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

The confessions of Augustine online

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otU /omi, not because it wanted all form, but be-
cause it had such as my mind would, if presented to
it, turn from, as unwonted and jarring, and human
frailness would be troubled at. And still, that which
I conceived was toithoiU /omiy not as being deprived
of all form, but in comparison of more beautiful
forms; and true reason did persuade me, that I must
utterly uncase it of all remnants of form whatso-
ever, if 1 would conceive matter absolutely mthout
form; and I could not; for sooner could I imagine
that which should be deprived of all form not to be,
than conceive a thing betwixt form and nothing,
neither formed, nor nothing, a formless almost noth-
ing. So my mind gave over to question thereupon
with my spirit, it being filled with the images of
formed bodies, and changing and varying them, as it
willed ; and I bent myself to the bodies themselves,
and looked more deeply into their changeableness,
by which they cease to be what they have been, and
begin to be what they were not; and this same shift-
ing from form to form, I suspected to be through a
certain formless state, not through a mere nothing ;

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888 Qod does not create from his ouyn

yet this I longed to know, not to suspect only. But
if my voice and pen confessed unto Thee tlie whole,
whatsoever knots Thou didst open for me in this
question, what reader would hold out to take in the
whole ? But my heart shall not cease to give Thee
honor, and a song of praise, for those things which
it is not able to express. The changoablcness of
changeable things is itself capable of all those forms,
into which these changeable things are changed.
But this changeableness, what is it ? Is it soul ? Is
it body ? Is it that which constituteth soul or body ?
If one might use the phrase ^ a nothing something,"
an "is, is not,** I would say this were it: and yet in
some way it even then was, as being capable of re-
ceiving these visible and compound figures.

VII. 7. But whence had it this degree of being,
but from Thee, from Whom are all things, so far
forth as they are ? but so much the further from
Thee, as the unliker Thee ; for it is not distance in
space which makes the difference. Thou, therefore.
Lord, Who art not one in one place, and otherwise
in another, but the Self-same, and the Self-same, and
the Self-same, Holy^ Soly^ Holy^ Lord Qod Al-
mighty^ didst in the Beginning^ which is of Thee, in
Thy Wisdom, which was bom of Thine own Sub-
stance, create something, and that out of nothing.
For Thou createdet heaven and earth; not out of
Thyself; for so should they have been equal to
Thine Only Begotten Son, and thereby to Thee
also; whereas no way were it right that aught
should be equal to Thee, which was not of Thea

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substance^ but from nothing.


And aught else beside Thee was there not, whereof
Thou mightest create them, O Gk>d, One Trinity, and
Trine Unity; and therefore out of nothing didst
Thou create heaven and earthy — a great thing, and a
small thing; for Thou art AUnighty and Good, to
make all things good, even the great heaven, and the
petty earth. Thou wert, and nothing was there be-
sides, out of which Thou crecUedst heaven and earthy
— things of two sorts; one near Thee, the other 1J^
near to nothing ; one, to which Thou alone should- I

est be superior, the other, to which nothing should^ ly
be inferior.

YIII. 8. But that Iieaven of heavens vxufor Thy-
seUfy Lord; and the earth which Thou gaveet to
the eons ofmen^ to be seen and felt, was not such as
we now see and feel. For it was invieiUe^ without
fomty and there was a deq)^ upon which there was
no li^lit; or darkness was above Uie deq>y that is,
more than in the deep. Because this deep of waters,
visible now, hath oven in its depths a light proper
for its nature ; perceivable in some degree unto the
fishes, and creeping things in the bottom of it. But
that whole deep was almost nothing, because hith-
erto it was altogether wit Jiout form ; yet there was
already that which could be formed. For Thou,
Lord, niadcst the world of a matter mthout form^
which, out of nothing. Thou madost next to nothing,
thereof to make those great things which we sons of
men wonder at. For very wonderful is this corpo-
real licaven ; the frmament between water and water^
of which upon the second day, after the creation of

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f 840 Th>e heaven^ of heavens is

' ■ ■■ ■■ — ■ ^

light, ThoQ saidsty Xet U be made^ and it was made.
Whioh, flrmammt Thou cqUedst heaven; the heaven,
that is, to this earth and sea, which Thon madest the
third day, by giving a visible figare to the formless
matter which Thou madest before all days. For al-
ready hadst Thou made an heaven before all days,^
but that was the heaven of this heaven ; bccuiiso In
Hie beginning Thou hadst made heaven and earth.
But this same earth which Thou madest, was form-
less matter, because it toas invisible and without
-^formy and darkness was upon the deep^ — of which
invisible earth and without form^ of which formless-
ness, of which almost nothing, Thon mightcst make
all these things of which this changeable world con-
sists, but does not subsist; whose very changeable-
ness appears therein, that times can be observed and
numbered in it. For times are made by the alter-
ations qf things, which result irom the variation of
.the figures (species) which constitute the matter of
the invisible earth aforesaid.

