William Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.).

The confessions of Augustine online

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astrologers and yet knowing something, which he
said he had heard from Ids father, which how far it
went to overthrow the estimation of that art, he
knew not This man then, Firminus by name, 6f
liberal education, and well taught in Rhetoric, con-
sulted me, as one very dear to him, to know whiit,
according to his so-called constellations, I thought in

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154 'No faith to be placed in astrologers. -

regard to certain afihirs of his, wboroin bis worldly
hopes had risen ; and I, who had now begun to in-
cline towards Nebridios^s opinion, did not altogether
Refuse to conjecture, and tell him what came into my
unresolved mind ; but added, that I was now almost
persuaded, that those were but empty and ridiculous
follies. Thereupon he told me that his fiithor had
been very curious in such books, and had a fi*icnd as
earnest in them as himself, who with joint study and
conference fanned the flame of their affections to
these toys, so that they would observe the moments
whereat the very dumb animals which bred about
their houses gave birth, and then observed the rela-
tive position of the heavens, thereby to make fi*osh
experiments in this so-called art He said then that
he had heard from his &ther, that when his mother
was about to give birth to him, Firminus, a woman-
servant of that friend of his Other's was also with
child, a fiict which could not escape her master, who
took care with most exact diligence to know the
births of his very puppies. And it so happened, that
while the one for his wife, and the other for his ser-
vant, with the most careful observation, was reckon-
ing days, hours, nay, the lesser divisions of the hours,
both women were delivered at the same instant; so
that both were constrained to allow the same con-
stellations, even to the minutest points, the one foi^
his son, the other for his new-bom slave. For so
soon as the women began to be in labor, each gave
notice to the other what was fallen out in their
houses, and had messengers ready to send to one



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JFijUaUy of A$trolOgy.



155



another, so soon as thej had notice of the actual
birth, — of which they had easily provided, each in
his own case, to receive instant intelligence. And
the messengers of the respective parties met, he aver-
red, at such an equal distance from either house,
that neither of them could make out any difference
in the position of the stars, or any other minutest
points ; and yet Firminus, bom in a high estate in
his parents' liouse, ran his course through the gilded
paths of life, was increased in riches, raised to hoti*
ors; whereas that slave continued to serve his mas-
ters, without any relaxation of his yoke, as Fir-
minus, who knew him, told me.

9. Upon hearing and believing these things, told
by one of such credibility, all my resistance gave
way; and first I endeavored to reclaim Firminus
hunself from his hankering after astrology, by tell-
ing him that upon inspecting his constellations, I
otight, if I were to predict truly, to have seen in
them parents eminent among their neighbors, a noble
fiunily in its own city, high birth, good education, lib-
eral learning. But if that servant had consulted me
upon the same constellations, since they were his
also, I ought again (if I would tell him, too, truly)
to sec ill them a lineage the most abject, a slavish
condition, and everything else, utterly at variance
with the former. Whence, then, if I spake the
truth, I should, from the same constellations, speak
diversely, or if I spake the same, speak falsely:
ihonco it followed most certainly, that whatever,
upon consideration of the constellations, was spoken



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166 Ibhity of Aatrology.

truly, was spoken not out of art, but clianco ; and
whatever spoken fidselj, was not out of ignorance
in the art, but the failure of the chance.

10. An opening thus made, ruminating with my-
self on the like things, that no one of those dotards
(who lived by such a trade, and whom I longed to
attack, and with derision to confute) might urge
against me, that Firminus had informed mo falsely,
or his father him ; I bent my thoughts on those that
9^ bom twins, who for the most part come out of
the womb so near one to other, that the small in-
terval (how much force soever in the nature of
things folk may pretend it to have) cannot be noted
by human olraervation, or be at all expressed in
those figures which the Astrologer is to inspect,
that he may pronounce truly. Tet they cannot be
true: for looking into the same figures, he must
have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, where-
IM the same happened not to them. Therefore he
must speak falsely ; or if truly, then, looking into
the same figures, he must not give the same answer.
Not by art, then, but by chance would ho speak
truly. For Thou, O Lord, most righteous Ruler of
the Universe, while consulters and consulted know
it not, dost by Thy hidden inspiration effect that
the consulter should hear what according to the bid-
den doservings of souls, he ought to hear, out of the
abyss of Thy just judgment ; to Whom let no man
say, What is this? Why that? Let him not so say,
for he is man.

