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The Confessions Of Saint Augustine

    

 

 

   Deceased was now that my evil and abominable youth, and I was passing

   into early manhood; the more defiled by vain things as I grew in years,

   who could not imagine any substance, but such as is wont to be seen

   with these eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God, under the figure of a

   human body; since I began to hear aught of wisdom, I always avoided

   this; and rejoiced to have found the same in the faith of our spiritual

   mother, Thy Catholic Church. But what else to conceive of Thee I knew

   not. And I, a man, and such a man, sought to conceive of Thee the

   sovereign, only, true God; and I did in my inmost soul believe that

   Thou wert incorruptible, and uninjurable, and unchangeable; because

   though not knowing whence or how, yet I saw plainly, and was sure, that

   that which may be corrupted must be inferior to that which cannot; what

   could not be injured I preferred unhesitatingly to what could receive

   injury; the unchangeable to things subject to change. My heart

   passionately cried out against all my phantoms, and with this one blow

   I sought to beat away from the eye of my mind all that unclean troop

   which buzzed around it. And to, being scarce put off, in the twinkling

   of an eye they gathered again thick about me, flew against my face, and

   beclouded it; so that though not under the form of the human body, yet

   was I constrained to conceive of Thee (that incorruptible, uninjurable,

   and unchangeable, which I preferred before the corruptible, and

   injurable, and changeable) as being in space, whether infused into the

   world, or diffused infinitely without it. Because whatsoever I

   conceived, deprived of this space, seemed to me nothing, yea altogether

   nothing, not even a void, as if a body were taken out of its place, and

   the place should remain empty of any body at all, of earth and water,

   air and heaven, yet would it remain a void place, as it were a spacious

   nothing.

 

   I then being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to myself, whatsoever

   was not extended over certain spaces, nor diffused, nor condensed, nor

   swelled out, or did not or could not receive some of these dimensions,

   I thought to be altogether nothing. For over such forms as my eyes are

   wont to range, did my heart then range: nor yet did I see that this

   same notion of the mind, whereby I formed those very images, was not of

   this sort, and yet it could not have formed them, had not itself been

   some great thing. So also did I endeavour to conceive of Thee, Life of

   my life, as vast, through infinite spaces on every side penetrating the

   whole mass of the universe, and beyond it, every way, through

   unmeasurable boundless spaces; so that the earth should have Thee, the

   heaven have Thee, all things have Thee, and they be bounded in Thee,

   and Thou bounded nowhere. For that as the body of this air which is

   above the earth, hindereth not the light of the sun from passing

   through it, penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by

   filling it wholly: so I thought the body not of heaven, air, and sea

   only, but of the earth too, pervious to Thee, so that in all its parts,

   the greatest as the smallest, it should admit Thy presence, by a secret

   inspiration, within and without, directing all things which Thou hast

   created. So I guessed, only as unable to conceive aught else, for it

   was false. For thus should a greater part of the earth contain a

   greater portion of Thee, and a less, a lesser: and all things should in

   such sort be full of Thee, that the body of an elephant should contain

   more of Thee, than that of a sparrow, by how much larger it is, and

   takes up more room; and thus shouldest Thou make the several portions

   of Thyself present unto the several portions of the world, in

   fragments, large to the large, petty to the petty. But such art not

   Thou. But not as yet hadst Thou enlightened my darkness.

    

 

 

   It was enough for me, Lord, to oppose to those deceived deceivers, and

   dumb praters, since Thy word sounded not out of them;--that was enough

   which long ago, while we were yet at Carthage, Nebridius used to

   propound, at which all we that heard it were staggered: "That said

   nation of darkness, which the Manichees are wont to set as an opposing

   mass over against Thee, what could it have done unto Thee, hadst Thou

   refused to fight with it? For, if they answered, it would have done

   Thee some hurt,' then shouldest Thou be subject to injury and

   corruption: but if could do Thee no hurt,' then was no reason brought

   for Thy fighting with it; and fighting in such wise, as that a certain

   portion or member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very Substance, should

   he mingled with opposed powers, and natures not created by Thee, and be

   by them so far corrupted and changed to the worse, as to be turned from

   happiness into misery, and need assistance, whereby it might be

   extricated and purified; and that this offspring of Thy Substance was

   the soul, which being enthralled, defiled, corrupted, Thy Word, free,

   pure, and whole, might relieve; that Word itself being still

   corruptible because it was of one and the same Substance. So then,

   should they affirm Thee, whatsoever Thou art, that is, Thy Substance

   whereby Thou art, to be incorruptible, then were all these sayings

   false and execrable; but if corruptible, the very statement showed it

   to be false and revolting." This argument then of Nebridius sufficed

   against those who deserved wholly to be vomited out of the overcharged

   stomach; for they had no escape, without horrible blasphemy of heart

   and tongue, thus thinking and speaking of Thee.

