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Translated by J.G. Pilkington. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff.

  • Chapter 1 — The Discovery of Truth is Difficult, But God Has Promised that He Who Seeks Shall Find.
  • Chapter 2 Of the Double Heaven—The Visible, and the Heaven of Heavens.
  • Chapter 3 Of the Darkness Upon the Deep, and of the Invisible and Formless Earth.
  • Chapter 4 From the Formlessness of Matter, the Beautiful World Has Arisen.
  • Chapter 5 What May Have Been the Form of Matter.
  • Chapter 6 He Confesses that at One Time He Himself Thought Erroneously of Matter.
  • Chapter 7 Out of Nothing God Made Heaven and Earth.
  • Chapter 8 Heaven and Earth Were Made In the Beginning; Afterwards the World, During Six Days, from Shapeless Matter.
  • Chapter 9 That the Heaven of Heavens Was an Intellectual Creature, But that the Earth Was Invisible and Formless Before the Days that It Was Made.
  • Chapter 10 He Begs of God that He May Live in the True Light, and May Be Instructed as to the Mysteries of the Sacred Books.
  • Chapter 11 What May Be Discovered to Him by God.
  • Chapter 12 From the Formless Earth God Created Another Heaven and a Visible and Formed Earth.
  • Chapter 13 Of the Intellectual Heaven and Formless Earth, Out of Which, on Another Day, the Firmament Was Formed.
  • Chapter 14 Of the Depth of the Sacred Scripture, and Its Enemies.
  • Chapter 15 He Argues Against Adversaries Concerning the Heaven of Heavens.
  • Chapter 16 He Wishes to Have No Intercourse with Those Who Deny Divine Truth.
  • Chapter 17 He Mentions Five Explanations of the Words of Genesis I. I.
  • Chapter 18 What Error is Harmless in Sacred Scripture.
  • Chapter 19 He Enumerates the Things Concerning Which All Agree.
  • Chapter 20 Of the Words, In the Beginning, Variously Understood.
  • Chapter 21 Of the Explanation of the Words, The Earth Was Invisible.
  • Chapter 22 He Discusses Whether Matter Was from Eternity, or Was Made by God.
  • Chapter 23 Two Kinds of Disagreements in the Books to Be Explained.
  • Chapter 24 Out of the Many True Things, It is Not Asserted Confidently that Moses Understood This or That.
  • Chapter 25 It Behoves Interpreters, When Disagreeing Concerning Obscure Places, to Regard God the Author of Truth, and the Rule of Charity.
  • Chapter 26 What He Might Have Asked of God Had He Been Enjoined to Write the Book of Genesis.
  • Chapter 27 The Style of Speaking in the Book of Genesis is Simple and Clear.
  • Chapter 28 The Words, In the Beginning, And, The Heaven and the Earth, Are Differently Understood.
  • Chapter 29 Concerning the Opinion of Those Who Explain It At First He Made.
  • Chapter 30 In the Great Diversity of Opinions, It Becomes All to Unite Charity and Divine Truth.
  • Chapter 31 Moses is Supposed to Have Perceived Whatever of Truth Can Be Discovered in His Words.
  • Chapter 32 First, the Sense of the Writer is to Be Discovered, Then that is to Be Brought Out Which Divine Truth Intended.

Latin English
The Confessions (Book XII)He continues his explanation of the first Chapter of Genesis according to the Septuagint, and by its assistance he argues, especially, concerning the double heaven, and the formless matter out of which the whole world may have been created; afterwards of the interpretations of others not disallowed, and sets forth at great length the sense of the Holy Scripture.
12.1.1 Multa satagit cor meum, Domine, in hac inopia vitae meae, pulsatum verbis sanctae scripturae tuae, et ideo plerumque in sermone copiosa est egestas humanae intellegentiae, quia plus loquitur inquisitio quam inventio, et longior est petitio quam impetratio, et operosior est manus pulsans quam sumens. Tenemus promissum: quis corrumpet illud? Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra nos? 'petite et accipietis, quaerite et invenietis, pulsate et aperietur vobis. Omnis enim qui petit accipit, et quaerens inveniet, et pulsanti aperietur.' Promissa tua sunt, et quis falli timeat cum promittit veritas? 1. My heart, O Lord, affected by the words of Your Holy Scripture, is much busied in this poverty of my life; and therefore, for the most part, is the want of human intelligence copious in language, because inquiry speaks more than discovery, and because demanding is longer than obtaining, and the hand that knocks is more active than the hand that receives. We hold the promise; who shall break it? If God be for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 Ask, and you shall have; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8 These are Your own promises; and who need fear to be deceived where the Truth promises?
12.2.2 Confitetur altitudini tuae humilitas linguae meae, quoniam tu fecisti caelum et terram: hoc caelum quod video terramque quam calco, unde est haec terra quam porto, tu fecisti. Sed ubi est caelum caeli, Domine, de quo audivimus in voce psalmi: 'caelum caeli Domino, terram autem dedit filiis hominum'? Ubi est caelum quod non cernimus, cui terra est hoc omne quod cernimus? Hoc enim totum corporeum non ubique totum ita cepit speciem pulchram in novissimis, cuius fundus est terra nostra, sed ad illud caelum caeli etiam terrae nostrae caelum terra est. Et hoc utrumque magnum corpus non absurde terra est ad illud nescio quale caelum quod Domino est, non filiis hominum. 2. The weakness of my tongue confesses unto Your Highness, seeing that You made heaven and earth. This heaven which I see, and this earth upon which I tread (from which is this earth that I carry about me), You have made. But where is that heaven of heavens, O Lord, of which we hear in the words of the Psalm, The heaven of heavens are the Lord's, but the earth has He given to the children of men? Where is the heaven, which we behold not, in comparison of which all this, which we behold, is earth? For this corporeal whole, not as a whole everywhere, has thus received its beautiful figure in these lower parts, of which the bottom is our earth; but compared with that heaven of heavens, even the heaven of our earth is but earth; yea, each of these great bodies is not absurdly called earth, as compared with that, I know not what manner of heaven, which is the Lord's, not the sons' of men.
12.3.3 Et nimirum haec terra erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et nescio qua profunditas abyssi, super quam non erat lux quia nulla species erat illi, unde iussisti ut scriberetur quod 'tenebrae erant super abyssum'. Quid aliud quam lucis absentia? Ubi enim lux esset, si esset, nisi super esset eminendo et illustrando? Ubi ergo lux nondum erat, quid erat adesse tenebras nisi abesse lucem? Super itaque erant tenebrae quia super lux aberat, sicut sonus ubi non est, silentium est. Et quid est esse ibi silentium nisi sonum ibi non esse? Nonne tu, Domine, docuisti hanc animam quae tibi confitetur? Nonne tu, Domine, docuisti me quod, priusquam istam informem materiam formares atque distingueres, non erat aliquid, non color, non figura, non corpus, non spiritus? Non tamen omnino nihil: erat quaedam informitas sine ulla specie. 3. And truly this earth was invisible and formless, and there was I know not what profundity of the deep upon which there was no light, because it had no form. Therefore You commanded that it should be written, that darkness was upon the face of the deep; what else was it than the absence of light? For had there been light, where should it have been save by being above all, showing itself aloft, and enlightening? Darkness therefore was upon it, because the light above was absent; as silence is there present where sound is not. And what is it to have silence there, but not to have sound there? Have You not, O Lord, taught this soul which confesses unto You? Have You not taught me, O Lord, that before You formed and separate this formless matter, there was nothing, neither colour, nor figure, nor body, nor spirit? Yet not altogether nothing; there was a certain formlessness without any shape.
12.4.4 Quid ergo vocaretur, quo etiam sensu tardioribus utcumque insinuaretur, nisi usitato aliquo vocabulo? Quid autem in omnibus mundi partibus reperiri potest propinquius informitati omnimodae quam terra et abyssus? Minus enim speciosa sunt pro suo gradu infimo quam caetera superiora perlucida et luculenta omnia. Cur ergo non accipiam informitatem materiae, quam sine specie feceras unde speciosum mundum faceres, ita commode hominibus intimatam ut appellaretur 'terra inuisibilis et incomposita'? 4. What, then, should it be called, that even in some ways it might be conveyed to those of duller mind, save by some conventional word? But what, in all parts of the world, can be found nearer to a total formlessness than the earth and the deep? For, from their being of the lowest position, they are less beautiful than are the other higher parts, all transparent and shining. Why, therefore, may I not consider the formlessness of matter— which You had created without shape, whereof to make this shapely world— to be fittingly intimated unto men by the name of earth invisible and formless?
12.5.5 ut, cum in ea quaerit cogitatio quid sensus attingat et dicit sibi, 'non est intellegibilis forma sicut vita, sicut iustitia, quia materies est corporum, neque sensibilis, quoniam quid videatur et quid sentiatur in inuisibili et incomposita non est,' dum sibi haec dicit humana cogitatio, conetur eam vel nosse ignorando vel ignorare noscendo 5. So that when herein thought seeks what the sense may arrive at, and says to itself, It is no intelligible form, such as life or justice, because it is the matter of bodies; nor perceptible by the senses, because in the invisible and formless there is nothing which can be seen and felt—while human thought says these things to itself, it may endeavour either to know it by being ignorant, or by knowing it to be ignorant.
12.6.6 Ego vero, Domine, si totum confitear tibi ore meo et calamo meo quidquid de ista materia docuisti me, cuius antea nomen audiens et non intellegens, narrantibus mihi eis qui non intellegerent, eam cum speciebus innumeris et variis cogitabam et ideo non eam cogitabam foedas et horribiles formas perturbatis ordinibus voluebat animus, sed formas tamen, et informe appellabam non quod careret forma, sed quod talem haberet ut, si appareret, insolitum et incongruum aversaretur sensus meus et conturbaretur infirmitas hominis. Verum autem illud quod cogitabam non privatione omnis formae sed comparatione formosiorum erat informe, et suadebat vera ratio ut omnis formae qualescumque reliquias omnino detraherem, si vellem prorsus informe cogitare et non poteram. Citius enim non esse censebam quod omni forma privaretur quam cogitabam quiddam inter formam et nihil, nec formatum nec nihil, informe prope nihil. Et cessavit mens mea interrogare hinc spiritum meum plenum imaginibus formatorum corporum et eas pro arbitrio mutantem atque variantem, et intendi in ipsa corpora eorumque mutabilitatem altius inspexi, qua desinunt esse quod fuerant et incipiunt esse quod non erant, eundemque transitum de forma in formam per informe quiddam fieri suspicatus sum, non per omnino nihil. Sed nosse cupiebam, non suspicari. Et si totum tibi confiteatur vox et stilus meus, quidquid de ista quaestione enodasti mihi, quis legentium capere durabit? Nec ideo tamen cessabit cor meum tibi dare honorem et canticum laudis de his quae dictare non sufficit. Mutabilitas enim rerum mutabilium ipsa capax est formarum omnium in quas mutantur res mutabiles. Et haec quid est? Numquid animus? Numquid corpus? Numquid species animi vel corporis? Si dici posset 'nihil aliquid' et 'est non est,' hoc eam dicerem; et tamen iam utcumque erat, ut species caperet istas visibiles et compositas. 6. But were I, O Lord, by my mouth and by my pen to confess unto You the whole, whatever You have taught me concerning that matter, the name of which hearing beforehand, and not understanding (they who could not understand it telling me of it), I conceived it as having innumerable and varied forms. And therefore did I not conceive it; my mind revolved in disturbed order foul and horrible forms, but yet forms; and I called it formless, not that it lacked form, but because it had such as, did it appear, my mind would turn from, as unwonted and incongruous, and at which human weakness would be disturbed. But even that which I did conceive was formless, not by the privation of all form, but in comparison of more beautiful forms; and true reason persuaded me that I ought altogether to remove from it all remnants of any form whatever, if I wished to conceive matter wholly without form; and I could not. For sooner could I imagine that that which should be deprived of all form was not at all, than conceive anything between form and nothing—neither formed, nor nothing, formless, nearly nothing. And my mind hence ceased to question my spirit, filled (as it was) with the images of formed bodies, and changing and varying them according to its will; and I applied myself to the bodies themselves, and looked more deeply into their mutability, by which they cease to be what they had been, and begin to be what they were not; and this same transit from form unto form I have looked upon to be through some formless condition, not through a very nothing; but I desired to know, not to guess. And if my voice and my pen should confess the whole unto You, whatsoever knots You have untied for me concerning this question, who of my readers would endure to take in the whole? Nor yet, therefore, shall my heart cease to give You honour, and a song of praise, for those things which it is not able to express. For the mutability of mutable things is itself capable of all those forms into which mutable things are changed. And this mutability, what is it? Is it soul? Is it body? Is it the outer appearance of soul or body? Could it be said, Nothing were something, and That which is, is not, I would say that this were it; and yet in some manner was it already, since it could receive these visible and compound shapes.