Vn. 11. Now then, O my Helper, hftdst Th6tt

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StiU troubled by the problem of evil 167

Iboeed me firom those fetters : and I sought ^ whence
is evil,^ and foond no way. Bat Thou sufieredst me
not bj any fluotuations of thought to be carried
away from the Faith whereby I believed Thee both
to be, and Thy substance to be unchangeable, and
that Thou hast a care o^ and wouldest judge men,
and that in Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and the holy
Scriptures, which the authority of Thy Catholic
Church pressed upon me. Thou hadst set the way
of man's salvation, to that life which is to be after
this death. These things being safe and immovably
settled in my mind, I sought anxiously ^whence
was evil?'' What were the pangs of my teeming
heart, what groans, O my God I yet even there were
Thine ears open, and I knew it not: and when in"
silence I vehemently sought, those silent contritions
of my soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy,— Tho
knewest what I suffered, but no man knew. For
how insignificant was that which was through my
tongue distilled into the ears of my most familiar
friends? Could the whole tumult of my soul, for
which neither time nor utterance sufficed, reach
them? Yet went up the whole to Thy bearing,
all which I roared out from the groanings of my
heart ; and my desire was bcfere Thee, but the light
of mine eyes was not with me ;' for that was within,
I without : nor was that confined to space, but I was
intent on things contained in space, and in space I
found no resting-place; nor did these visible things
so receive me, that I could say ^It is enoughi'' ^it is

13



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.158 Assisted by Hie Platofiists

well;** nor <li(l thoy yot suffer mo to iiini back,
where it miglit be well enough with me. For to
these things was I superior, but inferior to Thee;
and Thou art my true joy only when I am subjected
to Thee, and Thou subjectest to me only what Thou
hast created below me. And this was the true tem-
perament, and middle region of my safety, to remain
in Thy image, and by serving Thee, rule the body.
But when I rose proudly against Thee, and ran
against the Lord with my necky with the thick bosses
of my bxtckler^ even these inferior things were set
above me, and pressed me down, and no whore was
there respite or space of breathing. They met my
sight on all sides by heaps and troops, and in
thought the images thereof presented themselves
unsought, as I would return to Thee, as if they
would say unto me, ** Whither goest thou, unworthy
and defiled?" And these things had grown out
of my wound; for Thou ^humblest the proud like
on^ that is wounded,'^' and through my own swell-
ing was I separated from Thee; yea, my pride-
swollen face closed up mine eyes.

Vni. 12. But Thou, Lord, abidest for ever^ yet
not for ever art Thou angry with us;* because
Thou pitiest our dust and ashes, and it was pleas-
ing in Thy sight to reform my defonnities ; and by
inward goads didst Thou rouse me, that T should
be ill at ease, until Thou wert manifested to my
inward sight. Thus, by the secret hand of thy
medicining was my swelling abated, and the trou4

IJobxv.SS. t Pi. IxxxvUL 11. Yulg. sri.oiL18.



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to recognize the Logos.



169



bled and bedimmed eye-sight of my mind, by the
smarting anointings of healthful sorrows, was from
day to (lay liealed.

IX. in. And Thou, willing first to show me how
TIiou iraistest Hie proudj btU givest gtutce unto the
humble,^ and by how great an act of Thy mercy
. Thou hast traced out to men the way of humility,
in that Thy Word was made flesh, and dwelt
among men: — Thou procuredst for mc, by means
of one ])uired up with most unnatural piide, certain
books of the Platonists, translated from Greek into
Latin. And therein I read, not indeed in the very
words, but to the very same purpose, enforced by
many and divers reasons, that In the beginning was
the Word^ and the Word was with God, and the
Word was God: the Same was in tlie bogiiming mth
God: ail things ioere made by Hmfy ami without
Him toifs nothing made: that whic/i was made by
JORm is life^ and the life was t/ie lig/U of men^ and
the lig/U shineth in t/ie darkness^ atid the darkness
comprehended it not? And that the soul of man,
though it bears witness to the lights yet itself is not
that light ; but the Word of God, being God, is that
true light t/uxt lighteth every man that comeih into
the worlfl.^ And that He was in tlie worldy and t/ie
world was made by Htm^ and the world knew him
not? But, that He came unto His own^ and His
own received Him not;^ but as matiy as received
Htmy to t/iem gave He power to become the sons of



IJamcHir. 0. irotT.ft.
SJohuJ.1-6.



S John 1. 0.
4 John L 10.



5 John L 11.



S3CE:



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160 ComparUon of PlatonUm mth Scripture.

Ood^ (M many as believed in hie name;^ tJiis I read
not there.

