Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter II
Chapter II.—All Creatures Subsist from the Plenitude of Divine Goodness.
2. For of the plenitude of Thy goodness Thy creature subsists, that a good, which could profit Thee nothing, nor though of Thee was equal to Thee, might yet be, since it could be made of Thee. For what did heaven and earth, which Thou madest in the beginning, deserve of Thee? Let those spiritual and corporeal natures, which Thou in Thy wisdom madest, declare what they deserve of Thee to depend thereon,—even the inchoate and formless, each in its own kind, either spiritual or corporeal, going into excess, and into remote unlikeness unto Thee (the spiritual, though formless, more excellent than if it were a formed body; and the corporeal, though formless, more excellent than if it were altogether nothing), and thus they as formless would depend upon Thy Word, unless by the same Word they were recalled to Thy Unity, and endued with form, and from Thee, the one sovereign Good, were all made very good. How have they deserved of Thee, that they should be even formless, since they would not be even this except from Thee?
3. How has corporeal matter deserved of Thee, to be even invisible and formless, 1170 since it were not even this hadst Thou not made it; and therefore since it was not, it could not deserve of Thee that it should be made? Or how could the inchoate spiritual creature 1171 deserve of Thee, that even it should flow darksomely like the deep,—unlike Thee, had it not been by the same Word turned to that by Whom it was created, and by Him so enlightened become light, although not equally, yet conformably to that Form which is equal unto Thee? For as to a body, to be is not all one with being beautiful, for then it could not be deformed; so also to a created spirit, to live is not all one with living wisely, for then it would be wise unchangeably. But it is good 1172 for it always to hold fast unto Thee, 1173 lest, in turning from Thee, it lose that light which it hath obtained in turning to Thee, p. 191 and relapse into a light resembling the darksome deep. For even we ourselves, who in respect of the soul are a spiritual creature, having turned away from Thee, our light, were in that life “sometimes darkness;” 1174 and do labour amidst the remains of our darkness, until in Thy Only One we become Thy righteousness, like the mountains of God. For we have been Thy judgments, which are like the great deep. 1175
In his De Gen. ad Lit. i. 5, he maintains that the spiritual creature may have a formless life, since it has its form—its wisdom and happiness—by being turned to the Word of God, the Immutable Light of Wisdom.190:1172
Similarly, in his De Civ. Dei, xii. 1, he argues that true blessedness is to be attained “by adhering to the Immutable Good, the Supreme God.” This, indeed, imparts the only true life (see note, p. 133, above); for, as Origen says (in S. Joh. ii. 7), “the good man is he who truly exists,” and “to be evil and to be wicked are the same as not to be.” See notes, pp. 75 and 151, above.191:1174
Ps. 36.6, as in the Vulgate, which renders the Hebrew more correctly than the Authorized Version. This passage has been variously interpreted. Augustin makes “the mountains of God” to mean the saints, prophets, and apostles, while “the great deep” he interprets of the wicked and sinful. Compare in Ev. Joh. Tract. i. 2; and in Ps. xxxv. 7, sec. 10.
Next: Chapter III
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