12.7.7 Et unde utcumque erat, nisi esset abs te, a quo sunt omnia, in quantumcumque sunt? Sed tanto a te longius, quanto dissimilius, neque enim locis. Itaque tu, Domine, qui non es alias aliud et alias aliter, sed idipsum et idipsum et idipsum, sanctus, sanctus, sanctus, Dominus Deus omnipotens, in principio, quod est de te, in sapientia tua, quae nata est de substantia tua, fecisti aliquid et de nihilo. Fecisti enim caelum et terram non de te. Nam esset aequale unigenito tuo ac per hoc et tibi, et nullo modo iustum esset, ut aequale tibi esset quod de te non esset. Et aliud praeter te non erat unde faceres ea, Deus, una trinitas et trina unitas, et ideo de nihilo fecisti caelum et terram, magnum quiddam et panum quiddam, quoniam omnipotens et bonus es ad facienda omnia bona, magnum caelum et panam terram, duo quaedam, unum prope te, alterum prope nihil, unum quo superior tu esses, alterum quo inferius nihil esset. 7. And whence and in what manner was this, unless from You, from whom are all things, in so far as they are? But by how much the farther from You, so much the more unlike unto You; for it is not distance of place. You, therefore, O Lord, who art not one thing 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, did in the beginning, which is of You, in Your Wisdom, which was born of Your Substance, create something, and that out of nothing. For Thou created heaven and earth, not out of Yourself, for then they would be equal to Your Only-begotten, and thereby even to You; and in no wise would it be right that anything should be equal to You which was not of You. And anything else except You there was not whence You might create these things, O God, One Trinity, and Trine Unity; and, therefore, out of nothing You created heaven and earth—a great thing and a small, because You are Almighty and Good, to make all things good, even the great heaven and the small earth. You were, and there was nought else from which Thou created heaven and earth; two such things, one near unto You, the other near to nothing, — one to which You should be superior, the other to which nothing should be inferior.
12.8.8 Sed illud caelum caeli tibi, Domine; terra autem, quam dedisti filiis hominum cernendam atque tangendam, non erat talis qualem nunc cernimus et tangimus. Inuisibilis enim erat et incomposita, et abyssus erat super quam non erat lux, aut tenebrae erant super abyssum, id est magis quam in abysso. Ista quippe abyssus aquarum iam visibilium etiam in profundis suis habet speciei suae lucem utcumque sensibilem piscibus et repentibus in suo fundo animantibus. Illud autem totum prope nihil erat, quoniam adhuc omnino informe erat; iam tamen erat quod formari poterat. Tu enim, Domine, fecisti mundum de materia informi, quam fecisti de nulla re paene nullam rem, unde faceres magna, quae miramur filii hominum. Valde enim mirabile hoc caelum corporeum, quod firmamentum inter aquam et aquam secundo die post conditionem lucis dixisti, 'fiat', et sic est factum. Quod firmamentum vocasti caelum, sed caelum terrae huius et maris, quae fecisti tertio die dando speciem visibilem informi materiae, quam fecisti ante omnem diem. Iam enim feceras et caelum ante omnem diem, sed caelum caeli huius, quia in principio feceras caelum et terram. Terra autem ipsa quam feceras informis materies erat, quia inuisibilis erat et incomposita, et tenebrae super abyssum. De qua terra inuisibili et incomposita, de qua informitate, de quo paene nihilo faceres haec omnia quibus iste mutabilis mundus constat et non constat, in quo ipsa mutabilitas apparet, in qua sentiri et dinumerari possunt tempora, quia rerum mutationibus fiunt tempora dum variantur et vertuntur species, quarum materies praedicta est terra inuisibilis. 8. But that heaven of heavens was for You, O Lord; but the earth, which You have given to the sons of men, to be seen and touched, was not such as now we see and touch. For it was invisible and without form, Genesis 1:2 and there was a deep over which there was not light; or, darkness was over the deep, that is, more than in the deep. For this deep of waters, now visible, has, even in its depths, a light suitable to its nature, perceptible in some manner unto fishes and creeping things in the bottom of it. But the entire deep was almost nothing, since hitherto it was altogether formless; yet there was then that which could be formed. For Thou, O Lord, hast made the world of a formless matter, which matter, out of nothing, You have made almost nothing, out of which 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 said, Let it be made, and it was made. Genesis 1:6-8 Which firmament You called heaven, that is, the heaven of this earth and sea, which You made on the third day, by giving a visible shape to the formless matter which You made before all days. For even already had Thou made a heaven before all days, but that was the heaven of this heaven; because in the beginning You had made heaven and earth. But the earth itself which You had made was formless matter, because it was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep. Of which invisible and formless earth, of which formlessness, of which almost nothing, You might make all these things of which this changeable world consists, and yet consists not; whose very changeableness appears in this, that times can be observed and numbered in it. Because times are made by the changes of things, while the shapes, whose matter is the invisible earth aforesaid, are varied and turned.
12.9.9 Ideoque spiritus, doctor famuli tui, cum te commemorat fecisse in principio caelum et terram, tacet de temporibus, silet de diebus. Nimirum enim caelum caeli, quod in principio fecisti, creatura est aliqua intellectualis. Quamquam nequaquam tibi, trinitati, coaeterna, particeps tamen aeternitatis tuae, valde mutabilitatem suam prae dulcedine felicissimae contemplationis tuae cohibet et sine ullo lapsu ex quo facta est inhaerendo tibi excedit omnem volubilem vicissitudinem temporum. Ista vero informitas, terra inuisibilis et incomposita, nec ipsa in diebus numerata est. Ubi enim nulla species, nullus ordo, nec venit quicquam nec praeterit, et ubi hoc non fit, non sunt utique dies nec vicissitudo spatiorum temporalium. 9. And therefore the Spirit, the Teacher of Your servant when He relates that Thou did in the Beginning create heaven and earth, is silent as to times, silent as to days. For, doubtless, that heaven of heavens, which Thou in the Beginning created, is some intellectual creature, which, although in no wise co-eternal unto You, the Trinity, is yet a partaker of Your eternity, and by reason of the sweetness of that most happy contemplation of Yourself, does greatly restrain its own mutability, and without any failure, from the time in which it was created, in clinging unto You, surpasses all the rolling change of times. But this shapelessness— this earth invisible and without form— has not itself been numbered among the days. For where there is no shape nor order, nothing either comes or goes; and where this is not, there certainly are no days, nor any vicissitude of spaces of times.
12.10.10 O veritas, lumen cordis mei, non tenebrae meae loquantur mihi! Defluxi ad ista et obscuratus sum, sed hinc, etiam hinc adamavi te. Erravi et recordatus sum tui. Audivi vocem tuam post me, ut redirem, et vix audivi propter tumultus impacatorum. Et nunc ecce redeo aestuans et anhelans ad fontem tuum. Nemo me prohibeat: hunc bibam et hinc vivam. Non ego vita mea sim: male vixi ex me. Mors mihi fui: in te revivesco. Tu me alloquere, tu mihi sermocinare: credidi libris tuis, et verba eorum arcana valde. 10. Oh, let Truth, the light of my heart, not my own darkness, speak unto me! I have descended to that, and am darkened. But thence, even thence, did I love You. I went astray, and remembered You. I heard Your voice behind me bidding me return, and scarcely did I hear it for the tumults of the unquiet ones. And now, behold, I return burning and panting after Your fountain. Let no one prohibit me; of this will I drink, and so have life. Let me not be my own life; from myself have I badly lived—death was I unto myself; in You do I revive. Speak unto me; discourse unto me. In Your books have I believed, and their words are very deep.
12.11.11 Iam dixisti mihi, Domine, voce forti in aurem interiorem, quia tu aeternus es, solus habens immortalitatem, quoniam ex nulla specie motuue mutaris nec temporibus variatur voluntas tua, quia non est immortalis voluntas quae alia et alia est. Hoc in conspectu tuo claret mihi et magis magisque clarescat, oro te, atque in ea manifestatione persistam sobrius sub alis tuis. Item dixisti mihi, Domine, voce forti in aurem interiorem, quod omnes naturas atque substantias quae non sunt quod tu es et tamen sunt, tu fecisti (et hoc solum a te non est, quod non est, motusque voluntatis a te, qui es, ad id quod minus est, quia talis motus delictum atque peccatum est), et quod nullius peccatum aut tibi nocet aut perturbat ordinem imperii tui vel in primo vel in imo. Hoc in conspectu tuo claret mihi et magis magisque clarescat, oro te, atque in ea manifestatione persistam sobrius sub alis tuis. 11. Already have You told me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that You are eternal, having alone immortality. 1 Timothy 6:16 Since You are not changed by any shape or motion, nor is Your will altered by times, because no will which changes is immortal. This in Your sight is clear to me, and let it become more and more clear, I beseech You; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Your wings. Likewise have You said to me, O Lord, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that You have made all natures and substances, which are not what You Yourself art, and yet they are; and that only is not from You which is not, and the motion of the will from You who art, to that which in a less degree is, because such motion is guilt and sin; and that no one's sin does either hurt You, or disturb the order of Your rule, either first or last. This, in Your sight, is clear to me and let it become more and more clear, I beseech You; and in that manifestation let me abide more soberly under Your wings.
12.11.12 Item dixisti mihi voce forti in aurem interiorem, quod nec illa creatura tibi coaeterna est cuius voluptas tu solus es, teque perseuerantissima castitate hauriens mutabilitatem suam nusquam et numquam exerit, et te sibi semper praesente, ad quem toto affectu se tenet, non habens futurum quod expectet nec in praeteritum traiciens quod meminerit, nulla vice variatur nec in tempora ulla distenditur. O beata, si qua ista est, inhaerendo beatitudini tuae, beata sempiterno inhabitatore te atque illustratore suo! Nec invenio quid libentius appellandum existimem 'caelum caeli Domino' quam domum tuam contemplantem delectationem tuam sine ullo defectu egrediendi in aliud, mentem puram concordissime unam stabilimento pacis sanctorum spirituum, civium civitatis tuae in caelestibus super ista caelestia. 12. Likewise have You said to me, with a strong voice, in my inner ear, that that creature, whose will You alone are, is not co-eternal unto You, and which, with a most persevering purity drawing its support from You, does, in place and at no time, put forth its own mutability; and Yourself being ever present with it, unto whom with its entire affection it holds itself, having no future to expect nor conveying into the past what it remembers, is varied by no change, nor extended into any times. O blessed one—if any such there be—in clinging unto Your Blessedness; blest in You, its everlasting Inhabitant and its Enlightener! Nor do I find what the heaven of heavens, which is the Lord's, can be better called than Your house, which contemplates Your delight without any defection of going forth to another; a pure mind, most peacefully one, by that stability of peace of holy spirits, the citizens of Your city in the heavenly places, above these heavenly places which are seen.
