City of God – Book 13 – Part 6
|Of the evil of death in general, considered as the separation of soul and body|
|Wherefore, as regards bodily death, that is, the separation of the soul from the body, it is good unto none while it is being endured by those who we say are in the article of death. For the very violence with which body and soul are wrenched asunder, which in the living had been conjoined and closely intertwined, brings with it a harsh experience, jarring horridly on nature so long as it continues, till there comes a total loss of sensation, which arose from the very inter-penetration of spirit and flesh.
|And all this anguish is sometimes forestalled by one stroke of the body or sudden flitting of the soul, the swiftness of dying which with violently painful sensation robs of all sensation, yet, when it is piously and faiithfully borne, it increases the merit of patience, but does not make the name of punishment inapplicable. Death, proceeding by ordinary generation from the first man, is the punishment of all who are born of him, yet, if it be endured for righteousness’ sake, it becomes the glory of those who are born again; and though death be the award of sin, it sometimes secures that nothing be awarded to sin.|
I frequently hear non-Christians say something to the effect of death, “Death is the natural process of life. We are born, we live, and then we die. That is just how the cycle of life works.” What I hope to show by the apologetic of Augustine who is using the foundation of the Scriptures, is that there is nothing natural in relation to death, but is the result of the curse of the fall of our first parents(Gen 3:17-19). We can see by the exposition above provided by the great church father Augustine, that he describes the various pains involved in the strokes of death that will afflict us both. By both I mean both the elect and the reprobate. Notice the union between body and soul that is destroyed at the onslaught of death. Before they were knit together like a fish in water, similar to the union between man and life, apart from being grafted into Christ all is lost.
The second paragraph to Augustine’s exposition is the hope that all those redeemed by Christ have and there can even be peace in the midst of the bonds of death for the Christian. For only for the Christian has our eternal mediator destroyed him who had the power over death(Heb 2:14).