The Confessions of St. Augustine; Book 13: Chapters 10-12

CHAPTER X—THAT NOTHING AROSE SAVE BY THE GIFT OF GOD.

Blessed creature, which being itself other than Thou, has known no other condition, than that, so soon as it was made, it was, without any interval, by Thy Gift, Which is borne above everything changeable, borne aloft by that calling whereby Thou saidst, Let there be light, and there was light. Whereas in us this took place at different times, in that we were darkness, and are made light: but of that is only said, what it would have been, had it not been enlightened. And, this is so spoken, as if it had been unsettled and darksome before; that so the cause whereby it was made otherwise, might appear, namely, that being turned to the Light unfailing it became light. Whoso can, let him understand this; let him ask of Thee. Why should he trouble me, as if I could enlighten any man that cometh into this world?

 

CHAPTER XI—THAT THE SYMBOLS OF THE TRINITY IN MAN, TO BE, TO KNOW, AND TO WILL, ARE NEVER THOROUGHLY EXAMINED.

Which of us comprehendeth the Almighty Trinity? and yet which speaks not of It, if indeed it be It? Rare is the soul, which while it speaks of It, knows what it speaks of. And they contend and strive, yet, without peace, no man sees that vision. I would that men would consider these three, that are in themselves. These three be indeed far other than the Trinity: I do but tell, where they may practice themselves, and there prove and feel how far they be. Now the three I spake of are, To Be, to Know, and to Will. For I Am, and Know, and Will: I Am Knowing and Willing: and I Know myself to Be, and to Will: and I Will to Be, and to Know. In these three then, let him discern that can, how inseparable a life there is, yea one life, mind, and one essence, yea lastly how inseparable a distinction there is, and yet a distinction. Surely a man hath it before him; let him look into himself, and see, and tell me. But when he discovers and can say anything of these, let him not therefore think that he has found that which is above these Unchangeable, which Is unchangeably, and Knows unchangeably, and Wills unchangeably; and whether because of these three, there is in God also a Trinity, or whether all three be in Each, so that the three belong to Each; or whether both ways at once, wondrously, simply and yet manifoldly, Itself a bound unto Itself within Itself, yet unbounded; whereby It is, and is Known unto Itself and sufficeth to itself, unchangeably the Self-same, by the abundant greatness of its Unity, -who can readily conceive this? who could any ways express it? who would, any way, pronounce thereon rashly?

 

CHAPTER XII—ALLEGORICAL EXPLANATION OF GENESIS, CHAPTER I, CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH AND ITS WORSHIP.

Proceed in thy confession, say to the Lord thy God, O my faith, Holy, Holy, Holy, O Lord my God, in Thy Name have we been baptized, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; in Thy Name do we baptize, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, because among us also, in His Christ did God make heaven and earth, namely, the spiritual and carnal people of His Church. Yea and our earth, before it received the form of doctrine, was invisible and without form; and we were covered with the darkness of ignorance. For Thou chastenedst man for iniquity, and Thy judgments were like the great deep unto him. But because Thy Spirit was borne above the waters, Thy mercy forsook not our misery, and Thou saidst, Let there be light, Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent ye, let there be light. And because our soul was troubled within us, we remembered Thee, O Lord, from the land of Jordan, and that mountain equal unto Thyself, but little for our sakes: and our darkness displeased us, we turned unto Thee and there was light. And, behold, we were sometimes darkness, but now light in the Lord.

Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

Leave a Reply