12.11.13 Unde intellegat anima, cuius peregrinatio longinqua facta est, si iam sitit tibi, si iam factae sunt ei lacrimae suae panis, dum dicitur ei per singulos dies, 'ubi est Deus tuus?', si iam petit a te unam et hanc requirit, ut inhabitet in domo tua per omnes dies vitae suae? Et quae vita eius nisi tu? Et qui dies tui nisi aeternitas tua, sicut anni tui, qui non deficiunt, quia idem ipse es? Hinc ergo intellegat anima quae potest quam longe super omnia tempora sis aeternus, quando tua domus, quae peregrinata non est, quamvis non sit tibi coaeterna, tamen indesinenter et indeficienter tibi cohaerendo nullam patitur vicissitudinem temporum. Hoc in conspectu tuo claret mihi et magis magisque clarescat, oro te, atque in hac manifestatione persistam sobrius sub alis tuis. 13. Whence the soul, whose wandering has been made far away, may understand, if now she thirsts for You, if now her tears have become bread to her, while it is daily said unto her Where is your God? if she now seeks of You one thing, and desires that she may dwell in Your house all the days of her life. And what is her life but You? And what are Your days but Your eternity, as Your years which fail not, because You are the same? Hence, therefore, can the soul, which is able, understand how far beyond all times You are eternal; when Your house, which has not wandered from You, although it be not co-eternal with You, yet by continually and unfailingly clinging unto You, suffers no vicissitude of times. This in Your sight is clear unto me, and may it become more and more clear unto me, I beseech You; and in this manifestation may I abide more soberly under Your wings.
12.11.14 Ecce nescio quid informe in istis mutationibus rerum extremarum atque infimarum, et quis dicet mihi, nisi quisquis per inania cordis sui cum suis phantasmatis uagatur et voluitur, quis nisi talis dicet mihi quod, deminuta atque consumpta omni specie, si sola remaneat informitas per quam de specie in speciem res mutabatur et vertebatur, possit exhibere vices temporum? Omnino enim non potest, quia sine varietate motionum non sunt tempora, et nulla varietas ubi nulla species. 14. Behold, I know not what shapelessness there is in those changes of these last and lowest creatures. And who shall tell me, unless it be some one who, through the emptiness of his own heart, wanders and is staggered by his own fancies? Who, unless such a one, would tell me that (all figure being diminished and consumed), if the formlessness only remain, through which the thing was changed and was turned from one figure into another, that that can exhibit the changes of times? For surely it could not be, because without the change of motions times are not, and there is no change where there is no figure.
12.12.15 Quibus consideratis, quantum donas, Deus meus, quantum me ad pulsandum excitas quantumque pulsanti aperis, duo reperio quae fecisti carentia temporibus, cum tibi neutrum coaeternum sit: unum quod ita formatum est ut sine ullo defectu contemplationis, sine ullo intenallo mutationis, quamvis mutabile tamen non mutatum, tua aeternitate atque incommutabilitate perfruatur; alterum quod ita informe erat ut ex qua forma in quam formam vel motionis vel stationis mutaretur, quo tempori subderetur, non haberet. Sed hoc ut informe esset non reliquisti, quoniam fecisti ante omnem diem in principio caelum et terram, haec duo quae dicebam. 'terra autem inuisibilis erat et incomposita, et tenebrae super abyssum': quibus verbis insinuatur informitas, ut gradatim excipiantur qui omnimodam speciei privationem nec tamen ad nihil peruentionem cogitare non possunt, unde fieret alterum caelum et terra visibilis atque composita et aqua speciosa et quidquid deinceps in constitutione huius mundi non sine diebus factum commemoratur, quia talia sunt ut in eis agantur vicissitudines temporum propter ordinatas commutationes motionum atque formarum. 15. Which things considered as much as You give, O my God, as much as Thou excitest me to knock, and as much as You open unto me when I knock, Matthew 7:7 two things I find which You have made, not within the compass of time, since neither is co-eternal with You. One, which is so formed that, without any failing of contemplation, without any interval of change, although changeable, yet not changed, it may fully enjoy Your eternity and unchangeableness; the other, which was so formless, that it had not that by which it could be changed from one form into another, either of motion or of repose, whereby it might be subject unto time. But this You did not leave to be formless, since before all days, in the beginning You created heaven and earth—these two things of which I spoke. But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep. Genesis 1:2 By which words its shapelessness is conveyed unto us, that by degrees those minds may be drawn on which cannot wholly conceive the privation of all form without coming to nothing—whence another heaven might be created, and another earth visible and well-formed, and water beautifully ordered, and whatever besides is, in the formation of this world, recorded to have been, not without days, created; because such things are so that in them the vicissitudes of times may take place, on account of the appointed changes of motions and of forms.
12.13.16 Hoc interim sentio, Deus meus, cum audio loquentem scripturam tuam, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram. Terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', neque commemorantem quoto die feceris haec. Sic interim sentio propter illud caelum caeli, caelum intellectuale, ubi est intellectus nosse simul, non ex parte, non in aenigmate, non per speculum, sed ex toto, in manifestatione, facie ad faciem; non modo hoc, modo illud, sed quod dictum est nosse simul sine ulla vicissitudine temporum, et propter inuisibilem atque incompositam terram sine ulla vicissitudine temporum, quae solet habere modo hoc et modo illud, quia ubi nulla species, nusquam est hoc et illud. Propter duo haec, primitus formatum et penitus informe, illud caelum, sed caelum caeli, hoc vero terram, sed terram inuisibilem et incompositam, propter duo haec interim sentio sine commemoratione dierum dicere scripturam tuam, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram.' Statim quippe subiecit quam terram dixerit, et quod secundo die commemoratur factum firmamentum et vocatum caelum, insinuat de quo caelo prius sine diebus sermo locutus sit. 16. Meanwhile I conceive this, O my God, when I hear Your Scripture speak, saying, In the beginning God made heaven and earth; but the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep, and not stating on what day Thou created these things. Thus, meanwhile, do I conceive, that it is on account of that heaven of heavens, that intellectual heaven, where to understand is to know all at once—not in part, not darkly, not through a glass, 1 Corinthians 13:12 but as a whole, in manifestation, face to face; not this thing now, that anon, but (as has been said) to know at once without any change of times; and on account of the invisible and formless earth, without any change of times; which change is wont to have this thing now, that anon, because, where there is no form there can be no distinction between this or that;— it is, then, on account of these two—a primitively formed, and a wholly formless; the one heaven, but the heaven of heavens, the other earth, but the earth invisible and formless—on account of these two do I meanwhile conceive that Your Scripture said without mention of days, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. For immediately it added of what earth it spoke. And when on the second day the firmament is recorded to have been created, and called heaven, it suggests to us of which heaven He spoke before without mention of days.
12.14.17 Mira profunditas eloquiorum tuorum, quorum ecce ante nos superficies blandiens paruulis, sed mira profunditas, Deus meus, mira profunditas! Horror est intendere in eam, horror honoris et tremor amoris. Odi hostes eius uehementer: o si occidas eos de gladio bis acuto, et non sint hostes eius! Sic enim amo eos occidi sibi, ut vivant tibi. Ecce autem alii, non reprehensores sed laudatores libri Geneseos: 'non', inquiunt, 'hoc voluit in his verbis intellegi spiritus Dei, qui per Moysen famulum eius ista conscripsit, non hoc voluit intellegi quod tu dicis, sed aliud quod nos dicimus.' Quibus ego, te arbitro, Deus omnium nostrum, ita respondeo. 17. Wonderful is the depth of Your oracles, whose surface is before us, inviting the little ones; and yet wonderful is the depth, O my God, wonderful is the depth. It is awe to look into it; and awe of honour, and a tremor of love. The enemies thereof I hate vehemently. Oh, if You would slay them with Your two-edged sword, that they be not its enemies! For thus do I love, that they should be slain unto themselves that they may live unto You. But behold others not reprovers, but praisers of the book of Genesis,— The Spirit of God, say they, Who by His servant Moses wrote these things, willed not that these words should be thus understood. He willed not that it should be understood as You say, but as we say. Unto whom, O God of us all, Yourself being Judge, do I thus answer.
12.15.18 Num dicetis falsa esse, quae mihi veritas voce forti in aurem interiorem dicit de vera aeternitate creatoris, quod nequaquam eius substantia per tempora varietur nec eius voluntas extra eius substantiam sit? Unde non eum modo velle hoc modo velle illud, sed semel et simul et semper velle omnia quae uult, non iterum et iterum, neque nunc ista nunc illa, nec velle postea quod nolebat aut nolle quod volebat prius, quia talis voluntas mutabilis est et omne mutabile aeternum non est: Deus autem noster aeternus est. Item quod mihi dicit in aurem interiorem, expectatio rerum venturarum fit contuitus, cum venerint, idemque contuitus fit memoria, cum praeterierint. Omnis porro intentio quae ita variatur mutabilis est, et omne mutabile aeternum non est: Deus autem noster aeternus est. Haec colligo atque coniungo, et invenio Deum meum, Deum aeternum, non aliqua noua voluntate condidisse creaturam nec scientiam eius transitorium aliquid pati. 18. Will you say that these things are false, which, with a strong voice, Truth tells me in my inner ear, concerning the very eternity of the Creator, that His substance is in no wise changed by time, nor that His will is separate from His substance? Wherefore, He wills not one thing now, another anon, but once and for ever He wills all things that He wills; not again and again, nor now this, now that; nor wills afterwards what He wills not before, nor wills not what before He willed. Because such a will is mutable and no mutable thing is eternal; but our God is eternal. Likewise He tells me, tells me in my inner ear, that the expectation of future things is turned to sight when they have come; and this same sight is turned to memory when they have passed. Moreover, all thought which is thus varied is mutable, and nothing mutable is eternal; but our God is eternal. These things I sum up and put together, and I find that my God, the eternal God, has not made any creature by any new will, nor that His knowledge suffers anything transitory.
12.15.19 Quid ergo dicetis, contradictores? An falsa sunt ista? 'non', inquiunt. Quid illud? Num falsum est omnem naturam formatam materiamue formabilem non esse nisi ab illo qui summe bonus est quia summe est? 'neque hoc negamus', inquiunt. Quid igitur? An illud negatis, sublimem quandam esse creaturam tam casto amore cohaerentem Deo vero et vere aeterno ut, quamvis ei coaeterna non sit, in nullam tamen temporum varietatem et vicissitudinem ab illo se resolvat et defluat, sed in eius solius veracissima contemplatione requiescat, quoniam tu, Deus, diligenti te, quantum praecipis, ostendis ei te et sufficis ei, et ideo non declinat a te nec ad se? Haec est domus Dei non terrena neque ulla caelesti mole corporea, sed spiritalis et particeps aeternitatis tuae, quia sine labe in aeternum. Statuisti enim eam in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi; praeceptum posuisti et non praeteribit. Nec tamen tibi coaeterna, quoniam non sine initio, facta est enim. 19. What, therefore, will you say, you objectors? Are these things false? No, they say. What is this? Is it false, then, that every nature already formed, or matter formable, is only from Him who is supremely good, because He is supreme? . . . . Neither do we deny this, say they. What then? Do you deny this, that there is a certain sublime creature, clinging with so chaste a love with the true and truly eternal God, that although it be not co-eternal with Him, yet it separates itself not from Him, nor flows into any variety and vicissitude of times, but rests in the truest contemplation of Him only? Since Thou, O God, showest Yourself unto him, and sufficest him, who loves You as much as You command, and, therefore, he declines not from You, nor toward himself. This is the house of God, not earthly, nor of any celestial bulk corporeal, but a spiritual house and a partaker of Your eternity, because without blemish for ever. For You have made it fast for ever and ever; You have given it a law, which it shall not pass. Nor yet is it co-eternal with You, O God, because not without beginning, for it was made.