IX. 9. And therefore the Spirit, the Teacher of
Thy servant, when it recounts Thee to have In the
beginning created heaven and earthy speaks nothing
,of times, nothing of days. For verily that heaven
fif heavens which Thou createdst in the Begitvningy
)a .some intellectual creature, which, although no

I AnffiiBtlne hera antloip«tM the modern geologloal exageois, wliioh

^ plftoet an lu^ednite tpaoe of ttme between tlie aotJou dosignatcil In the

' tni verte of Geneds, and that designated In the seoond and succeeding

renos. The Unt, or most abaolute aet of ereatire power, is the creation

of ohaos, ** before all [six] days; ** then snooeeds the oosmical formation

of this ohaotio matter, in the six days* work. ~ Ed.

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the inteUiffiNe world 841

.ways coeternal onto Thee, the Trinity, yet partaketh
of Thy eternity, and doth through the sweetness of
that most happy contemplation of Thyself, strongly
restrain its own changeableness ; and, without any
fall since its first creation, cleaving close unto Thee,
is placed beyond all the rolling vicissitudes of times.
Yea, neither is this very formlessness of the eart/i «V
visible arid mthotUformfnumhered among the days.
For wlicre no figure nor order is, there does nothing
come or go; and where this is not, there plamly are
no days, nor any vicissitude of spaces of tiroes.

X. 10. Oh, let the Light, the Truth, the Light of
my heart, not mine own darkness, speak unto me. I
jTell off into that, and became darkened; but even
thence, even thence I loved Thee. I went astray,
and remembered Thee. J heard Thy voice behind
fMy cnllitig to mo to return, and scarcely heard it,
through the tumultuousness of the enemies of peace.
And now, behold, I return in distress, and panting
after Thy fountain. Lot no man forbid me 1 of this
will I drink, and so live. Let me not be my own
life ; irom myself I lived ill ; death was I to myself
and I revive in Thee. Do Thou speak unto me, do
Thou discourse unto me. I have believed Thy
Books, and their words be most full of mystery.

XI. 11. Already Thou hast told me with a strong
voice, O Lord, in mine inner ear, that Thou art eter-
nal. Who only heist immortality: since Thou canst
not bo changed as to figure or motion, nor is Thy
will altered by times, because no will which varies is
immortil. This is in Thy sight clear to me, and let

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842 The irUelligible world is

it be more and more clear to me, I besoccli Thee ;
and in the manifestation thereof let me Avith so-
briety abide under Thy wings. Thou hast told me
also with a strong voice, O I^rd, in my inner ear,
that Thoa hast made all natures and substances,
which are not what Thyself is, and yet are; that
that only is not from Thee, which is not, and, also,
the motion of the will from Thee who art, unto
that which in a less degree is, because such motion
is transgression and sin ; and that no man's sin doth
either hurt Thee, or disturb the order of Thy gov-
ernment, first or last. This is, in Thy sight, dear
unto me, and let it be more and more cleared to me,
I beseech Thee; and in the manifestation thereof
let me wiUi sobriety abide under Thy wings.

12. Thou hast told me also with a strong voice, in
my inner ear, that neither is that creature coetemal
unto Thyself whose happiness Thou only art, even
though with a most persevering purity, drawing its
nourishment from Thee, it should never put forth its
natural mutability; and, although. Thyself being
ever present with it, it should with its whole affec-
tion keep itself to Thee, having neither future to
expect, nor conveying into the past what it remem-
bereth, neither altered by any change, nor distracted
into any times. O blessed creature I if such there be,
cleaving unto Thy Blessedness ; blessed in Thee, its
eternal Inhabitant and its Enlightenerl I find no
better name to call the heaven of hectvena^ which is
"the XfOrctSy than Thine house, one pure mind con-
templating Thy beatitude, most harmoniously one,

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not coetemal with Ood. 848

in a settled peace of holy spirits, citizens of Thy city
in heavenly places; far above those heavenly places
that wo see,*

