IN THIS BOOK IT IS TAUGHT THAT DEATH IS PENAL, AND HAD ITS ORIGIN IN ADAM’S SIN.
1. Of the fall of the first man, through which mortality has been contracted.
Having disposed of the very difficult questions concerning the origin of our world and the beginning of the human race, the natural order requires that we now discuss the fall of the first man (we may say of the first men), and of the origin and propagation of human death. For God had not made man like the angels, in such a condition that, even though they had sinned, they could none the more die. He had so made them, that if they discharged the obligations of obedience, an angelic immortality and a blessed eternity might ensue, without the intervention of death; but if they disobeyed, death should be visited on them with just sentence—which, too, has been spoken to in the preceding book.
2. Of that death which can affect an immortal soul, and of that to which the body is subject.
But I see I must speak a little more carefully of the nature of death. For although the human soul is truly affirmed to be immortal, yet it also has a certain death of its own. For it is therefore called immortal, because, in a sense, it does not cease to live and to feel; while the body is called mortal, because it can be forsaken of all life, and cannot by itself live at all. The death, then, of the soul takes place when God forsakes it, as the death of the body when the soul forsakes it. Therefore the death of both—that is, of the whole man—occurs when the soul, forsaken by God, forsakes the body. For, in this case, neither is God the life of the soul, nor the soul the life of the body. And this death of the whole man is followed by that which, on the authority[Pg 522] of the divine oracles, we call the second death. This the Saviour referred to when He said, “Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” And since this does not happen before the soul is so joined to its body that they cannot be separated at all, it may be matter of wonder how the body can be said to be killed by that death in which it is not forsaken by the soul, but, being animated and rendered sensitive by it, is tormented. For in that penal and everlasting punishment, of which in its own place we are to speak more at large, the soul is justly said to die, because it does not live in connection with God; but how can we say that the body is dead, seeing that it lives by the soul? For it could not otherwise feel the bodily torments which are to follow the resurrection. Is it because life of every kind is good, and pain an evil, that we decline to say that that body lives, in which the soul is the cause, not of life, but of pain? The soul, then, lives by God when it lives well, for it cannot live well unless by God working in it what is good; and the body lives by the soul when the soul lives in the body, whether itself be living by God or no. For the wicked man’s life in the body is a life not of the soul, but of the body, which even dead souls—that is, souls forsaken of God—can confer upon bodies, how little soever of their own proper life, by which they are immortal, they retain. But in the last damnation, though man does not cease to feel, yet because this feeling of his is neither sweet with pleasure nor wholesome with repose, but painfully penal, it is not without reason called death rather than life. And it is called the second death because it follows the first, which sunders the two cohering essences, whether these be God and the soul, or the soul and the body. Of the first and bodily death, then, we may say that to the good it is good, and evil to the evil. But, doubtless, the second, as it happens to none of the good, so it can be good for none.
3. Whether death, which by the sin of our first parents has passed upon all men, is the punishment of sin, even to the good.
But a question not to be shirked arises: Whether in very truth death, which separates soul and body, is good to the[Pg 523] good? For if it be, how has it come to pass that such a thing should be the punishment of sin? For the first men would not have suffered death had they not sinned. How, then, can that be good to the good, which could not have happened except to the evil? Then, again, if it could only happen to the evil, to the good it ought not to be good, but non-existent. For why should there be any punishment where there is nothing to punish? Wherefore we must say that the first men were indeed so created, that if they had not sinned, they would not have experienced any kind of death; but that, having become sinners, they were so punished with death, that whatsoever sprang from their stock should also be punished with the same death. For nothing else could be born of them than that which they themselves had been. Their nature was deteriorated in proportion to the greatness of the condemnation of their sin, so that what existed as punishment in those who first sinned, became a natural consequence in their children. For man is not produced by man, as he was from the dust. For dust was the material out of which man was made: man is the parent by whom man is begotten. Wherefore earth and flesh are not the same thing, though flesh be made of earth. But as man the parent is, such is man the offspring. In the first man, therefore, there existed the whole human nature, which was to be transmitted by the woman to posterity, when that conjugal union received the divine sentence of its own condemnation; and what man was made, not when created, but when he sinned and was punished, this he propagated, so far as the origin of sin and death are concerned. For neither by sin nor its punishment was he himself reduced to that infantine and helpless infirmity of body and mind which we see in children. For God ordained that infants should begin the world as the young of beasts begin it, since their parents had fallen to the level of the beasts in the fashion of their life and of their death; as it is written, “Man when he was in honour understood not; he became like the beasts that have no understanding.”Nay more,[Pg 524] infants, we see, are even feebler in the use and movement of their limbs, and more infirm to choose and refuse, than the most tender offspring of other animals; as if the force that dwells in human nature were destined to surpass all other living things so much the more eminently, as its energy has been longer restrained, and the time of its exercise delayed, just as an arrow flies the higher the further back it has been drawn. To this infantine imbecility the first man did not fall by his lawless presumption and just sentence; but human nature was in his person vitiated and altered to such an extent, that he suffered in his members the warring of disobedient lust, and became subject to the necessity of dying. And what he himself had become by sin and punishment, such he generated those whom he begot; that is to say, subject to sin and death. And if infants are delivered from this bondage of sin by the Redeemer’s grace, they can suffer only this death which separates soul and body; but being redeemed from the obligation of sin, they do not pass to that second endless and penal death.
4. Why death, the punishment of sin, is not withheld from those who by the grace of regeneration are absolved from sin.
If, moreover, any one is solicitous about this point, how, if death be the very punishment of sin, they whose guilt is cancelled by grace do yet suffer death, this difficulty has already been handled and solved in our other work which we have written on the baptism of infants. There it was said that the parting of soul and body was left, though its connection with sin was removed, for this reason, that if the immortality of the body followed immediately upon the sacrament of regeneration, faith itself would be thereby enervated. For faith is then only faith when it waits in hope for what is not yet seen in substance. And by the vigour and conflict of faith, at least in times past, was the fear of death overcome. Specially was this conspicuous in the holy martyrs, who could have had no victory, no glory, to whom there could not even have been any conflict, if, after the laver of regeneration, saints could not suffer[Pg 525] bodily death. Who would not, then, in company with the infants presented for baptism, run to the grace of Christ, that so he might not be dismissed from the body? And thus faith would not be tested with an unseen reward; and so would not even be faith, seeking and receiving an immediate recompense of its works. But now, by the greater and more admirable grace of the Saviour, the punishment of sin is turned to the service of righteousness. For then it was proclaimed to man, “If thou sinnest, thou shalt die;” now it is said to the martyr, “Die, that thou sin not.” Then it was said, “If ye transgress the commandments, ye shall die;” now it is said, “If ye decline death, ye transgress the commandment.” That which was formerly set as an object of terror, that men might not sin, is now to be undergone if we would not sin. Thus, by the unutterable mercy of God, even the very punishment of wickedness has become the armour of virtue, and the penalty of the sinner becomes the reward of the righteous. For then death was incurred by sinning, now righteousness is fulfilled by dying. In the case of the holy martyrs it is so; for to them the persecutor proposes the alternative, apostasy or death. For the righteous prefer by believing to suffer what the first transgressors suffered by not believing. For unless they had sinned, they would not have died; but the martyrs sin if they do not die. The one died because they sinned, the others do not sin because they die. By the guilt of the first, punishment was incurred; by the punishment of the second, guilt is prevented. Not that death, which was before an evil, has become something good, but only that God has granted to faith this grace, that death, which is the admitted opposite to life, should become the instrument by which life is reached.
5. As the wicked make an ill use of the law, which is good, so the good make a good use of death, which is an ill.
The apostle, wishing to show how hurtful a thing sin is, when grace does not aid us, has not hesitated to say that the strength of sin is that very law by which sin is prohibited. “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” Most certainly true; for prohibition increases the desire of illicit action, if righteousness is not so loved that the desire of[Pg 526] sin is conquered by that love. But unless divine grace aid us, we cannot love nor delight in true righteousness. But lest the law should be thought to be an evil, since it is called the strength of sin, the apostle, when treating a similar question in another place, says, “The law indeed is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is holy made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” Exceeding, he says, because the transgression is more heinous when through the increasing lust of sin the law itself also is despised. Why have we thought it worth while to mention this? For this reason, because, as the law is not an evil when it increases the lust of those who sin, so neither is death a good thing when it increases the glory of those who suffer it, since either the former is abandoned wickedly, and makes transgressors, or the latter is embraced for the truth’s sake, and makes martyrs. And thus the law is indeed good, because it is prohibition of sin, and death is evil because it is the wages of sin; but as wicked men make an evil use not only of evil, but also of good things, so the righteous make a good use not only of good, but also of evil things. Whence it comes to pass that the wicked make an ill use of the law, though the law is good; and that the good die well, though death is an evil.
6. Of the evil of death in general, considered as the separation of soul and body.
Wherefore, as regards bodily death, that is, the separation of the soul from the body, it is good unto none while it is being endured by those whom we say are in the article of death. For the very violence with which body and soul are wrenched asunder, which in the living had been conjoined and closely intertwined, brings with it a harsh experience, jarring horridly on nature so long as it continues, till there comes a total loss of sensation, which arose from the very interpenetration of spirit and flesh. And all this anguish is sometimes forestalled by one stroke of the body or sudden flitting of the soul, the swiftness of which prevents it from being felt. But whatever that may be in the dying which[Pg 527] with violently painful sensation robs of all sensation, yet, when it is piously and faithfully borne, it increases the merit of patience, but does not make the name of punishment inapplicable. Death, proceeding by ordinary generation from the first man, is the punishment of all who are born of him, yet, if it be endured for righteousness’ sake, it becomes the glory of those who are born again; and though death be the award of sin, it sometimes secures that nothing be awarded to sin.
7. Of the death which the unbaptized suffer for the confession of Christ.
For whatever unbaptized persons die confessing Christ, this confession is of the same efficacy for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism. For He who said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” made also an exception in their favour, in that other sentence where He no less absolutely said, “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven;” and in another place, “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it.” And this explains the verse, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” For what is more precious than a death by which a man’s sins are all forgiven, and his merits increased an hundredfold? For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out, have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism. And even had they denied Him under pressure of the fear of death, this too would have been forgiven them in that baptism, in which was remitted even the enormous wickedness of those who had slain Christ. But how abundant in these men must have been the grace of the Spirit, who breathes where He listeth, seeing that they so dearly loved Christ as to be unable to deny Him even in so sore an emergency, and with so sure a hope of pardon! Precious, therefore, is the death of the saints, to[Pg 528] whom the grace of Christ has been applied with such gracious effects, that they do not hesitate to meet death themselves, if so be they might meet Him. And precious is it, also, because it has proved that what was originally ordained for the punishment of the sinner, has been used for the production of a richer harvest of righteousness. But not on this account should we look upon death as a good thing, for it is diverted to such useful purposes, not by any virtue of its own, but by the divine interference. Death was originally proposed as an object of dread, that sin might not be committed; now it must be undergone that sin may not be committed, or, if committed, be remitted, and the award of righteousness bestowed on him whose victory has earned it.
For if we look at the matter a little more carefully, we shall see that even when a man dies faithfully and laudably for the truth’s sake, it is still death he is avoiding. For he submits to some part of death, for the very purpose of avoiding the whole, and the second and eternal death over and above. He submits to the separation of soul and body, lest the soul be separated both from God and from the body, and so the whole first death be completed, and the second death receive him everlastingly. Wherefore death is indeed, as I said, good to none while it is being actually suffered, and while it is subduing the dying to its power; but it is meritoriously endured for the sake of retaining or winning what is good. And regarding what happens after death, it is no absurdity to say that death is good to the good, and evil to the evil. For the disembodied spirits of the just are at rest; but those of the wicked suffer punishment till their bodies rise again,—those of the just to life everlasting, and of the others to death eternal, which is called the second death.
9. Whether we should say that the moment of death, in which sensation ceases, occurs in the experience of the dying or in that of the dead.
The point of time in which the souls of the good and evil are separated from the body, are we to say it is after death, or in death rather? If it is after death, then it is not death which is good or evil, since death is done with and past, but[Pg 529] it is the life which the soul has now entered on. Death was an evil when it was present, that is to say, when it was being suffered by the dying; for to them it brought with it a severe and grievous experience, which the good make a good use of. But when death is past, how can that which no longer is be either good or evil? Still further, if we examine the matter more closely, we shall see that even that sore and grievous pain which the dying experience is not death itself. For so long as they have any sensation, they are certainly still alive; and, if still alive, must rather be said to be in a state previous to death than in death. For when death actually comes, it robs us of all bodily sensation, which, while death is only approaching, is painful. And thus it is difficult to explain how we speak of those who are not yet dead, but are agonized in their last and mortal extremity, as being in the article of death. Yet what else can we call them than dying persons? for when death which was imminent shall have actually come, we can no longer call them dying but dead. No one, therefore, is dying unless living; since even he who is in the last extremity of life, and, as we say, giving up the ghost, yet lives. The same person is therefore at once dying and living, but drawing near to death, departing from life; yet in life, because his spirit yet abides in the body; not yet in death, because not yet has his spirit forsaken the body. But if, when it has forsaken it, the man is not even then in death, but after death, who shall say when he is in death? On the one hand, no one can be called dying, if a man cannot be dying and living at the same time; and as long as the soul is in the body, we cannot deny that he is living. On the other hand, if the man who is approaching death be rather called dying, I know not who is living.
10. Of the life of mortals, which is rather to be called death than life.
For no sooner do we begin to live in this dying body, than we begin to move ceaselessly towards death. For in the[Pg 530] whole course of this life (if life we must call it) its mutability tends towards death. Certainly there is no one who is not nearer it this year than last year, and to-morrow than to-day, and to-day than yesterday, and a short while hence than now, and now than a short while ago. For whatever time we live is deducted from our whole term of life, and that which remains is daily becoming less and less; so that our whole life is nothing but a race towards death, in which no one is allowed to stand still for a little space, or to go somewhat more slowly, but all are driven forwards with an impartial movement, and with equal rapidity. For he whose life is short spends a day no more swiftly than he whose life is longer. But while the equal moments are impartially snatched from both, the one has a nearer and the other a more remote goal to reach with this their equal speed. It is one thing to make a longer journey, and another to walk more slowly. He, therefore, who spends longer time on his way to death does not proceed at a more leisurely pace, but goes over more ground. Further, if every man begins to die, that is, is in death, as soon as death has begun to show itself in him (by taking away life, to wit; for when life is all taken away, the man will be then not in death, but after death), then he begins to die so soon as he begins to live. For what else is going on in all his days, hours, and moments, until this slow-working death is fully consummated? And then comes the time after death, instead of that in which life was being withdrawn, and which we called being in death. Man, then, is never in life from the moment he dwells in this dying rather than living body,—if, at least, he cannot be in life and death at once. Or rather, shall we say, he is in both?—in life, namely, which he lives till all is consumed; but in death also, which he dies as his life is consumed? For if he is not in life, what is it which is consumed till all be gone? And if he is not in death, what is this consumption itself? For when the whole of life has been consumed, the expression “after death” would be meaningless, had that consumption not been death. And if, when it has all been consumed, a man is not in death but after death, when is he in death, unless when life is being consumed away?
11. Whether one can both be living and dead at the same time.
But if it is absurd to say that a man is in death before he reaches death (for to what is his course running as he passes through life, if already he is in death?), and if it outrage common usage to speak of a man being at once alive and dead, as much as it does so, to speak of him as at once asleep and awake, it remains to be asked when a man is dying? For, before death comes, he is not dying but living; and when death has come, he is not dying but dead. The one is before, the other after death. When, then, is he in death so that we can say he is dying? For as there are three times, before death, in death, after death, so there are three states corresponding, living, dying, dead. And it is very hard to define when a man is in death or dying, when he is neither living, which is before death, nor dead, which is after death, but dying, which is in death. For so long as the soul is in the body, especially if consciousness remain, the man certainly lives; for body and soul constitute the man. And thus, before death, he cannot be said to be in death; but when, on the other hand, the soul has departed, and all bodily sensation is extinct, death is past, and the man is dead. Between these two states the dying condition finds no place; for if a man yet lives, death has not arrived; if he has ceased to live, death is past. Never, then, is he dying, that is, comprehended in the state of death. So also in the passing of time,—you try to lay your finger on the present, and cannot find it, because the present occupies no space, but is only the transition of time from the future to the past. Must we then conclude that there is thus no death of the body at all? For if there is, where is it, since it is in no one, and no one can be in it? Since, indeed, if there is yet life, death is not yet; for this state is before death, not in death: and if life has already ceased, death is not present; for this state is after death, not in death. On the other hand, if there is no death before or after, what do we mean when we say “after death,” or “before death?” This is a foolish way of speaking if there is no death. And would that we had lived so well in Paradise that in very truth there were now no death! But not only does it now exist, but so grievous[Pg 532] a thing is it, that no skill is sufficient either to explain or to escape it.
