AUGUSTINE ON TIME



Here is the second of half Book XI, from Augustine's Confessions. And what a wonderful piece this is. I 'confess' I have never read it until now.

Full of quotations - 'Spe enim salui facti sumus et promissa tua per patientiam expectamus' - by hope we are saved, through patience we wait for your promises. 'Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio'. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know, if I want to explain it to someone who asks, I do not know. (On which Wittgenstein commented - aphorism 89 of the Philosophical Investigations 'Something that we know when no one asks us, but no longer know when we are supposed to give an account of it, is something that we need to remind ourselves of'.

'Longe tu, longe mirabilius longeque secretius'. Far more you [know], far more wonderfully and far more secretly.

Some powerful arguments. 'Neque id quod futurum est esse iam, neque id quod praeteritum est'. Neither that which will be, nor that which is past, exists now. Why? Because 'si nihil praeteriret, non esset praeteritum tempus, et si nihil adveniret, non esset futurum tempus' - if nothing passed away, there would be no past time, and if nothing were arriving, then there would be no future time. (This is the philosophical doctrine known as presentism, but I have never read such a brief and persuasive exposition as this).

And some provoking questions. What was God doing before he created the world, including the time itself through which the world exists?

As with the other pieces in this section on time, I will replace the translation with a new one, and will add a suitable introduction.
Edward Buckner, May 2006


LatinEnglish
[11.9.11] In hoc principio, Deus, fecisti caelum et terram in uerbo tuo, in filio tuo, in uirtute tua, in sapientia tua, in ueritate tua, miro modo dicens et miro modo faciens. Quis comprehendet? Quis enarrab? Quid est illud quod interlucet mihi et percutit cor meum sine laesione? Et inhorresco et inardesco: inhorresco, in quantum dissimilis ei sum, inardesco, in quantum similis ei sum. Sapientia, sapientia ipsa est quae interlucet mihi, discindens nubilum meum, quod me rursus cooperit deficientem ab ea caligine atque aggere poenarum mearum, quoniam sic infirmatus est in egestate uigor meus ut non sufferam bonum meum, donec tu, Domine, qui propitius factus es omnibus iniquitatibus meis, etiam sanes omnes languores meos, quia et redimes de corruptione uitam meam, et coronabis me in miseratione et misericordia, et satiabis in bonis desiderium meum, quoniam renouabitur iuuentus mea sicut aquilae. Spe enim salui facti sumus et promissa tua per patientiam expectamus. Audiat te intus sermocinantem qui potest: ego fidenter ex oraculo tuo clamabo, 'quam magnificata sunt opera tua, Domine, omnia in sapientia fecisti!' et illa principium, et in eo principio fecisti caelum et terram. 11. 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 shall relate it? What is that which shines through me, and strikes my heart without injury, and I both shudder and burn? I shudder inasmuch as I am unlike it; and I burn inasmuch as I am like it. It is Wisdom itself that shines through me, clearing my cloudiness, which again overwhelms me, fainting from it, in the darkness and amount of my punishment. For my strength is brought down in need, so that I cannot endure my blessings, until Thou, O Lord, who hast been gracious to all mine iniquities, heal also all mine infirmities; because Thou shalt also redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with Thy loving-kindness and mercy, and shalt satisfy my desire with good things, because my youth shall be renewed like the eagle's. by hope we are saved; and through patience we await Thy promises. Let him that is able hear Thee discoursing within. I will with confidence cry out from Thy oracle, How wonderful are Thy works, O Lord, in Wisdom hast Thou made them all. And this Wisdom is the Beginning, and in that Beginning hast Thou made heaven and earth.
[11.10.12] Nonne ecce pleni sunt uetustatis suae qui nobis dicunt, 'quid faciebat Deus antequam faceret caelum et terram? Si enim uacabat,' inquiunt, 'et non operabatur aliquid, cur non sic semper et deinceps, quemadmodum retro semper cessauit ab opere? Si enim ullus motus in Deo nouus extitit et uoluntas noua, ut creaturam conderet quam numquam ante condiderat, quomodo iam uera aeternitas, ubi oritur uoluntas quae non erat? Neque enim uoluntas Dei creatura est sed ante creaturam, quia non crearetur aliquid nisi creatoris uoluntas praecederet. Ad ipsam ergo Dei substantiam pertinet uoluntas eius. Quod si exortum est aliquid in Dei substantia quod prius non erat, non ueraciter dicitur aeterna illa substantia. Si autem Dei uoluntas sempiterna erat, ut esset creatura, cur non sempiterna et creatura?' 12. Lo, are they not full of their ancient way, who say to us, "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth? For if," say they, "He were unoccupied, and did nothing, why does He not for ever also, and from henceforth, cease from working, as in times past He did? For if any new motion has arisen in God, and a new will, to form a creature which He had never before formed, however can that be a true eternity where there ariseth a will which was not before? For the will of God is not a creature, but before the creature; because nothing could be created unless the will of the Creator were before it. The will of God, therefore, pertaineth to His very Substance. But if anything hath arisen in the Substance of God which was not before, that Substance is not truly called eternal. But if it was the eternal will of God that the creature should be, why was not the creature also from eternity?"
[11.11.13] Qui haec dicunt nondum te intellegunt, o sapientia Dei, lux mentium, nondum intellegunt quomodo fiant quae per te atque in te fiunt, et conantur aeterna sapere, sed adhuc in praeteritis et futuris rerum motibus cor eorum uolitat et adhuc uanum est. Quis tenebit illud et figet illud, ut paululum stet, et paululum rapiat splendorem semper stantis aeternitatis, et comparet cum temporibus numquam stantibus, et uid eat e sse incomparabilem, et uide at longum tempus, nisi ex multis praetereuntibus motibus qui simul extendi non possunt, longum non fieri; non autem praeterire quicquam in aeterno, sed totum esse praesens; nullum uero tempus totum esse praesens; et uideat omne praeteritum propelli ex futuro et omne futurum ex praeterito consequi, et omne praeteritum ac futurum ab eo quod semper est praesens creari et excurrere? Quis tenebit cor hominis, ut stet et uideat quomodo stans dictet futura et praeterita tempora nec futura nec praeterita aeternitas? Numquid manus mea ualet hoc aut manus oris mei per loquellas agit tam grandem rem? 13. Those who say these things do not as yet understand Thee, O Thou Wisdom of God, Thou light of souls; not as yet do they understand how these things be made which are made by and in Thee. They even endeavour to comprehend things eternal; but as yet their heart flieth about in the past and future motions of things, and is still wavering. Who shall hold it and fix it, that it may rest a little, and by degrees catch the glory of that everstanding eternity, and compare it with the times which never stand, and see that it is incomparable; and that a long time cannot become long, save from the many motions that pass by, which cannot at the same instant be prolonged; but that in the Eternal nothing passeth away, but that the whole is present; but no time is wholly present; and let him see that all time past is forced on by the future, and that all the future followeth from the past, and that all, both past and future, is created and issues from that which is always present? Who will hold the heart of man, that it may stand still, and see how the still-standing eternity, itself neither future nor past, uttereth the times future and past? Can my hand accomplish this, or the hand of my mouth by persuasion bring about a thing so great?
[11.12.14] Ecce respondeo dicenti, 'quid faciebat Deus antequam faceret cae lum et terram?' respondeo non illud quod quidam respondisse perhibetur, ioculariter eludens quaestionis uiolentiam: 'alta,' inquit, 'scrutantibus gehennas parabat.' Aliud est uidere, aliud ridere: haec non respondeo. Libentius enim responderim, 'nescio quod nescio', quam illud unde inridetur qui alta interrogauit et laudatur qui falsa respondit. Sed dico te, Deus noster, omnis creaturae creatorem et, si caeli et terrae nomine omnis creatura intellegitur, audenter dico, 'antequam faceret Deus caelum et terram, non faciebat aliquid.' Si enim faciebat, quid nisi creaturam faciebat? Et utinam sic sciam quidquid utiliter scire cupio, quemad mod um scio quod nulla fiebat creatura antequam fie ret ulla creatura. 14. Behold, I answer to him who asks, "What was God doing before He made heaven and earth?" I answer not, as a certain person is reported to have done facetiously (avoiding the pressure of the question), "He was preparing hell," saith he, "for those who pry into mysteries." It is one thing to perceive, another to laugh, - these things I answer not. For more willingly would I have answered, "I know not what I know not," than that I should make him a laughing-stock who asketh deep things, and gain praise as one who answereth false things. But I say that Thou, our God, art the Creator of every creature; and if by the term "heaven and earth" every creature is understood, I boldly say, "That before God made heaven and earth, He made not anything. For if He did, what did He make unless the creature?" And would that I knew whatever I desire to know to my advantage, as I know that no creature was made before any creature was made.
