Augustin: confessions 79
79 24. But first, “Wash you, make you clean;”148 put away iniquity from your souls, and from before mine eyes, that the dry land may appear. “Learn to do well; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow,”149 that the earth may bring forth the green herb for meat, and the tree bearing fruit;150 and come let us reason together, saith the Lord,151 that there may be lights in the firmament of heaven, and that they may shine upon the earth.152 That rich man asked of the good Master what he should do to attain eternal life.153 Let the good Master, whom he thought a man, and nothing more, tell him (but He is “good” because He is God)—let Him tell him, that if he would “enter into life” he must “keep the commandments;”154 let him banish from himself the bitterness of malice and wickedness;155 let him not kill, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor bear false witness; that the dry land may appear, and bud forth the honouring of father and mother, and the love of our neighbour.156 All these, saith he, have I kept.157 Whence, then, are there so many thorns, if the earth be fruitful? Go, root up the woody thicket of avarice; sell that thou hast, and be filled with fruit by giving to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and follow the Lord “if thou wilt be perfect,”158 coupled with those amongst whom He speaketh wisdom, Who knoweth what to distribute to the day and to the night, that thou also mayest know it, that for thee also there may be lights in the firmament of heaven, which will not be unless thy heart be there;159 which likewise also will not be unless thy treasure be there, as thou hast heard from the good Master. But the barren earth was grieved,160 and the thorns choked the word.161
25. But you, “chosen generation,162 you weak things of the world,” who have forsaken all things that you might “follow the Lord,” go after Him, and “confound the things which are mighty;”163 go after Him, ye beautiful feet,164 and shine in the firmament,165 that the heavens may declare His glory, dividing between the light of the perfect, though not as of the angels, and the darkness of the little, though not despised ones. Shine over all the earth, and let the day, lightened by the sun, utter unto day the word of wisdom; and let night, shining by the moon, announce unto night the word of knowledge.166 The moon and the stars shine for the night, but the night obscureth them not, since they illumine it in its degree. For behold God (as it were) saying, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven.” There came suddenly a sound from heaven, as it had been the rushing of a mighty wind, and there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.167 And there were made lights in the firmament of heaven, having the word of life.168 Run ye to and fro everywhere, ye holy fires, ye beautiful fires; for ye are the light of the world,169 nor are ye put under a bushel.170 He to whom ye cleave is exalted, and hath exalted you. Run ye to and fro, and be known unto all nations).
Chapter XX.—Concerning Reptiles and Flying Creatures (Ver. 20),—The Sacrament of Baptism Being Regarded.
26. Let the sea also conceive and bring forth your works, and let the waters bring forth the moving creatures that have life.171 For ye, who “take forth the precious from the vile,”172 have been made the mouth of God, through which He saith, “Let the waters bring forth,” not the living creature which the earth bringeth forth, but the moving creature having life, and the fowls that fly above the earth. For Thy sacraments, O God, by the ministry of Thy holy ones, have made their way amid the billows of the temptations of the world, to instruct the Gentiles in Thy Name, in Thy Baptism. And amongst these things, many great works of wonder have been wrought, like as great whales; and the voices of Thy messengers flying above the earth, near to the firmament of Thy Book; that being set over them as an authority, under which they were to fly whithersoever they were to go. For “there is no speech, nor language, where their voice is not heard;” seeing their sound173 “hath gone through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world,” because Thou, O Lord, hast multiplied these things by blessing.174
27. Whether do I lie, or do I mingle and confound, and not distinguish between the clear knowledge of these things that are in the firmament of heaven, and the corporeal works in the undulating sea and under the firmament of heaven? For of those things whereof the knowledge is solid and defined, without increase by generation, as it were lights of wisdom and knowledge, yet of these self-same things the material operations are many and varied; and one thing in growing from another is multiplied by Thy blessing, O God, who hast refreshed the fastidiousness of mortal senses; so that in the knowledge of our mind, one thing may, through the motions of the body, be in many ways175 set out and expressed. These sacraments have the waters brought forth;176 but in Thy Word. The wants of the people estranged from the eternity of Thy truth have produced them, but in Thy Gospel; because the waters themselves have cast them forth, the bitter weakness of which was the cause of these things being sent forth in Thy Word.