Let us, then, speak in the customary way,—no man ought to speak otherwise,—and let us call the time before death come, “before death;” as it is written, “Praise no man before his death.” And when it has happened, let us say that “after death” this or that took place. And of the present time let us speak as best we can, as when we say, “He, when dying, made his will, and left this or that to such and such persons,”—though, of course, he could not do so unless he were living, and did this rather before death than in death. And let us use the same phraseology as Scripture uses; for it makes no scruple of saying that the dead are not after but in death. So that verse, “For in death there is no remembrance of thee.” For until the resurrection men are justly said to be in death; as every one is said to be in sleep till he awakes. However, though we can say of persons in sleep that they are sleeping, we cannot speak in this way of the dead, and say they are dying. For, so far as regards the death of the body, of which we are now speaking, one cannot say that those who are already separated from their bodies continue dying. But this, you see, is just what I was saying,—that no words can explain how either the dying are said to live, or how the dead are said, even after death, to be in death. For how can they be after death if they be in death, especially when we do not even call them dying, as we call those in sleep, sleeping; and those in languor, languishing; and those in grief, grieving; and those in life, living? And yet the dead, until they rise again, are said to be in death, but cannot be called dying.
And therefore I think it has not unsuitably nor inappropriately come to pass, though not by the intention of man, yet perhaps with divine purpose, that this Latin wordmoritur cannot be declined by the grammarians according to the rule followed by similar words. For oritur gives the form ortus est for the perfect; and all similar verbs form this tense from their perfect participles. But if we ask the perfect of moritur, we get the regular answer, mortuus[Pg 533] est with a double u. For thus mortuus is pronounced, likefatuus, arduus, conspicuus, and similar words, which are not perfect participles but adjectives, and are declined without regard to tense. But mortuus, though in form an adjective, is used as perfect participle, as if that were to be declined which cannot be declined; and thus it has suitably come to pass that, as the thing itself cannot in point of fact be declined, so neither can the word significant of the act be declined. Yet, by the aid of our Redeemer’s grace, we may manage at least to decline the second. For that is more grievous still, and, indeed, of all evils the worst, since it consists not in the separation of soul and body, but in the uniting of both in death eternal. And there, in striking contrast to our present conditions, men will not be before or after death, but always in death; and thus never living, never dead, but endlessly dying. And never can a man be more disastrously in death than when death itself shall be deathless.
12. What death God intended, when He threatened our first parents with death if they should disobey His commandment.
When, therefore, it is asked what death it was with which God threatened our first parents if they should transgress the commandment they had received from Him, and should fail to preserve their obedience,—whether it was the death of soul, or of body, or of the whole man, or that which is called second death,—we must answer, It is all. For the first consists of two; the second is the complete death, which consists of all. For, as the whole earth consists of many lands, and the Church universal of many churches, so death universal consists of all deaths. The first consists of two, one of the body, and another of the soul. So that the first death is a death of the whole man, since the soul without God and without the body suffers punishment for a time; but the second is when the soul, without God but with the body, suffers punishment everlasting. When, therefore, God said to that first man whom he had placed in Paradise, referring to the forbidden fruit, “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,”that threatening included not only the first part of the first death, by which the soul is[Pg 534] deprived of God; nor only the subsequent part of the first death, by which the body is deprived of the soul; nor only the whole first death itself, by which the soul is punished in separation from God and from the body;—but it includes whatever of death there is, even to that final death which is called second, and to which none is subsequent.
13. What was the first punishment of the transgression of our first parents?
For, as soon as our first parents had transgressed the commandment, divine grace forsook them, and they were confounded at their own wickedness; and therefore they took fig-leaves (which were possibly the first that came to hand in their troubled state of mind), and covered their shame; for though their members remained the same, they had shame now where they had none before. They experienced a new motion of their flesh, which had become disobedient to them, in strict retribution of their own disobedience to God. For the soul, revelling in its own liberty, and scorning to serve God, was itself deprived of the command it had formerly maintained over the body. And because it had wilfully deserted its superior Lord, it no longer held its own inferior servant; neither could it hold the flesh subject, as it would always have been able to do had it remained itself subject to God. Then began the flesh to lust against the Spirit, in which strife we are born, deriving from the first transgression a seed of death, and bearing in our members, and in our vitiated nature, the contest or even victory of the flesh.
14. In what state man was made by God, and into what estate he fell by the choice of his own will.
For God, the author of natures, not of vices, created man upright; but man, being of his own will corrupted, and justly condemned, begot corrupted and condemned children. For we all were in that one man, since we all were that one man who fell into sin by the woman who was made from him before the sin. For not yet was the particular form created and distributed to us, in which we as individuals were to live, but already the seminal nature was there from which[Pg 535] we were to be propagated; and this being vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned, man could not be born of man in any other state. And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated the whole train of evil, which, with its concatenation of miseries, convoys the human race from its depraved origin, as from a corrupt root, on to the destruction of the second death, which has no end, those only being excepted who are freed by the grace of God.
15. That Adam in his sin forsook God ere God forsook him, and that his falling away from God was the first death of the soul.
It may perhaps be supposed that because God said, “Ye shall die the death,” and not “deaths,” we should understand only that death which occurs when the soul is deserted by God, who is its life; for it was not deserted by God, and so deserted Him, but deserted Him, and so was deserted by Him. For its own will was the originator of its evil, as God was the originator of its motions towards good, both in making it when it was not, and in re-making it when it had fallen and perished. But though we suppose that God meant only this. death, and that the words, “In the day ye eat of it ye shall die the death,” should be understood as meaning, “In the day ye desert me in disobedience, I will desert you in justice,” yet assuredly in this death the other deaths also were threatened, which were its inevitable consequence. For in the first stirring of the disobedient motion which was felt in the flesh of the disobedient soul, and which caused our first parents to cover their shame, one death indeed is experienced, that, namely, which occurs when God forsakes the soul. (This was intimated by the words He uttered, when the man, stupefied by fear, had hid himself, “Adam, where art thou?”—words which He used not in ignorance of inquiry, but warning him to consider where he was, since God was not with him.) But when the soul itself forsook the body, corrupted and decayed with age, the other death was experienced of which God had spoken in pronouncing man’s sentence, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return.” And of these two deaths that first death of the whole man is composed. And this first death[Pg 536] is finally followed by the second, unless man be freed by grace. For the body would not return to the earth from which it was made, save only by the death proper to itself, which occurs when it is forsaken of the soul, its life. And therefore it is agreed among all Christians who truthfully hold the catholic faith, that we are subject to the death of the body, not by the law of nature, by which God ordained no death for man, but by His righteous infliction on account of sin; for God, taking vengeance on sin, said to the man, in whom we all then were, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
16. Concerning the philosophers who think that the separation of soul and body is not penal, though Plato represents the supreme Deity as promising to the inferior gods that they shall never be dismissed from their bodies.
But the philosophers against whom we are defending the city of God, that is, His Church, seem to themselves to have good cause to deride us, because we say that the separation of the soul from the body is to be held as part of man’s punishment. For they suppose that the blessedness of the soul then only is complete, when it is quite denuded of the body, and returns to God a pure and simple, and, as it were, naked soul. On this point, if I should find nothing in their own literature to refute this opinion, I should be forced laboriously to demonstrate that it is not the body, but the corruptibility of the body, which is a burden to the soul. Hence that sentence of Scripture we quoted in a foregoing book, “For the corruptible body presseth down the soul.” The word corruptible is added to show that the soul is burdened, not by any body whatsoever, but by the body such as it has become in consequence of sin. And even though the word had not been added, we could understand nothing else. But when Plato most expressly declares that the gods who are made by the Supreme have immortal bodies, and when he introduces their Maker himself promising them as a great boon that they should abide in their bodies eternally, and never by any death be loosed from them, why do these adversaries of ours, for the sake of troubling the Christian faith, feign to be ignorant of what they quite well know, and even prefer to contradict themselves rather than lose an opportunity of contradicting us? Here are Plato’s words, as Cicero[Pg 537]has translated them, in which he introduces the Supreme addressing the gods He had made, and saying, “Ye who are sprung from a divine stock, consider of what works I am the parent and author. These (your bodies) are indestructible so long as I will it; although all that is composed can be destroyed. But it is wicked to dissolve what reason has compacted. But, seeing that ye have been born, ye cannot indeed be immortal and indestructible; yet ye shall by no means be destroyed, nor shall any fates consign you to death, and prove superior to my will, which is a stronger assurance of your perpetuity than those bodies to which ye were joined when ye were born.” Plato, you see, says that the gods are both mortal by the connection of the body and soul, and yet are rendered immortal by the will and decree of their Maker. If, therefore, it is a punishment to the soul to be connected with any body whatever, why does God address them as if they were afraid of death, that is, of the separation of soul and body? Why does He seek to reassure them by promising them immortality, not in virtue of their nature, which is composite and not simple, but by virtue of His invincible will, whereby He can effect that neither things born die, nor things compounded be dissolved, but preserved eternally?
Whether this opinion of Plato’s about the stars is true or not, is another question. For we cannot at once grant to him that these luminous bodies or globes, which by day and night shine on the earth with the light of their bodily substance, have also intellectual and blessed souls which animate each its own body, as he confidently affirms of the universe itself, as if it were one huge animal, in which all other animals were contained. But this, as I said, is another question, which we[Pg 538] have not undertaken to discuss at present. This much only I deemed right to bring forward, in opposition to those who so pride themselves on being, or on being called Platonists, that they blush to be Christians, and who cannot brook to be called by a name which the common people also bear, lest they vulgarize the philosophers’ coterie, which is proud in proportion to its exclusiveness. These men, seeking a weak point in the Christian doctrine, select for attack the eternity of the body, as if it were a contradiction to contend for the blessedness of the soul, and to wish it to be always resident in the body, bound, as it were, in a lamentable chain; and this although Plato, their own founder and master, affirms that it was granted by the Supreme as a boon to the gods He had made, that they should not die, that is, should not be separated from the bodies with which He had connected them.
17. Against those who affirm that earthly bodies cannot be made incorruptible and eternal.
These same philosophers further contend that terrestrial bodies cannot be eternal, though they make no doubt that the whole earth, which is itself the central member of their god,—not, indeed, of the greatest, but yet of a great god, that is, of this whole world,—is eternal. Since, then, the Supreme made for them another god, that is, this world, superior to the other gods beneath Him; and since they suppose that this god is an animal, having, as they affirm, a rational or intellectual soul enclosed in the huge mass of its body, and having, as the fitly situated and adjusted members of its body, the four elements, whose union they wish to be indissoluble and eternal, lest perchance this great god of theirs might some day perish; what reason is there that the earth, which is the central member in the body of a greater creature, should be eternal, and the bodies of other terrestrial creatures should not possibly be eternal if God should so will it? But earth, say they, must return to earth, out of which the terrestrial bodies of the animals have been taken. For this, they say, is the reason of the necessity of their death and dissolution, and this the manner of their restoration to the solid and eternal earth whence they came. But if any one says the same thing of fire, holding that the bodies which are derived from it to make[Pg 539] celestial beings must be restored to the universal fire, does not the immortality which Plato represents these gods as receiving from the Supreme evanesce in the heat of this dispute? Or does this not happen with those celestials because God, whose will, as Plato says, overpowers all powers, has willed it should not be so? What, then, hinders God from ordaining the same of terrestrial bodies? And since, indeed, Plato acknowledges that God can prevent things that are born from dying, and things that are joined from being sundered, and things that are composed from being dissolved, and can ordain that the souls once allotted to their bodies should never abandon them, but enjoy along with them immortality and everlasting bliss, why may He not also effect that terrestrial bodies die not? Is God powerless to do everything that is special to the Christian’s creed, but powerful to effect everything the Platonists desire? The philosophers, forsooth, have been admitted to a knowledge of the divine purposes and power which has been denied to the prophets! The truth is, that the Spirit of God taught His prophets so much of His will as He thought fit to reveal, but the philosophers, in their efforts to discover it, were deceived by human conjecture.
But they should not have been so led astray, I will not say by their ignorance, but by their obstinacy, as to contradict themselves so frequently; for they maintain, with all their vaunted might, that in order to the happiness of the soul, it must abandon not only its earthly body, but every kind of body. And yet they hold that the gods, whose souls are most blessed, are bound to everlasting bodies, the celestials to fiery bodies, and the soul of Jove himself (or this world, as they would have us believe) to all the physical elements which compose this entire mass reaching from earth to heaven. For this soul Plato believes to be extended and diffused by musical numbers, from the middle of the inside of the earth, which geometricians call the centre, outwards through all its parts to the utmost heights and extremities of the heavens; so that this world is a very great and blessed immortal animal, whose soul has both the perfect blessedness of wisdom, and never leaves its own body, and whose body has life everlasting[Pg 540] from the soul, and by no means clogs or hinders it, though itself be not a simple body, but compacted of so many and so huge materials. Since, therefore, they allow so much to their own conjectures, why do they refuse to believe that by the divine will and power immortality can be conferred on earthly bodies, in which the souls would be neither oppressed with the burden of them, nor separated from them by any death, but live eternally and blessedly? Do they not assert that their own gods so live in bodies of fire, and that Jove himself, their king, so lives in the physical elements? If, in order to its blessedness, the soul must quit every kind of body, let their gods flit from the starry spheres, and Jupiter from earth to sky; or, if they cannot do so, let them be pronounced miserable. But neither alternative will these men adopt. For, on the one hand, they dare not ascribe to their own gods a departure from the body, lest they should seem to worship mortals; on the other hand, they dare not deny their happiness, lest they should acknowledge wretches as gods. Therefore, to obtain blessedness, we need not quit every kind of body, but only the corruptible, cumbersome, painful, dying,—not such bodies as the goodness of God contrived for the first man, but such only as man’s sin entailed.
18. Of earthly bodies, which the philosophers affirm cannot be in heavenly places, because whatever is of earth is by its natural weight attracted to earth.
But it is necessary, they say, that the natural weight of earthly bodies either keep them on earth or draw them to it; and therefore they cannot be in heaven. Our first parents were indeed on earth, in a well-wooded and fruitful spot, which has been named Paradise. But let our adversaries a little more carefully consider this subject of earthly weight, because it has important bearings, both on the ascension of the body of Christ, and also on the resurrection body of the saints. If human skill can by some contrivance fabricate vessels that float, out of metals which sink as soon as they are placed on the water, how much more credible is it that God, by some occult mode of operation, should even more certainly effect that these earthy masses be emancipated from the downward pressure of their weight? This cannot be impossible to that God by whose almighty will, according to[Pg 541] Plato, neither things born perish, nor things composed dissolve, especially since it is much more wonderful that spiritual and bodily essences be conjoined than that bodies be adjusted to other material substances. Can we not also easily believe that souls, being made perfectly blessed, should be endowed with the power of moving their earthy but incorruptible bodies as they please, with almost spontaneous movement, and of placing them where they please with the readiest action? If the angels transport whatever terrestrial creatures they please from any place they please, and convey them whither they please, is it to be believed that they cannot do so without toil and the feeling of burden? Why, then, may we not believe that the spirits of the saints, made perfect and blessed by divine grace, can carry their own bodies where they please, and set them where they will? For, though we have been accustomed to notice, in bearing weights, that the larger the quantity the greater the weight of earthy bodies is, and that the greater the weight the more burdensome it is, yet the soul carries the members of its own flesh with less difficulty when they are massive with health, than in sickness when they are wasted. And though the hale and strong man feels heavier to other men carrying him than the lank and sickly, yet the man himself moves and carries his own body with less feeling of burden when he has the greater bulk of vigorous health, than when his frame is reduced to a minimum by hunger or disease. Of such consequence, in estimating the weight of earthly bodies, even while yet corruptible and mortal, is the consideration not of dead weight, but of the healthy equilibrium of the parts. And what words can tell the difference between what we now call health and future immortality? Let not the philosophers, then, think to upset our faith with arguments from the weight of bodies; for I don’t care to inquire why they cannot believe an earthly body can be in heaven, while the whole earth is suspended on nothing. For perhaps the world keeps its central place by the same law that attracts to its centre all heavy bodies. But this I say, if the lesser gods, to whom Plato committed the creation of man and the other terrestrial creatures, were able, as he affirms, to withdraw from the fire its quality of burning, while[Pg 542] they left it that of lighting, so that it should shine through the eyes; and if to the supreme God Plato also concedes the power of preserving from death things that have been born, and of preserving from dissolution things that are composed of parts so different as body and spirit;—are we to hesitate to concede to this same God the power to operate on the flesh of him whom He has endowed with immortality, so as to withdraw its corruption but leave its nature, remove its burdensome weight but retain its seemly form and members? But concerning our belief in the resurrection of the dead, and concerning their immortal bodies, we shall speak more at large, God willing, in the end of this work.