12.15.20 Nam etsi non invenimus tempus ante illam -- prior quippe omnium creata est sapientia, nec utique illa sapientia tibi, Deus noster, patri suo, plane coaeterna et aequalis et per quam creata sunt omnia et in quo principio fecisti caelum et terram, sed profecto sapientia quae creata est, intellectualis natura scilicet, quae contemplatione luminis lumen est; dicitur enim et ipsa, quamvis creata, sapientia, sed quantum interest inter lumen quod illuminat et quod illuminatur, tantum inter sapientiam quae creat et istam quae creata est, sicut inter iustitiam iustificantem et iustitiam quae iustificatione facta est (nam et nos dicti sumus iustitia tua; ait enim quidam seruus tuus, 'ut nos simus iustitia Dei in ipso'). Ergo quia prior omnium creata est quaedam sapientia quae creata est, mens rationalis et intellectualis castae civitatis tuae, matris nostrae, quae sursum est et libera est et aeterna in caelis (quibus caelis, nisi qui te laudant caeli caelorum, quia hoc est et caelum caeli Domino?), etsi non invenimus tempus ante illam, quia et creaturam temporis antecedit, quae prior omnium creata est, ante illam tamen est ipsius creatoris aeternitas, a quo facta sumpsit exordium, quamvis non temporis, quia nondum erat tempus, ipsius tamen conditionis suae. 20. For although we find no time before it, for wisdom was created before all things, Sirach 1:4 — not certainly that Wisdom manifestly co-eternal and equal unto You, our God, His Father, and by Whom all things were created, and in Whom, as the Beginning, You created heaven and earth; but truly that wisdom which has been created, namely, the intellectual nature, which, in the contemplation of light, is light. For this, although created, is also called wisdom. But as great as is the difference between the Light which enlightens and that which is enlightened, so great is the difference between the Wisdom that creates and that which has been created; as between the Righteousness which justifies, and the righteousness which has been made by justification. For we also are called Your righteousness; for thus says a certain servant of Yours: That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Therefore, since a certain created wisdom was created before all things, the rational and intellectual mind of that chaste city of Yours, our mother which is above, and is free, Galatians 4:26 and eternal in the heavens 2 Corinthians 5:1 (in what heavens, unless in those that praise You, the heaven of heavens, because this also is the heaven of heavens, which is the Lord's)— although we find not time before it, because that which has been created before all things also precedes the creature of time, yet is the Eternity of the Creator Himself before it, from Whom, having been created, it took the beginning, although not of time,— for time as yet was not—yet of its own very nature.
12.15.21 Unde ita est abs te, Deo nostro, ut aliud sit plane quam tu et non idipsum. Etsi non solum ante illam sed nec in illa invenimus tempus, quia est idonea faciem tuam semper videre nec uspiam deflectitur ab ea (quo fit ut nulla mutatione varietur). Inest ei tamen ipsa mutabilitas, unde tenebresceret et frigesceret nisi amore grandi tibi cohaerens tamquam semper meridies luceret et ferueret ex te. O domus luminosa et speciosa, dilexi decorem tuum et locum habitationis gloriae Domini mei, fabricatoris et possessoris tui! Tibi suspiret peregrinatio mea, et dico ei qui fecit te ut possideat et me in te, quia fecit et me. Erravi sicut ovis perdita, sed in umeris pastoris mei, structoris tui, spero me reportari tibi. 21. Hence comes it so to be of You, our God, as to be manifestly another than You, and not the Self-same. Since, although we find time not only not before it, but not in it (it being proper ever to behold Your face, nor is ever turned aside from it, wherefore it happens that it is varied by no change), yet is there in it that mutability itself whence it would become dark and cold, but that, clinging unto You with sublime love, it shines and glows from You like a perpetual noon. O house, full of light and splendour! I have loved your beauty, and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord, your builder and owner. Let my wandering sigh after you; and I speak unto Him that made you, that He may possess me also in you, seeing He has made me likewise. I have gone astray, like a lost sheep; yet upon the shoulders of my Sheperd, Luke 15:5 your builder, I hope that I may be brought back to you.
12.15.22 Quid dicitis mihi, quos alloquebar contradictores, qui tamen et Moysen pium famulum Dei et libros eius oracula sancti spiritus creditis? Estne ista domus Dei, non quidem Deo coaeterna sed tamen secundum modum suum aeterna in caelis, ubi vices temporum frustra quaeritis, quia non invenitis? Supergreditur enim omnem distentionem et omne spatium aetatis volubile, cui semper inhaerere Deo bonum est. 'est', inquiunt. Quid igitur ex his quae clamavit cor meum ad Deum meum, cum audiret interius vocem laudis eius, quid tandem falsum esse contenditis? An quia erat informis materies, ubi propter nullam formam nullus ordo erat? Ubi autem nullus ordo erat, nulla esse vicissitudo temporum poterat; et tamen hoc paene nihil, in quantum non omnino nihil erat, ab illo utique erat a quo est quidquid est, quod utcumque aliquid est. 'hoc quoque', aiunt, 'non negamus.' 22. What do you say to me, O you objectors whom I was addressing, and who yet believe that Moses was the holy servant of God, and that his books were the oracles of the Holy Ghost? Is not this house of God, not indeed co-eternal with God, yet, according to its measure, eternal in the heavens, 2 Corinthians 5:l where in vain you seek for changes of times, because you will not find them? For that surpasses all extension, and every revolving space of time, to which it is ever good to cleave fast to God. It is, say they. What, therefore, of those things which my heart cried out unto my God, when within it heard the voice of His praise, what then do you contend is false? Or is it because the matter was formless, wherein, as there was no form, there was no order? But where there was no order there could not be any change of times; and yet this 'almost nothing,' inasmuch as it was not altogether nothing, was verily from Him, from Whom is whatever is, in what state soever anything is. This also, say they, we do not deny.
12.16.23 Cum his enim volo coram te aliquid colloqui, Deus meus, qui haec omnia, quae intus in mente mea non tacet veritas tua, vera esse concedunt. Nam qui haec negant, latrent quantum volunt et obstrepant sibi: persuadere conabor ut quiescant et viam praebeant ad se verbo tuo. Quod si noluerint et reppulerint me, obsecro, Deus meus, ne tu sileas a me. Tu loquere in corde meo veraciter; solus enim sic loqueris. Et dimittam eos foris sufflantes in puluerem et excitantes terram in oculos suos, et intrem in cubile meum et cantem tibi amatoria, gemens inenarrabiles gemitus in peregrinatione mea et recordans Hierusalem extento in eam sursum corde, Hierusalem patriam meam, Hierusalem matrem meam, teque super eam regnatorem, illustratorem, patrem, tutorem, maritum, castas et fortes delicias et solidum gaudium et omnia bona ineffabilia, simul omnia, quia unum summum et verum bonum. Et non avertar donec in eius pacem, matris carissimae, ubi sunt primitiae spiritus mei, unde ista mihi certa sunt, colligas totum quod sum a dispersione et deformitate hac et conformes atque confirmes in aeternum, Deus meus, misericordia mea. Cum his autem qui cuncta illa quae vera sunt falsa esse non dicunt, honorantes et in culmine sequendae auctoritatis nobiscum constituentes illam per sanctum Moysen editam sanctam scripturam tuam, et tamen nobis aliquid contradicunt, ita loquor. Tu esto, Deus noster, arbiter inter confessiones meas et contradictiones eorum. 23. With such as grant that all these things which Your truth indicates to my mind are true, I desire to confer a little before You, O my God. For let those who deny these things bark and drown their own voices with their clamour as much as they please; I will endeavour to persuade them to be quiet, and to suffer Your word to reach them. But should they be unwilling, and should they repel me, I beseech, O my God, that Thou be not silent to me. Do Thou speak truly in my heart, for Thou only so speakest, and I will send them away blowing upon the dust from without, and raising it up into their own eyes; and will myself enter into my chamber, Isaiah 26:20 and sing there unto You songs of love—groaning with groaning unutterable Romans 8:26 in my pilgrimage, and remembering Jerusalem, with heart raised up towards it, Jerusalem my country, Jerusalem my mother, and Yourself, the Ruler over it, the Enlightener, the Father, the Guardian, the Husband, the chaste and strong delight, the solid joy, and all good things ineffable, even all at the same time, because the one supreme and true Good. And I will not be turned away until Thou collect all that I am, from this dispersion and deformity, into the peace of that very dear mother, where are the first-fruits of my spirit, whence these things are assured to me, and Thou conform and confirm it for ever, my God, my Mercy. But with reference to those who say not that all these things which are true and false, who honour Your Holy Scripture set forth by holy Moses, placing it, as with us, on the summit of an authority to be followed, and yet who contradict us in some particulars, I thus speak: Be Thou, O our God, judge between my confessions and their contradictions.
12.17.24 Dicunt enim, 'quamvis vera sint haec, non ea tamen duo Moyses intuebatur, cum reuelante spiritu diceret, "in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram." non caeli nomine spiritalem vel intellectualem illam creaturam semper faciem Dei contemplantem significavit, nec terrae nomine informem materiam.' Quid igitur? 'quod nos dicimus,' inquiunt, 'hoc ille vir sensit, hoc verbis istis elocutus est.' Quid illud est? 'nomine', aiunt, 'caeli et terrae totum istum visibilem mundum prius universaliter et breviter significare voluit, ut postea digereret dierum enumeratione quasi aruculatm universa quae sancto spiritui placuit sic enuntare. Tales quippe homines erant rudis ille atque carnalis populus cui loquebatur, ut eis opera Dei non nisi sola visibilia commendanda iudicaret.' Terram vero inuisibilem et incompositam tenebrosamque abyssum, unde consequenter ostenditur per illos dies facta atque disposita esse cuncta ista visibilia quae nota sunt omnibus, non incongruenter informem istam materiam intellegendam esse consentiunt. 24. For they say, Although these things be true, yet Moses regarded not those two things, when by divine revelation he said, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' Genesis 1:1 Under the name of heaven he did not indicate that spiritual or intellectual creature which always beholds the face of God; nor under the name of earth, that shapeless matter. What then? That man, say they, meant as we say; this it is that he declared by those words. What is that? By the name of heaven and earth, say they, did he first wish to set forth, universally and briefly, all this visible world, that afterwards by the enumeration of the days he might distribute, as if in detail, all those things which it pleased the Holy Spirit thus to reveal. For such men were that rude and carnal people to which he spoke, that he judged it prudent that only those works of God as were visible should be entrusted to them. They agree, however, that the earth invisible and formless, and the darksome deep (out of which it is subsequently pointed out that all these visible things, which are known to all, were made and set in order during those days), may not unsuitably be understood of this formless matter.
12.17.25 Quid si dicat alius eandem informitatem confusionemque materiae caeli et terrae nomine prius insinuatam, quod ex ea mundus iste visibilis cum omnibus naturis quae in eo manifestissime apparent, qui caeli et terrae nomine saepe appellari solet, conditus atque perfectus est? Quid si dicat et alius caelum et terram quidem inuisibilem visibilemque naturam non indecenter appellatam, ac per hoc universam creaturam quam fecit in sapienta, id est in principio, Deus, huiuscemodi duobus vocabulis esse comprehensam; verum tamen quia non de ipsa substantia Dei sed ex nihilo cuncta facta sunt, quia non sunt idipsum quod Deus, et inest quaedam mutabilitas omnibus, sive maneant, sicut aeterna domus Dei, sive mutentur, sicut anima hominis et corpus, communem omnium rerum inuisibilium visibiliumque materiem adhuc informem, sed certe formabilem, unde fieret caelum et terra, id est inuisibilis atque visibilis iam utraque formata creatura, his nominibus enuntatam, quibus appellaretur terra inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae super abyssum, ea disunctione ut terra inuisibilis et incomposita intellegatur materies corporalis ante qualitatem formae, tenebrae autem super abyssum spiritalis materies ante cohibitonem quasi fluents immoderatonis et ante illuminatonem sapientiae? 25. What, now, if another should say That this same formlessness and confusion of matter was first introduced under the name of heaven and earth, because out of it this visible world, with all those natures which most manifestly appear in it, and which is wont to be called by the name of heaven and earth, was created and perfected? But what if another should say, that That invisible and visible nature is not inaptly called heaven and earth; and that consequently the universal creation, which God in His wisdom has made—that is, 'in the begining,'— was comprehended under these two words. Yet, since all things have been made, not of the substance of God, but out of nothing (because they are not that same thing that God is, and there is in them all a certain mutability, whether they remain, as does the eternal house of God, or be changed, as are the soul and body of man), therefore, that the common matter of all things invisible and visible—as yet shapeless, but still capable of form,— out of which was to be created heaven and earth (that is, the invisible and visible creature already formed), was spoken of by the same names by which the earth invisible and formless and the darkness upon the deep would be called; with this difference, however, that the earth invisible and formless is understood as corporeal matter, before it had any manner of form, but the darkness upon the deep as spiritual matter, before it was restrained at all of its unlimited fluidity, and before the enlightening of wisdom.