    

 

 

   But I also as yet, although I held and was firmly persuaded that Thou

   our Lord the true God, who madest not only our souls, but our bodies,

   and not only our souls and bodies, but all beings, and all things, wert

   undefilable and unalterable, and in no degree mutable; yet understood I

   not, clearly and without difficulty, the cause of evil. And yet

   whatever it were, I perceived it was in such wise to be sought out, as

   should not constrain me to believe the immutable God to be mutable,

   lest I should become that evil I was seeking out. I sought it out then,

   thus far free from anxiety, certain of the untruth of what these held,

   from whom I shrunk with my whole heart: for I saw, that through

   enquiring the origin of evil, they were filled with evil, in that they

   preferred to think that Thy substance did suffer ill than their own did

   commit it.

 

   And I strained to perceive what I now heard, that free-will was the

   cause of our doing ill, and Thy just judgment of our suffering ill. But

   I was not able clearly to discern it. So then endeavouring to draw my

   soul's vision out of that deep pit, I was again plunged therein, and

   endeavouring often, I was plunged back as often. But this raised me a

   little into Thy light, that I knew as well that I had a will, as that I

   lived: when then I did will or nill any thing, I was most sure that no

   other than myself did will and nill: and I all but saw that there was

   the cause of my sin. But what I did against my will, I saw that I

   suffered rather than did, and I judged not to be my fault, but my

   punishment; whereby, however, holding Thee to be just, I speedily

   confessed myself to be not unjustly punished. But again I said, Who

   made me? Did not my God, Who is not only good, but goodness itself?

   Whence then came I to will evil and nill good, so that I am thus justly

   punished? who set this in me, and ingrated into me this plant of

   bitterness, seeing I was wholly formed by my most sweet God? If the

   devil were the author, whence is that same devil? And if he also by his

   own perverse will, of a good angel became a devil, whence, again, came

   in him that evil will whereby he became a devil, seeing the whole

   nature of angels was made by that most good Creator? By these thoughts

   I was again sunk down and choked; yet not brought down to that hell of

   error (where no man confesseth unto Thee), to think rather that Thou

   dost suffer ill, than that man doth it.

    

 

 

   For I was in such wise striving to find out the rest, as one who had

   already found that the incorruptible must needs be better than the

   corruptible: and Thee therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, I confessed to

   be incorruptible. For never soul was, nor shall be, able to conceive

   any thing which may be better than Thou, who art the sovereign and the

   best good. But since most truly and certainly, the incorruptible is

   preferable to the corruptible (as I did now prefer it), then, wert Thou

   not incorruptible, I could in thought have arrived at something better

   than my God. Where then I saw the incorruptible to be preferable to the

   corruptible, there ought I to seek for Thee, and there observe "wherein

   evil itself was"; that is, whence corruption comes, by which Thy

   substance can by no means be impaired. For corruption does no ways

   impair our God; by no will, by no necessity, by no unlooked-for chance:

   because He is God, and what He wills is good, and Himself is that good;

   but to be corrupted is not good. Nor art Thou against Thy will

   constrained to any thing, since Thy will is not greater than Thy power.

   But greater should it be, were Thyself greater than Thyself. For the

   will and power of God is God Himself. And what can be unlooked-for by

   Thee, Who knowest all things? Nor is there any nature in things, but

   Thou knowest it. And what should we more say, "why that substance which

   God is should not be corruptible," seeing if it were so, it should not

   be God?

    

 

 

