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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book I, Chapter 24

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book I

Chapter 24. Of the Fact that Those Persons Who Reject the God of Israel, in Consequence Fail to Worship All the Gods; And, on the Other Hand, that Those Who Worship Other Gods, Fail to Worship Him.

37. It is well understood, therefore, what these worshippers of images are convicted in reality of revering, and what they attempt to colour over. But even these new interpreters of Saturn must be required to tell us what they think of the God of the Hebrews. For to them also it seemed right to worship all the gods, as is done by the heathen nations, because their pride made them ashamed to humble themselves under Christ for the remission of their sins. What opinion, therefore, do they entertain regarding the God of Israel? For if they do not worship Him then they do not worship all gods; and if they do worship Him, they do not worship Him in the way that He has ordained for His own worship, because they worship others also whose worship He has interdicted. Against such practices He issued His prohibition by the mouth of those same prophets by whom He also announced beforehand the destined occurrence of those very things which their images are now sustaining at the hands of the Christians. For whatever the explanation may be, whether it be that the angels were sent to those prophets to show them figuratively, and by the congruous forms of visible objects, the one true God, the Creator of all things, to whom the whole universe is made subject, and to indicate the method in which He enjoined His own worship to proceed; or whether it was that the minds of some among them were so mightily elevated by the Holy Spirit, as to enable them to see those things in that kind of vision in which the angels themselves behold objects: in either case it is the incontestable fact, that they did serve that God who has prohibited the worship of other gods; and, moreover, it is equally certain, that with the faithfulness of piety, in the kingly and in the priestly office, they ministered at once for the good of their country, and in the interest of those sacred ordinances which were significant of the coming of Christ as the true King and Priest.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602124.htm>.

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