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The City of God

The City of God

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Published by: Jei Em Navarro Monteflor on Oct 18, 2010
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 Two Loves Originates Two Different CitiesA Summary
 Nov. Serdan Deguit Devero Jr.The
City of God 
is St. Augustine’s longest and most comprehensive work. Probably,Augustine began writing this literary masterpiece during the intermittent intervals between 415and 427 AD. He devoted a good part of writing this work at the age of fifty-nine. By such periodof his life, he had been rich in personal experiences. The work had an apologetic purposedefending Christianity during the years AD 414-415. Gradually, the theme of the entire work  became the concept of society, which not only went far beyond anything that it is to be found inancient political theory but also became a social ideal for the medieval and modern Christian- period. No wonder, no other books except the Holy Bible
 per se
had a far greater influence in thetwentieth century that the
City of God 
. Such work as a whole is vital and as well as important inunderstanding our world and how it came into being. [Bourke, 249]Besides, the title of the work is taken from the Holy Bible, particularly on
87:3,which says “
Glorious things are spoken of you, O City of God,
” and is intended as an ironic replyto the slanderous and libelous accusations that were being leveled at Christianity by its pagandetractors. Necessary to say, therefore, that St. Augustine is possibly the most influentialChristian thinker next to St. Paul and this work is his
magnum opus
-a vast and huge synthesis of religious and secular knowledge.In this paper, however, no attempt will be made to give a detailed summary of the wholecontents of the
City of God 
. It will, perhaps suffice to offer a brief review of the subject, mainlythe Book XIV, entitled
Two Loves Originates Two Different Cities
. Some discussions of thesalient points especially the important quotations of the general argument of the work will beexposed. Obviously, the briefness of these remarks is not due to any lack of respect for theimportance of the
City of God 
as an expression of the mature thought of St. Augustine. Suchwork then, is one of the foundation books in the area of Christian literature. [Bourke, 250]Below is the summary of Book XIV of the
City of God 
.The Book XIV with its heading
Two Loves Originates Two Different Cities
brings to aclose account of the origin of two cities. Here, Augustine treats the original sin committed by our for parents Adam and Eve that left us all human beings subject to the penalty of spiritual death,which consists in having to be eternally without God. Their first sin is the cause of carnal lifeand of the vicious affectations. Augustine greatly puts it down: “
The sin which they committed was so great that it impaired all human nature—in this sense, that the nature has beentransmitted to posterity with a propensity to sin and a necessity to die
.” (
City of God 
, 14, 1)However, the grace and gift of God made it possible for man to live again with God
 Nevertheless, Augustine sees again that eating the forbidden fruit is apparently a smallsin; the very sin itself is disobedience to what God has commanded. He upholds “
 However, what is really involved in God’s prohibition is obedience, the virtue which is, so to speak, the mother and guardian of all the virtues of a rational creature.
” (
City of God 
, 14, 11) Indeed, obedience,then, is the mother of all virtues and it is always advantageous for reasonable creatures, whiledisobedience is the mother of all vice. On the other hand, the aspect of God, above all, hasforeknew and forewilled everything in this world. Augustine denoted something in thisexperience when he said “
The truth is that, by His omniscience, God could foresee two futurerealities: how bad man whom God had created good was to become and how much good God was to make out this very evil.
” (
City of God 
, 14, 12)Within the pages of the book also is the question:
Why did our first parents was tempted?
By this, Augustine answered briefly:
Our first parents only fell openly into the sin of disobedience because secretly they had begun to be guilty. Actually their bad deed could not have been done had not bad will preceded it; what is more, the root of their bad will was nothing else than pride.
” (
City of God 
, 14, 13) Truly, as a result, it is because they were already secretlycorrupted. An evil act is preceded by an evil will. Evil originates from pride. Pride means theundue exultation for the self leading to abandoning God. The soul wants to become an end initself. It becomes its own satisfaction. It falls away from the unchangeable good, which is God.Those who are proud are designated by the name “self-pleasers.” All the more, the soul becomes proud because it already is wicked even before the woman had eaten the forbidden fruit.Consequently, by living and experiencing the life according to God is to be humbleenough all the time. Because, for Augustine, it is in humility that we submit all our longings inlife to what is above us. While having pride is refusing to subjection and revolting from Himwho is all-powerful and supreme. In our case, as human beings, we have no right to be proud because we owe our life to the one Creator, who created us of nothing. Augustine emphasizedthis one through the following statement: “