   And I sought "whence is evil," and sought in an evil way; and saw not

   the evil in my very search. I set now before the sight of my spirit the

   whole creation, whatsoever we can see therein (as sea, earth, air,

   stars, trees, mortal creatures); yea, and whatever in it we do not see,

   as the firmament of heaven, all angels moreover, and all the spiritual

   inhabitants thereof. But these very beings, as though they were bodies,

   did my fancy dispose in place, and I made one great mass of Thy

   creation, distinguished as to the kinds of bodies; some, real bodies,

   some, what myself had feigned for spirits. And this mass I made huge,

   not as it was (which I could not know), but as I thought convenient,

   yet every way finite. But Thee, O Lord, I imagined on every part

   environing and penetrating it, though every way infinite: as if there

   were a sea, every where, and on every side, through unmeasured space,

   one only boundless sea, and it contained within it some sponge, huge,

   but bounded; that sponge must needs, in all its parts, be filled from

   that unmeasurable sea: so conceived I Thy creation, itself finite, full

   of Thee, the Infinite; and I said, Behold God, and behold what God hath

   created; and God is good, yea, most mightily and incomparably better

   than all these: but yet He, the Good, created them good; and see how He

   environeth and fulfils them. Where is evil then, and whence, and how

   crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no

   being? Why then fear we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly,

   then is that very fear evil, whereby the soul is thus idly goaded and

   racked. Yea, and so much a greater evil, as we have nothing to fear,

   and yet do fear. Therefore either is that evil which we fear, or else

   evil is, that we fear. Whence is it then? seeing God, the Good, hath

   created all these things good. He indeed, the greater and chiefest

   Good, hath created these lesser goods; still both Creator and created,

   all are good. Whence is evil? Or, was there some evil matter of which

   He made, and formed, and ordered it, yet left something in it which He

   did not convert into good? Why so then? Had He no might to turn and

   change the whole, so that no evil should remain in it, seeing He is

   All-mighty? Lastly, why would He make any thing at all of it, and not

   rather by the same All-mightiness cause it not to be at all? Or, could

   it then be against His will? Or if it were from eternity, why suffered

   He it so to be for infinite spaces of times past, and was pleased so

   long after to make something out of it? Or if He were suddenly pleased

   now to effect somewhat, this rather should the All-mighty have

   effected, that this evil matter should not be, and He alone be, the

   whole, true, sovereign, and infinite Good. Or if it was not good that

   He who was good should not also frame and create something that were

   good, then, that evil matter being taken away and brought to nothing,

   He might form good matter, whereof to create all things. For He should

   not be All-mighty, if He might not create something good without the

   aid of that matter which Himself had not created. These thoughts I

   revolved in my miserable heart, overcharged with most gnawing cares,

   lest I should die ere I had found the truth; yet was the faith of Thy

   Christ, our Lord and Saviour, professed in the Church Catholic, firmly

   fixed in my heart, in many points, indeed, as yet unformed, and

   fluctuating from the rule of doctrine; yet did not my mind utterly

   leave it, but rather daily took in more and more of it.

    

 

 

   But this time also had I rejected the lying divinations and impious

   dotages of the astrologers. Let Thine own mercies, out of my very

   inmost soul, confess unto Thee for this also, O my God. For Thou, Thou

   altogether (for who else calls us back from the death of all errors,

   save the Life which cannot die, and the Wisdom which needing no light

   enlightens the minds that need it, whereby the universe is directed,

   down to the whirling leaves of trees?)--Thou madest provision for my

   obstinacy wherewith I struggled against Vindicianus, an acute old man,

   and Nebridius, a young man of admirable talents; the first vehemently

   affirming, and the latter often (though with some doubtfulness) saying,

   "That there was no such art whereby to foresee things to come, but that

   men's conjectures were a sort of lottery, and that out of many things

   which they said should come to pass, some actually did, unawares to

   them who spake it, who stumbled upon it, through their oft speaking."

   Thou providedst then a friend for me, no negligent consulter of the

   astrologers; nor yet well skilled in those arts, but (as I said) a

   curious consulter with them, and yet knowing something, which he said

   he had heard of his father, which how far it went to overthrow the

   estimation of that art, he knew not. This man then, Firminus by name,

   having had a liberal education, and well taught in Rhetoric, consulted

   me, as one very dear to him, what, according to his socalled

   constellations, I thought on certain affairs of his, wherein his

   worldly hopes had risen, and I, who had herein now begun to incline

   towards Nebridius' opinion, did not altogether refuse to conjecture,

   and tell him what came into my unresolved mind; but added, that I was

   now almost persuaded that these were but empty and ridiculous follies.

   Thereupon he told me that his father had been very curious in such

   books, and had a friend as earnest in them as himself, who with joint

   study and conference fanned the flame of their affections to these

   toys, so that they would observe the moments whereat the very dumb

   animals, which bred about their houses, gave birth, and then observed

   the relative position of the heavens, thereby to make fresh experiments

   in this so-called art. He said then that he had heard of his father,

   that what time his mother was about to give birth to him, Firminus, a

   woman-servant of that friend of his father's was also with child, which

   could not escape her master, who took care with most exact diligence to

   know the births of his very puppies. And so it was that (the one for

   his wife, and the other for his servant, with the most careful

   observation, reckoning days, hours, nay, the lesser divisions of the

   hours) both were delivered at the same instant; so that both were

   constrained to allow the same constellations, even to the minutest

   points, the one for his son, the other for his new-born slave. For so

   soon as the women began to be in labour, they each gave notice to the

   other what was fallen out in their houses, and had messengers ready to

   send to one another so soon as they had notice of the actual birth, of

   which they had easily provided, each in his own province, to give

   instant intelligence. Thus then the messengers of the respective

   parties met, he averred, at such an equal distance from either house

   that neither of them could make out any difference in the position of

   the stars, or any other minutest points; and yet Firminus, born in a

   high estate in his parents' house, ran his course through the gilded

   paths of life, was increased in riches, raised to honours; whereas that

   slave continued to serve his masters, without any relaxation of his

   yoke, as Firminus, who knew him, told me.

 

   Upon hearing and believing these things, told by one of such

   credibility, all that my resistance gave way; and first I endeavoured

   to reclaim Firminus himself from that curiosity, by telling him that

   upon inspecting his constellations, I ought if I were to predict truly,

   to have seen in them parents eminent among their neighbours, a noble

   family in its own city, high birth, good education, liberal learning.

