Front Page Titles (by Subject) 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 Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 1 (The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine)
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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 - Philip Schaff, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 1 (The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine) 
A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip Schaff, LL.D. (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Co., 1886). Vol. 1 The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work.
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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.
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.1 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.2 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.
THE DISPUTATION OF NEBRIDIUS AGAINST THE MANICHÆANS, 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 Manichæans 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.”1 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.
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.1
5. And I directed my attention to discern what I now heard, that free will2 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),3 to think that Thou dost suffer evil, rather than that man doth it.
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?
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.1 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.
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 thee2 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,3 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 predicters, 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 servant, 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 unskilfulness 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,1 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.
HE IS SEVERELY EXERCISED AS TO THE ORIGIN OF EVIL.
11. And now, O my Helper, 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 sighings of my heart; and my desire was before Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not with me;2 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.1 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 Thee, and “ran against the Lord, even on His neck, with the thick bosses” of my buckler,2 even these inferior things were placed above me, and pressed upon me, and nowhere was there alleviation or breathing space. They encountered my sight on every side in crowds and troops, and in thought the images of 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,3 and through my own swelling was I separated from Thee; yea, my too much swollen face closed up mine eyes.
BY GOD’S ASSISTANCE HE BY DEGREES ARRIVES AT THE TRUTH.
12. “But Thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever,”4 yet not for ever art Thou angry with us, because Thou dost commiserate our dust and 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 until Thou wert made sure to my inward sight. 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.
HE COMPARES THE DOCTRINE OF THE PLATONISTS CONCERNING THE Λόγος WITH THE MUCH MORE EXCELLENT DOCTRINE OF CHRISTIANITY.
13. And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou “resistest the proud, but givest grace unto the humble,”5 and by how great an act of mercy Thou hadst pointed out to men the 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,6 translated from Greek into Latin.7 And therein I read, not indeed in the same words, but to the selfsame effect,8 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.”1 And that the soul of man, though it “bears witness of the light,”2 yet itself “is not that light;3 but the Word of God, being God, is that true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”4 And that “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.”5 But that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.6 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”7 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,”8 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;”9 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,10 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,”11 and that Thou sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us all,12 is not there. “Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes;”13 that they “that labour and are heavy laden” might “come” unto Him and He might refresh them,14 because He is “meek and lowly in heart.”15 “The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way;”16 looking upon our humility and our distress, and forgiving all our sins.17 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.”18 “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.”19
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,”20 namely, into that Egyptian food21 for which Esau lost his birthright;22 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.”1 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;2 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.3 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.4 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,5 “who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.”6
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.7 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!8 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 shalt thou convert me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shalt 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.9 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.’ ”10 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.”1
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.2 It is good, then, for me to cleave unto God,3 for if I remain not in Him, neither shall I in myself; but He, remaining in Himself, reneweth all things.4 And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou standest not in need of my goodness.5
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, unless it could diminish goodness, it could not harm. Either, then, corruption harms not, which cannot be; or, what is most certain, all 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, and 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.6
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;7 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.8 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.
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 displeaseth; 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 lest they should “behold vanity,”1 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.
WHATEVER IS, OWES ITS BEING TO GOD.
21. And I looked back 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 holdest all things in Thine hand in truth: and all things are true so far 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.2
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.3 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,4 and swelling outwardly.
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.5 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.”6 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 inward7 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,8 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 light1 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.2 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.
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,”3 “who is over all, God blessed for ever,”4 calling unto me, and saying, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,”5 and mingling that food which I was unable to receive with our flesh. For “the Word was made flesh,”6 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;7 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 are 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, allying 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;”8 and wearied, might cast themselves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them up.
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,”1 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; now 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,2 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.3 For the disapproval of heretics makes the tenets of Thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly.4 For there must be also heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak.5
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;1 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,2 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.3 For where was that charity building upon the “foundation” of humility, “which is Jesus Christ”?4 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.5 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.
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 especially the Apostle Paul;6 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.”7 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 received8 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,”9 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?10 For Thou art righteous, O Lord, but we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly,11 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,”12 whom Thou hast begotten co-eternal, and createdst13 in the beginning of Thy ways, in whom the Prince of this world found nothing worthy of death,1 yet killed he Him, and the handwriting which was contrary to us was blotted out?2 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,”3 the salvation of the people, the espoused city,4 the earnest of the Holy Ghost,5 the cup of our redemption.6 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.7 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;8 for “Thou hast hid those things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”9 For it is one thing, from the mountain’s wooded summit to see the land of peace,10 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”11 and the “dragon;”12 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,”13 and had reflected upon Thy works, and feared greatly.
[1 ]See iii. sec. 12, iv. secs. 3 and 12, and v. sec. 19, above.
