Writings of Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustin

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The Confessions of St. Augustin

St. Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo

In Thirteen Books

Translated and Annotated by J.G. Pilkington, M.A., Vicar of St. Mark's, West Hackney; And Sometime Clerical Secretary of the Bishop of London's Fund.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.


Book XI.

The design of his confessions being declared, he seeks from God the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and begins to expound the words of Genesis I. I, concerning the creation of the world. The questions of rash disputers being refuted, "What did God before he created the world?" That he might the better overcome his opponents, he adds a copious disquisition concerning time.

Chapter I.--By Confession He Desires to Stimulate Towards God His Own Love and That of His Readers.

1. O Lord, since eternity is Thine, art Thou ignorant of the things which I say unto Thee? Or seest Thou at the time that which cometh to pass in time? Why, therefore, do I place before Thee so many relations of things? Not surely that Thou mightest know them through me, but that I may awaken my own love and that of my readers towards Thee, that we may all say, "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised." [999] I have already said, and shall say, for the love of Thy love do I this. For we also pray, and yet Truth says, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." [1000] Therefore do we make known unto Thee our love, in confessing unto Thee our own miseries and Thy mercies upon us, that Thou mayest free us altogether, since Thou hast begun, that we may cease to be wretched in ourselves, and that we may be blessed in Thee; since Thou hast called us, that we may be poor in spirit, and meek, and mourners, and hungering and athirst after righteousness, and merciful, and pure in heart, and peacemakers. [1001] Behold, I have told unto Thee many things, which I could and which I would, for Thou first wouldest that I should confess unto Thee, the Lord my God, for Thou art good, since Thy "mercy endureth for ever." [1002]

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[999] Ps. xcvi. 4. See note 3, page 45, above. [1000] Matt. vi. 8. [1001] Matt. v. 3-9. [1002] Ps. cxviii. 1.

Chapter II.--He Begs of God that Through the Holy Scriptures He May Be Led to Truth.

2. But when shall I suffice with the tongue of my pen to express all Thy exhortations, and all Thy terrors, and comforts, and guidances, whereby Thou hast led me to preach Thy Word and to dispense Thy Sacrament [1003] unto Thy people? And if I suffice to utter these things in order, the drops [1004] of time are dear to me. Long time have I burned to meditate in Thy law, and in it to confess to Thee my knowledge and ignorance, the beginning of Thine enlightening, and the remains of my darkness, until infirmity be swallowed up by strength. And I would not that to aught else those hours should flow away, which I find free from the necessities of refreshing my body, and the care of my mind, and of the service which we owe to men, and which, though we owe not, even yet we pay. [1005]

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3. O Lord my God, hear my prayer, and let Thy mercy regard my longing, since it bums not for myself alone, but because it desires to benefit brotherly charity; and Thou seest into my heart, that so it is. I would sacrifice to Thee the service of my thought and tongue; and do Thou give what I may offer unto Thee. For "I am poor and needy," [1006] Thou rich unto all that call upon Thee, [1007] who free from care carest for us. Circumcise from all rashness and from all lying my inward and outward lips. [1008] Let Thy Scriptures be my chaste delights. Neither let me be deceived in them, nor deceive out of them. [1009] Lord, hear and pity, O Lord my God, light of the blind, and strength of the weak; even also light of those that see, and strength of the strong, hearken unto my soul, and hear it crying "out of the depths." [1010] For unless Thine ears be present in the depths also, whither shall we go? whither shall we cry? "The day is Thine, and the night also is Thine." [1011] At Thy nod the moments flee by. Grant thereof space for our meditations amongst the hidden things of Thy law, nor close it against us who knock. For not in vain hast Thou willed that the obscure secret of so many pages should be written. Nor is it that those forests have not their harts, [1012] betaking themselves therein, and ranging, and walking, and feeding, lying down, and ruminating. Perfect me, O Lord, and reveal them unto me. Behold, Thy voice is my joy, Thy voice surpasseth the abundance of pleasures. Give that which I love, for I do love; and this hast Thou given. Abandon not Thine own gifts, nor despise Thy grass that thirsteth. Let me confess unto Thee whatsoever I shall have found in Thy books, and let me hear the voice of praise, and let me imbibe Thee, and reflect on the wonderful things of Thy law; [1013] even from the beginning, wherein Thou madest the heaven and the earth, unto the everlasting kingdom of Thy holy city that is with Thee.

4. Lord, have mercy on me and hear my desire. For I think that it is not of the earth, nor of gold and silver, and precious stones, nor gorgeous apparel, nor honours and powers, nor the pleasures of the flesh, nor necessaries for the body, and this life of our pilgrimage; all which are added to those that seek Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness. [1014] Behold, O Lord my God, whence is my desire. The unrighteous have told me of delights, but not such as Thy law, O Lord. [1015] Behold whence is my desire. Behold, Father, look and see, and approve; and let it be pleasing in the sight of Thy mercy, that I may find grace before Thee, that the secret things of Thy Word may be opened unto me when I knock. [1016] I beseech, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, "the Man of Thy right hand, the Son of man, whom Thou madest strong for Thyself," [1017] as Thy Mediator and ours, through whom Thou hast sought us, although not seeking Thee, but didst seek us that we might seek Thee, [1018] --Thy Word through whom Thou hast made all things, [1019] and amongst them me also, Thy Only-begotten, through whom Thou hast called to adoption the believing people, and therein me also. I beseech Thee through Him, who sitteth at Thy right hand, and "maketh intercession for us," [1020] "in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom and knowledge." [1021] Him [1022] do I seek in Thy books. Of Him did Moses write; [1023] this saith Himself; this saith the Truth.


[1003] He very touchingly alludes in Serm. ccclv. 2 to the way in which he was forced against his will (as was frequently the custom in those days), first, to become a presbyter (A.D. 391), and, four years later, coadjutor to Valerius, Bishop of Hippo (Ep. xxxi. 4, and Ep. ccxiii. 4), whom on his death he succeeded. His own wish was to establish a monastery, and to this end he sold his patrimony, "which consisted of only a few small fields" (Ep. cxxvi. 7). He absolutely dreaded to become a bishop, and as he knew his name was highly esteemed in the Church, he avoided cities in which the see was vacant. His former backsliding had made him humble; and he tells us in the sermon above referred to, "Cavebam hoc, et agebam quantam poteram, ut in loco humili salvarer ne in alto periclitarer." Augustin also alludes to his ordination in Ep. xxi., addressed to Bishop Valerius. [1004] "He alludes to the hour-glasses of his time, which went by water, as ours do now by sand."--W. W. [1005] Augustin, in common with other bishops, had his time much invaded by those who sought his arbitration or judicial decision in secular matters, and in his De Op. Monach. sec. 37, he says, what many who have much mental toil will readily appreciate, that he would rather have spent the time not occupied in prayer and the study of the Scriptures in working with his hands, as did the monks, than have to bear these tumultuosissimas perplexitates. In the year 426 we find him (Ep. ccxiii) designating Eraclius, in public assembly, as his successor in the see, and to relieve him (though, meanwhile, remaining a presbyter) of these anxious duties. See vi. sec. 15, and note 1, above; and also ibid. sec. 3. [1006] Ps. lxxxvi. 1. [1007] Rom. x. 12. [1008] Ex. vi. 12. [1009] Augustin is always careful to distinguish between the certain truths of faith and doctrine which all may know, and the mysteries of Scripture which all have not the ability equally to apprehend. "Among the things," he says (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 14), "that are plainly laid down in Scripture, are to be found all matters that concern faith, and the manner of life." As to the Scriptures that are obscure, he is slow to come to conclusions, lest he should "be deceived in them or deceive out of them." In his De Gen. ad Lit. i. 37, he gives a useful warning against forcing our own meaning on Scripture in doubtful questions, and, ibid. viii. 5, we have the memorable words: "Melius est dubitare de rebus occultis, quam litigare de incertis." For examples of how careful he is in such matters not to go beyond what is written, see his answer to the question raised by Evodius,--a question which reminds us of certain modern speculations (see The Unseen Universe, arts. 61, 201, etc.),--whether the soul on departing from the body has not still a body of some kind, and at least some of the senses proper to a body; and also (Ep. clxiv.) his endeavours to unravel Evodius' difficulties as to Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison (1 Pet. iii. 18-21). Similarly, he says, as to the Antichrist of 2 Thess. ii. 1-7 (De Civ. Dei, xx. 19): "I frankly confess I know not what he means. I will, nevertheless, mention such conjectures as I have heard or read." See notes, pp. 64 and 92, above. [1010] Ps. cxxx. 1. [1011] Ps. lxxiv. 16. [1012] Ps. xxix. 9. In his comment on this place as given in the Old Version, "vox Domini perficientis cervos," he makes the forest with its thick darkness to symbolize the mysteries of Scripture, where the harts ruminating thereon represent the pious Christian meditating on those mysteries (see vi. sec. 3, note, above). In this same passage he speaks of those who are thus being perfected as overcoming the poisoned tongues. This is an allusion to the fabled power the stags had of enticing serpents from their holes by their breath, and then destroying them. Augustin is very fond of this kind of fable from natural history. In his Enarr. in Ps. cxxix. and cxli., we have similar allusions to the supposed habits of stags; and, ibid. ci., we have the well-known fable of the pelican in its charity reviving its young, and feeding them with its own blood. This use of fables was very common with the mediæval writers, and those familiar with the writings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries will recall many illustrations of it amongst the preachers of those days. [1013] Ps. xxvi. 7. [1014] Matt. vi. 33. [1015] Ps. cxix. 85. [1016] See p. 48, note 5, above. [1017] Ps. lxxx. 17. [1018] See note 9, p. 74, above. [1019] John i. 3. [1020] Rom. viii. 34. [1021] Col. ii. 3. [1022] Many mss., however, read ipsos, and not ipsum. [1023] John v. 4-6.

Chapter III.--He Begins from the Creation of the World--Not Understanding the Hebrew Text.

5. Let me hear and understand how in the beginning Thou didst make the heaven and the earth. [1024] Moses wrote this; he wrote and departed,--passed hence from Thee to Thee. Nor now is he before me; for if he were I would hold him, and ask him, and would adjure him by Thee that he would open unto me these things, and I would lend the ears of my body to the sounds bursting forth from his mouth. And should he speak in the Hebrew tongue, in vain would it beat on my senses, nor would aught touch my mind; but if in Latin, I should know what he said. But whence should I know whether he said what was true? But if I knew this even, should I know it from him? Verily within me, within in the chamber of my thought, Truth, neither Hebrew, [1025] nor Greek, nor Latin, nor barbarian, without the organs of voice and tongue, without the sound of syllables, would say, "He speaks the truth," and I, forthwith assured of it, confidently would say unto that man of Thine, "Thou speakest the truth." As, then, I cannot inquire of him, I beseech Thee,--Thee, O Truth, full of whom he spake truth,--Thee, my God, I beseech, forgive my sins; and do Thou, who didst give to that Thy servant to speak these things, grant to me also to understand them.


[1024] Gen. i. 1. [1025] Augustin was not singular amongst the early Fathers in not knowing Hebrew, for of the Greeks only Origen, and of the Latins Jerome, knew anything of it. We find him confessing his ignorance both here and elsewhere (Enarr. in Ps. cxxxvi. 7, and De Doctr. Christ. ii. 22); and though he recommends a knowledge of Hebrew as well as Greek, to correct "the endless diversity of the Latin translators" (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 16); he speaks as strongly as does Grinfield, in his Apology for the Septuagint, in favour of the claims of that version to "biblical and canonical authority" (Eps. xxviii., lxxi., and lxxv.; De Civ. Dei, xviii. 42, 43; De Doctr. Christ. ii. 22). He discountenanced Jerome's new translation, probably from fear of giving offence, and, as we gather from Ep. lxxi. 5, not without cause. From the tumult he there describes as ensuing upon Jerome's version being read, the outcry would appear to have been as great as when, on the change of the old style of reckoning to the new, the ignorant mob clamoured to have back their eleven days!

Chapter IV.--Heaven and Earth Cry Out that They Have Been Created by God.

6. Behold, the heaven and earth are; they proclaim that they were made, for they are changed and varied. Whereas whatsoever hath not been made, and yet hath being, hath nothing in it which there was not before; this is what it is to be changed and varied. They also proclaim that they made not themselves; "therefore we are, because we have been made; we were not therefore before we were, so that we could have made ourselves." And the voice of those that speak is in itself an evidence. Thou, therefore, Lord, didst make these things; Thou who art beautiful, for they are beautiful; Thou who art good, for they are good; Thou who art, for they are. Nor even so are they beautiful, nor good, nor are they, as Thou their Creator art; compared with whom they are neither beautiful, nor good, nor are at all. [1026] These things we know, thanks be to Thee. And our knowledge, compared with Thy knowledge, is ignorance.


[1026] It was the doctrine of Aristotle that excellence of character is the proper object of love, and in proportion as we recognise such excellence in others are we attracted to become like them (see Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics, book iv. c. 5, sec. 4). If this be true of the creature, how much more should it be so of the Creator, who is the perfection of all that we can conceive of goodness and truth. Compare De Trin. viii. 3-6, De Vera Relig. 57, and an extract from Athanese Coquerel in Archbishop Thomson's Bampton Lectures, note 73.

Chapter V.--God Created the World Not from Any Certain Matter, But in His Own Word.

7. But how didst Thou make the heaven and the earth, and what was the instrument of Thy so mighty work? For it was not as a human worker fashioning body from body, according to the fancy of his mind, in somewise able to assign a form which it perceives in itself by its inner eye. [1027] And whence should he be able to do this, hadst not Thou made that mind? And he assigns to it already existing, and as it were having a being, a form, as clay, or stone, or wood, or gold, or such like. And whence should these things be, hadst not Thou appointed them? Thou didst make for the workman his body,--Thou the mind commanding the limbs,--Thou the matter whereof he makes anything, [1028] --Thou the capacity whereby he may apprehend his art, and see within what he may do without,--Thou the sense of his body, by which, as by an interpreter, he may from mind unto matter convey that which he doeth, and report to his mind what may have been done, that it within may consult the truth, presiding over itself, whether it be well done. All these things praise Thee, the Creator of all. But how dost Thou make them? How, O God, didst Thou make heaven and earth? Truly, neither in the heaven nor in the earth didst Thou make heaven and earth; nor in the air, nor in the waters, since these also belong to the heaven and the earth; nor in the whole world didst Thou make the whole world; because there was no place wherein it could be made before it was made, that it might be; nor didst Thou hold anything in Thy hand wherewith to make heaven and earth. For whence couldest Thou have what Thou hadst not made, whereof to make anything? For what is, save because Thou art? Therefore Thou didst speak and they were made, [1029] and in Thy Word Thou madest these things. [1030]


[1027] See x. sec 40, note 6, and sec. 53, above. [1028] That is, the artificer makes, God creates. The creation of matter is distinctively a doctrine of revelation. The ancient philosophers believed in the eternity of matter. As Lucretius puts it (i. 51): "Nullam rem e nihilo gigni divinitus unquam." See Burton, Bampton Lectures, lect. iii. and notes 18-21, and Mansel, Bampton Lectures, lect. iii. note 12. See also p. 76, note 8, above, for the Manichæan doctrine as to the hule; and The Unseen Universe, arts. 85, 86, 151, and 160, for the modern doctrine of "continuity." See also Kalisch, Commentary on Gen. i. 1. [1029] Ps. xxxiii. 9. [1030] Ibid. ver. 6.

Chapter VI.--He Did Not, However, Create It by a Sounding and Passing Word.

8. But how didst Thou speak? Was it in that manner in which the voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son"? [1031] For that voice was uttered and passed away, began and ended. The syllables sounded and passed by, the second after the first, the third after the second, and thence in order, until the last after the rest, and silence after the last. Hence it is clear and plain that the motion of a creature expressed it, itself temporal, obeying Thy Eternal will. And these thy words formed at the time, the outer ear conveyed to the intelligent mind, whose inner ear lay attentive to Thy eternal word. But it compared these words sounding in time with Thy eternal word in silence, and said, "It is different, very different. These words are far beneath me, nor are they, since they flee and pass away; but the Word of my Lord remaineth above me for ever." If, then, in sounding and fleeting words Thou didst say that heaven and earth should be made, and didst thus make heaven and earth, there was already a corporeal creature before heaven and earth by whose temporal motions that voice might take its course in time. But there was nothing corporeal before heaven and earth; or if there were, certainly Thou without a transitory voice hadst created that whence Thou wouldest make the passing voice, by which to say that the heaven and the earth should be made. For whatsoever that were of which such a voice was made, unless it were made by Thee, it could not be at all. By what word of Thine was it decreed that a body might be made, whereby these words might be made?


[1031] Matt. xvii. 5.

Chapter VII.--By His Co-Eternal Word He Speaks, and All Things are Done.

9. Thou callest us, therefore, to understand the Word, God with Thee, God, [1032] which is spoken eternally, and by it are all things spoken eternally. For what was spoken was not finished, and another spoken until all were spoken; but all things at once and for ever. For otherwise have we time and change, and not a true eternity, nor a true immortality. This I know, O my God, and give thanks. I know, I confess to Thee, O Lord, and whosoever is not unthankful to certain truth, knows and blesses Thee with me. We know, O Lord, we know; since in proportion as anything is not what it was, and is what it was not, in that proportion does it die and arise. Not anything, therefore, of Thy Word giveth place and cometh into place again, because it is truly immortal and eternal. And, therefore, unto the Word co-eternal with Thee, Thou dost at once and for ever say all that Thou dost say; and whatever Thou sayest shall be made, is made; nor dost Thou make otherwise than by speaking; yet all things are not made both together and everlasting which Thou makest by speaking.


[1032] John i. 1.

Chapter VIII.--That Word Itself is the Beginning of All Things, in the Which We are Instructed as to Evangelical Truth.

10. Why is this, I beseech Thee, O Lord my God? I see it, however; but how I shall express it, I know not, unless that everything which begins to be and ceases to be, then begins and ceases when in Thy eternal Reason it is known that it ought to begin or cease where nothing beginneth or ceaseth. The same is Thy Word, which is also "the Beginning," because also It speaketh unto us. [1033] Thus, in the gospel He speaketh through the flesh; and this sounded outwardly in the ears of men, that it might be believed and sought inwardly, and that it might be found in the eternal Truth, where the good and only Master teacheth all His disciples. There, O Lord, I hear Thy voice, the voice of one speaking unto me, since He speaketh unto us who teacheth us. But He that teacheth us not, although He speaketh, speaketh not to us. Moreover, who teacheth us, unless it be the immutable Truth? For even when we are admonished through a changeable creature, we are led to the Truth immutable. There we learn truly while we stand and hear Him, and rejoice greatly "because of the Bridegroom's voice," [1034] restoring us to that whence we are. And, therefore, the Beginning, because unless It remained, there would not, where we strayed, be whither to return. But when we return from error, it is by knowing that we return. But that we may know, He teacheth us, because He is the Beginning and speaketh unto us.


[1033] John viii. 25, Old Ver. Though some would read, Qui et loquitur, making it correspond to the Vulgate, instead of Quia et loquitur, as above, the latter is doubtless the correct reading, since we find the text similarly quoted in Ev. Joh. Tract. xxxviii. 11, where he enlarges on "The Beginning," comparing principium with arche. It will assist to the understanding of this section to refer to the early part of the note on p. 107, above, where the Platonic view of the Logos, as endiathetos and prophorikos, or in the "bosom of the Father" and "made flesh," is given; which terminology, as Dr. Newman tells us (Arians, pt. i. c. 2, sec. 4), was accepted by the Church. Augustin, consistently with this idea, says (on John viii. 25, as above): "For if the Beginning, as it is in itself, had remained so with the Father as not to receive the form of a servant and speak as man with men, how could they have believed in Him, since their weak hearts could not have heard the word intelligently without some voice that would appeal to their senses? Therefore, said He, believe me to be the Beginning; for that you may believe, I not only am, but also speak to you." Newman, as quoted above, may be referred to for the significance of arche as applied to the Son, and ibid. sec. 3, also, on the "Word." For the difference between a mere "voice" and the "Word," compare Aug. Serm. ccxciii. sec. 3, and Origen, In Joann. ii. 36. [1034] John iii. 29.

Chapter IX.--Wisdom and the Beginning.

11. In this Beginning, O God, hast Thou made heaven and earth,--in Thy Word, in Thy Son, in Thy Power, in Thy Wisdom, in Thy Truth, wondrously speaking and wondrously making. Who shall comprehend? who shall relate it? What is that which shines through me, and strikes my heart without injury, and I both shudder and burn? I shudder inasmuch as I am unlike it; and I burn inasmuch as I am like it. It is Wisdom itself that shines through me, clearing my cloudiness, which again overwhelms me, fainting from it, in the darkness and amount of my punishment. For my strength is brought down in need, [1035] so that I cannot endure my blessings, until Thou, O Lord, who hast been gracious to all mine iniquities, heal also all mine infirmities; because Thou shalt also redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with Thy loving-kindness and mercy, and shalt satisfy my desire with good things, because my youth shall be renewed like the eagle's. [1036] For by hope we are saved; and through patience we await Thy promises. [1037] Let him that is able hear Thee discoursing within. I will with confidence cry out from Thy oracle, How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord, in Wisdom hast Thou made them all. [1038] And this Wisdom is the Beginning, and in that Beginning hast Thou made heaven and earth.


[1035] Ps. xxxi. 10. [1036] Ps. ciii. 3-5. [1037] Rom. viii. 24, 25. [1038] Ps. civ. 24.

Chapter X.--The Rashness of Those Who Inquire What God Did Before He Created Heaven and Earth.

12. Lo, are they not full of their ancient way, who say to us, "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth? For if," say they, "He were unoccupied, and did nothing, why does He not for ever also, and from henceforth, cease from working, as in times past He did? For if any new motion has arisen in God, and a new will, to form a creature which He had never before formed, however can that be a true eternity where there ariseth a will which was not before? For the will of God is not a creature, but before the creature; because nothing could be created unless the will of the Creator were before it. The will of God, therefore, pertaineth to His very Substance. But if anything hath arisen in the Substance of God which was not before, that Substance is not truly called eternal. But if it was the eternal will of God that the creature should be, why was not the creature also from eternity?"

Chapter XI.--They Who Ask This Have Not as Yet Known the Eternity of God, Which is Exempt from the Relation of Time.

13. Those who say these things do not as yet understand Thee, O Thou Wisdom of God, Thou light of souls; not as yet do they understand how these things be made which are made by and in Thee. They even endeavour to comprehend things eternal; but as yet their heart flieth about in the past and future motions of things, and is still wavering. Who shall hold it and fix it, that it may rest a little, and by degrees catch the glory of that everstanding eternity, and compare it with the times which never stand, and see that it is incomparable; and that a long time cannot become long, save from the many motions that pass by, which cannot at the same instant be prolonged; but that in the Eternal nothing passeth away, but that the whole is present; but no time is wholly present; and let him see that all time past is forced on by the future, and that all the future followeth from the past, and that all, both past and future, is created and issues from that which is always present? Who will hold the heart of man, that it may stand still, and see how the still-standing eternity, itself neither future nor past, uttereth the times future and past? Can my hand accomplish this, or the hand of my mouth by persuasion bring about a thing so great? [1039]


[1039] See note 12, p. 174, below.

Chapter XII.--What God Did Before the Creation of the World.

14. Behold, I answer to him who asks, "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth?" I answer not, as a certain person is reported to have done facetiously (avoiding the pressure of the question), "He was preparing hell," saith he, "for those who pry into mysteries." It is one thing to perceive, another to laugh,--these things I answer not. For more willingly would I have answered, "I know not what I know not," than that I should make him a laughing-stock who asketh deep things, and gain praise as one who answereth false things. But I say that Thou, our God, art the Creator of every creature; and if by the term "heaven and earth" every creature is understood, I boldly say, "That before God made heaven and earth, He made not anything. For if He did, what did He make unless the creature?" And would that I knew whatever I desire to know to my advantage, as I know that no creature was made before any creature was made.

Chapter XIII.--Before the Times Created by God, Times Were Not.

15. But if the roving thought of any one should wander through the images of bygone time, and wonder that Thou, the God Almighty, and All-creating, and All-sustaining, the Architect of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable ages refrain from so great a work before Thou wouldst make it, let him awake and consider that he wonders at false things. For whence could innumerable ages pass by which Thou didst not make, since Thou art the Author and Creator of all ages? Or what times should those be which were not made by Thee? Or how should they pass by if they had not been? Since, therefore, Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest heaven and earth, why is it said that Thou didst refrain from working? For that very time Thou madest, nor could times pass by before Thou madest times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it asked, What didst Thou then? For there was no "then" when time was not.

16. Nor dost Thou by time precede time; else wouldest not Thou precede all times. But in the excellency of an ever-present eternity, Thou precedest all times past, and survivest all future times, because they are future, and when they have come they will be past; but "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end." [1040] Thy years neither go nor come; but ours both go and come, that all may come. All Thy years stand at once since they do stand; nor were they when departing excluded by coming years, because they pass not away; but all these of ours shall be when all shall cease to be. Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not with tomorrow, for neither doth it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore didst Thou beget the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, "This day have I begotten Thee." [1041] Thou hast made all time; and before all times Thou art, nor in any time was there not time.


[1040] Ps. cii. 27. [1041] Ps. ii. 7, and Heb. v. 5.

