Augustin: City of God 167


Chapter 27.—Of the Separation of the Good and the Bad, Which Proclaim the Discriminating Influence of the Last Judgment.

The passage also which I formerly quoted for another purpose from this prophet refers to the last judgment, in which he says, “They shall be mine, saith the Lord Almighty, in the day in which I make up my gains,”155 etc. When this diversity between the rewards and punishments which distinguish the righteous from the wicked shall appear under that Sun of righteousness in the brightness of life eternal,—a diversity which is not discerned under this sun which shines on the vanity of this life,—there shall then be such a judgment as has never before been.

Chapter 28.—That the Law of Moses Must Be Spiritually Understood to Preclude the Damnable Murmurs of a Carnal Interpretation

In the succeeding words, “Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded to him in Horeb for all Israel,”156 the prophet opportunely mentions precepts and statutes, after declaring the important distinction hereafter to be made between those who observe and those who despise the law. He intends also that they learn to interpret the law spiritually, and find Christ in it, by whose judgment that separation between the good and the bad is to be made. For it is not without reason that the Lord Himself says to the Jews, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.”157 For by receiving the law carnally without perceiving that its earthly promises were figures of things spiritual, they fell into such murmurings as audaciously to say, “It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked suppliantly before the face of the Lord Almighty? And now we call aliens happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up.”158 It was these words of theirs which in a manner compelled the prophet to announce the last judgment, in which the wicked shall not even in appearance be happy, but shall manifestly be most miserable; and in which the good shall be oppressed with not even a transitory wretchedness, but shall enjoy unsullied and eternal felicity. For he had previously cited some similar expressions of those who said, “Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and such are pleasing to Him.”159 It was, I say, by understanding the law of Moses carnally that they had come to murmur thus against God. And hence, too, the writer of the 73d Psalm says that his feet were almost gone, his steps had well-nigh slipped, because he was envious of sinners while he considered their prosperity, so that he said among other things, How doth God know, and is there knowledge in the Most High? and again, Have I sanctified my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency?160 He goes on to say that his efforts to solve this most difficult problem, which arises when the good seem to be wretched and the wicked happy, were in vain until he went into the sanctuary of God, and understood the last things.161 For in the last judgment things shall not be so; but in the manifest felicity of the righteous and manifest misery of the wicked quite another state of things shall appear.

Chapter 29.—Of the Coming of Elias Before the Judgment, that the Jews May Be Converted to Christ by His Preaching and Explanation of Scripture.

After admonishing them to give heed to the law of Moses, as he foresaw that for a long time to come they would not understand it spiritually and rightly, he went on to say, “And, behold, I will send to you Elias the Tishbite before the great and signal day of the Lord come: and he shall turn the heart of the father to the son, and the heart of a man to his next of kin, lest I come and utterly smite the earth.”162 It is a familiar theme in the conversation and heart of the faithful, that in the last days before the judgment the Jews shall believe in the true Christ, that is, our Christ, by means of this great and admirable prophet Elias who shall expound the law to them. For not without reason do we hope that before the coming of our Judge and Saviour Elias shall come, because we have good reason to believe that he is now alive; for, as Scripture most distinctly informs us,163 he was taken up from this life in a chariot of fire. When, therefore, he is come, he shall give a spiritual explanation of the law which the Jews at present understand carnally, and shall thus “turn the heart of the father to the son,” that is, the heart of fathers to their children; for the Septuagint translators have frequently put the singular for the plural number. And the meaning is, that the sons, that is, the Jews, shall understand the law as the fathers, that is, the prophets, and among them Moses himself, understood it. For the heart of the fathers shall be turned to their children when the children understand the law as their fathers did; and the heart of the children shall be turned to their fathers when they have the same sentiments as the fathers. The Septuagint used the expression, “and the heart of a man to his next of kin,” because fathers and children are eminently neighbors to one another. Another and a preferable sense can be found in the words of the Septuagint translators, who have translated Scripture with an eye to prophecy, the sense, viz., that Elias shall turn the heart of God the Father to the Son, not certainly as if he should bring about this love of the Father for the Son, but meaning that he should make it known, and that the Jews also, who had previously hated, should then love the Son who is our Christ. For so far as regards the Jews, God has His heart turned away from our Christ, this being their conception about God and Christ. But in their case the heart of God shall be turned to the Son when they themselves shall turn in heart, and learn the love of the Father towards the Son. The words following, “and the heart of a man to his next of kin,”—that is, Elias shall also turn the heart of a man to his next of kin,—how can we understand this better than as the heart of a man to the man Christ? For though in the form of God He is our God, yet, taking the form of a servant, He condescended to become also our next of kin. It is this, then, which Elias will do, “lest,” he says, “I come and smite the earth utterly.” For they who mind earthly things are the earth. Such are the carnal Jews until this day; and hence these murmurs of theirs against God, “The wicked are pleasing to Him,” and “It is a vain thing to serve God.”164