[2 ]“For with what understanding can man apprehend God, who does not yet apprehend that very understanding itself of his own by which he desires to apprehend Him? And if he does already apprehend this, let him carefully consider that there is nothing in his own nature better than it: and let him see whether he can there see any outlines of forms, or brightness of colours, or greatness of space, or distance of parts, or extension of size, or any movements through intervals of place, or any such thing at all. Certainly we find nothing of all this in that, than which we find nothing better in our own nature, that is, in our own intellect, by which we apprehend wisdom according to our capacity. What, therefore, we do not find in that, which is our own best, we ought not to seek in Him, who is far better than that best of ours, that so we may understand God, if we are able, and as much as we are able, as good without quality, great without quantity, a Creator though He lack nothing, ruling but from no position, sustaining all things without ‘having’ them, in His wholeness everywhere yet without place, eternal without time, making things that are changeable without change of Himself, and without passion. Whoso thus thinks of God, although he cannot yet find out in all ways what He is, yet piously takes heed, as much as he is able, to think nothing of Him that He is not.”—De Trin. v. 2.
[1 ]Similar arguments are made use of in his controversy with Fortunatus (Dis. ii. 5), where he says, that as Fortunatus could find no answer, so neither could he when a Manichæan, and that this led him to the true faith. Again, in his De Moribus (sec. 25), where he examines the answers which had been given, he commences: “For this gives rise to the question, which used to throw us into great perplexity, even when we were your zealous disciples, nor could we find any answer,—what the race of darkness would have done to God, supposing He had refused to fight with it at the cost of such calamity to part of Himself. For if God would not have suffered any loss by remaining quiet, we thought it hard that we had been sent to endure so much. Again, if He would have suffered, His nature cannot have been incorruptible, as it behooves the nature of God to be.” We have already, in the note to book iv. sec. 26, referred to some of the matters touched on in this section; but they call for further elucidation. The following passage, quoted by Augustin from Manichæus himself (Con. Ep. Manich. 19), discloses to us (1) their ideas as to the nature and position of the two kingdoms: “In one direction, on the border of this bright and holy region, there was a land of darkness, deep and vast in extent, where abode fiery bodies, destructive races. Here was boundless darkness flowing from the same source in immeasurable abundance, with the productions properly belonging to it. Beyond this were muddy, turbid waters, with their inhabitants, and inside of them winds terrible and violent, with their prince and their progenitors. Then, again, a fieryregion of destruction, with its chiefs and peoples. And similarly inside of this, a race full of smoke and gloom, where abode the dreadful prince and chief of all, having around him innumerable princes, himself the mind and source of them all. Such are the five natures of the region of corruption.” Augustin also designates them (ibid. sec. 20) “the five dens of the race of darkness.” The nation of darkness desires to possess the kingdom of light, and prepares to make war upon it; and in the controversy with Faustus we have (2) the beginning and issue of the war (Con. Faust. ii. 3. see also De Hæres, 46). Augustin says. “You dress up for our benefit some wonderful First Man, who came down from the race of light, to war with the race of darkness, armed with his waters against the waters of the enemy, and with his fire against their fire, and with his winds against their winds.” And again (ibid. sec. 5). “You say that he mingled with the principles of darkness in his conflict with the race of darkness, that by capturing these principles the world might be made out of the mixture. So that, by your profane fancies, Christ is not only mingled with heaven and all the stars, but conjoined and compounded with the earth and all its productions,—a Saviour no more, but needing to be saved by you, by your eating and disgorging Him. This foolish custom of making your disciples bring you food, that your teeth and stomach may be the means of relieving Christ, who is bound up in it, is a consequence of your profane fancies. You declare that Christ is liberated in this way,—not, however, entirely; for you hold that some tiny particles of no value still remain in the excrement, to be mixed up and compounded again and again in various material forms, and to be released and purified at any rate by the fire in which the world will be burned up, if not before. Nay, even then, you say, Christ is not entirely liberated, but some extreme particles of His good and divine nature, which have been so defiled that they cannot be cleansed, are condemned to stay for ever in the mass of darkness.” The result of this commingling of the light with the darkness was, that a certain portion and member of God was turned “from happiness into misery,” and placed in bondage in the world, and was in need of help “whereby it might be delivered and purged.” (See also Con. Fortunat. i. 1.) Reference may be made (3), for information as to the method by which the divine substance was released in the eating of the elect, to the notes on book iii. sec. 18, above; and for the influence of the sun and moon in accomplishing that release, to the note on book v. sec. 12, above.
[1 ]See iv. sec. 26, note, above.
[2 ]See iii. sec. 12, note, and iv. sec. 26, note, above.
[3 ]Ps. vi. 5.
[1 ]See xi. sec. 7, note, below.
[2 ]Ps. cvii. 8, Vulg.
[3 ]See iv. sec. 5, note, above.
[1 ]He uses the same illustration when speaking of the mathematici, or astrologers, in his De Doct. Christ. ii. 33.
[2 ]Ps. xxxvii. 9-11, Vulg.
