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St. Augustine of Hippo- Confessions BOOK VII
AUTHOR: Augustine
PUBLISHED ON: March 27, 2003
DOC SOURCE: CCN

St. Augustine of Hippo: CONFESSIONS
“New Advent Catholic Supersite”

St. Augustine of Hippo
Confessions

BOOK VII.

HE RECALLS THE BEGINNING OF HIS YOUTH, i.e. THE THIRTY-FIRST YEAR
OF HIS AGE, IN WHICH VERY GRAVE ERRORS AS TO THE NATURE OF GOD AND
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL BEING DISTINGUISHED, AND THE SACRED BOOKS MORE
ACCURATELY KNOWN, HE AT LENGTH ARRIVES AT A CLEAR KNOWLEDGE OF
GOD, NOT YET RIGHTLY APPREHENDING JESUS CHRIST.

CHAP. I. — HE REGARDED NOT GOD INDEED UNDER THE FORM OF A HUMAN
BODY, BUT AS A CORPOREAL SUBSTANCE DIFFUSED THROUGH SPACE.

1. DEAD now was that evil and abominable youth of mine, and I was
passing into early manhood: as I increased in years, the fouler
became I in vanity, who could not conceive of any substance but such
as I saw with my own eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God, under the
form of a human body. Since the time I began to hear something of
wisdom, I always avoided this; and I rejoiced to have found the same
in the faith of our spiritual mother, Thy Catholic Church. But what
else to imagine Thee I knew not. And I, a man, and such a man,
sought to conceive of Thee, the sovereign and only true God; and I
did in my inmost heart believe that Thou wert incorruptible, and
inviolable, and unchangeable; because, not knowing whence or how,
yet most plainly did I see and feel sure that that which may be
corrupted must be worse than that which cannot, and what cannot be
violated did I without hesitation prefer before that which can, and
deemed that which suffers no change to be better than that which is
changeable. Violently did my heart cry out against all my phantasms,
and with this one blow I endeavoured to beat away from the eye of my
mind all that unclean crowd which fluttered around it. And lo, being
scarce put off, they, in the twinkling of an eye, pressed in
multitudes around me, dashed against my face, and beclouded it; so
that, though I thought not of Thee under the form of a human body,
yet was I constrained to image Thee to be something corporeal in
space, either infused into the world, or infinitely diffused beyond
it, — even that incorruptible, inviolable, and unchangeable, which
I preferred to the corruptible, and violable, and changeable; since
whatsoever I conceived, deprived of this space, appeared as nothing
to me, yea, altogether nothing, not even a void, as if a body were
removed from its place and the place should remain empty of any body
at all, whether earthy, terrestrial, watery, aerial, or celestial,
but should remain a void place — a spacious nothing, as it were.

2. I therefore being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to
myself, whatsoever was not stretched over certain spaces, nor
diffused, nor crowded together, nor swelled out, or which did not or
could not receive some of these dimensions, I judged to be
altogether nothing. For over such forms as my eyes are wont to range
did my heart then range; nor did I see that this same observation,
by which I formed those same images, was not of this kind, and yet
it could not have formed them had not itself been something great.
In like manner did I conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vast
through infinite spaces, on every side penetrating the whole mass of
the world, and beyond it, all ways, through immeasurable and
boundless spaces; so that the earth should have Thee, the heaven
have Thee, all things have Thee, and they bounded in Thee, but Thou
nowhere. For as the body of this air which is above the earth
preventeth not the light of the sun from passing through it,
penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by filling it
entirely, so I imagined the body, not of heaven, air, and sea only,
but of the earth also, to be pervious
to Thee, and in all its greatest parts as well as smallest
penetrable to receive Thy presence, by a secret inspiration, both
inwardly and outwardly governing all things which Thou hast created.
So I conjectured, because I was unable to think of anything else;
for it was untrue. For in this way would a greater part of the earth
contain a greater portion of Thee, and the less a lesser; and all
things should so be full of Thee, as that the body of an elephant
should contain more of Thee than that of a sparrow by how much
larger it is, and occupies more room; and so shouldest Thou make the
portions of Thyself present unto the several portions of the world,
in pieces, great to the great, little to the little. But Thou art
not such a one; nor hadst Thou as yet enlightened my darkness.

CHAP. II. — THE DISPUTATION OF NEBRIDIUS AGAINST THE
MANICHAEANS, ON THE QUESTION “WHETHER GOD BE CORRUPTIBLE OR
INCORRUPTIBLE.”

