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Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:
The Confessions: Chapter XXVII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXVII.—The Style of Speaking in the Book of Genesis is Simple and Clear.

37. For as a fountain in a limited space is more plentiful, and affords supply for more streams over larger spaces than any one of those streams which, after a wide interval, is derived from the same fountain; so the narrative of Thy dispenser, destined to benefit many who were likely to discourse thereon, does, from a limited measure of language, overflow into streams of clear truth, whence each one may draw out for himself that truth which he can concerning these subjects,—this one that truth, that one another, by larger circumlocutions of discourse. For some, when they read or hear these words, think that God as a man or some mass gifted with immense power, by some new and sudden resolve, had, outside itself, as if at distant places, created heaven and earth, two great bodies above and below, wherein all things were to be contained. And when they hear, God said, Let it be made, and it was made, they think of words begun and ended, sounding in times and passing away, after the departure of which that came into being which was commanded to be; and whatever else of the kind their familiarity with the world 1155 would suggest. In whom, being as yet little ones, 1156 while their weakness by this humble kind of speech is carried on as if in a mother’s bosom, their faith is healthfully built p. 187 up, by which they have and hold as certain that God made all natures, which in wondrous variety their senses perceive on every side. Which words, if any one despising them, as if trivial, with proud weakness shall have stretched himself beyond his fostering cradle, he will, alas, fall miserably. Have pity, O Lord God, lest they who pass by trample on the unfledged bird; and send Thine angel, who may restore it to its nest that it may live until it can fly. 1157


Footnotes

186:1155

“Ex familiaritate carnis,” literally, “from familiarity with the flesh.”

186:1156

“Parvulis animalibus.”

187:1157

In allusion, perhaps, to Prov. 27.8: “As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.”


Next: Chapter XXVIII

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