Chapter XIV.--Neither Time Past Nor Future, But the Present Only, Really is.

17. At no time, therefore, hadst Thou not made anything, because Thou hadst made time itself. And no times are co-eternal with Thee, because Thou remainest for ever; but should these continue, they would not be times. For what is time? Who can easily and briefly explain it? Who even in thought can comprehend it, even to the pronouncing of a word concerning it? But what in speaking do we refer to more familiarly and knowingly than time? And certainly we understand when we speak of it; we understand also when we hear it spoken of by another. What, then, is time? If no one ask of me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not. Yet I say with confidence, that I know that if nothing passed away, there would not be past time; and if nothing were coming, there would not be future time; and if nothing were, there would not be present time. Those two times, therefore, past and future, how are they, when even the past now is not; and the future is not as yet? But should the present be always present, and should it not pass into time past, time truly it could not be, but eternity. If, then, time present--if it be time--only comes into existence because it passes into time past, how do we say that even this is, whose cause of being is that it shall not be--namely, so that we cannot truly say that time is, unless because it tends not to be?

Chapter XV.--There is Only a Moment of Present Time.

18. And yet we say that "time is long and time is short;" nor do we speak of this save of time past and future. A long time past, for example, we call a hundred years ago; in like manner a long time to come, a hundred years hence. But a short time past we call, say, ten days ago: and a short time to come, ten days hence. But in what sense is that long or short which is not? For the past is not now, and the future is not yet. Therefore let us not say, "It is long;" but let us say of the past, "It hath been long," and of the future, "It will be long." O my Lord, my light, shall not even here Thy truth deride man? For that past time which was long, was it long when it was already past, or when it was as yet present? For then it might be long when there was that which could be long, but when past it no longer was; wherefore that could not be long which was not at all. Let us not, therefore, say, "Time past hath been long;" for we shall not find what may have been long, seeing that since it was past it is not; but let us say "that present time was long, because when it was present it was long." For it had not as yet passed away so as not to be, and therefore there was that which could be long. But after it passed, that ceased also to be long which ceased to be.

19. Let us therefore see, O human soul, whether present time can be long; for to thee is it given to perceive and to measure periods of time. What wilt thou reply to me? Is a hundred years when present a long time? See, first, whether a hundred years can be present. For if the first year of these is current, that is present, but the other ninety and nine are future, and therefore they are not as yet. But if the second year is current, one is already past, the other present, the rest future. And thus, if we fix on any middle year of this hundred as present, those before it are past, those after it are future; wherefore a hundred years cannot be present. See at least whether that year itself which is current can be present. For if its first month be current, the rest are future; if the second, the first hath already passed, and the remainder are not yet. Therefore neither is the year which is current as a whole present; and if it is not present as a whole, then the year is not present. For twelve months make the year, of which each individual month which is current is itself present, but the rest are either past or future. Although neither is that month which is current present, but one day only: if the first, the rest being to come, if the last, the rest being past; if any of the middle, then between past and future.

20. Behold, the present time, which alone we found could be called long, is abridged to the space scarcely of one day. But let us discuss even that, for there is not one day present as a whole. For it is made up of four-and-twenty hours of night and day, whereof the first hath the rest future, the last hath them past, but any one of the intervening hath those before it past, those after it future. And that one hour passeth away in fleeting particles. Whatever of it hath flown away is past, whatever remaineth is future. If any portion of time be conceived which cannot now be divided into even the minutest particles of moments, this only is that which may be called present; which, however, flies so rapidly from future to past, that it cannot be extended by any delay. For if it be extended, it is divided into the past and future; but the present hath no space. Where, therefore, is the time which we may call long? Is it nature? Indeed we do not say, "It is long," because it is not yet, so as to be long; but we say, "It will be long." When, then, will it be? For if even then, since as yet it is future, it will not be long, because what may be long is not as yet; but it shall be long, when from the future, which as yet is not, it shall already have begun to be, and will have become present, so that there could be that which may be long; then doth the present time cry out in the words above that it cannot be long.

Chapter XVI.--Time Can Only Be Perceived or Measured While It is Passing.

21. And yet, O Lord, we perceive intervals of times, and we compare them with themselves, and we say some are longer, others shorter. We even measure by how much shorter or longer this time may be than that; and we answer, "That this is double or treble, while that is but once, or only as much as that." But we measure times passing when we measure them by perceiving them; but past times, which now are not, or future times, which as yet are not, who can measure them? Unless, perchance, any one will dare to say, that that can be measured which is not. When, therefore, time is passing, it can be perceived and measured; but when it has passed, it cannot, since it is not.

Chapter XVII.--Nevertheless There is Time Past and Future.

2. I ask, Father, I do not affirm. O my God, rule and guide me. "Who is there who can say to me that there are not three times (as we learned when boys, and as we have taught boys), the past, present, and future, but only present, because these two are not? Or are they also; but when from future it becometh present, cometh it forth from some secret place, and when from the present it becometh past, doth it retire into anything secret? For where have they, who have foretold future things, seen these things, if as yet they are not? For that which is not cannot be seen. And they who relate things past could not relate them as true, did they not perceive them in their mind. Which things, if they were not, they could in no wise be discerned. There are therefore things both future and past.

Chapter XVIII.--Past and Future Times Cannot Be Thought of But as Present.

23. Suffer me, O Lord, to seek further; O my Hope, let not my purpose be confounded. For if there are times past and future, I desire to know where they are. But if as yet I do not succeed, I still know, wherever they are, that they are not there as future or past, but as present. For if there also they be future, they are not as yet there; if even there they be past, they are no longer there. Wheresoever, therefore, they are, whatsoever they are, they are only so as present. Although past things are related as true, they are drawn out from the memory,--not the things themselves, which have passed, but the words conceived from the images of the things which they have formed in the mind as footprints in their passage through the senses. My childhood, indeed, which no longer is, is in time past, which now is not; but when I call to mind its image, and speak of it, I behold it in the present, because it is as yet in my memory. Whether there be a like cause of foretelling future things, that of things which as yet are not the images may be perceived as already existing, I confess, my God, I know not. This certainly I know, that we generally think before on our future actions, and that this premeditation is present; but that the action whereon we premeditate is not yet, because it is future; which when we shall have entered upon, and have begun to do that which we were premeditating, then shall that action be, because then it is not future, but present.

24. In whatever manner, therefore, this secret preconception of future things may be, nothing can be seen, save what is. But what now is is not future, but present. When, therefore, they say that things future are seen, it is not themselves, which as yet are not (that is, which are future); but their causes or their signs perhaps are seen, the which already are. Therefore, to those already beholding them, they are not future, but present, from which future things conceived in the mind are foretold. Which conceptions again now are, and they who foretell those things behold these conceptions present before them. Let now so multitudinous a variety of things afford me some example. I behold daybreak; I foretell that the sun is about to rise. That which I behold is present; what I foretell is future,--not that the sun is future, which already is; but his rising, which is not yet. Yet even its rising I could not predict unless I had an image of it in my mind, as now I have while I speak. But that dawn which I see in the sky is not the rising of the sun, although it may go before it, nor that imagination in my mind; which two are seen as present, that the other which is future may be foretold. Future things, therefore, are not as yet; and if they are not as yet, they are not. And if they are not, they cannot be seen at all; but they can be foretold from things present which now are, and are seen.

Chapter XIX.--We are Ignorant in What Manner God Teaches Future Things.

25. Thou, therefore, Ruler of Thy creatures, what is the method by which Thou teachest souls those things which are future? For Thou hast taught Thy prophets. What is that way by which Thou, to whom nothing is future, dost teach future things; or rather of future things dost teach present? For what is not, of a certainty cannot be taught. Too far is this way from my view; it is too mighty for me, I cannot attain unto it; [1042] but by Thee I shall be enabled, when Thou shalt have granted it, sweet light of my hidden eyes.


[1042] Ps. cxxxix. 6.

Chapter XX.--In What Manner Time May Properly Be Designated.

26. But what now is manifest and clear is, that neither are there future nor past things. Nor is it fitly said, "There are three times, past, present and future;" but perchance it might be fitly said, "There are three times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things future." For these three do somehow exist in the soul, and otherwise I see them not: present of things past, memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future, expectation. If of these things we are permitted to speak, I see three times, and I grant there are three. It may also be said, "There are three times, past, present and future," as usage falsely has it. See, I trouble not, nor gainsay, nor reprove; provided always that which is said may be understood, that neither the future, nor that which is past, now is. For there are but few things which we speak properly, many things improperly; but what we may wish to say is understood.

Chapter XXI.--How Time May Be Measured.

27. I have just now said, then, that we measure times as they pass, that we may be able to say that this time is twice as much as that one, or that this is only as much as that, and so of any other of the parts of time which we are able to tell by measuring. Wherefore, as I said, we measure times as they pass. And if any one should ask me, "Whence dost thou know?" I can answer, "I know, because we measure; nor can we measure things that are not; and things past and future are not." But how do we measure present time, since it hath not space? It is measured while it passeth; but when it shall have passed, it is not measured; for there will not be aught that can be measured. But whence, in what way, and whither doth it pass while it is being measured? Whence, but from the future? Which way, save through the present? Whither, but into the past? From that, therefore, which as yet is not, through that which hath no space, into that which now is not. But what do we measure, unless time in some space? For we say not single, and double, and triple, and equal, or in any other way in which we speak of time, unless with respect to the spaces of times. In what space, then, do we measure passing time? Is it in the future, whence it passeth over? But what yet we measure not, is not. Or is it in the present, by which it passeth? But no space, we do not measure. Or in the past, whither it passeth? But that which is not now, we measure not.

Chapter XXII.--He Prays God that He Would Explain This Most Entangled Enigma.

28. My soul yearns to know this most entangled enigma. Forbear to shut up, O Lord my God, good Father,--through Christ I beseech Thee,--forbear to shut up these things, both usual and hidden, from my desire, that it may be hindered from penetrating them; but let them dawn through Thy enlightening mercy, O Lord. Of whom shall I inquire concerning these things? And to whom shall I with more advantage confess my ignorance than to Thee, to whom these my studies, so vehemently kindled towards Thy Scriptures, are not troublesome? Give that which I love; for I do love, and this hast Thou given me. Give, Father, who truly knowest to give good gifts unto Thy children. [1043] Give, since I have undertaken to know, and trouble is before me until Thou dost open it. [1044] Through Christ, I beseech Thee, in His name, Holy of Holies, let no man interrupt me. For I believed, and therefore do I speak. [1045] This is my hope; for this do I live, that I may contemplate the delights of the Lord. [1046] Behold, Thou hast made my days old, [1047] and they pass away, and in what manner I know not. And we speak as to time and time, times and times,--"How long is the time since he said this?" "How long the time since he did this?" and, "How long the time since I saw that?" and, "This syllable hath double the time of that single short syllable." These words we speak, and these we hear; and we are understood, and we understand. They are most manifest and most usual, and the same things again lie hid too deeply, and the discovery of them is new.


[1043] Matt. vii. 11. [1044] Ps. lxxiii. 16. [1045] Ps. cxvi. 10. [1046] Ps. xxvii. 4. [1047] Ps. xxxix. 5.

Chapter XXIII.--That Time is a Certain Extension.

29. I have heard from a learned man that the motions of the sun, moon, and stars constituted time, and I assented not. [1048] For why should not rather the motions of all bodies be time? What if the lights of heaven should cease, and a potter's wheel run round, would there be no time by which we might measure those revolutions, and say either that it turned with equal pauses, or, if it were moved at one time more slowly, at another more quickly, that some revolutions were longer, others less so? Or while we were saying this, should we not also be speaking in time? Or should there in our words be some syllables long, others short, but because those sounded in a longer time, these in a shorter? God grant to men to see in a small thing ideas common to things great and small. Both the stars and luminaries of heaven are "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years." [1049] No doubt they are; but neither should I say that the circuit of that wooden wheel was a day, nor yet should he say that therefore there was no time.

30. I desire to know the power and nature of time, by which we measure the motions of bodies, and say (for example) that this motion is twice as long as that. For, I ask, since "day" declares not the stay only of the sun upon the earth, according to which day is one thing, night another, but also its entire circuit from east even to east,--according to which we say, "So many days have passed" (the nights being included when we say "so many days," and their spaces not counted apart),--since, then, the day is finished by the motion of the sun, and by his circuit from east to east, I ask, whether the motion itself is the day, or the period in which that motion is completed, or both? For if the first be the day, then would there be a day although the sun should finish that course in so small a space of time as an hour. If the second, then that would not be a day if from one sunrise to another there were but so short a period as an hour, but the sun must go round four-and-twenty times to complete a day. If both, neither could that be called a day if the sun should run his entire round in the space of an hour; nor that, if, while the sun stood still, so much time should pass as the sun is accustomed to accomplish his whole course in from morning to morning. I shall not therefore now ask, what that is which is called day, but what time is, by which we, measuring the circuit of the sun, should say that it was accomplished in half the space of time it was wont, if it had been completed in so small a space as twelve hours; and comparing both times, we should call that single, this double time, although the sun should run his course from east to east sometimes in that single, sometimes in that double time. Let no man then tell me that the motions of the heavenly bodies are times, because, when at the prayer of one the sun stood still in order that he might achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still, but time went on. For in such space of time as was sufficient was that battle fought and ended. [1050] I see that time, then, is a certain extension. But do I see it, or do I seem to see it? Thou, O Light and Truth, wilt show me.


[1048] Compare Gillies (Analysis of Aristotle, c. 2, p. 138): "As our conception of space originates in that of body, and our conception of motion in that of space, so our conception of time originates in that of motion; and particularly in those regular and equable motions carried on in the heavens, the parts of which, from their perfect similarity to each other, are correct measures of the continuous and successive quantity called Time, with which they are conceived to co-exist. Time, therefore, may be defined the perceived number of successive movements; for, as number ascertains the greater or lesser quantity of things numbered, so time ascertains the greater or lesser quantity of motion performed." And with this accords Monboddo's definition of time (Ancient Metaphysics, vol. i. book 4, chap. i.), as "the measure of the duration of things that exist in succession by the motion of the heavenly bodies." See xii. sec. 40, and note, below. [1049] Gen. i. 14. [1050] Josh. x. 12-14.

Chapter XXIV.--That Time is Not a Motion of a Body Which We Measure by Time.

31. Dost Thou command that I should assent, if any one should say that time is "the motion of a body?" Thou dost not command me. For I hear that no body is moved but in time. This Thou sayest; but that the very motion of a body is time, I hear not; Thou sayest it not. For when a body is moved, I by time measure how long it may be moving from the time in which it began to be moved till it left off. And if I saw not whence it began, and it continued to be moved, so that I see not when it leaves off, I cannot measure unless, perchance, from the time I began until I cease to see. But if I look long, I only proclaim that the time is long, but not how long it may be because when we say, "How long," we speak by comparison, as, "This is as long as that," or, "This is double as long as that," or any other thing of the kind. But if we were able to note down the distances of places whence and whither cometh the body which is moved, or its parts, if it moved as in a wheel, we can say in how much time the motion of the body or its part, from this place unto that, was performed. Since, then, the motion of a body is one thing, that by which we measure how long it is another, who cannot see which of these is rather to be called time? For, although a body be sometimes moved, sometimes stand still, we measure not its motion only, but also its standing still, by time; and we say, "It stood still as much as it moved;" or, "It stood still twice or thrice as long as it moved;" and if any other space which our measuring hath either determined or imagined, more or less, as we are accustomed to say. Time, therefore, is not the motion of a body.

Chapter XXV.--He Calls on God to Enlighten His Mind.

32. And I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I am as yet ignorant as to what time is, and again I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I know that I speak these things in time, and that I have already long spoken of time, and that very "long" is not long save by the stay of time. How, then, know I this, when I know not what time is? Or is it, perchance, that I know not in what wise I may express what I know? Alas for me, that I do not at least know the extent of my own ignorance! Behold, O my God, before Thee I lie not. As I speak, so is my heart. Thou shalt light my candle; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt enlighten my darkness. [1051]


[1051] Ps. viii. 28.

Chapter XXVI.--We Measure Longer Events by Shorter in Time.

33. Doth not my soul pour out unto Thee truly in confession that I do measure times? But do I thus measure, O my God, and know not what I measure? I measure the motion of a body by time; and the time itself do I not measure? But, in truth, could I measure the motion of a body, how long it is, and how long it is in coming from this place to that, unless I should measure the time in which it is moved? How, therefore, do I measure this very time itself? Or do we by a shorter time measure a longer, as by the space of a cubit the space of a crossbeam? For thus, indeed, we seem by the space of a short syllable to measure the space of a long syllable, and to say that this is double. Thus we measure the spaces of stanzas by the spaces of the verses, and the spaces of the verses by the spaces of the feet, and the spaces of the feet by the spaces of the syllables, and the spaces of long by the spaces of short syllables; not measuring by pages (for in that manner we measure spaces, not times), but when in uttering the words they pass by, and we say, "It is a long stanza because it is made up of so many verses; long verses, because they consist of so many feet; long feet, because they are prolonged by so many syllables; a long syllable, because double a short one." But neither thus is any certain measure of time obtained; since it is possible that a shorter verse, if it be pronounced more fully, may take up more time than a longer one, if pronounced more hurriedly. Thus for a stanzas, thus for a foot, thus for a syllable. Whence it appeared to me that time is nothing else than protraction; but of what I know not. It is wonderful to me, if it be not of the mind itself. For what do I measure, I beseech Thee, O my God, even when I say either indefinitely, "This time is longer than that;" or even definitely, "This is double that?" That I measure time, I know. But I measure not the future, for it is not yet; nor do I measure the present, because it is extended by no space; nor do I measure the past, because it no longer is. What, therefore, do I measure? Is it times passing, not past? For thus had I said.

Chapter XXVII.--Times are Measured in Proportion as They Pass by.

34. Persevere, O my mind, and give earnest heed. od is our helper; He made us, and not we ourselves. [1052] Give heed, where truth dawns. Lo, suppose the voice of a body begins to sound, and does sound, and sounds on, and lo! it ceases,--it is now silence, and that voice is past and is no longer a voice. It was future before it sounded, and could not be measured, because as yet it was not; and now it cannot, because it no longer is. Then, therefore, while it was sounding, it might, because there was then that which might be measured. But even then it did not stand still, for it was going and passing away. Could it, then, on that account be measured the more? For, while passing, it was being extended into some space of time, in which it might be measured, since the present hath no space. If, therefore, then it might be measured, lo! suppose another voice hath begun to sound, and still soundeth, in a continued tenor without any interruption, we can measure it while it is sounding; for when it shall have ceased to sound, it will be already past, and there will not be that which can be measured. Let us measure it truly, and let us say how much it is. But as yet it sounds, nor can it be measured, save from that instant in which it began to sound, even to the end in which it left off. For the interval itself we measure from some beginning unto some end. On which account, a voice which is not yet ended cannot be measured, so that it may be said how long or how short it may be; nor can it be said to be equal to another, or single or double in respect of it, or the like. But when it is ended, it no longer is. In what manner, therefore, may it be measured? And yet we measure times; still not those which as yet are not, nor those which no longer are, nor those which are protracted by some delay, nor those which have no limits. We, therefore, measure neither future times, nor past, nor present, nor those passing by; and yet we do measure times.

35. Deus Creator omnium; this verse of eight syllables alternates between short and long syllables. The four short, then, the first, third, fifth and seventh, are single in respect of the four long, the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth. Each of these hath a double time to every one of those. I pronounce them, report on them, and thus it is, as is perceived by common sense. By common sense, then, I measure a long by a short syllable, and I find that it has twice as much. But when one sounds after another, if the former be short the latter long, how shall I hold the short one, and how measuring shall I apply it to the long, so that I may find out that this has twice as much, when indeed the long does not begin to sound unless the short leaves off sounding? That very long one I measure not as present, since I measure it not save when ended. But its ending is its passing away. What, then, is it that I can measure? Where is the short syllable by which I measure? Where is the long one which I measure? Both have sounded, have flown, have passed away, and are no longer; and still I measure, and I confidently answer (so far as is trusted to a practised sense), that as to space of time this syllable is single, that double. Nor could I do this, unless because they have past, and are ended. Therefore do I not measure themselves, which now are not, but something in my memory, which remains fixed.

36. In thee, O my mind, I measure times. [1053] Do not overwhelm me with thy clamour. That is, do not overwhelm thyself with the multitude of thy impressions. In thee, I say, I measure times; the impression which things as they pass by make on thee, and which, when they have passed by, remains, that I measure as time present, not those things which have passed by, that the impression should be made. This I measure when I measure times. Either, then, these are times, or I do not measure times. What when we measure silence, and say that this silence hath lasted as long as that voice lasts? Do we not extend our thought to the measure of a voice, as if it sounded, so that we may be able to declare something concerning the intervals of silence in a given space of time? For when both the voice and tongue are still, we go over in thought poems and verses, and any discourse, or dimensions of motions; and declare concerning the spaces of times, how much this may be in respect of that, not otherwise than if uttering them we should pronounce them. Should any one wish to utter a lengthened sound, and had with forethought determined how long it should be, that man hath in silence verily gone through a space of time, and, committing it to memory, he begins to utter that speech, which sounds until it be extended to the end proposed; truly it hath sounded, and will sound. For what of it is already finished hath verily sounded, but what remains will sound; and thus does it pass on, until the present intention carry over the future into the past; the past increasing by the diminution of the future, until, by the consumption of the future, all be past.


[1052] Ps. c. 3. [1053] With the argument in this and the previous sections, compare Dr. Reid's remarks in his Intellectual Powers, iii. 5: "We may measure duration by the succession of thoughts in the mind, as we measure length by inches or feet, but the notion or idea of duration must be antecedent to the mensuration of it, as the notion of length is antecedent to its being measured....Reason, from the contemplation of finite extended things, leads us necessarily to the belief of an immensity that contains them. In like manner, memory gives us the conception and belief of finite intervals of duration. From the contemplation of these, reason leads us necessarily to the belief of an eternity, which comprehends all things that have a beginning and an end." The student will with advantage examine a monograph on this subject by C. Fortlage, entitled, Aurelii Augustini doctrina de tempore ex libro xi. Confessionum depromta, Aristotelicæ, Kantianæ, aliarumque theoriarium recensione aucta, et congruis hodiernæ philosophiæ ideis amplificata (Heidelbergæ, 1836). He says that amongst all the philosophers none have so nearly approached truth as Augustin.

Chapter XXVIII.--Time in the Human Mind, Which Expects, Considers, and Remembers.

37. But how is that future diminished or consumed which as yet is not? Or how doth the past, which is no longer, increase, unless in the mind which enacteth this there are three things done? For it both expects, and considers, and remembers, that that which it expecteth, through that which it considereth, may pass into that which it remembereth. Who, therefore, denieth that future things as yet are not? But yet there is already in the mind the expectation of things future. And who denies that past things are now no longer? But, however, there is still in the mind the memory of things past. And who denies that time present wants space, because it passeth away in a moment? But yet our consideration endureth, through which that which may be present may proceed to become absent. Future time, which is not, is not therefore long; but a "long future" is "a long expectation of the future." Nor is time past, which is now no longer, long; but a long past is "a long memory of the past."

38. I am about to repeat a psalm that I know. Before I begin, my attention is extended to the whole; but when I have begun, as much of it as becomes past by my saying it is extended in my memory; and the life of this action of mine is divided between my memory, on account of what I have repeated, and my expectation, on account of what I am about to repeat; yet my consideration is present with me, through which that which was future may be carried over so that it may become past. Which the more it is done and repeated, by so much (expectation being shortened) the memory is enlarged, until the whole expectation be exhausted, when that whole action being ended shall have passed into memory. And what takes place in the entire psalm, takes place also in each individual part of it, and in each individual syllable: this holds in the longer action, of which that psalm is perchance a portion; the same holds in the whole life of man, of which all the actions of man are parts; the same holds in the whole age of the sons of men, of which all the lives of men are parts.

Chapter XXIX.--That Human Life is a Distraction But that Through the Mercy of God He Was Intent on the Prize of His Heavenly Calling.

39. But "because Thy loving-kindness is better than life," [1054] behold, my life is but a distraction, [1055] and Thy right hand upheld me [1056] in my Lord, the Son of man, the Mediator between Thee, [1057] The One, and us the many,--in many distractions amid many things,--that through Him I may apprehend in whom I have been apprehended, and may be recollected from my old days, following The One, forgetting the things that are past; and not distracted, but drawn on, [1058] not to those things which shall be and shall pass away, but to those things which are before, [1059] not distractedly, but intently, I follow on for the prize of my heavenly calling, [1060] where I may hear the voice of Thy praise, and contemplate Thy delights, [1061] neither coming nor passing away. But now are my years spent in mourning. [1062] And Thou, O Lord, art my comfort, my Father everlasting. But I have been divided amid times, the order of which I know not; and my thoughts, even the inmost bowels of my soul, are mangled with tumultuous varieties, until I flow together unto Thee, purged and molten in the fire of Thy love. [1063]


[1054] Ps. lxiii. 3. [1055] Distentio. It will be observed that there is a play on the word throughout the section. [1056] Ps. lxiii. 8. [1057] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [1058] Non distentus sed extentus. So in Serm. cclv. 6, we have: "Unum nos extendat, ne multa distendant, et abrumpant ab uno." [1059] Phil. iii. 13. [1060] Phil. iii. 14. Many wish to attain the prize who never earnestly pursue it. And it may be said here in view of the subject of this book, that there is no stranger delusion than that which possesses the idle and the worldly as to the influence of time in ameliorating their condition. They have "good intentions," and hope that time in the future may do for them what it has not in the past. But in truth, time merely affords an opportunity for energy and life to work. To quote that lucid and nervous thinker, Bishop Copleston (Remains, p. 123): "One of the commonest errors is to regard time as agent. But in reality time does nothing and is nothing. We use it as a compendious expression for all those causes which operate slowly and imperceptibly; but, unless some positive cause is in action, no change takes place in the lapse of one thousand years; e. g., a drop of water encased in a cavity of silex." [1061] Ps. xxvi. 7. [1062] Ps. xxvii. 4. [1063] Ps. xxxi. 10.