28. Now all things are fair that Thou hast made, but behold, Thou art inexpressibly fairer who hast made all things; from whom had not Adam fallen, the saltness of the sea would never have flowed from him,—the human race so profoundly curious, and boisterously swelling, and restlessly moving; and thus there would be no need that Thy dispensers should work in many waters,177 in a corporeal and sensible manner, mysterious doings and sayings. For so these creeping and flying creatures now present themselves to my mind, whereby men, instructed, initiated, and subjected by corporeal sacraments, should not further profit, unless their soul had a higher spiritual life, and unless, after the word of admission, it looked forwards to perfection.178
Chapter XXI.—Concerning the Living Soul, Birds, and Fishes (Ver. 24)—The Sacrament of the Eucharist Being Regarded.
29. And hereby, in Thy Word, not the depth of the sea, but the earth parted from the bitterness of the waters,179 bringeth forth not the creeping and flying creature that hath life,180 but the living soul itself.181 For now hath it no longer need of baptism, as the heathen have, and as itself had when it was covered with the waters,—for no other entrance is there into the kingdom of heaven,182 since Thou hast appointed that this should be the entrance,—nor does it seek great works of miracles by which to cause faith; for it is not such that, unless it shall have seen signs and wonders, it will not believe,183 when now the faithful earth is separated from the waters of the sea, rendered bitter by infidelity; and “tongues are for a sign, not to those that believe, but to those that believe not.”184 Nor then doth the earth, which Thou hast founded above the waters,185 stand in need of that flying kind which at Thy word the waters brought forth. Send Thy word forth into it by Thy messengers. For we relate their works, but it is Thou who workest in them, that in it they may work out a living soul. The earth bringeth it forth, because the earth is the cause that they work these things in the soul; as the sea has been the cause that they wrought upon the moving creatures that have life, and the fowls that fly under the firmament of heaven, of which the earth hath now no need; although it feeds on the fish which was taken out of the deep, upon that table which Thou hast prepared in the presence of those that believe.186 For therefore He was raised from the deep, that He might feed the dry land; and the fowl, though bred in the sea, is yet multiplied upon the earth. For of the first preachings of the Evangelists, the infidelity of men was the prominent cause; but the faithful also are exhorted, and are manifoldly blessed by them day by day. But the living soul takes its origin from the earth, for it is not profitable, unless to those already among the faithful, to restrain themselves from the love of this world, that so their soul may live unto Thee, which was dead while living in pleasures,187 —in death-bearing pleasures, O Lord, for Thou art the vital delight of the pure heart.
30. Now, therefore, let Thy ministers work upon the earth,—not as in the waters of infidelity, by announcing and speaking by miracles, and sacraments, and mystic words; in which ignorance, the mother of admiration, may be intent upon them, in fear of those hidden signs. For such is the entrance unto the faith for the sons of Adam forgetful of Thee, while they hide themselves from Thy face,188 and become a darksome deep. But let Thy ministers work even as on the dry land, separated from the whirlpools of the great deep; and let them be an example unto the faithful, by living before them, and by stimulating them to imitation. For thus do men hear not with an intent to hear merely, but to act also. Seek the Lord, and your soul shall live,189 that the earth may bring forth the living soul. “Be not conformed to this world.”190 Restrain yourselves from it; the soul lives by avoiding those things which it dies by affecting. Restrain yourselves from the unbridled wildness of pride, from the indolent voluptuousness of luxury, and from the false name of knowledge;191 so that wild beasts may be tamed, the cattle subdued, and serpents harmless. For these are the motions of the mind in allegory; that is to say, the haughtiness of pride, the delight of lust, and the poison of curiosity are the motions of the dead soul; for the soul dies not so as to lose all motion, because it dies by forsaking the fountain of life,192 and so is received by this transitory world, and is conformed unto it.
31. But Thy Word, O God, is the fountain of eternal life, and passeth not away; therefore this departure is kept in check by Thy word when it is said unto us, “Be not conformed unto this world,”193 so that the earth may bring forth a living soul in the fountain of life,—a soul restrained in Thy Word, by Thy Evangelists, by imitating the followers of Thy Christ.194 For this is after his kind; because a man is stimulated to emulation by his friend.195 “Be ye,” saith he, “as I am, for I am as you are.”196 Thus in the living soul shall there be good beasts, in gentleness of action. For Thou hast commanded, saying, Go on with thy business in meekness, and thou shalt be beloved by all men;197 and good cattle, which neither if they eat, shall they over-abound, nor if they do not eat, have they any want;198 and good serpents, not destructive to do hurt, but “wise”199 to take heed; and exploring only so much of this temporal nature as is sufficient that eternity may be “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are.”200 For these animals are subservient to reason,201 when, being kept in check from a deadly advance, they live, and are good.