[11.13.15] At si cuiusquam uolatilis sensus uagatur per imagines retro temporum et te, Deum omnipotentem et omnicreantem et omnitenentem, caeli et terrae artificem, ab opere tanto, antequam id faceres, per innumerabilia saecula cessasse miratur, euigilet atque attendat, quia falsa miratur. Nam unde poterant innumerabilia saecula praeterire quae ipse non feceras, cum sis omnium saeculorum auctor et conditor? Aut quae tempora fuissent quae abs te condita non essent? Aut quomodo praeterirent, si numquam fuissent? Cum ergo sis operator omnium temporum, si fuit aliquod tempus antequam faceres caelum et terram, cur dicitur quod ab opere cessabas? Idipsum enim tempus tu feceras, nec praeterire potuerunt tempora antequam faceres tempora. Si autem ante caelum et terram nullum erat tempus, cur quaeritur quid tunc faciebas? Non enim erat tunc, ubi non erat tempus. 15. But if the roving thought of any one should wander through the images of bygone time, and wonder that Thou, the God Almighty, and All-creating, and All-sustaining, the Architect of heaven and earth, didst for innumerable ages refrain from so great a work before Thou wouldst make it, let him awake and consider that he wonders at false things. For whence could innumerable ages pass by which Thou didst not make, since Thou art the Author and Creator of all ages? Or what times should those be which were not made by Thee? Or how should they pass by if they had not been? Since, therefore, Thou art the Creator of all times, if any time was before Thou madest heaven and earth, why is it said that Thou didst refrain from working? For that very time Thou madest, nor could times pass by before Thou madest times. But if before heaven and earth there was no time, why is it asked, What didst Thou then? For there was no "then" when time was not.
[11.13.16] Nec tu tempore tempora praecedis, alioquin non omnia tempora praecederes. Sed praecedis omnia praeterita celsitudine semper praesentis aeternitatis et superas omnia futura, quia illa futura sunt, et cum uenerint, praeterita erunt. Tu autem idem ipse es, et anni tui non deficient: anni tui nec eunt nec ueniunt, isti enim nostri eunt et ueniunt, ut omnes ueniant; anni tui omnes simul stant, quoniam stant, nec euntes a uenientibus excluduntur, quia non transeunt. Isti autem nostri omnes erunt, cum omnes non erunt. Anni tui dies unus, et dies tuus non cotidie sed hodie, quia hodiernus tuus non cedit crastino; neque enim succedit hesterno. Hodiernus tuus aeternitas; ideo coaeternum genuisti cui dixisti, 'ego hodie genui te.' Omnia tempora tu fecisti et ante omnia tempora tu es, nec aliquo tempore non erat tempus. 16. Nor dost Thou by time precede time; else wouldest not Thou precede all times. But in the excellency of an ever-present eternity, Thou precedest all times past, and survivest all future times, because they are future, and when they have come they will be past; but "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end." Thy years neither go nor come; but ours both go and come, that all may come. All Thy years stand at once since they do stand; nor were they when departing excluded by coming years, because they pass not away; but all these of ours shall be when all shall cease to be. Thy years are one day, and Thy day is not daily, but today; because Thy today yields not with tomorrow, for neither doth it follow yesterday. Thy today is eternity; therefore didst Thou beget the Co-eternal, to whom Thou saidst, "This day have I begotten Thee." Thou hast made all time; and before all times Thou art, nor in any time was there not time.
[11.14.17] Nullo ergo tempore non feceras aliquid, quia ipsum tempus tu feceras. Et nulla tempora tibi coaeterna sunt, quia tu permanes. At illa si permanerent, non essent tempora. Quid est enim tempus? Quis hoc facile breuiterque explicauerit? Quis hoc ad uerbum de illo proferendum uel cogitatione comprehenderit? Quid autem familiarius et notius in loquendo commemoramus quam tempus? Et intellegimus utique cum id loquimur, intellegimus etiam cum alio loquente id audimus. Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare uelim, nescio. Fidenter tamen dico scire me quod, si nihil praeteriret, non esset praeteritum tempus, et si nihil adueniret, non esset futurum tempus, et si nihil esset, non esset praesens tempus. Duo ergo illa tempora, praeteritum et futurum, quomodo sunt, quando et praeteritum iam non est et futurum nondum est? Praesens autem si semper esset praesens nec in praeteritum transiret, non iam esset tempus, sed aeternitas. Si ergo praesens, ut tempus sit, ideo fit, quia in praeteritum transit, quomodo et hoc esse dicimus, cui causa, ut sit, illa est, quia non erit, ut scilicet non uere dicamus tempus esse, nisi quia tendit non esse? 17. At no time, therefore, hadst Thou not made anything, because Thou hadst made time itself. And no times are co-eternal with Thee, because Thou remainest for ever; but should these continue, they would not be times. For what is time? Who can easily and briefly explain it? Who even in thought can comprehend it, even to the pronouncing of a word concerning it? But what in speaking do we refer to more familiarly and knowingly than time? And certainly 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 ask of me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not. Yet I say with confidence, that I know that if nothing passed away, there would not be past time; and if nothing were coming, there would not be future time; and if nothing were, there would not be present time. Those two times, therefore, past and future, how are they, when even the past now is not; and the future is not as yet? But should the present be always present, and should it not pass into time past, time truly it could not be, but eternity. If, then, time present -- if it be time -- only comes into existence because it passes into time past, how do we say that even this is, whose cause of being is that it shall not be -- namely, so that we cannot truly say that time is, unless because it tends not to be?
[11.15.18] Et tamen dicimus longum tempus et breue tempus, neque hoc nisi de praeterito aut futuro dicimus. Praeteritum tempus longum uerbi gratia uocamus ante centum annos, futurum itidem longum post centum annos, breue autem praeteritum sic, ut puta dicamus ante decem dies, et breue futurum post decem dies. Sed quo pacto longum est aut breue, quod non est? Praeteritum enim iam non est et futurum nondum est. Non itaque dicamus, 'longum est,' sed dicamus de praeterito, 'longum fuit,' et de futuro, 'longum erit.' Domine meus, lux mea, nonne et hic ueritas tua deridebit hominem? Quod enim longum fuit praeteritum tempus, cum iam esset praeteritum longum fuit, an cum adhuc praesens esset? Tunc enim poterat esse longum quando erat, quod esset longum; praeteritum uero iam non erat, unde nec longum esse poterat, quod omnino non erat. Non ergo dicamus, 'longum fuit praeteritum tempus'; neque enim inueniemus quid fuerit longum, quando, ex quo praeteritum est, non est, sed dicamus, 'longum fuit illud praesens tempus,' quia cum praesens esset, longum erat. Nondum enim praeterierat ut non esset, et ideo erat quod longum esse posset; postea uero quam praeteriit, simul et longum esse destitit quod esse destitit. 18. And yet we say that "time is long and time is short;" nor do we speak of this save of time past and future. A long time past, for example, we call a hundred years ago; in like manner a long time to come, a hundred years hence. But a short time past we call, say, ten days ago: and a short time to come, ten 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. Therefore let us not say, "It is long;" but let us say of the past, "It hath been long," and of the future, "It will be long." O my Lord, my light, shall not even here Thy truth deride man? For that past time which was long, was it long when it was already past, or when it was as yet present? For then it might be long when there was that which could be long, but when past it no longer was; wherefore that could not be long which was not at all. Let us not, therefore, say, "Time past hath been long;" for we shall not find what may have been long, seeing that since it was past it is not; but let us say "that present time was long, because when it was present it was long." For it had not as yet passed away so as not to be, and therefore there was that which could be long. But after it passed, that ceased also to be long which ceased to be.