19. Against the opinion of those who do not believe that the primitive men would have been immortal if they had not sinned.
At present let us go on, as we have begun, to give some explanation regarding the bodies of our first parents. I say then, that, except as the just consequence of sin, they would not have been subjected even to this death, which is good to the good,—this death, which is not exclusively known and believed in by a few, but is known to all, by which soul and body are separated, and by which the body of an animal which was but now visibly living is now visibly dead. For though there can be no manner of doubt that the souls of the just and holy dead live in peaceful rest, yet so much better would it be for them to be alive in healthy, well-conditioned bodies, that even those who hold the tenet that it is most blessed to be quit of every kind of body, condemn this opinion in spite of themselves. For no one will dare to set wise men, whether yet to die or already dead,—in other words, whether already quit of the body, or shortly to be so,—above the immortal gods, to whom the Supreme, in Plato, promises as a munificent gift life indissoluble, or in eternal union with their bodies. But this same Plato thinks that nothing better can happen to men than that they pass through life piously and justly, and, being separated from their bodies, be received into the bosom of the gods, who never abandon theirs; “that, oblivious of the past, they may revisit the upper air, and conceive the longing to return again to the body.” Virgil[Pg 543] is applauded for borrowing this from the Platonic system. Assuredly Plato thinks that the souls of mortals cannot always be in their bodies, but must necessarily be dismissed by death; and, on the other hand, he thinks that without bodies they cannot endure for ever, but with ceaseless alternation pass from life to death, and from death to life. This difference, however, he sets between wise men and the rest, that they are carried after death to the stars, that each man may repose for a while in a star suitable for him, and may thence return to the labours and miseries of mortals when he has become oblivious of his former misery, and possessed with the desire of being embodied. Those, again, who have lived foolishly transmigrate into bodies fit for them, whether human or bestial. Thus he has appointed even the good and wise souls to a very hard lot indeed, since they do not receive such bodies as they might always and even immortally inhabit, but such only as they can neither permanently retain nor enjoy eternal purity without. Of this notion of Plato’s, we have in a former book already said that Porphyry was ashamed in the light of these Christian times, so that he not only emancipated human souls from a destiny in the bodies of beasts, but also contended for the liberation of the souls of the wise from all bodily ties, so that, escaping from all flesh, they might, as bare and blessed souls, dwell with the Father time without end. And that he might not seem to be outbid by Christ’s promise of life everlasting to His saints, he also established purified souls in endless felicity, without return to their former woes; but, that he might contradict Christ, he denies the resurrection of incorruptible bodies, and maintains that these souls will live eternally, not only without earthly bodies, but without any bodies at all. And yet, whatever he meant by this teaching, he at least did not teach that these souls should offer no religious observance to the gods who dwelt in bodies. And why did he not, unless because he did not believe that the souls, even though separate from the body, were superior to those gods? Wherefore, if these philosophers will not dare (as I think they will not) to set human souls above the gods who are most blessed, and yet are tied eternally[Pg 544] to their bodies, why do they find that absurd which the Christian faith preaches, namely, that our first parents were so created that, if they had not sinned, they would not have been dismissed from their bodies by any death, but would have been endowed with immortality as the reward of their obedience, and would have lived eternally with their bodies; and further, that the saints will in the resurrection inhabit those very bodies in which they have here toiled, but in such sort that neither shall any corruption or unwieldiness be suffered to attach to their flesh, nor any grief or trouble to cloud their felicity?
20. That the flesh now resting in peace shall be raised to a perfection not enjoyed by the flesh of our first parents.
Thus the souls of departed saints are not affected by the death which dismisses them from their bodies, because their flesh rests in hope, no matter what indignities it receives after sensation is gone. For they do not desire that their bodies be forgotten, as Plato thinks fit, but rather, because they remember what has been promised by Him who deceives no man, and who gave them security for the safe keeping even of the hairs of their head, they with a longing patience wait in hope of the resurrection of their bodies, in which they have suffered many hardships, and are now to suffer never again. For if they did not “hate their own flesh,” when it, with its native infirmity, opposed their will, and had to be constrained by the spiritual law, how much more shall they love it, when it shall even itself have become spiritual! For as, when the spirit serves the flesh, it is fitly called carnal, so, when the flesh serves the spirit, it will justly be called spiritual. Not that it is converted into spirit, as some fancy from the words, “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption,” but because it is subject to the spirit with a perfect and marvellous readiness of obedience, and responds in all things to the will that has entered on immortality,—all reluctance, all corruption, and all slowness being removed. For the body will not only be better than it was here in its best estate of health, but it will surpass the[Pg 545] bodies of our first parents ere they sinned. For, though they were not to die unless they should sin, yet they used food as men do now, their bodies not being as yet spiritual, but animal only. And though they decayed not with years, nor drew nearer to death,—a condition secured to them in God’s marvellous grace by the tree of life, which grew along with the forbidden tree in the midst of Paradise,—yet they took other nourishment, though not of that one tree, which was interdicted not because it was itself bad, but for the sake of commending a pure and simple obedience, which is the great virtue of the rational creature set under the Creator as his Lord. For, though no evil thing was touched, yet if a thing forbidden was touched, the very disobedience was sin. They were, then, nourished by other fruit, which they took that their animal bodies might not suffer the discomfort of hunger or thirst; but they tasted the tree of life, that death might not steal upon them from any quarter, and that they might not, spent with age, decay. Other fruits were, so to speak, their nourishment, but this their sacrament. So that the tree of life would seem to have been in the terrestrial Paradise what the wisdom of God is in the spiritual, of which it is written, “She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her.”
21. Of Paradise, that it can be understood in a spiritual sense without sacrificing the historic truth of the narrative regarding the real place.
On this account some allegorize all that concerns Paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial Paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured; or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says, “Now that rock was Christ!” No[Pg 546] one, then, denies that Paradise may signify the life of the blessed; its four rivers, the four virtues, prudence, fortitude, temperance, and justice; its trees, all useful knowledge; its fruits, the customs of the godly; its tree of life, wisdom herself, the mother of all good; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the experience of a broken commandment. The punishment which God appointed was in itself a just, and therefore a good thing; but man’s experience of it is not good.
These things can also and more profitably be understood of the Church, so that they become prophetic foreshadowings of things to come. Thus Paradise is the Church, as it is called in the Canticles; the four rivers of Paradise are the four gospels; the fruit-trees the saints, and the fruit their works; the tree of life is the holy of holies, Christ; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the will’s free choice. For if man despise the will of God, he can only destroy himself; and so he learns the difference between consecrating himself to the common good and revelling in his own. For he who loves himself is abandoned to himself, in order that, being overwhelmed with fears and sorrows, he may cry, if there be yet soul in him to feel his ills, in the words of the psalm, “My soul is cast down within me,” and when chastened, may say, “Because of his strength I will wait upon Thee.” These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon Paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts.
22. That the bodies of the saints shall after the resurrection be spiritual, and yet flesh shall not be changed into spirit.
The bodies of the righteous, then, such as they shall be in the resurrection, shall need neither any fruit to preserve them from dying of disease or the wasting decay of old age, nor any other physical nourishment to allay the cravings of hunger or of thirst; for they shall be invested with so sure and every[Pg 547] way inviolable an immortality, that they shall not eat save when they choose, nor be under the necessity of eating, while they enjoy the power of doing so. For so also was it with the angels who presented themselves to the eye and touch of men, not because they could do no otherwise, but because they were able and desirous to suit themselves to men by a kind of manhood ministry. For neither are we to suppose, when men receive them as guests, that the angels eat only in appearance, though to any who did not know them to be angels they might seem to eat from the same necessity as ourselves. So these words spoken in the Book of Tobit, “You saw me eat, but you saw it but in vision;” that is, you thought I took food as you do for the sake of refreshing my body. But if in the case of the angels another opinion seems more capable of defence, certainly our faith leaves no room to doubt regarding our Lord Himself, that even after His resurrection, and when now in spiritual but yet real flesh, He ate and drank with His disciples; for not the power, but the need, of eating and drinking is taken from these bodies. And so they will be spiritual, not because they shall cease to be bodies, but because they shall subsist by the quickening spirit.
23. What we are to understand by the animal and spiritual body; or of those who die in Adam, and of those who are made alive in Christ.
For as those bodies of ours, that have a living soul, though not as yet a quickening spirit, are called soul-informed bodies, and yet are not souls but bodies, so also those bodies are called spiritual,—yet God forbid we should therefore suppose them to be spirits and not bodies,—which, being quickened by the Spirit, have the substance, but not the unwieldiness and corruption of flesh. Man will then be not earthly but heavenly,—not because the body will not be that very body which was made of earth, but because by its heavenly endowment it will be a fit inhabitant of heaven, and this not by losing its nature, but by changing its quality. The first man, of the earth earthy, was made a living soul, not a quickening spirit,—which rank was reserved for him as the reward of obedience. And therefore his body, which required meat and drink to satisfy hunger and thirst, and which had no absolute and indestructible[Pg 548] immortality, but by means of the tree of life warded off the necessity of dying, and was thus maintained in the flower of youth,—this body, I say, was doubtless not spiritual, but animal; and yet it would not have died but that it provoked God’s threatened vengeance by offending. And though sustenance was not denied him even outside Paradise, yet, being forbidden the tree of life, he was delivered over to the wasting of time, at least in respect of that life which, had he not sinned, he might have retained perpetually in Paradise, though only in an animal body, till such time as it became spiritual in acknowledgment of his obedience.
Wherefore, although we understand that this manifest death, which consists in the separation of soul and body, was also signified by God when He said, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” it ought not on that account to seem absurd that they were not dismissed from the body on that very day on which they took the forbidden and death-bringing fruit. For certainly on that very day their nature was altered for the worse and vitiated, and by their most just banishment from the tree of life they were involved in the necessity even of bodily death, in which necessity we are born. And therefore the apostle does not say, “The body indeed is doomed to die on account of sin,” but he says, “The body indeed is dead because of sin.” Then he adds, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Then accordingly shall the body become a quickening spirit which is now a living soul; and yet the apostle calls it “dead,” because already it lies under the necessity of dying. But in Paradise it was so made a living soul, though not a quickening spirit, that it could not properly be called dead, for, save through the commission of sin, it could not come under the power of death. Now, since God by the words, “Adam, where art thou?” pointed to the death of the soul, which results when He abandons it, and since in the words, “Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return,” He signified the death of the body, which results when the soul departs from[Pg 549] it, we are led, therefore, to believe that He said nothing of the second death, wishing it to be kept hidden, and reserving it for the New Testament dispensation, in which it is most plainly revealed. And this He did in order that, first of all, it might be evident that this first death, which is common to all, was the result of that sin which in one man became common to all. But the second death is not common to all, those being excepted who were “called according to His purpose. For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren.” Those the grace of God has, by a Mediator, delivered from the second death.
Thus the apostle states that the first man was made in an animal body. For, wishing to distinguish the animal body which now is from the spiritual, which is to be in the resurrection, he says, “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Then, to prove this, he goes on, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” And to show what the animated body is, he says, “Thus it was written, The first man Adam was made a living soul, the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” He wished thus to show what the animated body is, though Scripture did not say of the first man Adam, when his soul was created by the breath of God, “Man was made in an animated body,” but “Man was made a living soul.” By these words, therefore, “The first man was made a living soul,” the apostle wishes man’s animated body to be understood. But how he wishes the spiritual body to be understood he shows when he adds, “But the last Adam was made a quickening spirit,” plainly referring to Christ, who has so risen from the dead that He cannot die any more. He then goes on to say, “But that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” And here he much more clearly asserts that he referred to the animal body when he said that the first man[Pg 550] was made a living soul, and to the spiritual when he said that the last man was made a quickening spirit. The animal body is the first, being such as the first Adam had, and which would not have died had he not sinned, being such also as we now have, its nature being changed and vitiated by sin to the extent of bringing us under the necessity of death, and being such as even Christ condescended first of all to assume, not indeed of necessity, but of choice; but afterwards comes the spiritual body, which already is worn by anticipation by Christ as our head, and will be worn by His members in the resurrection of the dead.
Then the apostle subjoins a notable difference between these two men, saying, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” So he elsewhere says, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ;” but in very deed this shall be accomplished when that which is animal in us by our birth shall have become spiritual in our resurrection. For, to use his words again, “We are saved by hope.” Now we bear the image of the earthly man by the propagation of sin and death, which pass on us by ordinary generation; but we bear the image of the heavenly by the grace of pardon and life eternal, which regeneration confers upon us through the Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. And He is the heavenly Man of Paul’s passage, because He came from heaven to be clothed with a body of earthly mortality, that He might clothe it with heavenly immortality. And he calls others heavenly, because by grace they become His members, that, together with them, He may become one Christ, as head and body. In the same epistle he puts this yet more clearly: “Since by man came death, by Man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,”—that is to say, in a spiritual body which shall be made a quickening spirit. Not[Pg 551] that all who die in Adam shall be members of Christ,—for the great majority shall be punished in eternal death,—but he uses the word “all” in both clauses, because, as no one dies in an animal body except in Adam, so no one is quickened a spiritual body save in Christ. We are not, then, by any means to suppose that we shall in the resurrection have such a body as the first man had before he sinned, nor that the words, “As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy,” are to be understood of that which was brought about by sin; for we are not to think that Adam had a spiritual body before he fell, and that, in punishment of his sin, it was changed into an animal body. If this be thought, small heed has been given to the words of so great a teacher, who says, “There is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body; as it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul.” Was it after sin he was made so? or was not this the primal condition of man from which the blessed apostle selects his testimony to show what the animal body is?
24. How we must understand that breathing of God by which “the first man was made a living soul,” and that also by which the Lord conveyed His Spirit to His disciples when He said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
Some have hastily supposed from the words, “God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,” that a soul was not then first given to man, but that the soul already given was quickened by the Holy Ghost. They are encouraged in this supposition by the fact that the Lord Jesus after His resurrection breathed on His disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” From this they suppose that the same thing was effected in either case, as if the evangelist had gone on to say, And they became living souls. But if he had made this addition, we should only understand that the Spirit is in some way the life of souls, and that without Him reasonable souls must be accounted dead, though their bodies seem to live before our eyes. But that this was not what happened when man was created, the very words of the narrative sufficiently show: “And God made man dust of the earth;” which some have thought to render more clearly by the words, “And God formed man of the clay[Pg 552] of the earth.” For it had before been said that “there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground,” in order that the reference to clay, formed of this moisture and dust, might be understood. For on this verse there immediately follows the announcement, “And God created man dust of the earth;” so those Greek manuscripts have it from which this passage has been translated into Latin. But whether one prefers to read “created” or “formed,” where the Greek reads ἔπλασεν, is of little importance; yet “formed” is the better rendering. But those who preferred “created” thought they thus avoided the ambiguity arising from the fact, that in the Latin language the usage obtains that those are said to form a thing who frame some feigned and fictitious thing. This man, then, who was created of the dust of the earth, or of the moistened dust or clay,—this “dust of the earth” (that I may use the express words of Scripture) was made, as the apostle teaches, an animated body when he received a soul. This man, he says, “was made a living soul;” that is, this fashioned dust was made a living soul.
