WITHOUT YOU I AM NOTHING
(1) I call upon you, my God, my mercy,1 who made me, and did not forget me, although I forgot you. I call you into my soul, which you prepare to accept you by the longing that you breathe into it. Do not desert me now when I call upon you, for before I called upon you, you went ahead and helped me,2 and repeatedly you urged me on by many different words, so that from afar I would hear you, and be converted, and call upon you as you called to me. For you have wiped away all my evil deserts, O Lord, so as not to return them to these hands of mine, whereby I fell away from you, and you went ahead and helped me in all my good deserts, so that you could restore them to your own hands, whereby you made me.
For before I was, you were, and I was nothing to which you could grant being. Yet, behold! I am, because of your goodness, which preceded all that you made me to be, and all out of which you made me. You did not need me, nor am I not such a good as you would put to use, O my Lord and my God. I am not such as would serve you in such wise that you would not tire out, so to speak, from activity, or that your strength would be the less for lack of my services. Nor am I such as to cultivate you like a land that would be untilled unless I tilled it. I am such a one as may serve you and cultivate you, so that because of you it may be well with me, for from you comes the fact that I am one with whom it may be well.
THE SOURCE OF BEING AND VALUE
(2) Your creation subsists out of the fullness of your goodness, to the end that a good that would profit you nothing, and that was not of your substance and thus equal to you,1 would nevertheless not be non-existent, since it could be made by you. What claim on you had heaven and earth, which you made in the beginning? And those spiritual and corporeal natures which you made in your Wisdom,2 that on it might depend even things inchoate and formless, each in its own genus, whether spiritual or corporeal, running off into immoderation and unlikeness far distant from you—the formless spiritual being more excellent than if a formed body; the formless corporeal being more excellent than if there were nothing whatsoever—and as formless things might thus depend upon your Word, let them tell me what claim they had on you unless they were recalled by that same Word to your unity and given form and, from you, the one and supreme good, would all be very good. What claim did they have on you even to be thus formless, these things which apart from you would not even be such as they are?
(3) What claim did corporeal matter have upon you, merely to be invisible and without form, since it would not even be such except because you made it? Hence, since it did not exist, it could have no claim on you to exist. What claim did inchoate spiritual creation have on you, even to float and flow about, darksome like the deep, but all unlike you, unless it were converted by that same Word to the same Word by whom it was made, and were enlightened by him and made into light, although not equal to the form equal to you, yet conformed to it? Just as for a body, to be is not the same as to be beautiful, otherwise it could not exist devoid of beauty; so also for a spiritual creature, to live is not the same as to live wisely, otherwise it would be immutably wise. But it is good for it always to adhere to you,3 lest by aversion from you it lose the light gained by conversion, and fall back into a life similar to the darksome deep. For we also, who are spiritual as to the soul, being turned away from you, our light, were sometimes darkness4in this life. Still do we labor amid the remains of our obscurity, until in your Only-begotten we may be your justice, as the mountains of God. For we have been your judgments, which are like a great deep.5
LET THERE BE LIGHT
(4) What you said at the first foundation of things, “Be light made, and light was made,”1 I not improperly understand as applying to spiritual creation, since there was already some sort of life which you might illuminate. But just as it had no claim on you to be such a life as could be illuminated, so also, now that it existed, it had no claim on you to be given light. Nor would its formlessness be pleasing to you unless it were made light, not by merely existing but by beholding the light-giving light and adhering to it. Hence the fact that it lives in some way, and that it lives happily, it owes entirely to your grace, for by a better change it has been converted into that which can be changed neither into better nor into worse. This you alone are, because you alone exist absolutely. For with you to live is not other than to live in blessedness, because you are your own blessedness.
(5) Therefore what would be wanting in you for that good which you yourself are for yourself, even if none of these things existed in any way or remained without form? These things you have made, not out of any need, but out of the fullness of your goodness, restraining them and converting them to a form, although not as if your joy were to be fulfilled by them. To you who are perfect, their imperfection is displeasing, and therefore they were perfected by you and are now pleasing to you. However, this is not as if you had been imperfect and were to be made perfect by their perfection. For your good “spirit was borne over the waters;”1 it was not borne up by them, as though it rested upon them. For those on whom your good Spirit is said to rest2 he causes to rest upon himself. But your incorruptible and immutable will, itself sufficient in itself unto itself, was borne upon that life which you made. For it, to live is not identical with living happily, because it likewise lives as it floats about in its own darkness. It remains for this life to be converted to him by whom it was made, and more and more to live by the fountain of life, and in his light to see light,3 and to be perfected, and enlightened, and made happy.