18. Tho soul, whoso pilgrimage is long and far
away by this may nnderstand, if she now thirsts for
Theey if her tears be now become her breads while Hiey
daily say unto her^ Where is thy Ood t if she now
seeks of Thee one thing^ and desires it^ that she may
dwell in Thy house aU the days of her life (and
what is her life, but Thon ? and what Thy days, bat
Thy eternity, for Thy years fail notj because Thou
art ever the samef)^ — by this, then, may the soul
that is able, understand how fiur Thou art, above all
time, eternal ; seeing. Thy house, which at no time
went into a &r country, although it be not coetemal
with Tliee, yet by continually and unfailingly cleaving
nnto Thee, suflcrs no changcablonoss of tunes. Tins
is hi Thy sight clear unto mc, and let it bo more and
more cleared unto me, I beseech Thee, and in the
manifestation thereof^ let me with sobriety abide un-
der Tliy wings.

14. There is, behold, I know not what formlessness
in tho changes of the last and lowest creatures. And
who would tell me (unless one who, through the
emptiness of his own heart, wanders and tosses him-
self up and down amid his own fancies), — who but
such a one would tell mo, that if all figure be so
wasted and consumed away, that there should only
remain formlessness, through which the thing was
changed and turned from one figure to another, it

1 Compftra XV. 18 Inflm.

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844 27i6 cosmos i8 formed out of the chctos,

oonld eihiblt.tbe vicissitades of times? Plainly it
oould not, because, without variety of motions, there
are no times; and no variety, where 'there is no

Xn. 15. These things considered, as Thou givest,
O my €k>d, as Tliou stirrest me up to knocks and as
Thou qpenest to mo, knockinffj I find that Thou Iiast
made two things, not within the compass of time,
neither of which is coetemal with Thee. One is so
formed, that, without any ceasing of contemplation,
without any interval of change, changeable, yet not
changed, it may thoroughly enjoy Thy eternity and
unchangeableness ; the other, so formless, that it had
not that which could be changed from one form into
another, whether of motion, or of repo6e,r60 as to bo-
come subject unto time. But this Thou didst not
leave thus formless, because, before all days, Thou in
the Beginning didst 'create heaven and -Elarth; the
two tilings that I spake of. But the Mtrth was in-
visible and withfmt fofrm^ and darkness toas upon the
deq>. In which words is the formlessness conveyed
unto us, who are not able to conceive an utter priva-
tion of all form, without yet coming to nothing ; and,
out of this formlessness, another Heaven was created,
together with a visible and well-formed eailh, and
the waters diversely ordered, and all that which m
the formation of the world is recorded to ha^'e been
created in days; it being of such nature, that the suc-
cessive changes of times may take place in it, as be-
ing subject to appointed alter^itions of motions and
of forms.

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Distinction bettoeen *^^ heaven** and ^^earth.^ 845

Xin. 16. TbiS) then, is what I conceivo, O my
Qod, when I hear Thy Scripture saying, In the begin-
ning God made JSeaven and Earthy and tJie earth
ioae in visible and with^nU fomiy and darkness %oas
upon the deq>; and not mentionhig what day Thou
oreatedst them. It is, therefore, because of the Heaven
of heavens^ that intellectual Heaven, whose intelligent
inhabitants know all at once, not in party not darkly ^
not through a glass, but as a whole, in mani/estcUiovy
face toface, not this thing now, and that thing anon,
but all at once, without any succession of times; and
because of the earth invisible and without form,
without any succession of times, which succession
presents ^^ this thing now, that thing anon " (because
where is no form, there is no dbtinction of things), —
it is, then, on account of these two, a primitive
formed, and a primitive formless, the one, heaven, but
t/ie J leaven of /leaven, the other eart/^ but the earth
invisible and without form, — it is because there
were tliese two, that Thy Scripture said, without men-
tion of days. In the Beginning God created Heaven
and Earth* For forthwith it subjoined what earth it
speaks of; and, moreover, as the Firmament is re-
corded to be created the second day, and called
ITeaven, it shows to us of which Heaven it before
spako without mention of days.

XIV. 17 Wondrous depth of Thy words I whose
surface, behold I is before us, inviting to the docile
and childlike ; yet are they a wondrous depth, O my
Qod, a wondrous depth I It is awful to look therein ;
an awfulness of honor, and a tremblmg of love* The

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346 Augustine argues with t/iose

enemies thereof I hate vehemently. O that Tlion
wouldest slay them with Thy two-edged swordy that
they might no longer be enemies unto it I for so do I
love to have them slain nnto themselves, that they
may live nnto Thee. But behold others, not £iult-
findei's, but extollers of the book of Genesis, say:
"The Spirit of God, Who by His servant Moses
wrote these things, would not have those words thus
understood ; He would not have them understood as
Thou sayest, but otherwbe, as we say.*' Unto whom,
Thyself, O Thou God of us all, being Judge, do I
thus answer.