   But if that servant had consulted me upon the same constellations,

   since they were his also, I ought again (to tell him too truly) to see

   in them a lineage the most abject, a slavish condition, and every thing

   else utterly at variance with the former. Whence then, if I spake the

   truth, I should, from the same constellations, speak diversely, or if I

   spake the same, speak falsely: thence it followed most certainly that

   whatever, upon consideration of the constellations, was spoken truly,

   was spoken not out of art, but chance; and whatever spoken falsely, was

   not out of ignorance in the art, but the failure of the chance.

 

   An opening thus made, ruminating with myself on the like things, that

   no one of those dotards (who lived by such a trade, and whom I longed

   to attack, and with derision to confute) might urge against me that

   Firminus had informed me falsely, or his father him; I bent my thoughts

   on those that are born twins, who for the most part come out of the

   womb so near one to other, that the small interval (how much force

   soever in the nature of things folk may pretend it to have) cannot be

   noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in those figures

   which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may pronounce truly. Yet

   they cannot be true: for looking into the same figures, he must have

   predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same happened not to

   them. Therefore he must speak falsely; or if truly, then, looking into

   the same figures, he must not give the same answer. Not by art, then,

   but by chance, would he speak truly. For Thou, O Lord, most righteous

   Ruler of the Universe, while consulters and consulted know it not, dost

   by Thy hidden inspiration effect that the consulter should hear what,

   according to the hidden deservings of souls, he ought to hear, out of

   the unsearchable depth of Thy just judgment, to Whom let no man say,

   What is this? Why that? Let him not so say, for he is man.

    

 

 

   Now then, O my Helper, hadst Thou loosed me from those fetters: and I

   sought "whence is evil," and found no way. But Thou sufferedst me not

   by any fluctuations of thought to be carried away from the Faith

   whereby I believed Thee both to be, and Thy substance to be

   unchangeable, and that Thou hast a care of, and wouldest judge men, and

   that in Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, and the holy Scriptures, which the

   authority of Thy Catholic Church pressed upon me, Thou hadst set the

   way of man's salvation, to that life which is to be after this death.

   These things being safe and immovably settled in my mind, I sought

   anxiously "whence was evil?" What were the pangs of my teeming heart,

   what groans, O my God! yet even there were Thine ears open, and I knew

   it not; and when in silence I vehemently sought, those silent

   contritions of my soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy. Thou knewest

   what I suffered, and no man. For, what was that which was thence

   through my tongue distilled into the ears of my most familiar friends?

   Did the whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time nor utterance

   sufficed, reach them? Yet went up the whole to Thy hearing, all which I

   roared out from the groanings of my heart; and my desire was before

   Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not with me: for that was within,

   I without: nor was that confined to place, but I was intent on things

   contained in place, but there found I no resting-place, nor did they so

   receive me, that I could say, "It is enough," "it is well": nor did

   they yet suffer me to turn back, where it might be well enough with me.

   For to these things was I superior, but inferior to Thee; and Thou art

   my true joy when subjected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what

   Thou createdst below me. And this was the true temperament, and middle

   region of my safety, to remain in Thy Image, and by serving Thee, rule

   the body. But when I rose proudly against Thee, and ran against the

   Lord with my neck, with the thick bosses of my buckler, even these

   inferior things were set above me, and pressed me down, and no where

   was there respite or space of breathing. They met my sight on all sides

   by heaps and troops, and in thought the images thereof presented

   themselves unsought, as I would return to Thee, as if they would say

   unto me, "Whither goest thou, unworthy and defiled?" And these things

   had grown out of my wound; for Thou "humbledst the proud like one that

   is wounded," and through my own swelling was I separated from Thee;

   yea, my pride-swollen face closed up mine eyes.

    

 

 

   But Thou, Lord, abidest for ever, yet not for ever art Thou angry with

   us; because Thou pitiest our dust and ashes, and it was pleasing in Thy

   sight to reform my deformities; and by inward goads didst Thou rouse

   me, that I should be ill at ease, until Thou wert manifested to my

   inward sight. Thus, by the secret hand of Thy medicining was my

   swelling abated, and the troubled and bedimmed eyesight of my mind, by

   the smarting anointings of healthful sorrows, was from day to day

   healed.

    

 

 

   And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou resistest the proud, but

   givest grace unto the humble, and by how great an act of Thy mercy Thou

   hadst traced out to men the way of humility, in that Thy Word was made

   flesh, and dwelt among men:--Thou procuredst for me, by means of one

   puffed up with most unnatural pride, certain books of the Platonists,

   translated from Greek into Latin. And therein I read, not indeed in the

   very words, but to the very same purpose, enforced by many and divers

   reasons, that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

   and the Word was God: the Same was in the beginning with God: all

   things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made: that which

   was made by Him is life, and the life was the light of men, and the

   light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.