[1 ]Man can only control the forces of nature by yielding obedience to nature’s laws; and our true joy and safety is only to be found in being “subjected” to God. So Augustin says in another place (De Trin. x. 7), the soul is enjoined to know itself, “in order that it may consider itself, and live according to its own nature; that is, seek to be regulated according to its own nature, viz. under Him to whom it ought to be subject, and above those things to which it is to be preferred; under Him by whom it ought to be ruled, above those things which it ought to rule.”
[2 ]Job xv. 26.
[3 ]Ps. lxxxix. 11, Vulg.
[4 ]Ps. cii. 12.
[5 ]Jas. iv. 6, and 1 Pet. v. 5.
[6 ]“This,” says Watts, “was likely to be the book of Amelius the Platonist, who hath indeed this beginning of St. John’s Gospel, calling the apostle a barbarian.” This Amelius was a disciple of Plotinus, who was the first to develope and formulate the Neo-Platonic doctrines, and of whom it is said that he would not have his likeness taken, nor be reminded of his birthday, because it would recall the existence of the body he so much despised. A popular account of the theories of Plotinus, and their connection with the doctrines of Plato and of Christianity respectively, will be found in Archer Butler’s Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. pp. 348-358. For a more systematic view of his writings, see Ueberweg’s History of Philosophy, sec. 68. Augustin alludes again in his De Vita Beata (sec. 4) to the influence the Platonic writings had on him at this time, and it is interesting to note how in God’s providence they were drawing him to seek a fuller knowledge of Him, just as in his nineteenth year (book iii. sec. 7, above) the Hortensius of Cicero stimulated him to the pursuit of wisdom. Thus in his experience was exemplified the truth embodied in the saying of Clemens Alexandrinus,—“Philosophy led the Greeks to Christ, as the law did the Jews.” Archbishop Trench, in his Hulsean Lectures (lecs. 1 and 3, 1846, “Christ the Desire of all Nations”), enters with interesting detail into this question, specially as it relates to the heathen world. “None,” he says in lecture 3, “can thoughtfully read the early history of the Church without marking how hard the Jewish Christians found it to make their own the true idea of a Son of God, as indeed is witnessed by the whole Epistle to the Hebrews—how comparatively easy the Gentile converts; how the Hebrew Christians were continually in danger of sinking down into Ebionite heresies, making Christ but a man as other men, refusing to go on unto perfection, or to realize the truth of His higher nature; while, on the other hand, the genial promptness is as remarkable with which the Gentile Church welcomed and embraced the offered truth, ‘God manifest in the flesh.’ We feel that there must have been effectual preparations in the latter, which wrought its greater readiness for receiving and heartily embracing this truth when it arrived.” The passage from Amelius the Platonist, referred to at the beginning of this note, is examined in Burton’s Bampton Lectures, note 90. It has been adverted to by Eusebius, Theodoret, and perhaps by Augustin in the De Civ. Dei, x. 29, quoted in note 2, sec. 25, below. See Kayes’ Clement, pp. 116-124.
[7 ]See i. sec. 23, note, above, and also his Life, in the last vol. of the Benedictine edition of his works, for a very fair estimate of his knowledge of Greek.
[8 ]The Neo-Platonic ideas as to the “Word” or Λόγος, which Augustin (1) contrasts during the remainder of this book with the doctrine of the gospel, had its germ in the writings of Plato. The Greek term expresses both reason and the expression of reason in speech; and the Fathers frequently illustrate, by reference to this connection between ideas and uttered words, the fact that the “Word” that was with God had an incarnate existence in the world as the “Word” made flesh. By the Logos of the Alexandrian school something very different was meant from the Christian doctrine as to the incarnation, of which the above can only be taken as a dim illustration. It has been questioned, indeed, whether the philosophers, from Plotinus to the Gnostics of the time of St. John, believed the Logos and the supreme God to have in any sense separate “personalities.” Dr. Burton, in his Bampton Lectures, concludes that they did not (lect. vii. p. 215, and note 93; compare Dorner, Person of Christ, i. 27, Clark); and quotes Origen when he points out to Celsus, that “while the heathen use the reason of God as another term for God Himself, the Christians use the term Logos for the Son of God.” Another point of difference which appears in Augustin’s review of Platonism above, is found in the Platonist’s discarding the idea of the Logos becoming man. This the very genius of their philosophy forbade them to hold, since they looked on matter as impure. (2) It has been charged against Christianity by Gibbon and other sceptical writers, that it has borrowed largely from the doctrines of Plato; and it has been said that this doctrine of the Logos was taken from them by Justin Martyr. This charge, says Burton (ibid. p. 194), “has laid open in its supporters more inconsistencies and more misstatements than any other which ever has been advanced.” We have alluded in the note to book iii. sec. 8, above, to Justin Martyr’s search after truth. He endeavoured to find it successively in the Stoical, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Platonic schools; and he appears to have thought as highly of Plato’s philosophy as did Augustin. He does