They say, Already he had a soul, else he would not be called a man; for man is not a body alone, nor a soul alone, but a being composed of both. This, indeed, is true, that the soul is not the whole man, but the better part of man; the body not the whole, but the inferior part of man; and that then, when both are joined, they receive the name of man,—which, however, they do not severally lose even when we speak of them singly. For who is prohibited from saying, in colloquial usage, “That man is dead, and is now at rest or in torment,” though this can be spoken only of the soul; or “He is buried in such and such a place,” though this refers only to the body? Will they say that Scripture follows no such usage? On the contrary, it so thoroughly adopts it, that even while a man is alive, and body and soul are united, it calls each of them singly by the name “man,” speaking of the soul as the “inward man,” and of the body as the “outward man,” as if there were two men, though both together are indeed but one. But we must understand in what sense man is said to be in the image of God, and is yet dust, and to return to the[Pg 553] dust. The former is spoken of the rational soul, which God by His breathing, or, to speak more appropriately, by His inspiration, conveyed to man, that is, to his body; but the latter refers to his body, which God formed of the dust, and to which a soul was given, that it might become a living body, that is, that man might become a living soul.
Wherefore, when our Lord breathed on His disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” He certainly wished it to be understood that the Holy Ghost was not only the Spirit of the Father, but of the only-begotten Son Himself. For the same Spirit is, indeed, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, making with them the trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit, not a creature, but the Creator. For neither was that material breath which proceeded from the mouth of His flesh the very substance and nature of the Holy Spirit, but rather the intimation, as I said, that the Holy Spirit was common to the Father and to the Son; for they have not each a separate Spirit, but both one and the same. Now this Spirit is always spoken of in sacred Scripture by the Greek word πνεῦμα, as the Lord, too, named Him in the place cited when He gave Him to His disciples, and intimated the gift by the breathing of His lips; and there does not occur to me any place in the whole Scriptures where He is otherwise named. But in this passage where it is said, “And the Lord formed man dust of the earth, and breathed, or inspired, into his face the breath of life;” the Greek has not πνεῦμα, the usual word for the Holy Spirit, but πνοή, a word more frequently used of the creature than of the Creator; and for this reason some Latin interpreters have preferred to render it by “breath” rather than “spirit.” For this word occurs also in the Greek in Isa. lvii. 16, where God says, “I have made all breath,” meaning, doubtless, all souls. Accordingly, this word πνοή is sometimes rendered “breath,” sometimes “spirit,” sometimes “inspiration,” sometimes “aspiration,” sometimes “soul,” even when it is used of God. Πνεῦμα, on the other hand, is uniformly rendered “spirit,” whether of man, of whom the apostle says, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” or of beast, as in the book of[Pg 554] Solomon, “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” or of that physical spirit which is called wind, for so the Psalmist calls it: “Fire and hail; snow and vapours; stormy wind;” or of the uncreated Creator Spirit, of whom the Lord said in the gospel, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost,” indicating the gift by the breathing of His mouth; and when He says, “Go ye and baptize all nations in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,” words which very expressly and excellently commend the Trinity; and where it is said, “God is a Spirit;” and in very many other places of the sacred writings. In all these quotations from Scripture we do not find in the Greek the word πνοή used, but πνεῦμα, and in the Latin, not flatus, but spiritus. Wherefore, referring again to that place where it is written, “He inspired,” or, to speak more properly, “breathed into his face the breath of life,” even though the Greek had not used πνοή (as it has) but πνεῦμα, it would not on that account necessarily follow that the Creator Spirit, who in the Trinity is distinctively called the Holy Ghost, was meant, since, as has been said, it is plain that πνεῦμα is used not only of the Creator, but also of the creature.
But, say they, when the Scripture used the word “spirit,” it would not have added “of life” unless it meant us to understand the Holy Spirit; nor, when it said, “Man became a soul,” would it also have inserted the word “living” unless that life of the soul were signified which is imparted to it from above by the gift of God. For, seeing that the soul by itself has a proper life of its own, what need, they ask, was there of adding living, save only to show that the life which is given it by the Holy Spirit was meant? What is this but to fight strenuously for their own conjectures, while they carelessly neglect the teaching of Scripture? Without troubling themselves much, they might have found in a preceding page of this very book of Genesis the words, “Let the earth bring forth the living soul,” when all the terrestrial animals were created. Then at a slight interval, but still in the same book,[Pg 555] was it impossible for them to notice this verse, “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died,” by which it was signified that all the animals which lived on the earth had perished in the deluge? If, then, we find that Scripture is accustomed to speak both of the “living soul” and the “spirit of life” even in reference to beasts; and if in this place, where it is said, “All things which have the spirit of life,” the word πνοή, not πνεῦμα, is used; why may we not say, What need was there to add “living,” since the soul cannot exist without being alive? or, What need to add “of life” after the word spirit? But we understand that Scripture used these expressions in its ordinary style so long as it speaks of animals, that is, animated bodies, in which the soul serves as the residence of sensation; but when man is spoken of, we forget the ordinary and established usage of Scripture, whereby it signifies that man received a rational soul, which was not produced out of the waters and the earth like the other living creatures, but was created by the breath of God. Yet this creation was so ordered that the human soul should live in an animal body, like those other animals of which the Scripture said, “Let the earth produce every living soul,” and regarding which it again says that in them is the breath of life, where the word πνοή and not πνεῦμα is used in the Greek, and where certainly not the Holy Spirit, but their spirit, is signified under that name.
But, again, they object that breath is understood to have been emitted from the mouth of God; and if we believe that is the soul, we must consequently acknowledge it to be of the same substance, and equal to that wisdom, which says, “I come out of the mouth of the Most High.” Wisdom, indeed, does not say it was breathed out of the mouth of God, but proceeded out of it. But as we are able, when we breathe, to make a breath, not of our own human nature, but of the surrounding air, which we inhale and exhale as we draw our breath and breathe again, so almighty God was able to make breath, not of His own nature, nor of the creature beneath Him, but even of nothing; and this breath, when He communicated it to man’s body, He is most appropriately said to[Pg 556] have breathed or inspired,—the Immaterial breathing it also immaterial, but the Immutable not also the immutable; for it was created, He uncreated. Yet, that these persons who are forward to quote Scripture, and yet know not the usages of its language, may know that not only what is equal and consubstantial with God is said to proceed out of His mouth, let them hear or read what God says: “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
There is no ground, then, for our objecting, when the apostle so expressly distinguishes the animal body from the spiritual,—that is to say, the body in which we now are from that in which we are to be. He says, “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” Of all which words of his we have previously spoken. The animal body, accordingly, in which the apostle says that the first man Adam was made, was not so made that it could not die at all, but so that it should not die unless he should have sinned. That body, indeed, which shall be made spiritual and immortal by the quickening Spirit shall not be able to die at all; as the soul has been created immortal, and therefore, although by sin it may be said to die, and does lose a certain life of its own, namely, the Spirit of God, by whom it was enabled to live wisely and blessedly, yet it does not cease living a kind of life, though a miserable, because it is immortal by creation. So, too, the rebellious angels, though by sinning they did in a sense die, because they forsook God, the Fountain of life, which while they drank they were able to live wisely and well, yet they could not so die as to utterly cease living and[Pg 557] feeling, for they are immortals by creation. And so, after the final judgment, they shall be hurled into the second death, and not even there be deprived of life or of sensation, but shall suffer torment. But those men who have been embraced by God’s grace, and are become the fellow-citizens of the holy angels who have continued in bliss, shall never more either sin or die, being endued with spiritual bodies; yet, being clothed with immortality, such as the angels enjoy, of which they cannot be divested even by sinning, the nature of their flesh shall continue the same, but all carnal corruption and unwieldiness shall be removed.
There remains a question which must be discussed, and, by the help of the Lord God of truth, solved: If the motion of concupiscence in the unruly members of our first parents arose out of their sin, and only when the divine grace deserted them; and if it was on that occasion that their eyes were opened to see, or, more exactly, notice their nakedness, and that they covered their shame because the shameless motion of their members was not subject to their will,—how, then, would they have begotten children had they remained sinless as they were created? But as this book must be concluded, and so large a question cannot be summarily disposed of, we may relegate it to the following book, in which it will be more conveniently treated.
AUGUSTINE AGAIN TREATS OF THE SIN OF THE FIRST MAN, AND TEACHES THAT IT IS THE CAUSE OF THE CARNAL LIFE AND VICIOUS AFFECTIONS OF MAN. ESPECIALLY HE PROVES THAT THE SHAME WHICH ACCOMPANIES LUST IS THE JUST PUNISHMENT OF THAT DISOBEDIENCE, AND INQUIRES HOW MAN, IF HE HAD NOT SINNED, WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE WITHOUT LUST TO PROPAGATE HIS KIND.
1. That the disobedience of the first man would have plunged all men into the endless misery of the second death, had not the grace of God rescued many.
We have already stated in the preceding books that God, desiring not only that the human race might be able by their similarity of nature to associate with one another, but also that they might be bound together in harmony and peace by the ties of relationship, was pleased to derive all men from one individual, and created man with such a nature that the members of the race should not have died, had not the two first (of whom the one was created out of nothing, and the other out of him) merited this by their disobedience; for by them so great a sin was committed, that by it the human nature was altered for the worse, and was transmitted also to their posterity, liable to sin and subject to death. And the kingdom of death so reigned over men, that the deserved penalty of sin would have hurled all headlong even into the second death, of which there is no end, had not the undeserved grace of God saved some therefrom. And[Pg 2] thus it has come to pass, that though there are very many and great nations all over the earth, whose rites and customs, speech, arms, and dress, are distinguished by marked differences, yet there are no more than two kinds of human society, which we may justly call two cities, according to the language of our Scriptures. The one consists of those who wish to live after the flesh, the other of those who wish to live after the spirit; and when they severally achieve what they wish, they live in peace, each after their kind.
2. Of carnal life, which is to be understood not only of living in bodily indulgence, but also of living in the vices of the inner man.
First, we must see what it is to live after the flesh, and what to live after the spirit. For any one who either does not recollect, or does not sufficiently weigh, the language of sacred Scripture, may, on first hearing what we have said, suppose that the Epicurean philosophers live after the flesh, because they place man’s highest good in bodily pleasure; and that those others do so who have been of opinion that in some form or other bodily good is man’s supreme good; and that the mass of men do so who, without dogmatizing or philosophizing on the subject, are so prone to lust that they cannot delight in any pleasure save such as they receive from bodily sensations: and he may suppose that the Stoics, who place the supreme good of men in the soul, live after the spirit; for what is man’s soul, if not spirit? But in the sense of the divine Scripture both are proved to live after the flesh. For by flesh it means not only the body of a terrestrial and mortal animal, as when it says, “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, another of birds,” but it uses this word in many other significations; and among these various usages, a frequent one is to use flesh for man himself, the nature of man taking the part for the whole, as in the words, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified;” for what does he mean here by “no flesh” but “no man?” And this, indeed, he shortly after says more plainly: “No man shall be justified by the law;” and in the Epistle to the Galatians, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the[Pg 3] works of the law.” And so we understand the words, “And the Word was made flesh,”—that is, man, which some not accepting in its right sense, have supposed that Christ had not a human soul. For as the whole is used for the part in the words of Mary Magdalene in the Gospel, “They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him,” by which she meant only the flesh of Christ, which she supposed had been taken from the tomb where it had been buried, so the part is used for the whole, flesh being named, while man is referred to, as in the quotations above cited.
Since, then, Scripture uses the word flesh in many ways, which there is not time to collect and investigate, if we are to ascertain what it is to live after the flesh (which is certainly evil, though the nature of flesh is not itself evil), we must carefully examine that passage of the epistle which the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, in which he says, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” This whole passage of the apostolic epistle being considered, so far as it bears on the matter in hand, will be sufficient to answer the question, what it is to live after the flesh. For among the works of the flesh which he said were manifest, and which he cited for condemnation, we find not only those which concern the pleasure of the flesh, as fornications, uncleanness, lasciviousness, drunkenness, revellings, but also those which, though they be remote from fleshly pleasure, reveal the vices of the soul. For who does not see that idolatries, witchcrafts, hatreds, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, heresies, envyings, are vices rather of the soul than of the flesh? For it is quite possible for a man to abstain from fleshly pleasures for the sake of idolatry or some heretical error; and yet, even when he does so, he is proved by this apostolic authority to be living after the flesh; and in[Pg 4] abstaining from fleshly pleasure, he is proved to be practising damnable works of the flesh. Who that has enmity has it not in his soul? or who would say to his enemy, or to the man he thinks his enemy, You have a bad flesh towards me, and not rather, You have a bad spirit towards me? In fine, if any one heard of what I may call “carnalities,” he would not fail to attribute them to the carnal part of man; so no one doubts that “animosities” belong to the soul of man. Why then does the doctor of the Gentiles in faith and verity call all these and similar things works of the flesh, unless because, by that mode of speech whereby the part is used for the whole, he means us to understand by the word flesh the man himself?
But if any one says that the flesh is the cause of all vices and ill conduct, inasmuch as the soul lives wickedly only because it is moved by the flesh, it is certain he has not carefully considered the whole nature of man. For “the corruptible body, indeed, weigheth down the soul.” Whence, too, the apostle, speaking of this corruptible body, of which he had shortly before said, “though our outward man perish,” says, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up in life.” We are then burdened with this corruptible body; but knowing that the cause of this burdensomeness is not the nature and substance of the body, but its corruption, we do not desire to be deprived of the body, but to be clothed with its immortality. For then, also, there will be a body, but it shall no longer be a burden, being no longer corruptible. At present, then, “the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon[Pg 5]many things,” nevertheless they are in error who suppose that all the evils of the soul proceed from the body.
Virgil, indeed, seems to express the sentiments of Plato in the beautiful lines, where he says,—
but though he goes on to mention the four most common mental emotions,—desire, fear, joy, sorrow,—with the intention of showing that the body is the origin of all sins and vices, saying,—
yet we believe quite otherwise. For the corruption of the body, which weighs down the soul, is not the cause but the punishment of the first sin; and it was not the corruptible flesh that made the soul sinful, but the sinful soul that made the flesh corruptible. And though from this corruption of the flesh there arise certain incitements to vice, and indeed vicious desires, yet we must not attribute to the flesh all the vices of a wicked life, in case we thereby clear the devil of all these, for he has no flesh. For though we cannot call the devil a fornicator or drunkard, or ascribe to him any sensual indulgence (though he is the secret instigator and prompter of those who sin in these ways), yet he is exceedingly proud and envious. And this viciousness has so possessed him, that on account of it he is reserved in chains of darkness to everlasting punishment. Now these vices, which have dominion over the devil, the apostle attributes to the flesh, which certainly the devil has not. For he says “hatred, variance, emulations, strife, envying” are the works of the flesh; and of all these evils pride is the origin and head, and it rules in the devil though he has no flesh. For who shows more hatred to the saints? who is more at[Pg 6] variance with them? who more envious, bitter, and jealous? And since he exhibits all these works, though he has no flesh, how are they works of the flesh, unless because they are the works of man, who is, as I said, spoken of under the name of flesh? For it is not by having flesh, which the devil has not, but by living according to himself,—that is, according to man,—that man became like the devil. For the devil too, wished to live according to himself when he did not abide in the truth; so that when he lied, this was not of God, but of himself, who is not only a liar, but the father of lies, he being the first who lied, and the originator of lying as of sin.