Chapter 30.—That in the Books of the Old Testament, Where It is Said that God Shall Judge the World,

the Person of Christ is Not Explicitly Indicated, But It Plainly Appears from Some Passages in Which the Lord God Speaks that Christ is Meant.

There are many other passages of Scripture bearing on the last judgment of God,—so many, indeed, that to cite them all would swell this book to an unpardonable size. Suffice it to have proved that both Old and New Testament enounce the judgment. But in the Old it is not so definitely declared as in the New that the judgment shall be administered by Christ, that is, that Christ shall descend from heaven as the Judge; for when it is therein stated by the Lord God or His prophet that the Lord God shall come, we do not necessarily understand this of Christ. For both the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the Lord God. We must not, however, leave this without proof. And therefore we must first show how Jesus Christ speaks in the prophetical books under the title of the Lord God, while yet there can be no doubt that it is Jesus Christ who speaks; so that in other passages where this is not at once apparent, and where nevertheless it is said that the Lord God will come to that last judgment, we may understand that Jesus Christ is meant. There is a passage in the prophet Isaiah which illustrates what I mean. For God says by the prophet, “Hear me, Jacob and Israel, whom I call. I am the first, and I am for ever: and my hand has rounded the earth, and my right hand has established the heaven. I will call them, and they shall stand together, and be gathered, and hear. Who has declared to them these things? In love of thee I have done thy pleasure upon Babylon, that I might take away the seed of the Chaldeans. I have spoken, and I have called: I have brought him, and have made his way prosperous. Come ye near unto me, and hear this. I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; when they were made, there was I. And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me.”165 It was Himself who was speaking as the Lord God; and yet we should not have understood that it was Jesus Christ had He not added, “And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me.” For He said this with reference to the form of a servant, speaking of a future event as if it were past, as in the same prophet we read, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter,”166 not “He shall be led;” but the past tense is used to express the future. And prophecy constantly speaks in this way.

There is also another passage in Zechariah which plainly declares that the Almighty sent the Almighty; and of what persons can this be understood but of God the Father and God the Son? For it is written, “Thus saith the Lord Almighty, After the glory hath He sent me unto the nations which spoiled you; for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye Behold, I will bring mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord Almighty hath sent me.”167 Observe, the Lord Almighty saith that the Lord Almighty sent Him. Who can presume to understand these words of any other than Christ, who is speaking to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? For He says in the Gospel, “I am not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,”168 which He here compared to the pupil of God’s eye, to signify the profoundest love. And to this class of sheep the apostles themselves belonged. But after the glory, to wit, of His resurrection,—for before it happened the evangelist said that “Jesus was not yet glorified,”169 —He was sent unto the nations in the persons of His apostles; and thus the saying of the psalm was fulfilled, “Thou wilt deliver me from the contradictions of the people; Thou wilt set me as the head of the nations,”170 So that those who had spoiled the Israelites, and whom the Israelites had served when they were subdued by them, were not themselves to be spoiled in the same fashion, but were in their own persons to become the spoil of the Israelites. For this had been promised to the apostles when the Lord said, “I will make you fishers of men.”171 And to one of them He says, “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.”172 They were then to become a spoil, but in a good sense, as those who are snatched from that strong one when he is bound by a stronger.173

