Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 19
Chapter 19.—John is Rather to Be Understood of Our Perfect Likeness with the Trinity in Life Eternal. Wisdom is Perfected in Happiness.
25. But in respect to that image indeed, of which it is said, “Let us make man after our image and likeness,” 928 we believe,—and, after the utmost search we have been able to make, understand,—that man was made after the image of the Trinity, because it is not said, After my, or After thy image. And therefore that place too of the Apostle John must be understood rather according to this image, when he says, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;” because he spoke too of Him of whom he had said, “We are the sons of God.” 929 And the immortality of the flesh will be perfected in that moment of the resurrection, of which the Apostle Paul says, “In the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 930 For in that very twinkling of an eye, before the judgment, the spiritual body shall rise again in power, in incorruption, in glory, which is now sown a natural body in weakness, in corruption, in dishonor. But the image which is renewed in the spirit of the mind in the knowledge of God, not outwardly, but inwardly, from day to day, shall be perfected by that sight itself; which then after the judgment shall be face to face, but now makes progress as through a glass in an enigma. 931 And we must understand it to be said on account of this perfection, that “we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” For this gift will be given to us at that time, when it shall have been said, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” 932 For then will the ungodly be taken away, so that he shall not see the glory of the Lord, 933 when those on the left hand shall go into eternal punishment, while those on the right go into life eternal. 934 But “this is eternal life,” as the Truth tells us; “to know Thee,” He says, “the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” 935
26. This contemplative wisdom, which I believe is properly called wisdom as distinct from knowledge in the sacred writings; but wisdom only of man, which yet man has not except from Him, by partaking of whom a rational and intellectual mind can be made truly wise;—this contemplative wisdom, I say, it is that Cicero commends, in the end of the dialogue Hortensius, when he says: “While, then, we consider these things night and day, and sharpen our understanding, which is the eye of the mind, taking care that it be not ever dulled, that is, while we live in philosophy; we, I say, in so doing, have great hope that, if, on the one hand, this sentiment and wisdom of ours is mortal and perishable, we shall still, when we have discharged our human offices, have a pleasant setting, and a not painful extinction, and as it were a rest from life: or if, on the other, as ancient philosophers thought,—and those, too, the greatest and far the most celebrated,—we have souls eternal and divine, then must we needs think, that the more these shall have always kept in their own proper course, i.e. in reason and in the desire of inquiry, and the less they shall have mixed and entangled themselves in the vices and errors of men, the more easy ascent and return they will have to heaven.” And then he says, adding this short sentence, and finishing his discourse by repeating it: “Wherefore, to end my discourse at last, if we wish either for a tranquil extinction, after living in the pursuit of these subjects, or if to migrate without delay from this present home to another in no little measure better, we must bestow all our labor and care upon these pursuits.” And here I marvel, that a man of such great ability should promise to men living in philosophy, which makes man blessed by contemplation of truth, “a pleasant setting after the discharge of human offices, if this our sentiment and wisdom is mortal and perishable;” as if that which we did not love, or rather which we fiercely hated, were then to die and come to nothing, so that its setting would be pleasant to us! But indeed he had not learned this from the philosophers, whom he extols with great praise; but this sentiment is redolent of that New Academy, wherein it pleased him to doubt of even p. 198 the plainest things. But from the philosophers that were greatest and far most celebrated, as he himself confesses, he had learned that souls are eternal. For souls that are eternal are not unsuitably stirred up by the exhortation to be found in “their own proper course,” when the end of this life shall have come, i.e. “in reason and in the desire of inquiry,” and to mix and entangle themselves the less in the vices and errors of men, in order that they may have an easier return to God. But that course which consists in the love and investigation of truth does not suffice for the wretched, i.e. for all mortals who have only this kind of reason, and are without faith in the Mediator; as I have taken pains to prove, as much as I could, in former books of this work, especially in the fourth and thirteenth.
Gen. 1.26Gen. i. 26197:929
John 3.2John iii. 2197:930
1 Cor. 15.521 Cor. xv. 52197:931
1 Cor. 13.121 Cor. xiii. 12197:932
Isa. 26.10Isa. xxvi. 10197:934
John 17.3John xvii. 3
Next: Book XV
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