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Chapter 16.—How We are to Understand God’s Promise of Life Eternal, Which Was Uttered Before the “Eternal Times.”

I own that I do not know what ages passed before the human race was created, yet I have no doubt that no created thing is co-eternal with the Creator.  But even the apostle speaks of time as eternal, and this with reference, not to the future, but, which is more surprising, to the past.  For he says, “In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie promised before the eternal times, but hath 237 in due times manifested His word.”553553    Titus i. 2, 3.  Augustin here follows the version of Jerome, and not the Vulgate.  Comp. Contra Priscill. 6, and de Gen. c. Man. iv. 4.  You see he says that in the past there have been eternal times, which, however, were not co-eternal with God.  And since God before these eternal times not only existed, but also, “promised” life eternal, which He manifested in its own times (that is to say, in due times), what else is this than His word?  For this is life eternal.  But then, how did He promise; for the promise was made to men, and yet they had no existence before eternal times?  Does this not mean that, in His own eternity, and in His co-eternal word, that which was to be in its own time was already predestined and fixed?


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