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The Confessions Of Saint Augustine

   

 

 

   Lord, since eternity is Thine, art Thou ignorant of what I say to Thee?

   or dost Thou see in time, what passeth in time? Why then do I lay in

   order before Thee so many relations? Not, of a truth, that Thou

   mightest learn them through me, but to stir up mine own and my readers'

   devotions towards Thee, that we may all say, Great is the Lord, and

   greatly to be praised. I have said already; and again will say, for

   love of Thy love do I this. For we pray also, and yet Truth hath said,

   Your Father knoweth what you have need of, before you ask. It is then

   our affections which we lay open unto Thee, confessing our own

   miseries, and Thy mercies upon us, that Thou mayest free us wholly,

   since Thou hast begun, that we may cease to be wretched in ourselves,

   and be blessed in Thee; seeing Thou hast called us, to become poor in

   spirit, and meek, and mourners, and hungering and athirst after

   righteousness, and merciful, and pure in heart, and peace-makers. See,

   I have told Thee many things, as I could and as I would, because Thou

   first wouldest that I should confess unto Thee, my Lord God. For Thou

   art good, for Thy mercy endureth for ever.

    

 

 

   But how shall I suffice with the tongue of my pen to utter all Thy

   exhortations, and all Thy terrors, and comforts, and guidances, whereby

   Thou broughtest me to preach Thy Word, and dispense Thy Sacrament to

   Thy people? And if I suffice to utter them in order, the drops of time

   are precious with me; and long have I burned to meditate in Thy law,

   and therein to confess to Thee my skill and unskilfulness, the daybreak

   of Thy enlightening, and the remnants of my darkness, until infirmity

   be swallowed up by strength. And I would not have aught besides steal

   away those hours which I find free from the necessities of refreshing

   my body and the powers of my mind, and of the service which we owe to

   men, or which though we owe not, we yet pay.

 

   O Lord my god, give ear unto my prayer, and let Thy mercy hearken unto

   my desire: because it is anxious not for myself alone, but would serve

   brotherly charity; and Thou seest my heart, that so it is. I would

   sacrifice to Thee the service of my thought and tongue; do Thou give

   me, what I may offer Thee. For I am poor and needy, Thou rich to all

   that call upon Thee; Who, inaccessible to care, carest for us.

   Circumcise from all rashness and all lying both my inward and outward

   lips: let Thy Scriptures be my pure delights: let me not be deceived in

   them, nor deceive out of them. Lord, hearken and pity, O Lord my God,

   Light of the blind, and Strength of the weak; yea also Light of those

   that see, and Strength of the strong; hearken unto my soul, and hear it

   crying out of the depths. For if Thine ears be not with us in the

   depths also, whither shall we go? whither cry? The day is Thine, and

   the night is Thine; at Thy beck the moments flee by. Grant thereof a

   space for our meditations in the hidden things of Thy law, and close it

   not against us who knock. For not in vain wouldest Thou have the

   darksome secrets of so many pages written; nor are those forests

   without their harts which retire therein and range and walk; feed, lie

   down, and ruminate. Perfect me, O Lord, and reveal them unto me.

   Behold, Thy voice is my joy; Thy voice exceedeth the abundance of

   pleasures. Give what I love: for I do love; and this hast Thou given:

   forsake not Thy own gifts, nor despise Thy green herb that thirsteth.

   Let me confess unto Thee whatsoever I shall find in Thy books, and hear

   the voice of praise, and drink in Thee, and meditate on the wonderful

   things out of Thy law; even from the beginning, wherein Thou madest the

   heaven and the earth, unto the everlasting reigning of Thy holy city

   with Thee.

 

   Lord, have mercy on me, and hear my desire. For it is not, I deem, of

   the earth, not of gold and silver, and precious stones, or gorgeous

   apparel, or honours and offices, or the pleasures of the flesh, or

   necessaries for the body and for this life of our pilgrimage: all which

   shall be added unto those that seek Thy kingdom and Thy righteousness.

   Behold, O Lord my God, wherein is my desire. The wicked have told me of

   delights, but not such as Thy law, O Lord. Behold, wherein is my

   desire. Behold, Father, behold, and see and approve; and be it pleasing

   in the sight of Thy mercy, that I may find grace before Thee, that the

   inward parts of Thy words be opened to me knocking. I beseech by our

   Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, the Man of Thy right hand, the Son of man,

   whom Thou hast established for Thyself, as Thy Mediator and ours,

   through Whom Thou soughtest us, not seeking Thee, but soughtest us,

   that we might seek Thee,--Thy Word, through Whom Thou madest all

   things, and among them, me also;--Thy Only-Begotten, through Whom Thou

   calledst to adoption the believing people, and therein me also;--I

   beseech Thee by Him, who sitteth at Thy right hand, and intercedeth

   with Thee for us, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and

   knowledge. These do I seek in Thy books. Of Him did Moses write; this

   saith Himself; this saith the Truth.