Chapter XXX.--Again He Refutes the Empty Question, "What Did God Before the Creation of the World?"

40. And I will be immoveable, and fixed in Thee, in my mould, Thy truth; nor will I endure the questions of men, who by a penal disease thirst for more than they can hold, and say, "What did God make before He made heaven and earth?" Or, "How came it into His mind to make anything, when He never before made anything?" Grant to them, O Lord, to think well what they say, and to see that where there is no time, they can not say "never." What, therefore, He is said "never to have made," what else is it but to say, that in no time was it made? Let them therefore see that there could be no time without a created being, [1064] and let them cease to speak that vanity. Let them also be extended unto those things which are before, [1065] and understand that thou, the eternal Creator of all times, art before all times, and that no times are co-eternal with Thee, nor any creature, even if there be any creature beyond all times.


[1064] He argues similarly in his De Civ. Dei, xi. 6: "That the world and time had but one beginning." [1065] Phil. iii. 13.

Chapter XXXI.--How the Knowledge of God Differs from that of Man.

41. O Lord my God, what is that secret place of Thy mystery, and how far thence have the consequences of my transgressions cast me? Heal my eyes, that I may enjoy Thy light. Surely, if there be a mind, so greatly abounding in knowledge and foreknowledge, to which all things past and future are so known as one psalm is well known to me, that mind is exceedingly wonderful, and very astonishing; because whatever is so past, and whatever is to come of after ages, is no more concealed from Him than was it hidden from me when singing that psalm, what and how much of it had been sung from the beginning, what and how much remained unto the end. But far be it that Thou, the Creator of the universe, the Creator of souls and bodies,--far be it that Thou shouldest know all things future and past. Far, far more wonderfully, and far more mysteriously, Thou knowest them. [1066] For it is not as the feelings of one singing known things, or hearing a known song, are--through expectation of future words, and in remembrance of those that are past--varied, and his senses divided, that anything happeneth unto Thee, unchangeably eternal, that is, the truly eternal [1067] Creator of minds. As, then, Thou in the Beginning knewest the heaven and the earth without any change of Thy knowledge, so in the Beginning didst Thou make heaven and earth without any distraction of Thy action. [1068] Let him who understandeth confess unto Thee; and let him who understandeth not, confess unto Thee. Oh, how exalted art Thou, and yet the humble in heart are Thy dwelling-place; for Thou raisest up those that are bowed down, [1069] and they whose exaltation Thou art fall not.


[1066] Dean Mansel's argument, in his Bampton Lectures, as to our knowledge of the Infinite, is well worthy of consideration. He refers to Augustin's views on the subject of this book in note 13 to his third lecture, and in the text itself says: "The limited character of all existence which can be conceived as having a continuous duration, or as made up of successive moments, is so far manifest that it has been assumed almost as an axiom, by philosophical theologians, that in the existence of God there is no distinction between past, present, and future. `In the changes of things,' say Augustin, `there is a past and a future; in God there is a present, in which neither past nor future can be.' `Eternity,' says Beethius, `is the perfect possession of interminable life, and of all that life at once;' and Aquinas, accepting the definition, adds, `Eternity has no succession, but exists all together.' But whether this assertion be literally true or not (and this we have no means of ascertaining), it is clear that such a mode of existence is altogether inconceivable by us, and that the words in which it is described represent not thought, but the refusal to think at all." See notes to xiii. 12, below. [1067] "With God, indeed, all things are arranged and fixed; and when He seemeth to act upon sudden motive, He doth nothing but what He foreknew that He should do from eternity" (Aug. in Ps. cvi. 35). With this passage may well be compared Dean Mansel's remarks (Bampton Lectures, lect. vi., and notes 23-25) on the doctrine, that the world is but a machine and is not under the continual government and direction of God. See also note 4, on p. 80 and note 2 on p. 136, above. [1068] See p. 166, note 2. [1069] Ps. cxlvi. 8.


Book XII.

He continues his explanation of the first Chapter of Genesis according to the Septuagint, and by its assistance he argues, especially, concerning the double heaven, and the formless matter out of which the whole world may have been created; afterwards of the interpretations of others not disallowed, and sets forth at great length the sense of the Holy Scripture.

Chapter I .--The Discovery of Truth is Difficult, But God Has Promised that He Who Seeks Shall Find.

1. My heart, O Lord, affected by the words of Thy Holy Scripture, is much busied in this poverty of my life; and therefore, for the most part, is the want of human intelligence copious in language, because inquiry speaks more than discovery, and because demanding is longer than obtaining, and the hand that knocks is more active than the hand that receives. We hold the promise; who shall break it? "If God be for us, who can be against us?" [1070] "Ask, and ye shall have; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." [1071] These are Thine own promises; and who need fear to be deceived where the Truth promiseth?


[1070] Rom. viii. 31. [1071] Matt. vii. 7, 8.

Chapter II.--Of the Double Heaven,--The Visible, and the Heaven of Heavens.

2. The weakness of my tongue confesseth unto Thy Highness, seeing that Thou madest heaven and earth. This heaven which I see, and this earth upon which I tread (from which is this earth that I carry about me), Thou hast made. But where is that heaven of heavens, [1072] O Lord, of which we hear in the words of the Psalm, The heaven of heavens are the Lord's, but the earth hath He given to the children of men? [1073] Where is the heaven, which we behold not, in comparison of which all this, which we behold, is earth? For this corporeal whole, not as a whole everywhere, hath thus received its beautiful figure in these lower parts, of which the bottom is our earth; but compared with that heaven of heavens, even the heaven of our earth is but earth; yea, each of these great bodies is not absurdly called earth, as compared with that, I know not what manner of heaven, which is the Lord's, not the sons' of men.


[1072] That is, not the atmosphere which surrounds the earth, as when we say, "the birds of heaven" (Jer. iv. 25), "the dew of heaven" (Gen. xxvii. 28); nor that "firmament of heaven" (Gen. i. 17) in which the stars have their courses; nor both these together; but that "third heaven" to which Paul was "caught up" (2 Cor. xii. 1) in his rapture, and where God most manifests His glory, and the angels do Him homage. [1073] Ps. cxv. 16, after the LXX., Vulgate, and Syriac.

Chapter III.--Of the Darkness Upon the Deep, and of the Invisible and Formless Earth.

3. And truly this earth was invisible and formless, [1074] and there was I know not what profundity of the deep upon which there was no light, [1075] because it had no form. Therefore didst Thou command that it should be written, that darkness was upon the face of the deep; what else was it than the absence of light? [1076] For had there been light, where should it have been save by being above all, showing itself aloft, and enlightening? Darkness therefore was upon it, because the light above was absent; as silence is there present where sound is not. And what is it to have silence there, but not to have sound there? Hast not Thou, O Lord, taught this soul which confesseth unto Thee? Hast not Thou taught me, O Lord, that before Thou didst form and separate this formless matter, there was nothing, neither colour, nor figure, nor body, nor spirit? Yet not altogether nothing; there was a certain formlessness without any shape.


[1074] Gen. i. 2, as rendered by the Old Ver. from the LXX.: aoratos kai akataskeuastos. Kalisch in his Commentary translates T+¹H+W+u W+oB+¹H+W+u: "dreariness and emptiness." [1075] The reader should keep in mind in reading what follows the Manichæan doctrine as to the kingdom of light and darkness. See notes, pp. 68 and 103, above. [1076] Compare De Civ. Dei, xi. 9, 10.

Chapter IV.--From the Formlessness of Matter, the Beautiful World Has Arisen.

4. What, then, should it be called, that even in some ways it might be conveyed to those of duller mind, save by some conventional word? But what, in all parts of the world, can be found nearer to a total formlessness than the earth and the deep? For, from their being of the lowest position, they are less beautiful than are the other higher parts, all transparent and shining. Why, therefore, may I not consider the formlessness of matter--which Thou hadst created without shape, whereof to make this shapely world--to be fittingly intimated unto men by the name of earth invisible and formless?

Chapter V.--What May Have Been the Form of Matter.

5. So that when herein thought seeketh what the sense may arrive at, and saith to itself, "It is no intelligible form, such as life or justice, because it is the matter of bodies; nor perceptible by the senses, because in the invisible and formless there is nothing which can be seen and felt;--while human thought saith these things to itself, it may endeavour either to know it by being ignorant, or by knowing it to be ignorant.

Chapter VI.--He Confesses that at One Time He Himself Thought Erroneously of Matter.

6. But were I, O Lord, by my mouth and by my pen to confess unto Thee the whole, whatever Thou hast taught me concerning that matter, the name of which hearing beforehand, and not understanding (they who could not understand it telling me of it), I conceived [1077] it as having innumerable and varied forms. And therefore did I not conceive it; my mind revolved in disturbed order foul and horrible "forms," but yet "forms;" and I called it formless, not that it lacked form, but because it had such as, did it appear, my mind would turn from, as unwonted and incongruous, and at which human weakness would be disturbed. But even that which I did conceive was formless, not by the privation of all form, but in comparison of more beautiful forms; and true reason persuaded me that I ought altogether to remove from it all remnants of any form whatever, if I wished to conceive matter wholly without form; and I could not. For sooner could I imagine that that which should be deprived of all form was not at all, than conceive anything between form and nothing,--neither formed, nor nothing, formless, nearly nothing. And my mind hence ceased to question my spirit, filled (as it was) with the images of formed bodies, and changing and varying them according to its will; and I applied myself to the bodies themselves, and looked more deeply into their mutability, by which they cease to be what they had been, and begin to be what they were not; and this same transit from form unto form I have looked upon to be through some formless condition, not through a very nothing; but I desired to know, not to guess. And if my voice and my pen should confess the whole unto Thee, whatsoever knots Thou hast untied for me concerning this question, who of my readers would endure to take in the whole? Nor yet, therefore, shall my heart cease to give Thee honour, and a song of praise, for those things which it is not able to express. For the mutability of mutable things is itself capable of all those forms into which mutable things are changed. And this mutability, what is it? Is it soul? Is it body? Is it the outer appearance of soul or body? Could it be said, "Nothing were something," and "That which is, is not," I would say that this were it; and yet in some manner was it already, since it could receive these visible and compound shapes.


[1077] See iii. sec. 11, and p. 103, note, above.

Chapter VII.--Out of Nothing God Made Heaven and Earth.

7. And whence and in what manner was this, unless from Thee, from whom are all things, in so far as they are? But by how much the farther from Thee, so much the more unlike unto Thee; for it is not distance of place. Thou, therefore, O Lord, who art not one thing in one place, and otherwise in another, but the Self-same, and the Self-same, and the Self-same, [1078] Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, didst in the beginning, [1079] which is of Thee, in Thy Wisdom, which was born of Thy Substance, create something, and that out of nothing. [1080] For Thou didst create heaven and earth, not out of Thyself, for then they would be equal to Thine Only-begotten, and thereby even to Thee; [1081] and in no wise would it be right that anything should be equal to Thee which was not of Thee. And aught else except Thee there was not whence Thou mightest create these things, O God, One Trinity, and Trine Unity; and, therefore, out of nothing didst Thou create heaven and earth,--a great thing and a small,because Thou art Almighty and Good, to make all things good, even the great heaven and the small earth. Thou wast, and there was nought else from which Thou didst create heaven and earth; two such things, one near unto Thee, the other near to nothing, [1082] --one to which Thou shouldest be superior, the other to which nothing should be inferior.


[1078] See ix. sec. 11, above. [1079] See p. 166, note, above. [1080] See p. 165, note 2, above. [1081] In the beginning of sec. 10, book xi. of his De Civ. Dei, he similarly argues that the world was, not like the Son, "begotten of the simple good," but "created." See also note 8, p. 76, above. [1082] "Because at the first creation, it had no form nor thing in it."--W. W.

Chapter VIII.--Heaven and Earth Were Made "In the Beginning;" Afterwards the World, During Six Days, from Shapeless Matter.

8. But that heaven of heavens was for Thee, O Lord; but the earth, which Thou hast given to the sons of men, [1083] to be seen and touched, was not such as now we see and touch. For it was invisible and "without form," [1084] and there was a deep over which there was not light; or, darkness was over the deep, that is, more than in the deep. For this deep of waters, now visible, has, even in its depths, a light suitable to its nature, perceptible in some manner unto fishes and creeping things in the bottom of it. But the entire deep was almost nothing, since hitherto it was altogether formless; yet there was then that which could be formed. For Thou, O Lord, hast made the world of a formless matter, which matter, out of nothing, Thou hast made almost nothing, out of which to make those great things which we, sons of men, wonder at. For very wonderful is this corporeal heaven, of which firmament, between water and water, the second day after the creation of light, Thou saidst, Let it be made, and it was made. [1085] Which firmament Thou calledst heaven, that is, the heaven of this earth and sea, which Thou madest on the third day, by giving a visible shape to the formless matter which Thou madest before all days. For even already hadst Thou made a heaven before all days, but that was the heaven of this heaven; because in the beginning Thou hadst made heaven and earth. But the earth itself which Thou hadst made was formless matter, because it was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep. Of which invisible and formless earth, of which formlessness, of which almost nothing, Thou mightest make all these things of which this changeable world consists, and yet consisteth not; whose very changeableness appears in this, that times can be observed and numbered in it. Because times are made by the changes of things, while the shapes, whose matter is the invisible earth aforesaid, are varied and turned.


[1083] Ps. cxv. 16. [1084] Gen. i. 2. [1085] Gen. i. 6-8.

Chapter IX.--That the Heaven of Heavens Was an Intellectual Creature, But that the Earth Was Invisible and Formless Before the Days that It Was Made.

9. And therefore the Spirit, the Teacher of Thy servant [1086] when He relates that Thou didst in the Beginning create heaven and earth, is silent as to times, silent as to days. For, doubtless, that heaven of heavens, which Thou in the Beginning didst create, is some intellectual creature, which, although in no wise co-eternal unto Thee, the Trinity, is yet a partaker of Thy eternity, and by reason of the sweetness of that most happy contemplation of Thyself, doth greatly restrain its own mutability, and without any failure, from the time in which it was created, in clinging unto Thee, surpasses all the rolling change of times. But this shapelessness--this earth invisible and without form--has not itself been numbered among the days. For where there is no shape nor order, nothing either cometh or goeth; and where this is not, there certainly are no days, nor any vicissitude of spaces of times.


[1086] Of Moses.

Chapter X.--He Begs of God that He May Live in the True Light, and May Be Instructed as to the Mysteries of the Sacred Books.

10. Oh, let Truth, the light of my heart, [1087] not my own darkness, speak unto me! I have descended to that, and am darkened. But thence, even thence, did I love Thee. I went astray, and remembered Thee. I heard Thy voice behind me bidding me return, and scarcely did I hear it for the tumults of the unquiet ones. And now, behold, I return burning and panting after Thy fountain. Let no one prohibit me; of this will I drink, and so have life. Let me not be my own life; from myself have I badly lived,--death was I unto myself; in Thee do I revive. Do Thou speak unto me; do Thou discourse unto me. In Thy books have I believed, and their words are very deep. [1088]


[1087] See note 2, p. 76, above. [1088] As Gregory the Great has it, Revelation is a river broad and deep, "In quo et agnus ambulet, et elephas natet." And these deep things of God are to be learned only by patient searching. We must, says St. Chrysostom (De Prec. serm. ii.), dive down into the sea as those who would fetch up pearls from its depths. The very mysteriousness of Scripture is, doubtless, intended by God to stimulate us to search the Scriptures, and to strengthen our spiritual insight (Enar. in Ps. cxlvi. 6). See also, p. 48, note 5; p. 164, note 2, above; and the notes on pp. 370, 371, below.

Chapter XI.--What May Be Discovered to Him by God.

11. Already hast Thou told me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that Thou art eternal, having alone immortality. [1089] Since Thou art not changed by any shape or motion, nor is Thy will altered by times, because no will which changes is immortal. This in Thy sight is clear to me, and let it become more and more clear, I beseech Thee; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Thy wings. Likewise hast Thou said to me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that Thou hast made all natures and substances, which are not what Thou Thyself art, and yet they are; and that only is not from Thee which is not, and the motion of the will from Thee who art, to that which in a less degree is, because such motion is guilt and sin; [1090] and that no one's sin doth either hurt Thee, or disturb the order of Thy rule, [1091] either first or last. This, in Thy sight, is clear to me and let it become more and more clear, I beseech Thee; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Thy wings.

12. Likewise hast Thou said to me, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that that creature, whose will Thou alone art, is not co-eternal unto Thee, and which, with a most persevering purity [1092] drawing its support from Thee, doth, in place and at no time, put forth its own mutability; [1093] and Thyself being ever present with it, unto whom with its entire affection it holds itself, having no future to expect nor conveying into the past what it remembereth, is varied by no change, nor extended into any times. [1094] O blessed one,--if any such there be,--in clinging unto Thy Blessedness; blest in Thee, its everlasting Inhabitant and its Enlightener! Nor do I find what the heaven of heavens, which is the Lord's, can be better called than Thine house, which contemplateth Thy delight without any defection of going forth to another; a pure mind, most peacefully one, by that stability of peace of holy spirits, [1095] the citizens of Thy city "in the heavenly places," above these heavenly places which are seen. [1096]

13. Whence the soul, whose wandering has been made far away, may understand, if now she thirsts for Thee, if now her tears have become bread to her, while it is daily said unto her "Where is thy God?" [1097] if she now seeketh of Thee one thing, and desireth that she may dwell in Thy house all the days of her life. [1098] And what is her life but Thee? And what are Thy days but Thy eternity, as Thy years which fail not, because Thou art the same? Hence, therefore, can the soul, which is able, understand how far beyond all times Thou art eternal; when Thy house, which has not wandered from Thee, although it be not co-eternal with Thee, yet by continually and unfailingly clinging unto Thee, suffers no vicissitude of times. This in Thy sight is clear unto me, and may it become more and more clear unto me, I beseech Thee; and in this manifestation may I abide more soberly under Thy wings.

14. Behold, I know not what shapelessness there is in those changes of these last and lowest creatures. And who shall tell me, unless it be some one who, through the emptiness of his own heart, wanders and is staggered by his own fancies? Who, unless such a one, would tell me that (all figure being diminished and consumed), if the formlessness only remain, through which the thing was changed and was turned from one figure into another, that that can exhibit the changes of times? For surely it could not be, because without the change of motions times are not, and there is no change where there is no figure.


[1089] 1 Tim. vi. 16. [1090] For Augustin's view of evil as a "privation of good," see p. 64, note 1, above, and with it compare vii. sec. 22, above; Con. Secundin. c. 12; and De Lib. Arb. ii. 53. Parker, in his Theism, Atheism, etc. p. 119, contends that God Himself must in some way be the author of evil, and a similar view is maintained by Schleiermacher, Christliche Glaube, sec. 80. [1091] See ii. sec. 13, and v. sec. 2, notes 4, 9, above. [1092] See iv. sec. 3, and note 1, above. [1093] See sec. 19, below. [1094] See xi. sec. 38, above, and sec. 18, below. [1095] See xiii. sec. 50, below. [1096] Eph. i. 20, etc. [1097] Ps. xlii. 2, 3, 10. [1098] Ps. xxvii. 4.

Chapter XII.--From the Formless Earth God Created Another Heaven and a Visible and Formed Earth.

15. Which things considered as much as Thou givest, O my God, as much as Thou excitest me to "knock," and as much as Thou openest unto me when I knock, [1099] two things I find which Thou hast made, not within the compass of time, since neither is co-eternal with Thee. One, which is so formed that, without any failing of contemplation, without any interval of change, although changeable, yet not changed, it may fully enjoy Thy eternity and unchangeableness; the other, which was so formless, that it had not that by which it could be changed from one form into another, either of motion or of repose, whereby it might be subject unto time. But this Thou didst not leave to be formless, since before all days, in the beginning Thou createdst heaven and earth,--these two things of which I spoke. But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep. [1100] By which words its shapelessness is conveyed unto us, that by degrees those minds may be drawn on which cannot wholly conceive the privation of all form without coming to nothing,--whence another heaven might be created, and another earth visible and well-formed, and water beautifully ordered, and whatever besides is, in the formation of this world, recorded to have been, not without days, created; because such things are so that in them the vicissitudes of times may take place, on account of the appointed changes of motions and of forms. [1101]


[1099] Matt. vii. 7. [1100] Gen. i. 2. [1101] See end of sec. 40, below.

Chapter XIII.--Of the Intellectual Heaven and Formless Earth, Out of Which, on Another Day, the Firmament Was Formed.

16. Meanwhile I conceive this, O my God, when I hear Thy Scripture speak, saying, In the beginning God made heaven and earth; but the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep, and not stating on what day Thou didst create these things. Thus, meanwhile, do I conceive, that it is on account of that heaven of heavens, that intellectual heaven, where to understand is to know all at once,--not "in part," not "darkly," not "through a glass," [1102] but as a whole, in manifestation, "face to face;" not this thing now, that anon, but (as has been said) to know at once without any change of times; and on account of the invisible and formless earth, without any change of times; which change is wont to have "this thing now, that anon," because, where there is no form there can be no distinction between "this" or "that;"--it is, then, on account of these two,--a primitively formed, and a wholly formless; the one heaven, but the heaven of heavens, the other earth, but the earth invisible and formless;--on account of these two do I meanwhile conceive that Thy Scripture said without mention of days, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." For immediately it added of what earth it spake. And when on the second day the firmament is recorded to have been created, and called heaven, it suggests to us of which heaven He spake before without mention of days.


[1102] 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

Chapter XIV.--Of the Depth of the Sacred Scripture, and Its Enemies.

17. Wonderful is the depth of Thy oracles, whose surface is before us, inviting the little ones; and yet wonderful is the depth, O my God, wonderful is the depth. [1103] It is awe to look into it; and awe of honour, and a tremor of love. The enemies thereof I hate vehemently. [1104] Oh, if Thou wouldest slay them with Thy two-edged sword, [1105] that they be not its enemies! For thus do I love, that they should be slain unto themselves that they may live unto Thee. But behold others not reprovers, but praisers of the book of Genesis,--"The Spirit of God," say they, "Who by His servant Moses wrote these things, willed not that these words should be thus understood. He willed not that it should be understood as Thou sayest, but as we say." Unto whom, O God of us all, Thyself being Judge, do I thus answer.


[1103] See p. 112, note 2, and p. 178, note 2, above. See also Trench, Hulsean Lectures (1845), lect. 6, "The Inexhaustibility of Scripture." [1104] Ps. cxxxix. 21. [1105] Ps. cxlix. 6. He refers to the Manichæans (see p. 71, note l). In his comment on this place, he interprets the "two-edged sword" to mean the Old and New Testament, called two-edged, he says, because it speaks of things temporal and eternal.

Chapter XV.--He Argues Against Adversaries Concerning the Heaven of Heavens.

18. "Will you say that these things are false, which, with a strong voice, Truth tells me in my inner ear, concerning the very eternity of the Creator, that His substance is in no wise changed by time, nor that His will is separate from His substance? Wherefore, He willeth not one thing now, another anon, but once and for ever He willeth all things that He willeth; not again and again, nor now this, now that; nor willeth afterwards what He willeth not before, nor willeth not what before He willed. Because such a will is mutable and no mutable thing is eternal; but our God is eternal. [1106] Likewise He tells me, tells me in my inner ear, that the expectation of future things is turned to sight when they have come; and this same sight is turned to memory when they have passed. Moreover, all thought which is thus varied is mutable, and nothing mutable is eternal; but our God is eternal." These things I sum up and put together, and I find that my God, the eternal God, hath not made any creature by any new will, nor that His knowledge suffereth anything transitory.

19. What, therefore, will ye say, ye objectors? Are these things false? "No," they say. "What is this? Is it false, then, that every nature already formed, or matter formable, is only from Him who is supremely good, because He is supreme? . . . . Neither do we deny this," say they. "What then? Do you deny this, that there is a certain sublime creature, clinging with so chaste a love with the true and truly eternal God, that although it be not co-eternal with Him, yet it separateth itself not from Him, nor floweth into any variety and vicissitude of times, but resteth in the truest contemplation of Him only?" Since Thou, O God, showest Thyself unto him, and sufficest him, who loveth Thee as much as Thou commandest, and, therefore, he declineth not from Thee, nor toward himself. [1107] This is the house of God, [1108] not earthly, nor of any celestial bulk corporeal, but a spiritual house and a partaker of Thy eternity, because without blemish for ever. For Thou hast made it fast for ever and ever; Thou hast given it a law, which it shall not pass. [1109] Nor yet is it co-eternal with Thee, O God, because not without beginning, for it was made.