3. It was sufficient for me, O Lord, to oppose to those deceived
deceivers and dumb praters (dumb, since Thy word sounded not forth
from them) that which a long while ago, while we were at Carthage,
Nebridius used to propound, at which all we who heard it were
disturbed: “What could that reputed nation of darkness, which the
Manichaeans are in the habit of setting up as a mass opposed to
Thee, have done unto Thee hadst Thou objected to fight with it? For
had it been answered, ‘It would have done Thee some injury,’ then
shouldest Thou be subject to violence and corruption; but if the
reply were: ‘It could do Thee no injury,’ then was no cause assigned
for Thy fighting with it; and so fighting as that a certain portion
and member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very substance, should be
blended with adverse powers and natures not of Thy creation, and be
by them corrupted and deteriorated to such an extent as to be turned
from happiness into misery, and need help whereby it might be
delivered and purged; and that this offspring of Thy substance was
the soul, to which, being enslaved, contaminated, and corrupted, Thy
word, free, pure, and entire, might bring succour; but yet also the
word itself being corruptible, because it was from one and the same
substance. So that should they affirm Thee, whatsoever Thou art,
that is, Thy substance whereby Thou art, to be incorruptible, then
were all these assertions false and execrable; but if corruptible,
then that were false, and at the first utterance to be abhorred.”
This argument, then, was enough against those who wholly merited to
be vomited forth from the surfeited stomach, since they had no means
of escape without horrible sacrilege, both of heart and tongue,
thinking and speaking such things of Thee.

CHAP. III. — THAT THE CAUSE OF EVIL IS THE FREE JUDGMENT OF THE
WILL.

4. But I also, as yet, although I said and was firmly persuaded,
that Thou our Lord, the true God, who madest not only our souls but
our bodies, and not our souls and bodies alone, but all creatures
and all things, wert uncontaminable and inconvertible, and in no
part mutable: yet understood I not readily and clearly what was the
cause of evil. And yet, whatever it was, I perceived that it must be
so sought out as not to constrain me by it to believe that the
immutable God was mutable, lest I myself
should become the thing that I was seeking out. I sought, therefore,
for it free from care, certain of the untruthfulness of what these
asserted, whom I shunned with my whole heart; for I perceived that
through seeking after the origin of evil, they were filled with
malice, in that they liked better to think that Thy Substance did
suffer evil than that their own did commit it.

5. And I directed my attention to discern what I now heard, that
free will was the cause of our doing evil, and Thy righteous
judgment of our suffering it. But I was unable clearly to discern
it. So, then, trying to draw the eye of my mind from that pit, I was
plunged again therein, and trying often, was as often plunged back
again. But this raised me towards Thy light, that I knew as well
that I had a will as that I had life: when, therefore, I was willing
or unwilling to do anything, I was most certain that it was none but
myself that was willing and unwilling; and immediately I perceived
that there was the cause of my sin. But what I did against my will I
saw that I suffered rather than did, and that judged I not to be my
fault, but my punishment; whereby, believing Thee to be most just, I
quickly confessed myself to be not unjustly punished. But again I
said: “Who made me? Was it not my God, who is not only good, but
goodness itself? Whence came I then to will to do evil, and to be
unwilling to do good, that there might be cause for my just
punishment? Who was it that put this in me, and implanted in me the
root of bitterness, seeing I was altogether made by my most sweet
God? If the devil were the author, whence is that devil? And if he
also, by his own perverse will, of a good angel became a devil,
whence also was the evil will in him whereby he became a devil,
seeing that the angel was made altogether good by that most Good
Creator?” By these reflections was I again cast down and stifled;
yet not plunged into that hell of error (where no man confesseth
unto Thee), to think that Thou dost suffer evil, rather than that
man doth it.

CHAP. IV. — THAT GOD IS NOT CORRUPTIBLE, WHO, IF HE WERE, WOULD
NOT BE GOD AT ALL.

6. For I was so struggling to find out the rest, as having
already found that what was incorruptible must be better than the
corruptible; and Thee, therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, did I
acknowledge to be incorruptible. For never yet was, nor will be, a
soul able to conceive of anything better than Thou, who art the
highest and best good. But whereas most truly and certainly that
which is incorruptible is to be preferred to the corruptible (like
as I myself did now prefer it), then, if Thou were not
incorruptible, I could in my thoughts have reached unto something
better than my God. Where, then, I saw that the incorruptible was to
be preferred to the corruptible, there ought I to seek Thee, and
there observe “whence evil itself was,” that is, whence comes the
corruption by which Thy substance can by no means be profaned. For
corruption, truly, in no way injures our God, — by no will, by no
necessity, by no unforeseen 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 compelled to do anything against Thy will in
that Thy will is not greater than Thy power. But greater should it
be wert Thou Thyself greater than Thyself; for the will and power of
God is God Himself. And what can be unforeseen by Thee, who knowest
all things? Nor is there any sort of nature but Thou knowest it. And
what more should we say “why that substance which God is should not
be corruptible,” seeing that if it were so it could not be God?

CHAP. V. — QUESTIONS CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF EVIL IN REGARD TO
GOD, WHO, SINCE HE IS THE CHIEF GOOD, CANNOT BE THE CAUSE OF EVIL.