[11.15.19] Videamus ergo, anima humana, utrum praesens tempus possit esse longum, datum enim tibi est sentire moras atque metiri. Quid respondebis mihi? An centum anni praesentes longum tempus est? Vide prius utrum possint praesentes esse centum anni. Si enim primus eorum annus agitur, ipse praesens est, nonaginta uero et nouem futuri sunt et ideo nondum sunt. Si autem secundus annus agitur, iam unus est praeteritus, alter praesens, caeteri futuri. Atque ita mediorum quemlibet centenarii huius numeri annum praesentem posuerimus. Ante illum praeteriti erunt, post illum futuri. Quocirca centum anni praesentes esse non poterunt. Vide saltem utrum qui agitur unus ipse sit praesens. Et eius enim si primus agitur mensis, futuri sunt caeteri, si secundus, iam et primus praeteriit et reliqui nondum sunt. Ergo nec annus qui agitur totus est praesens, et si non totus est praesens, non annus est praesens. Duodecim enim menses annus est, quorum quilibet unus mensis qui agitur ipse praesens est, caeteri aut praeteriti aut futuri. Quamquam neque mensis qui agitur praesens est, sed unus dies. Si primus, futuris caeteris, si nouissimus, praeteritis caeteris, si mediorum quilibet, inter praeteritos et futuros. 19. Let us therefore see, O human soul, whether present time can be long; for to thee is it given to perceive and to measure periods of time. What wilt thou reply to me? Is a hundred years when present a long time? See, first, whether a hundred years can be present. For if the first year of these is current, that is present, but the other ninety and nine are future, and therefore they are not as yet. But if the second year is current, one is already past, the other present, the rest future. And thus, if we fix on any middle year of this hundred as present, those before it are past, those after it are future; wherefore a hundred years cannot be present. See at least whether that year itself which is current can be present. For if its first month be current, the rest are future; if the second, the first hath already passed, and the remainder are not yet. Therefore neither is the year which is current as a whole present; and if it is not present as a whole, then the year is not present. For twelve months make the year, of which each individual month which is current is itself present, but the rest are either past or future. Although neither is that month which is current present, but one day only: if the first, the rest being to come, if the last, the rest being past; if any of the middle, then between past and future.
[11.15.20] Ecce praesens tempus, quod solum inueniebamus longum appellandum, uix ad unius diei spatium contractum est. Sed discutiamus etiam ipsum, quia nec unus dies totus est praesens. Nocturnis enim et diurnis horis omnibus uiginti quattuor expletur, quarum prima caeteras futuras habet, nouissima praeteritas, aliqua uero interiectarum ante se praeteritas, post se futuras. Et ipsa una hora fugitiuis particulis agitur. Quidquid eius auolauit, praeteritum est, quidquid ei restat, futurum. Si quid intellegitur temporis, quod in nullas iam uel minutissimas momentorum partes diuidi possit, id solum est quod praesens dicatur; quod tamen ita raptim a futuro in praeteritum transuolat, ut nulla morula extendatur. Nam si extenditur, diuiditur in praeteritum et futurum; praesens autem nullum habet spatium. Ubi est ergo tempus quod longum dicamus? An futurum? Non quidem dicimus, 'longum est,' quia nondum est quod longum sit, sed dicimus, 'longum erit.' Quando igitur erit? Si enim et tunc adhuc futurum erit, non erit longum, quia quid sit longum nondum erit. Si autem tunc erit longum, cum ex futuro quod nondum est esse iam coeperit et praesens factum erit, ut possit esse quod longum sit, iam superioribus uocibus clamat praesens tempus longum se esse non posse. 20. Behold, the present time, which alone we found could be called long, is abridged to the space scarcely of one day. But let us discuss even that, for there is not one day present as a whole. For it is made up of four-and-twenty hours of night and day, whereof the first hath the rest future, the last hath them past, but any one of the intervening hath those before it past, those after it future. And that one hour passeth away in fleeting particles. Whatever of it hath flown away is past, whatever remaineth is future. If any portion of time be conceived which cannot now be divided into even the minutest particles of moments, this only is that which may be called present; which, however, flies so rapidly from future to past, that it cannot be extended by any delay. For if it be extended, it is divided into the past and future; but the present hath no space. Where, therefore, is the time which we may call long? Is it nature? Indeed 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, then, will it be? For if even then, since as yet it is future, it will not be long, because what may be long is not as yet; but it shall be long, when from the future, which as yet is not, it shall already have begun to be, and will have become present, so that there could be that which may be long; then doth the present time cry out in the words above that it cannot be long.
[11.16.21] Et tamen, Domine, sentimus interualla temporum et comparamus sibimet et dicimus alia longiora et alia breuiora. Metimur etiam quanto sit longius aut breuius illud tempus quam illud, et respondemus duplum esse hoc uel triplum, illud autem simplum aut tantum hoc esse quantum illud. Sed praetereuntia metimur tempora cum sentiendo metimur. Praeterita uero, quae iam non sunt, aut futura, quae nondum sunt, quis metiri potest, nisi forte audebit quis dicere metiri posse quod non est? Cum ergo praeterit tempus, sentiri et metiri potest, cum autem praeterierit, quoniam non est, non potest. 21. And yet, O Lord, we perceive intervals of times, and we compare them with themselves, and we say some are longer, others shorter. We even measure by how much shorter or longer this time may be than that; and we answer, "That this is double or treble, while that is but once, or only as much as that." But we measure times passing when we measure them by perceiving them; but past times, which now are not, or future times, which as yet are not, who can measure them? Unless, perchance, any one will dare to say, that that can be measured which is not. When, therefore, time is passing, it can be perceived and measured; but when it has passed, it cannot, since it is not.
[11.17.22] Quaero, pater, non affirmo. Deus meus, praeside mihi et rege me. Quisnam est qui dicat mihi non esse tria tempora, sicut pueri didicimus puerosque docuimus, praeteritum, praesens, et futurum, sed tantum praesens, quoniam illa duo non sunt? An et ipsa sunt, sed ex aliquo procedit occulto cum ex futuro fit praesens, et in aliquod recedit occultum cum ex praesenti fit praeteritum? Nam ubi ea uiderunt qui futura cecinerunt, si nondum sunt? Neque enim potest uideri id quod non est. Et qui narrant praeterita, non utique uera narrarent si animo illa non cernerent. Quae si nulla essent, cerni omnino non possent. Sunt ergo et futura et praeterita. 22. I ask, Father, I do not affirm. O my God, rule and guide me. "Who is there who can say to me that there are not three times (as we learned when boys, and as we have taught boys), the past, present, and future, but only present, because these two are not? Or are they also; but when from future it becometh present, cometh it forth from some secret place, and when from the present it becometh past, doth it retire into anything secret? For where have they, who have foretold future things, seen these things, if as yet they are not? For that which is not cannot be seen. And they who relate things past could not relate them as true, did they not perceive them in their mind. Which things, if they were not, they could in no wise be discerned. There are therefore things both future and past.
