Augustine stood by the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. He had heard of the hordes of barbarians that were moving as a juggernaut against Rome and the empire. The reports were ominous and foreboding, lending little reason for hope of the survival of the Roman culture.
Augustine said a prayer in three parts. In the first part, he implored God to save the empire. In the second part, he asked for grace to accept the destruction of civilization as he knew it, if that should be the will of Providence. In the third part, he asked that in either case he might be permitted soon to die and enter his eternal rest.
Permanence and security cannot be found in the structures of man. Concrete crumbles. Glass shatters. Steel melts. When God says "No!" the cities and kingdoms of men come to ruin. God simply will not tolerate man's quest for autonomy—his lust for idols of his own making. No city, no nation, no culture can survive the judgment of God.
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