The City of God, Books I–VII (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 8)

The City of God, Books I–VII (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 8)

With an introduction by ETIENNE GILSON
Copyright Date: 1950
Pages: 501
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  • Book Info
    The City of God, Books I–VII (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 8)
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1108-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. xi-xcviii)
    Etienne Gilson

    The city of god (De civitate Dei) is not only one of St. Augustine’s masterpieces, but ranks, along with the Confessions, among the classics of all literature. It is hardly possible to analyze the contents of this vast work, which, in spite of its overall plan, is marked by so many digressions. The purpose of this Introduction is to focus the reader’s attention on Augustine’s main theme, and to emphasize its historical importance. In his notion of a universal religious society is to be sought the origin of that ideal of a world society which is haunting the minds of...

    • BOOK I
      (pp. 17-74)

      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...

    • BOOK II
      (pp. 75-128)

      If man’s sickly understanding would not set plain truth at defiance, but humbly submit this common infirmity to the tonic of wholesome doctrine until, by filial trust in God’s help, it regained its strength, those who think straight and express their thoughts in well-chosen speech would have no need of many words to correct the errors of baseless assumption. Unfortunately, however, there prevails a major and malignant malady of fools, the victims of which mistake their irrational impulses for truth and reason, even when confronted with as much evidence as any man has a right to expect from another. It...

    • BOOK III
      (pp. 129-188)

      It seems to me I have already said enough about the evils which work havoc on men’s souls and morals, and which they must shun at all costs. I have shown that, far from having done aught to save their worshipers from the miseries that lay heavy upon them, the false gods did their utmost to increase the burden beyond endurance.

      I must now turn to those calamities which are the only things our accusers have no wish to endure. Such are hunger, disease, war, plunder, imprisonment, massacre, and horrors such as I have mentioned in Book I. Though these...

    • BOOK IV
      (pp. 189-240)

      In the first pages of this work on the City of God, I saw fit to give an answer to its enemies. Running mad after the pleasures of earth and eagerly grasping at fleeting goods, they denounce the Christian religion, the only salutary and true one, for any hardship they suffer rather through God’s merciful admonition than through the severity of His punishment.

      Among our accusers there is an ignorant rabble, incited by the authority of the learned to cast greater odium upon us. These simple souls imagine that the abnormal calamities that have occurred in our own day were...

    • BOOK V
      (pp. 241-302)

      We have now seen, first, that happiness (or the full possession of all that the heart can long for) is not a goddess but a gift of God and, second, that the only God whom men should worship is the One who can make them happy—so that, if Felicity were in fact a goddess, she alone should claim our worship.

      We must now turn to consider why God, who can give such gifts as can be shared by men who are not good and, therefore, not happy willed that the Roman Empire should spread so widely and endure so...

    • BOOK VI
      (pp. 303-338)

      In the five preceding Books, I have, I hope, sufficiently refuted those who think that many gods are to be venerated and worshiped. Such people hold that, in order to gain advantages for this mortal life and men’s temporal affairs, the gods are to be served with an adoration which the Greeks call latreía and which is due to the true God alone. Christian truth makes clear that these gods are false, that they are useless idols, or unclean spirits, or dangerous demons, or, at best, mere creatures and not the Creator. Of course, as everyone knows, neither my five...

    • BOOK VII
      (pp. 339-396)

      I have been trying to the best of my power to root out and get rid of those depraved and inveterate opinions which, by a long-lasting error of mankind, have taken such deep and tenacious roots in unenlightened minds, and which are so opposed to religious truth. Only the true God can effect such a purpose; I have been trying to cooperate, in however small a degree, with Him and with His grace. I know that many whose minds are keener will feel that what I have written is more than enough for the purpose, but I must ask them...

  5. APPENDIX: A Letter of St. Augustine concerning The City of God
    (pp. 397-401)
  6. Back Matter
    (pp. 402-402)