7. And I sought “whence is evil?” And sought in an evil way; nor
saw I the evil in my very search. And I set in order before the view
of my spirit the whole creation, and whatever we can discern in it,
such as earth, sea, air, stars, trees, living creatures; yea, and
whatever in it we do not see, as the firmament of heaven, all the
angels, too, and all the spiritual inhabitants thereof. But these
very beings, as though they were bodies, did my fancy dispose in
such and such places, and I made one huge mass of all Thy creatures,
distinguished according to the kinds of bodies, — some of them
being real bodies, some what I myself had feigned for spirits. And
this mass I made huge, — not as it was, which I could not know, but
as large as I thought well, 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 everywhere, and on every side
through immensity nothing but an infinite sea; and it contained
within itself some sponge, huge, though finite, so that the sponge
would in all its parts be filled from the immeasurable sea. So
conceived I Thy Creation to be itself finite, and filled by 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, who is good, hath created them good, and
behold how He encircleth and filleth them. Where, then, is evil, and
whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its
seed? Or hath it no being at all? Why, then, do we fear and shun
that which hath no being? Or if we fear it needlessly, then surely:
is that fear evil whereby the heart is unnecessarily pricked and
tormented,–and so much a greater evil, as we have naught to fear,
and yet do fear. Therefore either that is evil which we fear, or the
act of fearing is in itself evil. Whence, therefore, is it, seeing
that God, who is good, hath made all these things good? He, indeed,
the greatest and chiefest Good, hath created these lesser goods; but
both Creator and created are all good. Whence is evil? Or was there
some evil matter of which He made and formed and ordered it, but
left something in it which He did not convert into good? But why was
this? Was He powerless to change the whole lump, so that no evil
should remain in it, seeing that He is omnipotent? Lastly, why would
He make anything at all of it, and not rather by the same
omnipotency cause it not to be at all? Or could it indeed exist
contrary to His will? Or if it were from eternity, why did He permit
it so to be for infinite spaces of times in the past, and was
pleased so long after to make something out of it? Or if He wished
now all of a sudden to do something, this rather should the
Omnipotent have accomplished, that this evil matter should not be at
all, and that He only should be the whole, true, chief, and infinite
Good. Or if it were not good that He, who was good, should not also
be the framer and creator of what was good, then that matter which
was evil being removed, and brought to nothing, He might form good
matter, whereof He might create all things. For He would not be
omnipotent were He not able to create something good without being
assisted by that matter which had not been created by Himself.x Such
like things did I revolve in my miserable breast, overwhelmed with
most gnawing cares lest I should die ere I discovered the truth; yet
was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and Saviour, as held in the
Catholic Church, fixed firmly in my heart, unformed, indeed, as yet
upon many points, and diverging from doctrinal rules, but yet my
mind did not utterly leave it, but every day rather drank in more
and more of it.

CHAP. VI.–HE REFUTES THE. DIVINATIONS OF THE ASTROLOGERS,
DEDUCED FROM THE CONSTELLATIONS.

8. Now also had I repudiated the lying divinations and impious
absurdities of the astrologers. Let Thy mercies, out of the depth of
my soul, confess unto thee for this also, O my God. For Thou, Thou
altogether,–for who else is it that calls us back from the death of
all errors, but that Life which knows not how to die, and the Wisdom
which, requiring no light, enlightens the minds that do, whereby the
universe is governed, even to the fluttering leaves of trees?–Thou
providedst also for my obstinacy wherewith I struggled with
Vindicianus, an acute old man, and Nebridius, a young one of
remarkable talent; the former vehemently declaring, and the latter
frequently, though with a certain measure of doubt, saying, “That no
art existed by which to foresee future things, but that men’s
surmises had oftentimes the help of luck, and that of many things
which they foretold some came to pass unawares to the predictors,
who lighted on it by their oft speaking.” Thou, therefore, didst
provide a friend for me, who was no negligent consulter of the
‘astrologers, and yet not thoroughly skilled in those arts, but, as
I said, a curious consulter with them; and yet knowing somewhat,
which he said he had heard from his father, which, how far it would
tend to overthrow the estimation of that art, he knew not. This man,
then, by name Firminius, having received a liberal education, and
being well versed in rhetoric, consulted me, as one very dear to
him, as to what I thought on some affairs of his, wherein his
worldly hopes had risen, viewed with regard to his so-called
constellations; and I, who had now begun to lean in this particular
towards Nebridius’ opinion, did not indeed decline to speculate
about the matter, and to tell him what came into my irresolute mind,
but still added that I was now almost persuaded that these were but
empty and ridiculous follies. Upon this he told me that his father
had been very curious in such books, and that he had a friend who
was as interested in them as he was himself, who, with combined
study and consultation, fanned the flame of their affection for
these toys, insomuch that they would observe the moment when the
very dumb animals which bred in their houses brought forth, and then
observed the position of the heavens with regard to them, so as to
gather fresh proofs of this so-called art. He said, moreover, that
his father had told him, that at the time his mother was about to
give birth to him (Firminius), a female servant of that friend of
his father’s was also great with child, which could not be hidden
from her master, who took care with most diligent exactness to know
of the birth of his very dogs. And so it came to pass that (the one
for his wife, and the other for his ser
vant, with the most careful observation, calculating the days and
hours, and the smaller divisions of the hours) both were delivered
at the same moment, so that both were compelled to allow the very
selfsame constellations, even to the minutest point, the one for his
son, the other for his young slave. For so soon as the women began
to be in travail, they each gave notice to the other of what was
fallen out in their respective houses, and had messengers ready to
despatch to one another so soon as they had information of the
actual birth, of which they had easily provided, each in his own
province, to give instant intelligence. Thus, then, he said, the
messengers of the respective parties met one another in such equal
distances from either house, that neither of them could discern any
difference either in the position of the stars or other most minute
points. And yet Firminius, born in a high estate in his parents’
house, ran his course through the prosperous paths of this world,
was increased in wealth, and elevated to honours; whereas that
slave–the yoke of his condition being unrelaxed–continued to serve
his masters, as Firminius, who knew him, informed me.