4. What it is to live according to man, and what to live according to God.
When, therefore, man lives according to man, not according to God, he is like the devil. Because not even an angel might live according to an angel, but only according to God, if he was to abide in the truth, and speak God’s truth and not his own lie. And of man, too, the same apostle says in another place, “If the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie;”—”my lie,” he said, and “God’s truth.” When, then, a man lives according to the truth, he lives not according to himself, but according to God; for He was God who said, “I am the truth.” When, therefore, man lives according to himself,—that is, according to man, not according to God,—assuredly he lives according to a lie; not that man himself is a lie, for God is his author and creator, who is certainly not the author and creator of a lie, but because man was made upright, that he might not live according to himself, but according to Him that made him,—in other words, that he might do His will and not his own; and not to live as he was made to live, that is a lie. For he certainly desires to be blessed even by not living so that he may be blessed. And what is a lie if this desire be not? Wherefore it is not without meaning said that all sin is a lie. For no sin is committed save by that desire or will by which we desire that it be well with us, and shrink from it being ill with us. That, therefore, is a lie which we do in order that it may be well with us, but which makes us more miserable[Pg 7] than we were. And why is this, but because the source of man’s happiness lies only in God, whom he abandons when he sins, and not in himself, by living according to whom he sins?
In enunciating this proposition of ours, then, that because some live according to the flesh and others according to the spirit there have arisen two diverse and conflicting cities, we might equally well have said, “because some live according to man, others according to God.” For Paul says very plainly to the Corinthians, “For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man?” So that to walk according to man and to be carnal are the same; for by flesh, that is, by a part of man, man is meant. For before he said that those same persons were animal whom afterwards he calls carnal, saying, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things which are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the animal man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him.”It is to men of this kind, then, that is, to animal men, he shortly after says, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.” And this is to be interpreted by the same usage, a part being taken for the whole. For both the soul and the flesh, the component parts of man, can be used to signify the whole man; and so the animal man and the carnal man are not two different things, but one and the same thing, viz. man living according to man. In the same way it is nothing else than men that are meant either in the words, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified;” or in the words, “Seventy-five souls went down into Egypt with Jacob.”In the one passage, “no flesh” signifies “no man;” and in the[Pg 8] other, by “seventy-five souls” seventy-five men are meant. And the expression, “not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth,” might equally be “not in words which fleshly wisdom teacheth;” and the expression, “ye walk according to man,” might be “according to the flesh.” And this is still more apparent in the words which followed: “For while one saith, I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not men?” The same thing which he had before expressed by “ye are animal,” “ye are carnal,” he now expresses by “ye are men;” that is, ye live according to man, not according to God, for if you lived according to Him, you should be gods.
5.That the opinion of the Platonists regarding the nature of body and soul is not so censurable as that of the Manichæans, but that even it is objectionable, because it ascribes the origin of vices to the nature of the flesh.
There is no need, therefore, that in our sins and vices we accuse the nature of the flesh to the injury of the Creator, for in its own kind and degree the flesh is good; but to desert the Creator good, and live according to the created good, is not good, whether a man choose to live according to the flesh, or according to the soul, or according to the whole human nature, which is composed of flesh and soul, and which is therefore spoken of either by the name flesh alone, or by the name soul alone. For he who extols the nature of the soul as the chief good, and condemns the nature of the flesh as if it were evil, assuredly is fleshly both in his love of the soul and hatred of the flesh; for these his feelings arise from human fancy, not from divine truth. The Platonists, indeed, are not so foolish as, with the Manichæans, to detest our present bodies as an evil nature; for they attribute all the elements of which this visible and tangible world is compacted, with all their qualities, to God their Creator. Nevertheless, from the death-infected members and earthly construction of the body they believe the soul is so affected, that there are thus originated in it the diseases of desires, and fears, and joy, and sorrow, under which four perturbations, as Cicero calls them, or passions, as most prefer to name them with the Greeks, is included the whole viciousness of human life. But if this be so, how is it that Æneas in Virgil, when he had heard from his father in Hades that[Pg 9] the souls should return to bodies, expresses surprise at this declaration, and exclaims:
This direful longing, then, does it still exist even in that boasted purity of the disembodied spirits, and does it still proceed from the death-infected members and earthly limbs? Does he not assert that, when they begin to long to return to the body, they have already been delivered from all these so-called pestilences of the body? From which we gather that, were this endlessly alternating purification and defilement of departing and returning souls as true as it is most certainly false, yet it could not be averred that all culpable and vicious motions of the soul originate in the earthly body; for, on their own showing, “this direful longing,” to use the words of their noble exponent, is so extraneous to the body, that it moves the soul that is purged of all bodily taint, and is existing apart from any body whatever, and moves it, moreover, to be embodied again. So that even they themselves acknowledge that the soul is not only moved to desire, fear, joy, sorrow, by the flesh, but that it can also be agitated with these emotions at its own instance.
But the character of the human will is of moment; because, if it is wrong, these motions of the soul will be wrong, but if it is right, they will be not merely blameless, but even praiseworthy. For the will is in them all; yea, none of them is anything else than will. For what are desire and joy but a volition of consent to the things we wish? And what are fear and sadness but a volition of aversion from the things which we do not wish? But when consent takes the form of seeking to possess the things we wish, this is called desire; and when consent takes the form of enjoying the things we[Pg 10] wish, this is called joy. In like manner, when we turn with aversion from that which we do not wish to happen, this volition is termed fear; and when we turn away from that which has happened against our will, this act of will is called sorrow. And generally in respect of all that we seek or shun, as a man’s will is attracted or repelled, so it is changed and turned into these different affections. Wherefore the man who lives according to God, and not according to man, ought to be a lover of good, and therefore a hater of evil. And since no one is evil by nature, but whoever is evil is evil by vice, he who lives according to God ought to cherish towards evil men a perfect hatred, so that he shall neither hate the man because of his vice, nor love the vice because of the man, but hate the vice and love the man. For the vice being cursed, all that ought to be loved, and nothing that ought to be hated, will remain.
7. That the words love and regard (amor and dilectio) are in Scripture used indifferently of good and evil affection.
He who resolves to love God, and to love his neighbour as himself, not according to man but according to God, is on account of this love said to be of a good will; and this is in Scripture more commonly called charity, but it is also, even in the same books, called love. For the apostle says that the man to be elected as a ruler of the people must be a lover of good. And when the Lord Himself had asked Peter, “Hast thou a regard for me (diligis) more than these?” Peter replied, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love (amo) Thee.” And again a second time the Lord asked not whether Peter loved (amaret) Him, but whether he had a regard (diligeret) for Him, and he again answered, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love (amo) Thee.” But on the third interrogation the Lord Himself no longer says, “Hast thou a regard (diligis) for me,” but “Lovest thou (amas) me?” And then the evangelist adds, “Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou (amas) me?” though the Lord had not said three times but only once, “Lovest thou (amas) me?” and twice “Diligis me?” from which we gather that, even when the Lord said “diligis,” He used an equivalent for “amas.” Peter, too, throughout used one word[Pg 11] for the one thing, and the third time also replied, “Lord, Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love (amo) Thee.”
I have judged it right to mention this, because some are of opinion that charity or regard (dilectio) is one thing, love (amor) another. They say that dilectio is used of a good affection, amor of an evil love. But it is very certain that even secular literature knows no such distinction. However, it is for the philosophers to determine whether and how they differ, though their own writings sufficiently testify that they make great account of love (amor) placed on good objects, and even on God Himself. But we wished to show that the Scriptures of our religion, whose authority we prefer to all writings whatsoever, make no distinction between amor, dilectio, and caritas; and we have already shown that amor is used in a good connection. And if any one fancy that amor is no doubt used both of good and bad loves, but that dilectio is reserved for the good only, let him remember what the psalm says, “He that loveth (diligit) iniquity hateth his own soul;” and the words of the Apostle John, “If any man love (diligere) the world, the love (dilectio) of the Father is not in him.” Here you have in one passage dilectio used both in a good and a bad sense. And if any one demands an instance of amor being used in a bad sense (for we have already shown its use in a good sense), let him read the words, “For men shall be lovers (amantes) of their own selves, lovers (amatores) of money.”
The right will is, therefore, well-directed love, and the wrong will is ill-directed love. Love, then, yearning to have what is loved, is desire; and having and enjoying it, is joy; fleeing what is opposed to it, it is fear; and feeling what is opposed to it, when it has befallen it, it is sadness. Now these motions are evil if the love is evil; good if the love is good. What we assert let us prove from Scripture. The apostle “desires to depart, and to be with Christ.” And, “My soul desired to long for Thy judgments;” or if it is more appropriate to say, “My soul longed to desire Thy judgments.” And, “The desire of wisdom bringeth to a kingdom.”[Pg 12] Yet there has always obtained the usage of understanding desire and concupiscence in a bad sense if the object be not defined. But joy is used in a good sense: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous.” And, “Thou hast put gladness in my heart.” And, “Thou wilt fill me with joy with Thy countenance.” Fear is used in a good sense by the apostle when he says, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” And, “Be not high-minded, but fear.” And, “I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” But with respect to sadness, which Cicero prefers to call sickness (ægritudo), and Virgil pain (dolor) (as he says, “Dolent gaudentque“), but which I prefer to call sorrow, because sickness and pain are more commonly used to express bodily suffering,—with respect to this emotion, I say, the question whether it can be used in a good sense is more difficult.
8. Of the three perturbations, which the Stoics admitted in the soul of the wise man to the exclusion of grief or sadness, which the manly mind ought not to experience.
Those emotions which the Greeks call εὐπαθείαι, and which Cicero calls constantiæ, the Stoics would restrict to three; and, instead of three “perturbations” in the soul of the wise man, they substituted severally, in place of desire, will; in place of joy, contentment; and for fear, caution; and as to sickness or pain, which we, to avoid ambiguity, preferred to call sorrow, they denied that it could exist in the mind of a wise man. Will, they say, seeks the good, for this the wise man does. Contentment has its object in good that is possessed, and this the wise man continually possesses. Caution avoids evil, and this the wise man ought to avoid. But sorrow arises from evil that has already happened; and as they suppose that no evil can happen to the wise man, there can be no representative of sorrow in his mind. According to them, therefore, none but the wise man wills, is contented, uses caution; and that the fool can do no more than desire, rejoice, fear, be sad. The former three affections[Pg 13] Cicero calls constantiæ, the last four perturbationes. Many, however, call these last passions; and, as I have said, the Greeks call the former εὐπαθείαι, and the latter πάθη. And when I made a careful examination of Scripture to find whether this terminology was sanctioned by it, I came upon this saying of the prophet: “There is no contentment to the wicked, saith the Lord;” as if the wicked might more properly rejoice than be contented regarding evils, for contentment is the property of the good and godly. I found also that verse in the Gospel: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them;” which seems to imply that evil or shameful things may be the object of desire, but not of will. Indeed, some interpreters have added “good things” to make the expression more in conformity with customary usage, and have given this meaning, “Whatsoever good deeds that ye would that men should do unto you.” For they thought that this would prevent any one from wishing other men to provide him with unseemly, not to say shameful, gratifications,—luxurious banquets, for example,—on the supposition that if he returned the like to them he would be fulfilling this precept. In the Greek Gospel, however, from which the Latin is translated, “good” does not occur, but only, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them,” and, as I believe, because “good” is already included in the word “would;” for He does not say “desire.”
Yet though we may sometimes avail ourselves of these precise proprieties of language, we are not to be always bridled by them; and when we read those writers against whose authority it is unlawful to reclaim, we must accept the meanings above mentioned in passages where a right sense can be educed by no other interpretation, as in those instances we adduced partly from the prophet, partly from the Gospel. For who does not know that the wicked exult with joy? Yet “there is no contentment for the wicked, saith the Lord.” And how so, unless because contentment, when the word is used in its proper and distinctive significance, means something different from joy? In like manner,[Pg 14] who would deny that it were wrong to enjoin upon men that whatever they desire others to do to them they should themselves do to others, lest they should mutually please one another by shameful and illicit pleasure? And yet the precept, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them,” is very wholesome and just. And how is this, unless because the will is in this place used strictly, and signifies that will which cannot have evil for its object? But ordinary phraseology would not have allowed the saying, “Be unwilling to make any manner of lie,” had there not been also an evil will, whose wickedness separates it from that which the angels celebrated, “Peace on earth, of good will to men.” For “good” is superfluous if there is no other kind of will but good will. And why should the apostle have mentioned it among the praises of charity as a great thing, that “it rejoices not in iniquity,” unless because wickedness does so rejoice? For even with secular writers these words are used indifferently. For Cicero, that most fertile of orators, says, “I desire, conscript fathers, to be merciful.” And who would be so pedantic as to say that he should have said “I will” rather than “I desire,” because the word is used in a good connection? Again, in Terence, the profligate youth, burning with wild lust, says, “I will nothing else than Philumena.” That this “will” was lust is sufficiently indicated by the answer of his old servant which is there introduced: “How much better were it to try and banish that love from your heart, than to speak so as uselessly to inflame your passion still more!” And that contentment was used by secular writers in a bad sense, that verse of Virgil testifies, in which he most succinctly comprehends these four perturbations,—
The same author had also used the expression, “the evil contentments of the mind.” So that good and bad men alike will, are cautious, and contented; or, to say the same thing in other words, good and bad men alike desire, fear, rejoice, but the former in a good, the latter in a bad fashion, according as the will is right or wrong. Sorrow itself, too,[Pg 15] which the Stoics would not allow to be represented in the mind of the wise man, is used in a good sense, and especially in our writings. For the apostle praises the Corinthians because they had a godly sorrow. But possibly some one may say that the apostle congratulated them because they were penitently sorry, and that such sorrow can exist only in those who have sinned. For these are his words: “For I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For, behold, this selfsame thing that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you!” Consequently the Stoics may defend themselves by replying, that sorrow is indeed useful for repentance of sin, but that this can have no place in the mind of the wise man, inasmuch as no sin attaches to him of which he could sorrowfully repent, nor any other evil the endurance or experience of which could make him sorrowful. For they say that Alcibiades (if my memory does not deceive me), who believed himself happy, shed tears when Socrates argued with him, and demonstrated that he was miserable because he was foolish. In his case, therefore, folly was the cause of this useful and desirable sorrow, wherewith a man mourns that he is what he ought not to be. But the Stoics maintain not that the fool, but that the wise man, cannot be sorrowful.
9. Of the perturbations of the soul which appear as right affections in the life of the righteous.
But so far as regards this question of mental perturbations, we have answered these philosophers in the ninth book of this work, showing that it is rather a verbal than a real dispute, and that they seek contention rather than truth. Among ourselves, according to the sacred Scriptures and sound doctrine, the citizens of the holy city of God, who live according to God in the pilgrimage of this life, both fear and desire, and grieve and rejoice. And because their love is[Pg 16] rightly placed, all these affections of theirs are right. They fear eternal punishment, they desire eternal life; they grieve because they themselves groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of their body; they rejoice in hope, because there “shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” In like manner they fear to sin, they desire to persevere; they grieve in sin, they rejoice in good works. They fear to sin, because they hear that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” They desire to persevere, because they hear that it is written, “He that endureth to the end shall be saved.” They grieve for sin, hearing that “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” They rejoice in good works, because they hear that “the Lord loveth a cheerful giver.” In like manner, according as they are strong or weak, they fear or desire to be tempted, grieve or rejoice in temptation. They fear to be tempted, because they hear the injunction, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” They desire to be tempted, because they hear one of the heroes of the city of God saying, “Examine me, O Lord, and tempt me: try my reins and my heart.” They grieve in temptations, because they see Peter weeping; they rejoice in temptations, because they hear James saying, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”
And not only on their own account do they experience these emotions, but also on account of those whose deliverance they desire and whose perdition they fear, and whose loss or salvation affects them with grief or with joy. For if we who have come into the Church from among the Gentiles may suitably instance that noble and mighty hero who glories in his infirmities, the teacher (doctor) of the nations in faith and truth, who also laboured more than all his fellow-apostles, and instructed the tribes of God’s people by his[Pg 17] epistles, which edified not only those of his own time, but all those who were to be gathered in,—that hero, I say, and athlete of Christ, instructed by Him, anointed of His Spirit, crucified with Him, glorious in Him, lawfully maintaining a great conflict on the theatre of this world, and being made a spectacle to angels and men, and pressing onwards for the prize of his high calling,—very joyfully do we with the eyes of faith behold him rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them that weep; though hampered by fightings without and fears within; desiring to depart and to be with Christ; longing to see the Romans, that he might have some fruit among them as among other Gentiles; being jealous over the Corinthians, and fearing in that jealousy lest their minds should be corrupted from the chastity that is in Christ; having great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for the Israelites, because they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God; and expressing not only his sorrow, but bitter lamentation over some who had formally sinned and had not repented of their uncleanness and fornications.