14. Again I read there, that Ood the Word tocu
bom not of fleeh nor of Uood^ nor of the toiU of
many nor of the toiU of the fleshy but of Ood} But
that tlie Woi'd was made flesh, and dwelt among usf
I read not there. For I traced m those Platonic
books, that it was many and divers ways said that
thfi. Son was in the form of the Father^ and thought
it not robbery to be equal with Gody for that naturally
He was the Same Substance. But that He emptied
himself taking the form of a servant^ being tnade in
the likeness of men^ and found in fashion as a man^
humbled Himself and became obedient unto deaths
and that Hie death of t/ie cross: wherefore God «j-
. Uted Him from the dead, and gave Him a name
above every namcj that at the name of Jesus every
knee shotdd boWy of things in heaven^ and things in
earthy and things under the earth ; and that every
tongue shotdd confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is
in the glory of God the Father;^ those Platonic
books have not. For that before all times and
above all times Thy Only-Begotten Son rcmaineth
unchangeably, coetemal with Thee, and that of His
fulness souls receivey* that they may be blessed ; and
that by participation of wisdom abiding in them,
they are renewed, so as to be wise, is tliuro. But
that in due time he died for tlie ungodly ;^ an^ that
Thou sparedst not Thine Only Sony but deliveredest

lJolmL12. SJohnLM. «JohiiL16.

9 John 1. 18. 4PIIU.U.6-11. 6 Bom. t. 6.



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Inwardly taught by God. 161

J ' " ' ■

JH?m for us aUy^ is not there. JPor Thou hiddest
these things from (he msey and revealedst them to
babes; that they that labor and are heavy laden^
miffht come unto JTim, and He r^esh them^ because
He is meek and lowly in heart ;^ and the meek He
directeth in Judgment^ and the gentle He teacheth His
v)aysf beholding our lowliness and trouble^ and for-
giving aU our sins} But such as are lifted up by
the buRkln of some would-be sublimer learning, hear
not Him, saying, Learn of Jfe, for I am meek and
lowly in hearty and ye shall fthd rest to your souls f
Although they know Ood^ yet they glorify Htm not
as Oody nor are thanAfidy but wax vain in their
thoughts ; and their foolish heart is datkened; pro-
fessing that they are wise^ they become fools}

15. And therefore did I read there also, that they
had c/ianged the glory of Thy incon^iptible nature
into idols and divers shapes, into the likeness of the
image of corruptible man^ and birds ami beasts^ and
creeping things;^ hankering after that Egyptian
food,^ for which Esau lost his birth-right,* since Thy
first-born people worshipped the head of a four-
footed beast instead of Thee,^ turning back in heart
towards Egypt, and bowing Thy image, their own
soul, licfore the image of a ca^f tJiat eateth Jiay}^
These tilings found I here, but I fed not on them.

For it pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away the re-

«

1 Rom. TiU. 83. <Mmttxl.90. • Gen. xxt. 88, 84.

9Uttt.xi.2S,28,». « Rom. I 21, IB. 10 Ex. xxxii. 1-6.

S rs. XXV. 9. 7 Rom. I 28. H Ps. cvl. 20.

4 n. XXV. 18. 8 Tbe lontil ; compare Aagnttine EnarraUo in Pi. sJ?i



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162 InwanUy taught by OocL



proach of dimiiintion from Jacob, HuU t!i4i elder
ehotdd serve t/ie younger:^ and Thou callcst the
Grentiles into Thine inheritance. And I had come
to Thee from among the Gentiles; and I set my
mind upon the gold which Thou willedst Thy peo-
ple to take fi*om Egypt, seeing Tliine it was, where*
soever it were.' And to the Athenians Tliou saidst
by Thy Apostle, t?iat m Thee we live^ mooe^ and
have our hemg^ as one of their own poets had said.*
And verily these Platonic books came from thence.
But I set not my min*d on the idols of Egypt, whom
they served with TTiy goldf w^io c/ianged the trut/i
of God into a lie, and worshipped a)id served the
creature more tlian the Creator,^

X. 16. And being thence admonished to return to
myself I entered even into my inward*: self, Thou
being my Guide : and I was able to do so because
Thou wert become my Helper. And I entered and
beheld with the eye of my soul, (such as it was,)
even above my soul, above my mind,— the Light
Unchangeable. Not this ordinary light, which all
flesh may look upon, nor as it were a greaUM- of tlio
same kind, as though the brightness of this should
l>e manifold brighter, and with its greatness take up
all space. Not such was this light, but diflerent, far
different from nil these. Nor was it above my soul,
as oil is above water, noryet as heaven abov(i earth :
but above my soul, Udcause It made me; and I
below It, because I was made by It. He that knows

1 Bom |x 18. S Actf ZYlJ. 28. i Bora. i. 26.

t Exod. m 22. xi- 2 4 Ho6 11 8.