12.17.26 Est adhuc quod dicat, si quis alius velit, non scilicet iam perfectas atque formatas inuisibiles visibilesque naturas caeli et terrae nomine significari, cum legitur, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', sed ipsam adhuc informem inchoationem rerum formabilem creabilemque materiam his nominibus appellatam, quod in ea iam essent ista confusa, nondum qualitatibus formisque distincta, quae nunc iam digesta suis ordinibus vocantur caelum et terra, illa spiritalis, haec corporalis creatura. 26. Should any man wish, he may still say, That the already perfected and formed natures, invisible and visible, are not signified under the name of heaven and earth when it is read, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;' but that the yet same formless beginning of things, the matter capable of being formed and made, was called by these names, because contained in it there were these confused things not as yet distinguished by their qualities and forms, the which now being digested in their own orders, are called heaven and earth, the former being the spiritual, the latter the corporeal creature.
12.18.27 Quibus omnibus auditis et consideratis, nolo verbis contendere; ad nihil enim utile est nisi ad subuersionem audientium. Ad aedificationem autem bona est lex, si quis ea legitime utatur, quia finis eius est caritas de corde puro et conscientia bona et fide non ficta; et novi magister noster in quibus duobus praeceptis totam legem prophetasque suspenderit. Quae mihi ardenter confitenti, Deus meus, lumen oculorum meorum in occulto, quid mihi obest, cum diversa in his verbis intellegi possint, quae tamen vera sint? Quid, inquam, mihi obest, si aliud ego sensero quam sensit alius eum sensisse qui scripsit? Omnes quidem qui legimus nitimur hoc indagare atque comprehendere, quod voluit ille quem legimus, et cum eum veridicum credimus, nihil quod falsum esse vel novimus vel putamus audemus eum existimare dixisse. Dum ergo quisque conatur id sentire in scripturis sanctis quod in eis sensit ille qui scripsit, quid mali est si hoc sentiat quod tu, lux omnium veridicarum mentium, ostendis verum esse, etiamsi non hoc sensit ille quem legit, cum et ille verum nec tamen hoc senserit? 27. All which things having been heard and considered, I am unwilling to contend about words, for that is profitable to nothing but to the subverting of the hearers. 2 Timothy 2:14 But the law is good to edify, if a man use it lawfully; 1 Timothy 1:8 for the end of it is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. And well did our Master know, upon which two commandments He hung all the Law and the Prophets. And what does it hinder me, O my God, Thou light of my eyes in secret, while ardently confessing these things—since by these words many things may be understood, all of which are yet true—what, I say, does it hinder me, should I think otherwise of what the writer thought than some other man thinks? Indeed, all of us who read endeavour to trace out and to understand that which he whom we read wished to convey; and as we believe him to speak truly, we dare not suppose that he has spoken anything which we either know or suppose to be false. Since, therefore, each person endeavours to understand in the Holy Scriptures that which the writer understood, what hurt is it if a man understand what Thou, the light of all true-speaking minds, dost show him to be true although he whom he reads understood not this, seeing that he also understood a Truth, not, however, this Truth?
12.19.28 Verum est enim, Domine, fecisse te caelum et terram. Et verum est esse principium sapientiam tuam, in qua fecisti omnia. Item verum est quod mundus iste visibilis habet magnas partes suas caelum et terram, brevi complexione factarum omnium conditarumque naturarum. Et verum est quod omne mutabile insinuat notitiae nostrae quandam informitatem, qua formam capit vel qua mutatur et vertitur. Verum est nulla tempora perpeti quod ita cohaeret formae incommutabili ut, quamvis sit mutabile, non mutetur. Verum est informitatem, quae prope nihil est, vices temporum habere non posse. Verum est quod, unde fit aliquid, potest quodam genere locutionis habere iam nomen eius rei quae inde fit: unde potuit vocari caelum et terra quaelibet informitas unde factum est caelum et terra. Verum est omnium formatorum nihil esse informi vicinius quam terram et abyssum. Verum est quod non solum creatum atque formatum sed etiam quidquid creabile atque formabile est tu fecisti, ex quo sunt omnia. Verum est omne quod ex informi formatur prius esse informe, deinde formatum. 28. For it is true, O Lord, that You have made heaven and earth; it is also true, that the Beginning is Your Wisdom, in Which You have made all things. It is likewise true, that this visible world has its own great parts, the heaven and the earth, which in a short compass comprehends all made and created natures. It is also true, that everything mutable sets before our minds a certain want of form, whereof it takes a form, or is changed and turned. It is true, that that is subject to no times which so cleaves to the changeless form as that, though it be mutable, it is not changed. It is true, that the formlessness, which is almost nothing, cannot have changes, of times. It is true, that that of which anything is made may by a certain mode of speech be called by the name of that thing which is made of it; whence that formlessness of which heaven and earth were made might it be called heaven and earth. It is true, that of all things having form, nothing is nearer to the formless than the earth and the deep. It is true, that not only every created, and formed thing, but also whatever is capable of creation and of form, You have made, by whom are all things. 1 Corinthians 8:6 It is true, that everything that is formed from that which is formless was formless before it was formed.
12.20.29 Ex his omnibus veris de quibus non dubitant, quorum interiori oculo talia videre donasti et qui Moysen, famulum tuum, in spiritu veritatis locutum esse immobiliter credunt, ex his ergo omnibus aliud sibi tollit qui dicit, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', id est in verbo suo sibi coaeterno fecit Deus intellegibilem atque sensibilem vel spiritalem corporalemque creaturam; aliud qui dicit, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram,' id est in verbo suo sibi coaeterno fecit Deus universam istam molem corporei mundi huius cum omnibus quas continet manifestis notisque naturis; aliud qui dicit, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', id est in verbo suo sibi coaeterno fecit informem materiam creaturae spiritalis et corporalis; aliud qui dicit, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', id est in verbo suo sibi coaeterno fecit Deus informem materiam creaturae corporalis, ubi confusum adhuc erat caelum et terra, quae nunc iam distincta atque formata in istius mundi mole sentimus; aliud qui dicit, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', id est in ipso exordio faciendi atque operandi fecit Deus informem materiam confuse habentem caelum et terram, unde formata nunc eminent et apparent cum omnibus quae in eis sunt. 29. From all these truths, of which they doubt not whose inner eye You have granted to see such things, and who immoveably believe Moses, Your servant, to have spoken in the spirit of truth; from all these, then, he takes one who says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,— that is, In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the intelligible and the sensible, or the spiritual and corporeal creature. He takes another, who says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,— that is, In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the universal mass of this corporeal world, with all those manifest and known natures which it contains. He, another, who says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, that is, In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the formless matter of the spiritual and corporeal creature. He, another, who says, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,— that is, In His Word, co-eternal with Himself, God made the formless matter of the corporeal creature, wherein heaven and earth lay as yet confused, which being now distinguished and formed, we, at this day, see in the mass of this world. He, another, who says, In the beginning God created heaven and earth,— that is, In the very beginning of creating and working, God made that formless matter confusedly containing heaven and earth, out of which, being formed, they now stand out, and are manifest, with all the things that are in them.
12.21.30 Item quod attinet ad intellectum verborum sequentium, ex illis omnibus veris aliud sibi tollit qui dicit, 'terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', id est corporale illud quod fecit Deus adhuc materies erat corporearum rerum informis, sine ordine, sine luce; aliud qui dicit, 'terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', id est hoc totum quod caelum et terra appellatum est adhuc informis et tenebrosa materies erat, unde fieret caelum corporeum et terra corporea cum omnibus quae in eis sunt corporeis sensibus nota; aliud qui dicit, 'terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', id est hoc totum quod caelum et terra appellatum est adhuc informis et tenebrosa materies erat, unde fieret caelum intellegibile (quod alibi dicitur caelum caeli) et terra, scilicet omnis natura corporea, sub quo nomine intellegatur etiam hoc caelum corporeum, id est unde fieret omnis inuisibilis visibilisque creatura; aliud qui dicit, 'terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', non illam informitatem nomine caeli et terrae scriptura appellavit, sed iam erat, inquit, ipsa informitas quam terram inuisibilem et incompositam tenebrosamque abyssum nominavit, de qua caelum et terram Deum fecisse praedixerat, spiritalem scilicet corporalemque creaturam; aliud qui dicit, 'terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita, et tenebrae erant super abyssum', id est informitas quaedam iam materies erat unde caelum et terram Deum fecisse scriptura praedixit, totam scilicet corpoream mundi molem in duas maximas partes superiorem atque inferiorem distributam cum omnibus quae in eis sunt usitatis notisque creaturis. 30. And as concerns the understanding of the following words, out of all those truths he selected one to himself, who says, But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,— that is, That corporeal thing, which God made, was as yet the formless matter of corporeal things, without order, without light. He takes another, who says, But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,— that is, This whole, which is called heaven and earth, was as yet formless and darksome matter, out of which the corporeal heaven and the corporeal earth were to be made, with all things therein which are known to our corporeal senses. He, another, who says, But the earth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,— that is, This whole, which is called heaven and earth, was as yet a formless and darksome matter, out of which were to be made that intelligible heaven, which is otherwise called the heaven of heavens, and the earth, namely, the whole corporeal nature, under which name may also be comprised this corporeal heaven,— that is, from which every invisible and visible creature would be created. He, another, who says, But the carth was invisible and without form, and darkness was upon the deep,— The Scripture called not that formlessness by the name of heaven and earth, but that formlessness itself, says he, already was, which he named the earth invisible and formless and the darksome deep, of which he had said before, that God had made the heaven and the earth, namely, the spiritual and corporeal creature. He, another, who says, But the earth was invisible and formless, and darkness was upon the deep,— that is, There was already a formless matter, whereof the Scripture before said, that God had made heaven and earth, namely, the entire corporeal mass of the world, divided into two very great parts, the superior and the inferior, with all those familiar and known creatures which are in them.