If these emotions and affections, arising as they do from the love of what is good and from a holy charity, are to be called vices, then let us allow these emotions which are truly vices to pass under the name of virtues. But since these affections, when they are exercised in a becoming way, follow the guidance of right reason, who will dare to say that they are diseases or vicious passions? Wherefore even the Lord Himself, when He condescended to lead a human life in the form of a slave, had no sin whatever, and yet exercised these emotions where He judged they should be exercised. For as there was in Him a true human body and a true human soul, so was there also a true human emotion. When, therefore, we read in the Gospel that the hard-heartedness of the Jews moved Him to sorrowful indignation, that[Pg 18] He said, “I am glad for your sakes, to the intent ye may believe,” that when about to raise Lazarus He even shed tears, that He earnestly desired to eat the passover with His disciples, that as His passion drew near His soul was sorrowful, these emotions are certainly not falsely ascribed to Him. But as He became man when it pleased Him, so, in the grace of His definite purpose, when it pleased Him He experienced those emotions in His human soul.
But we must further make the admission, that even when these affections are well regulated, and according to God’s will, they are peculiar to this life, not to that future life we look for, and that often we yield to them against our will. And thus sometimes we weep in spite of ourselves, being carried beyond ourselves, not indeed by culpable desire, but by praiseworthy charity. In us, therefore, these affections arise from human infirmity; but it was not so with the Lord Jesus, for even His infirmity was the consequence of His power. But so long as we wear the infirmity of this life, we are rather worse men than better if we have none of these emotions at all. For the apostle vituperated and abominated some who, as he said, were “without natural affection.” The sacred Psalmist also found fault with those of whom he said, “I looked for some to lament with me, and there was none.” For to be quite free from pain while we are in this place of misery is only purchased, as one of this world’s literati perceived and remarked, at the price of blunted sensibilities both of mind and body. And therefore that which the Greeks call ἀπάθεια, and what the Latins would call, if their language would allow them, “impassibilitas,” if it be taken to mean an impassibility of spirit and not of body, or, in other words, a freedom from those emotions which are contrary to reason and disturb the mind, then it is obviously a good and most desirable quality, but it is not one which is attainable in this life. For the words of the apostle are the confession, not of the common herd, but of the eminently pious, just, and holy men: “If we say we have no sin, we[Pg 19] deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” When there shall be no sin in a man, then there shall be this ἀπάθεια. At present it is enough if we live without crime; and he who thinks he lives without sin puts aside not sin, but pardon. And if that is to be called apathy, where the mind is the subject of no emotion, then who would not consider this insensibility to be worse than all vices? It may, indeed, reasonably be maintained that the perfect blessedness we hope for shall be free from all sting of fear or sadness; but who that is not quite lost to truth would say that neither love nor joy shall be experienced there? But if by apathy a condition be meant in which no fear terrifies nor any pain annoys, we must in this life renounce such a state if we would live according to God’s will, but may hope to enjoy it in that blessedness which is promised as our eternal condition.
For that fear of which the Apostle John says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love,”—that fear is not of the same kind as the Apostle Paul felt lest the Corinthians should be seduced by the subtlety of the serpent; for love is susceptible of this fear, yea, love alone is capable of it. But the fear which is not in love is of that kind of which Paul himself says, “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.”But as for that “clean fear which endureth for ever,” if it is to exist in the world to come (and how else can it be said to endure for ever?), it is not a fear deterring us from evil which may happen, but preserving us in the good which cannot be lost. For where the love of acquired good is unchangeable, there certainly the fear that avoids evil is, if I may say so, free from anxiety. For under the name of “clean fear” David signifies that will by which we shall necessarily shrink from sin, and guard against it, not with the anxiety of weakness, which fears that we may strongly sin, but with the tranquillity of perfect love. Or if no kind of fear at all shall exist in that most imperturbable security of perpetual and blissful delights, then the expression, “The fear[Pg 20] of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever,” must be taken in the same sense as that other, “The patience of the poor shall not perish for ever.” For patience, which is necessary only where ills are to be borne, shall not be eternal, but that which patience leads us to will be eternal. So perhaps this “clean fear” is said to endure for ever, because that to which fear leads shall endure.
And since this is so,—since we must live a good life in order to attain to a blessed life,—a good life has all these affections right, a bad life has them wrong. But in the blessed life eternal there will be love and joy, not only right, but also assured; but fear and grief there will be none. Whence it already appears in some sort what manner of persons the citizens of the city of God must be in this their pilgrimage, who live after the spirit, not after the flesh,—that is to say, according to God, not according to man,—and what manner of persons they shall be also in that immortality whither they are journeying. And the city or society of the wicked, who live not according to God, but according to man, and who accept the doctrines of men or devils in the worship of a false and contempt of the true divinity, is shaken with those wicked emotions as by diseases and disturbances. And if there be some of its citizens who seem to restrain and, as it were, temper those passions, they are so elated with ungodly pride, that their disease is as much greater as their pain is less. And if some, with a vanity monstrous in proportion to its rarity, have become enamoured of themselves because they can be stimulated and excited by no emotion, moved or bent by no affection, such persons rather lose all humanity than obtain true tranquillity. For a thing is not necessarily right because it is inflexible, nor healthy because it is insensible.
10. Whether it is to be believed that our first parents in Paradise, before they sinned, were free from all perturbation.
But it is a fair question, whether our first parent or first parents (for there was a marriage of two), before they sinned, experienced in their animal body such emotions as we shall not experience in the spiritual body when sin has been[Pg 21] purged and finally abolished. For if they did, then how were they blessed in that boasted place of bliss, Paradise? For who that is affected by fear or grief can be called absolutely blessed? And what could those persons fear or suffer in such affluence of blessings, where neither death nor ill-health was feared, and where nothing was wanting which a good will could desire, and nothing present which could interrupt man’s mental or bodily enjoyment? Their love to God was unclouded, and their mutual affection was that of faithful and sincere marriage; and from this love flowed a wonderful delight, because they always enjoyed what was loved. Their avoidance of sin was tranquil; and, so long as it was maintained, no other ill at all could invade them and bring sorrow. Or did they perhaps desire to touch and eat the forbidden fruit, yet feared to die; and thus both fear and desire already, even in that blissful place, preyed upon those first of mankind? Away with the thought that such could be the case where there was no sin! And, indeed, this is already sin, to desire those things which the law of God forbids, and to abstain from them through fear of punishment, not through love of righteousness. Away, I say, with the thought, that before there was any sin, there should already have been committed regarding that fruit the very sin which our Lord warns us against regarding a woman: “Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” As happy, then, as were these our first parents, who were agitated by no mental perturbations, and annoyed by no bodily discomforts, so happy should the whole human race have been, had they not introduced that evil which they have transmitted to their posterity, and had none of their descendants committed iniquity worthy of damnation; but this original blessedness continuing until, in virtue of that benediction which said, “Increase and multiply,” the number of the predestined saints should have been completed, there would then have been bestowed that higher felicity which is enjoyed by the most blessed angels,—a blessedness in which there should have been a secure assurance that no one would sin, and no[Pg 22] one die; and so should the saints have lived, after no taste of labour, pain, or death, as now they shall live in the resurrection, after they have endured all these things.
11. Of the fall of the first man, in whom nature was created good, and can be restored only by its Author.
But because God foresaw all things, and was therefore not ignorant that man also would fall, we ought to consider this holy city in connection with what God foresaw and ordained, and not according to our own ideas, which do not embrace God’s ordination. For man, by his sin, could not disturb the divine counsel, nor compel God to change what He had decreed; for God’s foreknowledge had anticipated both,—that is to say, both how evil the man whom He had created good should become, and what good He Himself should even thus derive from him. For though God is said to change His determinations (so that in a tropical sense the Holy Scripture says even that God repented), this is said with reference to man’s expectation, or the order of natural causes, and not with reference to that which the Almighty had foreknown that He would do. Accordingly God, as it is written, made man upright, and consequently with a good will. For if he had not had a good will, he could not have been upright. The good will, then, is the work of God; for God created him with it. But the first evil will, which preceded all man’s evil acts, was rather a kind of falling away from the work of God to its own works than any positive work. And therefore the acts resulting were evil, not having God, but the will itself for their end; so that the will or the man himself, so far as his will is bad, was as it were the evil tree bringing forth evil fruit. Moreover, the bad will, though it be not in harmony with, but opposed to nature, inasmuch as it is a vice or blemish, yet it is true of it as of all vice, that it cannot exist except in a nature, and only in a nature created out of nothing, and not in that which the Creator has begotten of Himself, as He begot the Word, by whom all things were made. For though God formed man of the dust of the earth, yet the earth itself, and every earthly material, is absolutely created out of nothing; and man’s soul, too, God created out[Pg 23] of nothing, and joined to the body, when He made man. But evils are so thoroughly overcome by good, that though they are permitted to exist, for the sake of demonstrating how the most righteous foresight of God can make a good use even of them, yet good can exist without evil, as in the true and supreme God Himself, and as in every invisible and visible celestial creature that exists above this murky atmosphere; but evil cannot exist without good, because the natures in which evil exists, in so far as they are natures, are good. And evil is removed, not by removing any nature, or part of a nature, which had been introduced by the evil, but by healing and correcting that which had been vitiated and depraved. The will, therefore, is then truly free, when it is not the slave of vices and sins. Such was it given us by God; and this being lost by its own fault, can only be restored by Him who was able at first to give it. And therefore the truth says, “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed;” which is equivalent to saying, If the Son shall save you, ye shall be saved indeed. For He is our Liberator, inasmuch as He is our Saviour.
Man then lived with God for his rule in a paradise at once physical and spiritual. For neither was it a paradise only physical for the advantage of the body, and not also spiritual for the advantage of the mind; nor was it only spiritual to afford enjoyment to man by his internal sensations, and not also physical to afford him enjoyment through his external senses. But obviously it was both for both ends. But after that proud and therefore envious angel (of whose fall I have said as much as I was able in the eleventh and twelfth books of this work, as well as that of his fellows, who, from being God’s angels, became his angels), preferring to rule with a kind of pomp of empire rather than to be another’s subject, fell from the spiritual Paradise, and essaying to insinuate his persuasive guile into the mind of man, whose unfallen condition provoked him to envy now that himself was fallen, he chose the serpent as his mouthpiece in that bodily Paradise in which it and all the other earthly animals were living with those two human beings, the man and his wife, subject to[Pg 24] them, and harmless; and he chose the serpent because, being slippery, and moving in tortuous windings, it was suitable for his purpose. And this animal being subdued to his wicked ends by the presence and superior force of his angelic nature, he abused as his instrument, and first tried his deceit upon the woman, making his assault upon the weaker part of that human alliance, that he might gradually gain the whole, and not supposing that the man would readily give ear to him, or be deceived, but that he might yield to the error of the woman. For as Aaron was not induced to agree with the people when they blindly wished him to make an idol, and yet yielded to constraint; and as it is not credible that Solomon was so blind as to suppose that idols should be worshipped, but was drawn over to such sacrilege by the blandishments of women; so we cannot believe that Adam was deceived, and supposed the devil’s word to be truth, and therefore transgressed God’s law, but that he by the drawings of kindred yielded to the woman, the husband to the wife, the one human being to the only other human being. For not without significance did the apostle say, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression;” but he speaks thus, because the woman accepted as true what the serpent told her, but the man could not bear to be severed from his only companion, even though this involved a partnership in sin. He was not on this account less culpable, but sinned with his eyes open. And so the apostle does not say, “He did not sin,” but “He was not deceived.” For he shows that he sinned when he says, “By one man sin entered into the world,” and immediately after more distinctly, “In the likeness of Adam’s transgression.” But he meant that those are deceived who do not judge that which they do to be sin; but he knew. Otherwise how were it true “Adam was not deceived?” But having as yet no experience of the divine severity, he was possibly deceived in so far as he thought his sin venial. And consequently he was not deceived as the woman was deceived, but he was deceived as to the judgment which would be passed on his apology: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me, and I did[Pg 25] eat.” What need of saying more? Although they were not both deceived by credulity, yet both were entangled in the snares of the devil, and taken by sin.
12. Of the nature of man’s first sin.
If any one finds a difficulty in understanding why other sins do not alter human nature as it was altered by the transgression of those first human beings, so that on account of it this nature is subject to the great corruption we feel and see, and to death, and is distracted and tossed with so many furious and contending emotions, and is certainly far different from what it was before sin, even though it were then lodged in an animal body,—if, I say, any one is moved by this, he ought not to think that that sin was a small and light one because it was committed about food, and that not bad nor noxious, except because it was forbidden; for in that spot of singular felicity God could not have created and planted any evil thing. But by the precept He gave, God commended obedience, which is, in a sort, the mother and guardian of all the virtues in the reasonable creature, which was so created that submission is advantageous to it, while the fulfilment of its own will in preference to the Creator’s is destruction. And as this commandment enjoining abstinence from one kind of food in the midst of great abundance of other kinds was so easy to keep,—so light a burden to the memory,—and, above all, found no resistance to its observance in lust, which only afterwards sprung up as the penal consequence of sin, the iniquity of violating it was all the greater in proportion to the ease with which it might have been kept.
13. That in Adam’s sin an evil will preceded the evil act.
Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and[Pg 26] becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction. And it does so when it falls away from that unchangeable good which ought to satisfy it more than itself. This falling away is spontaneous; for if the will had remained stedfast in the love of that higher and changeless good by which it was illumined to intelligence and kindled into love, it would not have turned away to find satisfaction in itself, and so become frigid and benighted; the woman would not have believed the serpent spoke the truth, nor would the man have preferred the request of his wife to the command of God, nor have supposed that it was a venial transgression to cleave to the partner of his life even in a partnership of sin. The wicked deed, then,—that is to say, the transgression of eating the forbidden fruit,—was committed by persons who were already wicked. That “evil fruit” could be brought forth only by “a corrupt tree.” But that the tree was evil was not the result of nature; for certainly it could become so only by the vice of the will, and vice is contrary to nature. Now, nature could not have been depraved by vice had it not been made out of nothing. Consequently, that it is a nature, this is because it is made by God; but that it falls away from Him, this is because it is made out of nothing. But man did not so fall away as to become absolutely nothing; but being turned towards himself, his being became more contracted than it was when he clave to Him who supremely is. Accordingly, to exist in himself, that is, to be his own satisfaction after abandoning God, is not quite to become a nonentity, but to approximate to that. And therefore the holy Scriptures designate the proud by another name, “self-pleasers.” For it is good to have the heart lifted up, yet not to one’s self, for this is proud, but to the Lord, for this is obedient, and can be the act only of the humble. There is, therefore, something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart, and something in pride which debases it. This seems, indeed, to be contradictory, that loftiness should debase and lowliness exalt. But pious humility enables us to submit to what is above us; and nothing is more exalted above us than God; and therefore[Pg 27] humility, by making us subject to God, exalts us. But pride, being a defect of nature, by the very act of refusing subjection and revolting from Him who is supreme, falls to a low condition; and then comes to pass what is written: “Thou castedst them down when they lifted up themselves.” For he does not say, “when they had been lifted up,” as if first they were exalted, and then afterwards cast down; but “when they lifted up themselves” even then they were cast down,—that is to say, the very lifting up was already a fall. And therefore it is that humility is specially recommended to the city of God as it sojourns in this world, and is specially exhibited in the city of God, and in the person of Christ its King; while the contrary vice of pride, according to the testimony of the sacred writings, specially rules his adversary the devil. And certainly this is the great difference which distinguishes the two cities of which we speak, the one being the society of the godly men, the other of the ungodly, each associated with the angels that adhere to their party, and the one guided and fashioned by love of self, the other by love of God.