    

 

 

   I would hear and understand, how "In the Beginning Thou madest the

   heaven and earth." Moses wrote this, wrote and departed, passed hence

   from Thee to Thee; nor is he now before me. For if he were, I would

   hold him and ask him, and beseech him by Thee to open these things unto

   me, and would lay the ears of my body to the sounds bursting out of his

   mouth. And should he speak Hebrew, in vain will it strike on my senses,

   nor would aught of it touch my mind; but if Latin, I should know what

   he said. But whence should I know, whether he spake truth? Yea, and if

   I knew this also, should I know it from him? Truly within me, within,

   in the chamber of my thoughts, Truth, neither Hebrew, nor Greek, nor

   Latin, nor barbarian, without organs of voice or tongue, or sound of

   syllables, would say, "It is truth," and I forthwith should say

   confidently to that man of Thine, "thou sayest truly." Whereas then I

   cannot enquire of him, Thee, Thee I beseech, O Truth, full of Whom he

   spake truth, Thee, my God, I beseech, forgive my sins; and Thou, who

   gavest him Thy servant to speak these things, give to me also to

   understand them.

    

 

 

   Behold, the heavens and the earth are; they proclaim that they were

   created; for they change and vary. Whereas whatsoever hath not been

   made, and yet is, hath nothing in it, which before it had not; and this

   it is, to change and vary. They proclaim also, that they made not

   themselves; "therefore we are, because we have been made; we were not

   therefore, before we were, so as to make ourselves." Now the evidence

   of the thing, is the voice of the speakers. Thou therefore, Lord,

   madest them; who art beautiful, for they are beautiful; who art good,

   for they are good; who art, for they are; yet are they not beautiful

   nor good, nor are they, as Thou their Creator art; compared with Whom,

   they are neither beautiful, nor good, nor are. This we know, thanks be

   to Thee. And our knowledge, compared with Thy knowledge, is ignorance.

    

 

 

   But how didst Thou make the heaven and the earth? and what the engine

   of Thy so mighty fabric? For it was not as a human artificer, forming

   one body from another, according to the discretion of his mind, which

   can in some way invest with such a form, as it seeth in itself by its

   inward eye. And whence should he be able to do this, unless Thou hadst

   made that mind? and he invests with a form what already existeth, and

   hath a being, as clay, or stone, or wood, or gold, or the like. And

   whence should they be, hadst not Thou appointed them? Thou madest the

   artificer his body, Thou the mind commanding the limbs, Thou the matter

   whereof he makes any thing; Thou the apprehension whereby to take in

   his art, and see within what he doth without; Thou the sense of his

   body, whereby, as by an interpreter, he may from mind to matter, convey

   that which he doth, and report to his mind what is done; that it within

   may consult the truth, which presideth over itself, whether it be well

   done or no. All these praise Thee, the Creator of all. But how dost

   Thou make them? how, O God, didst Thou make heaven and earth? Verily,

   neither in the heaven, nor in the earth, didst Thou make heaven and

   earth; nor in the air, or waters, seeing 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 where to make it, before it was made,

   that it might be. Nor didst Thou hold any thing in Thy hand, whereof to

   make heaven and earth. For whence shouldest Thou have this, which Thou

   hadst not made, thereof to make any thing? For what is, but because

   Thou art? Therefore Thou spokest, and they were made, and in Thy Word

   Thou madest them.

    

 

 

   But how didst Thou speak? In the way that the voice came out of the

   cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son? For that voice passed by and

   passed away, began and ended; the syllables sounded and passed away,

   the second after the first, the third after the second, and so forth in

   order, until the last after the rest, and silence after the last.

   Whence it is abundantly clear and plain that the motion of a creature

   expressed it, itself temporal, serving Thy eternal will. And these Thy

   words, created for a time, the outward ear reported to the intelligent

   soul, whose inward ear lay listening to Thy Eternal Word. But she

   compared these words sounding in time, with that Thy Eternal Word in

   silence, and said "It is different, far different. These words are far

   beneath me, nor are they, because they flee and pass away; but the Word

   of my Lord abideth above me for ever." If then in sounding and passing

   words Thou saidst that heaven and earth should be made, and so madest

   heaven and earth, there was a corporeal creature before heaven and

   earth, by whose motions in time that voice might take his course in

   time. But there was nought corporeal before heaven and earth; or if

   there were, surely Thou hadst, without such a passing voice, created

   that, whereof to make this passing voice, by which to say, Let the

   heaven and the earth be made. For whatsoever that were, whereof such a

   voice were made, unless by Thee it were made, it could not be at all.

   By what Word then didst Thou speak, that a body might be made, whereby

   these words again might be made?

    

 

 

   Thou callest us then to understand the Word, God, with Thee God, Which

   is spoken eternally, and by It are all things spoken eternally. For

   what was spoken was not spoken successively, one thing concluded that

   the next might be spoken, but all things together and eternally. Else

   have we time and change; and not a true eternity nor true immortality.

   This I know, O my God, and give thanks. I know, I confess to Thee, O

   Lord, and with me there knows and blesses Thee, whoso is not unthankful

   to assure Truth. We know, Lord, we know; since inasmuch as anything is

   not which was, and is, which was not, so far forth it dieth and

   ariseth. Nothing then of Thy Word doth give place or replace, because

   It is truly immortal and eternal. And therefore unto the Word coeternal

   with Thee Thou dost at once and eternally say all that Thou dost say;

   and whatever Thou sayest shall be made is made; nor dost Thou make,

   otherwise than by saying; and yet are not all things made together, or

   everlasting, which Thou makest by saying.

