Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIII.—All Wish to Rejoice in the Truth.
33. It is not, then, certain that all men wish to be happy, since those who wish not to rejoice in Thee, which is the only happy life, do not verily desire the happy life. Or do all desire this, but because “the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh,” so that they “cannot do the things that they would,” 861 they fall upon that which they are able to do, and with that are content; because that which they are not able to do, they do not so will as to make them able? 862 For I ask of every man, whether he would rather rejoice in truth or in falsehood. They will no more hesitate to say, “in truth,” than to say, “that they wish to be happy.” For a happy life is joy in the truth. For this is joy in Thee, who art “the truth,” 863 O God, “my light,” 864 “the health of my countenance, and my God.” 865 All wish for this happy life; this life do all wish for, which is the only happy one; joy in the truth do all wish for. 866 I have had experience of many who wished to deceive, but not one who wished to be deceived. Where, then, did they know this happy life, save where they knew also the truth? For they love it, too, since they would not be deceived. And when they love a happy life, which is naught else but joy in the truth, assuredly they love also the truth; which yet they would not love were there not some knowledge of it in the memory. Wherefore, then, do they not rejoice in it? Why are they not happy? Because they are more entirely occupied with other things which rather make them miserable, than that which would make them happy, which they remember so little of. For there is yet a little light in men; let them walk—let them “walk,” that the “darkness” seize them not. 867p. 152
34. Why, then, doth truth beget hatred 868 and that man of thine, 869 preaching the truth become an enemy unto them, whereas a happy life is loved, which is naught else but joy in the truth; unless that truth is loved in such a sort as that those who love aught else wish that to be the truth which they love, and, as they are willing to be deceived, are unwilling to be convinced that they are so? Therefore do they hate the truth for the sake of that thing which they love instead of the truth. They love truth when she shines on them, and hate her when she rebukes them. For, because they are not willing to be deceived, and wish to deceive, they love her when she reveals herself, and hate her when she reveals them. On that account shall she so requite them, that those who were unwilling to be discovered by her she both discovers against their will, and discovers not herself unto them. Thus, thus, truly thus doth the human mind, so blind and sick, so base and unseemly, desire to lie concealed, but wishes not that anything should be concealed from it. But the opposite is rendered unto it,—that itself is not concealed from the truth, but the truth is concealed from it. Yet, even while thus wretched, it prefers to rejoice in truth rather than in falsehood. Happy then will it be, when, no trouble intervening, it shall rejoice in that only truth by whom all things else are true.
See viii. sec. 20, above.151:863
See sec. 29, above.151:867
“Veritas parit odium.” Compare Terence, Andria, i. 1, 41: “Obsequiam amicos, veritas odium parit.”152:869
Next: Chapter XXIV
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