Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Saint Augustine

Part 4 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

sound in body, the thing itself is present with me; yet, unless its
image also were present in my memory, I could by no means recall
what the sound of this name should signify. Nor would the sick, when
health were named, recognise what were spoken, unless the same image
were by the force of memory retained, although the thing itself were
absent from the body. I name numbers whereby we number; and not
their images, but themselves are present in my memory. I name the
image of the sun, and that image is present in my memory. For I recall
not the image of its image, but the image itself is present to me,
calling it to mind. I name memory, and I recognise what I name. And
where do I recognise it, but in the memory itself? Is it also
present to itself by its image, and not by itself?

What, when I name forgetfulness, and withal recognise what I name?
whence should I recognise it, did I not remember it? I speak not of
the sound of the name, but of the thing which it signifies: which if I
had forgotten, I could not recognise what that sound signifies. When
then I remember memory, memory itself is, through itself, present with
itself: but when I remember forgetfulness, there are present both
memory and forgetfulness; memory whereby I remember, forgetfulness
which I remember. But what is forgetfulness, but the privation of
memory? How then is it present that I remember it, since when
present I cannot remember? But if what we remember we hold it in
memory, yet, unless we did remember forgetfulness, we could never at
the hearing of the name recognise the thing thereby signified, then
forgetfulness is retained by memory. Present then it is, that we
forget not, and being so, we forget. It is to be understood from
this that forgetfulness when we remember it, is not present to the
memory by itself but by its image: because if it were present by
itself, it would not cause us to remember, but to forget. Who now
shall search out this? who shall comprehend how it is?

Lord, I, truly, toil therein, yea and toil in myself; I am become
a heavy soil requiring over much sweat of the brow. For we are not now
searching out the regions of heaven, or measuring the distances of the
stars, or enquiring the balancings of the earth. It is I myself who
remember, I the mind. It is not so wonderful, if what I myself am not,
be far from me. But what is nearer to me than myself? And to, the
force of mine own memory is not understood by me; though I cannot so
much as name myself without it. For what shall I say, when it is clear
to me that I remember forgetfulness? Shall I say that that is not in
my memory, which I remember? or shall I say that forgetfulness is
for this purpose in my memory, that I might not forget? Both were most
absurd. What third way is there? How can I say that the image of
forgetfulness is retained by my memory, not forgetfulness itself, when
I remember it? How could I say this either, seeing that when the image
of any thing is impressed on the memory, the thing itself must needs
be first present, whence that image may be impressed? For thus do I
remember Carthage, thus all places where I have been, thus men's faces
whom I have seen, and things reported by the other senses; thus the
health or sickness of the body. For when these things were present, my
memory received from them images, which being present with me, I might
look on and bring back in my mind, when I remembered them in their
absence. If then this forgetfulness is retained in the memory
through its image, not through itself, then plainly itself was once
present, that its image might be taken. But when it was present, how
did it write its image in the memory, seeing that forgetfulness by its
presence effaces even what it finds already noted? And yet, in
whatever way, although that way be past conceiving and explaining, yet
certain am I that I remember forgetfulness itself also, whereby what
we remember is effaced.

Great is the power of memory, a fearful thing, O my God, a deep
and boundless manifoldness; and this thing is the mind, and this am
I myself. What am I then, O my God? What nature am I? A life various
and manifold, and exceeding immense. Behold in the plains, and
caves, and caverns of my memory, innumerable and innumerably full of
innumerable kinds of things, either through images, as all bodies;
or by actual presence, as the arts; or by certain notions or
impressions, as the affections of the mind, which, even when the
mind doth not feel, the memory retaineth, while yet whatsoever is in
the memory is also in the mind- over all these do I run, I fly; I dive
on this side and on that, as far as I can, and there is no end. So
great is the force of memory, so great the force of life, even in
the mortal life of man. What shall I do then, O Thou my true life,
my God? I will pass even beyond this power of mine which is called
memory: yea, I will pass beyond it, that I may approach unto Thee, O
sweet Light. What sayest Thou to me? See, I am mounting up through
my mind towards Thee who abidest above me. Yea, I now will pass beyond
this power of mine which is called memory, desirous to arrive at Thee,
whence Thou mayest be arrived at; and to cleave unto Thee, whence
one may cleave unto Thee. For even beasts and birds have memory;
else could they not return to their dens and nests, nor many other
things they are used unto: nor indeed could they be used to any thing,
but by memory. I will pass then beyond memory also, that I may
arrive at Him who hath separated me from the four-footed beasts and
made me wiser than the fowls of the air, I will pass beyond memory
also, and where shall I find Thee, Thou truly good and certain
sweetness? And where shall I find Thee? If I find Thee without my
memory, then do I not retain Thee in my memory. And how shall I find
Thee, if I remember Thee not?

For the woman that had lost her groat, and sought it with a light;
unless she had remembered it, she had never found it. For when it
was found, whence should she know whether it were the same, unless she
remembered it? I remember to have sought and found many a thing; and
this I thereby know, that when I was seeking any of them, and was
asked, "Is this it?" "Is that it?" so long said I "No," until that
were offered me which I sought. Which had I not remembered (whatever
it were) though it were offered me, yet should I not find it,
because I could not recognise it. And so it ever is, when we seek
and find any lost thing. Notwithstanding, when any thing is by
chance lost from the sight, not from the memory (as any visible body),
yet its image is still retained within, and it is sought until it be
restored to sight; and when it is found, it is recognised by the image
which is within: nor do we say that we have found what was lost,
unless we recognise it; nor can we recognise it, unless we remember
it. But this was lost to the eyes, but retained in the memory.

But what when the memory itself loses any thing, as falls out when
we forget and seek that we may recollect? Where in the end do we
search, but in the memory itself? and there, if one thing be perchance
offered instead of another, we reject it, until what we seek meets us;
and when it doth, we say, "This is it"; which we should not unless
we recognised it, nor recognise it unless we remembered it.
Certainly then we had forgotten it. Or, had not the whole escaped
us, but by the part whereof we had hold, was the lost part sought for;
in that the memory felt that it did not carry on together all which it
was wont, and maimed, as it were, by the curtailment of its ancient
habit, demanded the restoration of what it missed? For instance, if we
see or think of some one known to us, and having forgotten his name,
try to recover it; whatever else occurs, connects itself not
therewith; because it was not wont to be thought upon together with
him, and therefore is rejected, until that present itself, whereon the
knowledge reposes equably as its wonted object. And whence does that
present itself, but out of the memory itself? for even when we
recognise it, on being reminded by another, it is thence it comes. For
we do not believe it as something new, but, upon recollection, allow
what was named to be right. But were it utterly blotted out of the
mind, we should not remember it, even when reminded. For we have not
as yet utterly forgotten that, which we remember ourselves to have
forgotten. What then we have utterly forgotten, though lost, we cannot
even seek after.

How then do I seek Thee, O Lord? For when I seek Thee, my God, I
seek a happy life. I will seek Thee, that my soul may live. For my
body liveth by my soul; and my soul by Thee. How then do I seek a
happy life, seeing I have it not, until I can say, where I ought to
say it, "It is enough"? How seek I it? By remembrance, as though I had
forgotten it, remembering that I had forgotten it? Or, desiring to
learn it as a thing unknown, either never having known, or so
forgotten it, as not even to remember that I had forgotten it? is
not a happy life what all will, and no one altogether wills it not?
where have they known it, that they so will it? where seen it, that
they so love it? Truly we have it, how, I know not. Yea, there is
another way, wherein when one hath it, then is he happy; and there
are, who are blessed, in hope. These have it in a lower kind, than
they who have it in very deed; yet are they better off than such as
are happy neither in deed nor in hope. Yet even these, had they it not
in some sort, would not so will to be happy, which that they do
will, is most certain. They have known it then, I know not how, and so
have it by some sort of knowledge, what, I know not, and am
perplexed whether it be in the memory, which if it be, then we have
been happy once; whether all severally, or in that man who first
sinned, in whom also we all died, and from whom we are all born with
misery, I now enquire not; but only, whether the happy life be in
the memory? For neither should we love it, did we not know it. We hear
the name, and we all confess that we desire the thing; for we are
not delighted with the mere sound. For when a Greek hears it in Latin,
he is not delighted, not knowing what is spoken; but we Latins are
delighted, as would he too, if he heard it in Greek; because the thing
itself is neither Greek nor Latin, which Greeks and Latins, and men of
all other tongues, long for so earnestly. Known therefore it is to
all, for they with one voice be asked, "would they be happy?" they
would answer without doubt, "they would." And this could not be,
unless the thing itself whereof it is the name were retained in
their memory.

But is it so, as one remembers Carthage who hath seen it? No. For
a happy life is not seen with the eye, because it is not a body. As we
remember numbers then? No. For these, he that hath in his knowledge,
seeks not further to attain unto; but a happy life we have in our
knowledge, and therefore love it, and yet still desire to attain it,
that we may be happy. As we remember eloquence then? No. For
although upon hearing this name also, some call to mind the thing, who
still are not yet eloquent, and many who desire to be so, whence it
appears that it is in their knowledge; yet these have by their
bodily senses observed others to be eloquent, and been delighted,
and desire to be the like (though indeed they would not be delighted
but for some inward knowledge thereof, nor wish to be the like, unless
they were thus delighted); whereas a happy life, we do by no bodily
sense experience in others. As then we remember joy? Perchance; for my
joy I remember, even when sad, as a happy life, when unhappy; nor
did I ever with bodily sense see, hear, smell, taste, or touch my joy;
but I experienced it in my mind, when I rejoiced; and the knowledge of
it clave to my memory, so that I can recall it with disgust sometimes,
at others with longing, according to the nature of the things, wherein
I remember myself to have joyed. For even from foul things have I been
immersed in a sort of joy; which now recalling, I detest and execrate;
otherwhiles in good and honest things, which I recall with longing,
although perchance no longer present; and therefore with sadness I
recall former joy.

Where then and when did I experience my happy life, that I should
remember, and love, and long for it? Nor is it I alone, or some few
besides, but we all would fain be happy; which, unless by some certain
knowledge we knew, we should not with so certain a will desire. But
how is this, that if two men be asked whether they would go to the
wars, one, perchance, would answer that he would, the other, that he
would not; but if they were asked whether they would be happy, both
would instantly without any doubting say they would; and for no
other reason would the one go to the wars, and the other not, but to
be happy. Is it perchance that as one looks for his joy in this thing,
another in that, all agree in their desire of being happy, as they
would (if they were asked) that they wished to have joy, and this
joy they call a happy life? Although then one obtains this joy by
one means, another by another, all have one end, which they strive
to attain, namely, joy. Which being a thing which all must say they
have experienced, it is therefore found in the memory, and
recognised whenever the name of a happy life is mentioned.

Far be it, Lord, far be it from the heart of Thy servant who here
confesseth unto Thee, far be it, that, be the joy what it may, I
should therefore think myself happy. For there is a joy which is not
given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake,
whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice
to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this is it, and there is no other. For
they who think there is another, pursue some other and not the true
joy. Yet is not their will turned away from some semblance of joy.

It is not certain then that all wish to be happy, inasmuch as they
who wish not to joy in Thee, which is the only happy life, do not
truly desire the happy life. Or do all men desire this, but because
the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh, that they cannot do what they would, they fall upon that
which they can, and are content therewith; because, what they are
not able to do, they do not will so strongly as would suffice to
make them able? For I ask any one, had he rather joy in truth, or in
falsehood? They will as little hesitate to say "in the truth," as to
say "that they desire to be happy," for a happy life is joy in the
truth: for this is a joying in Thee, Who art the Truth, O God my
light, health of my countenance, my God. This is the happy life
which all desire; this life which alone is happy, all desire; to joy
in the truth all desire. I have met with many that would deceive;
who would be deceived, no one. Where then did they know this happy
life, save where they know the truth also? For they love it also,
since they would not be deceived. And when they love a happy life,
which is no other than joying in the truth, then also do they love the
truth; which yet they would not love, were there not some notice of it
in their memory. Why then joy they not in it? why are they not
happy? because they are more strongly taken up with other things which
have more power to make them miserable, than that which they so
faintly remember to make them happy. For there is yet a little light
in men; let them walk, let them walk, that the darkness overtake
them not.