The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself. It was this that made him listen with pleasure to the words, “Ye shall be as gods,” which they would much more readily have accomplished by obediently adhering to their supreme and true end than by proudly living to themselves. For created gods are gods not by virtue of what is in themselves, but by a participation of the true God. By craving to be more, man becomes less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices him. Accordingly, this wicked desire which prompts man to please himself as if he were himself light, and which thus turns him away from that light by which, had he followed it, he would himself have become light,—this wicked desire, I say, already secretly existed in him, and the open sin was but its consequence. For that is true which is written, “Pride goeth before destruction, and before honour is humility;” that is to say, secret ruin precedes open ruin, while the former is not counted ruin. For who counts exaltation[Pg 28] ruin, though no sooner is the Highest forsaken than a fall is begun? But who does not recognise it as ruin, when there occurs an evident and indubitable transgression of the commandment? And consequently, God’s prohibition had reference to such an act as, when committed, could not be defended on any pretence of doing what was righteous. And I make bold to say that it is useful for the proud to fall into an open and indisputable transgression, and so displease themselves, as already, by pleasing themselves, they had fallen. For Peter was in a healthier condition when he wept and was dissatisfied with himself, than when he boldly presumed and satisfied himself. And this is averred by the sacred Psalmist when he says, “Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Thy name, O Lord;” that is, that they who have pleased themselves in seeking their own glory may be pleased and satisfied with Thee in seeking Thy glory.
14. Of the pride in the sin, which was worse than the sin itself.
But it is a worse and more damnable pride which casts about for the shelter of an excuse even in manifest sins, as these our first parents did, of whom the woman said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat;” and the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Here there is no word of begging pardon, no word of entreaty for healing. For though they do not, like Cain, deny that they have perpetrated the deed, yet their pride seeks to refer its wickedness to another,—the woman’s pride to the serpent, the man’s to the woman. But where there is a plain transgression of a divine commandment, this is rather to accuse than to excuse oneself. For the fact that the woman sinned on the serpent’s persuasion, and the man at the woman’s offer, did not make the transgression less, as if there were any one whom we ought rather to believe or yield to than God.
15. Of the justice of the punishment with which our first parents were visited for their disobedience.
Therefore, because the sin was a despising of the authority[Pg 29] of God,—who had created man; who had made him in His own image; who had set him above the other animals; who had placed him in Paradise; who had enriched him with abundance of every kind and of safety; who had laid upon him neither many, nor great, nor difficult commandments, but, in order to make a wholesome obedience easy to him, had given him a single very brief and very light precept by which He reminded that creature whose service was to be free that He was Lord,—it was just that condemnation followed, and condemnation such that man, who by keeping the commandments should have been spiritual even in his flesh, became fleshly even in his spirit; and as in his pride he had sought to be his own satisfaction, God in His justice abandoned him to himself, not to live in the absolute independence he affected, but instead of the liberty he desired, to live dissatisfied with himself in a hard and miserable bondage to him to whom by sinning he had yielded himself, doomed in spite of himself to die in body as he had willingly become dead in spirit, condemned even to eternal death (had not the grace of God delivered him) because he had forsaken eternal life. Whoever thinks such punishment either excessive or unjust shows his inability to measure the great iniquity of sinning where sin might so easily have been avoided. For as Abraham’s obedience is with justice pronounced to be great, because the thing commanded, to kill his son, was very difficult, so in Paradise the disobedience was the greater, because the difficulty of that which was commanded was imperceptible. And as the obedience of the second Man was the more laudable because He became obedient even “unto death,” so the disobedience of the first man was the more detestable because he became disobedient even unto death. For where the penalty annexed to disobedience is great, and the thing commanded by the Creator is easy, who can sufficiently estimate how great a wickedness it is, in a matter so easy, not to obey the authority of so great a power, even when that power deters with so terrible a penalty?
In short, to say all in a word, what but disobedience was the punishment of disobedience in that sin? For what else[Pg 30] is man’s misery but his own disobedience to himself, so that in consequence of his not being willing to do what he could do, he now wills to do what he cannot? For though he could not do all things in Paradise before he sinned, yet he wished to do only what he could do, and therefore he could do all things he wished. But now, as we recognise in his offspring, and as divine Scripture testifies, “Man is like to vanity.” For who can count how many things he wishes which he cannot do, so long as he is disobedient to himself, that is, so long as his mind and his flesh do not obey his will? For in spite of himself his mind is both frequently disturbed, and his flesh suffers, and grows old, and dies; and in spite of ourselves we suffer whatever else we suffer, and which we would not suffer if our nature absolutely and in all its parts obeyed our will. But is it not the infirmities of the flesh which hamper it in its service? Yet what does it matter how its service is hampered, so long as the fact remains, that by the just retribution of the sovereign God whom we refused to be subject to and serve, our flesh, which was subjected to us, now torments us by insubordination, although our disobedience brought trouble on ourselves, not upon God? For He is not in need of our service as we of our body’s; and therefore what we did was no punishment to Him, but what we receive is so to us. And the pains which are called bodily are pains of the soul in and from the body. For what pain or desire can the flesh feel by itself and without the soul? But when the flesh is said to desire or to suffer, it is meant, as we have explained, that the man does so, or some part of the soul which is affected by the sensation of the flesh, whether a harsh sensation causing pain, or gentle, causing pleasure. But pain in the flesh is only a discomfort of the soul arising from the flesh, and a kind of shrinking from its suffering, as the pain of the soul which is called sadness is a shrinking from those things which have happened to us in spite of ourselves. But sadness is frequently preceded by fear, which is itself in the soul, not in the flesh; while bodily pain is not preceded by any kind of fear of the flesh, which can be felt in the flesh before the pain. But pleasure is preceded[Pg 31] by a certain appetite which is felt in the flesh like a craving, as hunger and thirst and that generative appetite which is most commonly identified with the name “lust,” though this is the generic word for all desires. For anger itself was defined by the ancients as nothing else than the lust of revenge; although sometimes a man is angry even at inanimate objects which cannot feel his vengeance, as when one breaks a pen, or crushes a quill that writes badly. Yet even this, though less reasonable, is in its way a lust of revenge, and is, so to speak, a mysterious kind of shadow of [the great law of] retribution, that they who do evil should suffer evil. There is therefore a lust for revenge, which is called anger; there is a lust of money, which goes by the name of avarice; there is a lust of conquering, no matter by what means, which is called opinionativeness; there is a lust of applause, which is named boasting. There are many and various lusts, of which some have names of their own, while others have not. For who could readily give a name to the lust of ruling, which yet has a powerful influence in the soul of tyrants, as civil wars bear witness?
16. Of the evil of lust,—a word which, though applicable to many vices, is specially appropriated to sexual uncleanness.
Although, therefore, lust may have many objects, yet when no object is specified, the word lust usually suggests to the mind the lustful excitement of the organs of generation. And this lust not only takes possession of the whole body and outward members, but also makes itself felt within, and moves the whole man with a passion in which mental emotion is mingled with bodily appetite, so that the pleasure which results is the greatest of all bodily pleasures. So possessing indeed is this pleasure, that at the moment of time in which it is consummated, all mental activity is suspended. What friend of wisdom and holy joys, who, being married, but knowing, as the apostle says, “how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the disease of desire, as the Gentiles who know not God,” would not prefer, if this were possible, to beget children without this lust, so that in this[Pg 32] function of begetting offspring the members created for this purpose should not be stimulated by the heat of lust, but should be actuated by his volition, in the same way as his other members serve him for their respective ends? But even those who delight in this pleasure are not moved to it at their own will, whether they confine themselves to lawful or transgress to unlawful pleasures; but sometimes this lust importunes them in spite of themselves, and sometimes fails them when they desire to feel it, so that though lust rages in the mind, it stirs not in the body. Thus, strangely enough, this emotion not only fails to obey the legitimate desire to beget offspring, but also refuses to serve lascivious lust; and though it often opposes its whole combined energy to the soul that resists it, sometimes also it is divided against itself, and while it moves the soul, leaves the body unmoved.
17. Of the nakedness of our first parents, which they saw after their base and shameful sin.
Justly is shame very specially connected with this lust; justly, too, these members themselves, being moved and restrained not at our will, but by a certain independent autocracy, so to speak, are called “shameful.” Their condition was different before sin. For as it is written, “They were naked and were not ashamed,”—not that their nakedness was unknown to them, but because nakedness was not yet shameful, because not yet did lust move those members without the will’s consent; not yet did the flesh by its disobedience testify against the disobedience of man. For they were not created blind, as the unenlightened vulgar fancy; for Adam saw the animals to whom he gave names, and of Eve we read, “The woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes.” Their eyes, therefore, were open, but were not open to this, that is to say, were not observant so as to recognise what was conferred upon them by the garment of grace, for they had no consciousness of their members warring against their will. But when they[Pg 33] were stripped of this grace, that their disobedience might be punished by fit retribution, there began in the movement of their bodily members a shameless novelty which made nakedness indecent: it at once made them observant and made them ashamed. And therefore, after they violated God’s command by open transgression, it is written: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” “The eyes of them both were opened,” not to see, for already they saw, but to discern between the good they had lost and the evil into which they had fallen. And therefore also the tree itself which they were forbidden to touch was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from this circumstance, that if they ate of it it would impart to them this knowledge. For the discomfort of sickness reveals the pleasure of health. “They knew,” therefore, “that they were naked,”—naked of that grace which prevented them from being ashamed of bodily nakedness while the law of sin offered no resistance to their mind. And thus they obtained a knowledge which they would have lived in blissful ignorance of, had they, in trustful obedience to God, declined to commit that offence which involved them in the experience of the hurtful effects of unfaithfulness and disobedience. And therefore, being ashamed of the disobedience of their own flesh, which witnessed to their disobedience while it punished it, “they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons,” that is, cinctures for their privy parts; for some interpreters have rendered the word by succinctoria. Campestria is, indeed, a Latin word, but it is used of the drawers or aprons used for a similar purpose by the young men who stripped for exercise in the campus; hence those who were so girt were commonly called campestrati. Shame modestly covered that which lust disobediently moved in opposition to the will which was thus punished[Pg 34]for its own disobedience. Consequently all nations, being propagated from that one stock, have so strong an instinct to cover the shameful parts, that some barbarians do not uncover them even in the bath, but wash with their drawers on. In the dark solitudes of India also, though some philosophers go naked, and are therefore called gymnosophists, yet they make an exception in the case of these members, and cover them.
18. Of the shame which attends all sexual intercourse.
Lust requires for its consummation darkness and secrecy; and this not only when unlawful intercourse is desired, but even such fornication as the earthly city has legalized. Where there is no fear of punishment, these permitted pleasures still shrink from the public eye. Even where provision is made for this lust, secrecy also is provided; and while lust found it easy to remove the prohibitions of law, shamelessness found it impossible to lay aside the veil of retirement. For even shameless men call this shameful; and though they love the pleasure, dare not display it. What! does not even conjugal intercourse, sanctioned as it is by law for the propagation of children, legitimate and honourable though it be, does it not seek retirement from every eye? Before the bridegroom fondles his bride, does he not exclude the attendants, and even the paranymphs, and such friends as the closest ties have admitted to the bridal chamber? The greatest master of Roman eloquence says, that all right actions wish to be set in the light, i.e.desire to be known. This right action, however, has such a desire to be known, that yet it blushes to be seen. Who does not know what passes between husband and wife that children may be born? Is it not for this purpose that wives are married with such ceremony? And yet, when this well-understood act is gone about for the procreation of children, not even the children themselves, who may already have been born to them, are suffered to be witnesses. This right action seeks the light, in so far as it seeks to be known, but yet dreads being seen. And why so, if not because that which is by nature fitting and decent is so done as to be accompanied with a shame-begetting penalty of sin?
19. That it is now necessary, as it was not before man sinned, to bridle anger and lust by the restraining influence of wisdom.
Hence it is that even the philosophers who have approximated to the truth have avowed that anger and lust are vicious mental emotions, because, even when exercised towards objects which wisdom does not prohibit, they are moved in an ungoverned and inordinate manner, and consequently need the regulation of mind and reason. And they assert that this third part of the mind is posted as it were in a kind of citadel, to give rule to these other parts, so that, while it rules and they serve, man’s righteousness is preserved without a breach. These parts, then, which they acknowledge to be vicious even in a wise and temperate man, so that the mind, by its composing and restraining influence, must bridle and recall them from those objects towards which they are unlawfully moved, and give them access to those which the law of wisdom sanctions,—that anger, e.g., may be allowed for the enforcement of a just authority, and lust for the duty of propagating offspring,—these parts, I say, were not vicious in Paradise before sin, for they were never moved in opposition to a holy will towards any object from which it was necessary that they should be withheld by the restraining bridle of reason. For though now they are moved in this way, and are regulated by a bridling and restraining power, which those who live temperately, justly, and godly exercise, sometimes with ease, and sometimes with greater difficulty, this is not the sound health of nature, but the weakness which results from sin. And how is it that shame does not hide the acts and words dictated by anger or other emotions, as it covers the motions of lust, unless because the members of the body which we employ for accomplishing them are moved, not by the emotions themselves, but by the authority of the consenting will? For he who in his anger rails at or even strikes some one, could not do so were not his tongue and hand moved by the authority of the will, as also they are moved when there is no anger. But the organs of generation are so subjected to the rule of lust, that they have no motion but what it communicates. It is this we are ashamed of; it is this which blushingly[Pg 36] hides from the eyes of onlookers. And rather will a man endure a crowd of witnesses when he is unjustly venting his anger on some one, than the eye of one man when he innocently copulates with his wife.
20. Of the foolish beastliness of the Cynics.
It is this which those canine or cynic philosophers have overlooked, when they have, in violation of the modest instincts of men, boastfully proclaimed their unclean and shameless opinion, worthy indeed of dogs, viz., that as the matrimonial act is legitimate, no one should be ashamed to perform it openly, in the street or in any public place. Instinctive shame has overborne this wild fancy. For though it is related that Diogenes once dared to put his opinion in practice, under the impression that his sect would be all the more famous if his egregious shamelessness were deeply graven in the memory of mankind, yet this example was not afterwards followed. Shame had more influence with them, to make them blush before men, than error to make them affect a resemblance to dogs. And possibly, even in the case of Diogenes, and those who did imitate him, there was but an appearance and pretence of copulation, and not the reality. Even at this day there are still Cynic philosophers to be seen; for these are Cynics who are not content with being clad in the pallium, but also carry a club; yet no one of them dares to do this that we speak of. If they did, they would be spat upon, not to say stoned, by the mob. Human nature, then, is without doubt ashamed of this lust; and justly so, for the insubordination of these members, and their defiance of the will, are the clear testimony of the punishment of man’s first sin. And it was fitting that this should appear specially in those parts by which is generated that nature which has been altered for the worse by that first and great sin,—that sin from whose evil connection no one can escape, unless God’s grace expiate in him individually that which was perpetrated to the destruction of all in common, when all were in one man, and which was avenged by God’s justice.
21. That man’s transgression did not annul the blessing of fecundity pronounced upon man before he sinned, but infected it with the disease of lust.
Far be it, then, from us to suppose that our first parents in Paradise felt that lust which caused them afterwards to blush and hide their nakedness, or that by its means they should have fulfilled the benediction of God, “Increase and multiply and replenish the earth;” for it was after sin that lust began. It was after sin that our nature, having lost the power it had over the whole body, but not having lost all shame, perceived, noticed, blushed at, and covered it. But that blessing upon marriage, which encouraged them to increase and multiply and replenish the earth, though, it continued even after they had sinned, was yet given before they sinned, in order that the procreation of children might be recognised as part of the glory of marriage, and not of the punishment of sin. But now, men being ignorant of the blessedness of Paradise, suppose that children could not have been begotten there in any other way than they know them to be begotten now, i.e. by lust, at which even honourable marriage blushes; some not simply rejecting, but sceptically deriding the divine Scriptures, in which we read that our first parents, after they sinned, were ashamed of their nakedness, and covered it; while others, though they accept and honour Scripture, yet conceive that this expression, “Increase and multiply,” refers not to carnal fecundity, because a similar expression is used of the soul in the words, “Thou wilt multiply me with strength in my soul;” and so, too, in the words which follow in Genesis, “And replenish the earth, and subdue it,” they understand by the earth the body which the soul fills with its presence, and which it rules over when it is multiplied in strength. And they hold that children could no more then than now be begotten without lust, which, after sin, was kindled, observed, blushed for, and covered; and even that children would not have been born in Paradise, but only outside of it, as in fact it turned out. For it was after they were expelled from it that they came together to beget children, and begot them.