    

 

 

   Why, I beseech Thee, O Lord my God? I see it in a way; but how to

   express it, I know not, unless it be, that whatsoever begins to be, and

   leaves off to be, begins then, and leaves off then, when in Thy eternal

   Reason it is known, that it ought to begin or leave off; in which

   Reason nothing beginneth or leaveth off. This is Thy Word, which is

   also "the Beginning, because also It speaketh unto us." 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 found

   in the eternal Verity; where the good and only Master teacheth all His

   disciples. There, Lord, hear I Thy voice speaking unto me; because He

   speaketh us, who teacheth us; but He that teacheth us not, though He

   speaketh, to us He speaketh not. Who now teacheth us, but the

   unchangeable Truth? for even when we are admonished through a

   changeable creature; we are but led to the unchangeable Truth; where we

   learn truly, while we stand and hear Him, and rejoice greatly because

   of the Bridegroom's voice, restoring us to Him, from Whom we are. And

   therefore the Beginning, because unless It abided, there should not,

   when we went astray, be whither to return. But when we return from

   error, it is through knowing; and that we may know, He teacheth us,

   because He is the Beginning, and speaking unto us.

    

 

 

   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 declare it?

   What is that which gleams through me, and strikes my heart without

   hurting it; and I shudder and kindle? I shudder, inasmuch as I unlike

   it; I kindle, inasmuch as I am like it. It is Wisdom, Wisdom's self

   which gleameth through me; severing my cloudiness which yet again

   mantles over me, fainting from it, through the darkness which for my

   punishment gathers upon me. For my strength is brought down in need, so

   that I cannot support my blessings, till Thou, Lord, Who hast been

   gracious to all mine iniquities, shalt heal all my infirmities. For

   Thou shalt also redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with

   loving kindness and tender mercies, and shalt satisfy my desire with

   good things, because my youth shall be renewed like an eagle's. For in

   hope we are saved, wherefore we through patience wait for Thy promises.

   Let him that is able, hear Thee inwardly discoursing out of Thy oracle:

   I will boldly cry out, How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord, in Wisdom

   hast Thou made them all; and this Wisdom is the Beginning, and in that

   Beginning didst Thou make heaven and earth.

    

 

 

   Lo, are they not full of their old leaven, who say to us, "What was God

   doing before He made heaven and earth? For if (say they) He were

   unemployed and wrought not, why does He not also henceforth, and for

   ever, as He did heretofore? For did any new motion arise in God, and a

   new will to make a creature, which He had never before made, how then

   would that be a true eternity, where there ariseth a will, which was

   not? For the will of God is not a creature, but before the creature;

   seeing nothing could be created, unless the will of the Creator had

   preceded. The will of God then belongeth to His very Substance. And if

   aught have arisen in God's Substance, which before was not, that

   Substance cannot be truly called eternal. But if the will of God has

   been from eternity that the creature should be, why was not the

   creature also from eternity?"

    

 

 

   Who speak thus, do not yet understand Thee, O Wisdom of God, Light of

   souls, understand not yet how the things be made, which by Thee, and in

   Thee are made: yet they strive to comprehend things eternal, whilst

   their heart fluttereth between the motions of things past and to come,

   and is still unstable. Who shall hold it, and fix it, that it be

   settled awhile, and awhile catch the glory of that everfixed Eternity,

   and compare it with the times which are never fixed, and see that it

   cannot be compared; and that a long time cannot become long, but out of

   many motions passing by, which cannot be prolonged altogether; but that

   in the Eternal nothing passeth, but the whole is present; whereas no

   time is all at once present: and that all time past, is driven on by

   time to come, and all to come followeth upon the past; and all past and

   to come, is created, and flows out of that which is ever present? Who

   shall hold the heart of man, that it may stand still, and see how

   eternity ever still-standing, neither past nor to come, uttereth the

   times past and to come? Can my hand do this, or the hand of my mouth by

   speech bring about a thing so great?

    

 

 

   See, I answer him that asketh, "What did God before He made heaven and

   earth?" I answer not as one is said to have done merrily (eluding the

   pressure of the question), "He was preparing hell (saith he) for pryers

   into mysteries." It is one thing to answer enquiries, another to make

   sport of enquirers. So I answer not; for rather had I answer, "I know

   not," what I know not, than so as to raise a laugh at him who asketh

   deep things and gain praise for one who answereth false things. But I

   say that Thou, our God, art the Creator of every creature: and if by

   the name "heaven and earth," every creature be understood; I boldly

   say, "that before God made heaven and earth, He did not make any

   thing." For if He made, what did He make but a creature? And would I

   knew whatsoever I desire to know to my profit, as I know, that no

   creature was made, before there was made any creature.

    

 

 

   But if any excursive brain rove over the images of forepassed times,

   and wonder that Thou the God Almighty and All-creating and

   All-supporting, Maker of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable ages

   forbear from so great a work, before Thou wouldest make it; let him

   awake and consider, that he wonders at false conceits. For whence could

   innumerable ages pass by, which Thou madest not, Thou the Author and

   Creator of all ages? or what times should there be, which were not made

   by Thee? or how should they pass by, if they never were? Seeing then

   Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest

   heaven and earth, why say they that Thou didst forego working? For that

   very time didst Thou make, nor could times pass by, before Thou madest

   those times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is

   it demanded, what Thou then didst? For there was no "then," when there

   was no time.