But why doth "truth generate hatred," and the man of Thine,
preaching the truth, become an enemy to them? whereas a happy life
is loved, which is nothing else but joying in the truth; unless that
truth is in that kind loved, that they who love anything else would
gladly have that which they love to be the truth: and because they
would not be deceived, would not be convinced that they are so?
Therefore do they hate the truth for that thing's sake which they
loved instead of the truth. They love truth when she enlightens,
they hate her when she reproves. For since they would not be deceived,
and would deceive, they love her when she discovers herself unto them,
and hate her when she discovers them. Whence she shall so repay
them, that they who would not be made manifest by her, she both
against their will makes manifest, and herself becometh not manifest
unto them. Thus, thus, yea thus doth the mind of man, thus blind and
sick, foul and ill-favoured, wish to be hidden, but that aught
should be hidden from it, it wills not. But the contrary is requited
it, that itself should not be hidden from the Truth; but the Truth
is hid from it. Yet even thus miserable, it had rather joy in truths
than in falsehoods. Happy then will it be, when, no distraction
interposing, it shall joy in that only Truth, by Whom all things are

See what a space I have gone over in my memory seeking Thee, O Lord;
and I have not found Thee, without it. Nor have I found any thing
concerning Thee, but what I have kept in memory, ever since I learnt
Thee. For since I learnt Thee, I have not forgotten Thee. For where
I found Truth, there found I my God, the Truth itself; which since I
learnt, I have not forgotten. Since then I learnt Thee, Thou
residest in my memory; and there do I find Thee, when I call Thee to
remembrance, and delight in Thee. These be my holy delights, which
Thou hast given me in Thy mercy, having regard to my poverty.

But where in my memory residest Thou, O Lord, where residest Thou
there? what manner of lodging hast Thou framed for Thee? what manner
of sanctuary hast Thou builded for Thee? Thou hast given this honour
to my memory, to reside in it; but in what quarter of it Thou
residest, that am I considering. For in thinking on Thee, I passed
beyond such parts of it as the beasts also have, for I found Thee
not there among the images of corporeal things: and I came to those
parts to which I committed the affections of my mind, nor found Thee
there. And I entered into the very seat of my mind (which it hath in
my memory, inasmuch as the mind remembers itself also), neither wert
Thou there: for as Thou art not a corporeal image, nor the affection
of a living being (as when we rejoice, condole, desire, fear,
remember, forget, or the like); so neither art Thou the mind itself;
because Thou art the Lord God of the mind; and all these are
changed, but Thou remainest unchangeable over all, and yet hast
vouchsafed to dwell in my memory, since I learnt Thee. And why seek
I now in what place thereof Thou dwellest, as if there were places
therein? Sure I am, that in it Thou dwellest, since I have
remembered Thee ever since I learnt Thee, and there I find Thee,
when I call Thee to remembrance.

Where then did I find Thee, that I might learn Thee? For in my
memory Thou wert not, before I learned Thee. Where then did I find
Thee, that I might learn Thee, but in Thee above me? Place there is
none; we go backward and forward, and there is no place. Every
where, O Truth, dost Thou give audience to all who ask counsel of
Thee, and at once answerest all, though on manifold matters they ask
Thy counsel. Clearly dost Thou answer, though all do not clearly hear.
All consult Thee on what they will, though they hear not always what
they will. He is Thy best servant who looks not so much to hear that
from Thee which himself willeth, as rather to will that, which from
Thee he heareth.

Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever
new! too late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I
abroad, and there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those
fair forms which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not
with Thee. Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were in
Thee, were not at all. Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my
deafness. Thou flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness.
Thou breathedst odours, and I drew in breath and panted for Thee. I
tasted, and hunger and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy

When I shall with my whole self cleave to Thee, I shall no where
have sorrow or labour; and my life shall wholly live, as wholly full
of Thee. But now since whom Thou fillest, Thou liftest up, because I
am not full of Thee I am a burden to myself. Lamentable joys strive
with joyous sorrows: and on which side is the victory, I know not. Woe
is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows strive with my good
joys; and on which side is the victory, I know not. Woe is me! Lord,
have pity on me. Woe is me! lo! I hide not my wounds; Thou art the
Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, I miserable. Is not the life
of man upon earth all trial? Who wishes for troubles and difficulties?
Thou commandest them to be endured, not to be loved. No man loves what
he endures, though he love to endure. For though he rejoices that he
endures, he had rather there were nothing for him to endure. In
adversity I long for prosperity, in prosperity I fear adversity.
What middle place is there betwixt these two, where the life of man is
not all trial? Woe to the prosperities of the world, once and again,
through fear of adversity, and corruption of joy! Woe to the
adversities of the world, once and again, and the third time, from the
longing for prosperity, and because adversity itself is a hard
thing, and lest it shatter endurance. Is not the life of man upon
earth all trial: without any interval?

And all my hope is no where but in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give
what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou wilt. Thou enjoinest us
continency; and when I knew, saith one, that no man can be
continent, unless God give it, this also was a part of wisdom to
know whose gift she is. By continency verily are we bound up and
brought back into One, whence we were dissipated into many. For too
little doth he love Thee, who loves any thing with Thee, which he
loveth not for Thee. O love, who ever burnest and never consumest! O
charity, my God, kindle me. Thou enjoinest continency: give me what
Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou wilt.

Verily Thou enjoinest me continency from the lust of the flesh,
the lust of the eyes, and the ambition of the world. Thou enjoinest
continency from concubinage; and for wedlock itself, Thou hast
counselled something better than what Thou hast permitted. And since
Thou gavest it, it was done, even before I became a dispenser of Thy
Sacrament. But there yet live in my memory (whereof I have much
spoken) the images of such things as my ill custom there fixed;
which haunt me, strengthless when I am awake: but in sleep, not only
so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain assent, and what is very
like reality. Yea, so far prevails the illusion of the image, in my
soul and in my flesh, that, when asleep, false visions persuade to
that which when waking, the true cannot. Am I not then myself, O
Lord my God? And yet there is so much difference betwixt myself and
myself, within that moment wherein I pass from waking to sleeping,
or return from sleeping to waking! Where is reason then, which, awake,
resisteth such suggestions? And should the things themselves be
urged on it, it remaineth unshaken. Is it clasped up with the eyes? is
it lulled asleep with the senses of the body? And whence is it that
often even in sleep we resist, and mindful of our purpose, and abiding
most chastely in it, yield no assent to such enticements? And yet so
much difference there is, that when it happeneth otherwise, upon
waking we return to peace of conscience: and by this very difference
discover that we did not, what yet we be sorry that in some way it was
done in us.

Art Thou not mighty, God Almighty, so as to heal all the diseases of
my soul, and by Thy more abundant grace to quench even the impure
motions of my sleep! Thou wilt increase, Lord, Thy gifts more and more
in me, that my soul may follow me to Thee, disentangled from the
birdlime of concupiscence; that it rebel not against itself, and
even in dreams not only not, through images of sense, commit those
debasing corruptions, even to pollution of the flesh, but not even
to consent unto them. For that nothing of this sort should have,
over the pure affections even of a sleeper, the very least
influence, not even such as a thought would restrain, -to work this,
not only during life, but even at my present age, is not hard for
the Almighty, Who art able to do above all that we ask or think. But
what I yet am in this kind of my evil, have I confessed unto my good
Lord; rejoicing with trembling, in that which Thou hast given me,
and bemoaning that wherein I am still imperfect; hoping that Thou wilt
perfect Thy mercies in me, even to perfect peace, which my outward and
inward man shall have with Thee, when death shall be swallowed up in

There is another evil of the day, which I would were sufficient
for it. For by eating and drinking we repair the daily decays of our
body, until Thou destroy both belly and meat, when Thou shalt slay
my emptiness with a wonderful fulness, and clothe this incorruptible
with an eternal incorruption. But now the necessity is sweet unto
me, against which sweetness I fight, that I be not taken captive;
and carry on a daily war by fastings; often bringing my body into
subjection; and my pains are removed by pleasure. For hunger and
thirst are in a manner pains; they burn and kill like a fever,
unless the medicine of nourishments come to our aid. Which since it is
at hand through the consolations of Thy gifts, with which land, and
water, and air serve our weakness, our calamity is termed

This hast Thou taught me, that I should set myself to take food as
physic. But while I am passing from the discomfort of emptiness to the
content of replenishing, in the very passage the snare of
concupiscence besets me. For that passing, is pleasure, nor is there
any other way to pass thither, whither we needs must pass. And
health being the cause of eating and drinking, there joineth itself as
an attendant a dangerous pleasure, which mostly endeavours to go
before it, so that I may for her sake do what I say I do, or wish to
do, for health's sake. Nor have each the same measure; for what is
enough for health, is too little for pleasure. And oft it is
uncertain, whether it be the necessary care of the body which is yet
asking for sustenance, or whether a voluptuous deceivableness of
greediness is proffering its services. In this uncertainty the unhappy
soul rejoiceth, and therein prepares an excuse to shield itself,
glad that it appeareth not what sufficeth for the moderation of
health, that under the cloak of health, it may disguise the matter
of gratification. These temptations I daily endeavour to resist, and I
call on Thy right hand, and to Thee do I refer my perplexities;
because I have as yet no settled counsel herein.

I hear the voice of my God commanding, Let not your hearts be
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness. Drunkenness is far from
me; Thou wilt have mercy, that it come not near me. But full feeding
sometimes creepeth upon Thy servant; Thou wilt have mercy, that it may
be far from me. For no one can be continent unless Thou give it.
Many things Thou givest us, praying for them; and what good soever
we have received before we prayed, from Thee we received it; yea to
the end we might afterwards know this, did we before receive it.
Drunkard was I never, but drunkards have I known made sober by Thee.
>From Thee then it was, that they who never were such, should not so
be, as from Thee it was, that they who have been, should not ever so
be; and from Thee it was, that both might know from Whom it was. I
heard another voice of Thine, Go not after thy lusts, and from thy
pleasure turn away. Yea by Thy favour have I heard that which I have
much loved; neither if we eat, shall we abound; neither if we eat not,
shall we lack; which is to say, neither shall the one make me
plenteous, nor the other miserable. I heard also another, for I have
learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content; I know
how to abound, and how to suffer need. I can do all things through
Christ that strengtheneth me. Behold a soldier of the heavenly camp,
not the dust which we are. But remember, Lord, that we are dust, and
that of dust Thou hast made man; and he was lost and is found. Nor
could he of himself do this, because he whom I so loved, saying this
through the in-breathing of Thy inspiration, was of the same dust. I
can do all things (saith he) through Him that strengtheneth me.
Strengthen me, that I can. Give what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what
Thou wilt. He confesses to have received, and when he glorieth, in the
Lord he glorieth. Another have I heard begging that he might
receive. Take from me (saith he) the desires of the belly; whence it
appeareth, O my holy God, that Thou givest, when that is done which
Thou commandest to be done.

Thou hast taught me, good Father, that to the pure, all things are
pure; but that it is evil unto the man that eateth with offence;
and, that every creature of Thine is good, and nothing to be
refused, which is received with thanksgiving; and that meat commendeth
us not to God; and, that no man should judge us in meat or drink; and,
that he which eateth, let him not despise him that eateth not; and let
not him that eateth not, judge him that eateth. These things have I
learned, thanks be to Thee, praise to Thee, my God, my Master,
knocking at my ears, enlightening my heart; deliver me out of all
temptation. I fear not uncleanness of meat, but the uncleanness of
lusting. I know; that Noah was permitted to eat all kind of flesh that
was good for food; that Elijah was fed with flesh; that endued with an
admirable abstinence, was not polluted by feeding on living creatures,
locusts. I know also that Esau was deceived by lusting for lentiles;
and that David blamed himself for desiring a draught of water; and
that our King was tempted, not concerning flesh, but bread. And
therefore the people in the wilderness also deserved to be reproved,
not for desiring flesh, but because, in the desire of food, they
murmured against the Lord.

Placed then amid these temptations, I strive daily against
concupiscence in eating and drinking. For it is not of such nature
that I can settle on cutting it off once for all, and never touching
it afterward, as I could of concubinage. The bridle of the throat then
is to be held attempered between slackness and stiffness. And who is
he, O Lord, who is not some whit transported beyond the limits of
necessity? whoever he is, he is a great one; let him make Thy Name
great. But I am not such, for I am a sinful man. Yet do I too
magnify Thy name; and He maketh intercession to Thee for my sins who
hath overcome the world; numbering me among the weak members of His
body; because Thine eyes have seen that of Him which is imperfect, and
in Thy book shall all be written.

With the allurements of smells, I am not much concerned. When
absent, I do not miss them; when present, I do not refuse them; yet
ever ready to be without them. So I seem to myself; perchance I am
deceived. For that also is a mournful darkness whereby my abilities
within me are hidden from me; so that my mind making enquiry into
herself of her own powers, ventures not readily to believe herself;
because even what is in it is mostly hidden, unless experience
reveal it. And no one ought to be secure in that life, the whole
whereof is called a trial, that he who hath been capable of worse to
be made better, may not likewise of better be made worse. Our only
hope, only confidence, only assured promise is Thy mercy.