[11.18.23] Sine me, Domine, amplius quaerere, spes mea; non conturbetur intentio mea. Si enim sunt futura et praeterita, uolo scire ubi sint. Quod si nondum ualeo, scio tamen, ubicumque sunt, non ibi ea futura esse aut praeterita, sed praesentia. Nam si et ibi futura sunt, nondum ibi sunt, si et ibi praeterita sunt, iam non ibi sunt. Ubicumque ergo sunt, quaecumque sunt, non sunt nisi praesentia. Quamquam praeterita cum uera narrantur, ex memoria proferuntur non res ipsae quae praeterierunt, sed uerba concepta ex imaginibus earum quae in animo uelut uestigia per sensus praetereundo fixerunt. Pueritia quippe mea, quae iam non est, in tempore praeterito est, quod iam non est; imaginem uero eius, cum eam recolo et narro, in praesenti tempore intueor, quia est adhuc in memoria mea. Utrum similis sit causa etiam praedicendorum futurorum, ut rerum, quae nondum sunt, iam existentes praesentiantur imagines, confiteor, Deus meus, nescio. Illud sane scio, nos plerumque praemeditari futuras actiones nostras eamque praemeditationem esse praesentem, actionem autem quam praemeditamur nondum esse, quia futura est. Quam cum aggressi fuerimus et quod praemeditabamur agere coeperimus, tunc erit illa actio, quia tunc non futura, sed praesens erit. 23. Suffer me, O Lord, to seek further; O my Hope, let not my purpose be confounded. For if there are times past and future, I desire to know where they are. But if as yet I do not succeed, I still know, wherever they are, that they are not there as future or past, but as present. For if there also they be future, they are not as yet there; if even there they be past, they are no longer there. Wheresoever, therefore, they are, whatsoever they are, they are only so as present. Although past things are related as true, they are drawn out from the memory, -- not the things themselves, which have passed, but the words conceived from the images of the things which they have formed in the mind as footprints in their passage through the senses. My childhood, indeed, which no longer is, is in time past, which now is not; but when I call to mind its image, and speak of it, I behold it in the present, because it is as yet in my memory. Whether there be a like cause of foretelling future things, that of things which as yet are not the images may be perceived as already existing, I confess, my God, I know not. This certainly I know, that we generally think before on our future actions, and that this premeditation is present; but that the action whereon we premeditate is not yet, because it is future; which when we shall have entered upon, and have begun to do that which we were premeditating, then shall that action be, because then it is not future, but present.
[11.18.24] Quoquo modo se itaque habeat arcana praesensio futurorum, uideri nisi quod est non potest. Quod autem iam est, non futurum sed praesens est. Cum ergo uideri dicuntur futura, non ipsa quae nondum sunt, id est quae futura sunt, sed eorum causae uel signa forsitan uidentur, quae iam sunt. Ideo non futura sed praesentia sunt iam uidentibus, ex quibus futura praedicantur animo concepta. Quae rursus conceptiones iam sunt, et eas praesentes apud se intuentur qui illa praedicunt. Loquatur mihi aliquod exemplum tanta rerum numerositas. Intueor auroram, oriturum solem praenuntio. Quod intueor, praesens est, quod praenuntio, futurum. Non sol futurus, qui iam est, sed ortus eius, qui nondum est; tamen etiam ortum ipsum nisi animo imaginarer, sicut modo cum id loquor, non eum possem praedicere. Sed nec illa aurora quam in caelo uideo solis ortus est, quamuis eum praecedat, nec illa imaginatio in animo meo. Quae duo praesentia cernuntur, ut futurus ille ante dicatur. Futura ergo nondum sunt, et si nondum sunt, non sunt, et si non sunt, uideri omnino non possunt; sed praedici possunt ex praesentibus, quae iam sunt et uidentur. 24. In whatever manner, therefore, this secret preconception of future things may be, nothing can be seen, save what is. But what now is is not future, but present. When, therefore, they say that things future are seen, it is not themselves, which as yet are not (that is, which are future); but their causes or their signs perhaps are seen, the which already are. Therefore, to those already beholding them, they are not future, but present, from which future things conceived in the mind are foretold. Which conceptions again now are, and they who foretell those things behold these conceptions present before them. Let now so multitudinous a variety of things afford me some example. I behold daybreak; I foretell that the sun is about to rise. That which I behold is present; what I foretell is future, -- not that the sun is future, which already is; but his rising, which is not yet. Yet even its rising I could not predict unless I had an image of it in my mind, as now I have while I speak. But that dawn which I see in the sky is not the rising of the sun, although it may go before it, nor that imagination in my mind; which two are seen as present, that the other which is future may be foretold. Future things, therefore, are not as yet; and if they are not as yet, they are not. And if they are not, they cannot be seen at all; but they can be foretold from things present which now are, and are seen.
[11.19.25] Tu itaque, regnator creaturae tuae, quis est modus quo doces animas ea quae futura sunt? Docuisti enim prophetas tuos. Quisnam ille modus est quo doces futura, cui futurum quicquam non est? Vel potius de futuris doces praesentia? Nam quod non est, nec doceri utique potest. Nimis longe est modus iste ab acie mea: inualuit. Ex me non potero ad illum, potero autem ex te, cum dederis tu, dulce lumen occultorum oculorum meorum. 25. Thou, therefore, Ruler of Thy creatures, what is the method by which Thou teachest souls those things which are future? For Thou hast taught Thy prophets. What is that way by which Thou, to whom nothing is future, dost teach future things; or rather of future things dost teach present? For what is not, of a certainty cannot be taught. Too far is this way from my view; it is too mighty for me, I cannot attain unto it; but by Thee I shall be enabled, when Thou shalt have granted it, sweet light of my hidden eyes.
[11.20.26] Quod autem nunc liquet et claret, nec futura sunt nec praeterita, nec proprie dicitur, 'tempora sunt tria, praeteritum, praesens, et futurum,' sed fortasse proprie diceretur, 'tempora sunt tria, praesens de praeteritis, praesens de praesentibus, praesens de futuris.' Sunt enim haec in anima tria quaedam et alibi ea non uideo, praesens de praeteritis memoria, praesens de praesentibus contuitus, praesens de futuris expectatio. Si haec permittimur dicere, tria tempora uideo fateorque, tria sunt. Dicatur etiam, 'tempora sunt tria, praeteritum, praesens, et futurum,' sicut abutitur consuetudo; dicatur. Ecce non curo nec resisto nec reprehendo, dum tamen intellegatur quod dicitur, neque id quod futurum est esse iam, neque id quod praeteritum est. Pauca sunt enim quae proprie loquimur, plura non proprie, sed agnoscitur quid uelimus. 26. But what now is manifest and clear is, that neither are there future nor past things. Nor is it fitly said, "There are three times, past, present and future;" but perchance it might be fitly said, "There are three times; a present of things past, a present of things present, and a present of things future." For these three do somehow exist in the soul, and otherwise I see them not: present of things past, memory; present of things present, sight; present of things future, expectation. If of these things we are permitted to speak, I see three times, and I grant there are three. It may also be said, "There are three times, past, present and future," as usage falsely has it. See, I trouble not, nor gainsay, nor reprove; provided always that which is said may be understood, that neither the future, nor that which is past, now is. For there are but few things which we speak properly, many things improperly; but what we may wish to say is understood.
[11.21.27] Dixi ergo paulo ante quod praetereuntia tempora metimur, ut possimus dicere duplum esse hoc temporis ad illud simplum, aut tantum hoc quantum illud, et si quid aliud de partibus temporum possumus renuntiare metiendo. Quocirca, ut dicebam, praetereuntia metimur tempora, et si quis mihi dicat, 'unde scis?', respondeam, scio quia metimur, nec metiri quae non sunt possumus, et non sunt praeterita uel futura. Praesens uero tempus quomodo metimur, quando non habet spatium? Metitur ergo cum praeterit, cum autem praeterierit, non metitur; quid enim metiatur non erit. Sed unde et qua et quo praeterit, cum metitur? Unde nisi ex futuro? Qua nisi per praesens? Quo nisi in praeteritum? Ex illo ergo quod nondum est, per illud quod spatio caret, in illud quod iam non est. Quid autem metimur nisi tempus in aliquo spatio? Neque enim dicimus simpla et dupla et tripla et aequalia, et si quid hoc modo in tempore dicimus nisi spatia temporum. In quo ergo spatio metimur tempus praeteriens? Utrum in futuro, unde praeterit? Sed quod nondum est, non metimur. An in praesenti, qua praeterit? Sed nullum spatium non metimur. An in praeterito, quo praeterit? Sed quod iam non est, non metimur. 27. I have just now said, then, that we measure times as they pass, that we may be able to say that this time is twice as much as that one, or that this is only as much as that, and so of any other of the parts of time which we are able to tell by measuring. Wherefore, as I said, we measure times as they pass. And if any one should ask me, "Whence dost thou know?" I can answer, "I know, because we measure; nor can we measure things that are not; and things past and future are not." But how do we measure present time, since it hath not space? It is measured while it passeth; but when it shall have passed, it is not measured; for there will not be aught that can be measured. But whence, in what way, and whither doth it pass while it is being measured? Whence, but from the future? Which way, save through the present? Whither, but into the past? From that, therefore, which as yet is not, through that which hath no space, into that which now is not. But what do we measure, unless time in some space? For we say not single, and double, and triple, and equal, or in any other way in which we speak of time, unless with respect to the spaces of times. In what space, then, do we measure passing time? Is it in the future, whence it passeth over? But what yet we measure not, is not. Or is it in the present, by which it passeth? But no space, we do not measure. Or in the past, whither it passeth? But that which is not now, we measure not.