22. Of the conjugal union as it was originally instituted and blessed by God.
But we, for our part, have no manner of doubt that to increase and multiply and replenish the earth in virtue of the blessing of God, is a gift of marriage as God instituted it from the beginning before man sinned, when He created them male and female,—in other words, two sexes manifestly distinct. And it was this work of God on which His blessing was pronounced. For no sooner had Scripture said, “Male and female created He them,” than it immediately continues, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it,” etc. And though all these things may not unsuitably be interpreted in a spiritual sense, yet “male and female” cannot be understood of two things in one man, as if there were in him one thing which rules, another which is ruled; but it is quite clear that they were created male and female, with bodies of different sexes, for the very purpose of begetting offspring, and so increasing, multiplying, and replenishing the earth; and it is great folly to oppose so plain a fact. It was not of the spirit which commands and the body which obeys, nor of the rational soul which rules and the irrational desire which is ruled, nor of the contemplative virtue which is supreme and the active which is subject, nor of the understanding of the mind and the sense of the body, but plainly of the matrimonial union by which the sexes are mutually bound together, that our Lord, when asked whether it were lawful for any cause to put away one’s wife (for on account of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites Moses permitted a bill of divorcement to be given), answered and said, “Have ye not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” It is certain, then, that from the first men were created, as we see and know them to be now, of two sexes, male and female, and that they are called one, either on account of the matrimonial union, or on account of[Pg 39] the origin of the woman, who was created from the side of the man. And it is by this original example, which God Himself instituted, that the apostle admonishes all husbands to love their own wives in particular.
23. Whether generation should have taken place even in Paradise had man not sinned, or whether there should have been any contention there between chastity and lust.
But he who says that there should have been neither copulation nor generation but for sin, virtually says that man’s sin was necessary to complete the number of the saints. For if these two by not sinning should have continued to live alone, because, as is supposed, they could not have begotten children had they not sinned, then certainly sin was necessary in order that there might be not only two but many righteous men. And if this cannot be maintained without absurdity, we must rather believe that the number of the saints fit to complete this most blessed city would have been as great though no one had sinned, as it is now that the grace of God gathers its citizens out of the multitude of sinners, so long as the children of this world generate and are generated.
And therefore that marriage, worthy of the happiness of Paradise, should have had desirable fruit without the shame of lust, had there been no sin. But how that could be, there is now no example to teach us. Nevertheless, it ought not to seem incredible that one member might serve the will without lust then, since so many serve it now. Do we now move our feet and hands when we will to do the things we would by means of these members? do we meet with no resistance in them, but perceive that they are ready servants of the will, both in our own case and in that of others, and especially of artisans employed in mechanical operations, by which the weakness and clumsiness of nature become, through industrious exercise, wonderfully dexterous? and shall we not believe that, like as all those members obediently serve the will, so also should the members have discharged the function of generation, though lust, the award of disobedience, had been awanting? Did not Cicero, in discussing the difference of governments in his De Republica, adopt a simile from human[Pg 40] nature, and say that we command our bodily members as children, they are so obedient; but that the vicious parts of the soul must be treated as slaves, and be coerced with a more stringent authority? And no doubt, in the order of nature, the soul is more excellent than the body; and yet the soul commands the body more easily than itself. Nevertheless this lust, of which we at present speak, is the more shameful on this account, because the soul is therein neither master of itself, so as not to lust at all, nor of the body, so as to keep the members under the control of the will; for if they were thus ruled, there should be no shame. But now the soul is ashamed that the body, which by nature is inferior and subject to it, should resist its authority. For in the resistance experienced by the soul in the other emotions there is less shame, because the resistance is from itself, and thus, when it is conquered by itself, itself is the conqueror, although the conquest is inordinate and vicious, because accomplished by those parts of the soul which ought to be subject to reason, yet, being accomplished by its own parts and energies, the conquest is, as I say, its own. For when the soul conquers itself to a due subordination, so that its unreasonable motions are controlled by reason, while it again is subject to God, this is a conquest virtuous and praiseworthy. Yet there is less shame when the soul is resisted by its own vicious parts than when its will and order are resisted by the body, which is distinct from and inferior to it, and dependent on it for life itself.
But so long as the will retains under its authority the other members, without which the members excited by lust to resist the will cannot accomplish what they seek, chastity is preserved, and the delight of sin foregone. And certainly, had not culpable disobedience been visited with penal disobedience, the marriage of Paradise should have been ignorant of this struggle and rebellion, this quarrel between will and lust, that the will may be satisfied and lust restrained, but those members, like all the rest, should have obeyed the will. The field of generation should have been sown by the organ created for this purpose, as the earth is sown by the hand. And[Pg 41] whereas now, as we essay to investigate this subject more exactly, modesty hinders us, and compels us to ask pardon of chaste ears, there would have been no cause to do so, but we could have discoursed freely, and without fear of seeming obscene, upon all those points which occur to one who meditates on the subject. There would not have been even words which could be called obscene, but all that might be said of these members would have been as pure as what is said of the other parts of the body. Whoever, then, comes to the perusal of these pages with unchaste mind, let him blame his disposition, not his nature; let him brand the actings of his own impurity, not the words which necessity forces us to use, and for which every pure and pious reader or hearer will very readily pardon me, while I expose the folly of that scepticism which argues solely on the ground of its own experience, and has no faith in anything beyond. He who is not scandalized at the apostle’s censure of the horrible wickedness of the women who “changed the natural use into that which is against nature,” will read all this without being shocked, especially as we are not, like Paul, citing and censuring a damnable uncleanness, but are explaining, so far as we can, human generation, while with Paul we avoid all obscenity of language.
24. That if men had remained innocent and obedient in Paradise, the generative organs should have been in subjection to the will as the other members are.
The man, then, would have sown the seed, and the woman received it, as need required, the generative organs being moved by the will, not excited by lust. For we move at will not only those members which are furnished with joints of solid bone, as the hands, feet, and fingers, but we move also at will those which are composed of slack and soft nerves: we can put them in motion, or stretch them out, or bend and twist them, or contract and stiffen them, as we do with the muscles of the mouth and face. The lungs, which are the very tenderest of the viscera except the brain, and are therefore carefully sheltered in the cavity of the chest, yet for all purposes of inhaling and exhaling the breath, and of uttering and modulating the voice, are obedient to the will when we breathe, exhale, speak, shout, or sing, just as the bellows obey[Pg 42] the smith or the organist. I will not press the fact that some animals have a natural power to move a single spot of the skin with which their whole body is covered, if they have felt on it anything they wish to drive off,—a power so great, that by this shivering tremor of the skin they can not only shake off flies that have settled on them, but even spears that have fixed in their flesh. Man, it is true, has not this power; but is this any reason for supposing that God could not give it to such creatures as He wished to possess it? And therefore man himself also might very well have enjoyed absolute power over his members had he not forfeited it by his disobedience; for it was not difficult for God to form him so that what is now moved in his body only by lust should have been moved only at will.
We know, too, that some men are differently constituted from others, and have some rare and remarkable faculty of doing with their body what other men can by no effort do, and, indeed, scarcely believe when they hear of others doing. There are persons who can move their ears, either one at a time, or both together. There are some who, without moving the head, can bring the hair down upon the forehead, and move the whole scalp backwards and forwards at pleasure. Some, by lightly pressing their stomach, bring up an incredible quantity and variety of things they have swallowed, and produce whatever they please, quite whole, as if out of a bag. Some so accurately mimic the voices of birds and beasts and other men, that, unless they are seen, the difference cannot be told. Some have such command of their bowels, that they can break wind continuously at pleasure, so as to produce the effect of singing. I myself have known a man who was accustomed to sweat whenever he wished. It is well known that some weep when they please, and shed a flood of tears. But far more incredible is that which some of our brethren saw quite recently. There was a presbyter called Restitutus, in the parish of the Calamensian Church, who, as often as he pleased (and he was asked to do this by those who desired to[Pg 43] witness so remarkable a phenomenon), on some one imitating the wailings of mourners, became so insensible, and lay in a state so like death, that not only had he no feeling when they pinched and pricked him, but even when fire was applied to him, and he was burned by it, he had no sense of pain except afterwards from the wound. And that his body remained motionless, not by reason of his self-command, but because he was insensible, was proved by the fact that he breathed no more than a dead man; and yet he said that, when any one spoke with more than ordinary distinctness, he heard the voice, but as if it were a long way off. Seeing, then, that even in this mortal and miserable life the body serves some men by many remarkable movements and moods beyond the ordinary course of nature, what reason is there for doubting that, before man was involved by his sin in this weak and corruptible condition, his members might have served his will for the propagation of offspring without lust? Man has been given over to himself because he abandoned God, while he sought to be self-satisfying; and disobeying God, he could not obey even himself. Hence it is that he is involved in the obvious misery of being unable to live as he wishes. For if he lived as he wished, he would think himself blessed; but he could not be so if he lived wickedly.
25. Of true blessedness, which this present life cannot enjoy.
However, if we look at this a little more closely, we see that no one lives as he wishes but the blessed, and that no one is blessed but the righteous. But even the righteous himself does not live as he wishes, until he has arrived where he cannot die, be deceived, or injured, and until he is assured that this shall be his eternal condition. For this nature demands; and nature is not fully and perfectly blessed till it attains what it seeks. But what man is at present able to live as he wishes, when it is not in his power so much as to live? He wishes to live, he is compelled to die. How, then, does he live as he wishes who does not live as long as he[Pg 44] wishes? or if he wishes to die, how can he live as he wishes, since he does not wish even to live? Or if he wishes to die, not because he dislikes life, but that after death he may live better, still he is not yet living as he wishes, but only has the prospect of so living when, through death, he reaches that which he wishes. But admit that he lives as he wishes, because he has done violence to himself, and forced himself not to wish what he cannot obtain, and to wish only what he can (as Terence has it, “Since you cannot do what you will, will what you can”), is he therefore blessed because he is patiently wretched? For a blessed life is possessed only by the man who loves it. If it is loved and possessed, it must necessarily be more ardently loved than all besides; for whatever else is loved must be loved for the sake of the blessed life. And if it is loved as it deserves to be,—and the man is not blessed who does not love the blessed life as it deserves,—then he who so loves it cannot but wish it to be eternal. Therefore it shall then only be blessed when it is eternal.
26. That we are to believe that in Paradise our first parents begat offspring without blushing.
In Paradise, then, man lived as he desired so long as he desired what God had commanded. He lived in the enjoyment of God, and was good by God’s goodness; he lived without any want, and had it in his power so to live eternally. He had food that he might not hunger, drink that he might not thirst, the tree of life that old age might not waste him. There was in his body no corruption, nor seed of corruption, which could produce in him any unpleasant sensation. He feared no inward disease, no outward accident. Soundest health blessed his body, absolute tranquillity his soul. As in Paradise there was no excessive heat or cold, so its inhabitants were exempt from the vicissitudes of fear and desire. No sadness of any kind was there, nor any foolish joy; true gladness ceaselessly flowed from the presence of God, who was loved “out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned.” The honest love of husband and wife made a sure harmony between them. Body and spirit worked harmoniously together, and the commandment was kept without labour. No[Pg 45] languor made their leisure wearisome; no sleepiness interrupted their desire to labour. In tanta facilitate rerum et felicitate hominum, absit ut suspicemur, non potuisse prolem seri sine libidinis morbo: sed eo voluntatis nutu moverentur illa membra quo cætera, et sine ardoris illecebroso stimulo cum tranquillitate animi et corporis nulla corruptione integritatis infunderetur gremio maritus uxoris. Neque enim quia experientia probari non potest, ideo credendum non est; quando illas corporis partes non ageret turbidus calor, sed spontanea potestas, sicut opus esset, adhiberet; ita tunc potuisse utero conjugis salva integritate feminei genitalis virile semen immitti, sicut nunc potest eadem integritate salva ex utero virginis fluxus menstrui cruoris emitti. Eadem quippe via posset illud injici, qua hoc potest ejici. Ut enim ad pariendum non doloris gemitus, sed maturitatis impulsus feminea viscera relaxaret: sic ad fœtandum et concipiendum non libidinis appetitus, sed voluntarius usus naturam utramque conjungeret. We speak of things which are now shameful, and although we try, as well as we are able, to conceive them as they were before they became shameful, yet necessity compels us rather to limit our discussion to the bounds set by modesty than to extend it as our moderate faculty of discourse might suggest. For since that which I have been speaking of was not experienced even by those who might have experienced it,—I mean our first parents (for sin and its merited banishment from Paradise anticipated this passionless generation on their part),—when sexual intercourse is spoken of now, it suggests to men’s thoughts not such a placid obedience to the will as is conceivable in our first parents, but such violent acting of lust as they themselves have experienced. And therefore modesty shuts my mouth, although my mind conceives the matter clearly. But Almighty God, the supreme and supremely good Creator of all natures, who aids and rewards good wills, while He abandons and condemns the bad, and rules both, was not destitute of a plan by which He might people His city with the fixed number of citizens which His wisdom had foreordained even out of the condemned[Pg 46] human race, discriminating them not now by merits, since the whole mass was condemned as if in a vitiated root, but by grace, and showing, not only in the case of the redeemed, but also in those who were not delivered, how much grace He has bestowed upon them. For every one acknowledges that he has been rescued from evil, not by deserved, but by gratuitous goodness, when he is singled out from the company of those with whom he might justly have borne a common punishment, and is allowed to go scathless. Why, then, should God not have created those whom He foresaw would sin, since He was able to show in and by them both what their guilt merited, and what His grace bestowed, and since, under His creating and disposing hand, even the perverse disorder of the wicked could not pervert the right order of things?
27. Of the angels and men who sinned, and that their wickedness did not disturb the order of God’s providence.
The sins of men and angels do nothing to impede the “great works of the Lord which accomplish His will.” For He who by His providence and omnipotence distributes to every one his own portion, is able to make good use not only of the good, but also of the wicked. And thus making a good use of the wicked angel, who, in punishment of his first wicked volition, was doomed to an obduracy that prevents him now from willing any good, why should not God have permitted him to tempt the first man, who had been created upright, that is to say, with a good will? For he had been so constituted, that if he looked to God for help, man’s goodness should defeat the angel’s wickedness; but if by proud self-pleasing he abandoned God, his Creator and Sustainer, he should be conquered. If his will remained upright, through leaning on God’s help, he should be rewarded; if it became wicked, by forsaking God, he should be punished. But even this trusting in God’s help could not itself be accomplished without God’s help, although man had it in his own power to relinquish the benefits of divine grace by pleasing himself. For as it is not in our power to live in this world without sustaining ourselves by food, while it is in our power to refuse this nourishment and cease to live, as those[Pg 47] do who kill themselves, so it was not in man’s power, even in Paradise, to live as he ought without God’s help; but it was in his power to live wickedly, though thus he should cut short his happiness, and incur very just punishment. Since, then, God was not ignorant that man would fall, why should He not have suffered him to be tempted by an angel who hated and envied him? It was not, indeed, that He was unaware that he should be conquered, but because He foresaw that by the man’s seed, aided by divine grace, this same devil himself should be conquered, to the greater glory of the saints. All was brought about in such a manner, that neither did any future event escape God’s foreknowledge, nor did His foreknowledge compel any one to sin, and so as to demonstrate in the experience of the intelligent creation, human and angelic, how great a difference there is between the private presumption of the creature and the Creator’s protection. For who will dare to believe or say that it was not in God’s power to prevent both angels and men from sinning? But God preferred to leave this in their power, and thus to show both what evil could be wrought by their pride, and what good by His grace.
28. Of the nature of the two cities, the earthly and the heavenly.
Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” And therefore the wise men of the one[Pg 48] city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God “glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise,”—that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride,—”they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, “and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, “that God may be all in all.”