The delights of the ear had more firmly entangled and subdued me;
but Thou didst loosen and free me. Now, in those melodies which Thy
words breathe soul into, when sung with a sweet and attuned voice, I
do a little repose; yet not so as to be held thereby, but that I can
disengage myself when I will. But with the words which are their
life and whereby they find admission into me, themselves seek in my
affections a place of some estimation, and I can scarcely assign
them one suitable. For at one time I seem to myself to give them
more honour than is seemly, feeling our minds to be more holily and
fervently raised unto a flame of devotion, by the holy words
themselves when thus sung, than when not; and that the several
affections of our spirit, by a sweet variety, have their own proper
measures in the voice and singing, by some hidden correspondence
wherewith they are stirred up. But this contentment of the flesh, to
which the soul must not be given over to be enervated, doth oft
beguile me, the sense not so waiting upon reason as patiently to
follow her; but having been admitted merely for her sake, it strives
even to run before her, and lead her. Thus in these things I
unawares sin, but afterwards am aware of it.

At other times, shunning over-anxiously this very deception, I err
in too great strictness; and sometimes to that degree, as to wish
the whole melody of sweet music which is used to David's Psalter,
banished from my ears, and the Church's too; and that mode seems to me
safer, which I remember to have been often told me of Athanasius,
Bishop of Alexandria, who made the reader of the psalm utter it with
so slight inflection of voice, that it was nearer speaking than
singing. Yet again, when I remember the tears I shed at the Psalmody
of Thy Church, in the beginning of my recovered faith; and how at this
time I am moved, not with the singing, but with the things sung,
when they are sung with a clear voice and modulation most suitable,
I acknowledge the great use of this institution. Thus I fluctuate
between peril of pleasure and approved wholesomeness; inclined the
rather (though not as pronouncing an irrevocable opinion) to approve
of the usage of singing in the church; that so by the delight of the
ears the weaker minds may rise to the feeling of devotion. Yet when it
befalls me to be more moved with the voice than the words sung, I
confess to have sinned penally, and then had rather not hear music.
See now my state; weep with me, and weep for me, ye, whoso regulate
your feelings within, as that good action ensues. For you who do not
act, these things touch not you. But Thou, O Lord my God, hearken;
behold, and see, and have mercy and heal me, Thou, in whose presence I
have become a problem to myself; and that is my infirmity.

There remains the pleasure of these eyes of my flesh, on which to
make my confessions in the hearing of the ears of Thy temple, those
brotherly and devout ears; and so to conclude the temptations of the
lust of the flesh, which yet assail me, groaning earnestly, and
desiring to be clothed upon with my house from heaven. The eyes love
fair and varied forms, and bright and soft colours. Let not these
occupy my soul; let God rather occupy it, who made these things,
very good indeed, yet is He my good, not they. And these affect me,
waking, the whole day, nor is any rest given me from them, as there is
from musical, sometimes in silence, from all voices. For this queen of
colours, the light, bathing all which we behold, wherever I am through
the day, gliding by me in varied forms, soothes me when engaged on
other things, and not observing it. And so strongly doth it entwine
itself, that if it be suddenly withdrawn, it is with longing sought
for, and if absent long, saddeneth the mind.

O Thou Light, which Tobias saw, when, these eyes closed, he taught
his son the way of life; and himself went before with the feet of
charity, never swerving. Or which Isaac saw, when his fleshly eyes
being heavy and closed by old age, it was vouchsafed him, not
knowingly, to bless his sons, but by blessing to know them. Or which
Jacob saw, when he also, blind through great age, with illumined
heart, in the persons of his sons shed light on the different races of
the future people, in them foresignified; and laid his hands,
mystically crossed, upon his grandchildren by Joseph, not as their
father by his outward eye corrected them, but as himself inwardly
discerned. This is the light, it is one, and all are one, who see
and love it. But that corporeal light whereof I spake, it seasoneth
the life of this world for her blind lovers, with an enticing and
dangerous sweetness. But they who know how to praise Thee for it, "O
all-creating Lord," take it up in Thy hymns, and are not taken up with
it in their sleep. Such would I be. These seductions of the eyes I
resist, lest my feet wherewith I walk upon Thy way be ensnared; and
I lift up mine invisible eyes to Thee, that Thou wouldest pluck my
feet out of the snare. Thou dost ever and anon pluck them out, for
they are ensnared. Thou ceasest not to pluck them out, while I often
entangle myself in the snares on all sides laid; because Thou that
keepest Israel shalt neither slumber nor sleep.

What innumerable toys, made by divers arts and manufactures, in
our apparel, shoes, utensils and all sorts of works, in pictures
also and divers images, and these far exceeding all necessary and
moderate use and all pious meaning, have men added to tempt their
own eyes withal; outwardly following what themselves make, inwardly
forsaking Him by whom themselves were made, and destroying that
which themselves have been made! But I, my God and my Glory, do
hence also sing a hymn to Thee, and do consecrate praise to Him who
consecrateth me, because those beautiful patterns which through
men's souls are conveyed into their cunning hands, come from that
Beauty, which is above our souls, which my soul day and night
sigheth after. But the framers and followers of the outward beauties
derive thence the rule of judging of them, but not of using them.
And He is there, though they perceive Him not, that so they might
not wander, but keep their strength for Thee, and not scatter it
abroad upon pleasurable weariness. And I, though I speak and see this,
entangle my steps with these outward beauties; but Thou pluckest me
out, O Lord, Thou pluckest me out; because Thy loving-kindness is
before my eyes. For I am taken miserably, and Thou pluckest me out
mercifully; sometimes not perceiving it, when I had but lightly
lighted upon them; otherwhiles with pain, because I had stuck fast
in them.

To this is added another form of temptation more manifoldly
dangerous. For besides that concupiscence of the flesh which
consisteth in the delight of all senses and pleasures, wherein its
slaves, who go far from Thee, waste and perish, the soul hath, through
the same senses of the body, a certain vain and curious desire, veiled
under the title of knowledge and learning, not of delighting in the
flesh, but of making experiments through the flesh. The seat whereof
being in the appetite of knowledge, and sight being the sense
chiefly used for attaining knowledge, it is in Divine language
called The lust of the eyes. For, to see, belongeth properly to the
eyes; yet we use this word of the other senses also, when we employ
them in seeking knowledge. For we do not say, hark how it flashes,
or smell how it glows, or taste how it shines, or feel how it
gleams; for all these are said to be seen. And yet we say not only,
see how it shineth, which the eyes alone can perceive; but also, see
how it soundeth, see how it smelleth, see how it tasteth, see how hard
it is. And so the general experience of the senses, as was said, is
called The lust of the eyes, because the office of seeing, wherein the
eyes hold the prerogative, the other senses by way of similitude
take to themselves, when they make search after any knowledge.

But by this may more evidently be discerned, wherein pleasure and
wherein curiosity is the object of the senses; for pleasure seeketh
objects beautiful, melodious, fragrant, savoury, soft; but
curiosity, for trial's sake, the contrary as well, not for the sake of
suffering annoyance, but out of the lust of making trial and knowing
them. For what pleasure hath it, to see in a mangled carcase what will
make you shudder? and yet if it be lying near, they flock thither,
to be made sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep they are afraid to see
it. As if when awake, any one forced them to see it, or any report
of its beauty drew them thither! Thus also in the other senses,
which it were long to go through. From this disease of curiosity are
all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence men go on
to search out the hidden powers of nature (which is besides our
end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to
know. Hence also, if with that same end of perverted knowledge magical
arts be enquired by. Hence also in religion itself, is God tempted,
when signs and wonders are demanded of Him, not desired for any good
end, but merely to make trial of.

In this so vast wilderness, full of snares and dangers, behold
many of them I have cut off, and thrust out of my heart, as Thou
hast given me, O God of my salvation. And yet when dare I say, since
so many things of this kind buzz on all sides about our daily life-
when dare I say that nothing of this sort engages my attention, or
causes in me an idle interest? True, the theatres do not now carry
me away, nor care I to know the courses of the stars, nor did my
soul ever consult ghosts departed; all sacrilegious mysteries I
detest. From Thee, O Lord my God, to whom I owe humble and
single-hearted service, by what artifices and suggestions doth the
enemy deal with me to desire some sign! But I beseech Thee by our
King, and by our pure and holy country, Jerusalem, that as any
consenting thereto is far from me, so may it ever be further and
further. But when I pray Thee for the salvation of any, my end and
intention is far different. Thou givest and wilt give me to follow
Thee willingly, doing what Thou wilt.

Notwithstanding, in how many most petty and contemptible things is
our curiosity daily tempted, and how often we give way, who can
recount? How often do we begin as if we were tolerating people telling
vain stories, lest we offend the weak; then by degrees we take
interest therein! I go not now to the circus to see a dog coursing a
hare; but in the field, if passing, that coursing peradventure will
distract me even from some weighty thought, and draw me after it:
not that I turn aside the body of my beast, yet still incline my
mind thither. And unless Thou, having made me see my infirmity didst
speedily admonish me either through the sight itself by some
contemplation to rise towards Thee, or altogether to despise and
pass it by, I dully stand fixed therein. What, when sitting at home, a
lizard catching flies, or a spider entangling them rushing into her
nets, oft-times takes my attention? Is the thing different, because
they are but small creatures? I go on from them to praise Thee the
wonderful Creator and Orderer of all, but this does not first draw
my attention. It is one thing to rise quickly, another not to fall.
And of such things is my life full; and my one hope is Thy wonderful
great mercy. For when our heart becomes the receptacle of such things,
and is overcharged with throngs of this abundant vanity, then are
our prayers also thereby often interrupted and distracted, and
whilst in Thy presence we direct the voice of our heart to Thine ears,
this so great concern is broken off by the rushing in of I know not
what idle thoughts. Shall we then account this also among things of
slight concernment, or shall aught bring us back to hope, save Thy
complete mercy, since Thou hast begun to change us?

And Thou knowest how far Thou hast already changed me, who first
healedst me of the lust of vindicating myself, that so Thou mightest
forgive all the rest of my iniquities, and heal all my infirmities,
and redeem life from corruption, and crown me with mercy and pity, and
satisfy my desire with good things: who didst curb my pride with Thy
fear, and tame my neck to Thy yoke. And now I bear it and it is
light unto me, because so hast Thou promised, and hast made it; and
verily so it was, and I knew it not, when I feared to take it.

But, O Lord, Thou alone Lord without pride, because Thou art the
only true Lord, who hast no lord; hath this third kind of temptation
also ceased from me, or can it cease through this whole life? To wish,
namely, to be feared and loved of men, for no other end, but that we
may have a joy therein which is no joy? A miserable life this and a
foul boastfulness! Hence especially it comes that men do neither
purely love nor fear Thee. And therefore dost Thou resist the proud,
and givest grace to the humble: yea, Thou thunderest down upon the
ambitions of the world, and the foundations of the mountains
tremble. Because now certain offices of human society make it
necessary to be loved and feared of men, the adversary of our true
blessedness layeth hard at us, every where spreading his snares of
"well-done, well-done"; that greedily catching at them, we may be
taken unawares, and sever our joy from Thy truth, and set it in the
deceivingness of men; and be pleased at being loved and feared, not
for Thy sake, but in Thy stead: and thus having been made like him, he
may have them for his own, not in the bands of charity, but in the
bonds of punishment: who purposed to set his throne in the north, that
dark and chilled they might serve him, pervertedly and crookedly
imitating Thee. But we, O Lord, behold we are Thy little flock;
possess us as Thine, stretch Thy wings over us, and let us fly under
them. Be Thou our glory; let us be loved for Thee, and Thy word feared
in us. Who would be praised of men when Thou blamest, will not be
defended of men when Thou judgest; nor delivered when Thou condemnest.
But when- not the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul, nor he
blessed who doth ungodlily, but- a man is praised for some gift
which Thou hast given him, and he rejoices more at the praise for
himself than that he hath the gift for which he is praised, he also is
praised, while Thou dispraisest; better is he who praised than he
who is praised. For the one took pleasure in the gift of God in man;
the other was better pleased with the gift of man, than of God.