9. Upon hearing and believing these things, related by so
reliable a person, all that resistance of mine melted away; and
first I endeavoured to reclaim Firminius himself from that
curiosity, by telling him, that upon inspecting his constellations,
I ought, were I to foretell truly, to have seen in them parents
eminent among their neighbours, a noble family in its own city, good
birth, becoming education, and liberal learning. But if that servant
had consulted me upon the same constellations, since they were his
also, I ought again to tell him, likewise truly, to see in them the
meanness of his origin, the abjectness of his condition, and
everything else altogether removed from and at variance with the
former. Whence, then, looking upon the same constellations, I
should, if I spoke the truth, speak diverse things, or if I spoke
the same, speak falsely; thence assuredly was it to be gathered,
that whatever, upon consideration of the constellations, was
foretold truly,.was not by art, but by chance; and whatever falsely,
was not from the unskillfulness of the art, but the error of chance.

10. An opening being thus made, I ruminated within myself on such
things, that no one of those dotards (who followed such occupations,
and whom I longed to assail, and with derision to confute) might
urge against me that Firminius had informed me falsely, or his
father him: I turned my thoughts to those that are born twins, who
generally come out of the womb so near one to another, that the
small distance of time between them–how much force soever they may
contend that it has in the nature of things–cannot be noted by
human observation, or be expressed in those figures which the
astrologer is to examine that he may pronounce the truth. Nor can
they be true; for, looking into the same figures, he must have
foretold the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same did not
happen to them. He must therefore speak falsely; or if truly, then,
looking into the same figures, he must not speak the same things.
Not then by art, but by chance, would he speak truly. For Thou, O
Lord, most righteous Ruler of the universe, the inquirers and
inquired of knowing it not, workest by a hidden inspiration that the
consulter should hear what, according to the hidden deservings of
souls, he ought to hear, out of the depth of Thy righteous judgment,
to whom let not man say, “What is this?” or “Why that?” Let him
not say so, for he is man.

CHAP. VII.–HE IS SEVERELY EXERCISED AS TO THE ORIGIN OF EVIL.

11. And now, O my He]per, hadst Thou freed me from those fetters;
and I inquired, “Whence is evil?” and found no result. But Thou
sufferedst me not to be carried away from the faith by any
fluctuations of thought, whereby I believed Thee both to exist, and
Thy substance to be unchangeable, and that Thou hadst 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 planned the way of man’s salvation to that life
which is to come after this death. These things being safe and
immoveably settled in my mind, I eagerly inquired, “Whence is evil?”
What torments did my travailing heart then endure! What sighs, O my
God! Yet even there were Thine ears open, and I knew it not; and
when in stillness I sought earnestly, those silent contritions of my
soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy. No man knoweth, but only
Thou, what I endured. For what was that which was thence through my
tongue poured into the ears of my most familiar friends? Did the
whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time nor speech was
sufficient, reach them? Yet went the whole into Thine ears, all of
which I bellowed out from the sightings 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 in place, but my attention
was directed to things contained in place; but there did I find no
resting-place, nor did they receive me in such a way as that I could
say, “It is sufficient, it is well;” nor did they let me 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 I am subjected
to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what Thou createdst beneath
me. And this was the true temperature and middle region of my
safety, to continue in Thine image, and by serving Thee to have
dominion over the body. But when I lifted myself proudly against I
Thee, and “ran against the Lord, even on His l neck, with the thick
bosses” of my buckler, even these inferior things were placed above
l me, and pressed upon me, and nowhere was/ there alleviation or
breathing space. They/ encountered my sight on every side in crowds
I and troops, and in thought the images of l bodies obtruded
themselves as I was returning to Thee, as if they would say unto me,
“Whither goest thou, unworthy and base one?” And these things had
sprung forth out of my wound; for thou humblest the proud like one
that is wounded, and through my own swelling was I separated from
Thee; yea, my too much swollen face closed up mine eyes.

