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

The confessions of Augustine online

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unto spiritual^ but as unto carnal^ even he as yet
doth not think himself to have apprehended^ and/or-
getteth those things which are behind^ and reacheth
forth to those wfiich are btfore^ and groaneth^ being
burdened^ and his soul thirsteth after the Living
Gody as the hart after the water^ooksy and saith,
"When shall I come f desiring to be clothed upon

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various portions of Scripture,


mth his house tohich is from fieaven^ and caHeth
upon tbis lower deep^ saying^ Be not conformed to
this worhl^ but be ye transformed by the renewing of
your mhnl^ ami, be not children in understanding^
but in malice be ye diUdren^ that in understanding
ye may be perfect^ and, foolish Galatians^ who
hath betcitched youf But now no longer does he
speak in bis own voice, but in Tbine, Wbo sentest
Tby Spirit from above^ tbrough Him who ascended
up on hig/i^ and set open the flood-gates of bis gifts,
tbat tbe force of IRs streams might make glad the
city of God, Him dotb this friend of the bride-
groom sigh after, having now the first-fruits of the
Spirit laid up with JKm, yet still groaning uoit/iin
himseif, waiting for the adoption^ to wity the redemp-
tion of his body ; to Him he sighs, a member of the
Jiride ; for Him ho is jealous, as being a friend of Uie
Bridegroom; for Him he is jealous, not for himself;
because i?i t/ie voice of Thy water-spouts^ not in his
own voice, doth he call to tbat other depth, over
whom being ^eo^tM, hQ feareth^ lest as the serpent
beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so their minds
should be corrupted from tJie purity t/iat is in our
Bridegroom, Thy Only Son. O what a light of
beauty will that be, when we shall see Ilim as He is^
ai9%d those tears be passed away^ which have been my
meat day and nighty whilst they daily say unto me^
Where is 7iow thy Oodf

XIV. 15. And I, too, say : O my God, where art
Thou ? Behold where Thou art. In Thee I breathe
a little, when I pour out my soul by myself, in the

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884 AUefforical interpretcUiona of

voice of joy and praise^ the voice of him tJuit keeps
holy-day. And yet again, the soal is sad, because it
relapses, and becomes a deep, or rather perceives it-
self still to be a deqp. Unto it speaks mj faith,
which Thou hast kindled to enlighten my feet in the
night, Why art thou sad, my soul, and why dost
thou trouble mef . Hope in the Lord. His word is a
lantern unto thy feet. Hope and endure, until the
night, the mother of the wicked, until the wrath of
the Lord, be overpast, whereof we also were once
children, who were sometimes darkness, relics whereof
we bear about us in our body, dead because of sin,
until the day break, and the shadows fly away.
Hope thou in the Lord. In the morning I shall stand
in Thy presence, and contemplate Thee; IsJiaUfor
ever confess unto Thee. In the morning I shall
stand in Thy presence, and shall see tfie health of
my countenance, my Ood; Who also shall quicken
our mortal bodies, by the Spirit that dweUeth in us,
because He hath in mercy been borne over our inner
darksome and floating deep; from Whom we have
in this pilgrimage received an earnest, that we should
now be light, whilst we are saved by ho2)e, and are
the children of light, and the children of the day, not
the children of the night, nor of t/ie darkness, which
yet sometimes we were. Betwixt whom and us, in
this uncertainty of human knowledge, Thou only cK-
videst; Thou, who provest our Iiearts, and caUest the
light day, and the darkness night. For who discem-
eth us, but Thou ? And what have we, that we have
not received of Thee f out of the same lump vessels

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various portions of Scripture. 885

unto honoTy whereof others also are made unto dis-

XV. 16. Or who, except Thou, our God, made for
us that firmament of authority over us iu Thy divhie
Scripture ? For it is said, the heaven shall be folded
up like a scroll (liber) ; and now is it stretched over
us like a skin. For Thy Divine Scripture is of more
eminent authority, since those mortals by whom Thoii
dispensest it unto us, underwent mortality. And
Thou knowest. Lord, Thou knowest, how Thou unth
skins didst clothe men, when they by sin became mor-
tal. Henco Thou hast like a skin stretched out the
firmament of Thy book (/tft^r), that is. Thy harmon-
izing words, which by the ministry of mortal men
Thou spreadest over us. For, by their very death,
was that solid firmament of authority, which was in
Thy discourses set forth by them, more eminently ex-
tended over all that be under it; which, whilst they
lived here, was not so eminently extended. Thou
hadst not as yet spread abroad the heaven like a
skin; Thou hadst not as yet enlarged in all directions
the glory of their deaths.