20. For although we find no time before it, for wisdom was created before all things, [1110] --not certainly that Wisdom manifestly co-eternal and equal unto Thee, our God, His Father, and by Whom all things were created, and in Whom, as the Beginning, Thou createdst heaven and earth; but truly that wisdom which has been created, namely, the intellectual nature, [1111] which, in the contemplation of light, is light. For this, although created, is also called wisdom. But as great as is the difference between the Light which enlighteneth and that which is enlightened, [1112] so great is the difference between the Wisdom that createth and that which hath been created; as between the Righteousness which justifieth, and the righteousness which has been made by justification. For we also are called Thy righteousness; for thus saith a certain servant of Thine: "That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." [1113] Therefore, since a certain created wisdom was created before all things, the rational and intellectual mind of that chaste city of Thine, our mother which is above, and is free, [1114] and "eternal in the heavens" [1115] (in what heavens, unless in those that praise Thee, the "heaven of heavens," [1116] because this also is the "heaven of heavens," which is the Lord's)--although we find not time before it, because that which hath been created before all things also precedeth the creature of time, yet is the Eternity of the Creator Himself before it, from Whom, having been created, it took the beginning, although not of time,--for time as yet was not,--yet of its own very nature.

21. Hence comes it so to be of Thee, our God, as to be manifestly another than Thou, and not the Self-same. [1117] Since, although we find time not only not before it, but not in it (it being proper ever to behold Thy face, nor is ever turned aside from it, wherefore it happens that it is varied by no change), yet is there in it that mutability itself whence it would become dark and cold, but that, clinging unto Thee with sublime love, it shineth and gloweth from Thee like a perpetual noon. O house, full of light and splendour! I have loved thy beauty, and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord, [1118] thy builder and owner. Let my wandering sigh after thee; and I speak unto Him that made thee, that He may possess me also in thee, seeing He hath made me likewise. "I have gone astray, like a lost sheep;" [1119] yet upon the shoulders of my Sheperd, [1120] thy builder, I hope that I may be brought back to thee.

22. "What say ye to me, O ye objectors whom I was addressing, and who yet believe that Moses was the holy servant of God, and that his books were the oracles of the Holy Ghost? Is not this house of God, not indeed co-eternal with God, yet, according to its measure, eternal in the heavens, [1121] where in vain you seek for changes of times, because you will not find them? For that surpasseth all extension, and every revolving space of time, to which it is ever good to cleave fast to God." [1122] "It is," say they. "What, therefore, of those things which my heart cried out unto my God, when within it heard the voice of His praise, what then do you contend is false? Or is it because the matter was formless, wherein, as there was no form, there was no order? But where there was no order there could not be any change of times; and yet this `almost nothing,' inasmuch as it was not altogether nothing, was verily from Him, from Whom is whatever is, in what state soever anything is." "This also," say they, "we do not deny."


[1106] See xi. sec. 41, above. [1107] In his De Vera Relig. c. 13, he says: "We must confess that the angels are in their nature mutable as God is Immutable. Yet by that will with which they love God more than themselves, they remain firm and staple in Him, and enjoy His majesty, being most willingly subject to Him alone." [1108] In his Con. Adv. Leg. et Proph. i. 2, he speaks of all who are holy, whether angels or men, as being God's dwelling-place. [1109] Ps. cxlviii. 6. [1110] Ecclus. i. 4. [1111] "Pet. Lombard. lib. sent. 2, dist. 2, affirms that by Wisdom, Ecclus. i. 4, the angels be understood, the whole spiritual intellectual nature; namely, this highest heaven, in which the angels were created, and it by them instantly filled."--W. W. [1112] On God as the Father of Lights, see p. 76, note 2. In addition to the references there given, compare in Ev. Joh. Tract. ii. sec. 7; xiv. secs. 1, 2; and xxxv. sec. 3. See also p. 373, note, below. [1113] 2 Cor. v. 21. [1114] Gal. iv. 26. [1115] 2 Cor. v. 1. [1116] Ps. cxlviii. 4. [1117] Against the Manichæans. See iv. sec. 26, and part 2 of note on p. 76, above. [1118] Ps. xxvi. 8. [1119] Ps. cxix. 176. [1120] Luke xv. 5. [1121] 2 Cor. v. l. [1122] Ps. lxxiii. 28.

Chapter XVI.--He Wishes to Have No Intercourse with Those Who Deny Divine Truth.

23. With such as grant that all these things which Thy truth indicates to my mind are true, I desire to confer a little before Thee, O my God. For let those who deny these things bark and drown their own voices with their clamour as much as they please; I will endeavour to persuade them to be quiet, and to suffer Thy word to reach them. But should they be unwilling, and should they repel me, I beseech, O my God, that Thou "be not silent to me." [1123] Do Thou speak truly in my heart, for Thou only so speakest, and I will send them away blowing upon the dust from without, and raising it up into their own eyes; and will myself enter into my chamber, [1124] and sing there unto Thee songs of love,--groaning with groaning unutterable [1125] in my pilgrimage, and remembering Jerusalem, with heart raised up towards it, [1126] Jerusalem my country, Jerusalem my mother, and Thyself, the Ruler over it, the Enlightener, the Father, the Guardian, the Husband, the chaste and strong delight, the solid joy, and all good things ineffable, even all at the same time, because the one supreme and true Good. And I will not be turned away until Thou collect all that I am, from this dispersion [1127] and deformity, into the peace of that very dear mother, where are the first-fruits of my spirit, [1128] whence these things are assured to me, and Thou conform and confirm it for ever, my God, my Mercy. But with reference to those who say not that all these things which are true and false, who honour Thy Holy Scripture set forth by holy Moses, placing it, as with us, on the summit of an authority [1129] to be followed, and yet who contradict us in some particulars, I thus speak: Be Thou, O our God, judge between my confessions and their contradictions.


[1123] Ps. xxviii. 1. [1124] Isa. xxvi. 20. [1125] Rom. viii. 26. [1126] Baxter has a noteworthy passage on our heavenly citizenship in his Saints' Rest: "As Moses, before he died, went up into Mount Nebo, to take a survey of the land of Canaan, so the Christian ascends the Mount of Contemplation, and by faith surveys his rest....As Daniel in his captivity daily opened his window towards Jerusalem, though far out of sight, when he went to God in his devotions, so may the believing soul, in this captivity of the flesh, look towards `Jerusalem which is above' (Gal. iv. 26). And as Paul was to the Colossians (ii. 5) so may the believer be with the glorified spirits, `though absent in the flesh,' yet with them `in the spirit,' joying and beholding their heavenly `order.' And as the lark sweetly sings while she soars on high, but is suddenly silenced when she falls to the earth, so is the frame of the soul most delightful and divine while it keeps in the views of God by contemplation. Alas, we make there too short a stay, fall down again, and lay by our music!" (Fawcett's Ed. p. 327). [1127] See ii. sec. 1; ix. sec. 10; x. sec. 40, note; ibid. sec. 65; and xi. sec. 39, above. [1128] See ix. sec. 24, above; and xiii. sec. 13, below. [1129] See p. 118, note 12, above.

Chapter XVII.--He Mentions Five Explanations of the Words of Genesis I. I.

24. For they say, "Although these things be true, yet Moses regarded not those two things, when by divine revelation he said, `In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' [1130] Under the name of heaven he did not indicate that spiritual or intellectual creature which always beholds the face of God; nor under the name of earth, that shapeless matter." "What then?" "That man," say they, "meant as we say; this it is that he declared by those words." "What is that?" "By the name of heaven and earth," say they, "did he first wish to set forth, universally and briefly, all this visible world, that afterwards by the enumeration of the days he might distribute, as if in detail, all those things which it pleased the Holy Spirit thus to reveal. For such men were that rude and carnal people to which he spoke, that he judged it prudent that only those works of God as were visible should be entrusted to them." They agree, however, that the earth invisible and formless, and the darksome deep (out of which it is subsequently pointed out that all these visible things, which are known to all, were made and set in order during those "days"), may not unsuitably be understood of this formless matter.

25. What, now, if another should say "That this same formlessness and confusion of matter was first introduced under the name of heaven and earth, because out of it this visible world, with all those natures which most manifestly appear in it, and which is wont to be called by the name of heaven and earth, was created and perfected"? But what if another should say, that "That invisible and visible nature is not inaptly called heaven and earth; and that consequently the universal creation, which God in His wisdom hath made,--that is, `in the begining,'--was comprehended under these two words. Yet, since all things have been made, not of the substance of God, but out of nothing [1131] (because they are not that same thing that God is, and there is in them all a certain mutability, whether they remain, as doth the eternal house of God, or be changed, as are the soul and body of man), therefore, that the common matter of all things invisible and visible,--as yet shapeless, but still capable of form,--out of which was to be created heaven and earth (that is, the invisible and visible creature already formed), was spoken of by the same names by which the earth invisible and formless and the darkness upon the deep would be called; with this difference, however, that the earth invisible and formless is understood as corporeal matter, before it had any manner of form, but the darkness upon the deep as spiritual matter, before it was restrained at all of its unlimited fluidity, and before the enlightening of wisdom."

26. Should any man wish, he may still say, "That the already perfected and formed natures, invisible and visible, are not signified under the name of heaven and earth when it is read, `In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;' but that the yet same formless beginning of things, the matter capable of being formed and made, was called by these names, because contained in it there were these confused things not as yet distinguished by their qualities and forms, the which now being digested in their own orders, are called heaven and earth, the former being the spiritual, the latter the corporeal creature."


[1130] Gen. i. 1. [1131] See p. 165, note 4, above.

Chapter XVIII.--What Error is Harmless in Sacred Scripture.

27. All which things having been heard and considered, I am unwilling to contend about words, [1132] for that is profitable to nothing but to the subverting of the hearers. [1133] But the law is good to edify, if a man use it lawfully; [1134] for the end of it "is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned." [1135] And well did our Master know, upon which two commandments He hung all the Law and the Prophets. [1136] And what doth it hinder me, O my God, Thou light of my eyes in secret, while ardently confessing these things,--since by these words many things may be understood, all of which are yet true,--what, I say, doth it hinder me, should I think otherwise of what the writer thought than some other man thinketh? Indeed, all of us who read endeavour to trace out and to understand that which he whom we read wished to convey; and as we believe him to speak truly, we dare not suppose that he has spoken anything which we either know or suppose to be false. Since, therefore, each person endeavours to understand in the Holy Scriptures that which the writer understood, what hurt is it if a man understand what Thou, the light of all true-speaking minds, dost show him to be true although he whom he reads understood not this, seeing that he also understood a Truth, not, however, this Truth?


[1132] See p. 164, note 2, above. [1133] 2 Tim. ii. 14. [1134] 1 Tim. i. 8. [1135] Ibid. ver. 5. [1136] Matt. xxii. 40. For he says in his Con. Faust. xvii. 6, remarking on John i. 17, a text which he often quotes in this connection: "The law itself by being fulfilled becomes grace and truth. Grace is the fulfilment of love." And so in ibid. xix. 27 we read: "From the words, `I came not to destroy the law but to fulfil it,' we are not to understand that Christ by His precepts filled up what was wanting in the law; but what the literal command failed in doing from the pride and disobedience of men is accomplished by grace....So, the apostle says, `faith worketh by love.'" So, again, we read in Serm. cxxv.: "Quia venit dare caritatem, et caritas perficit legem; merito dixit non veni legem solvere sed implere." And hence in his letter to Jerome (Ep. clxvii. 19), he speaks of the "royal law" as being "the law of liberty, which is the law of love." See p. 348, note 4, above.

Chapter XIX.--He Enumerates the Things Concerning Which All Agree.

28. For it is true, O Lord, that Thou hast made heaven and earth; it is also true, that the Beginning is Thy Wisdom, in Which Thou hast made all things. [1137] It is likewise true, that this visible world hath its own great parts, the heaven and the earth, which in a short compass comprehends all made and created natures. It is also true, that everything mutable sets before our minds a certain want of form, whereof it taketh a form, or is changed and turned. It is true, that that is subject to no times which so cleaveth to the changeless form as that, though it be mutable, it is not changed. It is true, that the formlessness, which is almost nothing, cannot have changes, of times. It is true, that that of which anything is made may by a certain mode of speech be called by the name of that thing which is made of it; whence that formlessness of which heaven and earth were made might it be called "heaven and earth." It is true, that of all things having form, nothing is nearer to the formless than the earth and the deep. It is true, that not only every created, and formed thing, but also whatever is capable of creation and of form, Thou hast made, "by whom are all things." [1138] It is true, that everything that is formed from that which is formless was formless before it was formed.


[1137] Ps. civ. 24. See p. 297 note 1, above. [1138] 1 Cor. viii. 6.

Chapter XX.--Of the Words, "In the Beginning," Variously Understood.

29. From all these truths, of which they doubt not whose inner eye Thou hast granted to see such things, and who immoveably believe Moses, Thy servant, to have spoken in the spirit of truth; from all these, then, he taketh one who saith, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,"--that is, "In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the intelligible and the sensible, or the spiritual and corporeal creature." He taketh another, who saith, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,"--that is, "In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the universal mass of this corporeal world, with all those manifest and known natures which it containeth." He, another, who saith, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," that is, "In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the formless matter of the spiritual [1139] and corporeal creature." He, another, who saith, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,"--that is, "In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the formless matter of the corporeal creature, wherein heaven and earth lay as yet confused, which being now distinguished and formed, we, at this day, see in the mass of this world." He, another, who saith, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth,"--that is, "In the very beginning of creating and working, God made that formless matter confusedly containing heaven and earth, out of which, being formed, they now stand out, and are manifest, with all the things that are in them."


[1139] Augustin, in his letter to Jerome (Ep. clxvi. 4) on "The origin of the human soul," says: "The soul, whether it be termed material or immaterial, has a certain nature of its own, created from a substance superior to the elements of this world." And in his De Gen. ad Lit. vii. 10, he speaks of the soul being formed from a certain "spiritual matter," even as flesh was formed from the earth. It should be observed that at one time Augustin held to the theory that the souls of infants were created by God out of nothing at each fresh birth, and only rejected this view for that of its being generated by the parents with the body under the pressure of the Pelagian controversy. The first doctrine was generally held by the Schoolmen; and William of Conches maintained this belief on the authority of Augustin,--apparently being unaware of any modification in his opinion: "Cum Augustino," he says (Victor Cousin, Ouvrages ined. d'Abelard, p. 673), "credo et sentio quotidie novas animas nom ex traduce non ex aliqua substantia, sed ex nihilo, solo jussu creatoris creari." Those who held the first-named belief were called Creatiani; those who held the second, Truduciani. It may be noted as to the word "Traduciani," that Tertullian, in his De Anima, chaps. 24-27, etc., frequently uses the word tradux in this connection. Augustin, in his Retractations, ii. 45, refers to his letter to Jerome, and urges that if so obscure a matter is to be discussed at all, that solution only should be received: "Quæ contraria non sit apertissimis rebus quas de originati peccato fides catholica novit in parvulis, nisi regenerentur in Christo, sine dubitatione damnandis." On Tertullian's views, see Bishop Kays, p. 178, etc.

Chapter XXI.--Of the Explanation of the Words, "The Earth Was Invisible."

30. And as concerns the understanding of the following words, out of all those truths he selected one to himself, who saith, "But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,"--that is, "That corporeal thing, which God made, was as yet the formless matter of corporeal things, without order, without light." He taketh another, who saith, "But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,"--that is, "This whole, which is called heaven and earth, was as yet formless and darksome matter, out of which the corporeal heaven and the corporeal earth were to be made, with all things therein which are known to our corporeal senses." He, another, who saith, "But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,"--that is, "This whole, which is called heaven and earth, was as yet a formless and darksome matter, out of which were to be made that intelligible heaven, which is otherwise called the heaven of heavens, and the earth, namely, the whole corporeal nature, under which name may also be comprised this corporeal heaven,--that is, from which every invisible and visible creature would be created." He, another, who saith, "But the carth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,"--"The Scripture called not that formlessness by the name of heaven and earth, but that formlessness itself," saith he, "already was, which he named the earth invisible and formless and the darksome deep, of which he had said before, that God had made the heaven and the earth, namely, the spiritual and corporeal creature." He, another, who saith, "But the earth was invisible and formless, and darkness was upon the deep,"--that is, "There was already a formless matter, whereof the Scripture before said, that God had made heaven and earth, namely, the entire corporeal mass of the world, divided into two very great parts, the superior and the inferior, with all those familiar and known creatures which are in them."

Chapter XXII.--He Discusses Whether Matter Was from Eternity, or Was Made by God. [1140]

31. For, should any one endeavour to contend against these last two opinions, thus,--"If you will not admit that this formlessness of matter appears to be called by the name of heaven and earth, then there was something which God had not made out of which He could make heaven and earth; for Scripture hath not told us that God made this matter, unless we understand it to be implied in the term of heaven and earth, or of earth only, when it is said, `In the beginning God created heaven and earth,' as that which follows, but the earth was invisible and formless, although it was pleasing to him so to call the formless matter, we may not yet understand any but that which God made in that text which hath been already written, `God made heaven and earth.'" The maintainers of either one or the other of these two opinions which we have put last will, when they have heard these things, answer and say, "We deny not indeed that this formless matter was created by God, the God of whom are all things, very good; for, as we say that that is a greater good which is created and formed, so we acknowledge that that is a minor good which is capable of creation and form, but yet good. But yet the Scripture hath not declared that God made this formlessness, any more than it hath declared many other things; as the `Cherubim,' and `Seraphim,' [1141] and those of which the apostle distinctly speaks, `Thrones,' `Dominions,' `Principalities,' `Powers,' [1142] all of which it is manifest God made. Or if in that which is said, `He made heaven and earth,' all things are comprehended, what do we say of the waters upon which the Spirit of God moved? For if they are understood as incorporated in the word earth, how then can formless matter be meant in the term earth when we see the waters so beautiful? Or if it be so meant, why then is it written that out of the same formlessness the firmament was made and called heaven, and yet it is not written that the waters were made? For those waters, which we perceive flowing in so beautiful a manner, remain not formless and invisible. But if, then, they received that beauty when God said, Let the water which is under the firmament be gathered together, [1143] so that the gathering be the very formation, what will be answered concerning the waters which are above the firmament, because if formless they would not have deserved to receive a seat so honourable, nor is it written by what word they were formed? If, then, Genesis is silent as to anything that God has made, which, however, neither sound faith nor unerring understanding doubteth that God hath made, [1144] let not any sober teaching dare to say that these waters were co-eternal with God because we find them mentioned in the book of Genesis; but when they were created, we find not. Why--truth instructing us--may we not understand that that formless matter, which the Scripture calls the earth invisible and without form, and the darksome deep, [1145] have been made by God out of nothing, and therefore that they are not co-eternal with Him, although that narrative hath failed to tell when they were made?"


[1140] See xi. sec. 7, and note, above; and xii. sec. 33, and note, below. See also the subtle reasoning of Dean Mansel (Bampton Lectures, lect. ii.), on the inconsequence of receiving the idea of the creation out of nothing on other than Christian principles. And compare Coleridge, The Friend, iii. 213. [1141] Isa. vi. 2, and xxxvii. 16. [1142] Col. i. 16. [1143] Gen. i. 9. [1144] See p. 165, note 4, above. [1145] See p. 176, note 5, above.

Chapter XXIII.--Two Kinds of Disagreements in the Books to Be Explained.

32. These things, therefore, being heard and perceived according to my weakness of apprehension, which I confess unto Thee, O Lord, who knowest it, I see that two sorts of differences may arise when by signs anything is related, even by true reporters,--one concerning the truth of the things, the other concerning the meaning of him who reports them. For in one way we inquire, concerning the forming of the creature, what is true; but in another, what Moses, that excellent servant of Thy faith, would have wished that the reader and hearer should understand by these words. As for the first kind, let all those depart from me who imagine themselves to know as true what is false. And as for the other also, let all depart from me who imagine Moses to have spoken things that are false. But let me be united in Thee, O Lord, with them, and in Thee delight myself with them that feed on Thy truth, in the breadth of charity; and let us approach together unto the words of Thy book, and in them make search for Thy will, through the will of Thy servant by whose pen Thou hast dispensed them.

Chapter XXIV.--Out of the Many True Things, It is Not Asserted Confidently that Moses Understood This or That.

33. But which of us, amid so many truths which occur to inquirers in these words, understood as they are in different ways, shall so discover that one interpretation as to confidently say "that Moses thought this," and "that in that narrative he wished this to be understood," as confidently as he says "that this is true," whether he thought this thing or the other? For behold, O my God, I Thy servant, who in this book have vowed unto Thee a sacrifice of confession, and beseech Thee that of Thy mercy I may pay my vows unto Thee, [1146] behold, can I, as I confidently assert that Thou in Thy immutable word hast created all things, invisible and visible, with equal confidence assert that Moses meant nothing else than this when he wrote, "In the beginning God created. the heaven and the earth." [1147] No. Because it is not as clear to me that this was in his mind when he wrote these things, as I see it to be certain in Thy truth. For his thoughts might be set upon the very beginning of the creation when he said, "In the beginning;" and he might wish it to be understood that, in this place, "the heaven and the earth" were no formed and perfected nature, whether spiritual or corporeal, but each of them newly begun, and as yet formless. Because I see, that which-soever of these had been said, it might have been said truly; but which of them he may have thought in these words, I do not so perceive. Although, whether it were one of these, or some other meaning which has not been mentioned by me, that this great man saw in his mind when he used these words, I make no doubt but that he saw it truly, and expressed it suitably.


[1146] Ps. xxii. 25. [1147] It is curious to note here Fichte's strange idea (Anweisung zum seligen Leben, Werke, v. 479), that St. John, at the commencement of his Gospel, in his teaching as to the "Word," intended to confute the Mosaic statement, which Fichte--since it ran counter to that idea of "the absolute" which he made the point of departure in his philosophy--antagonizes as a heathen and Jewish error. On "In the Beginning," see p. 166, note 2, above.

Chapter XXV.--It Behoves Interpreters, When Disagreeing Concerning Obscure Places, to Regard God the Author of Truth, and the Rule of Charity.

34. Let no one now trouble me by saying, Moses thought not as you say, but as I say." For should he ask me, "Whence knowest thou that Moses thought this which you deduce from his words?" I ought to take it contentedly, [1148] and reply perhaps as I have before, or somewhat more fully should he be obstinate. But when he says, "Moses meant not what you say, but what I say," and yet denies not what each of us says, and that both are true, O my God, life of the poor, in whose bosom there is no contradiction, pour down into my heart Thy soothings, that I may patiently bear with such as say this to me; not because they are divine, and because they have seen in the heart of Thy servant what they say, but because they are proud, and have not known the opinion of Moses, but love their own,--not because it is true, but because it is their own. Otherwise they would equally love another true opinion, as I love what they say when they speak what is true; not because it is theirs, but because it is true, and therefore now not theirs because true. But if they therefore love that because it is true, it is now both theirs and mine, since it is common to all the lovers of truth. But because they contend that Moses meant not what I say, but I what they themselves say, this I neither like nor love; because, though it were so, yet that rashness is not of knowledge, but of audacity; and not vision, but vanity brought it forth. And therefore, O Lord, are Thy judgments to be dreaded, since Thy truth is neither mine, nor his, nor another's, but of all of us, whom Thou publicly callest to have it in common, warning us terribly not to hold it as specially for ourselves, lest we be deprived of it. For whosoever claims to himself as his own that which Thou appointed to all to enjoy, and desires that to be his own which belongs to all, is forced away from what is common to all to that which is his own--that is, from truth to falsehood. For he that "speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own." [1149]

35. Hearken, O God, Thou best Judge! Truth itself, hearken to what I shall say to this gainsayer; hearken, for before Thee I say it, and before my brethren who use Thy law lawfully, to the end of charity; [1150] hearken and behold what I shall say to him, if it be pleasing unto Thee. For this brotherly and peaceful word do I return unto him: "If we both see that that which thou sayest is true, and if we both see that what I say is true, where, I ask, do we see it? Certainly not I in thee, nor thou in me, but both in the unchangeable truth itself, [1151] which is above our minds." When, therefore, we may not contend about the very light of the Lord our God, why do we contend about the thoughts of. our neighbour, which we cannot so see as incommutable truth is seen; when, if Moses himself had appeared to us and said, "This I meant," not so should we see it, but believe it? Let us not, then, "be puffed up for one against the other," [1152] above that which is written; let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself. [1153] As to which two precepts of charity, unless we believe that Moses meant whatever in these books he did mean, we shall make God a liar when we think otherwise concerning our fellow-servants' mind than He hath taught us. Behold, now, how foolish it is, in so great an abundance of the truest opinions which can be extracted from these words, rashly to affirm which of them Moses particularly meant; and with pernicious contentions to offend charity itself, on account of which he hath spoken all the things whose words we endeavour to explain!


[1148] See p. 48, note, and p. 164, note 2, above. [1149] John viii. 44. [1150] 1 Tim. i. 8. [1151] As to all truth being God's, see vii. sec. 16, and note 3, above; and compare x. sec. 65, above. [1152] 1 Cor. iv. 6. [1153] Mark xii. 30, 31.

Chapter XXVI.--What He Might Have Asked of God Had He Been Enjoined to Write the Book of Genesis.