12.22.31 Cum enim duabus istis extremis sententiis resistere quisquam ita temptaverit: 'si non uultis hanc informitatem materiae caeli et terrae nomine appellatam videri, erat ergo aliquid quod non fecerat Deus, unde caelum et terram faceret; neque enim scriptura narravit quod istam materiem Deus fecerit, nisi intellegamus eam caeli et terrae aut solius terrae vocabulo significatam cum diceretur, "in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram", ut id quod sequitur, "terra autem erat inuisibilis et incomposita", quamvis informem materiam sic placuerit appellare, non tamen intellegamus nisi eam quam fecit Deus in eo quod praescriptum est, "fecit caelum et terram",' respondebunt assertores duarum istarum sententiarum quas extremas posuimus aut illius aut illius, cum haec audierint, et dicent, 'informem quidem istam materiam non negamus a Deo factam, Deo, a quo sunt omnia bona valde, quia, sicut dicimus amplius bonum esse quod creatum atque formatum est, ita fatemur minus bonum esse quod factum est creabile atque formabile, sed tamen bonum: non autem commemorasse scripturam quod hanc informitatem fecerit Deus, sicut alia multa non commemoravit, ut cherubim et seraphim, et quae apostolus distincte ait, "sedes, Dominationes, principatus, potestates", quae tamen omnia Deum fecisse manifestum est. Aut si eo quod dictum est, "fecit caelum et terram", comprehensa sunt omnia, quid de aquis dicimus super quas ferebatur spiritus Dei? Si enim terra nominata simul intelleguntur, quomodo iam terrae nomine materies informis accipitur, quando tam speciosas aquas videmus? Aut si ita accipitur, cur ex eadem informitate scriptum est factum firmamentum et vocatum caelum neque scriptum est factas esse aquas? Non enim adhuc informes sunt et inuisae quas ita decora specie fluere cernimus. Aut si tunc acceperunt istam speciem cum dixit Deus, "congregetur aqua, quae est sub firmamento", ut congregatio sit ipsa formatio, quid respondebitur de aquis quae super firmamentum sunt, quia neque informes tam honorabilem sedem accipere meruissent nec scriptum est qua voce formatae sint? Unde si aliquid Genesis tacuit Deum fecisse, quod tamen Deum fecisse nec sana fides nec certus ambigit intellectus, nec ideo ulla sobria doctrina dicere audebit istas aquas coaeternas Deo, quia in libro Geneseos commemoratas quidem audimus, ubi autem factae sint non invenimus, cur non informem quoque illam materiam, quam scriptura haec terram inuisibilem et incompositam tenebrosamque abyssum appellat, docente veritate intellegamus ex Deo factam esse de nihilo ideoque illi non esse coaeternam, quamvis ubi facta sit omiserit enuntiare ista narratio?' 31. For, should any one endeavour to contend against these last two opinions, thus—If you will not admit that this formlessness of matter appears to be called by the name of heaven and earth, then there was something which God had not made out of which He could make heaven and earth; for Scripture has not told us that God made this matter, unless we understand it to be implied in the term of heaven and earth, or of earth only, when it is said, 'In the beginning God created heaven and earth,' as that which follows, but the earth was invisible and formless, although it was pleasing to him so to call the formless matter, we may not yet understand any but that which God made in that text which has been already written, 'God made heaven and earth.' The maintainers of either one or the other of these two opinions which we have put last will, when they have heard these things, answer and say, We deny not indeed that this formless matter was created by God, the God of whom are all things, very good; for, as we say that that is a greater good which is created and formed, so we acknowledge that that is a minor good which is capable of creation and form, but yet good. But yet the Scripture has not declared that God made this formlessness, any more than it has declared many other things; as the 'Cherubim,' and 'Seraphim,' and those of which the apostle distinctly speaks, 'Thrones,' 'Dominions,' 'Principalities,' 'Powers,' Colossians 1:16 all of which it is manifest God made. Or if in that which is said, 'He made heaven and earth,' all things are comprehended, what do we say of the waters upon which the Spirit of God moved? For if they are understood as incorporated in the word earth, how then can formless matter be meant in the term earth when we see the waters so beautiful? Or if it be so meant, why then is it written that out of the same formlessness the firmament was made and called heaven, and yet it is not written that the waters were made? For those waters, which we perceive flowing in so beautiful a manner, remain not formless and invisible. But if, then, they received that beauty when God said, Let the water which is under the firmament be gathered together, Genesis 1:9 so that the gathering be the very formation, what will be answered concerning the waters which are above the firmament, because if formless they would not have deserved to receive a seat so honourable, nor is it written by what word they were formed? If, then, Genesis is silent as to anything that God has made, which, however, neither sound faith nor unerring understanding doubts that God has made, let not any sober teaching dare to say that these waters were co-eternal with God because we find them mentioned in the book of Genesis; but when they were created, we find not. Why— truth instructing us— may we not understand that that formless matter, which the Scripture calls the earth invisible and without form, and the darksome deep, have been made by God out of nothing, and therefore that they are not co-eternal with Him, although that narrative has failed to tell when they were made?
12.23.32 His ergo auditis atque perspectis pro captu infirmitatis meae, quam tibi confiteor scienti Deo meo, duo video dissensionum genera oboriri posse cum aliquid a nuntiis veracibus per signa enuntiatur: unum, si de veritate rerum, alterum, si de ipsius qui enuntiat voluntate dissensio est. Aliter enim quaerimus de creaturae conditione quid verum sit, aliter autem quid in his verbis Moyses, egregius domesticus fidei tuae, intellegere lectorem auditoremque voluerit. In illo primo genere discedant a me omnes qui ea quae falsa sunt se scire arbitrantur; in hoc item altero discedant a me omnes qui ea quae falsa sunt Moysen dixisse arbitrantur. Coniungar autem illis, Domine, in te et delecter cum eis in te qui veritate tua pascuntur in latitudine caritatis, et accedamus simul ad verba libri tui et quaeramus in eis vountatem tuam per voluntatem famuli tui, cuius calamo dispensasti ea. 32. These things, therefore, being heard and perceived according to my weakness of apprehension, which I confess unto You, O Lord, who know it, I see that two sorts of differences may arise when by signs anything is related, even by true reporters,— one concerning the truth of the things, the other concerning the meaning of him who reports them. For in one way we inquire, concerning the forming of the creature, what is true; but in another, what Moses, that excellent servant of Your faith, would have wished that the reader and hearer should understand by these words. As for the first kind, let all those depart from me who imagine themselves to know as true what is false. And as for the other also, let all depart from me who imagine Moses to have spoken things that are false. But let me be united in You, O Lord, with them, and in You delight myself with them that feed on Your truth, in the breadth of charity; and let us approach together unto the words of Your book, and in them make search for Your will, through the will of Your servant by whose pen You have dispensed them.
12.24.33 Sed quis nostrum sic invenit eam inter tam multa vera quae in illis verbis aliter atque aliter intellectis occurrunt quaerentibus, ut tam fidenter dicat hoc sensisse Moysen atque hoc in illa narratione voluisse intellegi, quam fidenter dicit hoc verum esse, sive ille hoc senserit sive aliud? Ecce enim, Deus meus, ego seruus tuus, qui vovi tibi sacrificium confessionis in his litteris et oro ut ex misericordia tua reddam tibi vota mea, ecce ego quam fidenter dico in tuo verbo incommutabili omnia te fecisse, inuisibilia et visibilia. Numquid tam fidenter dico non aliud quam hoc attendisse Moysen, cum scriberet, 'in principio fecit Deus caelum et terram', quia non, sicut in tua veritate hoc certum video, ita in eius mente video id eum cogitasse cum haec scriberet? Potuit enim cogitare, 'in ipso faciendi exordio', cum diceret, 'in principio'; potuit et caelum et terram hoc loco nullam iam formatam perfectamque naturam sive spiritalem sive corporalem, sed utramque inchoatam et adhuc informem velle intellegi. Video quippe vere potuisse dici quidquid ho rum diceretur, sed quid horum in his verbis ille cogitaverit, non ita video, quamvis sive aliquid horum sive quid aliud quod a me commemoratum non est tantus vir ille mente conspexerit, cum haec verba promeret, verum eum vidisse apteque id enuntiavisse non dubitem. 33. But which of us, amid so many truths which occur to inquirers in these words, understood as they are in different ways, shall so discover that one interpretation as to confidently say that Moses thought this, and that in that narrative he wished this to be understood, as confidently as he says that this is true, whether he thought this thing or the other? For behold, O my God, I Your servant, who in this book have vowed unto You a sacrifice of confession, and beseech You that of Your mercy I may pay my vows unto You, behold, can I, as I confidently assert that Thou in Your immutable word hast created all things, invisible and visible, with equal confidence assert that Moses meant nothing else than this when he wrote, In the beginning God created. the heaven and the earth. No. Because it is not as clear to me that this was in his mind when he wrote these things, as I see it to be certain in Your truth. For his thoughts might be set upon the very beginning of the creation when he said, In the beginning; and he might wish it to be understood that, in this place, the heaven and the earth were no formed and perfected nature, whether spiritual or corporeal, but each of them newly begun, and as yet formless. Because I see, that which-soever of these had been said, it might have been said truly; but which of them he may have thought in these words, I do not so perceive. Although, whether it were one of these, or some other meaning which has not been mentioned by me, that this great man saw in his mind when he used these words, I make no doubt but that he saw it truly, and expressed it suitably.
12.25.34 Nemo iam mihi molestus sit dicendo mihi, 'non hoc sensit Moyses quod tu dicis, sed hoc sensit quod ego dico.' Si enim mihi diceret, 'unde scis hoc sensisse Moysen, quod de his verbis eius eloqueris?', aequo animo ferre deberem et responderem fortasse quae superius respondi vel aliquanto uberius, si esset durior. Cum vero dicit, 'non hoc ille sensit quod tu dicis, sed quod ego dico', neque tamen negat quod uterque nostrum dicit, utrumque verum esse, o vita pauperum, Deus meus, in cuius sinu non est contradictio, plue mihi mitigationes in cor, ut patienter tales feram. Qui non mihi hoc dicunt, quia divini sunt et in corde famuli tui viderunt quod dicunt, sed quia superbi sunt nec noverunt Moysi sententiam sed amant suam, non quia vera est, sed quia sua est. Alioquin et aliam veram pariter amarent, sicut ego amo quod dicunt quando verum dicunt, non quia ipsorum est sed quia verum est: et ideo iam nec ipsorum est, quia verum est. Si autem ideo ament illud quia verum est, iam et ipsorum est et meum est, quoniam in commune omnium est veritatis amatorum. Illud autem quod contendunt non hoc sensisse Moysen quod ego dico, sed quod ipsi dicunt, nolo, non amo, quia etsi ita est, tamen ista temeritas non scientiae sed audaciae est, nec visus sed typhus eam peperit. Ideoque, Domine, tremenda sunt iudicia tua, quoniam veritas tua nec mea est nec illius aut illius, sed omnium nostrum quos ad eius communionem publice vocas, terribiliter admonens nos ut eam nolimus habere privatam, ne privemur ea. Nam quisquis id quod tu omnibus ad fruendum proponis sibi proprie vindicat et suum uult esse quod omnium est, a communi propellitur ad sua, hoc est a veritate ad mendacium. Qui enim loquitur mendacium, de suo loquitur. 34. Let no one now trouble me by saying, Moses thought not as you say, but as I say. For should he ask me, Whence do you know that Moses thought this which you deduce from his words? I ought to take it contentedly, and reply perhaps as I have before, or somewhat more fully should he be obstinate. But when he says, Moses meant not what you say, but what I say, and yet denies not what each of us says, and that both are true, O my God, life of the poor, in whose bosom there is no contradiction, pour down into my heart Your soothings, that I may patiently bear with such as say this to me; not because they are divine, and because they have seen in the heart of Your servant what they say, but because they are proud, and have not known the opinion of Moses, but love their own—not because it is true, but because it is their own. Otherwise they would equally love another true opinion, as I love what they say when they speak what is true; not because it is theirs, but because it is true, and therefore now not theirs because true. But if they therefore love that because it is true, it is now both theirs and mine, since it is common to all the lovers of truth. But because they contend that Moses meant not what I say, but I what they themselves say, this I neither like nor love; because, though it were so, yet that rashness is not of knowledge, but of audacity; and not vision, but vanity brought it forth. And therefore, O Lord, are Your judgments to be dreaded, since Your truth is neither mine, nor his, nor another's, but of all of us, whom Thou publicly callest to have it in common, warning us terribly not to hold it as specially for ourselves, lest we be deprived of it. For whosoever claims to himself as his own that which Thou appointed to all to enjoy, and desires that to be his own which belongs to all, is forced away from what is common to all to that which is his own— that is, from truth to falsehood. For he that speaks a lie, speaks of his own. John 8:44
12.25.35 Attende, iudex optime, Deus, ipsa veritas, attende quid dicam contradictori huic, attende. Coram te enim dico et coram fratribus meis qui legitime utuntur lege usque ad finem caritatis. Attende et vide quid ei dicam, si placet tibi. Hanc enim vocem huic refero fraternam et pacificam: 'si ambo videmus verum esse quod dicis et ambo videmus verum esse quod dico, ubi, quaeso, id videmus? Nec ego utique in te nec tu in me, sed ambo in ipsa quae supra mentes nostras est incommutabili veritate. Cum ergo de ipsa Domini Dei nostri luce non contendamus, cur de proximi cogitatione contendimus, quam sic videre non possumus ut videtur incommutabilis veritas, quando, si ipse Moyses apparuisset nobis atque dixisset, "hoc cogitavi", nec sic eam videremus, sed crederemus? Non itaque supra quam scriptum est unus pro altero infletur adversus alterum. Diligamus Dominum Deum nostrum ex toto corde, ex tota anima, ex tota mente nostra, et proximum nostrum sicut nosmet ipsos. Propter quae duo praecepta caritatis sensisse Moysen, quidquid in illis libris sensit, nisi crediderimus, mendacem faciemus Dominum, cum de animo conserui aliter quam ille docuit opinamur. Iam vide quam stultum sit, in tanta copia verissimarum sententiarum quae de illis verbis erui possunt, temere affirmare quam earum Moyses potissimum senserit, et perniciosis contentionibus ipsam offendere caritatem propter quam dixit omnia, cuius dicta conamur exponere.' 35. Hearken, O God, Thou best Judge! Truth itself, hearken to what I shall say to this gainsayer; hearken, for before You I say it, and before my brethren who use Your law lawfully, to the end of charity; 1 Timothy 1:8 hearken and behold what I shall say to him, if it be pleasing unto You. For this brotherly and peaceful word do I return unto him: If we both see that that which you say is true, and if we both see that what I say is true, where, I ask, do we see it? Certainly not I in you, nor you in me, but both in the unchangeable truth itself, which is above our minds. When, therefore, we may not contend about the very light of the Lord our God, why do we contend about the thoughts of. our neighbour, which we cannot so see as incommutable truth is seen; when, if Moses himself had appeared to us and said, This I meant, not so should we see it, but believe it? Let us not, then, be puffed up for one against the other, 1 Corinthians 4:6 above that which is written; let us love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself. Mark 12:30-31 As to which two precepts of charity, unless we believe that Moses meant whatever in these books he did mean, we shall make God a liar when we think otherwise concerning our fellow-servants' mind than He has taught us. Behold, now, how foolish it is, in so great an abundance of the truest opinions which can be extracted from these words, rashly to affirm which of them Moses particularly meant; and with pernicious contentions to offend charity itself, on account of which he has spoken all the things whose words we endeavour to explain!