17. Let us looky O Lord, tipon the heavens^ the
work of Thy fingers; clear from our eyes that cloud
which Thou hast spread under them. There is Thy
testimony^ which giveth wisdom unto the little ones.
Perfect^ O my God, Thyjwawe out of the mouth of
babes and sucklings. For we know no other books,
which so destroy pride, which so destroy the enemy
and the drfendery who resists Thy reconciliation by
defending his own nns. I know not. Lord, I know

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886 AUegoHcal explanation of the

not any othor suoh pure words, which so porstiado me
to confess, and make mj neck pliant to Thj yoke, and
invite me to serve Thee for nought. Let me under-
stand them, good Father ; grant this to mo, who am
placed under them, because for those placed under
them, hast Thou established them.

18. Other waters there be above this^rmom^n^ I
believe immortal and separated from earthly corrup-
tion. Let them praise Thy name, let them praise
Thee, the super-celestial people. Thine angels, who
have no need to gaze up at this firmament, or by
reading to know of Thy Word. For they altoays be-
hold Thy facej and there xead without any syllables
in time, what willeth Thy eternal Will. Tlioy read,
they choose, they love ; they are ever reading, and
that never passes away which they read. For by
choosing, and by loving, they read the very nnchange-
ableness of Thy counsel. Their book is never dosed,
nor their ecroU folded vp; seeing Thou Thyself art
this to them, and ait eternally, because Tliou hast or-
dained them above this firmament^ which Thou hast
firmly settled over the infirmity of the lower people,
where they might gaze up and learn Thy mercy, an-
nonndng in time Thee who madest times. For ITiy
mercy ^ Zordf is in the heavens^ and Thy truth reached
unto the clouds. The clouds pass away, but the
heaven abideth. The preachers of Thy word pass out
of this life into another; but Thy Scripture is spread
abroad over the people, even unto the end of the
world. Yet heaven and earth also shaU pass away^
but Thy words shaU not pass away. Because the

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firmameM and the waters above it. 887

ecrott shall be rolled together^ and the grass over
which it was spread, shaU with the goodliness of it
pms away; hU Thy word remaineth forever^ which
now appeareth unto ns under the dark image of the
doads, and through the glass of the heavens, not as it
is; because though we also are the well-beloved of
Thy Son, yet it hath not yet appeared what we shaU
he* He looked through the lattice of our flesh, and
He spake us tenderly, and kindled us, and we ran of'
ter ITis odors. But w/ienlTeshaU appear^ then shaU
we be like JUnij /or we shall see JOHm as He is. As
He t«, Ix)rd, so will our sight be.

XVI. 19. For, altogether and wholly what Thou
arty Thou only knowest, Who art unchangeably, and
knowest unchangeably, and wiliest unchangeably.
And Thy Essence Knows, and Wills unchangeably;
and Thy Knowledge Is, and Wills unchangeably;
and Thy Will Is, and Knows unchangeably. Nor
seems it fitting in Thine eyes, that as the Unchange-
able Light knows Itself so should it be known by
the thing enlightened and changeable. Therefore is
my soul like a land where no water iSj because, as it
cannot of itself enlighten itself so can it not of it-
self satisfy itself. For the fountain of l\fe is with
Thee^ in such a way that in Thy light we shall see

XVII. 20. Who gathered the embittered children
of men together into one society ? (For they have all
one end, a temporal and earthly felicity, for attaining
whereof they do all things, though they waver up
and down with an innumerable variety of cares.)

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388 . Attegoricaleggolanatiano/the

Who, Lord, but Thou, Who Bfddst, Zet the waters be
gathered together into onepla>ce^ and let the dry land
appear^ which thirateth cffter Thee t Because the sea
alsoie I%iney and Thou liost made ity and Thy hands
prepared the dry land Nor is the bitterness of men's
wills, but the gathering together of the waters^ called
sea. For Thou restrainest the wicked desires of men's
souls, and seitest them their boundsy how far they may
be allowed to pass^ that their waves may break one
against another ; and thus makest Thou it a sea, by
the order of Thy dominion over all things.