By these temptations we are assailed daily, O Lord; without
ceasing are we assailed. Our daily furnace is the tongue of men. And
in this way also Thou commandest us continence. Give what Thou
enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou wilt. Thou knowest on this matter
the groans of my heart, and the floods of mine eyes. For I cannot
learn how far I am more cleansed from this plague, and I much fear
my secret sins, which Thine eyes know, mine do not. For in other kinds
of temptations I have some sort of means of examining myself; in this,
scarce any. For, in refraining my mind from the pleasures of the flesh
and idle curiosity, I see how much I have attained to, when I do
without them; foregoing, or not having them. For then I ask myself how
much more or less troublesome it is to me not to have them? Then,
riches, which are desired, that they may serve to some one or two or
all of the three concupiscences, if the soul cannot discern whether,
when it hath them, it despiseth them, they may be cast aside, that
so it may prove itself. But to be without praise, and therein essay
our powers, must we live ill, yea so abandonedly and atrociously, that
no one should know without detesting us? What greater madness can be
said or thought of? But if praise useth and ought to accompany a
good life and good works, we ought as little to forego its company, as
good life itself. Yet I know not whether I can well or ill be
without anything, unless it be absent.

What then do I confess unto Thee in this kind of temptation, O Lord?
What, but that I am delighted with praise, but with truth itself, more
than with praise? For were it proposed to me, whether I would, being
frenzied in error on all things, be praised by all men, or being
consistent and most settled in the truth be blamed by all, I see which
I should choose. Yet fain would I that the approbation of another
should not even increase my joy for any good in me. Yet I own, it doth
increase it, and not so only, but dispraise doth diminish it. And when
I am troubled at this my misery, an excuse occurs to me, which of what
value it is, Thou God knowest, for it leaves me uncertain. For since
Thou hast commanded us not continency alone, that is, from what things
to refrain our love, but righteousness also, that is, whereon to
bestow it, and hast willed us to love not Thee only, but our neighbour
also; often, when pleased with intelligent praise, I seem to myself to
be pleased with the proficiency or towardliness of my neighbour, or to
be grieved for evil in him, when I hear him dispraise either what he
understands not, or is good. For sometimes I am grieved at my own
praise, either when those things be praised in me, in which I
mislike myself, or even lesser and slight goods are more esteemed than
they ought. But again how know I whether I am therefore thus affected,
because I would not have him who praiseth me differ from me about
myself; not as being influenced by concern for him, but because
those same good things which please me in myself, please me more
when they please another also? For some how I am not praised when my
judgment of myself is not praised; forasmuch as either those things
are praised, which displease me; or those more, which please me
less. Am I then doubtful of myself in this matter?

Behold, in Thee, O Truth, I see that I ought not to be moved at my
own praises, for my own sake, but for the good of my neighbour. And
whether it be so with me, I know not. For herein I know less of myself
than of Thee. I beseech now, O my God, discover to me myself also,
that I may confess unto my brethren, who are to pray for me, wherein I
find myself maimed. Let me examine myself again more diligently. If in
my praise I am moved with the good of my neighbour, why am I less
moved if another be unjustly dispraised than if it be myself? Why am I
more stung by reproach cast upon myself, than at that cast upon
another, with the same injustice, before me? Know I not this also?
or is it at last that I deceive myself, and do not the truth before
Thee in my heart and tongue? This madness put far from me, O Lord,
lest mine own mouth be to me the sinner's oil to make fat my head. I
am poor and needy; yet best, while in hidden groanings I displease
myself, and seek Thy mercy, until what is lacking in my defective
state be renewed and perfected, on to that peace which the eye of
the proud knoweth not.

Yet the word which cometh out of the mouth, and deeds known to
men, bring with them a most dangerous temptation through the love of
praise: which, to establish a certain excellency of our own,
solicits and collects men's suffrages. It tempts, even when it is
reproved by myself in myself, on the very ground that it is
reproved; and often glories more vainly of the very contempt of
vain-glory; and so it is no longer contempt of vain-glory, whereof
it glories; for it doth not contemn when it glorieth.

Within also, within is another evil, arising out of a like
temptation; whereby men become vain, pleasing themselves in
themselves, though they please not, or displease or care not to please
others. But pleasing themselves, they much displease Thee, not only
taking pleasure in things not good, as if good, but in Thy good
things, as though their own; or even if as Thine, yet as though for
their own merits; or even if as though from Thy grace, yet not with
brotherly rejoicing, but envying that grace to others. In all these
and the like perils and travails, Thou seest the trembling of my
heart; and I rather feel my wounds to be cured by Thee, than not
inflicted by me.

Where hast Thou not walked with me, O Truth, teaching me what to
beware, and what to desire; when I referred to Thee what I could
discover here below, and consulted Thee? With my outward senses, as
I might, I surveyed the world, and observed the life, which my body
hath from me, and these my senses. Thence entered I the recesses of my
memory, those manifold and spacious chambers, wonderfully furnished
with innumerable stores; and I considered, and stood aghast; being
able to discern nothing of these things without Thee, and finding none
of them to be Thee. Nor was I myself, who found out these things,
who went over them all, and laboured to distinguish and to value every
thing according to its dignity, taking some things upon the report
of my senses, questioning about others which I felt to be mingled with
myself, numbering and distinguishing the reporters themselves, and
in the large treasure-house of my memory revolving some things,
storing up others, drawing out others. Nor yet was I myself when I did
this, i.e., that my power whereby I did it, neither was it Thou, for
Thou art the abiding light, which I consulted concerning all these,
whether they were, what they were, and how to be valued; and I heard
Thee directing and commanding me; and this I often do, this delights
me, and as far as I may be freed from necessary duties, unto this
pleasure have I recourse. Nor in all these which I run over consulting
Thee can I find any safe place for my soul, but in Thee; whither my
scattered members may be gathered, and nothing of me depart from Thee.
And sometimes Thou admittest me to an affection, very unusual, in my
inmost soul; rising to a strange sweetness, which if it were perfected
in me, I know not what in it would not belong to the life to come. But
through my miserable encumbrances I sink down again into these lower
things, and am swept back by former custom, and am held, and greatly
weep, but am greatly held. So much doth the burden of a bad custom
weigh us down. Here I can stay, but would not; there I would, but
cannot; both ways, miserable.

Thus then have I considered the sicknesses of my sins in that
threefold concupiscence, and have called Thy right hand to my help.
For with a wounded heart have I beheld Thy brightness, and stricken
back I said, "Who can attain thither? I am cast away from the sight of
Thine eyes." Thou art the Truth who presidest over all, but I
through my covetousness would not indeed forego Thee, but would with
Thee possess a lie; as no man would in such wise speak falsely, as
himself to be ignorant of the truth. So then I lost Thee, because Thou
vouchsafest not to be possessed with a lie.

Whom could I find to reconcile me to Thee? was I to have recourse to
Angels? by what prayers? by what sacraments? Many endeavouring to
return unto Thee, and of themselves unable, have, as I hear, tried
this, and fallen into the desire of curious visions, and been
accounted worthy to be deluded. For they, being high minded, sought
Thee by the pride of learning, swelling out rather than smiting upon
their breasts, and so by the agreement of their heart, drew unto
themselves the princes of the air, the fellow-conspirators of their
pride, by whom, through magical influences, they were deceived,
seeking a mediator, by whom they might be purged, and there was
none. For the devil it was, transforming himself into an Angel of
light. And it much enticed proud flesh, that he had no body of
flesh. For they were mortal, and sinners; but thou, Lord, to whom they
proudly sought to be reconciled, art immortal, and without sin. But
a mediator between God and man must have something like to God,
something like to men; lest being in both like to man, he should he
far from God: or if in both like God, too unlike man: and so not be
a mediator. That deceitful mediator then, by whom in Thy secret
judgments pride deserved to be deluded, hath one thing in common
with man, that is sin; another he would seem to have in common with
God; and not being clothed with the mortality of flesh, would vaunt
himself to be immortal. But since the wages of sin is death, this hath
he in common with men, that with them he should be condemned to death.

But the true Mediator, Whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast showed
to the humble, and sentest, that by His example also they might
learn that same humility, that Mediator between God and man, the Man
Christ Jesus, appeared betwixt mortal sinners and the immortal just
One; mortal with men, just with God: that because the wages of
righteousness is life and peace, He might by a righteousness conjoined
with God make void that death of sinners, now made righteous, which He
willed to have in common with them. Hence He was showed forth to
holy men of old; that so they, through faith in His Passion to come,
as we through faith of it passed, might be saved. For as Man, He was a
Mediator; but as the Word, not in the middle between God and man,
because equal to God, and God with God, and together one God.

How hast Thou loved us, good Father, who sparedst not Thine only
Son, but deliveredst Him up for us ungodly! How hast Thou loved us,
for whom He that thought it no robbery to be equal with Thee, was made
subject even to the death of the cross, He alone, free among the dead,
having power to lay down His life, and power to take it again: for
us to Thee both Victor and Victim, and therefore Victor, because the
Victim; for us to Thee Priest and Sacrifice, and therefore Priest
because the Sacrifice; making us to Thee, of servants, sons by being
born of Thee, and serving us. Well then is my hope strong in Him, that
Thou wilt heal all my infirmities, by Him Who sitteth at Thy right
hand and maketh intercession for us; else should I despair. For many
and great are my infirmities, many they are, and great; but Thy
medicine is mightier. We might imagine that Thy Word was far from
any union with man, and despair of ourselves, unless He had been
made flesh and dwelt among us.

Affrighted with my sins and the burden of my misery, I had cast in
my heart, and had purposed to flee to the wilderness: but Thou
forbadest me, and strengthenedst me, saying, Therefore Christ died for
all, that they which live may now no longer live unto themselves,
but unto Him that died for them. See, Lord, I cast my care upon
Thee, that I may live, and consider wondrous things out of Thy law.
Thou knowest my unskilfulness, and my infirmities; teach me, and
heal me. He, Thine only Son, in Whom are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge, hath redeemed me with His blood. Let not the
proud speak evil of me; because I meditate on my ransom, and eat and
drink, and communicate it; and poor, desired to be satisfied from Him,
amongst those that eat and are satisfied, and they shall praise the
Lord who seek Him.


Lord, since eternity is Thine, art Thou ignorant of what I say to
Thee? or dost Thou see in time, what passeth in time? Why then do I
lay in order before Thee so many relations? Not, of a truth, that Thou
mightest learn them through me, but to stir up mine own and my
readers' devotions towards Thee, that we may all say, Great is the
Lord, and greatly to be praised. I have said already; and again will
say, for love of Thy love do I this. For we pray also, and yet Truth
hath said, Your Father knoweth what you have need of, before you
ask. It is then our affections which we lay open unto Thee, confessing
our own miseries, and Thy mercies upon us, that Thou mayest free us
wholly, since Thou hast begun, that we may cease to be wretched in
ourselves, and be blessed in Thee; seeing Thou hast called us, to
become poor in spirit, and meek, and mourners, and hungering and
athirst after righteousness, and merciful, and pure in heart, and
peace-makers. See, I have told Thee many things, as I could and as I
would, because Thou first wouldest that I should confess unto Thee, my
Lord God. For Thou art good, for Thy mercy endureth for ever.

But how shall I suffice with the tongue of my pen to utter all Thy
exhortations, and all Thy terrors, and comforts, and guidances,
whereby Thou broughtest me to preach Thy Word, and dispense Thy
Sacrament to Thy people? And if I suffice to utter them in order,
the drops of time are precious with me; and long have I burned to
meditate in Thy law, and therein to confess to Thee my skill and
unskilfulness, the daybreak of Thy enlightening, and the remnants of
my darkness, until infirmity be swallowed up by strength. And I
would not have aught besides steal away those hours which I find
free from the necessities of refreshing my body and the powers of my
mind, and of the service which we owe to men, or which though we owe
not, we yet pay.

O Lord my god, give ear unto my prayer, and let Thy mercy hearken
unto my desire: because it is anxious not for myself alone, but
would serve brotherly charity; and Thou seest my heart, that so it is.
I would sacrifice to Thee the service of my thought and tongue; do
Thou give me, what I may offer Thee. For I am poor and needy, Thou
rich to all that call upon Thee; Who, inaccessible to care, carest for
us. Circumcise from all rashness and all lying both my inward and
outward lips: let Thy Scriptures be my pure delights: let me not be
deceived in them, nor deceive out of them. Lord, hearken and pity, O
Lord my God, Light of the blind, and Strength of the weak; yea also
Light of those that see, and Strength of the strong; hearken unto my
soul, and hear it crying out of the depths. For if Thine ears be not
with us in the depths also, whither shall we go? whither cry? The
day is Thine, and the night is Thine; at Thy beck the moments flee by.
Grant thereof a space for our meditations in the hidden things of
Thy law, and close it not against us who knock. For not in vain
wouldest Thou have the darksome secrets of so many pages written;
nor are those forests without their harts which retire therein and
range and walk; feed, lie down, and ruminate. Perfect me, O Lord,
and reveal them unto me. Behold, Thy voice is my joy; Thy voice
exceedeth the abundance of pleasures. Give what I love: for I do love;
and this hast Thou given: forsake not Thy own gifts, nor despise Thy
green herb that thirsteth. Let me confess unto Thee whatsoever I shall
find in Thy books, and hear the voice of praise, and drink in Thee,
and meditate on the wonderful things out of Thy law; even from the
beginning, wherein Thou madest the heaven and the earth, unto the
everlasting reigning of Thy holy city with Thee.