CHAP. VIII.–BY GOD’S ASSISTANCE HE BY DEGREES ARRIVES AT THE TRUTH.

12. “But Thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever,” yet not for ever
art Thou angry with us, } because Thou dost commiserate our dust and
lt ashes; and it was pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformity,
and by inward stings didst Thou disturb me, that I should be
dissatisfied/t until Thou wert made sure to my inward sight. }k And
by the secret hand of Thy remedy was my swelling lessened, and the
disordered and darkened eyesight of my mind, by the sharp anointings
of healthful sorrows, was from day to day made whole.

CHAP. IX.–HE COMPARES THE DOCTRINE OF THE
PLATONISTS CONCERNING THE LoUod WITH
THE MUCH MORE EXCELLENT DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIANITY.

13. And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou “resistest the
proud, but givest grace” and by how great art act of mercy Thou
hadst pointed out to men the c path of humility, in that Thy “Word
was made flesh” and dwelt among men,–Thou procuredst for me, by the
instrumentality of one inflated with most monstrous pride, certain
books of the Platonists, translated from ‘Greek into Latin. And
therein I read, not indeed in the same words, but to the selfsame
effect,s 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 not any thing made that was
made.” That which was made by Him is “life; and the life was the
light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness
comprehendeth it not.” And that the soul of man, though it “bears
witness of 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, even
to then: that believe on His name.” This I did not read there.

14. In like manner, 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,” s I read not there. For I discovered in those books that
it was in 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, “and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in
the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled
Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the
cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him”
from the dead, “and given Him a name above every name; that at the
name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things
in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should
confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father;’, those books have not. For that before all times, and
above all times, Thy only-begotten Son remaineth unchangeably
co-eternal with Thee; and that of “His fulness” souls receive,
that they may be blessed; and that by participation of the wisdom
remaining in them they are renewed, that they may be wise, is there.
But that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly,” n and that Thou
sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us all, is
not there. “Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and
prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes;” xs that they “that
labour and are heavy laden” might “come” unto Him and He might
refresh them, because He is “meek and lowly in heart.” “The meek
will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way;”
looking upon our humility and our distress, and forgiving all our
sins. But such as are puffed up with the elation of would-be
sublimer learning, do not hear Him saying, “Learn of Me; for I am
meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God,
neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and
their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools.”

15. And therefore also did I read there, that they had changed
the glory of Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers
forms,–” into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds,
and four-footed 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 back in heart towards Egypt, and prostrating Thy
image–their own soul–before the image “of
an ox that eateth grass.” x These things found I there; 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 hast called the Gentiles into Thine inheritance. And I had
come unto Thee from among the Gentiles, and I strained after that
gold which Thou willedst Thy people to take from Egypt, seeing that
wheresoever it was it was Thine? And to the Athenians Thou saidst by
Thy apostle, that in Thee “we live, and move, and have our being;”
as one of their own poets has said. And verily these books came
from thence. But I set not my mind on the idols of Egypt, whom they
ministered to with Thy gold,s “who changed the truth of God into a
lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.”

CHAP. X. — DIVINE THINGS ARE THE MORE CLEARLY MANIFESTED TO HIM
WHO WITHDRAWS INTO’ THE RECESSES OF HIS HEART.

16. And being thence warned to return to myself, I entered into
my inward self, Thou leading me on; and I was able to do it, for
Thou wert become my helper. And I entered, and with the eye of my
soul (such as it was) saw above the same eye of my soul, above my
mind, the Unchangeable Light? Not this common light, which all flesh
may look upon, nor, as it were, a greater one of the same kind, as
though the brightness of this should be much more resplendent, and
with its greatness fill up all things. Not like this was that light,
but different, yea, very different from all these. Nor was it above
my mind as oil is above water, nor as heaven above earth; but above
it was, because it made me, and I below it, because I was made by
it. He who knows the Truth knows that Light; and he that knows it
knoweth eternity. Love knoweth it. O Eternal Truth, and true Love,
and loved Eternity! s Thou art my God; to Thee do I sigh both night
and day. When I first knew Thee, Thou liftedst me up, that I might
see there was that which I might see, and that yet it was not I that
did see. And Thou didst beat back the infirmity of my sight, pouring
forth upon me most strongly Thy beams of light, and I trembled with
love and fear; and I found myself to be far off from Thee, in the
region of dissimilarity, as if I heard this voice of Thine from on
high: “I am the food of strong men; grow, and thou shalt feed upon
me; nor shall thou convert me, like the food of thy flesh, into
thee, but thou shall be converted into me.” And I learned that Thou
for iniquity dost correct man, and Thou dost make my soul to consume
away like a spider? And I said, “Is Truth, therefore, nothing
because it is neither diffused through space, finite, nor infinite?”
And Thou criedst to me from afar, “Yea, verily, ‘I AM THAT I AM'”
And I heard this, as things
are heard in the heart, nor was there room for doubt; and I should
more readily doubt that I live than that Truth is not, which is
“clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”

CHAP. XI.–THAT CREATURES ARE MUTABLE AND GOD ALONE IMMUTABLE.