21. But the souls that thirst after Thee^ and that
appear before Thee (being by other bounds divided
from the society of the sea), Thou wateroHt by a
sweet spring, that the earth may bring forth her
fruity and, Thou Lord God so commanding, our soul
may bud forth works of mercy according to their
kindj loving our neighbor in the relief of his bodily
necessities, having seed in itself according to its like-
ness; since, from feeling of our infirmity, we compas-
nonate so as to relieve the needy, helping them, as we
would be helped, if we were in like need ; and this,
too, not only in things easy, as m herb yielding seedy
but also in the protection of our assistance with our
best strength, like the tree yielding fruit : that is,
well-doing in rescuing him that suffers wrong, from
the hand of the powerful, and giving him the shelter
of protection, by the mighty strength of just judg-

XVin. 22. So Lord, BO, I beseech Thee, let there
spring up, as Thou workest, as Thou givest cheerfiit

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lights ndififf the day and night.


ness and ability, let truth spring out of the earthy and
righteousness look down from heaven^ and let there be
lig/Us in the firmament. Let us break our bread to
tlie hungry y and bring the houseless poor to our house.
Let us clothe the nakedy afid despise not those of our
o^enfi>esh. Which fruits having sprung out of the
earth, behold it is good. And let our temporary
light break forth; and ourselves, from this lower
fruitfulness of action, arriving at the delightfulness of
contemplation, obtaining the Word of Life above, ap-
pear like tighis in the worlds cleaving to the ^/2rma-
meni of Thy Scripture. For there Thou instructest
us, to divide between the things intellectual, and
thmgs of sense, as betwixt the day and the night; or
between souls, given either to things intellectual, or
to things of sense ; so that now, not Thou only, in the
secret of Thy judgment, as before the firmament was
made, dividest between the light and the darkness^ but
Thy spiritual children also, set and ranked in the
same firmament (now that Thy grace is manifested
throughout the world), may ^iv^ light upon the earthy
and divide betwixt the day and the nighty and be for
signs of times; because old things are passed away^
andy beJholdy att things are become newy and because
our salvation is nearer than when toe believedy and be-
cause t/ie night is far spenty and the day is at handy
and because Thou wiU crovon Thy year with blessingy
sending laborers into Thy harvesty in sowing whereof
others have Idboredy sending also into another field,
whose harvest shall be in the end} Thus grantest

1 Matt Ix. 88; John ir. 87 8oq.

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890 AUegorical esgpianatian of the

Thou the prayers of him that askcth, and blessest the
years of the just; hit Thou art the eamty and in Thy
years which /ai/ not^ Thou preparest a gamer for our
passing years. For Thou, by an eternal counsel, dost
in their proper seasons bestow heavenly blessings
upon the earth. For to one is given by the Spirit
the word of wisdom^ as it were tJie greater lights for
their sakes who are delighted with the light of per-
spicuous truth, as it were /or th>e rule of the day. To
another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit^ as
it were the lesser light; to another faith ; to another
the gift of healing; to another the working of mir-
acles; to another prophecy; to anotlier disoertUng
of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues. And
fdl those are as it wore stars. For aU tfiese workeih
the one and selfsame Spirit^ dividing to every man
his own as ITe wiU; and causing stars to appear
manifestly^ to profit withaL But the word of knowl-
edge^ wherein are contained M Sacraments^ which
are yaried in their seasons^ as it were the moon^ and .
those other denominations of gifts^ which are reck-
oned up in order, as it were stars^ inasmuch as they
come short of that brightness of wisdom which glad-
dens the foremen tioned day, are only /or the rule of
the night. For they are necessary to such as those to
whom Thy most prudent servant could not speak
as unto spiritual^ biU as unto carnal; eyen he who
speaketh wisdom among those that are perfect. But
the natural man^ as it were a babe in Christ eaiAfed
on milky until he be strengthened for solid meaty and
his eye be enabled to behold the Sun, let him not

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lights ruling the day andniglU. 891

dwell in a night forsaken of all light, but be content
with the light of the moon and the stars. So dost
Thou speak to us, our All-wise God, in Thy Book,
Thy firmament; that wo may discern all tilings, in
an admirable contemplation ; though as yet in signs^
and in times j and in daysy and in years.

XIX. 24. But first, wash you^ be ye clean; put
away evil from your souls, and/rom b^ore mine eyes^
that the dry land may appear. Learn to do goody
judge the fatherless^ plead for the widowy that the
earth may bring forth the green herb for meat^ and
the tree bearing fruit; and come^ let us reason to-
gether^ saith the Lord^ that there may be ligfUs in
the firmament of the heaven^ and they may shine
upon t/ie earth. That rich man asked of the good
Master^ what he should do to attain everlasting life*
Lot the good Master tell him (whom he thought no
moro than man ; but he is good because he is Ood)^
lot llim tell him, ^he would enter into life^ he must
Jeeep t/he comtTiandments ; let him put away from him
the bitterness of malice and %oickednesSy not kiU^ not
commit adultery^ not steal, not bear false witness^
that tfis dry land may appear^ and bring forth the
honoring of father and mother ^ and the love of our
neighbor. All these (saith ho) /mvc I kept. Whence
then so many thorns, if the earth be fruitful P Go,
root up the spreading thickets of coretousness ; seU
that thou hastj and be filled with fruit, by giving to
the poory and thou shcUt have treasure in heaven;
Bxid follow the liordy \f thou wilt beperfecty associated
with them among whom ITe speaketh wisdom^ Who