 

   Nor dost Thou by time, precede time: else shouldest Thou not precede

   all times. But Thou precedest all things past, by the sublimity of an

   ever-present eternity; and surpassest all future because they are

   future, and when they come, they shall be past; but Thou art the Same,

   and Thy years fail not. Thy years neither come nor go; whereas ours

   both come and go, that they all may come. Thy years stand together,

   because they do stand; nor are departing thrust out by coming years,

   for they pass not away; but ours shall all be, when they shall no more

   be. Thy years are one day; and Thy day is not daily, but To-day, seeing

   Thy To-day gives not place unto to-morrow, for neither doth it replace

   yesterday. Thy To-day, is Eternity; therefore didst Thou beget The

   Coeternal, to whom Thou saidst, This day have I begotten Thee. Thou

   hast made all things; and before all times Thou art: neither in any

   time was time not.

    

 

 

   At no time then hadst Thou not made any thing, because time itself Thou

   madest. And no times are coeternal with Thee, because Thou abidest; but

   if they abode, they should not be times. For what is time? Who can

   readily and briefly explain this? Who can even in thought comprehend

   it, so as to utter a word about it? But what in discourse do we mention

   more familiarly and knowingly, than time? And, 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 asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it

   to one that asketh, I know not: yet I say boldly that I know, that if

   nothing passed away, time past were not; and if nothing were coming, a

   time to come were not; and if nothing were, time present were not.

   Those two times then, past and to come, how are they, seeing the past

   now is not, and that to come is not yet? But the present, should it

   always be present, and never pass into time past, verily it should not

   be time, but eternity. If time present (if it is to be time) only

   cometh into existence, because it passeth into time past, how can we

   say that either this is, whose cause of being is, that it shall not be;

   so, namely, that we cannot truly say that time is, but because it is

   tending not to be?

    

 

 

   And yet we say, "a long time" and "a short time"; still, only of time

   past or to come. A long time past (for example) we call an hundred

   years since; and a long time to come, an hundred years hence. But a

   short time past, we call (suppose) often days since; and a short time

   to come, often 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. Let

   us not then say, "it is long"; but of the past, "it hath been long";

   and of the future, "it will be long." O my Lord, my Light, shall not

   here also Thy Truth mock at man? For that past time which was long, was

   it long when it was now past, or when it was yet present? For then

   might it be long, when there was, what could be long; but when past, it

   was no longer; wherefore neither could that be long, which was not at

   all. Let us not then say, "time past hath been long": for we shall not

   find, what hath been long, seeing that since it was past, it is no

   more, but let us say, "that present time was long"; because, when it

   was present, it was long. For it had not yet passed away, so as not to

   be; and therefore there was, what could be long; but after it was past,

   that ceased also to be long, which ceased to be.

 

   Let us see then, thou soul of man, whether present time can be long:

   for to thee it is given to feel and to measure length of time. What

   wilt thou answer me? Are an hundred years, when present, a long time?

   See first, whether an hundred years can be present. For if the first of

   these years be now current, it is present, but the other ninety and

   nine are to come, and therefore are not yet, but if the second year be

   current, one is now past, another present, the rest to come. And so if

   we assume any middle year of this hundred to be present, all before it,

   are past; all after it, to come; wherefore an hundred years cannot be

   present. But see at least whether that one which is now current, itself

   is present; for if the current month be its first, the rest are to

   come; if the second, the first is already past, and the rest are not

   yet. Therefore, neither is the year now current present; and if not

   present as a whole, then is not the year present. For twelve months are

   a year; of which whatever by the current month is present; the rest

   past, or to come. Although neither is that current month present; but

   one day only; the rest being to come, if it be the first; past, if the

   last; if any of the middle, then amid past and to come.

 

   See how the present time, which alone we found could be called long, is

   abridged to the length scarce of one day. But let us examine that also;

   because neither is one day present as a whole. For it is made up of

   four and twenty hours of night and day: of which, the first hath the

   rest to come; the last hath them past; and any of the middle hath those

   before it past, those behind it to come. Yea, that one hour passeth

   away in flying particles. Whatsoever of it hath flown away, is past;

   whatsoever remaineth, is to come. If an instant of time be conceived,

   which cannot be divided into the smallest particles of moments, that

   alone is it, which may be called present. Which yet flies with such

   speed from future to past, as not to be lengthened out with the least

   stay. For if it be, it is divided into past and future. The present

   hath no space. Where then is the time, which we may call long? Is it to

   come? Of it 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 therefore will it be?

   For if even then, when it is yet to come, it shall not be long (because

   what can be long, as yet is not), and so it shall then be long, when

   from future which as yet is not, it shall begin now to be, and have

   become present, that so there should exist what may be long; then does

   time present cry out in the words above, that it cannot be long.

    

 

 

   And yet, Lord, we perceive intervals of times, and compare them, and

   say, some are shorter, and others longer. We measure also, how much

   longer or shorter this time is than that; and we answer, "This is

   double, or treble; and that, but once, or only just so much as that."