Therefore, God forbade that which, when committed,could be defended by no pretense of sanctity. And I am willing to say that it is advantageous for the proud to fall into some open and manifest sin, and so become displeasing to themselves, after they had already fallen by pleasing themselves.
” (
City of God 
, 14, 14) As a result, it is always inthe virtue of humility, which is recommended to the City of God as it sojourns in this world andis especially exhibited in the City of God and in the passion of Christ the King.In pride, moreover, Augustine meets out that man was ensnared to the pleasure of listening to this “
Ye shall be as gods.
” He said, “
 For many reasons, then, the punishment meted out for disobeying God’s order and design was just. It was God who had created man. He mademan in His own image, set man above all other animals, placed him in Paradise and given himabundance of goods and of well being 
. (
City of God 
, 14 15) However, by craving to be more,man becomes less and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly sufficeshim. Pride goes before the destruction. Secret ruin precedes open ruin. Augustine further pointsout the connotation of pride in man by cautiously saying that “
Man, who had pleased himself because of pride, was abandoned by divine justice to his own resources–not, that is, to his power but to his weakness…
” (
City of God 
, 14 15)
 Not to eat the forbidden fruit is just an easy commandment. But when it was committed,there was disobedience, which is imperceptible in Paradise and detestable for man becomesdisobedient even into death. The penalty annexed to disobedience is great but the thingcommended by the Creator is easy. Therefore, man cannon sufficiently and satisfactorilyestimate how great a wickedness it is, not to obey the authority of so great a power, even whenthat power deters which so terrible a penalty.On another sphere of the book, Augustine also treats of the shame, which our foreparentsexperienced when they realized that they were naked. This is because of the sin of lust. Heinscribed “
There are, then, many kinds of lusts for this or that, but when the word is used byitself without specification it suggests to most people the lust for sexual excitement.
City of God 
, 14, 16) Such is the lust that does not merely invade the whole body and outward of it, but ittakes complete and passionate possession of the pleasures of the whole men, both physically andemotionally, that what results is the keenest of all pleasures on the level of sensation and at thecrisis of excitement, it practically paralyzes all power of deliberate thought. Lust insofar as it isconcerned is not only the excitement of the generative organs but also of the inner man, of whatis within. Mental emotion is mingled with bodily appetite. Lustful pleasure is the greatest of all bodily pleasures,Lust in a sense, for Augustine, begets shame since their eyes were opened, opened in asense that they had discerned between the good they had lost and the evil to which they hadfallen. Though lustful pleasures are permitted in society (rampant sex), many still experienceshame and shrink from the public eye. This action seeks the light yet dreads to be seen. This isshame and it is a penalty for his sin. This shame, however, is associated with the idea of  procreation. Augustine claimed this stating “
The shame now is associated with procreation isnoted together with the view of Cynic school that the marital act is good that the marital act is good and so might well be performed in public. Criticizing this, Augustine speculates on the possibility of procreation without lust, on the peculiar things some people can do with their bodies (such as wiggling both ears). The point is made again that no man can be perfectlyhappy.
City of God 
, 14, 19-25) Now the point is that man longs to live, but only so longed tolive, as God willed him to live in the enjoyment of God and he must be in communication in thegoodness of God. Such life, then, is free from want, and he is free to prolong life as long as hechooses.Within the later pages of the book, Augustine also posted this question: “
Why would God create man whom He foresaw would sin?
” Herein, Augustine, in a straight line answered “
 It wasbecause both of them and by means of them He could reveal how much deserved by their guilt and condoned by His grace and also, because the harmony of the whole of reality which God has created and controls cannot be marred by the perverse discordance of those who sin…
City of God 
, 14, 26) By this, the point that Augustine wanted to drive out here is that though thefirst man has been so constituted by sins, he or she still needs and capable of the help of Godthrough transforming themselves wisely and justly. Augustine, likewise, marks out theimportance of this area: “
The point here is that the first man had constituted, that if, as a good man, he had relied on the help of God, he could overcome the bad angel, whereas, he was bound to be overcome is he proudly relied on his own will in preference to this wisdom of his Maker and Helper, God.
” (
City of God 
, 14, 27)

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