Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter VIII
Chapter VIII.—That Nothing Whatever, Short of God, Can Yield to the Rational Creature a Happy Rest.
9. The angels fell, the soul of man fell 1188 and they have thus indicated the abyss in that dark deep, ready for the whole spiritual creation, unless Thou hadst said from the beginning, “Let there be light,” and there had been light, and every obedient intelligence of Thy celestial City had cleaved to Thee, and rested in Thy Spirit, which unchangeably is “borne over” everything changeable. Otherwise, even the heaven of heavens itself would have been a darksome deep, whereas now it is light in the Lord. For even in that wretched restlessness of the spirits who fell away, and, when unclothed of the garments of Thy light, discovered their own darkness, dost Thou sufficiently disclose how noble Thou hast made the rational creature; to which nought which is inferior to Thee will suffice to yield a happy rest, 1189 and so not even herself. For Thou, O our God, shalt enlighten our darkness; 1190 from Thee are derived our garments of light, 1191 and then shall our darkness be as the noonday. 1192 Give Thyself unto me, O my God, restore Thyself unto me; behold, I love Thee, and if it be too little, let me love Thee more strongly. I cannot measure my love, so that I may come to know how much there is yet wanting in me, ere my life run into Thy embracements, and not be turned away until it be hidden in the secret place of Thy Presence. 1193 This only I know, that woe is me except in Thee,—not only without, but even also within myself; and all plenty which is not my God is poverty to me. 1194
We may note here that Augustin maintains the existence of the relationship between these two events. He says in his Enchiridion, c. xxix., that “the restored part of humanity will fill up the gap which the rebellion and fall of the devils had left in the company of the angels. For this is the promise to the saints, that at the resurrection they shall be equal to the angels of God (Luke 20.36). And thus the Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all, the City of God, shall not be spoiled of any of the number of her citizens, shall perhaps reign over even a more abundant population.” He speaks to the same effect at the close of ch. 1 of his De Civ. Dei, xxii. This doctrine was enlarged upon by some of the writers of the seventeenth century.192:1189
See his De Civ. Dei, xxii. 1, where he beautifully compares sin to blindness, in that it makes us miserable in depriving us of the sight of God. Also his De Cat. Rud. sec. 24, where he shows that the restlessness and changefulness of the world cannot give rest. Comp. p. 46, note 7, above.192:1190
Ps. 31.20. “In abscondito vultus tui,” Old Ver. Augustin in his comment on this passage (Enarr. 4, sec. 8) gives us his interpretation. He points out that the refuge of a particular place (e.g. the bosom of Abraham) is not enough. We must have God with us here as our refuge, and then we will be hidden in His countenance hereafter; or in other words, if we receive Him into our heart now, He will hereafter receive us into His countenance—Ille post hoc seculum excipiet te vultu suo. For heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people, and we must be fitted to live with Him there by going to Him now, and this, to quote from his De Serm. Dom. in Mon. i. 27, “not with a slow movement of the body, but with the swift impulse of love.”192:1194
See p. 133, note 2, above.
Next: Chapter IX
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