   And that the soul of man, though it bears witness to the light, yet

   itself is not that light; but the Word of God, being God, is that true

   light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. And that He

   was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him

   not. But, that He came unto His own, and His own received Him not; but

   as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of

   God, as many as believed in His name; this I read not there.

 

   Again I read there, that God the Word was born not of flesh nor of

   blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of

   God. But that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, I read not

   there. For I traced in those books that it was many and divers ways

   said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and thought it not

   robbery to be equal with God, for that naturally He was the Same

   Substance. But that He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant,

   being made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man,

   humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, and that the death of

   the cross: wherefore God exalted Him from the dead, and gave Him a name

   above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should how, of

   things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and

   that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the

   glory of God the Father; those books have not. For that before all

   times and above all times Thy Only-Begotten Son remaineth unchangeable,

   co-eternal with Thee, and that of His fulness souls receive, that they

   may be blessed; and that by participation of wisdom abiding in them,

   they are renewed, so as to be wise, is there. But that in due time He

   died for the ungodly; and that Thou sparedst not Thine Only Son, but

   deliveredst Him for us all, is not there. For Thou hiddest these things

   from the wise, and revealedst them to babes; that they that labour and

   are heavy laden might come unto Him, and He refresh them, because He is

   meek and lowly in heart; and the meek He directeth in judgment, and the

   gentle He teacheth His ways, beholding our lowliness and trouble, and

   forgiving all our sins. But such as are lifted up in the lofty walk of

   some would-be sublimer learning, hear not Him, saying, Learn of Me, for

   I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls.

   Although they knew God, yet they glorify Him not as God, nor are

   thankful, but wax vain in their thoughts; and their foolish heart is

   darkened; professing that they were wise, they became fools.

 

   And therefore did I read there also, that they had changed the glory of

   Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers shapes, into the

   likeness of the image of corruptible man, and birds, and beasts, and

   creeping things; namely, into that Egyptian food for which Esau lost

   his birthright, for that Thy first-born people worshipped the head of a

   four-footed beast instead of Thee; turning in heart back towards Egypt;

   and bowing Thy image, their own soul, before the image of a calf that

   eateth hay. These things found I here, but I fed not on them. For it

   pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away the reproach of diminution from

   Jacob, that the elder should serve the younger: and Thou calledst the

   Gentiles into Thine inheritance. And I had come to Thee from among the

   Gentiles; and I set my mind upon the gold which Thou willedst Thy

   people to take from Egypt, seeing Thine it was, wheresoever it were.

   And to the Athenians Thou saidst by Thy Apostle, that in Thee we live,

   move, and have our being, as one of their own poets had said. And

   verily these books came from thence. But I set not my mind on the idols

   of Egypt, whom they served with Thy gold, who changed the truth of God

   into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the

   Creator.

    

 

 

   And being thence admonished to return to myself, I entered even into my

   inward self, Thou being my Guide: and able I was, for Thou wert become

   my Helper. And I entered and beheld with the eye of my soul (such as it

   was), above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the Light

   Unchangeable. Not this ordinary light, which all flesh may look upon,

   nor as it were a greater of the same kind, as though the brightness of

   this should be manifold brighter, and with its greatness take up all

   space. Not such was this light, but other, yea, far other from these.

   Nor was it above my soul, as oil is above water, nor yet as heaven

   above earth: but above to my soul, because It made me; and I below It,

   because I was made by It. He that knows the Truth, knows what that

   Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity. Love knoweth it. O

   Truth Who art Eternity! and Love Who art Truth! and Eternity Who art

   Love! Thou art my God, to Thee do I sigh night and day. Thee when I

   first knew, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was what I

   might see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And Thou didst beat

   back the weakness of my sight, streaming forth Thy beams of light upon

   me most strongly, and I trembled with love and awe: and I perceived

   myself to be far off from Thee, in the region of unlikeness, as if I

   heard this Thy voice from on high: "I am the food of grown men, grow,

   and thou shalt feed upon Me; nor shalt thou convert Me, like the food

   of thy flesh into thee, but thou shalt be converted into Me." And I

   learned, that Thou for iniquity chastenest man, and Thou madest my soul

   to consume away like a spider. And I said, "Is Truth therefore nothing

   because it is not diffused through space finite or infinite?" And Thou

   criedst to me from afar: "Yet verily, I AM that I AM." And I heard, as

   the heart heareth, nor had I room to doubt, and I should sooner doubt

   that I live than that Truth is not, which is clearly seen, being

   understood by those things which are made. And I beheld the other

   things below Thee, and I perceived that they neither altogether are,

   nor altogether are not, for they are, since they are from Thee, but are

   not, because they are not what Thou art. For that truly is which

   remains unchangeably. It is good then for me to hold fast unto God; for

   if I remain not in Him, I cannot in myself; but He remaining in

   Himself, reneweth all things. And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou

   standest not in need of my goodness.