not, however, fail to criticise his doctrine when inconsistent with Christianity (see Burton, ibid. notes 18 and 86). Justin Martyr has apparently been chosen for attack as being the earliest of the post-apostolic Fathers. Burton, however, shows that Ignatius, who knew St. John, and was bishop of Antioch thirty years before his death, used precisely the same expression as applied to Christ (ibid. p. 204). This would appear to be a conclusive answer to this objection. (3) It may be well to note here Burton’s general conclusions as to the employment of this term Logos in St. John, since it occurs frequently in this part of the Confessions. Every one must have observed St. John’s use of the term is peculiar as compared with the other apostles, but it is not always borne in mind that a generation probably elapsed between the date of his gospel and that of the other apostolic writings. In this interval the Gnostic heresy had made great advances; and it would appear that John, finding this term Logos prevalent when he wrote, infused into it a nobler meaning, and pointed out to those being led away by this heresy that there was indeed One who might be called “the Word”—One who was not, indeed, God’s mind, or as the word that comes from the mouth and passes away, but One who, while He had been “made flesh” like unto us, was yet co-eternal with God. “You will perceive,” says Archer Butler (Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 10), “how natural, or rather how necessary, is such a process, when you remember that this is exactly what every teacher must do who speaks of God to a heathen; he adopts the term, but he refines and exalts its meaning. Nor, indeed, is the procedure different in any use whatever of language in sacred senses and for sacred purposes. It has been justly remarked, by (I think) Isaac Casaubon, that the principle of all these adaptations is expressed in the sentence of St. Paul, Ὀν ἀγνοου̑ντες εὐσεβει̑τε, του̑τον ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω ̇νμμι̑ν.” On the charge against Christianity of having borrowed from heathenism, reference may be made to Trench’s Hulsean Lectures, lect. i. (1846); and for the sources of Gnosticism, and St. John’s treatment of heresies as to the “Word,” lects. ii. and v. in Mansel’s Gnostic Heresies will be consulted with profit.
[1 ]John i. 1-5.
[2 ]Ibid. i. 7, 8.
[3 ]See note, sec. 23, below.
[4 ]John i. 9.
[5 ]Ibid. i. 10.
[6 ]Ibid. i. 11.
[7 ]Ibid. i. 12.
[8 ]Ibid. i. 14.
[9 ]Phil. ii. 6-11.
[10 ]John i. 16.
[11 ]Rom. v. 6.
[12 ]Rom. viii. 32.
[13 ]Matt. xi. 25.
[14 ]Ibid. ver. 28.
[15 ]Ibid. ver. 29.
[16 ]Ps. xxv. 9.
[17 ]Ibid. ver. 18.
[18 ]Matt. xi. 29.
[19 ]Rom. i. 21, 22.
[20 ]Ibid. i. 23.
[21 ]In the Benedictine edition we have reference to Augustin’s in Ps. xlvi. 6, where he says: “We find the lentile is an Egyptian food, for it abounds in Egypt, whence the Alexandrian lentile is esteemed so as to be brought to our country, as if it grew not here. Esau, by desiring Egyptian food, lost his birthright; and so the Jewish people, of whom it is said they turned back in heart to Egypt, in a manner craved for lentiles, and lost their birthright.” See Ex. xvi. 3; Num. xi. 5.
[22 ]Gen. xxv. 33, 34.
[1 ]Ps. cvi. 20; Ex. xxxii. 1-6.
[2 ]Rom. ix. 12.
[3 ]Similarly, as to all truth being God’s, Justin Martyr says, “Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians” (Apol. ii. 13). In this he parallels what Augustin claims in another place (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 28). “Let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master.” Origen has a similar allusion to that of Augustin above (Ep. ad Gregor. vol. i. 30), but echoes the experience of our erring nature, when he says that the gold of Egypt more frequently becomes transformed into an idol, than into an ornament for the tabernacle of God. Augustin gives us at length his views on this matter in his De Doctr. Christ. ii. 60, 61: “If those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use,—not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves were not making a good use of (Ex. iii. 21, 22, xii. 35, 36), in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid, but they contain also liberal instruction, which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God’s providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also,—that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life,—we must take and turn to a Christian use. And what else have many good and faithful men among our brethren done? Do we not see with what a quantity of gold and silver, and garments, Cyprian, that most persuasive teacher and most blessed martyr, was loaded when he came out of Egypt? How much Lactantius brought with him! And Victorinus, and Optatus, and Hilary, not to speak of living men! How much Greeks out of number have borrowed! And, prior to all these, that most faithful servant of God, Moses, had done the same thing: for of him it is written that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts vii. 22). . . . For what was done at the time of the exodus was no doubt a type prefiguring what happens now.”
[4 ]Acts xvii. 28.
[5 ]Hosea. ii. 8.
[6 ]Rom. i. 25.
[7 ]Not the “corporeal brightness” which as a Manichee he had believed in, and to which reference has been made in iii. secs. 10, 12, iv. sec. 3, and sec. 2, above.The Christian belief he indicates in his De Trin. viii. 2. “God is Light (1 John i. 5), not in such way that these eyes see, but in such way as the heart sees when it is said, ‘He is Truth.’ ” See also note 1, sec. 23, above.