Lord, have mercy on me, and hear my desire. For it is not, I deem,
of the earth, not of gold and silver, and precious stones, or gorgeous
apparel, or honours and offices, or the pleasures of the flesh, or
necessaries for the body and for this life of our pilgrimage: all
which shall be added unto those that seek Thy kingdom and Thy
righteousness. Behold, O Lord my God, wherein is my desire. The wicked
have told me of delights, but not such as Thy law, O Lord. Behold,
wherein is my desire. Behold, Father, behold, and see and approve; and
be it pleasing in the sight of Thy mercy, that I may find grace before
Thee, that the inward parts of Thy words be opened to me knocking. I
beseech by our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, the Man of Thy right hand,
the Son of man, whom Thou hast established for Thyself, as Thy
Mediator and ours, through Whom Thou soughtest us, not seeking Thee,
but soughtest us, that we might seek Thee,- Thy Word, through Whom
Thou madest all things, and among them, me also;- Thy Only-Begotten,
through Whom Thou calledst to adoption the believing people, and
therein me also;- I beseech Thee by Him, who sitteth at Thy right
hand, and intercedeth with Thee for us, in Whom are hidden all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge. These do I seek in Thy books. Of
Him did Moses write; this saith Himself; this saith the Truth.

I would hear and understand, how "In the Beginning Thou madest the
heaven and earth." Moses wrote this, wrote and departed, passed
hence from Thee to Thee; nor is he now before me. For if he were, I
would hold him and ask him, and beseech him by Thee to open these
things unto me, and would lay the ears of my body to the sounds
bursting out of his mouth. And should he speak Hebrew, in vain will it
strike on my senses, nor would aught of it touch my mind; but if
Latin, I should know what he said. But whence should I know, whether
he spake truth? Yea, and if I knew this also, should I know it from
him? Truly within me, within, in the chamber of my thoughts, Truth,
neither Hebrew, nor Greek, nor Latin, nor barbarian, without organs of
voice or tongue, or sound of syllables, would say, "It is truth,"
and I forthwith should say confidently to that man of Thine, "thou
sayest truly." Whereas then I cannot enquire of him, Thee, Thee I
beseech, O Truth, full of Whom he spake truth, Thee, my God, I
beseech, forgive my sins; and Thou, who gavest him Thy servant to
speak these things, give to me also to understand them.

Behold, the heavens and the earth are; they proclaim that they
were created; for they change and vary. Whereas whatsoever hath not
been made, and yet is, hath nothing in it, which before it had not;
and this it is, to change and vary. They proclaim also, that they made
not themselves; "therefore we are, because we have been made; we
were not therefore, before we were, so as to make ourselves." Now
the evidence of the thing, is the voice of the speakers. Thou
therefore, Lord, madest them; who art beautiful, for they are
beautiful; who art good, for they are good; who art, for they are; yet
are they not beautiful nor good, nor are they, as Thou their Creator
art; compared with Whom, they are neither beautiful, nor good, nor
are. This we know, thanks be to Thee. And our knowledge, compared with
Thy knowledge, is ignorance.

But how didst Thou make the heaven and the earth? and what the
engine of Thy so mighty fabric? For it was not as a human artificer,
forming one body from another, according to the discretion of his
mind, which can in some way invest with such a form, as it seeth in
itself by its inward eye. And whence should he be able to do this,
unless Thou hadst made that mind? and he invests with a form what
already existeth, and hath a being, as clay, or stone, or wood, or
gold, or the like. And whence should they be, hadst not Thou appointed
them? Thou madest the artificer his body, Thou the mind commanding the
limbs, Thou the matter whereof he makes any thing; Thou the
apprehension whereby to take in his art, and see within what he doth
without; Thou the sense of his body, whereby, as by an interpreter, he
may from mind to matter, convey that which he doth, and report to
his mind what is done; that it within may consult the truth, which
presideth over itself, whether it be well done or no. All these praise
Thee, the Creator of all. But how dost Thou make them? how, O God,
didst Thou make heaven and earth? Verily, neither in the heaven, nor
in the earth, didst Thou make heaven and earth; nor in the air, or
waters, seeing these also belong to the heaven and the earth; nor in
the whole world didst Thou make the whole world; because there was
no place where to make it, before it was made, that it might be. Nor
didst Thou hold any thing in Thy hand, whereof to make heaven and
earth. For whence shouldest Thou have this, which Thou hadst not made,
thereof to make any thing? For what is, but because Thou art?
Therefore Thou spokest, and they were made, and in Thy Word Thou
madest them.

But how didst Thou speak? In the way that the voice came out of
the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son? For that voice passed by
and passed away, began and ended; the syllables sounded and passed
away, the second after the first, the third after the second, and so
forth in order, until the last after the rest, and silence after the
last. Whence it is abundantly clear and plain that the motion of a
creature expressed it, itself temporal, serving Thy eternal will.
And these Thy words, created for a time, the outward ear reported to
the intelligent soul, whose inward ear lay listening to Thy Eternal
Word. But she compared these words sounding in time, with that Thy
Eternal Word in silence, and said "It is different, far different.
These words are far beneath me, nor are they, because they flee and
pass away; but the Word of my Lord abideth above me for ever." If then
in sounding and passing words Thou saidst that heaven and earth should
be made, and so madest heaven and earth, there was a corporeal
creature before heaven and earth, by whose motions in time that
voice might take his course in time. But there was nought corporeal
before heaven and earth; or if there were, surely Thou hadst,
without such a passing voice, created that, whereof to make this
passing voice, by which to say, Let the heaven and the earth be
made. For whatsoever that were, whereof such a voice were made, unless
by Thee it were made, it could not be at all. By what Word then
didst Thou speak, that a body might be made, whereby these words again
might be made?

Thou callest us then to understand the Word, God, with Thee God,
Which is spoken eternally, and by It are all things spoken
eternally. For what was spoken was not spoken successively, one
thing concluded that the next might be spoken, but all things together
and eternally. Else have we time and change; and not a true eternity
nor true immortality. This I know, O my God, and give thanks. I
know, I confess to Thee, O Lord, and with me there knows and blesses
Thee, whoso is not unthankful to assure Truth. We know, Lord, we know;
since inasmuch as anything is not which was, and is, which was not, so
far forth it dieth and ariseth. Nothing then of Thy Word doth give
place or replace, because It is truly immortal and eternal. And
therefore unto the Word coeternal with Thee Thou dost at once and
eternally say all that Thou dost say; and whatever Thou sayest shall
be made is made; nor dost Thou make, otherwise than by saying; and yet
are not all things made together, or everlasting, which Thou makest by

Why, I beseech Thee, O Lord my God? I see it in a way; but how to
express it, I know not, unless it be, that whatsoever begins to be,
and leaves off to be, begins then, and leaves off then, when in Thy
eternal Reason it is known, that it ought to begin or leave off; in
which Reason nothing beginneth or leaveth off. This is Thy Word, which
is also "the Beginning, because also It speaketh unto us." Thus in the
Gospel He speaketh through the flesh; and this sounded outwardly in
the ears of men; that it might be believed and sought inwardly, and
found in the eternal Verity; where the good and only Master teacheth
all His disciples. There, Lord, hear I Thy voice speaking unto me;
because He speaketh us, who teacheth us; but He that teacheth us
not, though He speaketh, to us He speaketh not. Who now teacheth us,
but the unchangeable Truth? for even when we are admonished through
a changeable creature; we are but led to the unchangeable Truth; where
we learn truly, while we stand and hear Him, and rejoice greatly
because of the Bridegroom's voice, restoring us to Him, from Whom we
are. And therefore the Beginning, because unless It abided, there
should not, when we went astray, be whither to return. But when we
return from error, it is through knowing; and that we may know, He
teacheth us, because He is the Beginning, and speaking unto us.

In this Beginning, O God, hast Thou made heaven and earth, in Thy
Word, in Thy Son, in Thy Power, in Thy Wisdom, in Thy Truth;
wondrously speaking, and wondrously making. Who shall comprehend?
Who declare it? What is that which gleams through me, and strikes my
heart without hurting it; and I shudder and kindle? I shudder,
inasmuch as I unlike it; I kindle, inasmuch as I am like it. It is
Wisdom, Wisdom's self which gleameth through me; severing my
cloudiness which yet again mantles over me, fainting from it,
through the darkness which for my punishment gathers upon me. For my
strength is brought down in need, so that I cannot support my
blessings, till Thou, Lord, Who hast been gracious to all mine
iniquities, shalt heal all my infirmities. For Thou shalt also
redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with loving kindness
and tender mercies, and shalt satisfy my desire with good things,
because my youth shall be renewed like an eagle's. For in hope we
are saved, wherefore we through patience wait for Thy promises. Let
him that is able, hear Thee inwardly discoursing out of Thy oracle:
I will boldly cry out, How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord, in
Wisdom hast Thou made them all; and this Wisdom is the Beginning,
and in that Beginning didst Thou make heaven and earth.

Lo, are they not full of their old leaven, who say to us, "What
was God doing before He made heaven and earth? For if (say they) He
were unemployed and wrought not, why does He not also henceforth,
and for ever, as He did heretofore? For did any new motion arise in
God, and a new will to make a creature, which He had never before
made, how then would that be a true eternity, where there ariseth a
will, which was not? For the will of God is not a creature, but before
the creature; seeing nothing could be created, unless the will of
the Creator had preceded. The will of God then belongeth to His very
Substance. And if aught have arisen in God's Substance, which before
was not, that Substance cannot be truly called eternal. But if the
will of God has been from eternity that the creature should be, why
was not the creature also from eternity?"

Who speak thus, do not yet understand Thee, O Wisdom of God, Light
of souls, understand not yet how the things be made, which by Thee,
and in Thee are made: yet they strive to comprehend things eternal,
whilst their heart fluttereth between the motions of things past and
to come, and is still unstable. Who shall hold it, and fix it, that it
be settled awhile, and awhile catch the glory of that everfixed
Eternity, and compare it with the times which are never fixed, and see
that it cannot be compared; and that a long time cannot become long,
but out of many motions passing by, which cannot be prolonged
altogether; but that in the Eternal nothing passeth, but the whole
is present; whereas no time is all at once present: and that all
time past, is driven on by time to come, and all to come followeth
upon the past; and all past and to come, is created, and flows out
of that which is ever present? Who shall hold the heart of man, that
it may stand still, and see how eternity ever still-standing,
neither past nor to come, uttereth the times past and to come? Can
my hand do this, or the hand of my mouth by speech bring about a thing
so great?

See, I answer him that asketh, "What did God before He made heaven
and earth?" I answer not as one is said to have done merrily
(eluding the pressure of the question), "He was preparing hell
(saith he) for pryers into mysteries." It is one thing to answer
enquiries, another to make sport of enquirers. So I answer not; for
rather had I answer, "I know not," what I know not, than so as to
raise a laugh at him who asketh deep things and gain praise for one
who answereth false things. But I say that Thou, our God, art the
Creator of every creature: and if by the name "heaven and earth,"
every creature be understood; I boldly say, "that before God made
heaven and earth, He did not make any thing." For if He made, what did
He make but a creature? And would I knew whatsoever I desire to know
to my profit, as I know, that no creature was made, before there was
made any creature.

But if any excursive brain rove over the images of forepassed times,
and wonder that Thou the God Almighty and All-creating and
All-supporting, Maker of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable
ages forbear from so great a work, before Thou wouldest make it; let
him awake and consider, that he wonders at false conceits. For
whence could innumerable ages pass by, which Thou madest not, Thou the
Author and Creator of all ages? or what times should there be, which
were not made by Thee? or how should they pass by, if they never were?
Seeing then Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was
before Thou madest heaven and earth, why say they that Thou didst
forego working? For that very time didst Thou make, nor could times
pass by, before Thou madest those times. But if before heaven and
earth there was no time, why is it demanded, what Thou then didst? For
there was no "then," when there was no time.

