City of God- Saint Augustine
It was not in fact, the men who were pressured by the image, but the image by the men. How, then, was she invoked to defend the city and the citizens, she who could not defend her own defenders.
I will briefly, and to the best of my ability, explain what I meant to say about these ungrateful men who blasphemously impute to Christ the calamities which they deservedly suffer in consequences of their own evil ways, while that for which Christ’s sake spared them in spite of their wickedness they do not even take the trouble to notice; and in their mad blasphemous insolence, they use against His name those very lips wherewith they falsely claimed that same life that their life might be spared. In the places consecrated to Christ, where for His sake no enemy would injure them, they restrained their tongues that they might be safe and protected; but no sooner do they emerge from these sanctuaries than they unbridle these tongues to hurl at Him curses of hate.
From them none forcibly dragged; that into them many were led by their relenting enemies to be set at liberty, and that from them none were led into slavery by merciless force. Whoever does not see that this is to be attributed to the name of Christ, and to the Christian temper, is blind; whoever sees this, and gives not praise, is ungrateful; whoever hinders anyone from praising it, is mad. Far be it from any prudent man to impute this clemency to the barbarians. Their fierce and bloody minds were awed and bridled, and marvelously tempered by Him who so long before said by His prophet, “I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquities with stripes; nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from them.”
For the good man is neither uplifted with the good things of time, nor broken by its ills; but the wicked man, because he is corrupted by this world’s happiness, feels himself punished by its unhappiness. Yet often even in the present distribution of temporal things, does God plainly wince His own inference. For if every sin were now visited with manifest punishment, nothing would seem to be reserved for the final judgment; on the other hand, if no sin received now a plainly divine punishment, it would be concluded that there is no divine providence at all. And so of the good things of this life; if God did not by a very visible liberality confer these on some of those persons who asks for them, we should say that these good things were not at His disposal; and if He gave them to all who sought them, we should suppose that such were the only reward of His service; and such a service would make us not godly, but greedy rather and covetous.
These selfish persons have more cause to fear than those to who it was said through the prophet, “He is taken away in iniquity, but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” For watchman or overseers of the people are appointed in churches, that they may unsparingly rebuke sin-nor is the man guiltless of the sin we speak of…
Carnage then occurred, the bodies could not even be buried. But godly confidence is not appalled by so ill-omened a circumstance; for the fruitful bear in mind that assurance has been given that no a hair on their head should parish, and that therefore, though they have been devoured by beasts, their blessed resurrection will not hereby be hindered. The truth would no wise have said, “Fear not them which can kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul,” if anything whatever that an enemy could be detrimental to the future life.
And so there are indeed many bodies of Christians lying unburied; but no one has separated them from heaven, nor froth that earth which is all filled with the presence of Him who knows whence He will raise again what He created.
For the family of Christ is furnished with this reply; our God is everywhere present, wholly everywhere; not confined to any place He can be present unperceived, and be absent with moving;
But who are you, that we should design to speak with you even about your own god’s much less about our God, who is to be feared above all gods? For all the gods of the nations are idols; but the Lord made the heavens.” Ps. XCVL 4, 5.
That those who complain of Christianity really desire to live without restraint in shameful luxury.
For why in your calamities do you complain of Christianity, unless because you desire to enjoy your luxurious license unrestrained, and to lead an abandoned and profligate life without the interruption of any uneasiness and disaster?
Scipio wished you to be hard pressed by an enemy, that you might not abandon yourselves to luxurious manners; but so abandoned are you, that not even when crushed by the enemy is you luxury repressed. You have missed the profit of you calamity; you have been made most wretched, and have remained and most profligate.
In truth, these two cities are entangled together in this world, and intermixed until the last judgment effects their separation. I now proceed to speak, as God shall help me, of the rise, progress and end of the two cities; and what I write. I write for the glory of the city of God, that being placed in comparison with the other, it might shine with brighter lustre.