36. And yet, O my God, Thou exaltation of my humility, and rest of my labour, who hearest my confessions, and forgivest my sins, since Thou commandest me that I should love my neighbour as myself, I cannot believe that Thou gavest to Moses, Thy most faithful servant, a less gift than I should wish and desire for myself from Thee, had I been born in his time, and hadst Thou placed me in that position that through the service of my heart and of my tongue those books might be distributed, which so long after were to profit all nations, and through the whole world, from so great a pinnacle of authority, were to surmount the words of all false and proud teachings. I should have wished truly had I then been Moses (for we all come from the same mass; and what is man, saving that Thou art mindful of him? [1154] ). I should then, had I been at that time what he was, and enjoined by Thee to write the book of Genesis, have wished that such a power of expression and such a method of arrangement should be given me, that they who cannot as yet understand how God creates might not reject the words as surpassing their powers; and they who are already able to do this, would find, in what true opinion soever they had by thought arrived at, that it was not passed over in the few words of Thy servant; and should another man by the light of truth have discovered another, neither should that fail to be found in those same words.


[1154] Ps. viii. 8.

Chapter XXVII.--The Style of Speaking in the Book of Genesis is Simple and Clear.

37. For as a fountain in a limited space is more plentiful, and affords supply for more streams over larger spaces than any one of those streams which, after a wide interval, is derived from the same fountain; so the narrative of Thy dispenser, destined to benefit many who were likely to discourse thereon, does, from a limited measure of language, overflow into streams of clear truth, whence each one may draw out for himself that truth which he can concerning these subjects,--this one that truth, that one another, by larger circumlocutions of discourse. For some, when they read or hear these words, think that God as a man or some mass gifted with immense power, by some new and sudden resolve, had, outside itself, as if at distant places, created heaven and earth, two great bodies above and below, wherein all things were to be contained. And when they hear, God said, Let it be made, and it was made, they think of words begun and ended, sounding in times and passing away, after the departure of which that came into being which was commanded to be; and whatever else of the kind their familiarity with the world [1155] would suggest. In whom, being as yet little ones, [1156] while their weakness by this humble kind of speech is carried on as if in a mother's bosom, their faith is healthfully built up, by which they have and hold as certain that God made all natures, which in wondrous variety their senses perceive on every side. Which words, if any one despising them, as if trivial, with proud weakness shall have stretched himself beyond his fostering cradle, he will, alas, fall miserably. Have pity, O Lord God, lest they who pass by trample on the unfledged bird; and send Thine angel, who may restore it to its nest that it may live until it can fly. [1157]


[1155] "Ex familiaritate carnis," literally, "from familiarity with the flesh." [1156] "Parvulis animalibus." [1157] In allusion, perhaps, to Prov. xxvii. 8: "As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place."

Chapter XXVIII.--The Words, "In the Beginning," And, "The Heaven and the Earth," Are Differently Understood.

38. But others, to whom these words are no longer a nest, but shady fruit-bowers, see the fruits concealed in them, fly around rejoicing, and chirpingly search and pluck them. For they see when they read or hear these words, O God, that all times past and future are surmounted by Thy eternal and stable abiding, and still that there is no temporal creature which Thou hast not made. And by Thy will, because it is that which Thou art, Thou hast made all things, not by any changed will, nor by a will which before was not,--not out of Thyself, in Thine own likeness, the form of all things, but out of nothing, a formless unlikeness which should be formed by Thy likeness (having recourse to Thee the One, after their settled capacity, according as it has been given to each thing in his kind), and might all be made very good; whether they remain around Thee, or, being by degrees removed in time and place, make or undergo beautiful variations. These things they see, and rejoice in the light of Thy truth, in the little degree they here may.

39. Again, another of these directs his attention to that which is said, "In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth," and beholdeth Wisdom,--the Beginning, [1158] because It also speaketh unto us. [1159] Another likewise directs his attention to the same words, and by "beginning" understands the commencement of things created; and receives it thus,--In the beginning He made, as if it were said, He at first made. And among those who understand "In the beginning" to mean, that "in Thy Wisdom Thou hast created heaven and earth," one believes the matter out of which the heaven and earth were to be created to be there called "heaven and earth;" another, that they are natures already formed and distinct; another, one formed nature, and that a spiritual, under the name of heaven, the other formless, of corporeal matter, under the name of earth. But they who under the name of "heaven and earth" understand matter as yet formless, out of which were to be formed heaven and earth, do not themselves understand it in one manner; but one, that matter out of which the intelligible and the sensible creature were to be completed; another, that only out of which this sensible corporeal mass was to come, holding in its vast bosom these visible and prepared natures. Nor are they who believe that the creatures already set in order and arranged are in this place called heaven and earth of one accord; but the one, both the invisible and visible; the other, the visible only, in which we admire the luminous heaven and darksome earth, and the things that are therein.


[1158] See p. 166, note 2. [1159] John viii. 23.

Chapter XXIX.--Concerning the Opinion of Those Who Explain It "At First He Made."

40. But he who does not otherwise understand, "In the beginning He made," than if it were said, "At first He made," can only truly understand heaven and earth of the matter of heaven and earth, namely, of the universal, that is, intelligible and corporeal creation. For if he would have it of the universe. as already formed, it might rightly be asked of him: "If at first God made this, what made He afterwards?" And after the universe he will find nothing; thereupon must he, though unwilling, hear, "How is this first, if there is nothing afterwards?" But when he says that God made matter first formless, then formed, he is not absurd if he be but able to discern what precedes by eternity, what by time, what by choice, what by origin. By eternity, as God is before all things; by time, as the flower is before the fruit; by choice, as the fruit is before the flower; by origin, as sound is before the tune. Of these four, the first and last which I have referred to are with much difficulty understood; the two middle very easily. For an uncommon and too lofty vision it is to behold, O Lord, Thy Eternity, immutably making things mutable, and thereby before them. Who is so acute of mind as to be able without great labour to discover how the sound is prior to the tune, because a tune is a formed sound; and a thing not formed may exist, but that which existeth not cannot be formed? [1160] So is the matter prior to that which is made from it; not prior because it maketh it, since itself is rather made, nor is it prior by an interval of time. For we do not as to time first utter formless sounds without singing, and then adapt or fashion them into the form of a song, just as wood or silver from which a chest or vessel is made. Because such materials do by time also precede the forms of the things which are made from them; but in singing this is not so. For when it is sung, its sound is heard at the same time; seeing there is not first a formless sound, which is afterwards formed into a song. For as soon as it shall have first sounded it passeth away; nor canst thou find anything of it, which being recalled thou canst by art compose. And, therefore, the song is absorbed in its own sound, which sound of it is its matter. Because this same is formed that it may be a tune; and therefore, as I was saying, the matter of the sound is prior to the form of the tune, not before through any power of making it a tune; for neither is a sound the composer of the tune, but is sent forth from the body and is subjected to the soul of the singer, that from it he may form a tune. Nor is it first in time, for it is given forth together with the tune; nor first in choice, for a sound is not better than a tune, since a tune is not merely a sound, but a beautiful sound. But it is first in origin, because the tune is not formed that it may become a sound, but the sound is formed that it may become a tune. By this example, let him who is able understand that the matter of things was first made, and called heaven and earth, because out of it heaven and earth were made. Not that it was made first in time, because the forms of things give rise to time, [1161] but that was formless; but now, in time, it is perceived together with its form. Nor yet can anything be related concerning that matter, unless as if it were prior in time, while it is considered last (because things formed are assuredly superior to things formless), and is preceded by the Eternity of the Creator, so that there might be out of nothing that from which something might be made.


[1160] See a similar argument in his Con. adv. Leg. et Proph. i. 9; and sec. 29, and note, above. [1161] See xi. sec. 29, above, and Gillies' note thereon; and compare with it Augustin's De. Gen. ad Lit. v. 5: "In vain we inquire after time before the creation as though we could find time before time, for if there were no motion of the spiritual or corporeal creatures whereby through the present the future might succeed the past, there would be no time at all. But the creature could not have motion unless it were. Time, therefore, begins rather from the creation, than creation from time, but both are from God."

Chapter XXX.--In the Great Diversity of Opinions, It Becomes All to Unite Charity and Divine Truth.

41. In this diversity of true opinions let Truth itself beget concord; [1162] and may our God have mercy upon us, that we may use the law lawfully, [1163] the end of the commandment, pure charity. [1164] And by this if any one asks of me, "Which of these was the meaning of Thy servant Moses?" these were not the utterances of my confessions, should I not confess unto Thee, "I know not;" and yet I know that those opinions are true, with the exception of those carnal ones concerning which I have spoken what I thought well. However, these words of Thy Book affright not those little ones of good hope, treating few of high things in a humble fashion, and few things in varied ways. [1165] But let all, whom I acknowledge to see and speak the truth in these words, love one another, and equally love Thee, our God, fountain of truth,--if we thirst not for vain things, but for it; yea, let us so honour this servant of Thine, the dispenser of this Scripture, full of Thy Spirit, as to believe that when Thou revealedst Thyself to him, and he wrote these things, he intended that which in them chiefly excels both for light of truth and fruitfulness of profit.


[1162] See p. 164, note 2, above. [1163] 1 Tim. i. 8. [1164] See p. 183, note, above; and on the supremacy of this law of love, may be compared Jeremy Taylor's curious story (Works, iv. 477, Eden's ed.): "St. Lewis, the king, having sent Ivo, Bishop of Chartres, on an embassy, the bishop met a woman on the way, grave, sad, fantastic, and melancholy, with fire in one hand, and water in the other. He asked what those symbols meant. She answered, `My purpose is with fire to burn Paradise, and with my water to quench the flames of hell, that men may serve God without the incentives of hope and fear, and purely for the love of God.'" [1165] See end of note 17, p. 197, below.

Chapter XXXI.--Moses is Supposed to Have Perceived Whatever of Truth Can Be Discovered in His Words.

42. Thus, when one shall say, "He [Moses] meant as I do," and another, "Nay, but as I do," I suppose that I am speaking more religiously when I say, "Why not rather as both, if both be true?" And if there be a third truth, or a fourth, and if any one seek any truth altogether different in those words, why may not he be believed to have seen all these, through whom one God hath tempered the Holy Scriptures to the senses of many, about to see therein things true but different? I certainly,--and I fearlessly declare it from my heart,--were I to write anything to have the highest authority, should prefer so to write, that whatever of truth any one might apprehend concerning these matters, my words should re-echo, rather than that I should set down one true opinion so clearly on this as that I should exclude the rest, that which was false in which could not offend me. Therefore am I unwilling, O my God, to be so headstrong as not to believe that from Thee this man [Moses] hath received so much. He, surely, when he wrote those words, perceived and thought whatever of truth we have been able to discover, yea, and whatever we have not been able, nor yet are able, though still it may be found in them.

Chapter XXXII.--First, the Sense of the Writer is to Be Discovered, Then that is to Be Brought Out Which Divine Truth Intended.

43. Finally, O Lord, who art God, and not flesh and blood, if man doth see anything less, can anything lie hid from "Thy good Spirit," who shall "lead me into the land of uprightness," [1166] which Thou Thyself, by those words, wert about to reveal to future readers, although he through whom they were spoken, amid the many interpretations that might have been found, fixed on but one? Which, if it be so, let that which he thought on be more exalted than the rest. But to us, O Lord, either point out the same, or any other true one which may be pleasing unto Thee; so that whether Thou makest known to us that which Thou didst to that man of Thine, or some other by occasion of the same words, yet Thou mayest feed us, not error deceive us. [1167] Behold, O Lord my God, how many things we have written concerning a few words,--how many, I beseech Thee! What strength of ours, what ages would suffice for all Thy books after this manner? Permit me, therefore, in these more briefly to confess unto Thee, and to select some one true, certain, and good sense, that Thou shall inspire, although many senses offer themselves, where many, indeed, I may; this being the faith of my confession, that if I should say that which Thy minister felt, rightly and profitably, this I should strive for; the which if I shall not attain, yet I may say that which Thy Truth willed through Its words to say unto me, which said also unto him what It willed.


[1166] Ps. cxliii. 10. [1167] Augustin, as we have seen (see notes, pp. 65 and 92), was frequently addicted to allegorical interpretation, but he, none the less, laid stress on the necessity of avoiding obscure and allegorical passages when it was necessary to convince the opponent of Christianity (De Unit. Eccl. ch. 5). It should also be noted that, however varied the meaning deduced from a doubtful Scripture, he ever maintained that such meaning must be sacræ fidei congruam. Compare De Gen. ad Lit. end of book i.; and ibid. viii. 4 and 7. See also notes, pp. 164 and 178, above.


Book XIII.

Of the goodness of God explained in the creation of things, and of the Trinity as found in the first words of Genesis. The story concerning the origin of the world (Gen. I.) is allegorically explained, and he applies it to those things which God works for sanctified and blessed man. Finally, he makes an end of this work, having implored eternal rest from God.

Chapter I.--He Calls Upon God, and Proposes to Himself to Worship Him.

1. I Call upon Thee, my God, my mercy, who madest me, and who didst not forget me, though forgetful of Thee. I call Thee into [1168] my soul, which by the desire which Thou inspirest in it Thou preparest for Thy reception. Do not Thou forsake me calling upon Thee, who didst anticipate me before I called, and didst importunately urge with manifold calls that I should hear Thee from afar, and be converted, and call upon Thee who calledst me. For Thou, O Lord, hast blotted out all my evil deserts, that Thou mightest not repay into my hands wherewith I have fallen from Thee, and Thou hast anticipated all my good deserts, that Thou mightest repay into Thy hands wherewith Thou madest me; because before I was, Thou wast, nor was I [anything] to which Thou mightest grant being. And yet behold, I am, out of Thy goodness, anticipating all this which Thou hast made me, and of which Thou hast made me. For neither hadst Thou stood in need of me, nor am I such a good as to be helpful unto Thee, [1169] my Lord and God; not that I may so serve Thee as though Thou wert fatigued in working, or lest Thy power may be less if lacking my assistance nor that, like the land, I may so cultivate Thee that Thou wouldest be uncultivated did I cultivate Thee not but that I may serve and worship Thee, to the end that I may have well-being from Thee; from whom it is that I am one susceptible of well-being.


[1168] See i. sec. 2, above. [1169] Similar views as to God's not having need of us, though He created us, and as to our service being for our and not His advantage, will be found in his De Gen. ad Lit. viii. 11; and Con. Adv. Leg. et Proph. i. 4.

Chapter II.--All Creatures Subsist from the Plenitude of Divine Goodness.

2. For of the plenitude of Thy goodness Thy creature subsists, that a good, which could profit Thee nothing, nor though of Thee was equal to Thee, might yet be, since it could be made of Thee. For what did heaven and earth, which Thou madest in the beginning, deserve of Thee? Let those spiritual and corporeal natures, which Thou in Thy wisdom madest, declare what they deserve of Thee to depend thereon,--even the inchoate and formless, each in its own kind, either spiritual or corporeal, going into excess, and into remote unlikeness unto Thee (the spiritual, though formless, more excellent than if it were a formed body; and the corporeal, though formless, more excellent than if it were altogether nothing), and thus they as formless would depend upon Thy Word, unless by the same Word they were recalled to Thy Unity, and endued with form, and from Thee, the one sovereign Good, were all made very good. How have they deserved of Thee, that they should be even formless, since they would not be even this except from Thee?

3. How has corporeal matter deserved of Thee, to be even invisible and formless, [1170] since it were not even this hadst Thou not made it; and therefore since it was not, it could not deserve of Thee that it should be made? Or how could the inchoate spiritual creature [1171] deserve of Thee, that even it should flow darksomely like the deep,--unlike Thee, had it not been by the same Word turned to that by Whom it was created, and by Him so enlightened become light, although not equally, yet conformably to that Form which is equal unto Thee? For as to a body, to be is not all one with being beautiful, for then it could not be deformed; so also to a created spirit, to live is not all one with living wisely, for then it would be wise unchangeably. But it is good [1172] for it always to hold fast unto Thee, [1173] lest, in turning from Thee, it lose that light which it hath obtained in turning to Thee, and relapse into a light resembling the darksome deep. For even we ourselves, who in respect of the soul are a spiritual creature, having turned away from Thee, our light, were in that life "sometimes darkness;" [1174] and do labour amidst the remains of our darkness, until in Thy Only One we become Thy righteousness, like the mountains of God. For we have been Thy judgments, which are like the great deep. [1175]


[1170] Gen. i. 2. [1171] In his De Gen. ad Lit. i. 5, he maintains that the spiritual creature may have a formless life, since it has its form--its wisdom and happiness--by being turned to the Word of God, the Immutable Light of Wisdom. [1172] Ps. lxxiii. 28. [1173] Similarly, in his De Civ. Dei, xii. 1, he argues that true blessedness is to be attained "by adhering to the Immutable Good, the Supreme God." This, indeed, imparts the only true life (see note, p. 133, above); for, as Origen says (in S. Joh. ii. 7), "the good man is he who truly exists," and "to be evil and to be wicked are the same as not to be." See notes, pp. 75 and 151, above. [1174] Eph. v. 8. [1175] Ps. xxxvi. 6, as in the Vulgate, which renders the Hebrew more correctly than the Authorized Version. This passage has been variously interpreted. Augustin makes "the mountains of God" to mean the saints, prophets, and apostles, while "the great deep" he interprets of the wicked and sinful. Compare in Ev. Joh. Tract. i. 2; and in Ps. xxxv. 7, sec. 10.

Chapter III.--Genesis I. 3,--Of "Light,"--He Understands as It is Seen in the Spiritual Creature.

4. But what Thou saidst in the beginning of the creation, "Let there be light, and there was light," [1176] I do not unfitly understand of the spiritual creature; because there was even then a kind of life, which Thou mightest illuminate. But as it had not deserved of Thee that it should be such a life as could be enlightened, so neither, when it already was, hath it deserved of Thee that it should be enlightened. For neither could its formlessness be pleasing unto Thee, unless it became light,--not by merely existing, but by beholding the illuminating light, and cleaving unto it; so also, that it lives, and lives happily, [1177] it owes to nothing whatsoever but to Thy grace; being converted by means of a better change unto that which can be changed neither into better nor into worse; the which Thou only art because Thou only simply art, to whom it is not one thing to live, another to live blessedly, since Thou art Thyself Thine own Blessedness.


[1176] Gen. i. 3. [1177] Compare the end of chap. 24 of book xi of the De Civ. Dei, where he says that the life and light and joy of the holy city which is above is in God.

Chapter IV.--All Things Have Been Created by the Grace of God, and are Not of Him as Standing in Need of Created Things.

5. What, therefore, could there be wanting unto Thy good, which Thou Thyself art, although these things had either never been, or had remained formless,--the which Thou madest not out of any want, but out of the plenitude of Thy goodness, restraining them and converting them to form not as though Thy joy were perfected by them? For to Thee, being perfect, their imperfection is displeasing, and therefore were they perfected by Thee, and were pleasing unto Thee; but not as if Thou wert imperfect, and wert to be perfected in their perfection. For Thy good Spirit was borne over the waters, [1178] not borne up by them as if He rested upon them. For those in whom Thy good Spirit is said to rest, [1179] He causes to rest in Himself. But Thy incorruptible and unchangeable will, which in itself is all-sufficient for itself, was borne over that life which Thou hadst made, to which to live is not all one with living happily, since, flowing in its own darkness, it liveth also; for which it remaineth to be converted unto Him by whom it was made, and to live more and more by "the fountain of life," and in His light to "see light," [1180] and to be perfected, and enlightened, and made happy.


[1178] Gen. i. 2. [1179] Num. xi. 25. [1180] Ps. xxxvi. 9.

Chapter V.--He Recognises the Trinity in the First Two Verses of Genesis.

6. Behold now, the Trinity appears unto me in an enigma, which Thou, O my God, art, since Thou, O Father, in the Beginning of our wisdom,--Which is Thy Wisdom, born of Thyself, equal and co-eternal unto Thee,--that is, in Thy Son, hast created heaven and earth. Many things have we said of the heaven of heavens, and of the earth invisible and formless, and of the darksome deep, in reference to the wandering defects of its spiritual deformity, were it not converted unto Him from whom was its life, such as it was, and by His enlightening became a beauteous life, and the heaven of that heaven which was afterwards set between water and water. And under the name of God, I now held the Father, who made these things; and under the name of the Beginning, [1181] the Son, in whom He made these things; and believing, as I did, that my God was the Trinity, I sought further in His holy words, and behold, Thy Spirit was borne over the waters. Behold the Trinity, O my God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,--the Creator of all creation.


[1181] See also xi. sec. 10, and note, above.

Chapter VI.--Why the Holy Ghost Should Have Been Mentioned After the Mention of Heaven and Earth.

7. But what was the cause, O Thou true-speaking Light? Unto Thee do I lift up my heart, let it not teach me vain things; disperse its darkness, and tell me, I beseech Thee, by our mother charity, tell me, I beseech Thee, the reason why, after the mention of heaven, and of the earth invisible and formless, and darkness upon the deep, Thy Scripture should then at length mention Thy Spirit? Was it because it was meet that it should be spoken of Him that He was "borne over," and this could not be said, unless that were first mentioned "over" which Thy Spirit may be understood to have been "borne?" For neither was He "borne over" the Father, nor the Son, nor could it rightly be said that He was "borne over" if He were "borne over" nothing. That, therefore, was first to be spoken of "over" which He might be "borne;" and then He, whom it was not meet to mention otherwise than as having been "borne." Why, then, was it not meet that it should otherwise be mentioned of Him, than as having been "borne over?"

Chapter VII.--That the Holy Spirit Brings Us to God.

8. Hence let him that is able now follow Thy apostle with his understanding where he thus speaks, because Thy love "is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us;" [1182] and where, "concerning spiritual gifts," he teacheth and showeth unto us a more excellent way of charity; [1183] and where he bows his knees unto Thee for us, that we may know the super-eminent knowledge of the love of Christ. [1184] And, therefore, from the beginning was He super-eminently "borne above the waters." To whom shall I tell this? How speak of the weight of lustful desires, pressing downwards to the steep abyss? and how charity raises us up again, through Thy Spirit which was "borne over the waters?" To whom shall I tell it? How tell it? For neither are there places in which we are merged and emerge. [1185] What can be more like, and yet more unlike? They be affections, they be loves; the filthiness of our spirit flowing away downwards with the love of cares, and the sanctity of Thine raising us upwards by the love of freedom from care; that we may lift our hearts [1186] unto Thee where Thy Spirit is "borne over the waters;" and that we may come to that pre-eminent rest, when our soul shall have passed through the waters which have no substance. [1187]


[1182] Rom. v. 5. [1183] 1 Cor. xii. 1, 31. [1184] Eph. iii. 14-19. [1185] "Neque enim loca sunt quibus mergimur et emergimus." [1186] Watts remarks here: "This sentence was generally in the Church service and communion. Nor is there scarce any one old liturgy but hath it, Sursum corda, Habemus ad Dominum." Palmer, speaking of the Lord's Supper, says, in his Origines Liturgicæ., iv. 14, that "Cyprian, in the third century, attested the use of the form, `Lift up your hearts,' and its response, in the liturgy of Africa (Cyprian, De Orat. Dom. p. 152, Opera, ed. Fell). Augustin, at the beginning of the fifth century, speaks of these words as being used in all churches" (Aug. De Vera Relig. iii. ). We find from the same writer, ibid. v. 5, that in several churches this sentence was used in the office of baptism. [1187] "Sine substantia," the Old Ver. rendering of Ps. cxxiv. 5. The Vulgate gives "aquam intolerabilem." The Authorized Version, however, correctly renders the Hebrew by "proud waters," that is, swollen. Augustin, in in Ps. cxxiii. 5, sec. 9, explains the "aqua sine substantia," as the water of sins; "for," he says, "sins have not substance; they have weakness, not substance; want, not substance."

Chapter VIII.--That Nothing Whatever, Short of God, Can Yield to the Rational Creature a Happy Rest.

9. The angels fell, the soul of man fell [1188] and they have thus indicated the abyss in that dark deep, ready for the whole spiritual creation, unless Thou hadst said from the beginning, "Let there be light," and there had been light, and every obedient intelligence of Thy celestial City had cleaved to Thee, and rested in Thy Spirit, which unchangeably is "borne over" everything changeable. Otherwise, even the heaven of heavens itself would have been a darksome deep, whereas now it is light in the Lord. For even in that wretched restlessness of the spirits who fell away, and, when unclothed of the garments of Thy light, discovered their own darkness, dost Thou sufficiently disclose how noble Thou hast made the rational creature; to which nought which is inferior to Thee will suffice to yield a happy rest, [1189] and so not even herself. For Thou, O our God, shalt enlighten our darkness; [1190] from Thee are derived our garments of light, [1191] and then shall our darkness be as the noonday. [1192] Give Thyself unto me, O my God, restore Thyself unto me; behold, I love Thee, and if it be too little, let me love Thee more strongly. I cannot measure my love, so that I may come to know how much there is yet wanting in me, ere my life run into Thy embracements, and not be turned away until it be hidden in the secret place of Thy Presence. [1193] This only I know, that woe is me except in Thee,--not only without, but even also within myself; and all plenty which is not my God is poverty to me. [1194]


[1188] We may note here that Augustin maintains the existence of the relationship between these two events. He says in his Enchiridion, c. xxix., that "the restored part of humanity will fill up the gap which the rebellion and fall of the devils had left in the company of the angels. For this is the promise to the saints, that at the resurrection they shall be equal to the angels of God (Luke xx. 36). And thus the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all, the City of God, shall not be spoiled of any of the number of her citizens, shall perhaps reign over even a more abundant population." He speaks to the same effect at the close of ch. 1 of his De Civ. Dei, xxii. This doctrine was enlarged upon by some of the writers of the seventeenth century. [1189] See his De Civ. Dei, xxii. 1, where he beautifully compares sin to blindness, in that it makes us miserable in depriving us of the sight of God. Also his De Cat. Rud. sec. 24, where he shows that the restlessness and changefulness of the world cannot give rest. Comp. p. 46, note 7, above. [1190] Ps. xviii. 28. [1191] Ps. civ. 2. [1192] Ps. cxxxix. 12. [1193] Ps. xxxi. 20. "In abscondito vultus tui," Old Ver. Augustin in his comment on this passage (Enarr. 4, sec. 8) gives us his interpretation. He points out that the refuge of a particular place (e.g. the bosom of Abraham) is not enough. We must have God with us here as our refuge, and then we will be hidden in His countenance hereafter; or in other words, if we receive Him into our heart now, He will hereafter receive us into His countenance--Ille post hoc seculum excipiet te vultu suo. For heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and we must be fitted to live with Him there by going to Him now, and this, to quote from his De Serm. Dom. in Mon. i. 27, "not with a slow movement of the body, but with the swift impulse of love." [1194] See p. 133, note 2, above.