    

 

 

   And I viewed the other things below Thee, and perceived that they

   neither altogether are, nor altogether are not. They are, indeed,

   because thay are from Thee; but are not, because they are not what Thou

   art. For that truly is which remains immutably.2 It is good then, for

   me to cleave unto God,3 for if I remain not in Him, neither shall I in

   myself; but He, remaining in Himself, reneweth all things.4 And Thou

   art the Lord my God, since Thou standest not in need of my gooodness.5

    

 

 

   And it was manifested unto me, that those things be good which yet are

   corrupted; which neither were they sovereignly good, nor unless they

   were good could he corrupted: for if sovereignly good, they were

   incorruptible, if not good at all, there were nothing in them to be

   corrupted. For corruption injures, but unless it diminished goodness,

   it could not injure. Either then corruption injures not, which cannot

   be; or which is most certain, all which is corrupted is deprived of

   good. But if they he deprived of all good, they shall cease to be. For

   if they shall be, and can now no longer he corrupted, they shall be

   better than before, because they shall abide incorruptibly. And what

   more monstrous than to affirm things to become better by losing all

   their good? Therefore, if they shall be deprived of all good, they

   shall no longer be. So long therefore as they are, they are good:

   therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil then which I sought, whence

   it is, is not any substance: for were it a substance, it should be

   good. For either it should be an incorruptible substance, and so a

   chief good: or a corruptible substance; which unless it were good,

   could not be corrupted. I perceived therefore, and it was manifested to

   me that Thou madest all things good, nor is there any substance at all,

   which Thou madest not; and for that Thou madest not all things equal,

   therefore are all things; because each is good, and altogether very

   good, because our God made all things very good.

    

 

 

   And to Thee is nothing whatsoever evil: yea, not only to Thee, but also

   to Thy creation as a whole, because there is nothing without, which may

   break in, and corrupt that order which Thou hast appointed it. But in

   the parts thereof some things, because unharmonising with other some,

   are accounted evil: whereas those very things harmonise with others,

   and are good; and in themselves are good. And all these things which

   harmonise not together, do yet with the inferior part, which we call

   Earth, having its own cloudy and windy sky harmonising with it. Far be

   it then that I should say, "These things should not be": for should I

   see nought but these, I should indeed long for the better; but still

   must even for these alone praise Thee; for that Thou art to be praised,

   do show from the earth, dragons, and all deeps, fire, hail, snow, ice,

   and stormy wind, which fulfil Thy word; mountains, and all hills,

   fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts, and all cattle, creeping

   things, and flying fowls; kings of the earth, and all people, princes,

   and all judges of the earth; young men and maidens, old men and young,

   praise Thy Name. But when, from heaven, these praise Thee, praise Thee,

   our God, in the heights all Thy angels, all Thy hosts, sun and moon,

   all the stars and light, the Heaven of heavens, and the waters that be

   above the heavens, praise Thy Name; I did not now long for things

   better, because I conceived of all: and with a sounder judgment I

   apprehended that the things above were better than these below, but

   altogether better than those above by themselves.

    

 

 

   There is no soundness in them, whom aught of Thy creation displeaseth:

   as neither in me, when much which Thou hast made, displeased me. And

   because my soul durst not be displeased at my God, it would fain not

   account that Thine, which displeased it. Hence it had gone into the

   opinion of two substances, and had no rest, but talked idly. And

   returning thence, it had made to itself a God, through infinite

   measures of all space; and thought it to be Thee, and placed it in its

   heart; and had again become the temple of its own idol, to Thee

   abominable. But after Thou hadst soothed my head, unknown to me, and

   closed mine eyes that they should not behold vanity, I ceased somewhat

   of my former self, and my frenzy was lulled to sleep; and I awoke in

   Thee, and saw Thee infinite, but in another way, and this sight was not

   derived from the flesh.

    

 

 

   And I looked back on other things; and I saw that they owed their being

   to Thee; and were all bounded in Thee: but in a different way; not as

   being in space; but because Thou containest all things in Thine hand in

   Thy Truth; and all things are true so far as they nor is there any

   falsehood, unless when that is thought to be, which is not. And I saw

   that all things did harmonise, not with their places only, but with

   their seasons. And that Thou, who only art Eternal, didst not begin to

   work after innumerable spaces of times spent; for that all spaces of

   times, both which have passed, and which shall pass, neither go nor

   come, but through Thee, working and abiding.

