Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 2

Continuing the translation of Schubert's Augustins Lex-Aeterna-Lehre:

Augustine's Lex Aeterna Teaching

Its Content and its Source

by: P. Alois Schubert, S.V.D.

St. Augustine From the pulpit in the Oud-Katholieke Kerk
(Old Catholic Church) in The Hague
by Jan Baptist Xavéry

Part I

What does Augustine teach regarding the lex aeterna?

2. Characteristics of the Eternal Law

Augustine calls law kat 'exochen [preeminently] eternal, unchanging, all-embracing.

a) Eternal: In his work On Freedom of the Will (De libero arbitrio), the bishop asks: "Should that law to a wise man not appear to be eternal and unchangeable?" His friend Evodius answers: "I hold that law to be eternal and unchangeable."(1) Augustine agrees. In the second book of his On order (De ordine) Augustine speaks about an inarticulable, eternal law that even governs the life of the ungodly.(2) In his writing Against Faustus Manichean (Contra Faustum Manichaeum) it is said: "We, however, live rightly following that eternal law, through which the natural order is kept, when we live a sincerely-held faith."(3) Additionally, in other places Augustine speak of the eternity of this law.

b) Unchangeable: In the writing On Diverse Questions (de Diversae quaestiones), the bishop writes: "The law remains unchanging, and guides all changing things through the most beautiful governance."(4) In the writing On True Religion (De vera religione), it is said: "The measure of order lives in the eternal truth; it is not interrupted either through the multitude or changed by the passage of time. It remains powerful and great over space and eternally unchanging over time."(5)

c) All-embracing: All creation stand beneath this law. "Nothing stands outside the order of the world."(6) "Because God rules well all his creation, so it follows that there is nothing in violation of those rules which is not at the same time lawlessness, whether we realize it or not."(7) The bishop expresses the same thoughts in the City of God: "In no way will some thing which goes beyond the law of the most high Creator and Orderer administer itself in accordance with peace (the inner order of things) of the universe."(8) Without exception, all these things stand beneath the eternal law. In his book against the Manichee Faustus, Augustine handles the place of the beasts, men, and angels with respect to the eternal law. It states there: "The beasts do not sin, since they do nothing against the eternal law, in that they are subjugated to it, having no ability to share in it through the mind or spirit (geistig). The noble angels do not sin, because, in such a state, they have such a part in the eternal law that they seek their joy by desiring and fulfilling God's will to such an extent that no temptation could bring them to even to hesitate with respect to it. Man is to subject to his reason that which he has common with the animals, and he should subordinate to God that which he has in common with the angels, until at his end he obtains his perfect consummation and immortality in accordance with the the reign of the spirit that is above all animal perfection."(9) So does the eternal law bind all creation, those things that are inanimate, and those things with life: plants, animals, men, and angels. Those creatures without reason understand the eternal law without knowing it, while that part of creation with reason understands the eternal law in its manner.

Even the evil understand the eternal law. With respect to this issue, Augustine writes: "I do not believe that something can chance to stand outside the order of things, in that the evil that arises, in no way arises against God's law; rather, that righteousness has not allowed but that evil remain subject to that order, and that order diligently has pushed back or rejected that evil."(10) According to Augustine, evil is the absence of order, the absence of the eternal law. He defines therefore sin as a act, or a word, or a desire against the eternal law. He calls disallowed that which that law, which makes itself known through the preservation of the natural order, prohibits.(11) With emphasis, Augustine states that God does not love evil, because it is a breach against the willed order. God loves that order in that he has wrapped up both good and evil. But he rules over with measured order.(12) The eternal law binds not only the good, but also evil. Augustine asks then whether a fool is subject to measured order. Trygetius, his spokesman, answers: "The life of a fool is certainly without harmony and contrary to order. But he is through God's Providence embedded into the order of the world."

"Look at foolishness by itself; one recoils from it with disgust from going the same way. Look at the whole; in like manner does one see how disorder itself must serve order."(13) The disorder evidently completes an antithetical world picture of the highest ordering. The godless deprive themselves only from the light of the eternal law. If one injures in an unlawful way the order through sin, so will justice through the proclaimed punishment be restored. "He who does not fulfill the law, will be wrecked by the law."(14) Augustine properly therefore asks: "Who would deny, Oh great God, that you guide all things in order?"(15) So is the eternal law accordingly universal. It binds all creation, the lifeless things of nature, the living beings: the plants, the beasts, men, and angels. Beneath its sway may be found good and evil.