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Contemplation of Ood.



1G3



the Truth, knows what that Light is ; and he that
knows It, knows eternity. Love knoweth it. O
Truth Who art Eternity I and Love Who art Truth 1
and Eloruity Who art Love I Thou ai-t my God, to
Thee do I sigh night and day. When I firat knew
Thee, Thou lifledst me up, that I might see there
was somewhat for me to see, and that I was not yet
able to see. And Thou didst beat back the weak-
ness of my sight, streaming forth Tliy beams of hght
upon mo most strongly, and I tremblod with love
and awe : and I perceived myself to be far off from
Thee, in the region of unlikeness, as if I heard this
Thy voice from on high : ** I am the food of grown
men ; grow, and thou shalt feed upon Me ; nor shalt
thou convert Me, like the food of thy flesh, into
thee, but thou shalt be converted mto Me." And I
loarucd, fJmt llwu for iniquity duisieneM inan^ a)id
17iou inndest my soul to consume away like a spider}
And I snid, '^Is Truth therefore nothing because it is
not dilUised through space finite or infinite ? ^ And
Thou criedst to me from afar; "Yea, verily, I AM
that I AMP^ And I heard, as the heart heareth,
nor had I room to doubt, and I should sooner doubt
that I live, than that Truth is not, which is clearly
seeftj hvhtg understood by those things tohich are
fimde?

XI. 17. And I beheld the other things below
Tnee, and I perceived that they neither altogether
are, nor altogether are not ; for they are, since they
are from Thee, but are not, because they ai-e not



t Tit. xxxlx. 11.



S Rxod. Ul. U.



8 Bom. 1. 20.



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164 JSkril not a attbatance,

what Thou art For that truly is which remains
nnohangeably. It is good then/or me to /loldfast
unto Ood;^ for if I remain not in Him, I oanno^ in
myself; but He remaining in JBimsefff reneweth dU
things} And Thou art the Lord mj God, since
Thou standest not in need of my goodness.*

Xn. 18. And it was manifested unto me, that
those things are good which yet are corruptible;
which if they were sovereignly good, or if they were
not at all good, could not be corrupted : for if sover*
eignly good, they were incorruptible; if not good
at all, there were nothing in them to be corrupted.
For corruption injures, but unless it diminished good-
ness, it could not injure. Either then corruption in-
jures not, which cannot be ; or, which is most cer-
tain, all which is corrupted is deprived of good.
But if they be deprived of all good, they shall cease
to be» For if they shall be, and can now no longer
be corrupted, they shaU be better than before, be-
cause they shall abide incorruptibly. And What
more monstrous, than to affirm things to become
better by losing all their good? Therefore if they
shall be deprived of all good» they shall no longer
be. So long therefore as they ate, they are good :
therefore whatsoever substantially is, is good. That
evil then which I sought to know whence it is, is
not any substance : for were it a substance, it should
be good. For either it should be an incorruptible
substance, and so a chief good, or a corruptible sub-
stance ; which unless it were good, could not be coi^-

1 PS. Ixxlli. SB. S Witfd. tU. S7. « FS. xvi. 1..



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AU things praise Ood.



165



rupted. I peroeiyed therefore, and it was manifested
to me, that Thon madest all things good, nor is
there any substance at all, which Thou madest not;
and because Thou madest not all things equal, there-
fore is there a diversity of things ; for each is good,
and all together are very good, because our God
made aU things very good}

XIII. 19. And to Tliee is nothing whatsoever evil:
yea, not only to Thee, but also to Thy creation as
a whole, because there is nothing without, which
may break in and corrupt that order which Thou
hast appointed. But in the parts thereof some
things, because unharmonizing with other some, are
accounted evil: whereas those very things harmo-
nize with others, and are good; and in themselves
are good. And all these things which harmonize
not togi^her, do yet harmonize with the inferior part,
whidi Avo call Earth, which has its own cloudy and
windy nky harmonizing with it. Far be it then that
I should say, ^ These things should not be:" for
should I see nought but these, I should long for
the better; but still I must even for these alone
})rdse Thee; for that Thou art to be praised do
shew from the earth, dragons^ and aU deqys^ fire^
fiaili snotOj tee, and stormy windy which fuf/il 27iy
word MbuntaviSj afid cUl hiUsy fruitful trees^ and
all cedarSy beasts^ and aU cattle^ creeping things^ and
flying fowlsy kings of the earthy dfid all people^
princes and all judges of the earthy young men and
maidensy old men and young^ praise Thy Name.