[11.22.28] Exarsit animus meus nosse istuc implicatissimum aenigma. Noli claudere, Domine Deus meus, bone pater, per Christum obsecro, noli claudere desiderio meo ista et usitata et abdita, quominus in ea penetret et dilucescant allucente misericordia tua, Domine. Quem percontabor de his? Et cui fructuosius confitebor imperitiam meam nisi tibi, cui non sunt molesta studia mea flammantia uehementer in scripturas tuas? Da quod amo; amo enim, et hoc tu dedisti. Da, pater, qui uere nosti data bona dare filiis tuis, da, quoniam suscepi cognoscere et labor est ante me, donec aperias. Per Christum obsecro, in nomine eius sancti sanctorum nemo mihi obstrepat. Et ego credidi, propter quod et loquor. Haec est spes mea, ad hanc uiuo, ut contempler delectationem Domini. Ecce ueteres posuisti dies meos et transeunt, et quomodo, nescio. Et dicimus tempus et tempus, tempora et tempora: 'quamdiu dixit hoc ille', 'quamdiu fecit hoc ille', et 'quam longo tempore illud non uidi', et 'duplum temporis habet haec syllaba ad illam simplam breuem.' Dicimus haec et audimus haec et intellegimur et intellegimus. Manifestissima et usitatissima sunt, et eadem rursus nimis latent et noua est inuentio eorum. 28. My soul yearns to know this most entangled enigma. Forbear to shut up, O Lord my God, good Father, -- through Christ I beseech Thee, -- forbear to shut up these things, both usual and hidden, from my desire, that it may be hindered from penetrating them; but let them dawn through Thy enlightening mercy, O Lord. Of whom shall I inquire concerning these things? And to whom shall I with more advantage confess my ignorance than to Thee, to whom these my studies, so vehemently kindled towards Thy Scriptures, are not troublesome? Give that which 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, since I have undertaken to know, and trouble is before me until Thou dost open it. Through Christ, I beseech Thee, in His name, Holy of Holies, let no man interrupt 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 in what manner I know not. And we speak as to time and time, times and times, -- "How long is the time since he said this?" "How long the time since he did this?" and, "How long the time since I saw that?" and, "This syllable hath double the time of that single short syllable." These words we speak, and these we hear; and we are understood, and we understand. They are most manifest and most usual, and the same things again lie hid too deeply, and the discovery of them is new.
[11.23.29] Audiui a quodam homine docto quod solis et lunae ac siderum motus ipsa sint tempora, et non adnui. Cur enim non potius omnium corporum motus sint tempora? An uero, si cessarent caeli lumina et moueretur rota figuli, non esset tempus quo metiremur eos gyros et diceremus aut aequalibus morulis agi, aut si alias tardius, alias uelocius moueretur, alios magis diuturnos esse, alios minus? Aut cum haec diceremus, non et nos in tempore loqueremur aut essent in uerbis nostris aliae longae syllabae, aliae breues, nisi quia illae longiore tempore sonuissent, istae breuiore? Deus, dona hominibus uidere in paruo communes notitias rerum paruarum atque magnarum. Sunt sidera et luminaria caeli in signis et in temporibus et in diebus et in annis. Sunt uero, sed nec ego dixerim circuitum illius ligneolae rotae diem esse, nec tamen ideo tempus non esse ille dixerit. 29. I have heard from a learned man that the motions of the sun, moon, and stars constituted time, and I assented not. For why should not rather the motions of all bodies be time? What if the lights of heaven should cease, and a potter's wheel run round, would there be no time by which we might measure those revolutions, and say either that it turned with equal pauses, or, if it were moved at one time more slowly, at another more quickly, that some revolutions were longer, others less so? Or while we were saying this, should we not also be speaking in time? Or should there in our words be some syllables long, others short, but because those sounded in a longer time, these in a shorter? God grant to men to see in a small thing ideas common to things great and small. Both the stars and luminaries of heaven are "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years." No doubt they are; but neither should I say that the circuit of that wooden wheel was a day, nor yet should he say that therefore there was no time.
[11.23.30] Ego scire cupio uim naturamque temporis, quo metimur corporum motus et dicimus illum motum uerbi gratia tempore duplo esse diuturniorem quam istum. Nam quaero, quoniam dies dicitur non tantum mora solis super terram, secundum quod aliud est dies, aliud nox, sed etiam totius eius circuitus ab oriente usque orientem, secundum quod dicimus, 'tot dies transierunt' (cum suis enim noctibus dicuntur tot dies, nec extra reputantur spatia noctium)—quoniam ergo dies expletur motu solis atque circuitu ab oriente usque orientem, quaero utrum motus ipse sit dies, an mora ipsa quanta peragitur, an utrumque. Si enim primum dies esset, dies ergo esset, etiamsi tanto spatio temporis sol cursum illum peregisset, quantum est horae unius. Si secundum, non ergo esset dies, si ab ortu solis usque in ortum alterum tam breuis mora esset quam est horae unius, sed uiciens et quater circuiret sol ut expleret diem. Si utrumque, nec ille appellaretur dies, si horae spatio sol totum suum gyrum circuiret, nec ille, si sole cessante tantum temporis praeteriret, quanto peragere sol totum ambitum de mane in mane adsolet. Non itaque nunc quaeram quid sit illud quod uocatur dies, sed quid sit tempus, quo metientes solis circuitum diceremus eum dimidio spatio temporis peractum minus quam solet, si tanto spatio temporis peractus esset, quanto peraguntur horae duodecim, et utrumque tempus comparantes diceremus illud simplum, hoc duplum, etiamsi aliquando illo simplo, aliquando isto duplo sol ab oriente usque orientem circuiret. Nemo ergo mihi dicat caelestium corporum motus esse tempora, quia et cuiusdam uoto cum sol stetisset, ut uictoriosum proelium perageret, sol stabat, sed tempus ibat. Per suum quippe spatium temporis, quod ei sufficeret, illa pugna gesta atque finita est. Video igitur tempus quandam esse distentionem. Sed uideo? An uidere mihi uideor? Tu demonstrabis, lux, ueritas. 30. I desire to know the power and nature of time, by which we measure the motions of bodies, and say (for example) that this motion is twice as long as that. For, I ask, since "day" declares not the stay only of the sun upon the earth, according to which day is one thing, night another, but also its entire circuit from east even to east, -- according to which we say, "So many days have passed" (the nights being included when we say "so many days," and their spaces not counted apart), -- since, then, the day is finished by the motion of the sun, and by his circuit from east to east, I ask, whether the motion itself is the day, or the period in which that motion is completed, or both? For if the first be the day, then would there be a day although the sun should finish that course in so small a space of time as an hour. If the second, then that would not be a day if from one sunrise to another there were but so short a period as an hour, but the sun must go round four-and-twenty times to complete a day. If both, neither could that be called a day if the sun should run his entire round in the space of an hour; nor that, if, while the sun stood still, so much time should pass as the sun is accustomed to accomplish his whole course in from morning to morning. I shall not therefore now ask, what that is which is called day, but what time is, by which we, measuring the circuit of the sun, should say that it was accomplished in half the space of time it was wont, if it had been completed in so small a space as twelve hours; and comparing both times, we should call that single, this double time, although the sun should run his course 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 are times, because, when at the prayer of one the sun stood still in order that he might achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still, but time went on. For in such space of time as was sufficient was that battle fought and ended. I see that time, then, is a certain extension. But do I see it, or do I seem to see it? Thou, O Light and Truth, wilt show me.
