Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 4
Chapter 4.—The Image of God is to Be Sought in the Immortality of the Rational Soul. How a Trinity is Demonstrated in the Mind.
6. Therefore neither is that trinity an image of God, which is not now, nor is that other an image of God, which then will not be; but we must find in the soul of man, i.e., p. 186 the rational or intellectual soul, that image of the Creator which is immortally implanted in its immortality. For as the immortality itself of the soul is spoken with a qualification; since the soul too has its proper death, when it lacks a blessed life, which is to be called the true life of the soul; but it is therefore called immortal, because it never ceases to live with some life or other, even when it is most miserable;—so, although reason or intellect is at one time torpid in it, at another appears small, and at another great, yet the human soul is never anything save rational or intellectual; and hence, if it is made after the image of God in respect to this, that it is able to use reason and intellect in order to understand and behold God, then from the moment when that nature so marvellous and so great began to be, whether this image be so worn out as to be almost none at all, or whether it be obscure and defaced, or bright and beautiful, certainly it always is. Further, too, pitying the defaced condition of its dignity, divine Scripture tells us, that “although man walks in an image, yet he disquieteth himself in vain; he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them.” 874 It would not therefore attribute vanity to the image of God, unless it perceived it to have been defaced. Yet it sufficiently shows that such defacing does not extend to the taking away its being an image, by saying, “Although man walks in an image.” Wherefore in both ways that sentence can be truly enunciated; in that, as it is said, “Although man walketh in an image, yet he disquieteth himself in vain,” so it may be said, “Although man disquieteth himself in vain, yet he walketh in an image.” For although the nature of the soul is great, yet it can be corrupted, because it is not the highest; and although it can be corrupted, because it is not the highest, yet because it is capable and can be partaker of the highest nature, it is a great nature. Let us seek, then, in this image of God a certain trinity of a special kind, with the aid of Him who Himself made us after His own image. For no otherwise can we healthfully investigate this subject, or arrive at any result according to the wisdom which is from Him. But if the reader will either hold in remembrance and recollect what we have said of the human soul or mind in former books, and especially in the tenth, or will carefully re-peruse it in the passages wherein it is contained, he will not require here any more lengthy discourse respecting the inquiry into so great a thing.
7. We said, then, among other things in the tenth book, that the mind of man knows itself. For the mind knows nothing so much as that which is close to itself; and nothing is more close to the mind than itself. We adduced also other evidences, as much as seemed sufficient, whereby this might be most certainly proved.
Ps. 39.7Ps. xxxix. 7
Next: Chapter 5
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