12.26.36 Et tamen ego, Deus meus, celsitudo humilitatis meae et requies laboris mei, qui audis confessiones meas et diminis peccata mea, quoniam tu mihi praecipis ut diligam proximum meum sicut me ipsum, non possum minus credere de Moyse fidelissimo famulo tuo quam mihi optarem ac desiderarem abs te dari muneris, si tempore illo natus essem quo ille eoque loci me constituisses, ut per seruitutem cordis ac linguae meae litterae illae dispensarentur quae tanto post essent omnibus gentibus profuturae et per universum orbem tanto auctoritatis culmine omnium falsarum superbarumque doctrinarum verba superaturae. Vellem quippe, si tunc ego essem Moyses (ex eadem namque massa omnes venimus; et quid est homo, nisi quia memor es eius?), vellem ergo, si tunc ego essem quod ille et mihi abs te Geneseos liber scribendus adiungeretur, talem mihi eloquendi facultatem dari et eum texendi sermonis modum ut neque illi qui nondum queunt intellegere quemadmodum creat Deus, tamquam excedentia vires suas, dicta recusarent et illi qui hoc iam possunt, in quamlibet veram sententiam cogitando venissent, eam non praetermissam in paucis verbis tui famuli reperirent, et si alius aliam vidisset in luce veritatis, nec ipsa in eisdem verbis intellegenda deesset. 36. And yet, O my God, Thou exaltation of my humility, and rest of my labour, who hear my confessions, and forgivest my sins, since You command me that I should love my neighbour as myself, I cannot believe that You gave to Moses, Your most faithful servant, a less gift than I should wish and desire for myself from You, had I been born in his time, and had Thou placed me in that position that through the service of my heart and of my tongue those books might be distributed, which so long after were to profit all nations, and through the whole world, from so great a pinnacle of authority, were to surmount the words of all false and proud teachings. I should have wished truly had I then been Moses (for we all come from the same mass; and what is man, saving that You are mindful of him? ). I should then, had I been at that time what he was, and enjoined by You to write the book of Genesis, have wished that such a power of expression and such a method of arrangement should be given me, that they who cannot as yet understand how God creates might not reject the words as surpassing their powers; and they who are already able to do this, would find, in what true opinion soever they had by thought arrived at, that it was not passed over in the few words of Your servant; and should another man by the light of truth have discovered another, neither should that fail to be found in those same words.
12.27.37 Sicut enim fons in paruo loco uberior est pluribusque rivis in ampliora spatia fluxum ministrat quam quilibet eorum rivorum qui per multa locorum ab eodem fonte deducitur, ita narratio dispensatoris tui sermocinaturis pluribus profutura paruo sermonis modulo scatet fluenta liquidae veritatis, unde sibi quisque verum quod de his rebus potest, hic illud, ille illud, per longiores loquellarum anfractus trahat. Alii enim cum haec verba legunt vel audiunt, cogitant Deum, quasi hominem aut quasi aliquam molem immensa praeditam potestate nouo quodam et repentino placito extra se ipsam tamquam locis distantibus, fecisse caelum et terram, duo magna corpora supra et infra, quibus omnia continerentur, et cum audiunt, 'dixit Deus: fiat illud, et factum est illud', cogitant verba coepta et finita, sonantia temporibus atque transeuntia, post quorum transitum statim existere quod iussum est ut existeret, et si quid forte aliud hoc modo ex familiaritate carnis opinantur. In quibus adhuc paruulis animalibus, dum isto humillimo genere verborum tamquam materno sinu eorum gestatur infirmitas, salubriter aedificatur fides, qua certum habeant et teneant Deum fecisse omnes naturas quas eorum sensus mirabili varietate circumspicit. Quorum si quispiam quasi vilitatem dictorum aspernatus extra nutritorias cunas superba imbecillitate se extenderit, heu! Cadet miser et, Domine Deus, miserere, ne implumem pullum conculcent qui transeunt viam, et mitte angelum tuum, qui eum reponat in nido, ut vivat donec volet. 37. For as a fountain in a limited space is more plentiful, and affords supply for more streams over larger spaces than any one of those streams which, after a wide interval, is derived from the same fountain; so the narrative of Your dispenser, destined to benefit many who were likely to discourse thereon, does, from a limited measure of language, overflow into streams of clear truth, whence each one may draw out for himself that truth which he can concerning these subjects—this one that truth, that one another, by larger circumlocutions of discourse. For some, when they read or hear these words, think that God as a man or some mass gifted with immense power, by some new and sudden resolve, had, outside itself, as if at distant places, created heaven and earth, two great bodies above and below, wherein all things were to be contained. And when they hear, God said, Let it be made, and it was made, they think of words begun and ended, sounding in times and passing away, after the departure of which that came into being which was commanded to be; and whatever else of the kind their familiarity with the world would suggest. In whom, being as yet little ones, while their weakness by this humble kind of speech is carried on as if in a mother's bosom, their faith is healthfully built up, by which they have and hold as certain that God made all natures, which in wondrous variety their senses perceive on every side. Which words, if any one despising them, as if trivial, with proud weakness shall have stretched himself beyond his fostering cradle, he will, alas, fall miserably. Have pity, O Lord God, lest they who pass by trample on the unfledged bird; and send Your angel, who may restore it to its nest that it may live until it can fly.
12.28.38 Alii vero, quibus haec verba non iam nidus sed opaca frutecta sunt, vident in eis latentes fructus et volitant laetantes et garriunt scrutantes et carpunt eos. Vident enim, cum haec verba legunt vel audiunt tua, Deus aeterne, stabili permansione cuncta praeterita et futura tempora superari, nec tamen quicquam esse temporalis creaturae quod tu non feceris, cuius voluntas, quia id est quod tu, nullo modo mutata vel quae antea non fuisset exorta voluntate fecisti omnia, non de te similitudinem tuam formam omnium sed de nihilo dissimilitudinem informem, quae formaretur per similitudinem tuam recurrens in te unum pro captu ordinato, quantum cuique rerum in suo genere datum est, et fierent omnia bona valde, sive maneant circa te sive gradatim remotiore distantia per tempora et locos pulchras mutationes faciant aut patiantur. Vident haec et gaudent in luce veritatis tuae, quantulum hic valent. 38. But others, to whom these words are no longer a nest, but shady fruit-bowers, see the fruits concealed in them, fly around rejoicing, and chirpingly search and pluck them. For they see when they read or hear these words, O God, that all times past and future are surmounted by Your eternal and stable abiding, and still that there is no temporal creature which You have not made. And by Your will, because it is that which You are, You have made all things, not by any changed will, nor by a will which before was not—not out of Yourself, in Your own likeness, the form of all things, but out of nothing, a formless unlikeness which should be formed by Your likeness (having recourse to You the One, after their settled capacity, according as it has been given to each thing in his kind), and might all be made very good; whether they remain around You, or, being by degrees removed in time and place, make or undergo beautiful variations. These things they see, and rejoice in the light of Your truth, in the little degree they here may.
12.28.39 Et alius eorum intendit in id quod dictum est, 'in principio fecit Deus', et respicit sapientiam, principium, quia et loquitur ipsa nobis. Alius itidem intendit in eadem verba et principium intellegit exordium rerum conditarum et sic accipit 'in principio fecit' ac si diceretur 'primo fecit'. Atque in eis qui intellegunt 'in principio' quod in sapientia fecisti caelum et terram, alius eorum ipsum caelum et terram, creabilem materiam caeli et terrae, sic esse credit cognominatam, alius iam formatas distinctasque naturas, alius unam formatam eandemque spiritalem caeli nomine, aliam informem corporalis materiae terrae nomine. Qui autem intellegunt in nominibus caeli et terrae adhuc informem materiam, de qua formaretur caelum et terra, nec ipsi uno modo id intellegunt, sed alius, unde consummaretur intellegibilis sensibilisque creatura, alius tantum, unde sensibilis moles ista corporea sinu grandi continens perspicuas promptasque naturas. Nec illi uno modo, qui iam dispositas digestasque creaturas caelum et terram vocari hoc loco credunt, sed alius inuisibilem atque visibilem, alius solam visibilem, in qua luminosum caelum suspicimus et terram caliginosam quaeque in eis sunt. 39. Again, another of these directs his attention to that which is said, In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth, and beholds Wisdom—the Beginning, because It also speaks unto us. John 8:23 Another likewise directs his attention to the same words, and by beginning understands the commencement of things created; and receives it thus—In the beginning He made, as if it were said, He at first made. And among those who understand In the beginning to mean, that in Your Wisdom You have created heaven and earth, one believes the matter out of which the heaven and earth were to be created to be there called heaven and earth; another, that they are natures already formed and distinct; another, one formed nature, and that a spiritual, under the name of heaven, the other formless, of corporeal matter, under the name of earth. But they who under the name of heaven and earth understand matter as yet formless, out of which were to be formed heaven and earth, do not themselves understand it in one manner; but one, that matter out of which the intelligible and the sensible creature were to be completed; another, that only out of which this sensible corporeal mass was to come, holding in its vast bosom these visible and prepared natures. Nor are they who believe that the creatures already set in order and arranged are in this place called heaven and earth of one accord; but the one, both the invisible and visible; the other, the visible only, in which we admire the luminous heaven and darksome earth, and the things that are therein.
