Monday, August 4, 2008

City of God, Chapters 10 - 12

CHAP. 10.


WHAT IS TO BE REPLIED TO THOSE WHO THINK THAT RESURRECTION PERTAINS ONLY TO BODIES AND NOT TO SOULS

There are some who suppose that resurrection can be predicated only of the body, and therefore they contend that this first resurrection (of the Apocalypse) is a bodily resurrection. For, say they, "to rise again" can only be said of things that fall. Now, bodies fall in death. There cannot, therefore, be a resurrection of souls, but of bodies. But what do they say to the apostle who speaks of a resurrection of souls? For certainly it was in the inner and not the outer man that those had risen again to whom he says, "If ye have risen with Christ, mind the things that are above." The same sense he elsewhere conveyed in other words, saying, "That as Christ has risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life." So, too, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." As to what they say about nothing being able to rise again but what falls, whence they conclude that resurrection pertains to bodies only, and not to souls, because bodies fall, why do they make nothing of the words, "Ye that fear the Lord, wait for His mercy; and go not aside lest ye fall;" and" To his own Master he stands or falls;" and "He that thinketh he standeth, let him take heed lest he fall?" For I fancy this fall that we are to take heed against is a fall of the soul, not of the body. If, then, rising again belongs to things that fall, and souls fall, it must be owned that souls also rise again. To the words, "In them the second death hath no power," are added the words, "but they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years;" and this refers not to the bishops alone, and presbyters, who are now specially called priests in the Church; but as we call all believers Christians on account of the mystical chrism, so we call all priests because they are members of the one Priest. Of them the Apostle Peter says, "A holy people, a royal priesthood." Certainly he implied, though in a passing and incidental way, that Christ is God, saying priests of God and Christ, that is, of the Father and the Son, though it was in His servant-form and as Son of man that Christ was made a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. But this we have already explained more than once.




CHAP. 11.


OF GOG AND MAGOG, WHO ARE TO BE ROUSED BY THE DEVIL TO PERSECUTE THE CHURCH, WHEN HE IS LOOSED IN THE END OF THE WORLD

"And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed from his prison, and shall go out to seduce the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, and shall draw them to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea." This then, is his purpose in seducing them, to draw them to this battle. For even before this he was wont to use as many and various seductions as he could continue. And the words "he shall go out" mean, he shall burst forth from lurking hatred into open persecution. For this persecution, occurring while the final judgment is imminent, shall be the last which shall be endured by the holy Church throughout the world, the whole city of Christ being assailed by the whole city of the devil, as each exists on earth. For these nations which he names Cog and Magog are not to be understood of some barbarous nations in some part of the world, whether the Getae and Massagetae, as some conclude from the initial letters, or some other foreign nations not under the Roman government. For John marks that they are spread over the whole earth, when he says, "The nations which are in the four corners of the earth," and he added that these are Gog and Magog. The meaning of these names we find to be, Cog, "a roof," Magog, "from a roof,"--a house, as it were, and he who comes out of the house. They are therefore the nations in which we found that the devil was shut up as in an abyss, and the devil himself coming out from them and going forth, so that they are the roof, he from the roof. Or if we refer both words to the nations, not one to them and one to the devil, then they are both the roof, because in them the old enemy is at present shut up, and as it were roofed in; and they shall be from the roof when they break forth from concealed to open hatred. The words, "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and encompassed the camp of the saints and the beloved city," do not mean that they have come, or shall come, to one place, as if the camp of the saints and the beloved city should be in some one place; for this camp is nothing else than the Church of Christ extending over the whole world. And consequently wherever the Church shall be,--and it shall be in all nations, as is signified by "the breadth of the earth,"--there also shall be the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and there it shall be encompassed by the savage persecution of all its enemies; for they too shall exist along with it in all nations,--that is, it shall be straitened, and hard pressed, and shut up in the straits of tribulation, but shall not desert its military duty, which is signified by the word "camp."




CHAP. 12.


WHETHER THE FIRE THAT CAME DOWN OUT OF HEAVEN AND DEVOURED THEM REFERS TO THE LAST PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED

The words, "And fire came down out of heaven and devoured them," are not to be understood of the final punishment which shall be inflicted when it is said, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire;" for then they shall be cast into the fire, not fire come down out of heaven upon them. In this place "fire out of heaven" is well understood of the firmness of the saints, wherewith they refuse to yield obedience to those who rage against them. For the firmament is "heaven," by whose firmness these assailants shall be pained with blazing zeal, for they shall be impotent to draw away the saints to the party of Antichrist. This is the fire which shall devour them, and this is "from God;" for it is by God's grace the saints become unconquerable, and so torment their enemies. For as in a good sense it is said, "The zeal of Thine house hath consumed me," so in a bad sense it is said, "Zeal hath possessed the uninstructed people, and now fire shall consume the enemies." "And now," that is to say, not the fire of the last judgment. Or if by this fire coming down out of heaven and consuming them, John meant that blow wherewith Christ in His coming is to strike those persecutors of the Church whom He shall then find alive upon earth, when He shall kill Antichrist with the breath of His mouth, then even this is not the last judgment of the wicked; but the last judgment is that which they shall suffer when the bodily resurrection has taken place.

ST. AUGUSTIN
THE CITY OF GOD: BOOK XX


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