[11.24.31] Iubes ut approbem, si quis dicat tempus esse motum corporis? Non iubes. Nam corpus nullum nisi in tempore moueri audio: tu dicis. Ipsum autem corporis motum tempus esse non audio: non tu dicis. Cum enim mouetur corpus, tempore metior quamdiu moueatur, ex quo moueri incipit donec desinat. Et si non uidi ex quo coepit et perseuerat moueri, ut non uideam cum desinit, non ualeo metiri, nisi forte ex quo uidere incipio donec desinam. Quod si diu uideo, tantummodo longum tempus esse renuntio, non autem quantum sit, quia et quantum cum dicimus, collatione dicimus, uelut 'tantum hoc, quantum illud', aut 'duplum hoc ad illud', et si quid aliud isto modo. Si autem notare potuerimus locorum spatia, unde et quo ueniat corpus quod mouetur, uel partes eius, si tamquam in torno mouetur, possumus dicere quantum sit temporis ex quo ab illo loco usque ad illum locum motus corporis uel partis eius effectus est. Cum itaque aliud sit motus corporis, aliud quo metimur quamdiu sit, quis non sentiat quid horum potius tempus dicendum sit? Nam si et uarie corpus aliquando mouetur, aliquando stat, non solum motum eius sed etiam statum tempore metimur et dicimus, 'tantum stetit, quantum motum est', aut 'duplo uel triplo stetit ad id quod motum est', et si quid aliud nostra dimensio siue comprehenderit siue existimauerit, ut dici solet plus minus. Non ergo tempus corporis motus. 31. Dost Thou command that I should assent, if any one should say that time is "the motion of a body?" Thou dost not command me. For I hear that no body is moved but in time. This Thou sayest; but that the very 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 may be moving from the time in which it began to be moved till it left off. And if I saw not whence it began, and it continued to be moved, so that I see not when it leaves off, I cannot measure unless, perchance, from the time I began until I cease to see. But if I look long, I only proclaim that the time is long, but not how long it may be because when we say, "How long," we speak by comparison, as, "This is as long as that," or, "This is double as long as that," or any other thing of the kind. But if we were able to note down the distances of places whence and whither cometh the body which is moved, or its parts, if it moved as in a wheel, we can say in how much time the motion of the body or its part, from this place unto that, was performed. Since, then, the motion of a body is one thing, that by which we measure how long it is another, who cannot see which of these is rather to be called time? For, although a body be sometimes moved, sometimes stand still, we measure not its motion only, but also its standing still, by time; and we say, "It stood still as much as it moved;" or, "It stood still twice or thrice as long as it moved;" and if any other space which our measuring hath either determined or imagined, more or less, as we are accustomed to say. Time, therefore, is not the motion of a body.
[11.25.32] Et confiteor tibi, Domine, ignorare me adhuc quid sit tempus, et rursus confiteor tibi, Domine, scire me in tempore ista dicere, et diu me iam loqui de tempore, atque ipsum diu non esse diu nisi mora temporis. Quomodo igitur hoc scio, quando quid sit tempus nescio? An forte nescio quemadmodum dicam quod scio? Ei mihi, qui nescio saltem quid nesciam! Ecce, Deus meus, coram te, quia non mentior! Sicut loquor, ita est cor meum. Tu illuminabis lucernam meam, Domine, Deus meus, illuminabis tenebras meas. 32. And I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I am as yet ignorant as to what time is, and again I confess unto Thee, O Lord, that I know that I speak these things in time, and that I have already long spoken of time, and that very "long" is not long save by the stay of time. How, then, know I this, when I know not what time is? Or is it, perchance, that I know not in what wise I may express what I know? Alas for me, that I do not at least know the extent of my own ignorance! Behold, O my God, before Thee I lie not. As I speak, so is my heart. Thou shalt light my candle; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt enlighten my darkness.
[11.26.33] Nonne tibi confitetur anima mea confessione ueridica metiri me tempora? Itane, Deus meus, metior et quid metiar nescio. Metior motum corporis tempore: item ipsum tempus nonne metior? An uero corporis motum metirer, quamdiu sit et quamdiu hinc illuc perueniat, nisi tempus in quo mouetur metirer? Ipsum ergo tempus unde metior? An tempore breuiore metimur longius sicut spatio cubiti spatium transtri? Sic enim uidemur spatio breuis syllabae metiri spatium longae syllabae atque id duplum dicere. Ita metimur spatia carminum spatiis uersuum et spatia uersuum spatiis pedum et spatia pedum spatiis syllabarum et spatia longarum spatiis breuium, non in paginis (nam eo modo loca metimur, non tempora) sed cum uoces pronuntiando transeunt et dicimus, 'longum carmen est, nam tot uersibus contexitur; longi uersus, nam tot pedibus constant; longi pedes, nam tot syllabis tenduntur; longa syllaba est, nam dupla est ad breuem.' Sed neque ita comprehenditur certa mensura temporis, quandoquidem fieri potest ut ampliore spatio temporis personet uersus breuior, si productius pronuntietur, quam longior, si correptius. Ita carmen, ita pes, ita syllaba. Inde mihi uisum est nihil esse aliud tempus quam distentionem; sed cuius rei, nescio, et mirum, si non ipsius animi. Quid enim metior, obsecro, Deus meus? Et dico aut indefinite, 'longius est hoc tempus quam illud', aut etiam definite, 'duplum est hoc ad illud.' Tempus metior, scio; sed non metior futurum, quia nondum est, non metior praesens, quia nullo spatio tenditur, non metior praeteritum, quia iam non est. Quid ergo metior? An praetereuntia tempora, non praeterita? Sic enim dixeram. 33. Doth not my soul pour out unto Thee truly in confession that I do measure times? But do I thus measure, O my God, and know not what I measure? I measure the motion of a body by time; and the time itself do I not measure? But, in truth, could I measure the motion of a body, how long it is, and how long it is in coming from this place to that, unless I should measure the time in which it is moved? How, therefore, do I measure this very time itself? Or do we by a shorter time measure a longer, as by the space of a cubit the space of a crossbeam? For thus, 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. Thus we measure 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 spaces of short syllables; not measuring by pages (for in that manner we measure spaces, not times), but when in uttering the words they pass by, and we say, "It is a long stanza because it is made up of so many verses; long verses, because they consist of so many feet; long feet, because they are prolonged by so many syllables; a long syllable, because double a short one." But neither thus is any certain measure of time obtained; since it is possible that a shorter verse, if it be pronounced more fully, may take up more time than a longer one, if pronounced more hurriedly. Thus for a stanzas, thus for a foot, thus for a syllable. Whence it appeared to me that time is nothing else than protraction; but of what I know not. It is wonderful to me, if it be not of the mind itself. For what do I measure, I beseech Thee, O my God, even when I say either indefinitely, "This time is longer than that;" or even definitely, "This is double that?" That I measure time, I know. But I measure not the future, for it is not yet; nor do I measure the present, because it is extended by no space; nor do I measure the past, because it no longer is. What, therefore, do I measure? Is it times passing, not past? For thus had I said.