(6) Behold, there appears to me in a dark manner1 the Trinity, which is you, my God, since you, the Father, in the Beginning of our Wisdom, because he is your Wisdom, born of you, equal to you, and coeternal with you, that is, in your Son, you made heaven and earth. Many things have we said of the heaven of heaven, and of the earth “invisible and without form,” and of the deep, darksome according to the inconstant downflow of its spiritual formlessness, unless it had been converted to him, from whom was life of some kind, and by his illumination made a beauteous life and become his heaven of heaven, which afterwards was made between the water and water.2 By the name of God, who made these things, I now understood the Father, and by the name of Beginning the Son, in whom he made them. And believing my God to be the Trinity, as I did believe, I searched into his holy words, and behold, your “Spirit was borne above the waters.” Behold, the Trinity, my God, Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, creator of all creation!
THE SPIRIT OVER THE WATERS
(7) But what was the reason, O truthful Light? I move my heart up to you, lest it teach me vanities: dispel its darkness, and tell me, I beseech you, by charity, our mother, tell me what was the reason, why, after heaven, and earth, “invisible and without form,” and darkness upon the deep were named, your Scripture should finally name your Spirit? Was it because it was fitting for him to be introduced thus, so that he would be described as “borne over”? This could not be stated unless mention were first made of what your Spirit might be understood to be borne over. He was borne above neither the Father nor the Son, and he could not rightly be said to be borne above if he were borne above nothing. Therefore, what he would be borne over first had to be named, and then he who could not be properly mentioned otherwise, if he were not said to be one borne above. Why, then, was it unfitting that no other indication be made of him, except the statement that he was borne above?
LIFT UP YOUR HEARTS
(8) Let him who can now follow in his mind your apostle when he says that because your “charity is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us,”1 and when he teaches us about spiritual things,2 and points out to us “a more excellent way”3of charity, and bows his knees before you in our behalf, so that we may know the supereminent knowledge of the love of Christ.4 Therefore, supereminent from the very first, he was borne above the waters. To whom shall I say this? How shall I speak of the weight of lust, dragging downward into the steep abyss, and of charity lifting up through your Spirit, who was borne above the waters? To whom shall I say this? How shall I say it? These are places into which we are plunged and from which we emerge. What is more like them, and yet what is more unlike them? They are affections; they are loves: the filthiness of our spirit, flowing away downwards with a love that brings but care. But here too is the holiness of your Spirit, raising us aloft by a love that is free from care, so that we may lift up our hearts5 to you, where your Spirit was “borne above the waters,” and come to supereminent rest, when our souls shall have passed through the waters which are without substance.6
FALL AND RISE
(9) The angel fell away; man’s soul fell away. They pointed out the abyss of all spiritual creation with its darksome depths, unless you had said from the beginning, “Be light made,” and light was made, and every obedient intelligence in your heavenly city had cleaved to you and found rest in your Spirit, which is borne unchangeably over every changeable thing. Otherwise even the heaven of heaven would be a darksome deep within itself, but now it is light in the Lord.1 For in that very restless misery of spirits flowing away and displaying their own darkness, when stripped of the garments of your light, you sufficiently reveal how great you made the rational creature. For in no wise is any being less than you sufficient to give it rest and happiness, and for this it is not sufficient to itself. For you, O our God, will enlighten our darkness.2 From you arise our garments, and our darkness shall be as the noonday.3
Give me yourself, O my God! Restore yourself to me! Behold, I love you, and if it be too little, let me love you more strongly. I cannot measure so as to know how much love may be wanting in me to that which is sufficient so that my life may run to your embrace, and not be turned away, until it be hidden “in the secret of your face.”4 This alone I know, that apart from you it is evil with me, not only outside myself but also in myself, and that for me all abundance that is not my God is but want.