17. And I viewed the other things below Thee, and perceived that
they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not. They are,
indeed, because they are from Thee; but are not, because they are
not what Thou art. For that truly is which remains immutably? It is
good, then, for me to cleave unto God, for if I remain not in Him,
neither shall I in myself; but He, remaining in Himself, reneweth
all things. And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou stand-est not
in need of my goodness.

CHAP. XII.–WHATEVER THINGS THE GOOD GOD HAS CREATED ARE VERY
GOOD.

18. And it was made clear unto me that those things are good
which yet are corrupted, which, neither were they supremely good,
nor unless they were good, could be corrupted; because if supremely
good, they were incorruptible, and if not good at all, there was
nothing in them to be corrupted. For corruption harms, but, less it
could diminish goodness, it could Z;t l harm. Either, then,
corruption harms not, which cannot be; or, what is most certain, all
of which is corrupted is deprived of good. But if they be deprived of
all good, they will cease to be. For if they be, and cannot be at
all corrupted, they will become better, because they shall remain
incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to assert that those
things which have lost all their goodness are made better?
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
was, is not any substance; for were it a substance, it would be
good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance, land so a
chief good, or a corruptible substance, which unless it were good it
could not be corrupted. I perceived, therefore, and it was made
clear to me, that Thou didst make all things good, nor is there any
substance at all that was not made by Thee; and because all that
Thou hast made are not equal, therefore all things are; because
individually they are good, and altogether very good, because our
God made all things very good.

CHAP. XIII.–IT IS MEET TO PRAISE THE CREATOR FOR THE GOOD THINGS
WHICH ARE MADE IN HEAVEN AND EARTH.

19. And to Thee is there nothing at all evil, and not only to
Thee, but to Thy whole creation; because there is nothing without
which can break in, and mar that order which Thou hast appointed it.
But in the parts thereof, some things, because they harmonize not
with others, are considered evil; whereas those very things
harmonize with others, and are good, and in themselves are good. And
all these things which do not harmonize together harmonize with the
inferior part which we call earth, having its own cloudy and windy
sky concordant to it. Far be it from me, then, to say, “These things
should not be.” For should I see nothing but these, I should indeed
desire better; but yet, if only for these, ought I to praise Thee;
for that Thou art to be praised is shown from the “earth, dragons,
and all deeps; fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy winds
fulfilling Thy word; mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and
all cedars; beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying
fowl; kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of
the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children,” praise
Thy name. But when, “from the heavens,” these praise Thee, praise
Thee, our God, “in the heights,” all Thy “angels,” all Thy “hosts,”
“sun and moon,” all ye stars and light, “the heavens of heavens,”
and the “waters that be above the heavens,” praise Thy name. I did
not now desire better things, because I was thinking of all; and
with a better judgment I reflected that the things above were better
than those below, but that all were better than those above alone.

CHAP. XIV. –BEING DISPLEASED WITH SOME PART; OF GOD’S CREATION,
HE CONCEIVES OF TWO ORIGINAL SUBSTANCES.

20. There is no wholeness in them whom aught of Thy creation
displeased no more than there was in me, when many things which Thou
madest displeased me. And, because my soul dared not be displeased
at my God, it would not suffer aught to be Thine which displeased
it. Hence it had gone into the opinion of two substances, and
resisted not, but talked foolishly. And, returning thence, it had
made to itself a god, through infinite measures of all space; and
imagined it to be Thee, and placed it in its heart, and again had
become the temple of its own idol, which was to Thee an abomination.
But after Thou hadst fomented the. head of me unconscious of it, and
closed mine eyes test they should “behold vanity,” * I ceased from
myself a little, and my madness was lulled to sleep; and I awoke in
Thee, and saw Thee to be infinite, though in another way; and this
sight was not derived from the flesh.

CHAP. XV.–WHATEVER IS, OWES ITS BEING TO GOD.

21. And I looked hack on other things, and I perceived that it
was to Thee they owed their being, and that they were all bounded in
Thee; but in another way, not as being in space, but because Thou
boldest all things in Thine hand in truth: and all things are true
so fir as they have a being; nor is there any falsehood, unless that
which is not is thought to be. And I saw that all things harmonized,
not with their places only, but with their seasons also. And that
Thou, who only art eternal, didst not begin to work after
innumerable spaces of times; for that all spaces of times, both
those which have passed and which shall pass, neither go nor come,
save through Thee, working and abiding.