[11.27.34] Insiste, anime meus, et attende fortiter. Deus adiutor noster: ipse fecit nos, et non nos. Attende ubi albescit ueritas. Ecce puta uox corporis incipit sonare et sonat et adhuc sonat, et ecce desinit, iamque silentium est, et uox illa praeterita est et non est iam uox. Futura erat antequam sonaret, et non poterat metiri quia nondum erat, et nunc non potest quia iam non est. Tunc ergo poterat cum sonabat, quia tunc erat quae metiri posset. Sed et tunc non stabat; ibat enim et praeteribat. An ideo magis poterat? Praeteriens enim tendebatur in aliquod spatium temporis quo metiri posset, quoniam praesens nullum habet spatium. Si ergo tunc poterat, ecce puta altera coepit sonare et adhuc sonat continuato tenore sine ulla distinctione. Metiamur eam dum sonat. Cum enim sonare cessauerit, iam praeterita erit et non erit quae possit metiri. Metiamur plane et dicamus quanta sit. Sed adhuc sonat nec metiri potest nisi ab initio sui, quo sonare coepit, usque ad finem, quo desinit. Ipsum quippe interuallum metimur ab aliquo initio usque ad aliquem finem. Quapropter uox quae nondum finita est metiri non potest, ut dicatur quam longa uel breuis sit, nec dici aut aequalis alicui aut ad aliquam simpla uel dupla uel quid aliud. Cum autem finita fuerit, iam non erit. Quo pacto igitur metiri poterit? Et metimur tamen tempora, nec ea quae nondum sunt, nec ea quae iam non sunt, nec ea quae nulla mora extenduntur, nec ea quae terminos non habent. Nec futura ergo nec praeterita nec praesentia nec praetereuntia tempora metimur, et metimur tamen tempora. 34. Persevere, O my mind, and give earnest heed. God is our helper; He made us, and not we ourselves. Give heed, where truth dawns. Lo, suppose the voice of a body begins to sound, and does sound, and sounds on, and lo! it ceases, -- it is now silence, and that voice is past and is no longer a voice. It was future before it sounded, and could not be measured, because as yet it was not; and now it cannot, because it longer is. Then, therefore, while it was sounding, it might, because there was then that which might be measured. But even then it did not stand still, for it was going and passing away. Could it, then, on that account be measured the more? For, while passing, it was being extended into some space of time, in which it might be measured, since the present hath no space. If, therefore, then it might be measured, lo! suppose another voice hath begun to sound, and still soundeth, in a continued tenor without any interruption, we can measure it while it is sounding; for when it shall have ceased to sound, it will be already past, and there will not be that which can be measured. Let us measure it truly, and let us say how much it is. But as yet it sounds, nor can it be measured, save from that instant in which it began to sound, even to the end in which it left off. For the interval itself we measure from some beginning unto some end. On which account, a voice which is not yet ended cannot be measured, so that it may be said how long or how short it may be; nor can it be said to be equal to another, or single or double in respect of it, or the like. But when it is ended, it no longer is. In what manner, therefore, may it be measured? And yet we measure times; still not those which as yet are not, nor those which no longer are, nor those which are protracted by some delay, nor those which have no limits. We, therefore, measure neither future times, nor past, nor present, nor those passing by; and yet we do measure times.
[11.27.35] 'Deus creator omnium': uersus iste octo syllabarum breuibus et longis alternat syllabis. Quattuor itaque breues (prima, tertia, quinta, septima) simplae sunt ad quattuor longas (secundam, quartam, sextam, octauam). Hae singulae ad illas singulas duplum habent temporis. Pronuntio et renuntio, et ita est quantum sentitur sensu manifesto. Quantum sensus manifestus est, breui syllaba longam metior eamque sentio habere bis tantum. Sed cum altera post alteram sonat, si prior breuis, longa posterior, quomodo tenebo breuem et quomodo eam longae metiens applicabo, ut inueniam quod bis tantum habeat, quandoquidem longa sonare non incipit nisi breuis sonare destiterit? Ipsamque longam num praesentem metior, quando nisi finitam non metior? Eius autem finitio praeteritio est: quid ergo est quod metior? Ubi est qua metior breuis? Ubi est longa quam metior? Ambae sonuerunt, auolauerunt, praeterierunt, iam non sunt. Et ego metior fidenterque respondeo, quantum exercitato sensu fiditur, illam simplam esse, illam duplam, in spatio scilicet temporis. Neque hoc possum, nisi quia praeterierunt et finitae sunt. Non ergo ipsas quae iam non sunt, sed aliquid in memoria mea metior, quod infixum manet. 35. 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 single in respect of the four long, the second, fourth, sixth, and eighth. Each of these hath a double time to every one of those. I pronounce them, report on them, and thus it is, as is perceived by common sense. By common sense, then, I measure a long by a short syllable, and I find that it has twice as much. But when one sounds after another, if the former be short the latter long, how shall I hold the short one, and how measuring shall I apply it to the long, so that I may find out that this has twice as much, when indeed the long does not begin to sound unless the short leaves off sounding? That very long one I measure not as present, since I measure it not save when ended. But its ending is its passing away. What, then, is it that I can measure? Where is the short syllable by which I measure? Where is the long one which I measure? Both have sounded, have flown, have passed away, and are no longer; and still I measure, and I confidently answer (so far as is trusted to a practised sense), that as to space of time this syllable is single, that double. Nor could I do this, unless because they have past, and are ended. Therefore do I not measure themselves, which now are not, but something in my memory, which remains fixed.
[11.27.36] In te, anime meus, tempora metior. Noli mihi obstrepere, quod est; noli tibi obstrepere turbis affectionum tuarum. In te, inquam, tempora metior. Affectionem quam res praetereuntes in te faciunt et, cum illae praeterierint, manet, ipsam metior praesentem, non ea quae praeterierunt ut fieret; ipsam metior, cum tempora metior. Ergo aut ipsa sunt tempora, aut non tempora metior. Quid cum metimur silentia, et dicimus illud silentium tantum tenuisse temporis quantum illa uox tenuit, nonne cogitationem tendimus ad mensuram uocis, quasi sonaret, ut aliquid de interuallis silentiorum in spatio temporis renuntiare possimus? Nam et uoce atque ore cessante peragimus cogitando carmina et uersus et quemque sermonem motionumque dimensiones quaslibet et de spatiis temporum, quantum illud ad illud sit, renuntiamus non aliter ac si ea sonando diceremus. Voluerit aliquis edere longuisculam uocem, et constituerit praemeditando quam longa futura sit, egit utique iste spatium temporis in silentio memoriaeque commendans coepit edere illam uocem quae sonat, donec ad propositum terminum perducatur. Immo sonuit et sonabit; nam quod eius iam peractum est, utique sonuit, quod autem restat, sonabit atque ita peragitur, dum praesens intentio futurum in praeteritum traicit, deminutione futuri crescente praeterito, donec consumptione futuri sit totum praeteritum. 36. In thee, O my mind, I measure times. Do not overwhelm me with thy clamour. That is, do not overwhelm thyself with the multitude of thy impressions. In thee, I say, I measure times; the impression which things as they pass by make on Thee, and which, when they have passed by, remains, that I measure as time present, not those things which have passed by, that the impression should be made. This I measure when I measure times. Either, then, these are times, or I do not measure times. What when we measure silence, and say that this silence hath lasted as long as that voice lasts? Do we not extend our thought to the measure of a voice, as if it sounded, so that we may be able to declare something concerning the intervals of silence in a given space of time? For when both the voice and tongue are still, we go over in thought poems and verses, and any discourse, or dimensions of motions; and declare concerning the spaces of times, how much this may be in respect of that, not otherwise than if uttering them we should pronounce them. Should any one wish to utter a lengthened sound, and had with forethought determined how long it should be, that man hath in silence verily gone through a space of time, and, committing it to memory, he begins to utter that speech, which sounds until it be extended to the end proposed; truly it hath sounded, and will sound. For what of it is already finished hath verily sounded, but what remains will sound; and thus does it pass on, until the present intention carry over the future into the past; the past increasing by the diminution of the future, until, by the consumption of the future, all be past.
[11.28.37] Sed quomodo minuitur aut consumitur futurum, quod nondum est, aut quomodo crescit praeteritum, quod iam non est, nisi quia in animo qui illud agit tria sunt? Nam et expectat et attendit et meminit, ut id quod expectat per id quod attendit transeat in id quod meminerit. Quis igitur negat futura nondum esse? Sed tamen iam est in animo expectatio futurorum. Et quis negat praeterita iam non esse? Sed tamen adhuc est in animo memoria praeteritorum. Et quis negat praesens tempus carere spatio, quia in puncto praeterit? Sed tamen perdurat attentio, per quam pergat abesse quod aderit. Non igitur longum tempus futurum, quod non est, sed longum futurum longa expectatio futuri est, neque longum praeteritum tempus, quod non est, sed longum praeteritum longa memoria praeteriti est. 37. But how is that future diminished or consumed which as yet is not? Or how doth the past, which is no longer, increase, unless in the mind which enacteth this there are three things done? For it both expects, and considers, and remembers, that that which it expecteth, through that which it considereth, may pass into that which it remembereth. Who, therefore, denieth that future things as yet are not? But yet there is already in the mind the expectation of things future. And who denies that past things are now no longer? But, however, there is still in the mind the memory of things past. And who denies that time present wants space, because it passeth away in a moment? But yet our consideration endureth, through which that which may be present may proceed to become absent. Future time, which is not, is not therefore long; but a "long future" is "a long expectation of the future." Nor is time past, which is now no longer, long; but a long past is "a long memory of the past."