    

 

 

   And I perceived and found it nothing strange, that bread which is

   pleasant to a healthy palate is loathsome to one distempered: and to

   sore eyes light is offensive, which to the sound is delightful. And Thy

   righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more the viper and reptiles,

   which Thou hast created good, fitting in with the inferior portions of

   Thy Creation, with which the very wicked also fit in; and that the

   more, by how much they be unlike Thee; but with the superior creatures,

   by how much they become more like to Thee. And I enquired what iniquity

   was, and found it to be substance, but the perversion of the will,

   turned aside from Thee, O God, the Supreme, towards these lower things,

   and casting out its bowels, and puffed up outwardly.

    

 

 

   And I wondered that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm for Thee. And yet

   did I not press on to enjoy my God; but was borne up to Thee by Thy

   beauty, and soon borne down from Thee by mine own weight, sinking with

   sorrow into these inferior things. This weight was carnal custom. Yet

   dwelt there with me a remembrance of Thee; nor did I any way doubt that

   there was One to whom I might cleave, but that I was not yet such as to

   cleave to Thee: for that the body which is corrupted presseth down the

   soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth

   upon many things. And most certain I was, that Thy invisible works from

   the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the

   things that are made, even Thy eternal power and Godhead. For examining

   whence it was that I admired the beauty of bodies celestial or

   terrestrial; and what aided me in judging soundly on things mutable,

   and pronouncing, "This ought to be thus, this not"; examining, I say,

   whence it was that I so judged, seeing I did so judge, I had found the

   unchangeable and true Eternity of Truth above my changeable mind. And

   thus by degrees I passed from bodies to the soul, which through the

   bodily senses perceives; and thence to its inward faculty, to which the

   bodily senses represent things external, whitherto reach the faculties

   of beasts; and thence again to the reasoning faculty, to which what is

   received from the senses of the body is referred to be judged. Which

   finding itself also to be in me a thing variable, raised itself up to

   its own understanding, and drew away my thoughts from the power of

   habit, withdrawing itself from those troops of contradictory phantasms;

   that so it might find what that light was whereby it was bedewed, when,

   without all doubting, it cried out, "That the unchangeable was to be

   preferred to the changeable"; whence also it knew That Unchangeable,

   which, unless it had in some way known, it had had no sure ground to

   prefer it to the changeable. And thus with the flash of one trembling

   glance it arrived at THAT WHICH IS. And then I saw Thy invisible things

   understood by the things which are made. But I could not fix my gaze

   thereon; and my infirmity being struck back, I was thrown again on my

   wonted habits, carrying along with me only a loving memory thereof, and

   a longing for what I had, as it were, perceived the odour of, but was

   not yet able to feed on.

    

 

 

   Then I sought a way of obtaining strength sufficient to enjoy Thee; and

   found it not, until I embraced that Mediator betwixt God and men, the

   Man Christ Jesus, who is over all, God blessed for evermore, calling

   unto me, and saying, I am the way, the truth, and the life, and

   mingling that food which I was unable to receive, with our flesh. For,

   the Word was made flesh, that Thy wisdom, whereby Thou createdst all

   things, might provide milk for our infant state. For I did not hold to

   my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled, to the Humble; nor knew I yet whereto

   His infirmity would guide us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth, far

   above the higher parts of Thy Creation, raises up the subdued unto

   Itself: but in this lower world built for Itself a lowly habitation of

   our clay, whereby to abase from themselves such as would be subdued,

   and bring them over to Himself; allaying their swelling, and tomenting

   their love; to the end they might go on no further in self-confidence,

   but rather consent to become weak, seeing before their feet the

   Divinity weak by taking our coats of skin; and wearied, might cast

   themselves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them up.

    

 

 

   But I thought otherwise; conceiving only of my Lord Christ as of a man

   of excellent wisdom, whom no one could be equalled unto; especially,

   for that being wonderfully born of a Virgin, He seemed, in conformity

   therewith, through the Divine care for us, to have attained that great

   eminence of authority, for an ensample of despising things temporal for

   the obtaining of immortality. But what mystery there lay in "The Word

   was made flesh," I could not even imagine. Only I had learnt out of

   what is delivered to us in writing of Him that He did eat, and drink,

   sleep, walk, rejoiced in spirit, was sorrowful, discoursed; that flesh

   did not cleave by itself unto Thy Word, but with the human soul and

   mind. All know this who know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, which I

   now knew, as far as I could, nor did I at all doubt thereof. For, now

   to move the limbs of the body by will, now not, now to be moved by some

   affection, now not, now to deliver wise sayings through human signs,

   now to keep silence, belong to soul and mind subject to variation. And

   should these things be falsely written of Him, all the rest also would

   risk the charge, nor would there remain in those books any saving faith

   for mankind. Since then they were written truly, I acknowledged a

   perfect man to be in Christ; not the body of a man only, nor, with the

   body, a sensitive soul without a rational, but very man; whom, not only

   as being a form of Truth, but for a certain great excellence of human

   nature and a more perfect participation of wisdom, I judged to be

   preferred before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics to believe

   God to be so clothed with flesh, that besides God and flesh, there was

   no soul at all in Christ, and did not think that a human mind was

   ascribed to Him. And because he was well persuaded that the actions

   recorded of Him could only be performed by a vital and a rational

   creature, he moved the more slowly towards the Christian Faith. But

   understanding afterwards that this was the error of the Apollinarian

   heretics, he joyed in and was conformed to the Catholic Faith. But

   somewhat later, I confess, did I learn how in that saying, The Word was

   made flesh, the Catholic truth is distinguished from the falsehood of

   Photinus. For the rejection of heretics makes the tenets of Thy Church

   and sound doctrine to stand out more clearly. For there must also be

   heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak.

