Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter XV
Chapter XV.—He Argues Against Adversaries Concerning the Heaven of Heavens.
18. “Will you say that these things are false, which, with a strong voice, Truth tells me in my inner ear, concerning the very eternity of the Creator, that His substance is in no wise changed by time, nor that His will is separate from His substance? Wherefore, He willeth not one thing now, another anon, but once and for ever He willeth all things that He willeth; not again and again, nor now this, now that; nor willeth afterwards what He willeth not before, nor willeth not what before He willed. Because such a will is mutable and no mutable thing is eternal; but our God is eternal. 1106 Likewise He tells me, tells me in my inner ear, that the expectation of future things is turned to sight when they have come; and this same sight is turned to memory when they have passed. Moreover, all thought which is thus varied is mutable, and nothing mutable is eternal; but our God is eternal.” These things I sum up and put together, and I find that my God, the eternal God, hath not made any creature by any new will, nor that His knowledge suffereth anything transitory.
19. What, therefore, will ye say, ye objectors? Are these things false? “No,” they say. “What is this? Is it false, then, that every nature already formed, or matter formable, is only from Him who is supremely good, because He is supreme? . . . . Neither do we deny this,” say they. “What then? Do you deny this, that there is a certain sublime creature, clinging with so chaste a love with the true and truly eternal God, that although it be not co-eternal with Him, yet it separateth itself not from Him, nor floweth into any variety and vicissitude of times, but resteth in the truest contemplation of Him only?” Since Thou, O God, showest Thyself unto him, and sufficest him, who loveth Thee as much as Thou commandest, and, therefore, he declineth not from Thee, nor toward himself. 1107 This is the house of God, 1108 not earthly, nor of any celestial bulk corporeal, but a spiritual house and a partaker of Thy eternity, because without blemish for ever. For Thou hast made it fast for ever and ever; Thou hast given it a law, which it shall not pass. 1109 Nor yet is it co-eternal with Thee, O God, because not without beginning, for it was made.
20. For although we find no time before it, for wisdom was created before all things, 1110 —not certainly that Wisdom manifestly co-eternal and equal unto Thee, our God, His Father, p. 181 and by Whom all things were created, and in Whom, as the Beginning, Thou createdst heaven and earth; but truly that wisdom which has been created, namely, the intellectual nature, 1111 which, in the contemplation of light, is light. For this, although created, is also called wisdom. But as great as is the difference between the Light which enlighteneth and that which is enlightened, 1112 so great is the difference between the Wisdom that createth and that which hath been created; as between the Righteousness which justifieth, and the righteousness which has been made by justification. For we also are called Thy righteousness; for thus saith a certain servant of Thine: “That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 1113 Therefore, since a certain created wisdom was created before all things, the rational and intellectual mind of that chaste city of Thine, our mother which is above, and is free, 1114 and “eternal in the heavens” 1115 (in what heavens, unless in those that praise Thee, the “heaven of heavens,” 1116 because this also is the “heaven of heavens,” which is the Lords)—although we find not time before it, because that which hath been created before all things also precedeth the creature of time, yet is the Eternity of the Creator Himself before it, from Whom, having been created, it took the beginning, although not of time,—for time as yet was not,—yet of its own very nature.
21. Hence comes it so to be of Thee, our God, as to be manifestly another than Thou, and not the Self-same. 1117 Since, although we find time not only not before it, but not in it (it being proper ever to behold Thy face, nor is ever turned aside from it, wherefore it happens that it is varied by no change), yet is there in it that mutability itself whence it would become dark and cold, but that, clinging unto Thee with sublime love, it shineth and gloweth from Thee like a perpetual noon. O house, full of light and splendour! I have loved thy beauty, and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord, 1118 thy builder and owner. Let my wandering sigh after thee; and I speak unto Him that made thee, that He may possess me also in thee, seeing He hath made me likewise. “I have gone astray, like a lost sheep;” 1119 yet upon the shoulders of my Sheperd, 1120 thy builder, I hope that I may be brought back to thee.
22. “What say ye to me, O ye objectors whom I was addressing, and who yet believe that Moses was the holy servant of God, and that his books were the oracles of the Holy Ghost? Is not this house of God, not indeed co-eternal with God, yet, according to its measure, eternal in the heavens, 1121 where in vain you seek for changes of times, because you will not find them? For that surpasseth all extension, and every revolving space of time, to which it is ever good to cleave fast to God.” 1122 “It is,” say they. “What, therefore, of those things which my heart cried out unto my God, when within it heard the voice of His praise, what then do you contend is false? Or is it because the matter was formless, wherein, as there was no form, there was no order? But where there was no order there could not be any change of times; and yet this almost nothing, inasmuch as it was not altogether nothing, was verily from Him, from Whom is whatever is, in what state soever anything is.” “This also,” say they, “we do not deny.”
See xi. sec. 41, above.180:1107
In his De Vera Relig. c. 13, he says: “We must confess that the angels are in their nature mutable as God is Immutable. Yet by that will with which they love God more than themselves, they remain firm and staple in Him, and enjoy His majesty, being most willingly subject to Him alone.”180:1108
In his Con. Adv. Leg. et Proph. i. 2, he speaks of all who are holy, whether angels or men, as being Gods dwelling-place.180:1109
“Pet. Lombard. lib. sent. 2, dist. 2, affirms that by Wisdom, Ecclus. 1.4, the angels be understood, the whole spiritual intellectual nature; namely, this highest heaven, in which the angels were created, and it by them instantly filled.”—W. W.181:1112
On God as the Father of Lights, see p. 76, note 2. In addition to the references there given, compare in Ev. Joh. Tract. ii. sec. 7; xiv. secs. 1, 2; and xxxv. sec. 3. See also p. 373, note, below.181:1113
2 Cor. 5.21.181:1114
2 Cor. 5.1.181:1116
Against the Manichæans. See iv. sec. 26, and part 2 of note on p. 76, above.181:1118
2 Cor. 5.1.181:1122
Next: Chapter XVI
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