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892 Allegorical esqplanation of

knoweth what to distribnte to the day and to the
nighty that thou mayest also know it, and that for
thee there may be lights in the firmament of heaven;
which will not be, unless thy heart be there ; nor will
that either be there, unless there thy treasure be ; as
thou hast heard of the good Master. But that bar-
ren earth toas grieved;^ and tfie t/ioms choked t/ie

25. But you, chosen generation^ you weak things
of the worlds who hsiyeforsaken aH that ye may fol-
low the Lord, go after Him, and confound the mighty;
go after Him, ye beautiful feet^ and shine ye in the
firmament^ that the heavens may dedare His glory^
dividing between the light of the perfoot, though not
as the angels, and the darkness of the little ones,
though not despised. Shine over the earth ; and let
the dayy lightened by the sun, utter unto day, speech
of wisdom ; and nighty shining with the mooTi, show
unto nighty the word of knowledge. The moon and
stars shine for the night ; yet doth the night obscure
them, seeing they give it light in its degree. For be-
hold God saying as it were. Let there be lights in t/ie
firmament of heaven; there came suddenly a sound
from heaveny as it had been the rushing of a mighty
windy and there appeared cloven tongues like as of
firCy and it sat upon each of them, and there were
made lights in the firmament of heaveny having the
word of l\fe. Run ye to and fro everywhere, ye
holy fires, ye beauteous fires : for ye are the light of
the worldf nor are ye put under a bushel. He whom

1 lUtt. zlz. SI.

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the reptiles and birde.


yoa cleaye nnto, is exalted, and hath exalted yott
Run ye to and fro, and be known nnto all nations.

XX. 26. Let the sea also conceiye and bring forth
yonr works ; and let the waters bring forth the moth
ing creature that hath /(/%. For ye, separating the
precious from the vile^ are made the month of Gted, by
whom He saith. Let the waters bring forihy not the
limng creature which the earth brings forih^ but the
marking creature having l\fej and the fowls that Jig
above Hie eart/u For Thy Sacraments, God, by
the ministry of Thy Holy Ones, have moved amid the
waves of the temptations of the world, to consecrate
the nations in Thy name, by Thy Baptism. And
amid these things, many great wonders were wrought,
as it were, grecU whales; and the voices were heard of
Thy messengers^ym^ above the earthy in the openfir^
moment of Thy Book, which was set over them, as
their authority, under which they were to fly, whith-
ersoever they went. For (here is no speech nor Ian'
gttagcy where their voice is not heard; seeing their
sound is gone through all the earthy and their words
to Hue end of the worldy because Thou, Lord, multi*
pliedst them by blessing.

27. Speak I untruly, or do I mingle and confound^
and not distinguish between the lucid knowledge of
these things in thefrmament ofheaveny and the ma^
terial works in the wavy sea, and under the firmO'
ment of heaven f For of those things whereof the
knowledge is substantial and defined, without any
increase by generation, as it were lights of wisdom
and knowledge^ yet even of them, the material operas

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894 AUegorioal eoqplanatUm of the

lions are many and diyers, and one thing growing out
of another, they are multiplied by Thy blessing, O
Gk>d, who hast refreshed the fastidiousness of mortal
senses, so that one thing in the understanding of our
mind may, by the motions of the body, be many ways
set out and expressed. These Sacraments have the
waters brotight forth ; but in Thy Word, The neces-
sities of the people estranged from the eternity of
Thy truth have brought them forth ; but in Thy €h)S-
pel. Because the waters themselves oast them forth^
the diseased bitterness whereof was the cause why
they were sent forth in Thy Word.

28. Now are all things Mr that Thou hast made,
but Thou Thyself art unutterably fiiiror, that inadest
all ; from Whom had not Adam fallen, the bnickish-
ness of the sea had never flowed out of him, that is,
the human race so profoundly curious, and tempestu-
ously swellmg, and restlessly tumbling up and down ;
and then had there been no need of Thy dispensers
to work, in many waterSy after a corporeal and sensi-
ble manner, mysterious doings and sayings. For such
dbpensers those moving and flying creatures now
seem to me to mean, whereby men, bemg initiated
and consecrated by corporeal Sacraments, should not
further profit, unless their soul had a spiritual life, and
unless after the word of admission it looked forwards
to perfection.