Chapter XXII.—He Explains the Divine Image (Ver. 26) of the Renewal of the Mind.
80 32. For behold, O Lord our God, our Creator, when our affections have been restrained from the love of the world, by which we died by living ill, and began to be a “living soul” by living well;202 and Thy word which Thou spakest by Thy apostle is made good in us, “Be not conformed to this world;” next also follows that which Thou presently subjoinedst, saying, “But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,”203 —not now after your kind, as if following your neighbour who went before you, nor as if living after the example of a better man (for Thou hast not said, “Let man be made after his kind,” but, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”),204 that we may prove what Thy will is. For to this purpose said that dispenser of Thine,—begetting children by the gospel,205 —that he might not always have them “babes,” whom he would feed on milk, And cherish as a nurse;206 “be ye transformed,” saith He, “by the renewing of your mind, that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”207 Therefore Thou sayest not, “Let man be made,” but, “Let us make man.” Nor sayest Thou, “after his kind,” but, after “our image” and “likeness.” Because, being renewed in his mind, and beholding and apprehending Thy truth, man needeth not man as his director208 that he may imitate his kind; but by Thy direction proveth what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of Thine. And Thou teachest him, now made capable, to perceive the Trinity of the Unity, and the Unity of the Trinity. And therefore this being said in the plural, “Let us make man,” it is yet subjoined in the singular, “and God made man;” and this being said in the plural, “after our likeness,” is subjoined in the singular, “after the image of God.”209 Thus is man renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created him;210 and being made spiritual, he judgeth all things,—all things that are to be judged,—“yet he himself is judged of no man.”211
Chapter XXIII.—That to Have Power Over All Things (Ver. 26) is to Judge Spiritually of All.
33. But that he judgeth all things answers to his having dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over all cattle and wild beasts, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For this he doth by the discernment of his mind, whereby he perceiveth the things “of the Spirit of God;”212 whereas, otherwise, man being placed in honour, had no understanding, and is compared unto the brute beasts, and is become like unto them.213 In Thy Church, therefore, O our God, according to Thy grace which Thou hast accorded unto it, since we are Thy workmanship created in good works,214 there are not only those who are spiritually set over, but those also who are spiritually subjected to those placed over them; for in this manner hast Thou made man, male and female,215 in Thy grace spiritual, where, according to the sex of body, there is not male and female, because neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free.216 Spiritual persons, therefore, whether those that are set over, or those who obey, judge spiritually; not of that spiritual knowledge which shines in the firmament, for they ought not to judge as to an authority so sublime, nor doth it behove them to judge of Thy Book itself, although there be something that is not clear therein; because we submit our understanding unto it, and esteem as certain that even that which is shut up from our sight is rightly and truly spoken.217 For thus man, although now spiritual and renewed in the knowledge of God after His image that created him, ought yet to be the “doer of the law, not the judge.”218 Neither doth he judge of that distinction of spiritual and carnal men, who are known to Thine eyes, O our God, and have not as yet made themselves manifest unto us by works, that by their fruits we may know them;219 but Thou, O Lord, dost already know them, and Thou hast divided and hast called them in secret, before the firmament was made. Nor doth that man, though spiritual, judge the restless people of this world; for what hath he to do to judge them that are without,220 knowing not which of them may afterwards come into the sweetness of Thy grace, and which continue in the perpetual bitterness of impiety?
34. Man, therefore, whom Thou hast made after Thine own image, received not dominion over the lights of heaven, nor over the hidden heaven itself, nor over the day and the night, which Thou didst call before the foundation of the heaven, nor over the gathering together of the waters, which is the sea; but he received dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and over all cattle, and over all the earth, and over all creeping things which creep upon the earth. For He judgeth and approveth what He findeth right, but disapproveth what He findeth amiss, whether in the celebration of those sacraments by which are initiated those whom Thy mercy searches out in many waters; or in that in which the Fish221 Itself is exhibited, which, being raised from the deep, the devout earth feedeth upon; or in the signs and expressions of words, subject to the authority of Thy Book,—such signs as burst forth and sound from the mouth, as it were flying under the firmament, by interpreting, expounding, discoursing, disputing, blessing, calling upon Thee, so that the people may answer, Amen.The vocal pronunciation of all which words is caused by the deep of this world, and the blindness of the flesh, by which thoughts cannot be seen, so that it is necessary to speak aloud in the ears; thus, although flying fowls be multiplied upon the earth, yet they derive their beginning from the waters. The spiritual man judgeth also by approving what is right and reproving what he finds amiss in the works and morals of the faithful, in their alms, as if in “the earth bringing forth fruit;” and he judgeth of the “living soul,” rendered living by softened affections, in chastity, in fastings, in pious thoughts; and of those things which are perceived through the senses of the body. For it is now said, that he should judge concerning those things in which he has also the power of correction.