   But we measure times as they are passing, by perceiving them; but past,

   which now are not, or the future, which are not yet, who can measure?

   unless a man shall presume to say, that can be measured, which is not.

   When then time is passing, it may be perceived and measured; but when

   it is past, it cannot, because it is not.

    

 

 

   I ask, Father, I affirm not: O my God, rule and guide me. "Who will

   tell me that there are not three times (as we learned when boys, and

   taught boys), past, present, and future; but present only, because

   those two are not? Or are they also; and when from future it becometh

   present, doth it come out of some secret place; and so, when retiring,

   from present it becometh past? For where did they, who foretold things

   to come, see them, if as yet they be not? For that which is not, cannot

   be seen. And they who relate things past, could not relate them, if in

   mind they did not discern them, and if they were not, they could no way

   be discerned. Things then past and to come, are."

    

 

 

   Permit me, Lord, to seek further. O my hope, let not my purpose be

   confounded. For if times past and to come be, I would know where they

   be. Which yet if I cannot, yet I know, wherever they be, they are not

   there as future, or past, but present. For if there also they be

   future, they are not yet there; if there also they be past, they are no

   longer there. Wheresoever then is whatsoever is, it is only as present.

   Although when past facts are related, there are drawn out of the

   memory, not the things themselves which are past, but words which,

   conceived by the images of the things, they, in passing, have through

   the senses left as traces in the mind. Thus my childhood, which now is

   not, is in time past, which now is not: but now when I recall its

   image, and tell of it, I behold it in the present, because it is still

   in my memory. Whether there be a like cause of foretelling things to

   come also; that of things which as yet are not, the images may be

   perceived before, already existing, I confess, O my God, I know not.

   This indeed I know, that we generally think before on our future

   actions, and that that forethinking is present, but the action whereof

   we forethink is not yet, because it is to come. Which, when we have set

   upon, and have begun to do what we were forethinking, then shall that

   action be; because then it is no longer future, but present.

 

   Which way soever then this secret fore-perceiving of things to come be;

   that only can be seen, which is. But what now is, is not future, but

   present. When then things to come are said to be seen, it is not

   themselves which as yet are not (that is, which are to be), but their

   causes perchance or signs are seen, which already are. Therefore they

   are not future but present to those who now see that, from which the

   future, being foreconceived in the mind, is foretold. Which

   fore-conceptions again now are; and those who foretell those things, do

   behold the conceptions present before them. Let now the numerous

   variety of things furnish me some example. I behold the day-break, I

   foreshow, that the sun, is about to rise. What I behold, is present;

   what I foresignify, to come; not the sun, which already is; but the

   sun-rising, which is not yet. And yet did I not in my mind imagine the

   sun-rising itself (as now while I speak of it), I could not foretell

   it. But neither is that day-break which I discern in the sky, the

   sun-rising, although it goes before it; nor that imagination of my

   mind; which two are seen now present, that the other which is to be may

   be foretold. Future things then are not yet: and if they be not yet,

   they are not: and if they are not, they cannot be seen; yet foretold

   they may be from things present, which are already, and are seen.

    

 

 

   Thou then, Ruler of Thy creation, by what way dost Thou teach souls

   things to come? For Thou didst teach Thy Prophets. By what way dost

   Thou, to whom nothing is to come, teach things to come; or rather of

   the future, dost teach things present? For, what is not, neither can it

   be taught. Too far is this way of my ken: it is too mighty for me, I

   cannot attain unto it; but from Thee I can, when Thou shalt vouchsafe

   it, O sweet light of my hidden eyes.

    

 

 

   What now is clear and plain is, that neither things to come nor past

   are. Nor is it properly said, "there be three times, past, present, and

   to come": yet perchance it might be properly said, "there be three

   times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a

   present of things future." For these three do exist in some sort, in

   the soul, but otherwhere do I not see them; present of things past,

   memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future,

   expectation. If thus we be permitted to speak, I see three times, and I

   confess there are three. Let it be said too, "there be three times,

   past, present, and to come": in our incorrect way. See, I object not,

   nor gainsay, nor find fault, if what is so said be but understood, that

   neither what is to be, now is, nor what is past. For but few things are

   there, which we speak properly, most things improperly; still the

   things intended are understood.

    

 

 

   I said then even now, we measure times as they pass, in order to be

   able to say, this time is twice so much as that one; or, this is just

   so much as that; and so of any other parts of time, which be

   measurable. Wherefore, as I said, we measure times as they pass. And if

   any should ask me, "How knowest thou?" I might answer, "I know, that we

   do measure, nor can we measure things that are not; and things past and

   to come, are not." But time present how do we measure, seeing it hath

   no space? It is measured while passing, but when it shall have passed,

   it is not measured; for there will be nothing to be measured. But

   whence, by what way, and whither passes it while it is a measuring?

   whence, but from the future? Which way, but through the present?

   whither, but into the past? From that therefore, which is not yet,

   through that, which hath no space, into that, which now is not. Yet

   what do we measure, if not time in some space? For we do not say,

   single, and double, and triple, and equal, or any other like way that

   we speak of time, except of spaces of times. In what space then do we

   measure time passing? In the future, whence it passeth through? But

   what is not yet, we measure not. Or in the present, by which it passes?

   but no space, we do not measure: or in the past, to which it passes?