Chapter IX.--Why the Holy Spirit Was Only "Borne Over" The Waters.

10. But was not either the Father or the Son "borne over the waters?" If we understand this to mean in space, as a body, then neither was the Holy Spirit; but if the incommutable super-eminence of Divinity above everything mutable, then both Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost were borne "over the waters." Why, then, is this said of Thy Spirit only? Why is it said of Him alone? As if He had been in place who is not in place, of whom only it is written, that He is Thy gift? [1195] In Thy gift we rest; there we enjoy Thee. Our rest is our place. Love lifts us up thither, and Thy good Spirit lifteth our lowliness from the gates of death. [1196] In Thy good pleasure lies our peace. [1197] The body by its own weight gravitates towards its own place. Weight goes not downward only, but to its own place. Fire tends upwards, a stone downwards. They are propelled by their own weights, they seek their own places. Oil poured under the water is raised above the water; water poured upon oil sinks under the oil. They are propelled by their own weights, they seek their own places. Out of order, they are restless; restored to order, they are at rest. My weight is my love; [1198] by it am I borne whithersoever I am borne. By Thy Gift we are inflamed, and are borne upwards; we wax hot inwardly, and go forwards. We ascend Thy ways that be in our heart, [1199] and sing a song of degrees; we glow inwardly with Thy fire, with Thy good fire, and we go, because we go upwards to the peace of Jerusalem; for glad was I when they said unto me, "Let us go into the house of the Lord." [1200] There hath Thy good pleasure placed us, that we may desire no other thing than to dwell there for ever.


[1195] See De Trin. xv. 17-19. [1196] Ps. ix. 13. [1197] Luke ii. 14, Vulg. [1198] Compare De Civ. Dei, xi. 28: "For the specific gravity of bodies is, as it were, their love, whether they are carried downwards by their weight, or upwards by their levity." [1199] Ps. lxxxiv. 5. [1200] Ps. cxxii. 1.

Chapter X.--That Nothing Arose Save by the Gift of God.

11. Happy creature, which, though in itself it was other than Thou, hath known no other state than that as soon as it was made, it was, without any interval of time, by Thy Gift, which is borne over everything mutable, raised up by that calling whereby Thou saidst, "Let there be light, and there was light." Whereas in us there is a difference of times, in that we were darkness, and are made light; [1201] but of that it is only said what it would have been had it not been enlightened. And this is so spoken as if it had been fleeting and darksome before; that so the cause whereby it was made to be otherwise might appear,--that is to say, being turned to the unfailing Light it might become light. Let him who is able understand this; and let him who is not, [1202] ask of Thee. Why should he trouble me, as if I could enlighten any "man that cometh into the world?" [1203]


[1201] Eph. v. 8. [1202] Et qui non potest, which words, however, some mss. omit, reading, Qui potest intelligat; a te petat. [1203] John i. 9; see p. 76, note 2, and p. 181, note 2, above.

Chapter XI.--That the Symbols of the Trinity in Man, to Be, to Know, and to Will, are Never Thoroughly Examined.

12. Which of us understandeth the Almighty Trinity? [1204] And yet which speaketh not of It, if indeed it be It? Rare is that soul which, while it speaketh of It, knows what it speaketh of. And they contend and strive, but no one without peace seeth that vision. I could wish that men would consider these three things that are in themselves. These three are far other than the Trinity; but I speak of things in which they may exercise and prove themselves, and feel how far other they be. [1205] But the three things I speak of are, To Be, to Know, and to Will. For I Am, and I Know, and I Will; I Am Knowing and Willing; and I Know myself to Be and to Will; and I Will to Be and to Know. In these three, therefore, let him who can see how inseparable a life there is,--even one life, one mind, and one essence; finally, how inseparable is the distinction, and yet a distinction. Surely a man hath it before him; let him look into himself, and see, and tell me. But when he discovers and can say anything of these, let him not then think that he has discovered that which is above these Unchangeable, which Is unchangeably, and Knows unchangeably, and Wills unchangeably. And whether on account of these three there is also, where they are, a Trinity; or whether these three be in Each, so that the three belong to Each; or whether both ways at once, wondrously, simply, and vet diversely, in Itself a limit unto Itself, yet illimitable; whereby It is, and is known unto Itself, and sufficeth to Itself, unchangeably the Self-same, by the abundant magnitude of its Unity,--who can readily conceive? Who in any wise express it? Who in any way rashly pronounce thereon?


[1204] As Augustin constantly urges of God, "Cujus nulla scientia est in anima, nisi scire quomodo eum nesciat" (De Ord. ii. 18), so we may say of the Trinity. The objectors to the doctrine sometimes speak as if it were irrational (Mansel's Bampton Lectures, lect. vi., notes 9, 10). But while the doctrine is above reason, it is not contrary thereto; and, as Dr. Newman observes in his Grammar of Assent, v. 2 (a book which the student should remember has been written since his union with the Roman Church), though the doctrine be mysterious, and, when taken as a whole, transcends all our experience, there is that on which the spiritual life of the Christian can repose in its "propositions taken one by one, and that not in the case of intellectual and thoughtful minds only, but of all religious minds whatever, in the case of a child or a peasant as well as of a philosopher." With the above compare the words of Leibnitz in his "Discours de la Conformité de la Foi avec la Raison," sec. 56: "Il en est de même des autres mystères, où les esprits modérés trouveront toujours une explication suffisante pour croire, et jamais autant qu'il en faut pour comprendre. Il nous suffit d'un certain ce que c'est (ti esti); mais le comment (pos) nous passe, et ne nous est point nécessaire" (Euvres de Locke et Leibnitz). See also p. 175, note 1, above, on the "incomprehensibility" of eternity. [1205] While giving illustrations of the Trinity like the above, he would not have a man think "that he has discovered that which is above these, Unchangeable." (See also De Trin. xv. 5, end.) He is very fond of such illustrations. In his De Civ. Dei, xi. 26, 27, for example, we have a parallel to this in our text, in the union of existence, knowledge, and love in man; in his De Trin. ix. 4, 17, 18, we have mind, knowledge, and love; ibid. x. 19, memory, understanding, and will; and ibid. xi. 16, memory, thought, and will. In his De Lib. Arb. ii. 7, again, we have the doctrine illustrated by the union of being, life, and knowledge in man. He also finds illustrations of the doctrine in other created things, as in their measure, weight, and number (De Trin. xi. 18), and their existence, figure, and order (De Vera Relig. xiii.). The nature of these illustrations would at first sight seem to involve him in the Sabellian heresy, which denied the fulness of the Godhead to each of the three Persons of the Trinity; but this is only in appearance. He does not use these illustrations as presenting anything analogous to the union of the three Persons in the Godhead, but as dimly illustrative of it. He declares his belief in the Athanasian doctrine, which, as Dr. Newman observes (Grammar of Assent, v. 2), "may be said to be summed up in this very formula on which St. Augustin lays so much stress,--`Tres et Unus,' not merely `Unum.' " Nothing can be clearer than his words in his De Civ. Dei, xi. 24: "When we inquire regarding each singly, it is said that each is God and Almighty; and when we speak of all together, it is said that there are not three Gods, nor three Almighties, but one God Almighty." Compare with this his De Trin. vii., end of ch. 11, where the language is equally emphatic. See also Mansel, as above, lect. vi. and notes 11 and 12.

Chapter XII.--Allegorical Explanation of Genesis, Chap. I., Concerning the Origin of the Church and Its Worship.

13. Proceed in thy confession, say to the Lord thy God, O my faith, Holy, Holy, Holy, O Lord my God, in Thy name have we been baptized, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in Thy name do we baptize, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, [1206] because among us also in His Christ did God make heaven and earth, namely, the spiritual and carnal people of His Church. [1207] Yea, and our earth, before it received the "form of doctrine," [1208] was invisible and formless, and we were covered with the darkness of ignorance. For Thou correctest man for iniquity, [1209] and "Thy judgments are a great deep." [1210] But because Thy Spirit was "borne over the waters," [1211] Thy mercy forsook not our misery, [1212] and Thou saidst, "Let there be light," "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [1213] Repent ye, let there be light. [1214] And because our soul was troubled within us, [1215] we remembered Thee, O Lord, from the land of Jordan, and that mountain [1216] equal unto Thyself, but little for our sakes; and upon our being displeased with our darkness, we turned unto Thee, "and there was light." And, behold, we were sometimes darkness, but now light in the Lord. [1217]


[1206] Matt. xxviii. 19. [1207] He similarly interprets "heaven and earth" in his De Gen. ad Lit. ii. 4. With this compare Chrysostom's illustration in his De Pænit. hom. 8. The Church is like the ark of Noah, yet different from it. Into that ark as the animals entered, so they came forth. The fox remained a fox, the hawk a hawk, and the serpent a serpent. But with the spiritual ark it is not so, for in it evil dispositions are changed. This illustration of Chrysostom is used with an effective but rough eloquence by the Italian preacher Segneri, in his Quaresimale, serm. iv. sec. [1208] Rom. vi. 17. [1209] Ps. xxxix. 11. [1210] Ps. xxxvi. 6. [1211] Gen. i. 3. [1212] See p. 47, note 10, above. [1213] Matt. iii. 2. [1214] "His putting repentance and light together is, for that baptism was anciently called illumination, as Heb. vi. 4, Ps. xlii. 2."--W. W. See also p. 118, note 4, part 1, above, for the meaning of "illumination." [1215] Ps. xlii. 6. [1216] That is, Christ. See p. 130, note 8, part 2, above; and compare the De Div. Quæst., lxxxiii. 6. [1217] Eph. v. 8.

Chapter XIII.--That the Renewal of Man is Not Completed in This World.

14. But as yet "by faith, not by sight," [1218] for "we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope." [1219] As yet deep calleth unto deep [1220] but in "the noise of Thy waterspouts." [1221] And as yet doth he that saith, I "could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal," [1222] even he, as yet, doth not count himself to have apprehended, and forgetteth those things which are behind, and reacheth forth to those things which are before, [1223] and groaneth being burdened; [1224] and his soul thirsteth after the living God, as the hart after the water-brooks, and saith, "When shall I come?" [1225] "desiring to be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven;" [1226] and calleth upon this lower deep, saying, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." [1227] And, "Be not children in understanding, howbeit in malice be ye children," that in "understanding ye may be perfect;" [1228] and "O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" [1229] But now not in his own voice, but in Thine who sentest Thy Spirit from above; [1230] through Him who "ascended up on high," [1231] and set open the flood-gates of His gifts, [1232] that the force of His streams might make glad the city of God. [1233] For, for Him doth "the friend of the bridegroom" [1234] sigh, having now the first-fruits of the Spirit laid up with Him, yet still groaning within himself, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of his body; [1235] to Him he sighs, for he is a member of the Bride; for Him is he jealous, for he is the friend of the Bridegroom; [1236] for Him is he jealous, not for himself; because in the voice of Thy "waterspouts," [1237] not in his own voice, doth he call on that other deep, for whom being jealous he feareth, lest that, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in our Bridegroom, Thine only Son. [1238] What a light of beauty will that be when "we shall see Him as He is," [1239] and those tears be passed away which "have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?" [1240]


[1218] 2 Cor. v. 7. [1219] Rom. viii. 24. [1220] The "deep" Augustin interprets (as do the majority of Patristic commentators), in Ps. xli. 8, sec. 13, to be the heart of man; and the "deep" that calls unto it, is the preacher who has his own "deep" of infirmity, even as Peter had. [1221] Ps. xlii. 7. [1222] 1 Cor. iii. 1. [1223] Phil. iii. 13. [1224] 2 Cor. v. 2, 4. [1225] Ps. xlii. 1, 2. [1226] 2 Cor. v. 2. [1227] Rom. xii. 2. [1228] 1 Cor. xiv. 20 (margin). [1229] Gal. iii. 1. [1230] Acts ii. 19. [1231] Eph. iv. 8. [1232] Mal. iii. 10. [1233] Ps. xlvi. 4. [1234] John iii. 29. [1235] Rom. viii. 23. [1236] John iii. 29. [1237] Ps. xlii. 7. [1238] 2 Cor. xi. 3, and 1 John iii. 3. [1239] Ibid. ver. 2. [1240] Ps. xlii. 3.

Chapter XIV.--That Out of the Children of the Night and of the Darkness, Children of the Light and of the Day are Made.

15. And so say I too, O my God, where art Thou? Behold where Thou art! In Thee I breathe a little, when I pour out my soul by myself in the voice of joy and praise, the sound of him that keeps holy-day. [1241] And yet it is "cast down," because it relapses and becomes a deep, or rather it feels that it is still a deep. Unto it doth my faith speak which Thou hast kindled to enlighten my feet in the night, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God;" [1242] His "word is a lamp unto my feet." [1243] Hope and endure until the night,--the mother of the wicked,--until the anger of the Lord be overpast, [1244] whereof we also were once children who were sometimes darkness, [1245] the remains whereof we carry about us in our body, dead on account of sin, [1246] "until the day break and the shadows flee away." [1247] "Hope thou in the Lord." In the morning I shall stand in Thy presence, and contemplate Thee; [1248] I shall for ever confess unto Thee. [1249] In the morning I shall stand in Thy presence, and shall see "the health of my countenance," [1250] my God, who also shall quicken our mortal bodies by the Spirit that dwelleth in us, [1251] because in mercy He was borne over our inner darksome and floating deep. Whence we have in this pilgrimage received "an earnest" [1252] that we should now be light, whilst as yet we "are saved by hope," [1253] and are the children of light, and the children of the day,--not the children of the night nor of the darkness, [1254] which yet we have been. [1255] Betwixt whom and us, in this as yet uncertain state of human knowledge, Thou only dividest, who provest our hearts [1256] and callest the light day, and the darkness night. [1257] For who discerneth us but Thou? But what have we that we have not received of Thee? [1258] Out of the same lump vessels unto honour, of which others also are made to dishonour. [1259]


[1241] Ibid. ver. 4. [1242] Ibid. ver. 5. [1243] Ps. cxix. 105. [1244] Job xiv. 13. [1245] Eph. ii. 3, and v. 8. [1246] Rom. viii. 10. [1247] Cant. ii. 17. [1248] Ps. v. 3. [1249] Ps. xxx. 12. [1250] Ps. xliii. 5. [1251] Rom. viii. 11. [1252] 2 Cor. i. 22. [1253] Rom. viii. 24. [1254] Though of the light, we are not yet in the light; and though, in this grey dawn of the coming day, we have a foretaste of the vision that shall be, we cannot hope, as he says in Ps. v. 4, to "see Him as He is" until the darkness of sin be overpast. [1255] Eph. v. 8, and 1 Thess. v. 5. [1256] Ps. vii. 9. [1257] Gen. i. 5. [1258] 1 Cor. iv. 7. [1259] Rom. ix. 21.

Chapter XV.--Allegorical Explanation of the Firmament and Upper Works, Ver. 6.

16. Or who but Thou, our God, made for us that firmament [1260] of authority over us in Thy divine Scripture? [1261] As it is said, For heaven shall be folded up like a scroll; [1262] and now it is extended over us like a skin. [1263] For Thy divine Scripture is of more sublime authority, since those mortals through whom Thou didst dispense it unto us underwent mortality. And Thou knowest, O Lord, Thou knowest, how Thou with skins didst clothe men [1264] when by sin they became mortal. Whence as a skin hast Thou stretched out the firmament of Thy Book; [1265] that is to say, Thy harmonious words, which by the ministry of mortals Thou hast spread over us. For by their very death is that solid firmament of authority in Thy discourses set forth by them more sublimely extended above all things that are under it, the which, while they were living here, was not so eminently extended. [1266] Thou hadst not as yet spread abroad the heaven like a skin; Thou hadst not as yet noised everywhere the report of their deaths.

17. Let us look, O Lord, "upon the heavens, the work of Thy fingers;" [1267] clear from our eyes that mist with which Thou hast covered them. There is that testimony of Thine which giveth wisdom unto the little ones. [1268] Perfect, O my God, Thy praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings. [1269] Nor have we known any other books so destructive to pride, so destructive to the enemy and the defender, [1270] who resisteth Thy reconciliation in defence of his own sins. [1271] I know not, O Lord, I know not other such "pure" [1272] words which so persuade me to confession, and make my neck submissive to Thy yoke, and invite me to serve Thee for nought. Let me understand these things, good Father. Grant this to me, placed under them; because Thou hast established these things for those placed under them.

18. Other "waters" there be "above" this "firmament," I believe immortal, and removed from earthly corruption. Let them praise Thy Name,--those super-celestial people, Thine angels, who have no need to look up at this firmament, or by reading to attain the knowledge of Thy Word,--let them praise Thee. For they always behold Thy face, [1273] and therein read without any syllables in time what Thy eternal will willeth. They read, they choose, they love. [1274] They are always reading; and that which they read never passeth away. For, by choosing and by loving, they read the very unchangeableness of Thy counsel. Their book is not closed, nor is the scroll folded up, [1275] because Thou Thyself art this to them, yea, and art so eternally; because Thou hast appointed them above this firmament, which Thou hast made firm over the weakness of the lower people, where they might look up and learn Thy mercy, announcing in time Thee who hast made times. "For Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds." [1276] The clouds pass away, but the heaven remaineth. The preachers of Thy Word pass away from this life into another; but Thy Scripture is spread abroad over the people, even to the end of the world. Yea, both heaven and earth shall pass away, but Thy Words shall not pass away. [1277] Because the scroll shall be rolled together, [1278] and the grass over which it was spread shall with its goodliness pass away; but Thy Word remaineth for ever, [1279] which now appeareth unto us in the dark image of the clouds, and through the glass of the heavens, not as it is; [1280] because we also, although we be the well-beloved of Thy Son, yet it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. [1281] He looketh through the lattice [1282] of our flesh, and He is fair-speaking, and hath inflamed us, and we run after His odours. [1283] But "when He shall appear, then shall we be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." [1284] As He is, O Lord, shall we see Him, although the time be not yet.


[1260] Gen. i. 6. [1261] See sec. 33, below, and references there given. [1262] Isa. xxxiv. 4, and Rev. vi. 14. [1263] Ps. civ. 2; in the Vulg. being, "extendens cælum sicut pellem." The LXX. agrees with the Vulg. in translating K+uaJ+°R+iJ+E+oH+, "as a curtain," by "as a skin." [1264] Gen. iii. 21. Skins he makes the emblems of mortality, as being taken from dead animals. See p. 112, note 8, above. [1265] That is, the firmament of Scripture was after man's sin stretched over him as a parchment scroll,--stretched over him for his enlightenment by the ministry of mortal men. This idea is enlarged on in Ps. viii. 4, sec. 7, etc., xviii. sec. 2, xxxii. 6, 7, and cxlvi. 8, sec. 15. [1266] We have the same idea in Ps. ciii. sec. 8: "Cum enim viverent nondum erat extenta pellis, nondum erat extentum cælum, ut tegeret orbem terrarum." [1267] Ps. viii. 3. [1268] Ps. xix. 7. See p. 62, note 6, above. [1269] Ps. viii. 2. [1270] He alludes to the Manichæans. See notes, pp. 67, 81, and 87. [1271] See part 2 of note 8 on p. 76, above. [1272] Ps. xix. 8. [1273] Matt. xviii. 10. [1274] "Legunt, eligunt, et diligunt." [1275] Isa. xxxiv. 4. [1276] Ps. xxxvi. 5. [1277] Matt. xxiv. 35. [1278] Isa. xxxiv. 4. [1279] Isa. xl. 6-8. The law of storms, and that which regulates the motions of the stars or the ebbing and flowing of the tides, may change at the "end of the world." But the moral law can know no change, for while the first is arbitrary, the second is absolute. On the difference between moral and natural law, see Candlish, Reason and Revelation, "Conscience and the Bible." [1280] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [1281] 1 John iii. 2. [1282] Cant. ii. 9. [1283] Cant. i. 3. [1284] 1 John iii. 2.

Chapter XVI.--That No One But the Unchangeable Light Knows Himself.

19. For altogether as Thou art, Thou only knowest, Who art unchangeably, and knowest unchangeably, and willest unchangeably. And Thy Essence Knoweth and Willeth unchangeably; and Thy Knowledge Is, and Willeth unchangeably; and Thy Will Is, and Knoweth unchangeably. Nor doth it appear just to Thee, that as the Unchangeable Light knoweth Itself, so should It be known by that which is enlightened and changeable. [1285] Therefore unto Thee is my soul as "land where no water is," [1286] because as it cannot of itself enlighten itself, so it cannot of itself satisfy itself. For so is the fountain of life with Thee, like as in Thy light we shall see light. [1287]


[1285] See Dean Mansel on this place (Bampton Lectures, lect. v. note 18), who argues that revelation is clear and devoid of mystery when viewed as intended "for our practical guidance," and not as a matter of speculation. He says: "The utmost deficiency that can be charged against human faculties amounts only to this, that we cannot say that we know God as God knows Himself,--that the truth of which our finite minds are susceptible may, for aught we know, be but the passing shadow of some higher reality, which exists only in the Infinite Intelligence." He shows also that this deficiency pertains to the human faculties as such, and that, whether they set themselves to consider the things of nature or revelation. See also p. 193, note 8, above, and notes, pp. 197, 198, below. [1286] Ps. lxiii. 1. [1287] Ps. xxxvi. 9.

Chapter XVII.--Allegorical Explanation of the Sea and the Fruit-Bearing Earth--Verses 9 and 11.

20. Who hath gathered the embittered together into one society? For they have all the same end, that of temporal and earthly happiness, on account of which they do all things, although they may fluctuate with an innumerable variety of cares. Who, O Lord, unless Thou, saidst, Let the waters be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear, [1288] which "thirsteth after Thee"? [1289] For the sea also is Thine, and Thou hast made it, and Thy hands prepared the dry land. [1290] For neither is the bitterness of men's wills, but the gathering together of waters called sea; for Thou even curbest the wicked desires of men's souls, and fixest their bounds, how far they may be permitted to advance, [1291] and that their waves may be broken against each other; and thus dost Thou make it a sea, by the order of Thy dominion over all things.

21. But as for the souls that thirst after Thee, and that appear before Thee (being by other bounds divided from the society of the sea), them Thou waterest by a secret and sweet spring, that the earth may bring forth her fruit, [1292] and, Thou, O Lord God, so commanding, our soul may bud forth works of mercy according to their kind, [1293] --loving our neighbour in the relief of his bodily necessities, having seed in itself according to its likeness, when from our infirmity we compassionate even to the relieving of the needy; helping them in a like manner as we would that help should be brought unto us if we were in a like need; not only in the things that are easy, as in "herb yielding seed," but also in the protection of our assistance, in our very strength, like the tree yielding fruit; that is, a good turn in delivering him who suffers an injury from the hand of the powerful, and in furnishing him with the shelter of protection by the mighty strength of just judgment.


[1288] Gen. i. 9. In his comment on Psalm lxiv. 6 (sec. 9), he interprets "the sea," allegorically, of the wicked world. Hence were the disciples called "fishers of men." If the fishers have taken us in the nets of faith, we are to rejoice, because the net will be dragged to the shore. On the providence of God, regulating the wickedness of men, see p. 79, note 4, above. [1289] Ps. cxliii. 6, and lxiii. 1. [1290] Ps. xcv. 5. [1291] Ps. civ. 9, and Job xxxviii. 11, 12. [1292] Gen. i. 11. As he interprets (see sec. 20, note, above) the sea as the world, so he tells us in Ps. lxvi. 6, sec. 8, that when the earth, full of thorns, thirsted for the waters of heaven, God in His mercy sent His apostles to preach the gospel, whereon the earth brought forth that fruit which fills the world; that is, the earth bringing forth fruit represents the Church. [1293] Ps. lxxxv. 11.

Chapter XVIII.--Of the Lights and Stars of Heaven--Of Day and Night, Ver. 14.