In like manner the Lord, speaking by the same prophet, says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and mercy; and they shall look upon me because they have insulted me, and they shall mourn for Him as for one very dear, and shall be in bitterness as for an only-begotten.”174 To whom but to God does it belong to destroy all the nations that are hostile to the holy city Jerusalem, which “come against it,” that is, are opposed to it, or, as some translate, “come upon it,” as if putting it down under them; or to pour out upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and mercy? This belongs doubtless to God, and it is to God the prophet ascribes the words; and yet Christ shows that He is the God who does these so great and divine things, when He goes on to say, “And they shall look upon me because they have insulted me, and they shall mourn for Him as if for one very dear (or beloved), and shall be in bitterness for Him as for an only-begotten.” For in that day the Jews—those of them, at least, who shall receive the spirit of grace and mercy—when they see Him coming in His majesty, and recognize that it is He whom they, in the person of their parents, insulted when He came before in His humiliation, shall repent of insulting Him in His passion: and their parents themselves, who were the perpetrators of this huge impiety, shall see Him when they rise; but this will be only for their punishment, and not for their correction. It is not of them we are to understand the words, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and mercy, and they shall look upon me because they have insulted me;” but we are to understand the words of their descendants, who shall at that time believe through Elias. But as we say to the Jews, You killed Christ, although it was their parents who did so, so these persons shall grieve that they in some sort did what their progenitors did. Although, therefore, those that receive the spirit of mercy and grace, and believe, shall not be condemned with their impious parents, yet they shall mourn as if they themselves had done what their parents did. Their grief shall arise not so much from guilt as from pious affection. Certainly the words which the Septuagint have translated, “They shall look upon me because they insulted me,” stand in the Hebrew,“They shall look upon me whom they pierced.”175 And by this word the crucifixion of Christ is certainly more plainly indicated. But the Septuagint translators preferred to allude to the insult which was involved in His whole passion. For in point of fact they insuited Him both when He was arrested and when He was bound, when He was judged, when He was mocked by the robe they put on Him and the homage they did on bended knee, when He was crowned with thorns and struck with a rod on the head, when He bore His cross, and when at last He hung upon the tree. And therefore we recognize more fully the Lord’s passion when we do not confine ourselves to one interpretation, but combine both, and read both “insulted” and “pierced.”

When, therefore, we read in the prophetical books that God is to come to do judgment at the last, from the mere mention of the judgment, and although there is nothing else to determine the meaning, we must gather that Christ is meant; for though the Father will judge, He will judge by the coming of the Son. For He Himself, by His own manifested presence, “judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son;”176 for as the Son was judged as a man, He shall also judge in human form. For it is none but He of whom God speaks by Isaiah under the name of Jacob and Israel, of whose seed Christ took a body, as it is written, “Jacob is my servant, I will uphold Him; Israel is mine elect, my Spirit has assumed Him: I have put my Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor cease, neither shall His voice be heard without. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: but in truth shall He bring forth judgment. He shall shine and shall not be broken, until He sets judgment in the earth: and the nations shall hope in His name.”177 The Hebrew has not “Jacob” and “Israel;” but the Septuagint translators, wishing to show the significance of the expression “my servant,” and that it refers to the form of a servant in which the Most High humbled Himself, inserted the name of that man from whose stock He took the form of a servant. The Holy Spirit was given to Him, and was manifested, as the evangelist testifies, in the form of a dove.178 He brought forth judgment to the Gentiles, because He predicted what was hidden from them. In His meekness He did not cry, nor did He cease to proclaim the truth. But His voice was not heard, nor is it heard, without, because He is not obeyed by those who are outside of His body. And the Jews themselves, who persecuted Him, He did not break, though as a bruised reed they had lost their integrity, and as smoking flax their light was quenched; for He spared them, having come to be judged and not yet to judge. He brought forth judgment in truth, declaring that they should be punished did they persist in their wickedness. His face shone on the Mount,179 His fame in the world. He is not broken nor over come, because neither in Himself nor in His Church has persecution prevailed to annihilate Him. And therefore that has not, and shall not, be brought about which His enemies said or say, “When shall He die, and His name perish?”180 “until He set judgment in the earth.” Behold, the hidden thing which we were seeking is discovered. For this is the last judgment, which He will set in the earth when He comes from heaven. And it is in Him, too, we already see the concluding expression of the prophecy fulfilled: “In His name shall the nations hope.” And by this fulfillment, which no one can deny, men are encouraged to believe in that which is most impudently denied. For who could have hoped for that which even those who do not yet believe in Christ now see fulfilled among us, and which is so undeniable that they can but gnash their teeth and pine away? Who, I say, could have hoped that the nations would hope in the name of Christ, when He was arrested, bound, scourged, mocked, crucified, when even the disciples themselves had lost the hope which they had begun to have in Him? The hope which was then entertained scarcely by the one thief on the cross, is now cherished by nations everywhere on the earth, who are marked with the sign of the cross on which He died that they may not die eternally.