Nor dost Thou by time, precede time: else shouldest Thou not precede
all times. But Thou precedest all things past, by the sublimity of
an ever-present eternity; and surpassest all future because they are
future, and when they come, they shall be past; but Thou art the Same,
and Thy years fail not. Thy years neither come nor go; whereas ours
both come and go, that they all may come. Thy years stand together,
because they do stand; nor are departing thrust out by coming years,
for they pass not away; but ours shall all be, when they shall no more
be. Thy years are one day; and Thy day is not daily, but To-day,
seeing Thy To-day gives not place unto to-morrow, for neither doth
it replace yesterday. Thy To-day, is Eternity; therefore didst Thou
beget The Coeternal, to whom Thou saidst, This day have I begotten
Thee. Thou hast made all things; and before all times Thou art:
neither in any time was time not.

At no time then hadst Thou not made any thing, because time itself
Thou madest. And no times are coeternal with Thee, because Thou
abidest; but if they abode, they should not be times. For what is
time? Who can readily and briefly explain this? Who can even in
thought comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it? But what in
discourse do we mention more familiarly and knowingly, than time? And,
we understand, when we speak of it; we understand also, when we hear
it spoken of by another. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know:
if I wish to explain it to one that asketh, I know not: yet I say
boldly that I know, that if nothing passed away, time past were not;
and if nothing were coming, a time to come were not; and if nothing
were, time present were not. Those two times then, past and to come,
how are they, seeing the past now is not, and that to come is not yet?
But the present, should it always be present, and never pass into time
past, verily it should not be time, but eternity. If time present
(if it is to be time) only cometh into existence, because it passeth
into time past, how can we say that either this is, whose cause of
being is, that it shall not be; so, namely, that we cannot truly say
that time is, but because it is tending not to be?

And yet we say, "a long time" and "a short time"; still, only of
time past or to come. A long time past (for example) we call an
hundred years since; and a long time to come, an hundred years
hence. But a short time past, we call (suppose) often days since;
and a short time to come, often days hence. But in what sense is
that long or short, which is not? For the past, is not now; and the
future, is not yet. Let us not then say, "it is long"; but of the
past, "it hath been long"; and of the future, "it will be long." O
my Lord, my Light, shall not here also Thy Truth mock at man? For that
past time which was long, was it long when it was now past, or when it
was yet present? For then might it be long, when there was, what could
be long; but when past, it was no longer; wherefore neither could that
be long, which was not at all. Let us not then say, "time past hath
been long": for we shall not find, what hath been long, seeing that
since it was past, it is no more, but let us say, "that present time
was long"; because, when it was present, it was long. For it had not
yet passed away, so as not to be; and therefore there was, what
could be long; but after it was past, that ceased also to be long,
which ceased to be.

Let us see then, thou soul of man, whether present time can be long:
for to thee it is given to feel and to measure length of time. What
wilt thou answer me? Are an hundred years, when present, a long
time? See first, whether an hundred years can be present. For if the
first of these years be now current, it is present, but the other
ninety and nine are to come, and therefore are not yet, but if the
second year be current, one is now past, another present, the rest
to come. And so if we assume any middle year of this hundred to be
present, all before it, are past; all after it, to come; wherefore
an hundred years cannot be present. But see at least whether that
one which is now current, itself is present; for if the current
month be its first, the rest are to come; if the second, the first
is already past, and the rest are not yet. Therefore, neither is the
year now current present; and if not present as a whole, then is not
the year present. For twelve months are a year; of which whatever by
the current month is present; the rest past, or to come. Although
neither is that current month present; but one day only; the rest
being to come, if it be the first; past, if the last; if any of the
middle, then amid past and to come.

See how the present time, which alone we found could be called long,
is abridged to the length scarce of one day. But let us examine that
also; because neither is one day present as a whole. For it is made up
of four and twenty hours of night and day: of which, the first hath
the rest to come; the last hath them past; and any of the middle
hath those before it past, those behind it to come. Yea, that one hour
passeth away in flying particles. Whatsoever of it hath flown away, is
past; whatsoever remaineth, is to come. If an instant of time be
conceived, which cannot be divided into the smallest particles of
moments, that alone is it, which may be called present. Which yet
flies with such speed from future to past, as not to be lengthened out
with the least stay. For if it be, it is divided into past and future.
The present hath no space. Where then is the time, which we may call
long? Is it to come? Of it we do not say, "it is long"; because it
is not yet, so as to be long; but we say, "it will be long." When
therefore will it be? For if even then, when it is yet to come, it
shall not be long (because what can be long, as yet is not), and so it
shall then be long, when from future which as yet is not, it shall
begin now to be, and have become present, that so there should exist
what may be long; then does time present cry out in the words above,
that it cannot be long.

And yet, Lord, we perceive intervals of times, and compare them, and
say, some are shorter, and others longer. We measure also, how much
longer or shorter this time is than that; and we answer, "This is
double, or treble; and that, but once, or only just so much as
that." But we measure times as they are passing, by perceiving them;
but past, which now are not, or the future, which are not yet, who can
measure? unless a man shall presume to say, that can be measured,
which is not. When then time is passing, it may be perceived and
measured; but when it is past, it cannot, because it is not.

I ask, Father, I affirm not: O my God, rule and guide me. "Who
will tell me that there are not three times (as we learned when
boys, and taught boys), past, present, and future; but present only,
because those two are not? Or are they also; and when from future it
becometh present, doth it come out of some secret place; and so,
when retiring, from present it becometh past? For where did they,
who foretold things to come, see them, if as yet they be not? For that
which is not, cannot be seen. And they who relate things past, could
not relate them, if in mind they did not discern them, and if they
were not, they could no way be discerned. Things then past and to
come, are."

Permit me, Lord, to seek further. O my hope, let not my purpose be
confounded. For if times past and to come be, I would know where
they be. Which yet if I cannot, yet I know, wherever they be, they are
not there as future, or past, but present. For if there also they be
future, they are not yet there; if there also they be past, they are
no longer there. Wheresoever then is whatsoever is, it is only as
present. Although when past facts are related, there are drawn out
of the memory, not the things themselves which are past, but words
which, conceived by the images of the things, they, in passing, have
through the senses left as traces in the mind. Thus my childhood,
which now is not, is in time past, which now is not: but now when I
recall its image, and tell of it, I behold it in the present,
because it is still in my memory. Whether there be a like cause of
foretelling things to come also; that of things which as yet are
not, the images may be perceived before, already existing, I
confess, O my God, I know not. This indeed I know, that we generally
think before on our future actions, and that that forethinking is
present, but the action whereof we forethink is not yet, because it is
to come. Which, when we have set upon, and have begun to do what we
were forethinking, then shall that action be; because then it is no
longer future, but present.

Which way soever then this secret fore-perceiving of things to
come be; that only can be seen, which is. But what now is, is not
future, but present. When then things to come are said to be seen,
it is not themselves which as yet are not (that is, which are to
be), but their causes perchance or signs are seen, which already
are. Therefore they are not future but present to those who now see
that, from which the future, being foreconceived in the mind, is
foretold. Which fore-conceptions again now are; and those who foretell
those things, do behold the conceptions present before them. Let now
the numerous variety of things furnish me some example. I behold the
day-break, I foreshow, that the sun, is about to rise. What I
behold, is present; what I foresignify, to come; not the sun, which
already is; but the sun-rising, which is not yet. And yet did I not in
my mind imagine the sun-rising itself (as now while I speak of it),
I could not foretell it. But neither is that day-break which I discern
in the sky, the sun-rising, although it goes before it; nor that
imagination of my mind; which two are seen now present, that the other
which is to be may be foretold. Future things then are not yet: and if
they be not yet, they are not: and if they are not, they cannot be
seen; yet foretold they may be from things present, which are already,
and are seen.

Thou then, Ruler of Thy creation, by what way dost Thou teach
souls things to come? For Thou didst teach Thy Prophets. By what way
dost Thou, to whom nothing is to come, teach things to come; or rather
of the future, dost teach things present? For, what is not, neither
can it be taught. Too far is this way of my ken: it is too mighty
for me, I cannot attain unto it; but from Thee I can, when Thou
shalt vouchsafe it, O sweet light of my hidden eyes.

What now is clear and plain is, that neither things to come nor past
are. Nor is it properly said, "there be three times, past, present,
and to come": yet perchance it might be properly said, "there be three
times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a
present of things future." For these three do exist in some sort, in
the soul, but otherwhere do I not see them; present of things past,
memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future,
expectation. If thus we be permitted to speak, I see three times,
and I confess there are three. Let it be said too, "there be three
times, past, present, and to come": in our incorrect way. See, I
object not, nor gainsay, nor find fault, if what is so said be but
understood, that neither what is to be, now is, nor what is past.
For but few things are there, which we speak properly, most things
improperly; still the things intended are understood.

I said then even now, we measure times as they pass, in order to
be able to say, this time is twice so much as that one; or, this is
just so much as that; and so of any other parts of time, which be
measurable. Wherefore, as I said, we measure times as they pass. And
if any should ask me, "How knowest thou?" I might answer, "I know,
that we do measure, nor can we measure things that are not; and things
past and to come, are not." But time present how do we measure, seeing
it hath no space? It is measured while passing, but when it shall have
passed, it is not measured; for there will be nothing to be
measured. But whence, by what way, and whither passes it while it is a
measuring? whence, but from the future? Which way, but through the
present? whither, but into the past? From that therefore, which is not
yet, through that, which hath no space, into that, which now is not.
Yet what do we measure, if not time in some space? For we do not
say, single, and double, and triple, and equal, or any other like
way that we speak of time, except of spaces of times. In what space
then do we measure time passing? In the future, whence it passeth
through? But what is not yet, we measure not. Or in the present, by
which it passes? but no space, we do not measure: or in the past, to
which it passes? But neither do we measure that, which now is not.

My soul is on fire to know this most intricate enigma. Shut it not
up, O Lord my God, good Father; through Christ I beseech Thee, do
not shut up these usual, yet hidden things, from my desire, that it be
hindered from piercing into them; but let them dawn through Thy
enlightening mercy, O Lord. Whom shall I enquire of concerning these
things? and to whom shall I more fruitfully confess my ignorance, than
to Thee, to Whom these my studies, so vehemently kindled toward Thy
Scriptures, are not troublesome? Give what I love; for I do love,
and this hast Thou given me. Give, Father, Who truly knowest to give
good gifts unto Thy children. Give, because I have taken upon me to
know, and trouble is before me until Thou openest it. By Christ I
beseech Thee, in His Name, Holy of holies, let no man disturb me.
For I believed, and therefore do I speak. This is my hope, for this do
I live, that I may contemplate the delights of the Lord. Behold,
Thou hast made my days old, and they pass away, and how, I know not.
And we talk of time, and time, and times, and times, "How long time is
it since he said this"; "how long time since he did this"; and "how
long time since I saw that"; and "this syllable hath double time to
that single short syllable." These words we speak, and these we
hear, and are understood, and understand. Most manifest and ordinary
they are, and the self-same things again are but too deeply hidden,
and the discovery of them were new.

I heard once from a learned man, that the motions of the sun,
moon, and stars, constituted time, and I assented not. For why
should not the motions of all bodies rather be times? Or, if the
lights of heaven should cease, and a potter's wheel run round,
should there be no time by which we might measure those whirlings, and
say, that either it moved with equal pauses, or if it turned sometimes
slower, otherwhiles quicker, that some rounds were longer, other
shorter? Or, while we were saying this, should we not also be speaking
in time? Or, should there in our words be some syllables short, others
long, but because those sounded in a shorter time, these in a
longer? God, grant to men to see in a small thing notices common to
things great and small. The stars and lights of heaven, are also for
signs, and for seasons, and for years, and for days; they are; yet
neither should I say, that the going round of that wooden wheel was
a day, nor yet he, that it was therefore no time.