XV. 18. "Will you affirm that to be false, which
with a strong voice Truth tells me in my inner ear,
concerning the eternity of the Creator, that His sub-
stance is noways changed by time, nor His will sep-
arnte from His substance ? Wherefore, Ho willcth not
one thing now, another anon ; but once, and at once,
and always. He willeth all things that He willeth ;
not again and again, nor now this, now that ; nor will-
eth afterwards, what before He willed not, nor willeth
. not, what before He willed ; because such a will is
mutable ; and no mutable thing b eternal : but our
God is eternal. Again, the e3cpectation of things to
come becomes sight, when they are come, and this
same sight becomes memory, when they bo past.
Now, all thought which thus varies is mutable ; and
nothing mutable is eternal : but our God is eternal.''
These things I infer, and put together, and find that
my God, the eternal God, hath not upon any new will
made any creature, nor doth His knowledge admit

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toAo di9pute hia interpretation. 847

of anything trandtory. " What will ye say then, O
ye gainsayers ? . Are these things fiJse ? " — " No,"
they say. " What then ? Is it false, that every na-
ture ah'cady fonned, or matter capable of form, is
only from Him Who is supremely good, because he
exists supremely ?" — " Neither do we deny this," say
they. ** What then ? do you deny that there is a
certain sublime creature, with so chaste a love cleaving
unto the true and truly eternal God, that, although
not cooternal with Him, yet it is not detached from
Him, nor dissolved into the variety and vicissitude of
times, but reposeth in the most true contemplation of
Him only?" Because Thou, O God, unto him that
loveth Thee as Thou commandest, dost show Thyself,
and sufHcest him; therefore doth this sublime crea-
ture not decline fi'om Thee, nor toward itself
Tliis is the house of God,^ not of earthly mould, nor
of any celestial bulk corporeal, but spiritual, and par-
taker of Thy eternity, because without defection for-
ever. For Thou hast made it fast for ever andever^
Thou host given it a lato which it shaU not paea?
Nor yet is it coetemal with Thee, O God, because
not without beginning : for it was made.

20. Wisdom was created hefore aU things;* not
that Wisdom which is altogether equal and coi5tornal
unto Tlico, our God, His Father, and by Wiiom all
things were created, and in Whom, as t/ie Beginning^
Thou createdst heaven and earth; but that wisdom
which is created, that is, the intellectual nature,
which, by contemplating the light, is light. For this,

t Compare XI. 13, rapim. s Pi. oxItUI. 6. > Sinioh L i.

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848 Wisdom increcUe^ and creeUed.

thongh created, is also called wisdom. Bat such dif-
ference as is betwixt the Light which enlighteneth,
and which is enlightened, so much is there betwixt
the Wisdom that createth, and that created ; betwixt
the Righteousness which justifieth, and the righteous-
ness which is made by justification. For we also arc
called Tliy rightecnisneBa : as saith a certain servant
of Thine, That toe might he made the righteousness
of Ood in Uinu Therefore, since a certain created
wisdom was created before all things, tnz., the rational
and intellectual mind of that chaste city of Tliine,
our mother which is above^ and is free and eternal in
the heavens (in what heavens, if not in those that
praise Thee, tJ^e Heaven of fieavens f because this is
also the Heaven of fieavens for tfie Lord) \ though
we find no time before it (because that which hath
been created before all things, precedeth also the'
creature of time), yet is the eternity of the Creator
Himself before it, from Whom, being created, it toofc
the beginning, not indeed of time, for time itself was
not yet, but of its creation.^
21. Hence created wisdom is altogether other than

1 Bj this ^ORftted wiMlom,** tbk <*iQbliiiie erottiira,'* this *«cbMt6
eity of God/* Anf ustloe seems to mean the intellifible world, as dlsUn-
gnlflhed from the sensible. It is Unite Spirit as a nnirersal, In distlnetlon
from finite Nature or Hatter. The Inflaence of bis Platonic studies is
rery apparent, in these speculations; and though it may be dlffloult to
explain some of his phraseology, In such a manner as to keep quite dear
of the doctrine of an eternal creation de nihllo, such as Origeu liold, yet
Augustine is posltiTO and plain In asserting, that this finite universal
Intelligence is a crmhtn^ and not of the same substance with God. He
carefhlly distinguishes It from the second person in the Trinity, the eter>
nal and absolute Wisdom, the Word which was with God and was God
the Son.— Ed.