168 That the last judgment, then, shall be administered by Jesus Christ in the manner predicted in the sacred writings is denied or doubted by no one, unless by those who, through some incredible animosity or blindness, decline to believe these writings, though already their truth is demonstrated to all the world. And at or in connection with that judgment the following events shall come to pass, as we have learned: Elias the Tishbite shall come; the Jews shall believe; Antichrist shall persecute; Christ shall judge; the dead shall rise; the good and the wicked shall be separated; the world shall be burned and renewed. All these things, we believe, shall come to pass; but how, or in what order, human understanding cannot perfectly teach us, but only the experience of the events themselves. My opinion, however, is, that they will happen in the order in which I have related them.

Two books yet remain to be written by me, in order to complete, by God’s help, what I promised. One of these will explain the punishment of the wicked, the other the happiness of the righteous; and in them I shall be at special pains to refute, by God’s grace, the arguments by which some unhappy creatures seem to themselves to undermine the divine promises and threatenings, and to ridicule as empty words statements which are the most salutary nutriment of faith. But they who are instructed in divine things hold the truth and omnipotence of God to be the strongest arguments in favor of those things which, however incredible they seem to men, are yet contained in the Scriptures, whose truth has already in many ways been proved; for they are sure that God can in no wise lie, and that He can do what is impossible to the unbelieving.