    

 

 

   But having then read those books of the Platonists, and thence been

   taught to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Thy invisible things,

   understood by those things which are made; and though cast back, I

   perceived what that was which through the darkness of my mind I was

   hindered from contemplating, being assured "That Thou wert, and wert

   infinite, and yet not diffused in space, finite or infinite; and that

   Thou truly art Who art the same ever, in no part nor motion varying;

   and that all other things are from Thee, on this most sure ground

   alone, that they are." Of these things I was assured, yet too unsure to

   enjoy Thee. I prated as one well skilled; but had I not sought Thy way

   in Christ our Saviour, I had proved to be, not skilled, but killed. For

   now I had begun to wish to seem wise, being filled with mine own

   punishment, yet I did not mourn, but rather scorn, puffed up with

   knowledge. For where was that charity building upon the foundation of

   humility, which is Christ Jesus? or when should these books teach me

   it? Upon these, I believe, Thou therefore willedst that I should fall,

   before I studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be imprinted on my

   memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when my spirits

   were tamed through Thy books, and my wounds touched by Thy healing

   fingers, I might discern and distinguish between presumption and

   confession; between those who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not

   the way, and the way that leadeth not to behold only but to dwell in

   the beatific country. For had I first been formed in Thy Holy

   Scriptures, and hadst Thou in the familiar use of them grown sweet unto

   me, and had I then fallen upon those other volumes, they might perhaps

   have withdrawn me from the solid ground of piety, or, had I continued

   in that healthful frame which I had thence imbibed, I might have

   thought that it might have been obtained by the study of those books

   alone.

    

 

 

   Most eagerly then did I seize that venerable writing of Thy Spirit; and

   chiefly the Apostle Paul. Whereupon those difficulties vanished away,

   wherein he once seemed to me to contradict himself, and the text of his

   discourse not to agree with the testimonies of the Law and the

   Prophets. And the face of that pure word appeared to me one and the

   same; and I learned to rejoice with trembling. So I began; and

   whatsoever truth I had read in those other books, I found here amid the

   praise of Thy Grace; that whoso sees, may not so glory as if he had not

   received, not only what he sees, but also that he sees (for what hath

   he, which he hath not received?), and that he may be not only

   admonished to behold Thee, who art ever the same, but also healed, to

   hold Thee; and that he who cannot see afar off, may yet walk on the

   way, whereby he may arrive, and behold, and hold Thee. For, though a

   man be delighted with the law of God after the inner man, what shall he

   do with that other law in his members which warreth against the law of

   his mind, and bringeth him into captivity to the law of sin which is in

   his members? For, Thou art righteous, O Lord, but we have sinned and

   committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and Thy hand is grown heavy

   upon us, and we are justly delivered over unto that ancient sinner, the

   king of death; because he persuaded our will to be like his will

   whereby he abode not in Thy truth. What shall wretched man do? who

   shall deliver him from the body of his death, but only Thy Grace,

   through Jesus Christ our Lord, whom Thou hast begotten co-eternal, and

   formedst in the beginning of Thy ways, in whom the prince of this world

   found nothing worthy of death, yet killed he Him; and the handwriting,

   which was contrary to us, was blotted out? This those writings contain

   not. Those pages present not the image of this piety, the tears of

   confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, a broken and a contrite

   heart, the salvation of the people, the Bridal City, the earnest of the

   Holy Ghost, the Cup of our Redemption. No man sings there, Shall not my

   soul be submitted unto God? for of Him cometh my salvation. For He is

   my God and my salvation, my guardian, I shall no more be moved. No one

   there hears Him call, Come unto Me, all ye that labour. They scorn to

   learn of Him, because He is meek and lowly in heart; for these things

   hast Thou hid from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto

   babes. For it is one thing, from the mountain's shaggy top to see the

   land of peace, and to find no way thither; and in vain to essay through

   ways unpassable, opposed and beset by fugitives and deserters, under

   their captain the lion and the dragon: and another to keep on the way

   that leads thither, guarded by the host of the heavenly General; where

   they spoil not who have deserted the heavenly army; for they avoid it,

   as very torment. These things did wonderfully sink into my bowels, when

   I read that least of Thy Apostles, and had meditated upon Thy works,

   and trembled exceedingly.

    

 

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