22. Thus, O Lord, thus, I beseech Thee, let there arise, as Thou makest, as Thou givest joy and ability,--let "truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven," and let there be "lights in the firmament." [1294] Let us break our bread to the hungry, and let us bring the houseless poor to our house. [1295] Let us clothe the naked, and despise not those of our own flesh. The which fruits having sprung forth from the earth, behold, because it is good; [1296] and let our temporary light burst forth; [1297] and let us, from this inferior fruit of action, possessing the delights of contemplation and of the Word of Life above, let us appear as lights in the world, [1298] clinging to the firmament of Thy Scripture. For therein Thou makest it plain unto us, that we may distinguish between things intelligible and things of sense, as if between the day and the night; or between souls, given, some to things intellectual, others to things of sense; so that now not Thou only in the secret of Thy judgment, as before the firmament was made, dividest between the light and the darkness, but Thy spiritual children also, placed and ranked in the same firmament (Thy grace being manifest throughout the world), may give light upon the earth, and divide between the day and night, and be for signs of times; because "old things have passed away," and "behold all things are become new;" [1299] and "because our salvation is nearer than when we believed;" [1300] and because "the night is far spent, the day is at hand;" [1301] and because Thou wilt crown Thy year with blessing, [1302] sending the labourers of Thy goodness into Thy harvest, [1303] in the sowing of which others have laboured, sending also into another field, whose harvest shall be in the end. [1304] Thus Thou grantest the prayers of him that asketh, and blessest the years of the just; [1305] but Thou art the same, and in Thy years which fail not [1306] Thou preparest a garner for our passing years. For by an eternal counsel Thou dost in their proper seasons bestow upon the earth heavenly blessings.

23. For, indeed, to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, as if the greater light, on account of those who are delighted with the light of manifest truth, as in the beginning of the day; but to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, as if the lesser light; [1307] to another faith; to another the gift of healing; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues. And all these as stars. For all these worketh the one and self-same Spirit, dividing to every man his own as He willeth; [1308] and making stars appear manifestly, to profit withal. [1309] But the word of knowledge, wherein are contained all sacraments, [1310] which are varied in their periods like the moon, and the other conceptions of gifts, which are successively reckoned up as stars, inasmuch as they come short of that splendour of wisdom in which the fore-mentioned day rejoices, are only for the beginning of the night. For they are necessary to such as he Thy most prudent servant could not speak unto as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal [1311] --even he who speaketh wisdom among those that are perfect. [1312] But the natural man, as a babe in Christ,--and a drinker of milk,--until he be strengthened for solid meat, [1313] and his eye be enabled to look upon the Sun, [1314] let him not dwell in his own deserted night, but let him be contented with the light of the moon and the stars. Thou reasonest these things with us, our All-wise God, in Thy Book, Thy firmament, that we may discern all things in an admirable contemplation, although as yet in signs, and in times, and in days, and in years.


[1294] Gen. i. 14. [1295] Isa. lviii. 7. [1296] Gen. i. 12. [1297] Isa. lviii. 8. [1298] Phil. ii. 15. [1299] 2 Cor. v. 17. [1300] Rom. xiii. 11, 12. [1301] Rom. xiii. 11, 12. [1302] Ps. lxv. 11. [1303] Matt. ix. 38. [1304] Matt. xiii. 39. [1305] Prov. x. 6. [1306] Ps. cii. 27. [1307] Compare his De Trin. xii. 22-55, where, referring to 1 Cor. xii. 8, he explains that "knowledge" has to do with action, or that by which we use rightly things temporal; while wisdom has to do with the contemplation of things eternal. See also in Ps. cxxxv. sec. 8. [1308] 1 Cor. xii. 8-11. [1309] 1 Cor. xii. 7. [1310] 1 Cor. xiii. 2. The Authorized Version and the Vulgate render more correctly, "mysteries." From Palmer (see p. 118, note 3, above), we learn that "the Fathers gave the name of sacrament or mystery to everything which conveyed one signification or property to unassisted reason, and another to faith;" while, at the same time, they counted Baptism and the Lord's Supper as the two great sacraments. The sacraments, then, used in this sense are "varied in their periods," and Augustin, in Ps. lxxiii. 2, speaks of distinguishing between the sacraments of the Old Testament and the sacraments of the New. "Sacramenta novi Testamenti" he says, "dant salutem, sacramenta veteris Testamenti promiserunt salvatorem." So also in Ps. xlvi. he says: "Our Lord God varying, indeed, the sacraments of the words, but commending unto us one faith, hath diffused through the sacred Scriptures manifoldly and variously the faith in which we live, and by which we live. For one and the same thing is said in many ways, that it may be varied in the manner of speaking in order to prevent aversion, but may be preserved as one with a view to concord." [1311] 1 Cor. iii. 1. [1312] 1 Cor. ii. 6. [1313] 1 Cor. iii. 2, and Heb. v. 12. The allusion in our text is to what is called the Disciplina Arcani of the early Church. Clement of Alexandria, in his Stromata, enters at large into the matter of esoteric teaching, and traces its use amongst the Hebrews, Greeks, and Egyptians. Clement, like Chrysostom and other Fathers, supports this principle of interpretation on the authority of St. Paul in Heb. v. and vi., referred to by Augustin above. He says (as quoted by Bishop Kaye, Clement of Alexandria, ch. iv. p. 183): "Babes must be fed with milk, the perfect man with solid food; milk is catechetical instruction, the first nourishment of the soul; solid food, contemplation penetrating into all mysteries (he epoptike theoria), the blood and flesh of the Word, the comprehension of the Divine power and essence." Augustin, therefore, when he speaks of being "contented with the light of the moon and stars," alludes to the partial knowledge imparted to the catechumen during his probationary period before baptism. It was only as competentes, and ready for baptism, that the catechumens were taught the Lord's Prayer and the Creed. We have already adverted to this matter in note 4 on p. 89, and need not now do more than refer the reader to Dr. Newman's Arians. In ch. i. sec. 3 of that work, there are some most interesting pages on this subject, in its connection with the Catechetical School of Alexandria. See also p. 118, note 8, above; Palmer, Origines Liturgicæ, iv. sec. 7: and note 1, below. [1314] Those ready for strong meat were called "illuminated" (see p. 118, note 4, above), as their eyes were "enabled to look upon the Sun." We have frequent traces in Augustin's writings of the Neo-Platonic doctrine that the soul has a capacity to see God, even as the eye the sun. In Serm. lxxxviii. 6 he says: "Daretne tibi unde videres solem quem fecit, et non tibi daret unde videres eum qui te fecit, cum te ad imaginem suam fecerit?" And, referring to 1 John iii. 2, he tells us in Ep. xcii. 3, that not with the bodily eye shall we see God, but with the inner, which is to be renewed day by day: "We shall, therefore, see Him according to the measure in which we shall be like Him; because now the measure in which we do not see Him is according to the measure of our unlikeness to Him." Compare also Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, c. 4: "Plato, indeed, says, that the mind's eye is of such a nature, and has been given for this end, that we may see that very Being who is the cause of all when the mind is pure itself." Some interesting remarks on this subject, and on the three degrees of divine knowledge as held by the Neo-Platonists, will be found in John Smith's Select Discourses, pp. 2 and 165 (Cambridge 1860). On growth in grace, see note 4, p. 140, above.

Chapter XIX.--All Men Should Become Lights in the Firmament of Heaven.

24. But first, "Wash you, make you clean;" [1315] put away iniquity from your souls, and from before mine eyes, that the dry land may appear. "Learn to do well; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow," [1316] that the earth may bring forth the green herb for meat, and the tree bearing fruit; [1317] and come let us reason together, saith the Lord, [1318] that there may be lights in the firmament of heaven, and that they may shine upon the earth. [1319] That rich man asked of the good Master what he should do to attain eternal life. [1320] Let the good Master, whom he thought a man, and nothing more, tell him (but He is "good" because He is God)--let Him tell him, that if he would "enter into life" he must "keep the commandments;" [1321] let him banish from himself the bitterness of malice and wickedness; [1322] let him not kill, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor bear false witness; that the dry land may appear, and bud forth the honouring of father and mother, and the love of our neighbour. [1323] All these, saith he, have I kept. [1324] Whence, then, are there so many thorns, if the earth be fruitful? Go, root up the woody thicket of avarice; sell that thou hast, and be filled with fruit by giving to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and follow the Lord "if thou wilt be perfect," [1325] coupled with those amongst whom He speaketh wisdom, Who knoweth what to distribute to the day and to the night, that thou also mayest know it, that for thee also there may be lights in the firmament of heaven, which will not be unless thy heart be there; [1326] which likewise also will not be unless thy treasure be there, as thou hast heard from the good Master. But the barren earth was grieved, [1327] and the thorns choked the word. [1328]

25. But you, "chosen generation, [1329] you weak things of the world," who have forsaken all things that you might "follow the Lord," go after Him, and "confound the things which are mighty;" [1330] go after Him, ye beautiful feet, [1331] and shine in the firmament, [1332] that the heavens may declare His glory, dividing between the light of the perfect, though not as of the angels, and the darkness of the little, though not despised ones. Shine over all the earth, and let the day, lightened by the sun, utter unto day the word of wisdom; and let night, shining by the moon, announce unto night the word of knowledge. [1333] The moon and the stars shine for the night, but the night obscureth them not, since they illumine it in its degree. For behold God (as it were) saying, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven." There came suddenly a sound from heaven, as it had been the rushing of a mighty wind, and there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. [1334] And there were made lights in the firmament of heaven, having the word of life. [1335] Run ye to and fro everywhere, ye holy fires, ye beautiful fires; for ye are the light of the world, [1336] nor are ye put under a bushel. [1337] He to whom ye cleave is exalted, and hath exalted you. Run ye to and fro, and be known unto all nations.


[1315] "He alludes to the sacrament of Baptism."--W. W. [1316] Isa. i. 16, 19. [1317] Gen. i. 11, 30. [1318] Isa. i. l8. [1319] Gen. i. 15. [1320] Matt. xix. 16. [1321] Ibid. ver. 17. [1322] 1 Cor. v. 8. [1323] Matt. xix. 16-19. [1324] Ibid. ver. 20. [1325] Ibid. ver. 21. [1326] Matt. vi. 21. [1327] Matt. xix. 22. [1328] Matt. xiii. 7, 22. [1329] 1 Pet. ii. 9. [1330] 1 Cor. i. 27. [1331] Isa. lii. 7. [1332] Dan. xii. 3. [1333] Ps. xix. [1334] Acts ii. 3. [1335] 1 John i. 1. [1336] That is, as having their light from Him who is their central Sun (see p. 76, note 2, above). For it is true of all Christians in relation to their Lord, as he says of John the Baptist (Serm. ccclxxxii. 7): "Johannes lumen illuminatum: Christus lumen illuminans." See also note 1, above. [1337] Matt. v. 14.

Chapter XX.--Concerning Reptiles and Flying Creatures (Ver. 20),--The Sacrament of Baptism Being Regarded.

26. Let the sea also conceive and bring forth your works, and let the waters bring forth the moving creatures that have life. [1338] For ye, who "take forth the precious from the vile," [1339] have been made the mouth of God, through which He saith, "Let the waters bring forth," not the living creature which the earth bringeth forth, but the moving creature having life, and the fowls that fly above the earth. For Thy sacraments, O God, by the ministry of Thy holy ones, have made their way amid the billows of the temptations of the world, to instruct the Gentiles in Thy Name, in Thy Baptism. And amongst these things, many great works of wonder have been wrought, like as great whales; and the voices of Thy messengers flying above the earth, near to the firmament of Thy Book; that being set over them as an authority, under which they were to fly whithersoever they were to go. For "there is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard;" seeing their sound [1340] "hath gone through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world," because Thou, O Lord, hast multiplied these things by blessing. [1341]

27. Whether do I lie, or do I mingle and confound, and not distinguish between the clear knowledge of these things that are in the firmament of heaven, and the corporeal works in the undulating sea and under the firmament of heaven? For of those things whereof the knowledge is solid and defined, without increase by generation, as it were lights of wisdom and knowledge, yet of these self-same things the material operations are many and varied; and one thing in growing from another is multiplied by Thy blessing, O God, who hast refreshed the fastidiousness of mortal senses; so that in the knowledge of our mind, one thing may, through the motions of the body, be in many ways [1342] set out and expressed. These sacraments have the waters brought forth; [1343] but in Thy Word. The wants of the people estranged from the eternity of Thy truth have produced them, but in Thy Gospel; because the waters themselves have cast them forth, the bitter weakness of which was the cause of these things being sent forth in Thy Word.

28. Now all things are fair that Thou hast made, but behold, Thou art inexpressibly fairer who hast made all things; from whom had not Adam fallen, the saltness of the sea would never have flowed from him,--the human race so profoundly curious, and boisterously swelling, and restlessly moving; and thus there would be no need that Thy dispensers should work in many waters, [1344] in a corporeal and sensible manner, mysterious doings and sayings. For so these creeping and flying creatures now present themselves to my mind, whereby men, instructed, initiated, and subjected by corporeal sacraments, should not further profit, unless their soul had a higher spiritual life, and unless, after the word of admission, it looked forwards to perfection. [1345]


[1338] Gen. i. 20. [1339] Jer. xv. 19. [1340] Ps. xix. 3, 4. The word "sound" in this verse (as given in the LXX. and Vulg.), is in the Hebrew Q+aW+uoM%, which is rightly rendered in the Authorized Version a "line" or "rule." It may be noted, in connection with Augustin's interpretation, that the word "firmament" in the first verse of this psalm is the R+oQ+iJ+E+a of Gen. i. 7; translated in both places by the LXX. stereoma. The "heavens" and the "firmament" are constantly interpreted by the Fathers as referring to the apostles and their firmness in teaching the word: and this is supported by reference to St. Paul's quotation of the text in Rom. x. 18: "But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." [1341] Gen. i. 4. [1342] See end of note 17, p. 197, above. [1343] "He alludes to Baptism in water, accompanied with the word of the gospel; of the institution whereof man's misery was the occasion."--W. W. [1344] See sec. 20, note, above. [1345] "He means that Baptism, which is the sacrament of initiation, was not so profitable without the Lord's Supper, which ancients called the sacrament of perfection or consummation."--W. W. Compare also sec. 24, note, and p. 140, note 3, above.

Chapter XXI.--Concerning the Living Soul, Birds, and Fishes (Ver. 24)--The Sacrament of the Eucharist Being Regarded.

29. And hereby, in Thy Word, not the depth of the sea, but the earth parted from the bitterness of the waters, [1346] bringeth forth not the creeping and flying creature that hath life, [1347] but the living soul itself. [1348] For now hath it no longer need of baptism, as the heathen have, and as itself had when it was covered with the waters,--for no other entrance is there into the kingdom of heaven, [1349] since Thou hast appointed that this should be the entrance,--nor does it seek great works of miracles by which to cause faith; for it is not such that, unless it shall have seen signs and wonders, it will not believe, [1350] when now the faithful earth is separated from the waters of the sea, rendered bitter by infidelity; and "tongues are for a sign, not to those that believe, but to those that believe not." [1351] Nor then doth the earth, which Thou hast founded above the waters, [1352] stand in need of that flying kind which at Thy word the waters brought forth. Send Thy word forth into it by Thy messengers. For we relate their works, but it is Thou who workest in them, that in it they may work out a living soul. The earth bringeth it forth, because the earth is the cause that they work these things in the soul; as the sea has been the cause that they wrought upon the moving creatures that have life, and the fowls that fly under the firmament of heaven, of which the earth hath now no need; although it feeds on the fish which was taken out of the deep, upon that table which Thou hast prepared in the presence of those that believe. [1353] For therefore He was raised from the deep, that He might feed the dry land; and the fowl, though bred in the sea, is yet multiplied upon the earth. For of the first preachings of the Evangelists, the infidelity of men was the prominent cause; but the faithful also are exhorted, and are manifoldly blessed by them day by day. But the living soul takes its origin from the earth, for it is not profitable, unless to those already among the faithful, to restrain themselves from the love of this world, that so their soul may live unto Thee, which was dead while living in pleasures, [1354] --in death-bearing pleasures, O Lord, for Thou art the vital delight of the pure heart.

30. Now, therefore, let Thy ministers work upon the earth,--not as in the waters of infidelity, by announcing and speaking by miracles, and sacraments, and mystic words; in which ignorance, the mother of admiration, may be intent upon them, in fear of those hidden signs. For such is the entrance unto the faith for the sons of Adam forgetful of Thee, while they hide themselves from Thy face, [1355] and become a darksome deep. But let Thy ministers work even as on the dry land, separated from the whirlpools of the great deep; and let them be an example unto the faithful, by living before them, and by stimulating them to imitation. For thus do men hear not with an intent to hear merely, but to act also. Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live, [1356] that the earth may bring forth the living soul. "Be not conformed to this world." [1357] Restrain yourselves from it; the soul lives by avoiding those things which it dies by affecting. Restrain yourselves from the unbridled wildness of pride, from the indolent voluptuousness of luxury, and from the false name of knowledge; [1358] so that wild beasts may be tamed, the cattle subdued, and serpents harmless. For these are the motions of the mind in allegory; that is to say, the haughtiness of pride, the delight of lust, and the poison of curiosity are the motions of the dead soul; for the soul dies not so as to lose all motion, because it dies by forsaking the fountain of life, [1359] and so is received by this transitory world, and is conformed unto it.

31. But Thy Word, O God, is the fountain of eternal life, and passeth not away; therefore this departure is kept in check by Thy word when it is said unto us, "Be not conformed unto this world," [1360] so that the earth may bring forth a living soul in the fountain of life,--a soul restrained in Thy Word, by Thy Evangelists, by imitating the followers of Thy Christ. [1361] For this is after his kind; because a man is stimulated to emulation by his friend. [1362] "Be ye," saith he, "as I am, for I am as you are." [1363] Thus in the living soul shall there be good beasts, in gentleness of action. For Thou hast commanded, saying, Go on with thy business in meekness, and thou shalt be beloved by all men; [1364] and good cattle, which neither if they eat, shall they over-abound, nor if they do not eat, have they any want; [1365] and good serpents, not destructive to do hurt, but "wise" [1366] to take heed; and exploring only so much of this temporal nature as is sufficient that eternity may be "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are." [1367] For these animals are subservient to reason, [1368] when, being kept in check from a deadly advance, they live, and are good.


[1346] See sec. 20, note, and sec. 21, note, above. [1347] Gen. i. 20. [1348] Gen. ii. 7. [1349] John iii. 5. [1350] John iv. 48. [1351] 1 Cor. xiv. 22. [1352] "Fundasti super aquas," which is the Old Ver. of Ps. cxxxvi. 6. Augustin sometimes uses a version with "firmavit terram," which corresponds to the LXX., but the Authorized Version renders the Hebrew more accurately by "stretched out." In his comment on this place he applies this text to baptism as being the entrance into the Church, and in this he is followed by many mediæval writers. [1353] Ps. xxiii. 5. Many of the Fathers interpret this text of the Lord's Supper, as Augustin does above. The fish taken out of the deep, which is fed upon, means Christ, in accordance with the well-known acrostic of IChThUS. "If," he says in his De Civ. Dei, xviii. 23, "you join the initial letters of these five Greek words, Iesous Christos Theou Huios Soter, which mean, `Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour,' they will make the word ichthus,--that is, `fish,' in which word Christ is mystically understood, because He was able to live, that is, to exist without sin in the abyss of this mortality as in the depth of waters." So likewise we find Tertullian saying in his De Bapt. chap. I.: "Nos pisciculi, secundum IChThUN nostrum Jesum Christum in aqua nascimur; nec aliter quam in aqua permanendo salvi sumus." See Bishop Kaye's Tertullian, pp. 43, 44; and sec. 34, below. [1354] 1 Tim. v. 6. [1355] Gen. iii. 8. [1356] Ps. lxix. 32. [1357] Rom. xii. 2. [1358] 1 Tim. vi. 20. See p. 153, note 7, above. [1359] Jer. ii. 13. See p. 133, note 2, and p. 129, note 8, above. [1360] Rom. xii. 2. [1361] 1 Cor. xi. 1. [1362] See p. 71, note 3, above. [1363] Gal. iv. 12. [1364] Ecclus. iii. 17etc. [1365] 1 Cor. viii. 8. [1366] Matt. x. 16. [1367] Rom. i. 20. [1368] In his De Gen. con. Manich. i. 20, he interprets the dominion given to man over the beasts of his keeping in subjection the passions of the soul, so as to attain true happiness.

Chapter XXII.--He Explains the Divine Image (Ver. 26) of the Renewal of the Mind.

32. For behold, O Lord our God, our Creator, when our affections have been restrained from the love of the world, by which we died by living ill, and began to be a "living soul" by living well; [1369] and Thy word which Thou spakest by Thy apostle is made good in us, "Be not conformed to this world;" next also follows that which Thou presently subjoinedst, saying, "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," [1370] --not now after your kind, as if following your neighbour who went before you, nor as if living after the example of a better man (for Thou hast not said, "Let man be made after his kind," but, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"), [1371] that we may prove what Thy will is. For to this purpose said that dispenser of Thine,--begetting children by the gospel, [1372] --that he might not always have them "babes," whom he would feed on milk, and cherish as a nurse; [1373] "be ye transformed," saith He, "by the renewing of your mind, that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God." [1374] Therefore Thou sayest not, "Let man be made," but, "Let us make man." Nor sayest Thou, "after his kind," but, after "our image" and "likeness." Because, being renewed in his mind, and beholding and apprehending Thy truth, man needeth not man as his director [1375] that he may imitate his kind; but by Thy direction proveth what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of Thine. And Thou teachest him, now made capable, to perceive the Trinity of the Unity, and the Unity of the Trinity. And therefore this being said in the plural, "Let us make man," it is yet subjoined in the singular, "and God made man;" and this being said in the plural, "after our likeness," is subjoined in the singular, "after the image of God." [1376] Thus is man renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created him; [1377] and being made spiritual, he judgeth all things,--all things that are to be judged,--"yet he himself is judged of no man." [1378]


[1369] As Origen has it: "The good man is he who truly exists." See p. 190, note 6, above; and compare the use made of the idea in Archbishop Thomson's Bampton Lectures, lect. i. [1370] Rom. xii. 2. [1371] Gen. i. 26. [1372] 1 Cor. iv. 15. [1373] 1 Thess. ii. 7. [1374] Rom. xii. 2. [1375] Jer. xxxi. 34. [1376] Gen. i. 27. [1377] Col. iii. 10. [1378] 1 Cor. ii. 15.

Chapter XXIII.--That to Have Power Over All Things (Ver. 26) is to Judge Spiritually of All.

33. But that he judgeth all things answers to his having dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over all cattle and wild beasts, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For this he doth by the discernment of his mind, whereby he perceiveth the things "of the Spirit of God;" [1379] whereas, otherwise, man being placed in honour, had no understanding, and is compared unto the brute beasts, and is become like unto them. [1380] In Thy Church, therefore, O our God, according to Thy grace which Thou hast accorded unto it, since we are Thy workmanship created in good works, [1381] there are not only those who are spiritually set over, but those also who are spiritually subjected to those placed over them; for in this manner hast Thou made man, male and female, [1382] in Thy grace spiritual, where, according to the sex of body, there is not male and female, because neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free. [1383] Spiritual persons, therefore, whether those that are set over, or those who obey, judge spiritually; not of that spiritual knowledge which shines in the firmament, for they ought not to judge as to an authority so sublime, nor doth it behove them to judge of Thy Book itself, although there be something that is not clear therein; because we submit our understanding unto it, and esteem as certain that even that which is shut up from our sight is rightly and truly spoken. [1384] For thus man, although now spiritual and renewed in the knowledge of God after His image that created him, ought yet to be the "doer of the law, not the judge." [1385] Neither doth he judge of that distinction of spiritual and carnal men, who are known to Thine eyes, O our God, and have not as yet made themselves manifest unto us by works, that by their fruits we may know them; [1386] but Thou, O Lord, dost already know them, and Thou hast divided and hast called them in secret, before the firmament was made. Nor doth that man, though spiritual, judge the restless people of this world; for what hath he to do to judge them that are without, [1387] knowing not which of them may afterwards come into the sweetness of Thy grace, and which continue in the perpetual bitterness of impiety?

34. Man, therefore, whom Thou hast made after Thine own image, received not dominion over the lights of heaven, nor over the hidden heaven itself, nor over the day and the night, which Thou didst call before the foundation of the heaven, nor over the gathering together of the waters, which is the sea; but he received dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and over all cattle, and over all the earth, and over all creeping things which creep upon the earth. For He judgeth and approveth what He findeth right, but disapproveth what He findeth amiss, whether in the celebration of those sacraments by which are initiated those whom Thy mercy searches out in many waters; or in that in which the Fish [1388] Itself is exhibited, which, being raised from the deep, the devout earth feedeth upon; or in the signs and expressions of words, subject to the authority of Thy Book,--such signs as burst forth and sound from the mouth, as it were flying under the firmament, by interpreting, expounding, discoursing, disputing, blessing, calling upon Thee, so that the people may answer, Amen. The vocal pronunciation of all which words is caused by the deep of this world, and the blindness of the flesh, by which thoughts cannot be seen, so that it is necessary to speak aloud in the ears; thus, although flying fowls be multiplied upon the earth, yet they derive their beginning from the waters. The spiritual man judgeth also by approving what is right and reproving what he finds amiss in the works and morals of the faithful, in their alms, as if in "the earth bringing forth fruit;" and he judgeth of the "living soul," rendered living by softened affections, in chastity, in fastings, in pious thoughts; and of those things which are perceived through the senses of the body. For it is now said, that he should judge concerning those things in which he has also the power of correction.


