Augustine wrote the City of God while the Roman Empire was falling into ruin under the barbarian invasions and the Church was rising from the imperial ashes.
There was need of justifying these two events, which disturbed not only those who did not believe in Christ but also those who did believe in him.
With this purpose in mind, Augustine undertook this major work over a period of thirty years.
The City of God can be considered the first in the philosophy of history.
Until the late Middle Ages a thousand years later, the City of God influenced the politics and government of Christian nations, and in the relations between the Church and the civil government.
It was an influence in the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, and had little in the way of rival theories until Nicola Machiavelli in the year 1513 wrote a very secular work, The Prince, that appealed to the more base desires of power and cunning.
The world view of Augustine and his history of humanity is organic and unified, but it is also ascetic and Christian.
Christ is the very soul of history. The coming of Christ presupposes another truth of the Christian faith, original sin.
In consequence of original sin, people are divided into two distinct cities: one of God, the other of the earth. Both, however, are at the service of Christ.
The city of God, prior to the coming of Christ, was represented by the people of Israel; the city of this earth was represented by the Roman Empire.
The two cities had a different purpose, the one religious and the other political.
The first had the task of preparing for the coming of Christ through the prophetic men in the Bible; the second was to prepare for his coming politically.
(Continued on the next page.)
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