12.29.40 At ille qui non aliter accipit 'in principio fecit' quam si diceretur 'primo fecit' non habet quomodo veraciter intellegat caelum et terram, nisi materiam caeli et terrae intellegat, videlicet universae, id est intellegibilis corporalisque, creaturae. Si enim iam formatam velit universam, recte ab eo quaeri poterit, si hoc primo fecit Deus, quid fecerit deinceps, et post universitatem non inveniet ac per hoc audiet inuitus, 'quomodo illud primo, si postea nihil?' cum vero dicit primo informem, deinde formatam, non est absurdus, si modo est idoneus discernere quid praecedat aeternitate, quid tempore, quid electione, quid origine: aeternitate, sicut Deus omnia; tempore, sicut flos fructum; electione, sicut fructus florem; origine, sicut sonus cantum. In his quattuor primum et ultimum quae commemoravi difficillime intelleguntur, duo media facillime. Namque rara visio est et nimis ardua conspicere, Domine, aeternitatem tuam incommutabiliter mutabilia facientem ac per hoc priorem. Quis deinde sic acutum cernat animo, ut sine labore magno dinoscere valeat quomodo sit prior sonus quam cantus, ideo quia cantus est formatus sonus et esse utique aliquid non formatum potest, formari autem quod non est non potest? Sic est prior materies quam id quod ex ea fit, non ea prior quia ipsa efficit, cum potius fiat, nec prior interuallo temporis. Neque enim priore tempore sonos edimus informes sine cantu et eos posteriore tempore in formam cantici coaptamus aut fingimus, sicut ligna, quibus arca, vel argentum, quo uasculum fabricatur. Tales quippe materiae tempore etiam praecedunt formas rerum quae fiunt ex eis, at in cantu non ita est. Cum enim cantatur, auditur sonus eius, non prius informiter sonat et deinde formatur in cantum. Quod enim primo utcumque sonuerit, praeterit, nec ex eo quicquam reperies quod resumptum arte componas. Et ideo cantus in sono suo vertitur, qui sonus eius materies eius est. Idem quippe formatur, ut cantus sit. Et ideo, sicut dicebam, prior materies sonandi quam forma cantandi. Non per faciendi potentiam prior: neque enim sonus est cantandi artifex, sed cantanti animae subiacet ex corpore, de quo cantum faciat; nec tempore prior: simul enim cum cantu editur; nec prior electione: non enim potior sonus quam cantus, quandoquidem cantus est non tantum sonus verum etiam speciosus sonus. Sed prior est origine, quia non cantus formatur ut sonus sit, sed sonus formatur ut cantus sit. Hoc exemplo qui potest intellegat materiam rerum primo factam et appellatam caelum et terram, quia inde facta sunt caelum et terra, nec tempore primo factam, quia formae rerum exserunt tempora, illa autem erat informis iamque in temporibus simul animadvertitur, nec tamen de illa narrari aliquid potest, nisi velut tempore prior sit, cum pendatur extremior, quia profecto meliora sunt formata quam informia, et praecedatur aeternitate creatoris, ut esset de nihilo, unde aliquid fieret. 40. But he who does not otherwise understand, In the beginning He made, than if it were said, At first He made, can only truly understand heaven and earth of the matter of heaven and earth, namely, of the universal, that is, intelligible and corporeal creation. For if he would have it of the universe. as already formed, it might rightly be asked of him: If at first God made this, what made He afterwards? And after the universe he will find nothing; thereupon must he, though unwilling, hear, How is this first, if there is nothing afterwards? But when he says that God made matter first formless, then formed, he is not absurd if he be but able to discern what precedes by eternity, what by time, what by choice, what by origin. By eternity, as God is before all things; by time, as the flower is before the fruit; by choice, as the fruit is before the flower; by origin, as sound is before the tune. Of these four, the first and last which I have referred to are with much difficulty understood; the two middle very easily. For an uncommon and too lofty vision it is to behold, O Lord, Your Eternity, immutably making things mutable, and thereby before them. Who is so acute of mind as to be able without great labour to discover how the sound is prior to the tune, because a tune is a formed sound; and a thing not formed may exist, but that which exists not cannot be formed? So is the matter prior to that which is made from it; not prior because it makes it, since itself is rather made, nor is it prior by an interval of time. For we do not as to time first utter formless sounds without singing, and then adapt or fashion them into the form of a song, just as wood or silver from which a chest or vessel is made. Because such materials do by time also precede the forms of the things which are made from them; but in singing this is not so. For when it is sung, its sound is heard at the same time; seeing there is not first a formless sound, which is afterwards formed into a song. For as soon as it shall have first sounded it passes away; nor can you find anything of it, which being recalled you can by art compose. And, therefore, the song is absorbed in its own sound, which sound of it is its matter. Because this same is formed that it may be a tune; and therefore, as I was saying, the matter of the sound is prior to the form of the tune, not before through any power of making it a tune; for neither is a sound the composer of the tune, but is sent forth from the body and is subjected to the soul of the singer, that from it he may form a tune. Nor is it first in time, for it is given forth together with the tune; nor first in choice, for a sound is not better than a tune, since a tune is not merely a sound, but a beautiful sound. But it is first in origin, because the tune is not formed that it may become a sound, but the sound is formed that it may become a tune. By this example, let him who is able understand that the matter of things was first made, and called heaven and earth, because out of it heaven and earth were made. Not that it was made first in time, because the forms of things give rise to time, but that was formless; but now, in time, it is perceived together with its form. Nor yet can anything be related concerning that matter, unless as if it were prior in time, while it is considered last (because things formed are assuredly superior to things formless), and is preceded by the Eternity of the Creator, so that there might be out of nothing that from which something might be made.
12.30.41 In hac diversitate sententiarum verarum concordiam pariat ipsa veritas, et Deus noster misereatur nostri, ut legitime lege utamur, praecepti fine, pura caritate. Ac per hoc, si quis quaerit ex me quid horum Moyses, tuus ille famulus, senserit, non sunt hi sermones confessionum mearum si tibi non confiteor, 'nescio.' Et scio tamen illas veras esse sententias (exceptis carnalibus, de quibus quantum existimavi locutus sum -- quos tamen bonae spei paruulos haec verba libri tui non territant alta humiliter et pauca copiose), sed omnes quos in eis verbis vera cernere ac dicere fateor, diligamus nos invicem pariterque diligamus te, Deum nostrum, fontem veritatis, si non uana sed ipsam sitimus, eundemque famulum tuum, scripturae huius dispensatorem, spiritu tuo plenum, ita honoremus, ut hoc eum te reuelante, cum haec scriberet, attendisse credamus quod in eis maxime et luce veritatis et fruge utilitatis excellit. 41. In this diversity of true opinions let Truth itself beget concord; and may our God have mercy upon us, that we may use the law lawfully, 1 Timothy 1:8 the end of the commandment, pure charity. And by this if any one asks of me, Which of these was the meaning of Your servant Moses? these were not the utterances of my confessions, should I not confess unto You, I know not; and yet I know that those opinions are true, with the exception of those carnal ones concerning which I have spoken what I thought well. However, these words of Your Book affright not those little ones of good hope, treating few of high things in a humble fashion, and few things in varied ways. But let all, whom I acknowledge to see and speak the truth in these words, love one another, and equally love You, our God, fountain of truth—if we thirst not for vain things, but for it; yea, let us so honour this servant of Yours, the dispenser of this Scripture, full of Your Spirit, as to believe that when You revealed Yourself to him, and he wrote these things, he intended that which in them chiefly excels both for light of truth and fruitfulness of profit.
12.31.42 Ita cum alius dixerit, 'hoc sensit quod ego', et alius, 'immo illud quod ego', religiosius me arbitror dicere, 'cur non utrumque potius, si utrumque verum est, et si quid tertium et si quid quartum et si quid omnino aliud verum quispiam in his verbis videt, cur non illa omnia vidisse credatur, per quem Deus unus sacras litteras vera et diversa visuris multorum sensibus temperavit? ' ego certe, quod intrepid us de meo corde pronuntio, si ad culmen auctoritatis aliquid scriberem, sic mallem scribere ut quod veri quisque de his rebus capere posset mea verba resonarent, quam ut unam veram sententiam ad hoc apertius ponerem, ut excluderem caeteras quarum falsitas me non posset offendere. Nolo itaque, Deus meus, tam praeceps esse ut hoc illum virum de te meruisse non credam. Sensit ille omnino in his verbis atque cogitavit, cum ea scriberet, quidquid hic veri potuimus invenire et quidquid nos non potuimus aut nondum potuimus et tamen in eis inveniri potest. 42. Thus, when one shall say, He [Moses] meant as I do, and another, Nay, but as I do, I suppose that I am speaking more religiously when I say, Why not rather as both, if both be true? And if there be a third truth, or a fourth, and if any one seek any truth altogether different in those words, why may not he be believed to have seen all these, through whom one God has tempered the Holy Scriptures to the senses of many, about to see therein things true but different? I certainly,— and I fearlessly declare it from my heart—were I to write anything to have the highest authority, should prefer so to write, that whatever of truth any one might apprehend concerning these matters, my words should re-echo, rather than that I should set down one true opinion so clearly on this as that I should exclude the rest, that which was false in which could not offend me. Therefore am I unwilling, O my God, to be so headstrong as not to believe that from You this man [Moses] has received so much. He, surely, when he wrote those words, perceived and thought whatever of truth we have been able to discover, yea, and whatever we have not been able, nor yet are able, though still it may be found in them.
12.32.43 Postremo, Domine, qui Deus es et non caro et sanguis, si quid homo minus vidit, numquid et spiritum tuum bonum, qui deducet me in terram rectam, latere potuit, quidquid eras in eis verbis tu ipse reuelaturus legentibus posteris, etiamsi ille per quem dicta sunt unam fortassis ex multis veris sententiam cogitavit? Quod si ita est, sit igitur illa quam cogitavit caeteris excelsior. Nobis autem, Domine, aut ipsam demonstra aut quam placet alteram veram, ut sive nobis hoc quod etiam illi homini tuo sive aliud ex eorundem verborum occasione patefacias, tu tamen pascas, non error illudat. Ecce, Domine Deus meus, quam multa de paucis verbis, quam multa, oro te, scripsimus! Quae nostrae vires, quae tempora omnibus libris tuis ad istum modum sufficient? Sine me itaque brevius in eis confiteri tibi et eligere unum aliquid quod tu inspiraveris verum, certum et bonum, etiamsi multa occurrerint, ubi multa occurrere poterunt, ea fide confessionis meae ut, si hoc dixero quod sensit minister tuus, recte atque optime (id enim conari me oportet), quod si adsecutus non fuero, id tamen dicam quod mihi per eius verba tua veritas dicere voluerit, quae illi quoque dixit quod voluit. 43. Finally, O Lord, who art God, and not flesh and blood, if man does see anything less, can anything lie hidden from Your good Spirit, who shall lead me into the land of uprightness, which You Yourself, by those words, were about to reveal to future readers, although he through whom they were spoken, amid the many interpretations that might have been found, fixed on but one? Which, if it be so, let that which he thought on be more exalted than the rest. But to us, O Lord, either point out the same, or any other true one which may be pleasing unto You; so that whether You make known to us that which You did to that man of Yours, or some other by occasion of the same words, yet You may feed us, not error deceive us. Behold, O Lord my God, how many things we have written concerning a few words—how many, I beseech You! What strength of ours, what ages would suffice for all Your books after this manner? Permit me, therefore, in these more briefly to confess unto You, and to select some one true, certain, and good sense, that You shall inspire, although many senses offer themselves, where many, indeed, I may; this being the faith of my confession, that if I should say that which Your minister felt, rightly and profitably, this I should strive for; the which if I shall not attain, yet I may say that which Your Truth willed through Its words to say unto me, which said also unto him what It willed.


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