The City of God

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Author: Saint Augustine  | Date: 413

Chapter 17.

Of the endless glory of the Church

"And I saw," he says, "a great city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice from the throne, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, but neither shall there be any more pain: because the former things have passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new." *1097 This city is said to come down out of heaven, because the grace with which God formed it is of heaven. Wherefore He says to it by Isaiah, "I am the Lord that formed thee." *1098 It is indeed descended from heaven from its commencement, since its citizens during the course of this world grow by the grace of God, which cometh down from above through the layer of regeneration in the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. But by God’s final judgment, which shall be administered by His Son Jesus Christ, there shall by God’s grace be manifested a glory so pervading and so new, that no vestige of what is old shall remain; for even our bodies shall pass from their old corruption and mortality to new incorruption and immortality. For to refer this promise to the present time, in which the saints are reigning with their King a thousand years, seems to me excessively barefaced, when it is most distinctly said, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, but there shall be no more pain." And who is so absurd, and blinded by contentious opinionativeness, as to be audacious enough to affirm that, in the midst of the calamities of this mortal state, God’s people, or even one single saint, does live, or has ever lived, or shall ever live, without tears or pain- the fact being that the holier a man is, and the fuller of holy desire, so much the more abundant is the tearfulness of his supplication? Are not these the utterances of a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem: "My tears have been my meat day and night"; *1099 and "Every night shall I make my bed to swim; with my tears shall I water my couch"; *1100 and "My groaning is not hid from Thee"; *1101 and "My sorrow was renewed"? *1102 Or are not those God’s children who groan, being burdened, not that they wish to be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality may be swallowed up of life? *1103 Do not they even who have the first-fruits of the Spirit groan within themselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of their body? *1104 Was not the Apostle Paul himself a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, and was he not so all the more when he had heaviness and continual sorrow of heart for his Israelitish brethren? *1105 But when shall there be no more death in that city, except when it shall be said, "O death, where is thy contention? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin." *1106 Obviously there shall be no sin when it can be said, "Where is"- But as for the present it is not some poor weak citizen of this city, but this same Apostle John himself who says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." *1107 No doubt, though this book is called the Apocalypse, there are in it many obscure passages to exercise the mind of the reader, and there are few passages so plain as to assist us in the interpretation of the others, even though we take pains; and this difficulty is increased by the repetition of the same things, in forms so different, that the things referred to seem to be different, although in fact they are only differently stated. But in the words, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, but there shall be no more pain," there is so manifest a reference to the future world and the immortality and eternity of the saints- for only then and only there shall such a condition be realized- that if we think this obscure, we need not expect to find anything plain in any part of Scripture.

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Chicago: Saint Augustine, "Chapter 17.," The City of God, trans. Marcus Dods in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0 (Irvine, CA: World Library, Inc., 1996), Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNNMGKJCY8S8HDT.

MLA: Augustine, Saint. "Chapter 17." The City of God, translted by Marcus Dods, in Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, Irvine, CA, World Library, Inc., 1996, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNNMGKJCY8S8HDT.

Harvard: Augustine, S, 'Chapter 17.' in The City of God, trans. . cited in 1996, Library of the Future ® 4th Edition Ver. 5.0, World Library, Inc., Irvine, CA. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CNNMGKJCY8S8HDT.