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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 16

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 16.—Our Word is Never to Be Equalled to the Divine Word, Not Even When We Shall Be Like God.

Wherefore that Word of God is in such wise so called, as not to be called a thought of God, lest we believe that there is anything in God which can be revolved, so that it at one time receives and at another recovers a form, so as to be a word, and again can lose that form and be revolved in some sense formlessly. Certainly that excellent master of speech knew well the force of words, and had looked into the nature of thought, who said in his poem, “And revolves with himself the varying issues of war,” 994 i.e. thinks of them. That Son of God, then, is not called the Thought of God, but the Word of God. For our own thought, attaining to what we know, and formed thereby, is our true word. And so the Word of God ought to be understood without any thought on the part of God, so that it be understood as the simple p. 215 form itself, but containing nothing formable that can be also unformed. There are, indeed, passages of Holy Scripture that speak of God’s thoughts; but this is after the same mode of speech by which the forgetfulness of God is also there spoken of, whereas in strict propriety of language there is in Him certainly no forgetfulness.

26. Wherefore, since we have found now in this enigma so great an unlikeness to God and the Word of God, wherein yet there was found before some likeness, this, too, must be admitted, that even when we shall be like Him, when “we shall see Him as He is” 995 (and certainly he who said this was aware beyond doubt of our present unlikeness), not even then shall we be equal to Him in nature. For that nature which is made is ever less than that which makes. And at that time our word will not indeed be false, because we shall neither lie nor be deceived. Perhaps, too, our thoughts will no longer revolve by passing and repassing from one thing to another, but we shall see all our knowledge at once, and at one glance. Still, when even this shall have come to pass, if indeed it shall come to pass, the creature which was formable will indeed have been formed, so that nothing will be wanting of that form to which it ought to attain; yet nevertheless it will not be to be equalled to that simplicity wherein there is not anything formable, which has been formed or reformed, but only form; and which being neither formless nor formed, itself is eternal and unchangeable substance.



Æn. x. 159, 160.


1 John 3.21 John iii. 2

Next: Chapter 17

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