Chapter XXIV.—Why God Has Blessed Men, Fishes, Flying Creatures, and Not Herbs and the Other Animals (Ver. 28).
35. But what is this, and what kind of mystery is it? Behold, Thou blessest men, O Lord, that they may “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth;”222 in this dost Thou not make a sign unto us that we may understand something? Why hast Thou not also blessed the light, which Thou calledst day, nor the firmament of heaven, nor the lights, nor the stars, nor the earth, nor the sea? I might say, O our God, that Thou, who hast created us after Thine Image,—I might say, that Thou hast willed to bestow this gift of blessing especially upon man, hadst Thou not in like manner blessed the fishes and the whales, that they should be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the waters of the sea, and that the fowls should be multiplied upon the earth. Likewise might I say, that this blessing belonged properly unto such creatures as are propagated from their own kind, if I had found it in the shrubs, and the fruit trees, and beasts of the earth. But now is it not said either unto the herbs, or trees, or beasts, or serpents, “Be fruitful and multiply;” since all these also, as well as fishes, and fowls, and men, do by propagation increase and preserve their kind.
36. What, then, shall I say, O Thou Truth, my Light,—“that it was idly and vainly said?” Not so, O Father of piety; far be it from a minister of Thy word to say this. But if I understand not what Thou meanest by that phrase, let my betters—that is, those more intelligent than I—use it better, in proportion as Thou, O my God, hast given to each to understand. But let my confession be also pleasing before Thine eyes, in which I confess to Thee that I believe, O Lord, that Thou hast not thus spoken in vain; nor will I be silent as to what this lesson suggests to me. For it is true, nor do I see what should prevent me from thus understanding the figurative sayings223 of Thy books. For I know a thing may be manifoldly signified by bodily expression which is understood in one manner by the mind; and that that may be manifoldly understood in the mind which is in one manner signified by bodily expression. Behold, the single love of God and of our neighbour, by what manifold sacraments and innumerable languages, and in each several language in how innumerable modes of speaking, it is bodily expressed. Thus do the young of the waters increase and multiply. Observe again, whosoever thou art who readest; behold what Scripture delivers, and the voice pronounces in one only way, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth;” is it not manifoldly understood, not by any deceit of error, but by divers kinds of true senses?224 Thus are the offspring of men “fruitful” and do “multiply.”
37. If, therefore, we conceive of the natures of things, not allegorically, but properly, then does the phrase, “be fruitful and multiply,” correspond to all things which are begotten of seed. But if we treat those words as taken figuratively (the which I rather suppose the Scripture intended, which doth not, verily, superfluously attribute this benediction to the offspring of marine animals and man only), then do we find that “multitude” belongs also to creatures both spiritual and corporeal, as in heaven and in earth; and to souls both righteous and unrighteous, as in light and darkness; and to holy authors, through whom the law has been furnished unto us, as in the firmament225 which has been firmly placed betwixt waters and waters; and to the society of people yet endued with bitterness, as in the sea; and to the desire of holy souls, as in the dry land; and to works of mercy pertaining to this present life, as in the seed-bearing herbs and fruit-bearing trees; and to spiritual gifts shining forth for edification, as in the lights of heaven; and to affections formed unto temperance, as in the living soul. In all these cases we meet with multitudes, abundance, and increase; but what shall thus “be fruitful and multiply,” that one thing may be expressed in many ways, and one expression understood in many ways, we discover not, unless in signs corporeally expressed, and in things mentally conceived. We understand the signs corporeally pronounced as the generations of the waters, necessarily occasioned by carnal depth; but things mentally conceived we understand as human generations, on account of the fruitfulness of reason. And therefore do we believe that to each kind of these it has been said by Thee, O Lord, “Be fruitful and multiply.” For in this blessing I acknowledge that power and faculty has been granted unto us, by Thee, both to express in many ways what we understand but in one, and to understand in many ways what we read as obscurely delivered but in one. Thus are the waters of the sea replenished, which are not moved but by various significations; thus even with the human offspring is the earth also replenished, the dryness226 whereof appeareth in its desire, and reason ruleth over it.