CHAP. XVI–EVIL ARISES NOT
FROM A SUBSTANCE, BUT FROM THE PERVERSION OF THE WILL.

22. And I discerned and found it no marvel, that bread which is
distasteful to an unhealthy palate is pleasant to a healthy one; and
that the light, which is painful to sore eyes, is delightful ‘ to
sound ones. And Thy righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more
the viper and: little worm, which Thou hast created good, ‘ fitting
in with inferior parts of Thy creation;. with which the wicked
themselves also fit in, the more in proportion as they are unlike
Thee, but with the superior creatures, in proportion as they become
like to Thee.s And I inquired what iniquity was, and ascertained it
not to be a substance, but a perversion of the will, bent aside
from-Thee, O God, the Supreme Substance, towards these lower things,
and casting out its bowels, and swelling outwardly.

CHAP. XVII.–ABOVE HIS CHANGEABLE MIND, HE DISCOVERS THE
UNCHANGEABLE AUTHOR OF TRUTH.

23. And I marvelled that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm
instead of Thee. And yet I did not merit to enjoy my God, but was
transported to Thee by Thy beauty, and presently torn away from Thee
by mine own weight, sinking with grief into these inferior things.
This weight was carnal custom. Yet was there a remembrance of Thee
with me; nor did I any way doubt that there was one to whom I might
cleave, but that I was not yet one who could cleave unto Thee; for
that the body which is corrupted presseth down the soul, and the
earthly dwelling weigheth down the mind which thinketh upon many
things? And most certain I was that Thy “invisible things from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, even Thy eternal power and Godhead.” For,
inquiring whence it was that I admired the beauty of bodies whether
celestial or terrestrial, and what supported me in judging correctly
on things mutable, and pronouncing, “This should be thus, this not,
“,–inquiring, then, whence 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 makes use of the senses of the body to perceive; and
thence to its inward faculty, to which the bodily senses represent
outward things, and up to which reach the capabilities of beasts;
and thence, again, I passed on to the reasoning faculty, unto which
whatever is received from
the senses of the body is referred to be judged, which also, finding
itself to be variable in me, raised itself up to its own
intelligence, and from habit drew away my thoughts, withdrawing
itself from the crowds of contradictory phantasms; that so it might
find out that light by which it was besprinkled, when, without all
doubting, it cried out, “that the unchangeable was to be preferred
before the changeable;” whence also it knew that unchangeable,
which, unless it had in some way known, it could have had no sure
ground for preferring it to the changeable. And thus, with the flash
of a trembling glance, it arrived at that which is. And then I saw
Thy invisible things understood by the things that are made? But I
was not able to fix my gaze thereon; and my infirmity being beaten
back, I was thrown again on my accustomed habits, carrying along
with me naught but a loving memory thereof, and an appetite for what
I had, as it were, smelt the odour of, but was not yet able to eat.

CHAP. XVIII.–JESUS CHRIST, THE MEDIATOR, IS THE ONLY WAY OF SAFETY.

24. And I sought a way of acquiring strength sufficient to enjoy
Thee; but I found it not until I embraced that “Mediator between God
and man, the man Christ Jesus,”‘ “who is over all, God blessed for
ever,” calling unto me, i 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,” s that Thy wisdom, by
which Thou createdst all things, might provide milk for our infancy.
For I did not grasp my Lord Jesus,–I, though humbled, grasped not
the humble One; nor did I know what lesson that infirmity of His
would teach us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth, pre-eminent above
the higher parts of Thy creation, raises up those that am subject
unto Itself; but in this lower world built for Itself a humble
habitation of our clay, whereby He intended to abase from themselves
such as would be subjected and bring them over unto Himself,
allaying their swelling, and fostering their love; to the end that
they might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather should
become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak by taking
our “coats of skins;” s and wearied, might cast themselves down upon
It, and It rising, might lift them up.

CHAP. XIX.–HE DOES NOT YET FULLY UNDERSTAND THE SAYING OF JOHN,
THAT “THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH.”