[8 ]If we knew not God, he says, we could not love Him (De Trin. viii. 12); but in language very similar to that above, he tells us “we are men, created in the image of our Creator, whose eternity is true, and whose truth is eternal, whose love is eternal and true, and who Himself is the eternal, true, and adorable Trinity, without confusion, without separation.” (De Civ. Dei, xi. 28); God, then, as even the Platonists hold, being the principle of all knowledge. “Let Him,” he concludes, in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 4), “be sought in whom all things are secured to us, let Him be discovered in whom all truth becomes certain to us, let Him be loved in whom all becomes right to us.”
[9 ]Ps. xxxix. 11, Vulg.
[10 ]Ex. iii. 14. Augustin, when in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 11, 12) he makes reference to this text, leans to the belief, from certain parallels between Plato’s doctrines and those of the word of God, that he may have derived information concerning the Old Testament Scriptures from an interpreter when in Egypt. He says, “The most striking thing in this connection, and that which most of all inclines me almost to assent to the opinion that Plato was not ignorant of those writings, is the answer which was given to the question elicited from the holy Moses when the words of God were conveyed to him by the angel, for when he asked what was the name of that God who was commanding him to go and deliver the Hebrew people out of Egypt, this answer was given. ‘I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, He who is sent me unto you;’ as though, compared with Him that truly is, because He is unchangeable, those things which have been created mutable are not,—a truth which Plato vehemently held, and most diligently commended. And I know not whether this sentiment is anywhere to be found in the books of those who were before Plato, unless in that book where it is said, ‘I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Who is sent me unto you.’ But we need not determine from what source he learned these things,—whether it was from the books of the ancients who preceded him, or, as is more likely, from the words of the apostle (Rom. i. 20), ‘Because that which is known of God has been manifested among them, for God hath manifested it to them. For His invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by those things which have been made, also His eternal power and Godhead.’ ”—De Civ. Dei, viii. 11, 12.
[1 ]Rom. i. 20.
[2 ]Therefore, he argues, is God called the I AM (De Nat. Boni, 19); for omnis mutatio facit non esse quod erat. Similarly, we find him speaking in his De Mor. Manich (c. i.). “For that exists in the highest sense of the word which continues always the same, which is throughout like itself, which cannot in any part be corrupted or changed, which is not subject to time, which admits of no variation in its present as compared with its former condition This is existence in its true sense.” See also note 3, p. 158.
[3 ]Ps. lxxiii. 28.
[4 ]Wisd. vii. 27.
[5 ]Ps. xvi. 2.
[6 ]Gen. i. 31, and Ecclus. xxxix. 21. Evil, with Augustin, is a “privation of good.” See iii. sec. 12, note, above.
[7 ]See v. sec. 2, note 1, above, where Augustin illustrates the existence of good and evil by the lights and shades in a painting, etc.
[8 ]Ps. cxlviii. 1-12.
[1 ]Ps. cxix. 37.
[2 ]See xi. secs. 15, 16, 26, etc., below.
[3 ]See v. sec. 2, note 1, above.
[4 ]Ecclus. x. 9. Commenting on this passage of the Apocrypha (De Mus. vi. 40), he says, that while the soul’s happiness and life is in God, “what is to go into outer things, but to cast out its inward parts, that is, to place itself far from God—not by distance of place, but by the affection of the mind?”
[5 ]Wisd. ix. 15.
[6 ]Rom. i. 20.
[7 ]See above, sec. 10.
[8 ]Here, and more explicitly in sec. 25, we have before us what has been called the “trichotomy” of man. This doctrine Augustin does not deny in theory, but appears to consider (De Anima, iv. 32) it prudent to overlook in practice. The biblical view of psychology may well be considered here not only on its own account, but as enabling us clearly to apprehend this passage and that which follows it. It is difficult to understand how any one can doubt that St. Paul, when speaking in 1 Thess v. 23, of our “spirit, soul, and body being preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” implies a belief in a kind of trinity in man. And it is very necessary to the understanding of other Scriptures that we should realize what special attributes pertain to the soul and the spirit respectively. It may be said, generally, that the soul (ψυχη) is that passionate and affectionate nature which is common to us and the inferior creatures, while the spirit (πνευ̑μα) is the higher intellectual nature which is peculiar to man. Hence our Lord in His agony in the garden says (Matt. xxvi. 38), “My soul is exceeding sorrowful”—the soul being liable to emotions of pleasure and pain. In the same passage (ver. 41) he says to the apostles who had slept during His great agony, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” so that the spirit is the seat of the will. And that the spirit is also the seat of consciousness we gather from St. Paul’s words (1 Cor. ii. 11), “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” And it is on the spirit of man that the Spirit of God operates, whence we read (Rom. viii. 16), “The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” It is important to note that the word “flesh” (σαρξ) has its special significance, as distinct from body. The word comes to us from the Hebrew through the Hellenistic Greek of the LXX., and in biblical language (see Bishop Pearson’s Præfatio Parænetica to his edition of the LXX.) stands for our human nature with its worldly surroundings and liability to temptation; so that when it is said, “The Word was made flesh,” we have what is equivalent to, “The Word put on human nature.” It is, therefore, the flesh and the spirit that are ever represented in conflict one with the other when men are in the throes of temptation. So it must be while life lasts; for it is characteristic of our position in the world that we possess soulish bodies (to employ the barbarous but expressive word of Dr. Candlish in his Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 182), and only on the morning of the resurrection will the body be spiritual and suited to the new sphere of its existence. “It is sown a natural [ψυχικὸν, “soulish”] body, it is raised a spiritual [πνευματικὀν] body” (1 Cor. xv. 44), “for,” as Augustin says in his Enchiridion (c. xci.), “just as now the body is called animate (or, using the Greek term, as above, instead of the Latin, “soulish”), though it is a body and not a soul, so then the body shall be called spiritual, though it shall be a body, not a spirit. . . . No part of our nature shall be in discord with another; but as we shall be free from enemies without, so we shall not have ourselves for enemies within.” For further information on this most interesting subject, see Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology, ii. 4 (“The True and False Trichotomy”), Olshausen, Opuscula Theologica, iv. (“De Trichotomia”), and cc. 2, 17, and 18 of R. W. Evans’ Ministry of the Body, where the subject is discussed with thoughtfulness and spiritual insight. This matter is also treated of in the introductory chapters of Schlegel’s Philosophy of Life.