1 Gen. L SI; Eooli. xxxlz.



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169 All things praise Godf

But when from hoayen Thy works praiso Tlicc, our
God, aU Thy angels in tJie heights^ all Thy honts^ sun
a9id moony all t/ie stars and lights the Ilcaven of
heavensj and the waters that be above tJie heavens^
praise Thy Name} I did not now long for things
better, because I thought of all : and with a sounder
judgment I apprehended that the things above were
better than these below, yet that all together were
better than those above by themselves.

XrV. 20. There is no soundness in them, whom
aught of Thy creation displeaseth : as neither in me,
when much which Thou hast made displeased me.
And because my soul durst not be displonsed at
my Qod, it would fain not account that to bo Thine,
which displeased it. Hence it had gone into the
opinion of two substances, and had no rest, but
talked idly. And returning thence, it had made to
itself a God through infinite measures of all space;
and thought it to be Thee, and placed it in its
heart ; and had again become the temple of its own
idol, to Thee abominable. But after Thou hadst
soothed my head, unknown to me, and closed mine
eyes t/iat t/iey should not befiold vanity* I ceased
somewhat of my former .self, and my frenzy was
lulled to sleep; and I awoke in Thee, and saw
Thee infinite, but in another way, and this sight
was not derived from the flesh.

XV. 21. And I looked back on other things; and
I saw that they owed their being to Tlice; and
were all bounded in Thee : but in a diflTerent ^ay,

1 Pb. exlviii. 1—18. S Fk. oxix. 87.



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mid are contained in Ood.



m



not as being in space, but because Thou con tai nest
all things in Thine hand, in Thy Truth; and all
things are true so far as they be ; nor is there any
falsehood, unless when that is thought to be, which
is not And I saw that all things did harmonize,
not with their places only, but with their seasons.
And thou, who only art Eternal, didst not begin to
work after innumerable spaces of times spent; for
that all spaces of times, both which have passed, and
which shall pass, neither go nor come but through
Thee Morking and abiding.

XVI. 22. And I perceived and found it nothing
strange, that bread which is pleasant to a healthy
palate, is loathsome to one distempered : and to sore
eyes light is oifensive, which to the sound eye b
delightful. And Thy righteousness displeaseth the
wicked ; much more the viper and reptiles, which
Thou hast created good, fitting in with the infe-
rior portions of Thy Creation, with which the very
wicked also fit in ; and that the more, by how much
they be unlike Thee; but with the superior crea-
tures, by how much they become more like to Thee»
And I enquired what iniquity was, and found it to
be no substance, but the perversion of the will,
tumc<l nside from Thee, O God, the Supreme, to-
wards these lower things, and casting out ite botoehf
and puffed up outwardly.

XVII. 23. And I wondered that I now loved
Thee, and no phantasm for Thee. And yet did I
not press on to enjoy *my God; but was borne up
to Thee by Thy beauty, and soon borne down from



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168 Augu$tine^$ psychology.

Thee by mine own weight, sinkmg with sorrow into
inferior things. Thb weight was carnal custom.
Yet dwelt there with me a remembrance of Thee ;
nor did I any way doubt, that there was One to
whom I might cleave, but that I was not yet such
as to cleave to Thee : because the body which is cor-
ruptedj presseth dawn the satdy and the earthly taih
emacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon
many things} And most certain I was, t/icU Thy
invisiMe works from the creation of the world are
clearly seen^ being understood by the things that are
made^ even Thy eternal power and Godffiead} For
examining whence it was that I admired the beauty
of bodies celestial or terrestrial; and what aided
me in judging soundly on things mutable, and pro-
nouncing, ^This ought to be thus, this not;** exam-
ining, I say, whence it was that I so judged, seeing
I did so judge, I had found the unchangeable and
true Eternity of Truth, above my changeable mind.
And thus by degrees, I passed from bodies to the
soul which through the bodily senses perceives ; and
thence to its inward faculty, to which the bodily
senses represent things external, whitherto reaches
the faculties of beasts; and thence again to the
reasoning faculty, to which what is received from
the senses of the body is referred to be judged.
Which finding itself also to be in me a thing varia-
ble, riused itself up to its own understanding, and
drew away my thoughts from the power of habit,
withdrawing itself from those troops of contradic-

1 WlBd. Iz. 15. S Bom. i. 90.



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Ilis dim appreliension cf the Logos. 169

, - -" ^-^

tory phantasms; that so it might find what that
light was, whereby it was bedewed, when, without



Online LibraryWilliam Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.)The confessions of Augustine → online text (page 13 of 31)