1 (
Jn 5,29,
2 (Rm 9,14,
3 (Rm 11,33).
4 (Ps 144,4,
5 (Qo 1,2-3).
6 (Qo 2,13-14.
7 (Qo 8,14,
8 (Qo 12,13-14).
9 (Rm 3,20-22.
10 (Mt 13,52).
11 (Mt 11,22,
12 (Mt 11,24).
13 (Mt 12,41-42).
14 Augustin quotes the whole passage, Mt 13,37-43).
15 (Mt 19,28,
16 (Mt 12,27).
17 1Co 15,10.
18 (1Co 6,3,
19 Ep. 199).
20 (Mt 25,34-41, given in full).
21 (Jn 5,22-24).
22 (Jn 5,25-26).
23 (Mt 8,22,
24 (2Co 5,14-15.
25 (Ps 101,1.
26 (Jn 5,28-29).
27 (Ap 20,1-6. The whole passage is quoted).
28 (2P 3,8,
29 Serm. 259.
30 Milliarii.
31 [Augustin, who had formerly himself entertained chiliastic hopes, revolutionized the prevailing ante-Nicene view of the Apocalyptic millennium by understanding it of the present reign of Christ in the Church. See Schaff, Church History, vol. 2,619.—P. S.]
32 (Mc 3,27 “Vasa” for “goods.”
33 (Mt 19,29,
34 (2Co 6,10,
35 (Ps 105,8.
36 (Col 1,13,
37 (2Tm 2,19,
38 (Ps 123,2).
39 (Ap 20,9-10).
40 (1Jn 2,19).
41 (Mt 24,12).
42 Between His first and second coming.
43 (Mt 25,34,
44 (Mt 28,20).
45 (Mt 13,39-41,
46 (Mt 5,19,
47 (Mt 23,3,
48 (Mt 5,20,
49 (Col 3,1-2.
50 (Ph 3,20,
51 (Ph 2,21,
52 (Mt 18,18,
53 (1Co 5,12,
54 (Ap 20,4).
55 (Ap 14,13,
56 (Rm 14,9,
57 (2Co 6,14).
58 And, as Augustin remarks, are therefore called cadavera, from cadere, “to fall.”
59 (Col 3,1,
60 (Rm 6,4,
61 (Ep 5,14).
62 (Si 2,7,
63 (Rm 14,4,
64 (1Co 10,12,
65 1P 2,9.
66 (Mt 25,41).
67 (Ps 69,9,
68 (Is 26,11).
69 (2Th 2,8).
70 Ch. 24.
71 (1Co 7,31-32).
72 (Col 3,3,
73 (Mt 8,22).
74 (Rm 8,10,
75 “Apud inferos,” i.e. in hell, in the sense in which the word is used in the Psalms and in the Creed.
76 (Mt 25,46,
77 (Ap 21,1).
78 (Ap 15,2,
79 (Ap 21,2-5.
80 (Is 45,8,
81 (Ps 42,3,
82 (Ps 6,6).
83 (Ps 38,9,
84 (Ps 39,2,
85 (2Co 5,4,
86 (Rm 8,23,
87 (Rm 9,2).
88 Augustin therefore read nei`ko", and not with the Vulgate nivkh). [The correct reading is toV ni`ko", later form for nivkh, victory.—P. S.]
89 .
90 (1Jn 1,8).
91 (2P 3,3-13. The whole passage is quoted by Augustin).
92 (2Th 2,1-11. Whole passage given in the Latin. In ver. 3 refuga is used instead of the Vulgate’s discessio.
93 Augustin adds the words, “Sicut dicimus, Sedet in amicum, id ett, velut amicus; vel si quid aliud isto locutionis genere dici solet.”
94 Suetonius’ Nero, c. 57.
95 (1Jn 2,18-19).
96 (1Th 4,13-16.
97 (1Co 15,22,
98 (1Co 15,36,
99 (Gn 3,19,
100 (1Co 15,51).
101 (Is 26,19,
102 (Is 66,12 Is 66,16.
103 (Ga 4,26,
104 (Mt 5,8).
105 (Is 65,17-19.
106 (Ph 3,19,
107 (Rm 8,6,
108 (Gn 6,3,
109 (Lc 12,49,
110 (Ac 2,3,
111 (Mt 10,34,
112 (He 4,12,
113 Song of Sol. 2,5.
114 (Is 66,18,
115 (Rm 3,23).
116 (Is 66,22-24.
117 As the Vulgate: cadavera virorum.
118 Here Augustin inserts the remark, “Who does not see that cadavera (carcases) are so called from cadendo (falling)?”
119 (Mt 25,30).
120 (1Co 15,28,
121 (1Jn 3,9,
122 (Is 56,5).
123 (Da 7,15-28. Passage cited at length.
124 Da 12,1-3.
125 (Jn 5,28,
126 (Gn 17,5 Gn 22,18.
127 (Da 12,13).
128 (Ps 102,25-27.
129 (1Co 7,31,
130 (1Jn 2,17,
131 (Mt 24,35,
132 (2P 3,6,
133 (2P 3,10-11.
134 (Mt 24,29,
135 Aeneid, 2,694).
136 (Ps 50,3-5.
137 (Is 53,7.
138 (Mt 26,63,
139 Ch. 21.
140 (1Th 4,17,
141 (Os 6,6,
142 Ch. 6.
143 (Mt 25,34,
144 In his Proem. ad Mal.
145 See Smith’s Bible Dict.
146 (Ml 3,1-6. Whole passage quoted).
147 (Is 4,4,
148 (1Jn 1,8).
149 (Jb 14,4,
150 (Rm 1,17).
151 (Is 65,22,
152 (Pr 3,18,
153 (Sg 1,9,
154 (Rm 2,15-16.
155 (Ml 3,17 Ml 4,3,
156 (Ml 4,4,
157 (Jn 5,46).
158 (Ml 3,14-15.
159 (Ml 2,17,
160 In innocentibus.
161 (Ps 73,
162 (Ml 4,5-6.
163 (2R 2,11,
164 (Ml 2,17 Ml 3,14).
165 (.
166 (Is 53,7,
167 (Za 2,8-9.
168 (Mt 15,24,
169 (Jn 7,39,
170 (Ps 18,43).
171 (Mt 4,19,
172 (Lc 5,10,
173 (Mt 12,29,
174 (Za 12,9-10).
175 (So the Vulgate.
176 (Jn 5,22,
177 (Is 42,1-4).
178 (Jn 1,32,
179 (Mt 17,1-2).
180 (Ps 41,5).