I desire to know the force and nature of time, by which we measure
the motions of bodies, and say (for example) this motion is twice as
long as that. For I ask, Seeing "day" denotes not the stay only of the
sun upon the earth (according to which day is one thing, night
another); but also its whole circuit from east to east again;
according to which we say, "there passed so many days," the night
being included when we say, "so many days," and the nights not
reckoned apart;- seeing then a day is completed by the motion of the
sun and by his circuit from east to east again, I ask, does the motion
alone make the day, or the stay in which that motion is completed,
or both? For if the first be the day; then should we have a day,
although the sun should finish that course in so small a space of
time, as one hour comes to. If the second, then should not that make a
day, if between one sun-rise and another there were but so short a
stay, as one hour comes to; but the sun must go four and twenty
times about, to complete one day. If both, then neither could that
be called a day; if the sun should run his whole round in the space of
one hour; nor that, if, while the sun stood still, so much time should
overpass, as the sun usually makes his whole course in, from morning
to morning. I will not therefore now ask, what that is which is called
day; but, what time is, whereby we, measuring the circuit of the
sun, should say that it was finished in half the time it was wont,
if so be it was finished in so small a space as twelve hours; and
comparing both times, should call this a single time, that a double
time; even supposing the sun to run his round from east to east,
sometimes in that single, sometimes in that double time. Let no man
then tell me, that the motions of the heavenly bodies constitute
times, because, when at the prayer of one, the sun had stood still,
till he could achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still,
but time went on. For in its own allotted space of time was that
battle waged and ended. I perceive time then to be a certain
extension. But do I perceive it, or seem to perceive it? Thou, Light
and Truth, wilt show me.

Dost Thou bid me assent, if any define time to be "motion of a
body?" Thou dost not bid me. For that no body is moved, but in time, I
hear; this Thou sayest; but that the motion of a body is time, I
hear not; Thou sayest it not. For when a body is moved, I by time
measure, how long it moveth, from the time it began to move until it
left off? And if I did not see whence it began; and it continue to
move so that I see not when it ends, I cannot measure, save
perchance from the time I began, until I cease to see. And if I look
long, I can only pronounce it to be a long time, but not how long;
because when we say "how long," we do it by comparison; as, "this is
as long as that," or "twice so long as that," or the like. But when we
can mark the distances of the places, whence and whither goeth the
body moved, or his parts, if it moved as in a lathe, then can we say
precisely, in how much time the motion of that body or his part,
from this place unto that, was finished. Seeing therefore the motion
of a body is one thing, that by which we measure how long it is,
another; who sees not, which of the two is rather to be called time?
For and if a body be sometimes moved, sometimes stands still, then
we measure, not his motion only, but his standing still too by time;
and we say, "it stood still, as much as it moved"; or "it stood
still twice or thrice so long as it moved"; or any other space which
our measuring hath either ascertained, or guessed; more or less, as we
use to say. Time then is not the motion of a body.

And I confess to Thee, O Lord, that I yet know not what time is, and
again I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I know that I speak this in
time, and that having long spoken of time, that very "long" is not
long, but by the pause of time. How then know I this, seeing I know
not what time is? or is it perchance that I know not how to express
what I know? Woe is me, that do not even know, what I know not.
Behold, O my God, before Thee I lie not; but as I speak, so is my
heart. Thou shalt light my candle; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt enlighten
my darkness.

Does not my soul most truly confess unto Thee, that I do measure
times? Do I then measure, O my God, and know not what I measure? I
measure the motion of a body in time; and the time itself do I not
measure? Or could I indeed measure the motion of a body how long it
were, and in how long space it could come from this place to that,
without measuring the time in which it is moved? This same time
then, how do I measure? do we by a shorter time measure a longer, as
by the space of a cubit, the space of a rood? for so indeed we seem by
the space of a short syllable, to measure the space of a long
syllable, and to say that this is double the other. Thus measure we
the spaces of stanzas, by the spaces of the verses, and the spaces
of the verses, by the spaces of the feet, and the spaces of the
feet, by the spaces of the syllables, and the spaces of long, by the
space of short syllables; not measuring by pages (for then we
measure spaces, not times); but when we utter the words and they
pass by, and we say "it is a long stanza, because composed of so
many verses; long verses, because consisting of so many feet; long
feet, because prolonged by so many syllables; a long syllable
because double to a short one. But neither do we this way obtain any
certain measure of time; because it may be, that a shorter verse,
pronounced more fully, may take up more time than a longer, pronounced
hurriedly. And so for a verse, a foot, a syllable. Whence it seemed to
me, that time is nothing else than protraction; but of what, I know
not; and I marvel, if it be not of the mind itself? For what, I
beseech Thee, O my God, do I measure, when I say, either
indefinitely "this is a longer time than that," or definitely "this is
double that"? That I measure time, I know; and yet I measure not
time to come, for it is not yet; nor present, because it is not
protracted by any space; nor past, because it now is not. What then do
I measure? Times passing, not past? for so I said.

Courage, my mind, and press on mightily. God is our helper, He
made us, and not we ourselves. Press on where truth begins to dawn.
Suppose, now, the voice of a body begins to sound, and does sound, and
sounds on, and list, it ceases; it is silence now, and that voice is
past, and is no more a voice. Before it sounded, it was to come, and
could not be measured, because as yet it was not, and now it cannot,
because it is no longer. Then therefore while it sounded, it might;
because there then was what might be measured. But yet even then it
was not at a stay; for it was passing on, and passing away. Could it
be measured the rather, for that? For while passing, it was being
extended into some space of time, so that it might be measured,
since the present hath no space. If therefore then it might, then, to,
suppose another voice hath begun to sound, and still soundeth in one
continued tenor without any interruption; let us measure it while it
sounds; seeing when it hath left sounding, it will then be past, and
nothing left to be measured; let us measure it verily, and tell how
much it is. But it sounds still, nor can it be measured but from the
instant it began in, unto the end it left in. For the very space
between is the thing we measure, namely, from some beginning unto some
end. Wherefore, a voice that is not yet ended, cannot be measured,
so that it may be said how long, or short it is; nor can it be
called equal to another, or double to a single, or the like. But
when ended, it no longer is. How may it then be measured? And yet we
measure times; but yet neither those which are not yet, nor those
which no longer are, nor those which are not lengthened out by some
pause, nor those which have no bounds. We measure neither times to
come, nor past, nor present, nor passing; and yet we do measure times.

"Deus Creator omnium," this verse of eight syllables alternates
between short and long syllables. The four short then, the first,
third, fifth, and seventh, are but single, in respect of the four
long, the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth. Every one of these to
every one of those, hath a double time: I pronounce them, report on
them, and find it so, as one's plain sense perceives. By plain sense
then, I measure a long syllable by a short, and I sensibly find it
to have twice so much; but when one sounds after the other, if the
former be short, the latter long, how shall I detain the short one,
and how, measuring, shall I apply it to the long, that I may find this
to have twice so much; seeing the long does not begin to sound, unless
the short leaves sounding? And that very long one do I measure as
present, seeing I measure it not till it be ended? Now his ending is
his passing away. What then is it I measure? where is the short
syllable by which I measure? where the long which I measure? Both have
sounded, have flown, passed away, are no more; and yet I measure,
and confidently answer (so far as is presumed on a practised sense)
that as to space of time this syllable is but single, that double. And
yet I could not do this, unless they were already past and ended. It
is not then themselves, which now are not, that I measure, but
something in my memory, which there remains fixed.

It is in thee, my mind, that I measure times. Interrupt me not, that
is, interrupt not thyself with the tumults of thy impressions. In thee
I measure times; the impression, which things as they pass by cause in
thee, remains even when they are gone; this it is which still present,
I measure, not the things which pass by to make this impression.
This I measure, when I measure times. Either then this is time, or I
do not measure times. What when we measure silence, and say that
this silence hath held as long time as did that voice? do we not
stretch out our thought to the measure of a voice, as if it sounded,
that so we may be able to report of the intervals of silence in a
given space of time? For though both voice and tongue be still, yet in
thought we go over poems, and verses, and any other discourse, or
dimensions of motions, and report as to the spaces of times, how
much this is in respect of that, no otherwise than if vocally we did
pronounce them. If a man would utter a lengthened sound, and had
settled in thought how long it should be, he hath in silence already
gone through a space of time, and committing it to memory, begins to
utter that speech, which sounds on, until it be brought unto the end
proposed. Yea it hath sounded, and will sound; for so much of it as is
finished, hath sounded already, and the rest will sound. And thus
passeth it on, until the present intent conveys over the future into
the past; the past increasing by the diminution of the future, until
by the consumption of the future, all is past.

But how is that future diminished or consumed, which as yet is
not? or how that past increased, which is now no longer, save that
in the mind which enacteth this, there be three things done? For it
expects, it considers, it remembers; that so that which it
expecteth, through that which it considereth, passeth into that
which it remembereth. Who therefore denieth, that things to come are
not as yet? and yet, there is in the mind an expectation of things
to come. And who denies past things to be now no longer? and yet is
there still in the mind a memory of things past. And who denieth the
present time hath no space, because it passeth away in a moment? and
yet our consideration continueth, through which that which shall be
present proceedeth to become absent. It is not then future time,
that is long, for as yet it is not: but a long future, is "a long
expectation of the future," nor is it time past, which now is not,
that is long; but a long past, is "a long memory of the past."

I am about to repeat a Psalm that I know. Before I begin, my
expectation is extended over the whole; but when I have begun, how
much soever of it I shall separate off into the past, is extended
along my memory; thus the life of this action of mine is divided
between my memory as to what I have repeated, and expectation as to
what I am about to repeat; but "consideration" is present with me,
that through it what was future, may be conveyed over, so as to become
past. Which the more it is done again and again, so much the more
the expectation being shortened, is the memory enlarged: till the
whole expectation be at length exhausted, when that whole action being
ended, shall have passed into memory. And this which takes place in
the whole Psalm, the same takes place in each several portion of it,
and each several syllable; the same holds in that longer action,
whereof this Psalm may be part; the same holds in the whole life of
man, whereof all the actions of man are parts; the same holds
through the whole age of the sons of men, whereof all the lives of men
are parts.

But because Thy loving-kindness is better than all lives, behold, my
life is but a distraction, and Thy right hand upheld me, in my Lord
the Son of man, the Mediator betwixt Thee, The One, and us many,
many also through our manifold distractions amid many things, that
by Him I may apprehend in Whom I have been apprehended, and may be
re-collected from my old conversation, to follow The One, forgetting
what is behind, and not distended but extended, not to things which
shall be and shall pass away, but to those things which are before,
not distractedly but intently, I follow on for the prize of my
heavenly calling, where I may hear the voice of Thy praise, and
contemplate Thy delights, neither to come, nor to pass away. But now
are my years spent in mourning. And Thou, O Lord, art my comfort, my
Father everlasting, but I have been severed amid times, whose order
I know not; and my thoughts, even the inmost bowels of my soul, are
rent and mangled with tumultuous varieties, until I flow together into
Thee, purified and molten by the fire of Thy love.

And now will I stand, and become firm in Thee, in my mould, Thy
truth; nor will I endure the questions of men, who by a penal
disease thirst for more than they can contain, and say, "what did
God before He made heaven and earth?" Or, "How came it into His mind
to make any thing, having never before made any thing?" Give them, O
Lord, well to bethink themselves what they say, and to find, that
"never" cannot be predicated, when "time" is not. This then that He is
said "never to have made"; what else is it to say, than "in 'no have
made?" Let them see therefore, that time cannot be without created
being, and cease to speak that vanity. May they also be extended
towards those things which are before; and understand Thee before
all times, the eternal Creator of all times, and that no times be
coeternal with Thee, nor any creature, even if there be any creature
before all times.

O Lord my God, what a depth is that recess of Thy mysteries, and how
far from it have the consequences of my transgressions cast me! Heal
mine eyes, that I may share the joy of Thy light. Certainly, if
there be mind gifted with such vast knowledge and foreknowledge, as to
know all things past and to come, as I know one well-known Psalm,
truly that mind is passing wonderful, and fearfully amazing; in that
nothing past, nothing to come in after-ages, is any more hidden from
him, than when I sung that Psalm, was hidden from me what, and how
much of it had passed away from the beginning, what, and how much
there remained unto the end. But far be it that Thou the Creator of
the Universe, the Creator of souls and bodies, far be it, that Thou
shouldest in such wise know all things past and to come. Far, far more
wonderfully, and far more mysteriously, dost Thou know them. For
not, as the feelings of one who singeth what he knoweth, or heareth
some well-known song, are through expectation of the words to come,
and the remembering of those that are past, varied, and his senses
divided, -not so doth any thing happen unto Thee, unchangeably
eternal, that is, the eternal Creator of minds. Like then as Thou in
the Beginning knewest the heaven and the earth, without any variety of
Thy knowledge, so madest Thou in the Beginning heaven and earth,
without any distraction of Thy action. Whoso understandeth, let him
confess unto Thee; and whoso understandeth not, let him confess unto
Thee. Oh how high art Thou, and yet the humble in heart are Thy
dwelling-place; for Thou raisest up those that are bowed down, and
they fall not, whose elevation Thou art.