   But neither do we measure that, which now is not.

    

 

 

   My soul is on fire to know this most intricate enigma. Shut it not up,

   O Lord my God, good Father; through Christ I beseech Thee, do not shut

   up these usual, yet hidden things, from my desire, that it be hindered

   from piercing into them; but let them dawn through Thy enlightening

   mercy, O Lord. Whom shall I enquire of concerning these things? and to

   whom shall I more fruitfully confess my ignorance, than to Thee, to

   Whom these my studies, so vehemently kindled toward Thy Scriptures, are

   not troublesome? Give what I love; for I do love, and this hast Thou

   given me. Give, Father, Who truly knowest to give good gifts unto Thy

   children. Give, because I have taken upon me to know, and trouble is

   before me until Thou openest it. By Christ I beseech Thee, in His Name,

   Holy of holies, let no man disturb me. For I believed, and therefore do

   I speak. This is my hope, for this do I live, that I may contemplate

   the delights of the Lord. Behold, Thou hast made my days old, and they

   pass away, and how, I know not. And we talk of time, and time, and

   times, and times, "How long time is it since he said this"; "how long

   time since he did this"; and "how long time since I saw that"; and

   "this syllable hath double time to that single short syllable." These

   words we speak, and these we hear, and are understood, and understand.

   Most manifest and ordinary they are, and the self-same things again are

   but too deeply hidden, and the discovery of them were new.

    

 

 

   I heard once from a learned man, that the motions of the sun, moon, and

   stars, constituted time, and I assented not. For why should not the

   motions of all bodies rather be times? Or, if the lights of heaven

   should cease, and a potter's wheel run round, should there be no time

   by which we might measure those whirlings, and say, that either it

   moved with equal pauses, or if it turned sometimes slower, otherwhiles

   quicker, that some rounds were longer, other shorter? Or, while we were

   saying this, should we not also be speaking in time? Or, should there

   in our words be some syllables short, others long, but because those

   sounded in a shorter time, these in a longer? God, grant to men to see

   in a small thing notices common to things great and small. The stars

   and lights of heaven, are also for signs, and for seasons, and for

   years, and for days; they are; yet neither should I say, that the going

   round of that wooden wheel was a day, nor yet he, that it was therefore

   no time.

 

   I desire to know the force and nature of time, by which we measure the

   motions of bodies, and say (for example) this motion is twice as long

   as that. For I ask, Seeing "day" denotes not the stay only of the sun

   upon the earth (according to which day is one thing, night another);

   but also its whole circuit from east to east again; according to which

   we say, "there passed so many days," the night being included when we

   say, "so many days," and the nights not reckoned apart;--seeing then a

   day is completed by the motion of the sun and by his circuit from east

   to east again, I ask, does the motion alone make the day, or the stay

   in which that motion is completed, or both? For if the first be the

   day; then should we have a day, although the sun should finish that

   course in so small a space of time, as one hour comes to. If the

   second, then should not that make a day, if between one sun-rise and

   another there were but so short a stay, as one hour comes to; but the

   sun must go four and twenty times about, to complete one day. If both,

   then neither could that be called a day; if the sun should run his

   whole round in the space of one hour; nor that, if, while the sun stood

   still, so much time should overpass, as the sun usually makes his whole

   course in, from morning to morning. I will not therefore now ask, what

   that is which is called day; but, what time is, whereby we, measuring

   the circuit of the sun, should say that it was finished in half the

   time it was wont, if so be it was finished in so small a space as

   twelve hours; and comparing both times, should call this a single time,

   that a double time; even supposing the sun to run his round 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 constitute

   times, because, when at the prayer of one, the sun had stood still,

   till he could achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still, but

   time went on. For in its own allotted space of time was that battle

   waged and ended. I perceive time then to be a certain extension. But do

   I perceive it, or seem to perceive it? Thou, Light and Truth, wilt show

   me.

    

 

 

   Dost Thou bid me assent, if any define time to be "motion of a body?"

   Thou dost not bid me. For that no body is moved, but in time, I hear;

   this Thou sayest; but that the 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 moveth, from the time it began to move until it left off? And

   if I did not see whence it began; and it continue to move so that I see

   not when it ends, I cannot measure, save perchance from the time I

   began, until I cease to see. And if I look long, I can only pronounce

   it to be a long time, but not how long; because when we say "how long,"

   we do it by comparison; as, "this is as long as that," or "twice so

   long as that," or the like. But when we can mark the distances of the

   places, whence and whither goeth the body moved, or his parts, if it

   moved as in a lathe, then can we say precisely, in how much time the

   motion of that body or his part, from this place unto that, was

   finished. Seeing therefore the motion of a body is one thing, that by

   which we measure how long it is, another; who sees not, which of the

   two is rather to be called time? For and if a body be sometimes moved,

   sometimes stands still, then we measure, not his motion only, but his

   standing still too by time; and we say, "it stood still, as much as it

   moved"; or "it stood still twice or thrice so long as it moved"; or any

   other space which our measuring hath either ascertained, or guessed;

   more or less, as we use to say. Time then is not the motion of a body.