[1379] 1 Cor. ii. 14. [1380] Ps. xlix. 20. [1381] Eph. ii. 10. [1382] Gen. i. 27. [1383] Gal. iii. 28. [1384] In his De Civ. Dei, xi. 3, he defines very distinctly (as he does in other of his writings) the knowledge received "by sight"--that is, by experience, as distinguished from that which is received "by faith"--that is, by revelation (2 Cor. v. 7). He, in common with all the Fathers who had knowledge of the Pagan philosophy, would feel how utterly that philosophy had failed to "find out" (Job xi. 7) with certitude anything as to God and His character,--the Creation of the world,--the Atonement wrought by Christ,--the doctrine of the Resurrection, as distinguished from the Immortality of the Soul,--our Immortal Destiny after death, or "the Restitution of all things." As to the knowledge of God, see Justin Martyr's experience in the schools of philosophy, Dialogue with Trypho, ch. ii.; and on the doctrine of Creation, see p. 165, note 4. On the "Restitution of all things," etc., reference may be made to Mansel's Gnostics, who points out (Introd. p. 3) that "in the Greek philosophical systems the idea of evil holds a very subordinate and insignificant place, and that the idea of redemption seems not to be recognised at all." He shows further (ibid. p. 4), that "there is no idea of the delivery of the creature from the bondage of corruption. The great year of the Stoics, the commencement of the new cycle which takes its place after the destruction of the old world, is but a repetition of the old evil." See also p. 164, note 2, above. [1385] Jas. iv. 11. [1386] Matt. viii. 20. [1387] 1 Cor. v. 12. [1388] See sec. 29, note.

Chapter XXIV.--Why God Has Blessed Men, Fishes, Flying Creatures, and Not Herbs and the Other Animals (Ver. 28).

35. But what is this, and what kind of mystery is it? Behold, Thou blessest men, O Lord, that they may "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth;" [1389] in this dost Thou not make a sign unto us that we may understand something? Why hast Thou not also blessed the light, which Thou calledst day, nor the firmament of heaven, nor the lights, nor the stars, nor the earth, nor the sea? I might say, O our God, that Thou, who hast created us after Thine Image,--I might say, that Thou hast willed to bestow this gift of blessing especially upon man, hadst Thou not in like manner blessed the fishes and the whales, that they should be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the waters of the sea, and that the fowls should be multiplied upon the earth. Likewise might I say, that this blessing belonged properly unto such creatures as are propagated from their own kind, if I had found it in the shrubs, and the fruit trees, and beasts of the earth. But now is it not said either unto the herbs, or trees, or beasts, or serpents, "Be fruitful and multiply;" since all these also, as well as fishes, and fowls, and men, do by propagation increase and preserve their kind.

36. What, then, shall I say, O Thou Truth, my Light,--"that it was idly and vainly said?" Not so, O Father of piety; far be it from a minister of Thy word to say this. But if I understand not what Thou meanest by that phrase, let my betters--that is, those more intelligent than I--use it better, in proportion as Thou, O my God, hast given to each to understand. But let my confession be also pleasing before Thine eyes, in which I confess to Thee that I believe, O Lord, that Thou hast not thus spoken in vain; nor will I be silent as to what this lesson suggests to me. For it is true, nor do I see what should prevent me from thus understanding the figurative sayings [1390] of Thy books. For I know a thing may be manifoldly signified by bodily expression which is understood in one manner by the mind; and that that may be manifoldly understood in the mind which is in one manner signified by bodily expression. Behold, the single love of God and of our neighbour, by what manifold sacraments and innumerable languages, and in each several language in how innumerable modes of speaking, it is bodily expressed. Thus do the young of the waters increase and multiply. Observe again, whosoever thou art who readest; behold what Scripture delivers, and the voice pronounces in one only way, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth;" is it not manifoldly understood, not by any deceit of error, but by divers kinds of true senses? [1391] Thus are the offspring of men "fruitful" and do "multiply."

37. If, therefore, we conceive of the natures of things, not allegorically, but properly, then does the phrase, "be fruitful and multiply," correspond to all things which are begotten of seed. But if we treat those words as taken figuratively (the which I rather suppose the Scripture intended, which doth not, verily, superfluously attribute this benediction to the offspring of marine animals and man only), then do we find that "multitude" belongs also to creatures both spiritual and corporeal, as in heaven and in earth; and to souls both righteous and unrighteous, as in light and darkness; and to holy authors, through whom the law has been furnished unto us, as in the firmament [1392] which has been firmly placed betwixt waters and waters; and to the society of people yet endued with bitterness, as in the sea; and to the desire of holy souls, as in the dry land; and to works of mercy pertaining to this present life, as in the seed-bearing herbs and fruit-bearing trees; and to spiritual gifts shining forth for edification, as in the lights of heaven; and to affections formed unto temperance, as in the living soul. In all these cases we meet with multitudes, abundance, and increase; but what shall thus "be fruitful and multiply," that one thing may be expressed in many ways, and one expression understood in many ways, we discover not, unless in signs corporeally expressed, and in things mentally conceived. We understand the signs corporeally pronounced as the generations of the waters, necessarily occasioned by carnal depth; but things mentally conceived we understand as human generations, on account of the fruitfulness of reason. And therefore do we believe that to each kind of these it has been said by Thee, O Lord, "Be fruitful and multiply." For in this blessing I acknowledge that power and faculty has been granted unto us, by Thee, both to express in many ways what we understand but in one, and to understand in many ways what we read as obscurely delivered but in one. Thus are the waters of the sea replenished, which are not moved but by various significations; thus even with the human offspring is the earth also replenished, the dryness [1393] whereof appeareth in its desire, and reason ruleth over it.


[1389] Gen. i. 28. [1390] See p. 92, note 1, above. [1391] See p. 189, note 2, above. [1392] See p. 199, note 3, above. [1393] See sec. 21, and note, above.

Chapter XXV.--He Explains the Fruits of the Earth (Ver. 29) of Works of Mercy.

38. I would also say, O Lord my God, what the following Scripture reminds me of; yea, I will say it without fear. For I will speak the truth, Thou inspiring me as to what Thou willest that I should say out of these words. For by none other than Thy inspiration do I believe that I can speak the truth, since Thou art the Truth, but every man a liar. [1394] And therefore he that "speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own;" [1395] therefore that I may speak the truth, I will speak of Thine. Behold, Thou hast given unto us for food "every herb bearing seed," which is upon the face of all the earth, "and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed." [1396] Nor to us only, but to all the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth, and to all creeping things; [1397] but unto the fishes, and great whales, Thou hast not given these things. Now we were saying, that by these fruits of the earth works of mercy were signified and figured in an allegory, the which are provided for the necessities of this life out of the fruitful earth. Such an earth was the godly Onesiphorus, unto whose house Thou didst give mercy, because he frequently refreshed Thy Paul, and was not ashamed of his chain. [1398] This did also the brethren, and such fruit did they bear, who out of Macedonia supplied what was wanting unto him. [1399] But how doth he grieve for certain trees, which did not afford him the fruit due unto him, when he saith, "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge." [1400] For these fruits are due to those who minister spiritual [1401] doctrine, through their understanding of the divine mysteries; and they are due to them as men. They are due to them, too, as to the living soul, supplying itself as an example in all continency; and due unto them likewise as flying creatures, for their blessings which are multiplied upon the earth, since their sound went out into all lands. [1402]


[1394] Rom. iii. 4, and Ps. cxvi. 11. [1395] John viii. 44. [1396] Gen. i. 29. [1397] Ibid. ver. 30. [1398] 2 Tim. i. 16. [1399] 2 Cor. xi. 9. [1400] 2 Tim. iv. 16. [1401] "Rationalem. An old epithet to most of the holy things. So, reasonable service, Rom. xii. 1, logikon gala; 1 Pet. ii. 2, sincere milk. Clem. Alex. calls Baptism so, Pedag. i. 6. And in Constitut. Apost. vi. 23, the Eucharist is styled, a reasonable Sacrifice. The word was used to distinguish Christian mysteries from Jewish. Rationale est spirituale."--W. W. [1402] Ps. xix. 4.

Chapter XXVI.--In the Confessing of Benefits, Computation is Made Not as to The "Gift," But as to the "Fruit,"--That Is, the Good and Right Will of the Giver.

39. But they who are delighted with them are fed by those fruits; nor are they delighted with them "whose god is their belly." [1403] For neither in those that yield them are the things given the fruit, but in what spirit they give them. Therefore he who serves God and not his own belly, [1404] I plainly see why he may rejoice; I see it, and I rejoice with him exceedingly. For he hath received from the Philippians those things which they had sent from Epaphroditus; [1405] but yet I see why he rejoiced. For whereat he rejoices, upon that he feeds; for speaking in truth, "I rejoiced," saith he, "in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein ye were also careful," [1406] but it had become wearisome unto you. These Philippians, then, by protracted wearisomeness, had become enfeebled, and as it were dried up, as to bringing forth this fruit of a good work; and he rejoiceth for them, because they flourished again, not for himself, because they ministered to his wants. Therefore, adds he, "not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." [1407]

40. Whereat, then, dost thou rejoice in all things, O great Paul? Whereat dost thou rejoice? Whereon dost thou feed, O man, renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created thee, thou living soul of so great continency, and thou tongue like flying fowls, speaking mysteries,--for to such creatures is this food due,--what is that which feeds thee? Joy. Let us hear what follows. "Notwithstanding," saith he, "ye have well done that ye did communicate with My affliction." [1408] Hereat doth he rejoice, hereon doth he feed; because they have well done, [1409] not because his strait was relieved, who saith unto thee, "Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;" [1410] because he knew both "to abound and to suffer need," [1411] in Thee Who strengthenest him. For, saith he, "ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity." [1412] Unto these good works he now rejoiceth that they have returned; and is made glad that they flourished again, as when a fruitful field recovers its greenness.

41. Was it on account of his own necessities that he said, "Ye have sent unto my necessity? Rejoiceth he for that? Verily not for that. But whence know we this? Because he himself continues, "Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit." [1413] From Thee, O my God, have I learned to distinguish between a "gift" and "fruit." A gift is the thing itself which he gives who bestows these necessaries, as money, food, drink, clothing, shelter, aid; but the fruit is the good and right will of the giver. For the good Master saith not only, "He that receiveth a prophet," but addeth, "in the name of a prophet." Nor saith He only, "He that receiveth a righteous man," but addeth, "in the name of a righteous man." So, verily, the former shall receive the reward of a prophet, the latter that of a righteous man. Nor saith He only, "Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water," but addeth, "in the name of a disciple" and so concludeth, "Verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." [1414] The gift is to receive a prophet, to receive a righteous man, to hand a cup of cold water to a disciple; but the fruit is to do this in the name of a prophet, in the name of a righteous man, in the name of a disciple. With fruit was Elijah fed by the widow, who knew that she fed a man of God, and on this account fed him; but by the raven was he fed with a gift. Nor was the inner man [1415] of Elijah fed, but the outer only, which might also from want of such food have perished.


[1403] Phil. iii. 19. [1404] Rom. xvi. 18. [1405] Phil. iv. 18. [1406] Ibid. ver. 10. [1407] Ibid. vers. 11-13. [1408] Phil. iv. 14. [1409] Compare p. 160, note 2, above. [1410] Ps. iv. 1. [1411] Compare his De Bono Conjug. ch. xxi., where he points out that while any may suffer need and abound, to know how to suffer belongs only to great souls, and to know how to abound to those whom abundance does not corrupt. [1412] Phil. iv. 15, 16. [1413] Ibid. ver. 17. [1414] Matt. x. 41, 42. [1415] 1 Kings xvii. See p. 133, note 2, above.

Chapter XXVII.--Many are Ignorant as to This, and Ask for Miracles, Which are Signified Under the Names Of "Fishes" And "Whales."

42. Therefore will I speak before Thee, O Lord, what is true, when ignorant men and infidels (for the initiating and gaining of whom the sacraments of initiation and great works of miracles are necessary, [1416] which we believe to be signified under the name of "fishes" and "whales") undertake that Thy servants should be bodily refreshed, or should be otherwise succoured for this present life, although they may be ignorant wherefore this is to be done, and to what end; neither do the former feed the latter, nor the latter the former; for neither do the one perform these things through a holy and right intent, nor do the other rejoice in the gifts of those who behold not as yet the fruit. For on that is the mind fed wherein it is gladdened. And, therefore, fishes and whales are not fed on such food as the earth bringeth not forth until it had been separated and divided from the bitterness of the waters of the sea.


[1416] We have already referred (p. 69, note 5, above) to the cessation of miracles. Augustin has a beautiful passage in Serm. ccxliv. 8, on the evidence which we have in the spread of Christianity--it doing for us what miracles did for the early Church. Compare also De Civ. Dei, xxii. 8. And he frequently alludes, as, for example, in Ps. cxxx., to "charity" being more desirable than the power of working miracles.

Chapter XXVIII.--He Proceeds to the Last Verse, "All Things are Very Good,"--That Is, the Work Being Altogether Good.

43. And Thou, O God, sawest everything that Thou hadst made, and behold it was very good. [1417] So we also see the same, and behold all are very good. In each particular kind of Thy works, when Thou hadst said, "Let them be made," and they were made, Thou sawest that it was good. Seven times have I counted it written that Thou sawest that that which Thou madest was "good;" and this is the eighth, that Thou sawest all things that Thou hadst made, and behold they are not only good, but also "very good," as being now taken together. For individually they were only good, but all taken together they were both good and very good. All beautiful bodies also express this; for a body which consists of members, all of which are beautiful, is by far more beautiful than the several members individually are by whose well-ordered union the whole is completed, though these members also be severally beautiful. [1418]


[1417] Gen. i. 31. [1418] In his De Gen. con. Manich. i. 21, he enlarges to the same effect on Gen. i. 31.

Chapter XXIX.--Although It is Said Eight Times that "God Saw that It Was Good," Yet Time Has No Relation to God and His Word.

44. And I looked attentively to find whether seven or eight times Thou sawest that Thy works were good, when they were pleasing unto Thee; but in Thy seeing I found no times, by which I might understand that thou sawest so often what Thou madest. And I said, "O Lord,! is not this Thy Scripture true, since Thou art true, and being Truth hast set it forth? Why, then, dost Thou say unto me that in thy seeing there are no times, while this Thy Scripture telleth me that what Thou madest each day, Thou sawest to be good; and when I counted them I found how often?" Unto these things Thou repliest unto me, for Thou art my God, and with strong voice tellest unto Thy servant in his inner ear, bursting through my deafness, and crying, "O man, that which My Scripture saith, I say; and yet doth that speak in time; but time has no reference to My Word, because My Word existeth in equal eternity with Myself. Thus those things which ye see through My Spirit, I see, just as those things which ye speak through My Spirit, I speak. And so when ye see those things in time, I see them not in time; as when ye speak them in time, I speak them not in time."

Chapter XXX.--He Refutes the Opinions of the Manichæans and the Gnostics Concerning the Origin of the World.

45. And I heard, O Lord my God, and drank up a drop of sweetness from Thy truth, and understood that there are certain men to whom Thy works are displeasing, who say that many of them Thou madest being compelled by necessity;--such as the fabric of the heavens and the courses of the stars, and that Thou madest them not of what was Thine, but, that they were elsewhere and from other sources created; that Thou mightest bring together and compact and interweave, when from Thy conquered enemies Thou raisedst up the walls of the universe, that they, bound down by this structure, might not be able a second time to rebel against Thee. But, as to other things, they say Thou neither madest them nor compactedst them,--such as all flesh and all very minute creatures, and whatsoever holdeth the earth by its roots; but that a mind hostile unto Thee and another nature not created by Thee, and in everywise contrary unto Thee, did, in these lower places of the world, beget and frame these things. [1419] Infatuated are they who speak thus, since they see not Thy works through Thy Spirit, nor recognise Thee in them.


[1419] He alludes in the above statements to the heretical notions of the Manichæans. Their speculations on these matters are enlarged on in note 8 on p. 76.

Chapter XXXI.--We Do Not See "That It Was Good" But Through the Spirit of God Which is in Us.

46. But as for those who through Thy Spirit see these things, Thou seest in them. When therefore, they see that these things are good, Thou seest that they are good; and whatsoever things for Thy sake are pleasing, Thou art pleased in them; and those things which through Thy Spirit are pleasing unto us, are pleasing unto Thee in us. "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we," saith he, "have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God." [1420] And I am reminded to say, "Truly, `the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God;' how, then, do we also know `what things are given us by God'?" It is answered unto me, "Because the things which we know by His Spirit, even these `knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.' For, as it is rightly said unto those who were to speak by the Spirit of God, `It is not ye that speak,' [1421] so is it rightly said to them who know by the Spirit of God, `It is not ye that know.' None the less, then, is it rightly said to those that see by the Spirit of God, `It is not ye that see;' so whatever they see by the Spirit of God that it is good, it is not they, but God who `sees that it is good.'" It is one thing, then, for a man to suppose that to be bad which is good, as the fore-named do; another, that what is good a man should see to be good (as Thy creatures are pleasing unto many, because they are good, whom, however, Thou pleasest not in them when they wish to enjoy them rather than enjoy Thee); and another, that when a man sees a thing to be good, God should in him see that it is good,--that in truth He may be loved in that which He made, [1422] who cannot be loved unless by the Holy Ghost, which He hath given. "Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;" [1423] by whom we see that whatsoever in any degree is, is good. Because it is from Him who Is not in any degree, but He Is that He Is.


[1420] 1 Cor. ii. 12. [1421] Matt. x. 20. [1422] See the end of note 1, p. 74. [1423] Rom. v. 5.

Chapter XXXII.--Of the Particular Works of God, More Especially of Man.

47. Thanks to Thee, O Lord. We behold the heaven and the earth, whether the corporeal part, superior and inferior, or the spiritual and corporeal creature; and in the embellishment of these parts, whereof the universal mass of the world or the universal creation consisteth, we see light made, and divided from the darkness. We see the firmament of heaven, [1424] whether the primary body of the world between the spiritual upper waters and the corporeal lower waters, or--because this also is called heaven--this expanse of air, through which wander the fowls of heaven, between the waters which are in vapours borne above them, and which in clear nights drop down in dew, and those which being heavy flow along the earth. We behold the waters gathered together through the plains of the sea; and the dry land both void and formed, so as to be visible and compact, and the matter of herbs and trees. We behold the lights shining from above,--the sun to serve the day, the moon and the stars to cheer the night; and that by all these, times should be marked and noted. We behold on every side a humid element, fruitful with fishes, beasts, and birds; because the density of the air, which bears up the flights of birds, is increased by the exhalation of the waters. [1425] We behold the face of the earth furnished with terrestrial creatures, and man, created after Thy image and likeness, in that very image and likeness of Thee (that is, the power of reason and understanding) on account of which he was set over all irrational creatures. And as in his soul there is one power which rules by directing, another made subject that it might obey, so also for the man was corporeally made a woman, [1426] who, in the mind of her rational understanding should also have a like nature, in the sex, however, of her body should be in like manner subject to the sex of her husband, as the appetite of action is subjected by reason of the mind, to conceive the skill of acting rightly. These things we behold, and they are severally good, and all very good.


[1424] In his Retractations, ii. 6, he says: "Non satis considerate dictum est; res enem in abdito est valde." [1425] Compare De Gen. con. Manich. ii. 15. [1426] "`Concipiendam,' or the reading may be `concupiscendam,' according to St. Augustin's interpretation of Gen. iii. 16, in the De Gen. con. Manich. ii. 15. `As an instance hereof was woman made, who is in the order of things made subject to the man; that what appears more evidently in two human beings, the man and the woman, may be contemplated in the one, man; viz. that the inward man, as it were manly reason, should have in subjection the appetite of the soul, whereby we act through the bodily members.'"--E. B. P.

Chapter XXXIII.--The World Was Created by God Out of Nothing.

48. Let Thy works praise Thee, that we may love Thee; and let us love Thee, that Thy works may praise Thee, the which have beginning and end from time,--rising and setting, growth and decay, form and privation. They have therefore their successions of morning and evening, partly hidden, partly apparent; for they were made from nothing by Thee, not of Thee, nor of any matter not Thine, or which was created before, but of concreted matter (that is, matter at the same time created by Thee), because without any interval of time Thou didst form its formlessness. [1427] For since the matter of heaven and earth is one thing, and the form of heaven and earth another, Thou hast made the matter indeed of almost nothing, but the form of the world Thou hast formed of formless matter; both, however, at the same time, so that the form should follow the matter with no interval of delay.


[1427] See p. 165, note 4, above.

Chapter XXXIV.--He Briefly Repeats the Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis (Ch. I.), and Confesses that We See It by the Divine Spirit.

49. We have also examined what Thou willedst to be shadowed forth, whether by the creation, or the description of things in such an order. And we have seen that things severally are good, and all things very good, [1428] in Thy Word, in Thine Only-Begotten, both heaven and earth, the Head and the body of the Church, in Thy predestination before all times, without morning and evening. But when Thou didst begin to execute in time the things predestinated, that Thou mightest make manifest things hidden, and adjust our disorders (for our sins were over us, and we had sunk into profound darkness away from thee, and Thy good Spirit was borne over us to help us in due season), Thou didst both justify the ungodly, [1429] and didst divide them from the wicked; and madest firm the authority of Thy Book between those above, who would be docile unto Thee, and those under, who would be subject unto them; and Thou didst collect the society of unbelievers into one conspiracy, in order that the zeal of the faithful might appear, and that they might bring forth works of mercy unto Thee, even distributing unto the poor earthly riches, to obtain heavenly. And after this didst Thou kindle certain lights in the firmament, Thy holy ones, having the word of life, and shining with an eminent authority preferred by spiritual gifts; and then again, for the instruction of the unbelieving Gentiles, didst Thou out of corporeal matter produce the sacraments and visible miracles, and sounds of words according to the firmament of Thy Book, by which the faithful should be blessed. Next didst Thou form the living soul of the faithful, through affections ordered by the vigour of continency; and afterwards, the mind subjected to Thee alone, and needing to imitate no human authority, [1430] Thou didst renew after Thine image and likeness; and didst subject its rational action to the excellency of the understanding, as the woman to the man; and to all Thy ministries, necessary for the perfecting of the faithful in this life, Thou didst will that, for their temporal uses, good things, fruitful in the future time, should be given by the same faithful. [1431] We behold all these things, and they are very good, because Thou dost see them in us,--Thou who hast given unto us Thy Spirit, whereby we might see them, and in them love Thee.


[1428] Gen. i. 31. [1429] Rom. iv. 5. [1430] See p. 165, note 2, above. [1431] "The peace of heaven," says Augustin in his De Civ. Dei, xix. 17, "alone can be truly called and esteemed the peace of the reasonable creatures, consisting as it does in the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God. When we shall have reached that peace, this mortal life shall give place to one that is eternal, and our body shall be no more this animal body which by its corruption weighs down the soul, but a spiritual body feeling no want, and in all its members subjected to the will." See p. 111, note 8 (end), above.

Chapter XXXV.--He Prays God for that Peace of Rest Which Hath No Evening.

50. O Lord God, grant Thy peace unto us, for Thou hast supplied us with all things,--the peace of rest, the peace of the Sabbath, which hath no evening. For all this most beautiful order of things, "very good" (all their courses being finished), is to pass away, for in them there was morning and evening.

Chapter XXXVI.--The Seventh Day, Without Evening and Setting, the Image of Eternal Life and Rest in God.

51. But the seventh day is without any evening, nor hath it any setting, because Thou hast sanctified it to an everlasting continuance that that which Thou didst after Thy works, which were very good, resting on the seventh day, although in unbroken rest Thou madest them that the voice of Thy Book may speak beforehand unto us, that we also after our works (therefore very good, because Thou hast given them unto us) may repose in Thee also in the Sabbath of eternal life.

Chapter XXXVII.--Of Rest in God Who Ever Worketh, and Yet is Ever at Rest.

52. For even then shalt Thou so rest in us, as now Thou dost work in us; and thus shall that be Thy rest through us, as these are Thy works through us. [1432] But Thou, O Lord, ever workest, and art ever at rest. Nor seest Thou in time, nor movest Thou in time, nor restest Thou in time; and yet Thou makest the scenes of time, and the times themselves, and the rest which results from time.


[1432] Compare his De Gen. ad Lit. iv. 9: "For as God is properly said to do what we do when He works in us, so is God properly said to rest when by His gift we rest."

Chapter XXXVIII.--Of the Difference Between the Knowledge of God and of Men, and of the Repose Which is to Be Sought from God Only.

53. We therefore see those things which Thou madest, because they are; but they are because Thou seest them. And we see without that they are, and within that they are good, but Thou didst see them there, when made, where Thou didst see them to be made. And we were at another time moved to do well, after our hearts had conceived of Thy Spirit; but in the former time, forsaking Thee, we were moved to do evil; but Thou, the One, the Good God, hast never ceased to do good. And we also have certain good works, of Thy gift, but not eternal; after these we hope to rest in Thy great hallowing. But Thou, being the Good, needing no good, art ever at rest, because Thou Thyself art Thy rest. And what man will teach man to understand this? Or what angel, an angel? Or what angel, a man? Let it be asked of Thee, sought in Thee, knocked for at Thee; so, even so shall it be received, so shall it be found, so shall it be opened. [1433] Amen.


[1433] Matt. vii. 7.

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