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.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Schubert on St. Augustine's Teaching on the Eternal Law, Part 4

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?

4. The Apprehension of the Eternal Law

Augustine engages himself at some depth in the ability to apprehend the eternal law. By this the bishop means the concept of the eternal law that is stamped within us.(2) How does Augustine think about this stamping of the eternal law? He focuses on its enlightenment or radiation. He begins with a picture of light. God is, according to Augustine, uncreated, substantial Light, through which all intelligible things are enlightened and given light.(3) God is Truth and Light together.(4) Created light is another kind entirely. It molders in intelligible and visible light.(5) Through the visible light are bodies made visible.(6) By intelligible light Augustine means the light of human reason.(7) Sometimes, the bishop uses the word light in the sense of the light of mercy (Gnadenerleuchtung).(8) In his book Contra academicos he calls it: "The knowledge of truth is given to man through God's mediation."(9) The introduction into truth is pictured by Augustine in his Soliloquies as an enlightenment. God is the sun in the Empire of the intelligible world. We are able to comprehend what this sun shines upon.(10) The soul cannot know the intelligible unaided, but only through a certain binding with the highest.(11) In so far as the soul is able to know the intelligible, it is also bound to the Highest Intelligence. This bond is surely wonderful and full of mystery.(12) Not through human words is human knowledge instructed, but through the things themselves, which God opens before our minds.(13) God lives in the soul. He holds council with the reasonable soul. The soul finds as much knowledge as it can hold on to.(14) This inner teaching Augustine identifies as enlightenment. This enlightenment the bishop writes about with the expressions: docere, pandere, illustrare, illuminare, and from the perspective of men, with videre, intueri veritatem. This enlightenment begins in the cradle.(15) God enlightens every one that comes into the world.(16) The Son of God shines into our souls, similar to the way the moon enlightens the night.(17) The soul knows things in rationibus aeternis, in eternal bases of knowledge.(18) Human intelligence stands next to divine intelligence.(19) By the divine intelligence is the human intelligence enlightened and by such light flowing over is able to see things. In this light even the godless understand the ethical norms. Where else do these norms stand written, other than in the book of that Light, that is called Truth, from which comes the moral law that is written in the heart of moral man, not as it were from above, but a law that he carries within himself stamped within him, just like a wax carries the impression of a signet ring, and yet the rings is not diminished.(20) Augustine uses the expressions of stamping and enlightening in the same sense.

According to Augustine, God is therefore substantial Light, the highest Intelligence. From this Light comes the light of human reason. God gave men this light in his creation. He enhances this light through by his graceful enlightening from the cradle forwards. God teaches and enlightens man. Man sees Truth. The same God that has created reason has also placed reason in things. Reason and things have therefore the same Creator and Lawgiver. Therefore, the same propositions apply to both reason and external things. Thought and Being therefore are not placed in opposition. So it is that the eternal law is the last ground for knowledge and human reason and for the congruity between thinking and being.(21)

5. Conclusions of Augustine's Teachings On the Eternal Law

In his teaching, Augustine proceeds from the eternal law of the concept of order and laws. Order is according to Augustine the fundamental active principle of creatures. Order is harmony of the part to the whole. Order is beauty, in the sense of rightness. Order is the observance of the moral law. The concept of law and the eternal law Augustine uses promiscue [promiscuously] often. The eternal law is to him the foundation of right for the entire order in things. He defines it as Wisdom, Understanding, the Will of God, the compliance with the natural order, keeping that which it commands, and not surpassing that which it forbids. He calls this law the highest Reason, God Himself. In Augustine's view, this law is eternal, unchanging, all-encompassing. It binds all creatures; even the evil are beneath it. The eternal law is the fundamental norm for all temporal laws. From it is derived the natural law, the moral law, the law of the State. This law is made known to man through by impression, by enlightening, by irradiation.

That, in a nutshell, is the teaching of Augustine on the eternal law.


(1) Vgl. Hessen, Johannes, Di Begündung der Erkenntnis nach dem hl. Augustinus, Münster 1916.
(2) Aug., De lib. arb. 1, c. VI, n. 15, PL. 32, col. 1229. Legis aeternae notion nobis impressa est.
(3)Aug., Sol I, n. 3, PL. 32, col. 879. Deus est intelligibilis lux, in quo et a quo et per quem intelligibiliter lucent, que intelligibliter lucent omnia.
(4) Aug., De trin. VIII, n. 3, col. 42. Quoniam Deus lux est. Cf. Sapientia, 9, 15. Deus veritas est.
(5) Aug., De gen. ad lit. PL. 34, col. 228. Alia est lux a Deo nata et alia est lux quam fecit Deus, nata de Deo lux est ipsa sapientia, facta vero lux es quaedam mutabilis sive corporea, sive incorporea.
(6) Ibidem n. 24. . . . lucem, qua res quaeque manifestata est.
(7) Aug., Contra Faust. Man. XX, c. 7, PL. 42, col. 372. Quae cogitatio, dicite, si potestis, quale lumen sit, quo illa omnia, quae hoc non et inter se discernuntur. Aug., De gen. ad lit. c. V, n. 24, PL. 34, col. 229. Tertium lucis genus in creaturis intelligi potest, quo rationcinamur.
(8) Cf. Aug., Contra Faus. Man. XX, c. 9, PL. 42, col. 374.
(9) Aug., Contra acad. lib. 3, n. 13, PL. 32, col. 940. Etenim numen aliquod, aisti, solum posse homini ostendere, quid sit verum.
(10) Aug., Sol. I, n. 15, PL. 32, col. 877. Ergo et illa, quae in disciplinis traduntur, quae quisque intelligit, verissima esse nulla dubitatione concedit, credendum est, ea non posse intelligi, nisi ab alio quasi suo sole illustrentur.
(11) Aug., De im. an. c. VI, n. 10, PL. 32, col. 1026. Nisi aliqua coniunctione cum eo.
(12) Aug., De im. an. c. X, col. 1030. Miro quodam eodemque incorporali modo, scilicet non localiter.
(13) Aug., De mag. n. 40, PL. 32, col. 1217. Docetur enim non verbis meis, sed ipsis rebus Deo intus pandente, manifestis.
(14) Aug., De mag. n. 45, PL. 32, col. 1220. Interiorem . . . illam vertatem pro viribus intuentes.
(15) Aug., De vera rel. n. 3, PL. 34, col. 124. Nec hominum magisterio, sed intima illustratione ab incunabulis illustratum.
(16) Cf. Aug., Joan. I, 9, n. 73.
(17) Aug., De mag. n. 43, PL. 32, col. 1219. Videt quae sit incommutabilis veritas, quae tamquam sol fulget in anima, quemadmodum anima ipsius veritatis particeps fiat et corpori ordinem et pulchritudinem praestet, tamquam luna illustrans noctem.
(18) Aug., De lib. arb. 3, n. 13, PL. 32, col. 1277. Humana quippe anima . . . videt quod dicit, in illis, quibus connexa est rationibus . . . quibus facta sunt omnia.
(19) Aug., De diver. quaest. 46, n. 2, PL. 40, col. 31. Anima rationalis . . . Deo proxima est . . . ab eo lumine intelligibili perfusa et illustrata cernit istas rationes.
(20) Aug., De trin. 14, n. 21, PL. 42, col. 1052. Ubi ergo scriptae sunt, nisi in libro lucis quae veritas dicitur? Unde omnis lex iusta describitur et in cor hominis non migrando, sed tamquam imprimendo transfertur, sicut imago ex annulo in ceram transit et annulum non relinquit.
(21) Baumgartner, M. Große Denker, S. 266.

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