Chapter XXV.—He Explains the Fruits of the Earth (Ver. 29) of Works of Mercy.
38. I would also say, O Lord my God, what the following Scripture reminds me of; yea, I will say it without fear. For I will speak the truth, Thou inspiring me as to what Thou wiliest that I should say out of these words. For by none other than Thy inspiration do I believe that I can speak the truth, since Thou art the Truth, but every man a liar.227 And therefore he that “speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; “228 therefore that I may speak the truth, I will speak of Thine. Behold, Thou hast given unto us for food “every herb bearing seed,” which is upon the face of all the earth, “and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed.”229 Nor to us only, but to all the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the earth, and to all creeping things;230 but unto the fishes, and great whales, Thou hast not given these things. Now we were saying, that by these fruits of the earth works of mercy were signified and figured in an allegory, the which are provided for the necessities of this life out of the fruitful earth. Such an earth was the godly Onesiphorus, unto whose house Thou didst give mercy, because he frequently refreshed Thy Paul, and was not ashamed of his chain.231 This did also the brethren, and such fruit did they bear, who out of Macedonia supplied what was wanting unto him.232 But how doth he grieve for certain trees, which did not afford him the fruit due unto hi.m, when he saith, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.”233 For these fruits are due to those who minister spiritual234 doctrine, through their understanding of the divine mysteries; and they are due to them as men. They are due to them, too, as to the living soul, supplying itself as an example in all continency; and due unto them likewise as flying creatures, for their blessings which are multiplied upon the earth, since their sound went out into all lands.235
Chapter XXVI.—In the Confessing of Benefits, Computation is Made Not as to Thegift,” But as to the Tt Fruit,”—That Is, the Good and Right Will of the Giver.
81 39. But they who are delighted with them are fed by those fruits; nor are they delighted with them “whose god is their belly.”236 For neither in those that yield them are the things given the fruit, but in what spirit they give them. Therefore he who serves God and not his own belly,237 I plainly see why he may rejoice; I see it, and I rejoice with him exceedingly. For he hath received from the Philippians those things which they had sent from Epaphroditus;238 but yet I see why he rejoiced. For whereat he rejoices, upon that he feeds; for speaking in truth, “I rejoiced,” saith he, “in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again, wherein ye were also careful,”239 but it had become wearisome unto you. These Philippians, then, by protracted wearisomeness, had become enfeebled, and as it were dried up, as to bringing forth this fruit of a good work; and he rejoiceth for them, because they flourished again, not for himself, because they ministered to his wants. Therefore, adds he, “not that I speak in respect of want, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content. I know both how to be abused, and I know how to abound everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”240
40. Whereat, then, dost thou rejoice in all things, O great Paul? Whereat dost thou rejoice? Whereon dost thou feed, O man, renewed in the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created thee, thou living soul of so great continency, and thou tongue like flying fowls, speaking mysteries,—for to such creatures is this food due,—what is that which feeds thee? Joy. Let us hear what follows. “Notwithstanding,” saith he, “ye have well done that ye did communicate with My affliction.”241 Hereat doth he rejoice, hereon doth he feed; because they have well done,242 not because his strait was relieved, who saith unto thee, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; “243 because he knew both “to abound and to suffer need,”244 in Thee Who strengthenest him. For, saith he, “ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no Church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.”245 Unto these good works he now rejoiceth that they have returned; and is made glad that they flourished again, as when a fruitful field recovers its greenness.
41. Was it on account of his own necessities that he said, “Ye have sent unto my necessity ? Rejoiceth he for that? Verily not for that. But whence know we this? Because he himself continues, “Not because I desire a gift, but I desire fruit.”246 From Thee, O my God, have I learned to distinguish between a “gift” and “fruit.” A gift is the thing itself which he gives who bestows these necessaries, as money, food, drink, clothing, shelter, aid; but the fruit is the good and right will of the giver. For the good Master saith not only, “He that receiveth a prophet,” but addeth, “in the name of a prophet.” Nor saith He only, “He that receiveth a righteous man,” but addeth, “in the name of a righteous man.” So, verily, the former shall receive the reward of a prophet, the latter that of a righteous man. Nor saith He only, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water,” but addeth, “in the name of a disciple” and so concludeth, “Verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”247 The gift is to receive a prophet, to receive a righteous man, to hand a cup of cold water to a disciple; but the fruit is to do this in the name of a prophet, in the name of a righteous man, in the name of a disciple. With fruit was Elijah fed by the widow, who knew that she fed a man of God, and on this account fed him; but by the raven was he fed with a gift. Nor was the inner man248 of Elijah fed, but the outer only, which might also from want of such food have perished.
