The City of God

St. Augustine contrasts the Roman and Christian worlds

St. Augustine (354-430), a leading Christian thinker and bishop of Hippo in Africa wrote The City of God after Rome was sacked in 410. Opponents of the Church claimed that the destruction of the city occurred because Christianity neglected the pagan gods who traditionally protected Rome. In the following excerpt from Book 5, St. Augustine describes a heavenly city that, unlike Rome, can never fall.

For those pagan heroes there was not to be the divine grace of everlasting life along with His holy angels in His heavenly City, for the only road to this Society of the Blessed is true piety, that religious service...which is offered to the One true God. On the other hand, if God did not grant them at least the temporal [earthly] glory of a splendid Empire, there would have been no reward for the praiseworthy efforts or virtues by which they strove to attain that glory. When our Lord said: "Amen I say to you they have received their reward," He had in mind those who do what seems to be good in order to be glorified by men. After all, the pagans subordinated their private property to the common welfare, that is, to the republic and the public treasury.... They gave their counsel freely in the councils of the state. They indulged in neither public crime nor private passion. They thought they were on the right road when they strove, by all these means, for honors, rule, and glory. Honor has come to them from almost all peoples. The rule of their laws has been imposed on many peoples. And in our day in literature and in history, glory has been given them by almost everyone. They have no right to complain of the justice of the true and supreme God. "They have received their just reward."

The reward of the saints is altogether different. They were men who, while on earth, suffered reproaches for the City of God which is so much hated by the lovers of this world. That City is eternal. There, no one is born because no one dies. There, there reigns that true and perfect happiness which is not a goddess, but a gift of God -- toward whose beauty we can but sigh in our pilgrimage on earth, though we hold the pledge of it by faith. In that City, the sun does not "rise upon the good and bad" for the Sun of justice cherishes the good alone. There, where the Truth is a treasure shared by all, there is no need to pinch the poor to fill the coffers of the state.

Emphasis added.