Book XXI


Argument—Of the end reserved for the city of the devil, namely, the eternal punishment of the damned; and of the arguments which unbelief brings against it.

Chapter 1.—Of the Order of the Discussion, Which Requires that We First Speak of the Eternal Punishment of the Lost in Company with the Devil, and Then of the Eternal Happiness of the Saints.

I Propose, with such ability as God may grant me, to discuss in this book more thoroughly the nature of the punishment which shall be assigned to the devil and all his retainers, when the two cities, the one of God, the other of the devil, shall have reached their proper ends through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Judge of quick and dead. And I have adopted this order, and preferred to speak, first of the punishment of the devils, and afterwards of the blessedness of the saints, because the body partakes of either destiny; and it seems to be more incredible that bodies endure in everlasting torments than that they continue to exist without any pain in everlasting felicity. Consequently, when I shall have demonstrated that that punishment ought not to be incredible, this will materially aid me in proving that which is much more credible, viz., the immortality of the bodies of the saints which are delivered from all pain. Neither is this order out of harmony with the divine writings, in which sometimes, indeed, the blessedness of the good is placed first, as in the words, “They that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment;”1 but sometimes also last, as, “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things which offend, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of His Father;”2 and that, “These shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.”3 And though we have not room to cite instances, any one who examines the prophets will find that they adopt now the one arrangement and now the other. My own reason for following the latter order I have given.

Chapter 2.—Whether It is Possible for Bodies to Last for Ever in Burning Fire.

What, then, can I adduce to convince those who refuse to believe that human bodies, animated and living, can not only survive death, but also last in the torments of everlasting fires? They will not allow us to refer this simply to the power of the Almighty, but demand that we persuade them by some example. If, then, we reply to them, that there are animals which certainly are corruptible, because they are mortal, and which yet live in the midst of flames; and likewise, that in springs of water so hot that no one can put his hand in it with impunity a species of worm is found, which not only lives there, but cannot live elsewhere; they either refuse to believe these facts unless we can show them, or, if we are in circumstances to prove them by ocular demonstration or by adequate testimony, they contend, with the same scepticism, that these facts are not examples of what we seek to prove, inasmuch as these animals do not live for ever, and besides, they live in that blaze of heat without pain, the element of fire being congenial to their nature, and causing it to thrive and not to suffer,—just as if it were not more incredible that it should thrive than that it should suffer in such circumstances. It is strange that anything should suffer in fire and yet live, but stranger that it should live in fire and not suffer. If, then, the latter be believed, why not also the former?

Chapter 3.—Whether Bodily Suffering Necessarily Terminates in the Destruction of the Flesh.