My heart, O Lord, touched with the words of Thy Holy Scripture, is
much busied, amid this poverty of my life. And therefore most times,
is the poverty of human understanding copious in words, because
enquiring hath more to say than discovering, and demanding is longer
than obtaining, and our hand that knocks, hath more work to do, than
our hand that receives. We hold the promise, who shall make it null?
If God be for us, who can be against us? Ask, and ye shall have; seek,
and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every
one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him
that knocketh, shall it be opened. These be Thine own promises: and
who need fear to be deceived, when the Truth promiseth?

The lowliness of my tongue confesseth unto Thy Highness, that Thou
madest heaven and earth; this heaven which I see, and this earth
that I tread upon, whence is this earth that I bear about me; Thou
madest it. But where is that heaven of heavens, O Lord, which we
hear of in the words of the Psalm. The heaven of heavens are the
Lord's; but the earth hath He given to the children of men? Where is
that heaven which we see not, to which all this which we see is earth?
For this corporeal whole, not being wholly every where, hath in such
wise received its portion of beauty in these lower parts, whereof
the lowest is this our earth; but to that heaven of heavens, even
the heaven of our earth, is but earth: yea both these great bodies,
may not absurdly be called earth, to that unknown heaven, which is the
Lord's, not the sons' of men.

And now this earth was invisible and without form, and there was I
know not what depth of abyss, upon which there was no light, because
it had no shape. Therefore didst Thou command it to be written, that
darkness was upon the face of the deep; what else than the absence
of light? For had there been light, where should it have been but by
being over all, aloft, and enlightening? Where then light was not,
what was the presence of darkness, but the absence of light?
Darkness therefore was upon it, because light was not upon it; as
where sound is not, there is silence. And what is it to have silence
there, but to have no sound there? Hast not Thou, O Lord, taught his
soul, which confesseth unto Thee? Hast not Thou taught me, Lord,
that before Thou formedst and diversifiedst this formless matter,
there was nothing, neither colour, nor figure, nor body, nor spirit?
and yet not altogether nothing; for there was a certain
formlessness, without any beauty.

How then should it be called, that it might be in some measure
conveyed to those of duller mind, but by some ordinary word? And what,
among all parts of the world can be found nearer to an absolute
formlessness, than earth and deep? For, occupying the lowest stage,
they are less beautiful than the other higher parts are, transparent
all and shining. Wherefore then may I not conceive the formlessness of
matter (which Thou hadst created without beauty, whereof to make
this beautiful world) to be suitably intimated unto men, by the name
of earth invisible and without form.

So that when thought seeketh what the sense may conceive under this,
and saith to itself, "It is no intellectual form, as life, or justice;
because it is the matter of bodies; nor object of sense, because being
invisible, and without form, there was in it no object of sight or
sense";- while man's thought thus saith to itself, it may endeavour
either to know it, by being ignorant of it; or to be ignorant, by
knowing it.

But I, Lord, if I would, by my tongue and my pen, confess unto
Thee the whole, whatever Thyself hath taught me of that matter, -the
name whereof hearing before, and not understanding, when they who
understood it not, told me of it, so I conceived of it as having
innumerable forms and diverse, and therefore did not conceive it at
all, my mind tossed up and down foul and horrible "forms" out of all
order, but yet "forms" and I called it without form not that it wanted
all form, but because it had such as my mind would, if presented to
it, turn from, as unwonted and jarring, and human frailness would be
troubled at. And still that which I conceived, was without form, not
as being deprived of all form, but in comparison of more beautiful
forms; and true reason did persuade me, that I must utterly uncase
it of all remnants of form whatsoever, if I would conceive matter
absolutely without form; and I could not; for sooner could I imagine
that not to be at all, which should be deprived of all form, than
conceive a thing betwixt form and nothing, neither formed, nor
nothing, a formless almost nothing. So my mind gave over to question
thereupon with my spirit, it being filled with the images of formed
bodies, and changing and varying them, as it willed; and I bent myself
to the bodies themselves, and looked more deeply into their
changeableness, by which they cease to be what they have been, and
begin to be what they were not; and this same shifting from form to
form, I suspected to be through a certain formless state, not
through a mere nothing; yet this I longed to know, not to suspect
only.-If then my voice and pen would confess unto Thee the whole,
whatsoever knots Thou didst open for me in this question, what
reader would hold out to take in the whole? Nor shall my heart for all
this cease to give Thee honour, and a song of praise, for those things
which it is not able to express. For the changeableness of
changeable things, is itself capable of all those forms, into which
these changeable things are changed. And this changeableness, what
is it? Is it soul? Is it body? Is it that which constituteth soul or
body? Might one say, "a nothing something", an "is, is not," I would
say, this were it: and yet in some way was it even then, as being
capable of receiving these visible and compound figures.

But whence had it this degree of being, but from Thee, from Whom are
all things, so far forth as they are? But so much the further from
Thee, as the unliker Thee; for it is not farness of place. Thou
therefore, Lord, Who art not one in one place, and otherwise in
another, but the Self-same, and the Self-same, and the Self-same,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, didst in the Beginning, which
is of Thee, in Thy Wisdom, which was born of Thine own Substance,
create something, and that out of nothing. For Thou createdst heaven
and earth; not out of Thyself, for so should they have been equal to
Thine Only Begotten Son, and thereby to Thee also; whereas no way were
it right that aught should be equal to Thee, which was not of Thee.
And aught else besides Thee was there not, whereof Thou mightest
create them, O God, One Trinity, and Trine Unity; and therefore out of
nothing didst Thou create heaven and earth; a great thing, and a small
thing; for Thou art Almighty and Good, to make all things good, even
the great heaven, and the petty earth. Thou wert, and nothing was
there besides, out of which Thou createdst heaven and earth; things of
two sorts; one near Thee, the other near to nothing; one to which Thou
alone shouldest be superior; the other, to which nothing should be

But that heaven of heavens was for Thyself, O Lord; but the earth
which Thou gavest to the sons of men, to be seen and felt, was not
such as we now see and feel. For it was invisible, without form, and
there was a deep, upon which there was no light; or, darkness was
above the deep, that is, more than in the deep. Because this deep of
waters, visible now, hath even in his depths, a light proper for its
nature; perceivable in whatever degree unto the fishes, and creeping
things in the bottom of it. But that whole deep was almost nothing,
because hitherto it was altogether without form; yet there was already
that which could be formed. For Thou, Lord, madest the world of a
matter without form, which out of nothing, Thou madest next to
nothing, thereof to make those great things, which we sons of men
wonder at. For very wonderful is this corporeal heaven; of which
firmament between water and water, the second day, after the
creation of light, Thou saidst, Let it be made, and it was made. Which
firmament Thou calledst heaven; the heaven, that is, to this earth and
sea, which Thou madest the third day, by giving a visible figure to
the formless matter, which Thou madest before all days. For already
hadst Thou made both an heaven, before all days; but that was the
heaven of this heaven; because In the beginning Thou hadst made heaven
and earth. But this same earth which Thou madest was formless
matter, because it was invisible and without form, and darkness was
upon the deep, of which invisible earth and without form, of which
formlessness, of which almost nothing, Thou mightest make all these
things of which this changeable world consists, but subsists not;
whose very changeableness appears therein, that times can be
observed and numbered in it. For times are made by the alterations
of things, while the figures, the matter whereof is the invisible
earth aforesaid, are varied and turned.

And therefore the Spirit, the Teacher of Thy servant, when It
recounts Thee to have In the Beginning created heaven and earth,
speaks nothing of times, nothing of days. For verily that heaven of
heavens which Thou createdst in the Beginning, is some intellectual
creature, which, although no ways coeternal unto Thee, the Trinity,
yet partaketh of Thy eternity, and doth through the sweetness of
that most happy contemplation of Thyself, strongly restrain its own
changeableness; and without any fall since its first creation,
cleaving close unto Thee, is placed beyond all the rolling vicissitude
of times. Yea, neither is this very formlessness of the earth,
invisible, and without form, numbered among the days. For where no
figure nor order is, there does nothing come, or go; and where this is
not, there plainly are no days, nor any vicissitude of spaces of

O let the Light, the Truth, the Light of my heart, not mine own
darkness, speak unto me. I fell off into that, and became darkened;
but even thence, even thence I loved Thee. I went astray, and
remembered Thee. I heard Thy voice behind me, calling to me to return,
and scarcely heard it, through the tumultuousness of the enemies of
peace. And now, behold, I return in distress and panting after Thy
fountain. Let no man forbid me! of this will I drink, and so live. Let
me not be mine own life; from myself I lived ill, death was I to
myself; and I revive in Thee. Do Thou speak unto me, do Thou discourse
unto me. I have believed Thy Books, and their words be most full of

Already Thou hast told me with a strong voice, O Lord, in my inner
ear, that Thou art eternal, Who only hast immortality; since Thou
canst not be changed as to figure or motion, nor is Thy will altered
by times: seeing no will which varies is immortal. This is in Thy
sight clear to me, and let it be more and more cleared to me, I
beseech Thee; and in the manifestation thereof, let me with sobriety
abide under Thy wings. Thou hast told me also with a strong voice, O
Lord, in my inner ear, that Thou hast made all natures and substances,
which are not what Thyself is, and yet are; and that only is not
from Thee, which is not, and the motion of the will from Thee who art,
unto that which in a less degree is, because such motion is
transgression and sin; and that no man's sin doth either hurt Thee, or
disturb the order of Thy government, first or last. This is in Thy
sight clear unto me, and let it be more and more cleared to me, I
beseech Thee: and in the manifestation thereof, let me with sobriety
abide under Thy wings.

Thou hast told me also with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that
neither is that creature coeternal unto Thyself, whose happiness
Thou only art, and which with a most persevering purity, drawing its
nourishment from Thee, doth in no place and at no time put forth its
natural mutability; and, Thyself being ever present with it, unto Whom
with its whole affection it keeps itself, having neither future to
expect, nor conveying into the past what it remembereth, is neither
altered by any change, nor distracted into any times. O blessed
creature, if such there be, for cleaving unto Thy Blessedness; blest
in Thee, its eternal Inhabitant and its Enlightener! Nor do I find
by what name I may the rather call the heaven of heavens which is
the Lord's, than Thine house, which contemplateth Thy delights without
any defection of going forth to another; one pure mind, most
harmoniously one, by that settled estate of peace of holy spirits, the
citizens of Thy city in heavenly places; far above those heavenly
places that we see.

By this may the soul, whose pilgrimage is made long and far away, by
this may she understand, if she now thirsts for Thee, if her tears
be now become her bread, while they daily say unto her, Where is Thy
God? if she now seeks of Thee one thing, and desireth it, that she may
dwell in Thy house all the days of her life (and what is her life, but
Thou? and what Thy days, but Thy eternity, as Thy years which fail
not, because Thou art ever the same?); by this then may the soul
that is able, understand how far Thou art, above all times, eternal;
seeing Thy house which at no time went into a far country, although it
be not coeternal with Thee, yet by continually and unfailingly
cleaving unto Thee, suffers no changeableness of times. This is in Thy
sight clear unto me, and let it be more and more cleared unto me, I
beseech Thee, and in the manifestation thereof, let me with sobriety
abide under Thy wings.

There is, behold, I know not what formlessness in those changes of
these last and lowest creatures; and who shall tell me (unless such
a one as through the emptiness of his own heart, wonders and tosses
himself up and down amid his own fancies?), who but such a one would
tell me, that if all figure be so wasted and consumed away, that there
should only remain that formlessness, through which the thing was
changed and turned from one figure to another, that that could exhibit
the vicissitudes of times? For plainly it could not, because,
without the variety of motions, there are no times: and no variety,
where there is no figure.

These things considered, as much as Thou givest, O my God, as much
as Thou stirrest me up to knock, and as much as Thou openest to me
knocking, two things I find that Thou hast made, not within the
compass of time, neither of which is coeternal with Thee. One, which
is so formed, that without any ceasing of contemplation, without any
interval of change, though changeable, yet not changed, it may
thoroughly enjoy Thy eternity and unchangeableness; the other which
was so formless, that it had not that, which could be changed from one
form into another, whether of motion, or of repose, so as to become
subject unto time. But this Thou didst not leave thus formless,
because before all days, Thou in the Beginning didst create Heaven and
Earth; the two things that I spake of. But the Earth was invisible and
without form, and darkness was upon the deep. In which words, is the
formlessness conveyed unto us (that such capacities may hereby be
drawn on by degrees, as are not able to conceive an utter privation of
all form, without yet coming to nothing), out of which another
Heaven might be created, together with a visible and well-formed

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest