Archive Civic Polity Early Church Fathers Nota Bene Simon Kennedy The Two Kingdoms

Augustine on Earthly and Heavenly Goods

In chapter 25.4 of De Civitate Dei, Augustine says the following about the the different but related goods of the two cities of God and Man:

It would be incorrect to say that the goods which this city [the City of Man] desires are not goods, since even that city is better, in its own human way, by their possession … These things are goods and undoubtedly they are gifts of God. But if the higher goods are neglected, which belong to the City on high, where victory will be serene in the enjoyment of eternal and perfect peace – if these goods are neglected and those other goods are desired as to be considered the only goods, or are loved more than the goods which are believed to be higher, the inevitable consequence is fresh misery, and an increase of the wretchedness already there.

Augustine’s warning is stark. The City of Man cannot neglect the goods of the City of God; otherwise it will lose both kinds of goods and wretchedness will prevail.

By Simon Kennedy

Simon is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Queensland. He resides in Geelong, Victoria with his wife and four children.