(1) Aug., De lib. arb. 1, c. VI, n.14 and 15, PL.32, col 1228. Potestne lex illa cuidam intelligenti non immutabilis aeternaque videri? Evodius inquit: Video hanc aeternam esse et immutabilem.
(2) Aug., De ord. lib. 2, c. IV, n. 11, PL. 32, col. 1000. Namque vita stultorum, quamvis per eos ipsos minime constans minimeque ordinata sit per divinam providentiam necessario rerum ordine includitur et quasi quibusdam locis illa ineffabili et sempiterna lege dispositis, nullo modo esse sinitur, ubi esse non debet.
(3) Aug., Contra Faust. Man., lib. 22, c. 27, PL 42, col. 418. Nos vero secundum aeternam legem, qua naturalis ordo servatur, iuste vivimus, si vivamus ex fide non ficta.
(4) Aug., De div. quaest. 83, quaest. 27, PL. 40, col. 18. In ceteris autem secundum legem agimur, cum lex ipsa immutabilis maneat et omnia mutabilia pulcherrima gubernatione moderetur.
(5) Aug., De v. rel. n. 81, PL. 34, col. 159. Ipse autem ordinis modus vivit in veritate perpetua, nec mole vastus, nec protractione volubilis, sed potentia supra omnes locos magnus, aeternitate supra omnia tempora immobilis.
(6) Aug., De ord. lib. 2, c. VII, n. 21, PL. 32, col. 1004. Nam ordinem esse dixisti, quo Deus omnia agit. Nihil autem, ut vides, Deus non agit, name inde tibi visum est, nihil praeter ordinem inveniri posse.
(7) Aug., De div. quest. 83, quaest. 27, P. 40, col. 18. Summo enim Deo cuncta bene administrante, quae fecit, nihil inordinatum in universo, nihil iniustum est sive scientibus, sive nescientibus nobis.
(8) Aug., De civ. Dei 19, c. XII, n. 3, PL. 41, col. 640. Nullo modo aliquid legibus summi creatoris ordinatorisque subtrahitur, a quo pax universitatis administratur. . . . Aug., De ordine lib. 1, c. 4, n. 11, col. 983. Serenissime intuenti clarum est nihil sine causa . . . nihil fieri nisi certum causarum ordine credite . . .
(9) Aug., Contra Faust. 22, c. 28, PL. 42, col. 419. Bestialis natura non peccat, quia nihil facit contra aeternam legem, cui sic subdita est, ut eius particeps esse non possit. Rursus angelica sublimis natura non peccat, quia ita particeps est legis aeternae, ut solus eam Deus delectet, cuius voluntati sine ullo experimento tentationis obtemperat. . . . homo autem subdat sibi quod habet commune cum bestiis, subdat Deo, quod habet commune cum angelis, donec iustitia et immortalitate perfecta et percepta ab istis exaltetur illis aequetur.
(10) Aug., De ord. lib. 2, c. 7, n. 23, PL 32. Non puto nihil potuisse fieri praeter rerum ordinem, quia ipsum malum quod natum est, nullo modo Dei ordinatione natum est, sed illa iustitia illud inordinatum esse non sivit, sed in sibi meritum ordinem redegit et compulit.
(11) Aug., Contra Faust. Manic. lib. 22, c. 27, PL. 42, col. 418. Ergo peccatum est factum vel dictum vel concupitum aliquid contra aeternam legem . . . est autem illicitum quod lex illa prohibet qua naturalis ordo servatur.
(12) Aug., De ord. lib. 1, c. 6 and 7, PL. 32, col. 985. Et bona et mala in ordine sunt . . . mal Deus non diligit, quia ordinis non est quod Deus mala diligat, sed ordinem diligit . . . sed sunt, inquit etiam mala per quae factum est, ut et bona ordo concludat, nam sola bona ordine non reguntur, sed simul bona et mala. Quum autem dicimus, omnia quae sunt, non sola utique bona dicimus. Ex quo fit, ut omnia simul quae administrat ordine administrantur.
(13) Aug., De ord. lib. 2, c. 4, n. 11, PL 32, col. 1000. Utrum quaecumque agat stultus, ordine vobis agere videatur? Si autem ordo non est in iis, quae aguntur a stulto, est aliquid quod ordo non teneat. Neutrum vultis. Trygetius inquit: Namque omnis vita stultorum, quamvis per eos ipsos minime constans minimeque ordinata sit per divinam tame providentiam necessario rerum ordine includitur et quasi quibusdam locis illa ineffabili et sempiterna lege dispositis, nullo modo esse sinitur, ubi esse non debet. Ita fit, ut augusto animo ipsam solam (vita stultorum) quis considerans, veluti magna repercussus foeditate aversetur, si autem mentis oculos erigens atque diffundens, simul universa collustret, nihil non ordinatum suisque sedibus distinctum dispositumque reperiet.
(14) Aug., De musica 6, c. 11 n. 30, PL. 32, col 1180. Ut qui legem agere noluit, a lege agatur. Aug., Epist. 140, c. 2, n. 4, PL. 33, col. 539. Qui enim iniuste se ordinat in peccatis, iuste ordinatur in poenis.
(15) Aug., De ord. lib. 1, c. 5, n. 14, PL. 32 Quis neget, o magne Deus, inquit, te cuncta ordine administrari.

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