[1 ]That light which illumines the soul, he tells us in his De Gen. ad Lit. (xii. 31), is God Himself, from whom all light cometh, and, though created in His image and likeness, when it tries to discover Him, palpitat infirmitate, et minus valet. In sec. 13, above, speaking of Platonism, he describes it as holding “that the soul of man, though it ‘bears witness of the Light,’ yet itself ‘is not that Light.’ ” In his De Civ. Dei, x. 2, he quotes from Plotinus (mentioned in note 2, sec. 13, above) in regard to the Platonic doctrine as to enlightenment from on high. He says: “Plotinus, commenting on Plato, repeatedly and strongly asserts that not even the soul, which they believe to be the soul of the world, derives its blessedness from any other source than we do, viz. from that Light which is distinct from it and created it, and by whose intelligible illumination it enjoys light in things intelligible. He also compares those spiritual things to the vast and conspicuous heavenly bodies, as if God were the sun, and the soul the moon; for they suppose that the moon derives its light from the sun. That great Platonist, therefore, says that the rational soul, or rather the intellectual soul,—in which class he comprehends the souls of the blessed immortals who inhabit heaven,—has no nature superior to it save God, the Creator of the world and the soul itself, and that these heavenly spirits derive their blessed life, and the light of truth, from the same source as ourselves, agreeing with the gospel where we read, ‘There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light, that through Him all might believe. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of the Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world’ (John i. 6-9):—a distinction which sufficiently proves that the rational or intellectual soul, such as John had, cannot be its own light, but needs to receive illumination from another, the true Light. This John himself avows when he delivers his witness (ibid. 16): ‘We have all received of His fulness.’ ” Comp. Tertullian, De Testim. Anima, and the note to iv. sec. 25, above, where other references to God’s being the Father of Lights are given.
[2 ]Rom. i. 20.
[3 ]1 Tim. li. 5.
[4 ]Rom. ix. 5.
[5 ]John xiv. 6.
[6 ]John i. 14.
[7 ]Christ descended that we may ascend. See iv. sec. 19, notes 1 and 3, above.
[8 ]Gen. iii. 21. Augustin frequently makes these “coats of skin” symbolize the mortality to which our first parents became subject by being deprived of the tree of life (see iv. sec. 15, note 3, above), and in his Enarr. in Ps. (clii. 1, 8), he says they are thus symbolical inasmuch as the skin is only taken from animals when dead.
[1 ]We have already seen, in note 1, sec. 13, above, how this text (1) runs counter to Platonic beliefs as to the Logos. The following passage from Augustin’s De Civ. Dei, x. 29, is worth putting on record in this connection:—“Are ye ashamed to be corrected? This is the vice of the proud. It is, forsooth, a degradation for learned men to pass from the school of Plato to the discipleship of Christ, who by His Spirit taught a fisherman to think and to say, ‘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. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not’ (John i. 1-5). The old saint Simplicianus, afterwards Bishop of Milan, used to tell me that a certain Platonist was in the habit of saying that this opening passage of the holy Gospel entitled, ‘According to John,’ should be written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches in the most conspicuous place. But the proud scorn to take God for their Master, because ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’ (John i. 14). So that with these miserable creatures it is not enough that they are sick, but they boast of their sickness, and are ashamed of the medicine which could heal them. And doing so, they secure not elevation, but a more disastrous fall.” This text, too, as Irenæus has remarked, (2) entirely opposes the false teaching of the Docetæ, who, as their name imports, believed, with the Manichæans, that Christ only appeared to have a body; as was the case, they said, with the angels entertained by Abraham (see Burton’s Bampton Lectures, lect. 6). It is curious to note here that Augustin maintained that the Angel of the Covenant was not an anticipation, as it were, of the incarnation of the Word, but only a created angel (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 29, and De Trin. iii. 11), thus unconsciously playing into the hands of the Arians. See Bull’s Def. Fid. Nic. i. 1, sec. 2, etc., and iv. 3, sec. 14.
