Augustine of Hippo was a Christian writer who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries AD. He wrote many important works, including The City of God, Confessions, and others. He also put together many sermons on various biblical passages. Many of his works are still read today.
Augustine viewed God as the creator of the universe and believed that He was sovereign over history. He said that the church is based on Christ and no one else. He said that Christians are not to fear any persecutors they may have, but to fear God. In one of his sermons, he said that the reason the Christian martyrs did not fear their persecutors was that they feared God. He instructed people to love God’s law and said that the meek love God’s law.
Augustine saw Christians as pilgrims passing through this world. He said that righteous souls go to heaven, and that they have a city there. He told Christians not to put their hope in this world. In his great work The City of God, he made a contrast between the city of God and the city of men. The city of God is just passing through this earth looking forward to eternity. He said that Christians have victory in eternity, but are a predominantly minority position in history. History, he said, is tribulation for Christians. He described the blessings in history as solace, not positive enjoyment of felicity.
Even more interesting, he wrote this in a time when the Roman empire had been Christianized. It definitely seems like the Roman empire was not as inclined to Christianity as you might think after the emperor Theodosius I the great made Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman empire. Many people were not happy with Christian influence and blamed it for the sack of Rome in the year 410.
Augustine wrote The City of God to defend Christianity. He said that the critics of Christianity were hypocrites because they had been saved by God from the sack of Rome. He said that the reason many of them were alive was because they had taken shelter in the major churches, which the barbarians spared with all who were in them. He said that there was common grace and a common curse to both the righteous and the unrighteous during the sack of Rome. God, he said, does not deal out the full judgment of every deed here on earth, because if He did there would be no point for a final judgment. If, Augustine said, there was no judgment here on earth, it would be supposed that there were no divine judgment at all. Good things happen to both good people and bad people, and bad things happen to both good people and bad people.
Augustine did not believe in the legitimacy of political reform. He called only for the toleration of the church. He told Christians that they should obey the laws of the city of man, and that peace in the earthly city benefits Christians.