    

 

 

   And I confess to Thee, O Lord, that I yet know not what time is, and

   again I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I know that I speak this in

   time, and that having long spoken of time, that very "long" is not

   long, but by the pause of time. How then know I this, seeing I know not

   what time is? or is it perchance that I know not how to express what I

   know? Woe is me, that do not even know, what I know not. Behold, O my

   God, before Thee I lie not; but as I speak, so is my heart. Thou shalt

   light my candle; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt enlighten my darkness.

    

 

 

   Does not my soul most truly confess unto Thee, that I do measure times?

   Do I then measure, O my God, and know not what I measure? I measure the

   motion of a body in time; and the time itself do I not measure? Or

   could I indeed measure the motion of a body how long it were, and in

   how long space it could come from this place to that, without measuring

   the time in which it is moved? This same time then, how do I measure?

   do we by a shorter time measure a longer, as by the space of a cubit,

   the space of a rood? for so 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 the other. Thus measure we 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 space of short syllables; not measuring

   by pages (for then we measure spaces, not times); but when we utter the

   words and they pass by, and we say "it is a long stanza, because

   composed of so many verses; long verses, because consisting of so many

   feet; long feet, because prolonged by so many syllables; a long

   syllable because double to a short one. But neither do we this way

   obtain any certain measure of time; because it may be, that a shorter

   verse, pronounced more fully, may take up more time than a longer,

   pronounced hurriedly. And so for a verse, a foot, a syllable. Whence it

   seemed to me, that time is nothing else than protraction; but of what,

   I know not; and I marvel, if it be not of the mind itself? For what, I

   beseech Thee, O my God, do I measure, when I say, either indefinitely

   "this is a longer time than that," or definitely "this is double that"?

   That I measure time, I know; and yet I measure not time to come, for it

   is not yet; nor present, because it is not protracted by any space; nor

   past, because it now is not. What then do I measure? Times passing, not

   past? for so I said.

    

 

 

   Courage, my mind, and press on mightily. God is our helper, He made us,

   and not we ourselves. Press on where truth begins to dawn. Suppose,

   now, the voice of a body begins to sound, and does sound, and sounds

   on, and list, it ceases; it is silence now, and that voice is past, and

   is no more a voice. Before it sounded, it was to come, and could not be

   measured, because as yet it was not, and now it cannot, because it is

   no longer. Then therefore while it sounded, it might; because there

   then was what might be measured. But yet even then it was not at a

   stay; for it was passing on, and passing away. Could it be measured the

   rather, for that? For while passing, it was being extended into some

   space of time, so that it might be measured, since the present hath no

   space. If therefore then it might, then, to, suppose another voice hath

   begun to sound, and still soundeth in one continued tenor without any

   interruption; let us measure it while it sounds; seeing when it hath

   left sounding, it will then be past, and nothing left to be measured;

   let us measure it verily, and tell how much it is. But it sounds still,

   nor can it be measured but from the instant it began in, unto the end

   it left in. For the very space between is the thing we measure, namely,

   from some beginning unto some end. Wherefore, a voice that is not yet

   ended, cannot be measured, so that it may be said how long, or short it

   is; nor can it be called equal to another, or double to a single, or

   the like. But when ended, it no longer is. How may it then be measured?

   And yet we measure times; but yet neither those which are not yet, nor

   those which no longer are, nor those which are not lengthened out by

   some pause, nor those which have no bounds. We measure neither times to

   come, nor past, nor present, nor passing; and yet we do measure times.

 

   "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 but single, in respect of the four long, the second,

   fourth, sixth, and eighth. Every one of these to every one of those,

   hath a double time: I pronounce them, report on them, and find it so,

   as one's plain sense perceives. By plain sense then, I measure a long

   syllable by a short, and I sensibly find it to have twice so much; but

   when one sounds after the other, if the former be short, the latter

   long, how shall I detain the short one, and how, measuring, shall I

   apply it to the long, that I may find this to have twice so much;

   seeing the long does not begin to sound, unless the short leaves

   sounding? And that very long one do I measure as present, seeing I

   measure it not till it be ended? Now his ending is his passing away.

   What then is it I measure? where is the short syllable by which I

   measure? where the long which I measure? Both have sounded, have flown,

   passed away, are no more; and yet I measure, and confidently answer (so

   far as is presumed on a practised sense) that as to space of time this

   syllable is but single, that double. And yet I could not do this,

   unless they were already past and ended. It is not then themselves,

   which now are not, that I measure, but something in my memory, which

   there remains fixed.

 

   It is in thee, my mind, that I measure times. Interrupt me not, that

   is, interrupt not thyself with the tumults of thy impressions. In thee

   I measure times; the impression, which things as they pass by cause in

   thee, remains even when they are gone; this it is which still present,

   I measure, not the things which pass by to make this impression. This I

   measure, when I measure times. Either then this is time, or I do not

   measure times. What when we measure silence, and say that this silence

   hath held as long time as did that voice? do we not stretch out our

   thought to the measure of a voice, as if it sounded, that so we may be

   able to report of the intervals of silence in a given space of time?

