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Home > Fathers of the Church > The Harmony of the Gospels (Augustine) > Book I, Chapter 26

The Harmony of the Gospels, Book I

Chapter 26. Of the Fact that Idolatry Has Been Subverted by the Name of Christ, and by the Faith of Christians According to the Prophecies.

40. For truly what is thus effected by Christians is not a thing which belongs only to Christian times, but one which was predicted very long ago. Those very Jews who have remained enemies to the name of Christ, and regarding whose destined perfidy these prophetic writings have not been silent, do themselves possess and peruse the prophet who says: O Lord my God, and my refuge in the day of evil, the Gentiles shall come unto You from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have worshipped mendacious idols, and there is no profit in them. Behold, that is now being done; behold, now the Gentiles are coming from the ends of the earth to Christ, uttering things like these, and breaking their idols! Of signal consequence, too, is this which God has done for His Church in its world-wide extension, in that the Jewish nation, which has been deservedly overthrown and scattered abroad throughout the lands, has been made to carry about with it everywhere the records of our prophecies, so that it might not be possible to look upon these predictions as concocted by ourselves; and thus the enemy of our faith has been made a witness to our truth. How, then, can it be possible that the disciples of Christ have taught what they have not learned from Christ, as those foolish men in their silly fancies object, with the view of getting the superstitious worship of heathen gods and idols subverted? Can it be said also that those prophecies which are still read in these days, in the books of the enemies of Christ, were the inventions of the disciples of Christ?

41. Who, then, has effected the demolition of these systems but the God of Israel? For to this people was the announcement made by those divine voices which were addressed to Moses: Hear, O Israel; the Lord your God is one God. You shall not make unto you any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath. And again, in order that this people might put an end to these things wherever it received power to do so, this commandment was also laid upon the nation: You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them; you shall not do after their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images. But who shall say that Christ and Christians have no connection with Israel, seeing that Israel was the grandson of Abraham, to whom first, as afterwards to his son Isaac, and then to his grandson Israel himself, that promise was given, which I have already mentioned, namely: In your seed shall all nations be blessed? That prediction we see now in its fulfilment in Christ. For it was of this line that the Virgin was born, concerning whom a prophet of the people of Israel and of the God of Israel sang in these terms: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son; and they shall call His name Emmanuel. For by interpretation, Emmanuel means, God with us. This God of Israel, therefore, who has interdicted the worship of other gods, who has interdicted the making of idols, who has commanded their destruction, who by His prophet has predicted that the Gentiles from the ends of the earth would say, Surely our fathers have worshipped mendacious idols, in which there is no profit; this same God is He who, by the name of Christ and by the faith of Christians, has ordered, promised, and exhibited the overthrow of all these superstitions. In vain, therefore, do these unhappy men, knowing that they have been prohibited from blaspheming the name of Christ, even by their own gods, that is to say, by the demons who fear the name of Christ, seek to make it out, that this kind of doctrine is something strange to Him, in the power of which the Christians dispute against idols, and root out all those false religions, wherever they have the opportunity.

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Source. Translated by S.D.F. Salmond. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 6. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1602126.htm>.

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