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Augustine argues with opposers. 849

Thon, and not the Self-same; because, though we
find time neither before it, nor even in it (it being
meet ever to behold Thy face, nor over drawn away
from it, wherefore it is not varied by any change), yet
is there in it a liability to change, whence it would
wax dark and chill, were it not that, by a strong af-
fection cleaving unto Thee, like perpetual noon, it
shineth and gloweth from Thee. house most iight-
somo and delightsome t I have loved tliy beauty, and
the place of the habitation of the glory of my Zordy
thy builder and possessor. Let my wayfaring sigh
after Thee ; and I say to Him that made thee, let
Him take possession of me also in thee, seeing He
hath made me likewise. I have gone astray like a
lost sheep; yet upon the shoulders of my Shepherd,
thy builder, I hope to be brought back to thee.

22. " What say ye to mo, O ye gainsayors that I
was speaking unto, who yet believe Moses to have
been the holy servant of God, and his books the or-
acles of the Holy Ghost ? Is not this house of God,
not coctcmal indeed with God, yet after its measure,
eternal in the heavens, where you seek for changes
of times in vain, because you will not find them ?
For that thing, which feels that it is ever good to
cleave fast to Ood, surpasses all extension, and all re-
volving periods of time.'' — ** It is," say they. " What,
then, of all that which my heart loudly uttered unto
my God, when inwardly it heard the voice of His
praise, what part thereof do you affirm to be false ?
Is it that the matter was toithoutform, in which, be-
cause there was no form, there was no order? But


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8$0 Aspirations ({fter t/i^ Supreme Oooil
. ■ ' ' ' ■ "I . j ^

"where no ordor was, thore ooald bo no yici8.sitiido of
times: and yet tliU ^almost nothing,' inasmuch as it
was not altogether nothing, was from Him certainly,
from Whom is whatsoever is, in what degree soever
it is." — "This also," say they, *♦ do we not deny."

XVI. 23. With these would I now parley a little
in Thy presence, my God, who grant all these
things to be true, which Thy Truth whispers unto
my soul. For those who deny these things, let them
bark, and deafen themselves as much as they please ;
I will essay to persuade them to quiet, and to open
in them a way for Thy word. But if they refhs^
and repel me, I beseech Thee, O my God, be not
Thou ailerU to me. Speak Thou truly in my heart,
for only Thou so speakest, and I will let them alone,
blowing upon the dust without, and raising it up
into their own eyes; and myself will efiter my
chamber^ and sing there a song of loves unto Thee;
groaning toith groaninga urmUerdble^ in ray way.-
faring, and remembering Jerusalem, with heart lifted
up towards it, Jerusalem my country, Jerusalem my
mother, and Tiiysolf that rulest over it, the ICnlight-
ener, Father, Guardian, Husband, the pure and strong
delight, and solid joy, and all good things unspeak^
able, yea, all at once, because the One Sovereign and
true Good. Nor will I be turned away, until Thou
gather all that I am, from this dispersed and this dis^
ordered estate, into the peace of that our most dear
mother, where are the first-fiuits of my ^rit al-
ready (whence I am ascertained of these things),
and Thou conform and confirm it forever, O my God,

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Five eixplancUions of Oen. i. 1. 851

my Mercy. But those who do not deny all th^se
truths, who honor Thy holy Scripture, set forth by
holy Moses, placing it on the summit of authority to
be followed, and do yet contradict me in some
things, I answer thus: Be Thyself Judge, O our
God, between my Confessions and these men's con-

XVII. 24. For they say, « Though these thiiigs be
true, yet did not Moses intend those two, wheii, by
revelation of the Spirit, he saith, In the beginning
God created heaven and earth. He did not, under
the name of fieaveny signify that spiritual or iritelleo-
tual creature which always beholds the face of God ;
nor under the name of earthy that formless matter.'*
"What then?** "That man of God," say they,
"meant as we say; this declared he by those words.''
" What V" " By the name of /ieaven and eart/k would
ho first signify," say they, " universally and compen-
diously, all this visible world ; and afterwards, by the
enumeration of the several days, arrange in detail,
and, as it were, piece by piece, all those things, which
it pleased the Holy Ghost thus to enounce. For
such were that rude and carnal people to which he
spake, tliat he thought them fit to be entrusted with
the knowledge of such works of God only as were
visible." They agree, however, that under the words,
earth invisible and without fornix and that darksome
deqf>y out of which it is subsequently shown that all
these visible things, which we all know, were made

Online LibraryWilliam Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.)The confessions of Augustine → online text (page 25 of 31)