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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XI.—What May Be Discovered to Him by God.

11. Already hast Thou told me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that Thou art eternal, having alone immortality. 1089 Since Thou art not changed by any shape or motion, nor is Thy will altered by times, because no will which changes is immortal. This in Thy sight is clear to me, and let it become more and more clear, I beseech Thee; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Thy wings. Likewise hast Thou said to me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that Thou hast made all natures and substances, which are not what Thou Thyself art, and yet they are; and that only is not from Thee which is not, and the motion of p. 179 the will from Thee who art, to that which in a less degree is, because such motion is guilt and sin; 1090 and that no one’s sin doth either hurt Thee, or disturb the order of Thy rule, 1091 either first or last. This, in Thy sight, is clear to me and let it become more and more clear, I beseech Thee; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Thy wings.

12. Likewise hast Thou said to me, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that that creature, whose will Thou alone art, is not co-eternal unto Thee, and which, with a most persevering purity 1092 drawing its support from Thee, doth, in place and at no time, put forth its own mutability; 1093 and Thyself being ever present with it, unto whom with its entire affection it holds itself, having no future to expect nor conveying into the past what it remembereth, is varied by no change, nor extended into any times. 1094 O blessed one,—if any such there be,—in clinging unto Thy Blessedness; blest in Thee, its everlasting Inhabitant and its Enlightener! Nor do I find what the heaven of heavens, which is the Lord’s, can be better called than Thine house, which contemplateth Thy delight without any defection of going forth to another; a pure mind, most peacefully one, by that stability of peace of holy spirits, 1095 the citizens of Thy city “in the heavenly places,” above these heavenly places which are seen. 1096

13. Whence the soul, whose wandering has been made far away, may understand, if now she thirsts for Thee, if now her tears have become bread to her, while it is daily said unto her “Where is thy God?” 1097 if she now seeketh of Thee one thing, and desireth that she may dwell in Thy house all the days of her life. 1098 And what is her life but Thee? And what are Thy days but Thy eternity, as Thy years which fail not, because Thou art the same? Hence, therefore, can the soul, which is able, understand how far beyond all times Thou art eternal; when Thy house, which has not wandered from Thee, although it be not co-eternal with Thee, yet by continually and unfailingly clinging unto Thee, suffers no vicissitude of times. This in Thy sight is clear unto me, and may it become more and more clear unto me, I beseech Thee; and in this manifestation may I abide more soberly under Thy wings.

14. Behold, I know not what shapelessness there is in those changes of these last and lowest creatures. And who shall tell me, unless it be some one who, through the emptiness of his own heart, wanders and is staggered by his own fancies? Who, unless such a one, would tell me that (all figure being diminished and consumed), if the formlessness only remain, through which the thing was changed and was turned from one figure into another, that that can exhibit the changes of times? For surely it could not be, because without the change of motions times are not, and there is no change where there is no figure.



1 Tim. 6.16..


For Augustin’s view of evil as a “privation of good,” see p. 64, note 1, above, and with it compare vii. sec. 22, above; Con. Secundin. c. 12; and De Lib. Arb. ii. 53. Parker, in his Theism, Atheism, etc. p. 119, contends that God Himself must in some way be the author of evil, and a similar view is maintained by Schleiermacher, Christliche Glaube, sec. 80.


See ii. sec. 13, and v. sec. 2, notes 4, 9, above.


See iv. sec. 3, and note 1, above.


See sec. 19, below.


See xi. sec. 38, above, and sec. 18, below.


See xiii. sec. 50, below.


Eph. 1.20, etc.


Ps. 42:2, 3, 10.


Ps. 27.4.

Next: Chapter XII

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