Perhaps one of the most profound treatises on Christianity and government, the City of God envisions Christianity as a spiritual force, which should preoccupy itself with the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, rather than the earthly municipal and state affairs. The Fathers of the Church Series has divided this ancient classic into three convenient volumes.
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For more of Augustine, check out the Fathers of the Church: St. Augustine (30 vols.).
Aurelius Augustinus (354–430) is often simply referred to as St. Augustine or Augustine Bishop of Hippo (the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba in Algeria). He is the preeminent Doctor of the Church according to Roman Catholicism, and is considered by Evangelical Protestants to be in the tradition of the Apostle Paul as the theological fountainhead of the Reformation teaching on salvation and grace.
“Yet, if they only had sense, they would see that the hardships and cruelties they suffered from the enemy came from that Divine Providence who makes use of war to reform the corrupt lives of men. They ought to see that it is the way of Providence to test by such afflictions men of virtuous and exemplary life, and to call them, once tried, to a better world, or to keep them for a while on earth for the accomplishment of other purposes.” (Page 19)
“Nothing could be really lost on earth save what one would be ashamed to take to heaven.” (Page 35)
“The happiness arising from such conditions is a thing of glass, of mere glittering brittleness. One can never shake off the horrible dread that it may suddenly shiver into fragments.” (Page 193)
“For this reason, overseers3 or rulers are set over the churches, to reprimand sin, not to spare it. Nor is a man fully free from blame who is not in authority, but who notices in those persons he meets in social life many faults he should censure and admonish. He is blameworthy if he fails to do this out of fear of hurting feelings or of losing such things as he may licitly enjoy in this life, but to which he is unduly attached. Finally, there is another reason, well known to Job, why even good men must drink the bitter cup of temporal adversity: in order that the human spirit may test its mettle and come to know whether it loves God with the virtue of religion and for His own sake.” (Pages 32–33)
“My dear marcellinus:1 This work which I have begun makes good my promise to you. In it I am undertaking nothing less than the task of defending the glorious City of God against those who prefer their own gods to its Founder. I shall consider it both in its temporal stage here below (where it journeys as a pilgrim among sinners and lives by faith) and as solidly established in its eternal abode—that blessed goal for which we patiently hope ‘until justice be turned into judgment,’2 but which, one day, is to be the reward of excellence in a final victory and a perfect peace.” (Pages 17–18)