THE UPWARD STEPS
(10) But was neither the Father nor the Son borne above the waters? If this means as a body is moved in place, then neither was the Holy Spirit. But if the supremacy of the unchangeable divinity over all mutable things is meant, then Father and Son, as well as Holy Spirit, were borne above the waters. Why, then, has this been said of the Holy Spirit alone? Why has a sort of place, where he might be, which is yet not a place, been affirmed only of him, of whom alone it has been said that he is your gift?1
In your gift do we rest, and there we have joy in you. Our rest is our peace. Love lifts us up to it, and your good Spirit lifts up our lowliness “from the gates of death.”2 For us, peace is in a good will.3 By reason of its weight the body strives towards its own place. Yet a weight strives not so much to sink to the very lowest depths, but rather to its proper place. Fire tends upwards; a stone downwards. They are impelled by their own weights; they seek their own places. Oil poured out beneath water is raised up above the water. Water poured on top of oil sinks down beneath the oil. They are impelled by their own weights; they seek their own places. Not put in proper order, they are without rest; when they are set in due order, they are at rest. My love is my weight! I am borne about by it, wheresoever I am borne. By your gift we are enkindled, and we are borne upwards. We glow with inward fire, and we go on. We ascend steps within the heart,4 and we sing a gradual psalm.5 By your fire, by your good fire, we glow with inward fire, and we go on, for we go upwards to “the peace of Jerusalem,” for “I am gladdened in those who said to me, ‘We will go into the house of the Lord.’ ” There will good will find us a place, so that we may desire nothing further but to abide therein forever.7
THE HAPPINESS OF PURE SPIRITS
(11) O blessed creature that knew no other state, although it would have been different from what it is, unless as soon as it was made, without any intervening time, it was raised up by your gift, which is borne over every mutable being, through that call wherein you said, “Be light made,” and so it was made light.1 In us there is a distinction in time, because we were first darkness, and then were made light. But of that being it was stated what it would be if it were not made light. This was stated as if it had previously been in a state of flux and darkness, so that there would be made manifest the cause whereby it was effected that it would be different, namely, that being converted to the unfailing light, it would itself be light. Let him who can do so understand this: let him ask it of you. Why does he trouble me, as if I could enlighten any man that comes into the world.2
THE GREATEST MYSTERY
(12) Who among us understands the almighty Trinity? Yet who among us does not speak of it, if it indeed be the Trinity he speaks of? Rare is the soul that knows whereof it speaks, whatsoever it says concerning the Trinity. They contend and they quarrel, but without peace no man sees that vision. I would that men would reflect upon these three certain things within themselves. Far different are these three from that Trinity, but I indicate where it is men may consider them, weigh them, and perceive how far different they are.
I speak of these three: to be, to know, and to will. For I am, and I know, and I will: I am a knowing and a willing being, and I know that I am and that I will, and I will to be and to know. Therefore, in these three, let him who can do so perceive how inseparable a life there is, one life and one mind and one essence, and finally how inseparable a distinction there is, and yet there is a distinction. Surely a man stands face to face with himself. Let him take heed of himself, and look there, and tell me. But when he has discovered any of these and is ready to speak, let him not think that he has found that immutable being which is above all these, which is immutably, and knows immutably, and wills immutably.
But whether there is a Trinity in God, because of these three acts; or whether these acts are in each Person, so that all three belong to each Person; or whether both hold, so that the Selfsame exists immutably by its great and plenteous unity, in some marvelous way both simple and multiple, with an infinite end in and for itself, whereby it is, and is known to itself, and suffices to itself—who could conceive such things with any ease? Who could state them in any manner? Who could rashly pronounce thereon in any way?1
THE BODY OF CHRIST
(13) Proceed with your confession, O my faith. Say to your Lord God: Holy, holy, holy,1 O Lord my God. In your name we were baptized,2 O Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. In your name we baptize, O Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.
For also among us, in his Christ, has God made heaven and earth, the spiritual and the carnal parts of his Church. And before it received the form of doctrine, our earth3 was invisible and without order, and we were covered over by the darkness of ignorance, for “you have corrected man for his iniquity,”4 and “your judgments are a great deep.”5 But because your Spirit was borne over the water, your mercy did not abandon our misery, and you said, “Be light made. Do penance. The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Do penance. Be light made.”6 Since our soul was troubled within us, we remembered you, O Lord, “from the land of Jordan,” and from the mountain, equal to you but made small in our behalf.7 Our darkness displeased us, and we were converted to you, and light was made. Behold, we “were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord.”8
THIRST FOR THE LIVING GOD