   For though both voice and tongue be still, yet in thought we go over

   poems, and verses, and any other discourse, or dimensions of motions,

   and report as to the spaces of times, how much this is in respect of

   that, no otherwise than if vocally we did pronounce them. If a man

   would utter a lengthened sound, and had settled in thought how long it

   should be, he hath in silence already gone through a space of time, and

   committing it to memory, begins to utter that speech, which sounds on,

   until it be brought unto the end proposed. Yea it hath sounded, and

   will sound; for so much of it as is finished, hath sounded already, and

   the rest will sound. And thus passeth it on, until the present intent

   conveys over the future into the past; the past increasing by the

   diminution of the future, until by the consumption of the future, all

   is past.

    

 

 

   But how is that future diminished or consumed, which as yet is not? or

   how that past increased, which is now no longer, save that in the mind

   which enacteth this, there be three things done? For it expects, it

   considers, it remembers; that so that which it expecteth, through that

   which it considereth, passeth into that which it remembereth. Who

   therefore denieth, that things to come are not as yet? and yet, there

   is in the mind an expectation of things to come. And who denies past

   things to be now no longer? and yet is there still in the mind a memory

   of things past. And who denieth the present time hath no space, because

   it passeth away in a moment? and yet our consideration continueth,

   through which that which shall be present proceedeth to become absent.

   It is not then future time, that is long, for as yet it is not: but a

   long future, is "a long expectation of the future," nor is it time

   past, which now is not, that is long; but a long past, is "a long

   memory of the past."

 

   I am about to repeat a Psalm that I know. Before I begin, my

   expectation is extended over the whole; but when I have begun, how much

   soever of it I shall separate off into the past, is extended along my

   memory; thus the life of this action of mine is divided between my

   memory as to what I have repeated, and expectation as to what I am

   about to repeat; but "consideration" is present with me, that through

   it what was future, may be conveyed over, so as to become past. Which

   the more it is done again and again, so much the more the expectation

   being shortened, is the memory enlarged: till the whole expectation be

   at length exhausted, when that whole action being ended, shall have

   passed into memory. And this which takes place in the whole Psalm, the

   same takes place in each several portion of it, and each several

   syllable; the same holds in that longer action, whereof this Psalm may

   be part; the same holds in the whole life of man, whereof all the

   actions of man are parts; the same holds through the whole age of the

   sons of men, whereof all the lives of men are parts.

    

 

 

   But because Thy loving-kindness is better than all lives, behold, my

   life is but a distraction, and Thy right hand upheld me, in my Lord the

   Son of man, the Mediator betwixt Thee, The One, and us many, many also

   through our manifold distractions amid many things, that by Him I may

   apprehend in Whom I have been apprehended, and may be re-collected from

   my old conversation, to follow The One, forgetting what is behind, and

   not distended but extended, not to things which shall be and shall pass

   away, but to those things which are before, not distractedly but

   intently, I follow on for the prize of my heavenly calling, where I may

   hear the voice of Thy praise, and contemplate Thy delights, neither to

   come, nor to pass away. But now are my years spent in mourning. And

   Thou, O Lord, art my comfort, my Father everlasting, but I have been

   severed amid times, whose order I know not; and my thoughts, even the

   inmost bowels of my soul, are rent and mangled with tumultuous

   varieties, until I flow together into Thee, purified and molten by the

   fire of Thy love.

    

 

 

   And now will I stand, and become firm 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 contain, and say, "what did God before He made

   heaven and earth?" Or, "How came it into His mind to make any thing,

   having never before made any thing?" Give them, O Lord, well to bethink

   themselves what they say, and to find, that "never" cannot be

   predicated, when "time" is not. This then that He is said "never to

   have made"; what else is it to say, than "in no have made?" Let them

   see therefore, that time cannot be without created being, and cease to

   speak that vanity. May they also be extended towards those things which

   are before; and understand Thee before all times, the eternal Creator

   of all times, and that no times be coeternal with Thee, nor any

   creature, even if there be any creature before all times.

    

 

 

   O Lord my God, what a depth is that recess of Thy mysteries, and how

   far from it have the consequences of my transgressions cast me! Heal

   mine eyes, that I may share the joy of Thy light. Certainly, if there

   be mind gifted with such vast knowledge and foreknowledge, as to know

   all things past and to come, as I know one well-known Psalm, truly that

   mind is passing wonderful, and fearfully amazing; in that nothing past,

   nothing to come in after-ages, is any more hidden from him, than when I

   sung that Psalm, was hidden from me what, and how much of it had passed

   away from the beginning, what, and how much there 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 in such wise know

   all things past and to come. Far, far more wonderfully, and far more

   mysteriously, dost Thou know them. For not, as the feelings of one who

   singeth what he knoweth, or heareth some well-known song, are through

   expectation of the words to come, and the remembering of those that are

   past, varied, and his senses divided,--not so doth any thing happen

   unto Thee, unchangeably eternal, that is, the eternal Creator of minds.

   Like then as Thou in the Beginning knewest the heaven and the earth,

   without any variety of Thy knowledge, so madest Thou in the Beginning

   heaven and earth, without any distraction of Thy action. Whoso

   understandeth, let him confess unto Thee; and whoso understandeth not,

   let him confess unto Thee. Oh how high art Thou, and yet the humble in

   heart are Thy dwelling-place; for Thou raisest up those that are bowed

   down, and they fall not, whose elevation Thou art.

   

 

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