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The earth is not eternal; the earth, as well as time, has both a beginning and an end. Man, on the other hand, was brought into existence to endure eternally. Damnation is the just desert of all men because of the Fall of Adam, who, having been created with free will, chose to disrupt the perfectly good order established by God. The onward march of human history, then, constitutes the unfolding of the divine plan which will culminate in one or the other outcome for every member of the human family.

Within this framework of political and legal systems, the state is a divinely ordained punishment for fallen man, with its armies, its power to command, coerce, punish, and even put to death, as well as its institutions such as slavery and private property.

The state simultaneously serves the divine purposes of chastening the wicked and refining the righteous. Also simultaneously, the state constitutes a sort of remedy for the effects of the Fall, in that it serves to maintain such modicum of peace and order as it is possible for fallen man to enjoy in the present world. In any case, predestination fixes the ultimate destination of every human being—as well as the political states to which they belong. Hence, predestination for Augustine is the proverbial elephant in the room.

For those predestined for salvation, what is the point of their being refined by the vicissitudes of life in a political state?


In order to prevent the collapse of such a systematic account of the human condition as Augustine provides, the question simply must be set aside as a matter unknowable to finite man. As the social fabric of the world around him unravels in the twilight years of the Roman Empire, Augustine attempts to elucidate the relationship between the eternal, invisible verities of his faith and the stark realities of the present, observable political and social conditions of humanity. Even though those elected for salvation and those elected for damnation are thoroughly intermingled, the distinction arising from their respective destinies gives rise to two classes of persons, to whom Augustine refers collectively and allegorically as cities—the City of God and the earthly city.

Indeed, the object of their love—whatever it may be—is something other than God. No political state, nor even the institutional church, can be equated with the City of God. What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms? The state maintains order by keeping wicked men in check through the fear of punishment. In this regard, the institution of the state marks a relative return to order from the chaos of the Fall. Rulers have the right to establish any law that does not conflict with the law of God. Citizens have the duty to obey their political leaders regardless of whether the leader is wicked or righteous.

There is no right of civil disobedience. Citizens are always duty bound to obey God; and when the imperatives of obedience to God and obedience to civil authority conflict, citizens must choose to obey God and willingly accept the punishment of disobedience.

A Word of Warning - The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Nevertheless, those empowered to levy punishment should take no delight in the task. Hence, Augustine concludes that. Augustine clearly holds that the establishment and success of the Roman Empire, along with its embracing of Christianity as its official religion, was part of the divine plan of the true God. Indeed, he holds that the influence of Christianity upon the empire could be only salutary in its effect:. Still, while Augustine doubtless holds that it is better for Rome to be Christian than not, he clearly recognizes that officially embracing Christianity does not automatically transform an earthly state into the City of God.

Augustine does not wish ill for Rome. He sees Rome as the last bastion against the advances of the pagan barbarians, who surely must not be allowed to overrun the mortal embodiment of Christendom that Rome represents. Nevertheless, Augustine cannot be overly optimistic about the future of the Roman state as such—not because it is Rome, but because it is a state; for any society of men other than the City of God is part and parcel of the earthly city, which is doomed to inevitable demise.


Even so, states like Rome can perform the useful purpose of championing the cause of the Church, protecting it from assault and compelling those who have fallen away from fellowship with it to return to the fold. Indeed, it is entirely within the provinces of the state to punish heretics and schismatics.

Wars serve the function of putting mankind on notice, as it were, of the value of consistently righteous living. If one were forced to act righteously contrary to his or her will, is it not the case that he or she would still lack the change of heart that is necessary to produce a repentant attitude—an attitude that results in genuine reformation? Perhaps; but Augustine is unwilling to concede that it is better, in the name of recognizing the agency of others, to let them continue to wallow in evil practices.

Augustine argues,. The aim towards which a good will compassionately devotes its efforts is to secure that a bad will be rightly directed. For who does not know that a man is not condemned on any other ground than because his bad will deserved it, and that no man is saved who has not a good will?

Exactly how God is to bring about his good purposes through the process of war may not be clear to man in any particular case. Moreover, those of good will shall administer discipline to those erring by moving them toward repentance and reformation. All of this leads conveniently to a second point: War can bring the need to discipline by chastening.

Those of good will do not manifest cruelty in the proper administration of punishment but, rather, in the withholding of punishment. For Augustine, it is always better to restrain an evil man from the commission of evil acts than it is to permit his continued perpetration of those acts. Writing after the time when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, Augustine holds that there is no prohibition against a Christian serving the state as a soldier in its army. Neither is there any prohibition against taking the lives of the enemies of the state, so long as he does it in his public capacity as a soldier and not in the private capacity of a murderer.

Nevertheless, Augustine also urges that soldiers should go to war mournfully and never take delight in the shedding of blood. He becomes quite pessimistic though in his view of human nature and of the ability and desire of humans to maintain themselves orderly, much less rightly. Augustine holds that, given the inextricable mixing of citizens of the two cities, the total avoidance of war or its effects is a practical impossibility for all men, including the righteous. Happily, he holds that the day will come when, coincident with the end of the earthly city, wars will no longer be fought.

For, says Augustine, citing words from the Psalms to the effect that God will one day bring a cessation of all wars,. D top. E top. Genesis ; Exodus , etc. F top. Jeremiah KJV; Jer. G top. Genesis ; ; ; ; Exodus ; Revelation ; ; ; ; ; KJV. Exodus , ; Matthew ; Luke ; Acts ; ; etc. Deuteronomy ; ; ; Acts ; etc. Acts KJV; Col. H top. Leviticus see blasphemy by Shelomith ; Deuteronomy Eph ; ; Col. Psalm KJV; Psa. Matthew ; Matt. Psalm ; 2 Corinthians ; Ephesians John ; He watches each of us and knows our thoughts. Romans KJV; Rev. Jeremiah ; Job KJV.

953 Names and Titles of God

Hebrews ; ; ; ; ; ; I top. Revelation , 11 ; ; Genesis ; ; Psalm ; ; Isaiah ; ; ; Ezekiel ; Hosea Leviticus ; ; ; Isaiah , Genesis ; Ezekiel , etc.

John ; Matthew KJV. Genesis ; Acts ; etc. Matthew ; Isaiah J top.

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Exodus ; Deuteronomy , etc. Isaiah ; Acts ; K top. L top. Isaiah ; Psalm Genesis , , etc. Just as in life, there were trials and there were unexpected turns in the path, areas and experiences to be avoided, friends and allies to cultivate, but eventually the soul could expect to be rewarded for living a good and virtuous life.

For those left behind in life, the spells would have been interpreted the way people in the present day read horoscopes. Horoscopes are not written to emphasize a person's bad points nor are they read to feel badly about one's self; in the same way, the spells were constructed so that someone still living could read them, think of their loved one in the afterlife, and feel assured that they had made their way safely through to the Field of Reeds.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication. Mark, J. Egyptian Book of the Dead. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Mark, Joshua J. Last modified March 24, Ancient History Encyclopedia, 24 Mar Written by Joshua J. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms.

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