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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 31

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 31.—Of the Seventh Day, in Which Completeness and Repose are Celebrated.

But, on the seventh day (i.e., the same day repeated seven times, which number is also a perfect one, though for another reason), the rest of God is set forth, and then, too, we first hear of its being hallowed.  So that God did not wish to hallow this day by His works, but by His rest, which has no evening, for it is not a creature; so that, being known in one way in the Word of God, and in another in itself, it should make a twofold knowledge, daylight and dusk (day and evening).  Much more might be said about the perfection of the number seven, but this book is already too long, and I fear lest I should seem to catch at an opportunity of airing my little smattering of science more childishly than profitably.  I must speak, therefore, in moderation and with dignity, lest, in too keenly following “number,” I be accused of forgetting “weight” and “measure.”  Suffice it here to say, that three is the first whole number that is odd, four the first that is even, and of these two, seven is composed.  On this account it is often put for all numbers together, as, “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again,” 505 —that is, let him fall never so often, he will not perish (and this was meant to be understood not of sins, but of afflictions conducing to lowliness).  Again, “Seven times a day will I praise Thee,” 506 which elsewhere is expressed thus, “I will bless the Lord at all times.” 507   And many such instances are found in the divine authorities, in which the number seven is, as I said, commonly used to express the whole, or the completeness of anything.  And so the Holy Spirit, of whom the Lord says, “He will teach you all truth,” 508 is signified by this number. 509   In it is the rest of God, the rest His people find in Him.  For rest is in the whole, i.e., in perfect completeness, while in the part there is labor.  And thus we labor as long as we know in part; “but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 510   It is even with toil we search into the Scriptures themselves.  But the holy angels, towards whose society and assembly we sigh while in this our toilsome pilgrimage, as they already abide in their eternal home, so do they enjoy perfect facility of knowledge and felicity of rest.  It is without difficulty that they help us; for their spiritual movements, pure and free, cost them no effort.


Footnotes

223:505

Prov. 24.16.

223:506

Ps. 119.164.

223:507

Ps. 34.1.

223:508

John 16.13.

223:509

In Isa. 11.2, as he shows in his eighth sermon, where this subject is further pursued; otherwise, one might have supposed he referred to Rev. 3.1.

223:510

1 Cor. 13.10.


Next: Chapter 32

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