But, say they, there is no body which can suffer and cannot also die. How do we know this? For who can say with certainty that the devils do not suffer in their bodies, when they own that they are grievously tormented? And if it is replied that there is no earthly body—that is to say, no solid and perceptible body, or, in one word, no flesh—which can suffer and cannot die, is not this to tell us only what men have gathered from experience and their bodily senses? For they indeed have no acquaintance with any flesh but thai which is mortal; and this is their whole argument, that what they have had no experience of they judge quite impossible. For we cannot call it reasoning to make pain a presumption of death, while, in fact, it is rather a sign of life. For though it be a question whether that which suffers can continue to live for ever, yet it is certain that everything which suffers pain does live, and that pain can exist only in a living subject. It is necessary, therefore, that he who is pained be living, not necessary that pain kill him; for every pain does not kill even those mortal bodies of ours which are destined to die. And that any pain kills them is caused by the circumstance that the soul is so connected with the body that it succumbs to great pain and withdraws; for the structure of our members and vital parts is so infirm that it cannot bear up against that violence which causes great or extreme agony. But in the life to come this connection of soul and body is of such a kind, that as it is dissolved by no lapse of time, so neither is it burst asunder by any pain. And so, although it be true that in this world there is no flesh which can suffer pain and yet cannot die, yet in the world to come there shall be flesh such as now there is not, as there will also be death such as now there is not. For death will not be abolished, but will be eternal, since the soul will neither be able to enjoy God and live, nor to die and escape the pains of the body. The first death drives the soul from the body against her will: the second death holds the soul in the body against her will. The two have this in common, that the soul suffers against her will what her own body inflicts.

169 Our opponents, too, make much of this, that in this world there is no flesh which can suffer pain and cannot die; while they make nothing of the fact that there is something which is greater than the body. For the spirit, whose presence animates and rules the body, can both suffer pain and cannot die. Here then is something which, though it can feel pain, is immortal. And this capacity, which we now see in the spirit of all, shall be hereafter in the bodies of the damned. Moreover, if we attend to the matter a little more closely, we see that what is called bodily pain is rather to be referred to the soul. For it is the soul not the body, which is pained, even when the pain originates with the body,—the soul feeling pain at the point where the body is hurt. As then we speak of bodies feeling and living, though the feeling and life of the body are from the soul, so also we speak of bodies being pained, though no pain can be suffered by the body apart from the soul. The soul, then, is pained with the body in that part where something occurs to hurt it; and it is pained alone, though it be in the body, when some invisible cause distresses it, while the body is safe and sound. Even when not associated with the body it is pained; for certainly that rich man was suffering in hell when he Cried, “I am tormented in this flame.”4 But as for the body, it suffers no pain when it is soulless; and even when animate it can suffer only by the soul’s suffering. If, therefore, we might draw a just presumption from the existence of pain to that of death, and conclude that where pain can be felt death can occur, death would rather be the property of the soul, for to it pain more peculiarly belongs. But, seeing that that which suffers most cannot die, what ground is there for supposing that those bodies, because destined to suffer, are therefore, destined to die? The Platonists indeed maintained that these earthly bodies and dying members gave rise to the fears, desires, griefs, and joys of the soul. “Hence,” says Virgil (i.e., from these earthly bodies and dying members),

“Hence wild desires and grovelling fears,And human laughter, human tears.”5

But in the fourteenth book of this work6 we have proved that, according to the Platonists’ own theory, souls, even when purged from all pollution of the body, are yet possessed by a monstrous desire to return again into their bodies. But where desire can exist, certainly pain also can exist; for desire frustrated, either by missing what it aims at or losing what it had attained, is turned into pain. And therefore, if the soul, which is either the only or the chief sufferer, has yet a kind of immortality of its own, it is inconsequent to say that because the bodies of the damned shall suffer pain, therefore they shall die. In fine, if the body causes the soul to suffer, why can the body not cause death as well as suffering, unless because it does not follow that what causes pain causes death as well? And why then is it incredible that these fires can cause pain but not death to those bodies we speak of, just as the bodies themselves cause pain, but not therefore death, to the souls? Pain is therefore no necessary presumption of death.

Augustin: City of God 167