25. But I thought differently, thinking only of my Lord Christ as
of a man of excellent wisdom, to whom no man could be equalled;
especially for that, being wonderfully born of a virgin, He seemed,
through the divine care for us, to have attained so great authority
of leadership,–for an example of contemning temporal things for the
obtaining of immortality. But what mystery there was 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, drink,
sleep, walk, rejoice in spirit, was sad, and discoursed; that flesh
alone did not cleave unto Thy Word, but with the human soul and
body. All know thus who know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, which
I now knew as well as I could, nor did I at all have any doubt about
it. For, now to move the limbs of the body at will, now not; now to
be stirred by some affection, now not; non, by signs to enunciate
wise sayings, now to keep silence, are properties of a soul and mind
subject to change. And should these things be falsely written of
Him, all the rest would risk the imputation, nor would there remain
in those books any saving faith for the human race. Since, then,
they were written truthfully, 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 a very! man; whom, not only as being a
form of truth, but for a certain great excellency of human nature
and a more perfect participation of wisdom, I decided was to be
preferred before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics to
believe that God was so clothed with flesh, that, besides God and
flesh, there was no soul in Christ, and did not think that a human
mind was ascribed to Him. And, because He was thoroughly persuaded
that the actions which were recorded of Him could not be performed
except by a vital and rational creature, he moved the more slowly
towards the Christian faith. But, learning afterwards that this was
the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he rejoiced in the Catholic
faith, and was conformed to it. But somewhat later it was, I
confess, that I learned how in the sentence, “The Word was made
flesh,” the Catholic truth can be distinguished from the falsehood
of Photinus? For the disapproval of heretics makes the tenets of Thy
Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly? For them must be also
heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak?

CHAP. XX.–HE REJOICES THAT HE PROCEEDED FROM PLATO TO THE HOLY
SCRIPTURES, AND NOT THE REVERSE.

26. But having then read those books of the Platonists, and being
admonished by them to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Thy
invisible things, understood by those things that are made; x and
though.repulsed, I perceived what that was, which through the
darkness of my mind I was not allowed to contemplate,–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? varying
neither in part nor motion; and that all other things are from Thee,
on this most sure ground alone, that they are. Of these things was I
indeed assured, yet too weak to enjoy Thee. I chattered as one well
skilled; but had I not sought Thy.way in Christ our Saviour, I would
have proved not skilful, but ready to perish. For now, filled with
my punishment, I had begun to desire to seem wise; yet mourned I
not, but rather was puffed up with knowledge? For where was that
charity building upon the’ “foundation” of humility, “which is Jesus
Christ”? Or, when would these books teach me it? Upon these,
therefore, I
believe, it was Thy pleasure that I should fall before I studied Thy
Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was
affected by them; and that afterwards when I was subdued by Thy
books, and when my wounds were touched by Thy healing fingers, I
might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between
presumption and confession,–between those who saw whither they were
to go, yet saw not the way, and the way which leadeth not only to
behold but to inhabit the blessed country.s For had I first been
moulded in Thy Holy Scriptures,. and hadst Thou, in the.familiar use
of them, grown sweet unto me, and had I afterwards fallen upon those
volumes, they might perhaps have withdrawn me from the solid ground
of piety; or, had I stood firm in that wholesome disposition which I had thence imbibed,
I might have thought that it could have been attained by the study
of those books alone;

CHAP. XXI.–WHAT HE FOUND IN THE SACRED BOOKS
WHICH ARE NOT TO BE FOUND IN PLATO.

27. Most eagerly, then, did I seize that venerable writing of Thy
Spirit, but more espec ially the Apostle Paul; and those
difficulties vanished away, in which he at one time appeared 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 speech appeared to me one and the same; and I learned to
“rejoice with trembling.” So I commenced, and found that
whatsoever truth I had there read was declared here with the
recommendation of Thy grace; that he who sees may not so glory as if
he had not receiveds not only that which he sees, but also that he
can see (for what hath he which he hath not received?); and that he
may not only be admonished to see Thee, who art ever the same, but
also may be healed, to hold Thee; and that he who from afar off is
not able to see, may still walk on the way by which he may reach,
behold, and possess Thee. For though a man “delight in the law of
God after the inward 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,n and Thy hand is grown
heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered over unto that ancient
sinner, the governor of death; for he induced our will to be like
his will, whereby he remained not in Thy truth. What shall “wretched
man” do? “Who shall deliver him from the body of this death,” but
Thy grace only, “through Jesus ‘Christ our Lord,” whom Thou hast
begotten co-eternal, and createdst in the begin
ning 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 contain not the expression of this piety, –the tears of
confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, “a broken and a
contrite heart,” the salvation of the people, the espoused city,’
the earnest of the Holy Ghost, the cup of our redemption? No man
sings there, Shall not my soul be subject unto God? For of Him
cometh my salvation, for He is my God and my salvation, my defender,
I shall not be further moved? No one there hears Him calling, “Come
unto me all ye that labour.” They scorn to learn of Him, because He
is meek and lowly of heart; for “Thou hast hid those things from
the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” For it
is one thing, from the mountain’s wooded summit to see the land of
peace, and not to find the way thither,–in vain to attempt
impassable ways, opposed and waylaid by fugitives and deserters,
under their captain the “lion” and the “dragon;” and another to
keep to the way that leads thither, guarded by the host of the
heavenly general, where they rob not who have deserted the heavenly
army, which they shun as torture.

These things did in a wonderful manner sink into my bowels, when
I read that “least of Thy apostles,” and had reflected upon Thy
works, and feared greatly.

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