[2 ]The founder of this heresy was Apollinaris the younger, Bishop of Laodicea, whose erroneous doctrine was condemned at the Council of Constantinople, 381. Note 4, sec. 23, above, on the “trichotomy,” affords help in understanding it. Apollinaris seems to have desired to exalt the Saviour, not to detract from His honour, like Arius. Before his time men had written much on the divine and much on the human side of our Lord’s nature. He endeavoured to show (see Dorner’s Person of Christ, A. ii. 232, etc., Clark) in what the two natures united differed from human nature. He concluded that our Lord had no need of the human πνευ̑μα, and that its place was supplied by the divine nature, so that God “the Word,” the body and the ψυχη, constituted the being of the Saviour. Dr. Pusey quotes the following passages hereon:—“The faithful who believes and confesses in the Mediator a real human, i.e. our nature, although God the Word, taking it in a singular manner, sublimated it into the only Son of God, so that He who took it, and what He took, was one person in the Trinity. For, after man was assumed, there became not a quaternity but remained the Trinity, that assumption making in an ineffable way the truth of one person in God and man. Since we do not say that Christ is only God, as do the Manichæan heretics, nor only man, as the Photinian heretics, nor in such wise man as not to have anything which certainly belongs to human nature, whether the soul, or in the soul itself the rational mind, or the flesh not taken of the woman, but made of the Word, converted and changed into flesh, which three false and vain statements made three several divisions of the Apollinarian heretics; but we say that Christ is true God, born of God the Father, without any beginning of time, and also true man, born of a human mother in the fulness of time; and that His humanity, whereby He is inferior to the Father, does not derogate from His divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father” (De Dono Persev. sec. ult.). “There was formerly a heresy—its remnants perhaps still exist—of some called Apollinarians. Some of them said that that man whom the Word took, when ‘the Word was made flesh,’ had not the human, i. e. rational (λογικον) mind, but was only a soul without human intelligence, but that the very Word of God was in that man instead of a mind. They were cast out,—the Catholic faith rejected them, and they made a heresy. It was established in the Catholic faith that that man whom the wisdom of God took had nothing less than other men, with regard to the integrity of man’s nature, but as to the excellency of His person, had more than other men. For other men may be said to be partakers of the Word of God, having the Word of God, but none of them can be called the Word of God, which He was called when it is said, ‘The Word was made flesh’ ” (in Ps. xxix., Enarr. ii. sec. 2). “But when they reflected that, if their doctrine were true, they must confess that the only-begotten Son of God, the Wisdom and Word of the Father, by whom all things were made, is believed to have taken a sort of brute with the figure of a human body, they were dissatisfied with themselves; yet not so as to amend, and confess that the whole man was assumed by the wisdom of God, without any diminution of nature, but still more boldly denied to Him the soul itself, and everything of any worth in man, and said that He only took human flesh.” (De 83, Div. Quæst qu. 80). Reference on the questions touched on in this note may be made to Neander’s Church History, ii. 401, etc. (Clark), and Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, i. 270 (Clark).
[3 ]See notes on p. 107.
[4 ]Archbishop Trench’s words on this sentence in the Confessions (Hulsean Lectures, lect. v. 1845) have a special interest in the present attitude of the Roman Church:—“Doubtless there is a true idea of scriptural developments which has always been recognised, to which the great Fathers of the Church have set their seal: this, namely, that the Church, informed and quickened by the Spirit of God, more and more discovers what in Holy Scripture is given her; but not this, that she unfolds by an independent power anything further therefrom. She has always possessed what she now possesses of doctrine and truth, only not always with the same distinctness of consciousness. She has not added to her wealth, but she has become more and more aware of that wealth her dowry has remained always the same, but that dowry was so rich and so rare, that only little by little she has counted over and taken stock and inventory of her jewels. She has consolidated her doctrine, compelled to this by the challenges and provocation of enemies, or induced to it by the growing sense of her own needs.” Perhaps no one, to turn from the Church to individual men, has been more indebted than was Augustin to controversies with heretics for the evolvement of truth.
[5 ]1 Cor. xi. 19.
[1 ]Rom. i. 20.
[2 ]See sec. 17, note, above.
[3 ]1 Cor. viii. 1.
[4 ]1 Cor. iii. 11.