[11.28.38] Dicturus sum canticum quod noui. Antequam incipiam, in totum expectatio mea tenditur, cum autem coepero, quantum ex illa in praeteritum decerpsero, tenditur et memoria mea, atque distenditur uita huius actionis meae in memoriam propter quod dixi et in expectationem propter quod dicturus sum. Praesens tamen adest attentio mea, per quam traicitur quod erat futurum ut fiat praeteritum. Quod quanto magis agitur et agitur, tanto breuiata expectatione prolongatur memoria, donec tota expectatio consumatur, cum tota illa actio finita transierit in memoriam. Et quod in toto cantico, hoc in singulis particulis eius fit atque in singulis syllabis eius, hoc in actione longiore, cuius forte particula est illud canticum, hoc in tota uita hominis, cuius partes sunt omnes actiones hominis, hoc in toto saeculo filiorum hominum, cuius partes sunt omnes uitae hominum. 38. I am about to repeat a psalm that I know. Before I begin, my attention is extended to the whole; but when I have begun, as much of it as becomes past by my saying it is extended in my memory; and the life of this action of mine is divided between my memory, on account of what I have repeated, and my expectation, on account of what I am about to repeat; yet my consideration is present with me, through which that which was future may be carried over so that it may become past. Which the more it is done and repeated, by so much (expectation being shortened) the memory is enlarged, until the whole expectation be exhausted, when that whole action being ended shall have passed into memory. And what takes place in the entire psalm, takes place also in each individual part of it, and in each individual syllable: this holds in the longer action, of which that psalm is perchance a portion; the same holds in the whole life of man, of which all the actions of man are parts; the same holds in the whole age of the sons of men, of which all the lives of men are parts.
[11.29.39] Sed quoniam melior est misericordia tua super uitas, ecce distentio est uita mea, et me suscepit dextera tua in Domino meo, mediatore filio hominis inter te unum et nos multos, in multis per multa, ut per eum apprehendam in quo et apprehensus sum, et a ueteribus diebus colligar sequens unum, praeterita oblitus, non in ea quae futura et transitura sunt, sed in ea quae ante sunt non distentus sed extentus, non secundum distentionem sed secundum intentionem sequor ad palmam supernae uocationis, ubi audiam uocem laudis et contempler delectationem tuam nec uenientem nec praetereuntem. Nunc uero anni mei in gemitibus, et tu solacium meum, Domine, pater meus aeternus es. At ego in tempora dissilui quorum ordinem nescio, et tumultuosis uarietatibus dilaniantur cogitationes meae, intima uiscera animae meae, donec in te confluam purgatus et liquidus igne amoris tui. 39. But "because Thy loving-kindness is better than life," behold, my life is but a distraction, and Thy right hand upheld me in my Lord, the Son of man, the Mediator between Thee, The One, and us the many, -- in many distractions amid many things, -- that through Him I may apprehend in whom I have been apprehended, and may be re-collected from my old days, following The One, forgetting the things that are past; and not distracted, but drawn on, not to those 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 coming nor passing away. But now are my years spent in mourning. And Thou, O Lord, art my comfort, my Father everlasting. But I have been divided amid times, the order of which I know not; and my thoughts, even the inmost bowels of my soul, are mangled with tumultuous varieties, until I flow together unto Thee, purged and molten in the fire of Thy love.
[11.30.40] Et stabo atque solidabor in te, in forma mea, ueritate tua, nec patiar quaestiones hominum qui poenali morbo plus sitiunt quam capiunt et dicunt, 'quid faciebat Deus antequam faceret caelum et terram?', aut 'quid ei uenit in mentem ut aliquid faceret, cum antea numquam aliquid fecerit?' da illis, Domine, bene cogitare quid dicant, et inuenire quia non dicitur numquam ubi non est tempus. Qui ergo dicitur numquam fecisse, quid aliud dicitur nisi nullo tempore fecisse? Videant itaque nullum tempus esse posse sine creatura et desinant istam uanitatem loqui. Extendantur etiam in ea quae ante sunt, et intellegant te ante omnia tempora aeternum creatorem omnium temporum neque ulla tempora tibi esse coaeterna nec ullam creaturam, etiamsi est aliqua supra tempora. 40. And I will be immoveable, and fixed 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 hold, and say, "What did God make before He made heaven and earth?" Or, "How came it into His mind to make anything, when He never before made anything?" Grant to them, O Lord, to think well what they say, and to see that where there is no time, they cannot say "never." What, therefore, He is said "never to have made," what else is it but to say, that in no time was it made? Let them therefore see that there could be no time without a created being, and let them cease to speak that vanity. Let them also be extended unto those things which are before, and understand that thou, the eternal Creator of all times, art before all times, and that no times are co-eternal with Thee, nor any creature, even if there be any creature beyond all times.
[11.31.41] Domine Deus meus, quis ille sinus est alti secreti tui et quam longe inde me proiecerunt consequentia delictorum meorum? Sana oculos meos, et congaudeam luci tuae. Certe si est tam grandi scientia et praescientia pollens animus, cui cuncta praeterita et futura ita nota sint, sicut mihi unum canticum notissimum, nimium mirabilis est animus iste atque ad horrorem stupendus, quippe quem ita non lateat quidquid peractum et quidquid reliquum saeculorum est, quemadmodum me non latet cantantem illud canticum, quid et quantum eius abierit ab exordio, quid et quantum restet ad finem. Sed absit ut tu, conditor uniuersitatis, conditor animarum et corporum, absit ut ita noueris omnia futura et praeterita. Longe tu, longe mirabilius longeque secretius. Neque enim sicut nota cantantis notumue canticum audientis expectatione uocum futurarum et memoria praeteritarum uariatur affectus sensusque distenditur, ita tibi aliquid accidit incommutabiliter aetemo, hoc est uere aeterno creatori mentium. Sicut ergo nosti in principio caelum et terram sine uarietate notitiae tuae, ita fecisti in principio caelum et terram sine distentione actionis tuae. Qui intellegit, confiteatur tibi, et qui non intellegit, confiteatur tibi. O quam excelsus es, et humiles corde sunt domus tua! Tu enim erigis elisos, et non cadunt quorum celsitudo tu es. 41. O Lord my God, what is that secret place of Thy mystery, and how far thence have the consequences of my transgressions cast me? Heal my eyes, that I may enjoy Thy light. Surely, if there be a mind, so greatly abounding in knowledge and foreknowledge, to which all things past and future are so known as one psalm is well known to me, that mind is exceedingly wonderful, and very astonishing; because whatever is so past, and whatever is to come of after ages, is no more concealed from Him than was it hidden from me when singing that psalm, what and how much of it had been sung from the beginning, what and how much 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 know all things future and past. Far, far more wonderfully, and far more mysteriously, Thou knowest them. For it is not as the feelings of one singing known things, or hearing a known song, are --through expectation of future words, and in remembrance of those that are past--varied, and his senses divided, that anything happeneth unto Thee, unchangeably eternal, that is, the truly eterna. Creator of minds. As, then, Thou in the Beginning knewest the heaven and the earth without any change of Thy knowledge, so in the Beginning didst Thou make heaven and earth without any distraction of Thy action? Let him who understandeth confess unto Thee; and let him who understandeth not, confess unto Thee. Oh, how exalted art Thou, and yet the humble in heart are Thy dwelling-place; for Thou raisest up those that are bowed down. and they whose exaltation Thou art fall not.






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