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Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine


CHAPTER XVI

PROBLEMS ABOUT HEAVENLY AND EARTHLY DIVISIONS OF THE CHURCH

60. It is more important to be able to discern and tell when Satan transforms

himself as an angel of light, lest by this deception he should seduce us into harmful

acts. For, when he deceives the corporeal senses, and does not thereby turn the

mind from that true and right judgment by which one leads the life of faith, there is

no danger to religion. Or if, feigning himself to be good, he does or says things that

would fit the character of the good angels, even if then we believe him good, the

error is neither dangerous nor fatal to the Christian faith. But when, by these alien

wiles, he begins to lead us into his own ways, then great vigilance is required to

recognize him and not follow after. But how few men are there who are able to avoid

his deadly stratagems, unless God guides and preserves them! Yet the very

difficulty of this business is useful in this respect: it shows that no man should rest

his hopes in himself, nor one man in another, but all who are God's should cast their

hopes on him. And that this latter is obviously the best course for us no pious man

would deny.

61. This part of the Church, therefore, which is composed of the holy angels

and powers of God will become known to us as it really is only when, at the end of

the age, we are joined to it, to possess, together with it, eternal bliss. But the other

part which, separated from this heavenly company, wanders through the earth is

better known to us because we are in it, and because it is composed of men like

ourselves. This is the part that has been redeemed from all sin by the blood of the

sinless Mediator, and its cry is: "If God be for us, who is against us? He that spared

not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all...."126 Now Christ did not die for the

angels. But still, what was done for man by his death for man's redemption and his

deliverance from evil was done for the angels also, because by it the enmity caused

by sin between men and the angels is removed and friendship restored. Moreover,

this redemption of mankind serves to repair the ruins left by the angelic apostasy.

62. Of course, the holy angels, taught by God--in the eternal contemplation of

122Zech. 1:9.

123Matt. 1:20.

124Gen. 18:4; 19:2.

125Gen. 32:24.

126Rom. 8:31, 32.


whose truth they are blessed--know how many of the human race are required to fill

up the full census of that commonwealth. This is why the apostle says "that all

things are restored to unity in Christ, both those in heaven and those on the earth

in him."127 The part in heaven is indeed restored when the number lost from the

angelic apostasy are replaced from the ranks of mankind. The part on earth is

restored when those men predestined to eternal life are redeemed from the old state

of corruption.

Thus by the single sacrifice, of which the many victims of the law were only

shadows, the heavenly part is set at peace with the earthly part and the earthly

reconciled to the heavenly. Wherefore, as the same apostle says: "For it pleased God

that all plenitude of being should dwell in him and by him to reconcile all things to

himself, making peace with them by the blood of his cross, whether those things on

earth or those in heaven."128

63. This peace, as it is written, "passes all understanding." It cannot be

known by us until we have entered into it. For how is the heavenly realm set at

peace, save together with us; that is, by concord with us? For in that realm there is

always peace, both among the whole company of rational creatures and between

them and their Creator. This is the peace that, as it is said, "passes all

understanding." But obviously this means our understanding, not that of those who

always see the Father's face. For no matter how great our understanding may be,

"we know in part, and we see in a glass darkly."129 But when we shall have become

"equal to God's angels,"130 then, even as they do, "we shall see face to face."131 And

we shall then have as great amity toward them as they have toward us; for we shall

come to love them as much as we are loved by them.

In this way their peace will become known to us, since ours will be like theirs

in kind and measure--nor will it then surpass our understanding. But the peace of

God, which is there, will still doubtless surpass our understanding and theirs as

well. For, of course, in so far as a rational creature is blessed, this blessedness

comes, not from himself, but from God. Hence, it follows that it is better to interpret

the passage, "The peace of God which passes all understanding," so that from the

word "all" not even the understanding of the holy angels should be excepted. Only

God's understanding is excepted; for, of course, his peace does not surpass his own

understanding.









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