[5 ]We have already quoted a passage from Augustin’s Sermons (v. sec. 5,note 7, above), where Christ as God is described as the country we seek, while as man He is the way to go to it. The Fathers frequently point out in their controversies with the philosophers that it little profited that they should know of a goal to be attained unless they could learn the way to reach it. And, in accordance with this sentiment. Augustin says: “For it is as man that He is the Mediator and the Way. Since, if the way lieth between him who goes and the place whither he goes, there is hope of his reaching it; but if there be no way, or if he know not where it is, what boots it to know whither he should go?” (De Civ. Dei, xi. 2.) And again, in his De Trin. iv. 15: “But of what use is it for the proud man, who, on that account, is ashamed to embark upon the ship of wood, to behold from afar his country beyond the sea? Or how can it hurt the humble man not to behold it from so great a distance, when he is actually coming to it by that wood upon which the other disdains to be borne?”
[6 ]Literally, “The venerable pen of Thy Spirit (venerabilem stilum Spiritus Tut), words which would seem to imply a belief on Augustin’s part in a verbal inspiration of Scripture. That he gave Scripture the highest honour as God’s inspired word is clear not only from this, but other passages in his works. It is equally clear, however, that he gave full recognition to the human element in the word. See De Cons. Evang ii. 12, where both these aspects are plainly discoverable. Compare also ibid. c. 24.
[7 ]Ps. ii. 11.
[8 ]1 Cor. iv. 7.
[9 ]Rom. vii. 22.
[10 ]Ibid. ver. 23.
[11 ]Song of the Three Children, 4 sq.
[12 ]Rom. vii. 24, 25.
[13 ]Prov. viii. 22, as quoted from the old Italic version. It must not be understood to teach that the Lord is a creature. (1) Augustin, as indeed is implied in the Confessions above, understands the passage of the incarnation of Christ, and in his De Doct Christ i. 38, he distinctly so applies it. “For Christ . . . desiring to be Himself the Way to those who are just setting out, determined to take a fleshly body. Whence also that expression, ‘The Lord created me in the beginning of his Way,’—that is, that those who wish to come might begin their journey in Him.” Again, in a remarkable passage in his De Trin. i. 24, he makes a similar application of the words: “According to the form of a servant, it is said, ‘The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways.’ Because, according to the form of God, he said, ‘I am the Truth,’ and, according to the form of a servant, ‘I am the Way.’ ” (2) Again, creasti is from the LXX. ἕκτισε, which is that version’s rendering in this verse of the Hebrew קָנָנִי. The Vulgate, more correctly translating from the Hebrew, gives possedit, thus corresponding to our English version, “The Lord possessed me,” etc. The LXX, would appear to have made an erroneous rendering here, for κτίζω is generally in that version the equivalent for בָרָא, “to create,” while קרָה is usually rendered by κτἀομαι, “to possess,” “to acquire.” It is true that Gesenius supposes that in a few passages, and Prov. viii. 22 among them, קרָה should be rendered “to create,” but these very passages our authorized version renders “to get,” or “to possess,” and, as Dr. Tregelles observes, referring to M’Call on the Divine Sonship, “in all passages cited for that sense, ‘to possess’ appears to be the true meaning.”
[1 ]John xviii. 38.
[2 ]Col. ii. 14.
[3 ]Ps. li. 17.
[4 ]Rev. xxi. 2.
[5 ]2 Cor. v. 5.
[6 ]Ps. cxvi. 13.
[7 ]Ps. lxii. 1, 2.
[8 ]Matt. xi. 28, 29.
[9 ]Matt. xi. 25.
[10 ]Deut. xxxii. 49.
[11 ]1 Pet. v. 8.
[12 ]Rev. xii. 3.
[13 ]1 Cor. xv. 9. In giving an account, remarks Pusey, of this period to his friend and patron Romanianus, St. Augustin seems to have blendedtogether this and the history of his completed conversion, which was also wrought in connection with words in the same apostle, but the account of which be uniformly suppresses, for fear, probably, of injuring the individual to whom he was writing (see on book ix. sec. 4, note, below). “Since that vehement flame which was about to seize me as yet was not, I thought that by which I was slowly kindled was the very greatest. When lo! certain books, when they had distilled a very few drops of most precious unguent on that tiny flame, it is past belief, Romanianus, past belief, and perhaps past what even you believe of me (and what could I say more?), nay, to myself also is it past belief, what a conflagration of myself they lighted. What ambition, what human show, what empty love of fame, or, lastly, what incitement or band of this mortal life could hold me then? I turned speedily and wholly back into myself. I cast but a glance, I confess, as one passing on, upon that religion which was implanted into us as boys, and interwoven with our very inmost selves, but she drew me unknowing to herself. So then, stumbling, hurrying, hesitating, I seized the Apostle Paul; ‘for never,’ said I, ‘could they have wrought such things, or lived as it is plain they did live, it their writings and arguments were opposed to this so high good.’ I read the whole most intently and carefully. But then, never so little light having been shed thereon, such a countenance of wisdom gleamed upon me, that if I could exhibit it—I say not to you, who ever hungeredst after her, though unknown—but to your very adversary (see book vi. sec. 24, note, above), casting aside and abandoning whatever now stimulates him so keenly to whatsoever pleasures, he would, amared, panting, enkindled, fly to her Beauty” (Con. Acad. ii. 5).