Chapter XXVII.—Many are Ignorant as to This, and Ask for Miracles, Which are Signified Under the Names Of“Fishes” And“Whales.”
42. Therefore will I speak before Thee, O Lord, what is true, when ignorant men and infidels (for the initiating and gaining of whom the sacraments of initiation and great works of miracles are necessary,249 which we believe to be signified under the name of “fishes” and “whales”) undertake that Thy servants should be bodily refreshed, or should be otherwise succoured for this present life, although they may be ignorant wherefore this is to be done, and to what end; neither do the former feed the latter, nor the latter the former; for neither do the one perform these things through a holy and right intent, nor do the other rejoice in the gifts of those who behold not as yet the fruit. For on that is the mind fed wherein it is gladdened. And, therefore, fishes and whales are not fed on such food as the earth bringeth not forth until it had been separated and divided from the bitterness of the waters of the sea.
Chapter XXVIII.—He Proceeds to the Last Verse,all Things are Very Good,”—That Is, the Work Being Altogether Good.
43. And Thou, O God, sawest everything that Thou hadst made, and behold it was very good.250 So we also see the same, and behold all are very good. In each particular kind of Thy works, when Thou hadst said, “Let them be made,” and they were made, Thou sawest that it was good. Seven times have I counted it written that Thou sawest that that which Thou madest was “good;” and this is the eighth, that Thou sawest all things that Thou hadst made, and behold they are not only good, but also “very good,” as being now taken together. For individually they were only good, but all taken together they were both good and very good. All beautiful bodies also express this; for a body which consists of members, all of which are beautiful, is by far more beautiful than the several members individually are by whose well-ordered union the whole is completed, though these members also be severally beautiful.251
Chapter XXIX.—Although It is Said Eight Times that God Saw that It Was Good,” Yet Time Has No Relation to God and His Word.
44. And I looked attentively to find whether seven or eight times Thou sawest that Thy works were good, when they were pleasing unto Thee; but in Thy seeing I found no times, by which I might understand that thou sawest so often what Thou madest. And I said, “O Lord,! is not this Thy Scripture true, since Thou art true, and being Truth hast set it forth? Why, then, dost Thou say unto me that in thy seeing there are no times, while this Thy Scripture telleth me that what Thou madest each day, Thou sawest to be good; and when I counted them I found how often?” Unto these things Thou repliest unto me, for Thou art my God, and with strong voice tellest unto Thy servant in his inner ear, bursting through my deafness, and crying, “O man, that which My Scripture saith, I say; and yet doth that speak in time; but time has no reference to My Word, because My Word existeth in equal eternity with Myself. Thus those things which ye see through My Spirit, I see, just as those things which ye speak through My Spirit, I speak. And so when ye see those things in time, I see them not in time; as when ye speak them in time, I speak them not in time.”
Chapter XXX.—He Refutes the Opinions of the Manichaeans and the Gnostics Concerning the Origin of the World.
45. And I heard, O Lord my God, and drank up a drop of sweetness from Thy truth, and understood that there are certain men to whom Thy works are displeasing, who say that many of them Thou madest being compelled by necessity;—such as the fabric of the heavens and the courses of the stars, and that Thou madest them not of what was Thine, but, that they were elsewhere and from other sources created; that Thou mightest bring together and compact and interweave, when from Thy conquered enemies Thou raisedst up the walls of the universe, that they, bound down by this structure, might not be able a second time to rebel against Thee. But, as to other things, they say Thou neither madest them nor compactedst them,—such as all flesh and all very minute creatures, and whatsoever holdeth the earth by its roots; but that a mind hostile unto Thee and another nature not created by Thee, and in everywise contrary unto Thee, did, in these lower places of the world, beget and frame these things.252 Infatuated are they who speak thus, since they see not Thy works through Thy Spirit, nor recognise Thee in them.
Augustin: confessions 79