(14) Yet with us it is still by faith and not yet by sight.1 “For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope.”2 As yet, “deep calls unto deep,” but now “in the voice of your floodgates.”3 And as yet he who says, “I could not speak to you as to spiritual, but only as to carnal,”4 even he does not think that he has apprehended it, but “forgetting the things that are behind,” he reaches out “to those which are before,”5 and he groans, being burdened,6 and his “soul thirsts after the living God,” “even as the hart after the fountains of waters” and he says, “When shall I come to it?”7 “Desiring to be clothed upon with his habitation which is from heaven,”8 he calls to the lower deep, and says: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be reformed in the newness of your mind.”9And again: “Do not become children in mind, but in malice be children, that you may be perfect in mind.”10 And again: “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?”11
But now it is not in his own voice but in yours, who sent your Spirit from on high12 through him who ascended on high13 and opened up the floodgates14 of his gifts, so that the streams of the river might make your city joyful.15 For him does this “friend of the bridegroom”16 sigh, already having “the first fruits of the Spirit” laid up by union with Christ, but still does he groan within himself, “waiting for the adoption, … the redemption of his body.”17 For him does he sigh, a member of the bride,18 and he is zealous for him, for he is a friend of the bridegroom; he is zealous for him, not for himself. For in the voice of your floodgates and not in his own voice, he calls to that other deep, of which, since he is zealous, he is fearful, “lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his guile,”19so also might their minds be corrupted from chastity, which is in our Spouse, your only Son. O, what is that light of beauty, when “we shall see him as he is,”20 and there shall have passed away “the tears that have been my bread day and night, while it is said to me daily: Where is your God?”21
VESSELS OF HONOR
(15) And I say, “Where are you, O my God?” Behold, where you are! In you I take breath a little,1 when I pour out my soul upon myself in the voice of joy and praise, the sound of him who celebrates a feast.2 But it is still sad, because it slips back again, and it becomes a deep, or rather, it perceives itself still to be a deep. My faith, which you have enkindled before my feet in the night, says to it: “Why are you sad, O my soul, and why do you trouble me?3 Hope in the Lord.4 His word is a lamp unto your feet.”5 Hope and persevere, until the night, the mother of the wicked, passes, until the anger of the Lord passes6—of which we also were once children,7 for we were heretofore darkness, the relics whereof we carry in our body, “dead because of sin”8—“until the day breaks, and the shadows retire.”9 Hope in the Lord. “In the morning I will stand, and I will see.”10 I shall forever give praise to you. In the morning I will stand, and I will see the salvation of my countenance,11 my God, who shall quicken also our mortal bodies, because of the Spirit who dwells in us,12 because he was mercifully borne above our dark and fluid inner being. Whence on this pilgrimage we have received a pledge,13 that now we may be light, while still we have been saved by hope,14 and “are the children of light, and children of the day, not children of the night, nor of darkness,”15 which heretofore we were. Between them and us, in this still uncertain state of man’s knowledge, you alone distinguish, “who prove our hearts”16 and “call the light day, and the darkness night.”17 For who discerns what we are but you? What have we that we have not received from you,18 being made vessels unto honor from that same lump from which others also have been made unto dishonor?19
A FIRM FOUNDATION
(16) Who except you, our God, has made for us a firmament of authority over us in the form of your divine Scriptures? For “the heavens shall be folded together like a book”1 and now they are stretched over us like a skin.2 For your divine Scripture is of a more sublime authority, now that those mortal men, through whom you dispensed it to us, have suffered this present death. You know, O Lord, you know, how you clothed men with skins, when by sin they became subject to death.3 Hence you have stretched out the firmament of your book like a skin, that is, your discourses, truly in harmony, which you have placed over us by the ministry of mortal men. For by that death of theirs, the strong firmament of authority in the words you uttered through them is sublimely extended over all things that are beneath it, whereas while they lived here, it was not so sublimely extended. You had not as yet extended the heavens like a skin; not as yet had you spread abroad on every side the glory of their death.
(17) Lord, let us look upon the heavens, “the works of your fingers.”4 Clear away from our eyes the cloud which you have drawn under them. There is your “testimony, giving wisdom to little ones.”5 Perfect, O my God, your praise “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.”6 For we do not know any books which so destroy pride, which so destroy “the enemy and the defender,”7 who resists your reconciliation by defending his own sins. I do not know, O Lord, I do not know any such pure words, which so persuade me to make confession and make my neck meek to your yoke, and invite me to serve you without complaint. Let me understand them, O good Father! Grant this to me who am placed under them, because you have established them for such as are placed under them.
(18) Other waters there are above this firmament, I believe, immortal and kept free from earthly corruption. Let them praise your name.8 Let the supercelestial peoples, who are your angels, praise you, they who have no need to look up at this firmament, or by reading to know your Word. They always behold your face,9 and, without any syllables of time, they read upon it what your eternal will decrees. They read your will; they choose it; and they love it. They read forever, and what they read never passes away. For, by choosing and loving, they read the actual immutability of your counsel. Their book is never closed, nor is their scroll folded up, because you yourself are this to them, and you are this for eternity. For you have set them in order above this firmament, which you have made firm above the infirmity of a lower race, where they might look upwards and know your mercy, telling in time of you who made all times.
