted.  Nor ought any one to trust that he has passed from the one man to the other until he shall have reached that place where there is no temptation, and have entered into the peace which he seeks in the many and various conflicts of this war, in which “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.” 1526   Now, such a war as this would have had no existence if human nature had, in the exercise of free will, continued steadfast in the uprightness in which it was created.  But now in its misery it makes war upon itself, because in its blessedness it would not continue at peace with God; and this, though it be a miserable calamity, is better than the earlier stages of this life, which do not recognize that a war is to be maintained.  For better is it to contend with vices than without conflict to be subdued by them.  Better, I say, is war with the hope of peace everlasting than captivity without any thought of deliverance.  We long, indeed, for the cessation of this war, and, kindled by the flame of divine love, we burn for entrance on that well-ordered peace in which whatever is inferior is for ever subordinated to what is above it.  But if (which God forbid) there had been no hope of so blessed a consummation, we should still have preferred to endure the hardness of this conflict, rather than, by our non-resistance, to yield ourselves to the dominion of vice.


Footnotes

465:1524

2 Tim. 2.19.

465:1525

Rom. 8.14.

465:1526

Gal. 5.17.


Next: Chapter 16

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