XXI. 29. And hereby, in Thy Word, not the deep-
ness of the sea, but the earth separated from the bit-
terness of the waters, brings forth, not the moving
creature that hcUh /(/%, but the living soul. For now

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livinff soulyJUhes^ and fowh. 895

hath it no more need of baptism, as the heathen have,
and as itself had when it was covered with the waters.
For no other erUrance is there into the kingdom of
heaven^ since Thou hast appointed that this should be
the entrance ; nor does it seek after wonderfalness of
miracles to work belief For it is not such, that un- ^
less it sees signs and wonders^ it wiU not believe^ now
that the fidthful earth is separated from the waters
that were bitter with infidelity, and tongues are for a
signy not to them tfuU believe^ but to t/iem t/uU believe
not. Neither, therefore, does the eaith which Thou
hast/oufided upon the waters^ need that flying kind
which at Thy Word the waters brought forth. Send
Thou Thy Word into it by Thy messengers. For we
speak of their working, yet it is Thou that workest in
them that they may work out a living ioul. The
earth brings the living soul forth, because the earth is
the cause that they work this in it, as the sea was the
cause that they wrought upon the moving creatures
that have life^ and tJie fowls tliatfly under thefirma-
ment of heaven^ of whom the earth hath no need ; al-
though it feeds upon that fish which was taken out of
the deep, upon that table which Thou hast prepared
in the presence of them that believe. For therefore
was the fisli taken out of the deep, that it might feed
the dry land; and the fowly though bred in the sea, is
yet mnUiplied upon the earth. For of the first preach-
ings of the Evangelists, man's infidelity was the cause ;
yet are the fidthful also exhorted and blessed by them
manifoldly, from day to day. But the living soid
takes its beginnmg from the earth; for it profits only

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896 Mshortation to OocTs ministers.

those already among the Faithful to contain them-
selves from the love of this world, that so their soul
may live onto Thee, which was dead while it lived
in pleamree^ — in death-bringing pleasures, Ix>rd, for
Thon, Lord, art the life-giving delight of tlie pore

80. Now then let Thy ministers work ui)on the
earthj not as upon the waters of infidelity, by prcadi-
ing and speaking, by miracles and sacraments and
mystic words, wherein ignorance, the mother of ad-
miration, might be intent upon them, out of a rever-
ence towards those secret signs. For such is the en-
trance nnto the Faith, for the sons of Adam Ibrgetfnl
of Thee, while they hide themselves from 2'hy face^
and become a darksome deep. But let Tliy ministers
work now as on the dry land^ separated from the
whirlpools of the great deep ; and let them be a pat-
tern unto the Fmthful, by living before them, and stir-
ring them up to imitation. For thus do men hear, so
as not to hear only, but to do also. Seek Vie Lord^
and your soul shdU live^ that the earth may bring
forth the living sotd. Be not oor\f armed to Vie world
Contain yourselves from it. The soul lives by avoid-
ing what it dies by loving. Contain yourselves from
the ungovemed wildness of pride, the sluggbh volup-
tuousness of luxury, and the false name of knowledge;
that so the wild beasts may be tamed, the cattle
broken to the yoke, the serpents harmless. For these
are the motions of our mind under an allegory; that
is to say, the haughtiness of pride, the delight of lust,
and the poison of curiosity, are the motions of a dea4

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Beatraining power of divine truth. 897

Bonl ; for the soul dies not so as to lose all motion ;
beoanso it dies hy foraaking the fountain of l^fe^
and so is taken ap bj this transitory world, and is
conformed unto U.

SI. But Thy word, O God, is ihe fountain of life
eternal, and passeth not away ; wherefore this depar-
ture of the soul is restrained by Thy word, when it is
said unto ns, Se not cor^formedunto this world; that
so the earth may in the fountain of life bring forth a
living sotd/ that is, a soul made continent in Thy
Word, by Thy Evangelists, hy following the foUotoera
of Thy Christ. For this is c^ter his hind; because a
man b wont to imitate his friend. Be ye (saith he) as
I amy for I also am as you are. Thus in this living
sold shall there be good beasts^ in meekness of action
(for Tliou hast commanded, Oo on with Thy business
in meehft4SSj so shalt thou be beloved by all men); ^ and
good cattlcy which neither if they eat shall they over'
abound^ noTy if tJiey eat noty have any lack ; and good
serpencsj not dangerous to do hurt, but wise to take
need, and only maidng so much search into this tem-
poral nature, as may suffice that eternity be clearly

Online LibraryWilliam Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.)The confessions of Augustine → online text (page 28 of 31)