The Confessions of St. Augustine; Book 13: Chapters 31-33

CHAPTER XXXI—WE DO NOT SEE “THAT IT WAS GOOD,” BUT THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF GOD, WHICH IS IN US.

But they who by Thy Spirit see these things, Thou seest in them. Therefore when they see that these things are good, Thou seest that they are good; and whatsoever things for Thy sake please, Thou pleasest in them, and what through Thy Spirit please us, they please Thee in us. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man, which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no one, but the Spirit of God. Now we (saith he) have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. And I am admonished, “Truly the things of God knoweth no one, but the Spirit of God: how then do we also know, what things are given us of God?” Answer is made me; “because the things which we know by His Spirit, even these no one knoweth, but the Spirit of God. For as it is rightly said unto those that were to speak by the Spirit of God, it is not ye that speak: so is it rightly said to them that know through the Spirit of God, ‘It is not ye that know.’ And no less then is it rightly said to those that see through the Spirit of God, ‘It is not ye that see’; so whatsoever through the Spirit of God they see to be good, it is not they, but God that sees that it is good.” It is one thing then for a man to think that to be ill which is good, as the forenamed do; another, that that which is good, a man should see that it is good (as Thy creatures be pleasing unto many, because they be good, whom yet Thou pleasest not in them, when they prefer to enjoy them, to Thee); and another, that when a man sees a thing that it is good, God should in him see that it is good, so, namely, that He should be loved in that which He made, Who cannot be loved, but by the Holy Ghost which He hath given. Because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, Which is given unto us: by Whom we see that whatsoever in any degree is, is good. For from Him it is, who Himself Is not in degree, but what He Is, Is.

 

CHAPTER XXXII—OF THE PARTICULAR WORKS OF GOD, MORE ESPECIALLY OF MAN.

Thanks to Thee, O Lord. We behold the heaven and earth, whether the corporeal part, superior and inferior, or the spiritual and corporeal creature; and in the adorning of these parts, whereof the universal pile of the world, or rather the universal creation, doth consist, we see light made, and divided from the darkness. We see the firmament of heaven, whether that primary body of the world, between the spiritual upper waters and the inferior corporeal waters, or (since this also is called heaven) this space of air through which wander the fowls of heaven, betwixt those waters which are in vapours borne above them, and in clear nights distill down in dew; and those heavier waters which flow along the earth. We behold a face of waters gathered together in the fields of the sea; and the dry land both void, and formed so as to be visible and harmonized, yea and the matter of herbs and trees. We behold the lights shining from above, the sun to suffice for the day, the moon and the stars to cheer the night; and that by all these, times should be marked and signified. We behold on all sides a moist element, replenished with fishes, beasts, and birds; because the grossness of the air, which bears up the flights of birds, thickeneth itself by the exhalation of the waters. We behold the face of the earth decked out with earthly creatures, and man, created after Thy image and likeness, even through that Thy very image and likeness (that is the power of reason and understanding), set over all irrational creatures. And as in his soul there is one power which has dominion by directing, another made subject, that it might obey; so was there for the man, corporeally also, made a woman, who in the mind of her reasonable understanding should have a parity of nature, but in the sex of her body, should be in like manner subject to the sex of her husband, as the appetite of doing is fain to conceive the skill of right-doing from the reason of the mind. These things we behold, and they are severally good, and altogether very good.

 

CHAPTER XXXIII—THE WORLD WAS CREATED BY GOD OUT OF NOTHING.

Let Thy works praise Thee, that we may love Thee; and let us love Thee, that Thy works may praise Thee, which from time have beginning and ending, rising and setting, growth and decay, form and privation. They have then their succession of morning and evening, part secretly, part apparently; for they were made of nothing, by Thee, not of Thee; not of any matter not Thine, or that was before, but of matter concreated (that is, at the same time created by Thee), because to its state without form, Thou without any interval of time didst give form. For seeing the matter of heaven and earth is one thing, and the form another, Thou madest the matter of merely nothing, but the form of the world out of the matter without form: yet both together, so that the form should follow the matter, without any interval of delay.

Saint Augustine Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of St. Augustine

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