Augustine on Adversity

augustine.city of god

I’ve just started working my way through Augustine’s City of God (Vernon J. Bourke’s abridged edition). It’s generally reckoned to be Augustine’s greatest work so I think I’m going to post some of his nuggets here as I come across them. So here’s nugget number one:

“A good man is neither puffed up by fleeting success nor broken by adversity; whereas a bad man is chastised by failure of this sort because he is corrupted by success . . . For in the same fire, gold gleams and straw smokes; under the same flail the stalk is crushed and the grain threshed; the lees are not mistaken for oil because they have issued from the same press. So, too, the tide of trouble will test, purify, and improve the good, but beat, crush, and wash away the wicked. So it is that, under the weight of the same affliction, the wicked deny and blaspheme God, and the good pray to Him and praise Him. The difference is not in what people suffer but in the way they suffer. The same shaking that makes fetid water stink makes perfume issue a more pleasant odor.” (Bk 1. Ch. 8)

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