“O Lord, your mercy is in heaven, and your truth reaches even to the clouds.”10 The clouds pass away, but the heavens remain. The preachers of your word pass out of this life and into another life; but your Scripture is extended over the nations even to the end of the world. “Heaven and earth will pass away,” but your “words shall not pass away.”11 For the skin will be folded up, and the grass over which it was stretched shall with its glory pass away, but your word endures forever.12 Now it appears to us under the dark figure of the clouds and in the mirror of the heavens,13not as it is. For even as to ourselves, although we are the well-beloved of your Son, “it has not yet appeared what we shall be.”14 He looked through the lattice of the flesh, and he spoke tenderly, and aroused our love, and we ran after his odor.15 But “when he shall appear, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”16 As he is, O Lord, will be our vision of him, but as yet it is not given to us.
LIGHT AND THE ENLIGHTENED
(19) For even as you totally are, so do you alone totally know, for you immutably are, and you know immutably, and you will immutably. Your essence knows and wills immutably, and your knowledge is and wills immutably, and your will is and knows immutably. Nor does it seem just before you that in exactly the same way as Light unchangeable knows itself, so should it be known by the mutable being enlightened by it. Therefore, “my soul is like earth without water unto you.”1 Just as it cannot of itself enlighten itself, so it cannot of itself be sufficient to itself. Thus “with you is the fountain of life,” even as “in your light we shall see light.”2
THE EMBITTERED AND THE COMPASSIONATE
(20) Who was it that gathered the embittered1 into one society? For all of them, there is one same end of temporal and earthly happiness, because of which they do all their deeds, although they waver back and forth amid a countless variety of cares. Who, Lord, if not yourself, who said that the waters should be gathered together into one gathering2 and that there should appear dry land, which thirsts after you, for the sea is yours, and you made it, and your hands formed the dry land.3 For not the embittered wills, but the gathering together of the waters is called sea. You restrain the wicked lusts of souls, and fix limits for them, as to how far the waters may be permitted to go, so that their waves may break upon one another.4 Thus do you make the sea by the order of your sway over all things.
(21) But by a sweet and hidden spring you water souls that thirst after you and appear before you, kept apart by a different boundary from the society of the sea, so that the earth too may bring forth her fruit. By command of you, its Lord God, our soul germinates works of mercy according to its kind. For that it loves its neighbor is shown in the relief of bodily necessities, and it has seed in itself according to its likeness.5 For by reason of our own infirmity we have compassion on others, so that we relieve the needy and help them, even as we would wish to be helped, were we in the same kind of need. We do this not only in things easy, like a herb yielding seed, but also by giving the protection and assistance of a mighty oak, like the fruit-bearing tree, that is, such assistance as will rescue from the hand of the strong man one who suffers injury, and gives shelter and protection under that great oak tree which is just judgment.
SIGNS AND TIMES
(22) Thus, Lord, thus, I beseech you, let there spring up, as you cause to be done, as you give joy and power, let there spring up truth from the earth, and let justice look down from heaven,1 and “let there be lights made in the firmament.”2 Let us break our bread with the hungry, and let us bring the needy who is without roof into our house. Let us clothe the naked, and let us not despise those of our own flesh.3 When such fruits are born out of the earth, see, how good it is.4 Let our light that lasts but for a time break forth.5 And as we pass from this lower fruit of action to the delights of contemplation, and obtain the word of life on high, let us appear like lights in the world,6 holding fast to the firmament of your Scripture.
In it you hold discussion with us, so that we may distinguish between intelligible and sensible things, as between day and night, or between certain souls dedicated to intelligible things and other souls given over to things of sense. This is to the end that now not only yourself in your hidden judgment, even as before the firmament was made, may distinguish between light and darkness, but also your spiritual children, given place and distinguished from one another in that same firmament, may, with your grace made manifest throughout the world, shine upon the earth, and divide night and day, and mark off the seasons.7 For “the old things have passed away, behold, they are made new,”8 and “now our salvation is nearer than when we came to believe,”9 and “the night is passed, but the day is at hand,”10 and you “bless the crown of the year,”11 sending “laborers into your harvest,”12 at the sowing of which “others have labored,”13 sending them also to another sowing, the harvest whereof is at the end. Thus do you answer the prayers of him who asks of you, and thus do you bless the years of the just man. “You are the Selfsame,”14 and in your years, which do not fail, you prepare a garner for the years that pass. Truly, by an eternal counsel, you bestow in their proper seasons heavenly goods upon the earth.
(23) For “to one through the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom,” “a greater light,”15 as it were, for the sake of those who are delighted by the light of manifest truth, as “for the rule of the day;” “to another, the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit,” “a lesser light,” as it were; to another, faith; to another, the gift of healing; “to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, the discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues.”16 All of them are like stars. For “all these things one and the same Spirit works, dividing to every one according as he wills,” and making the stars to appear as a manifestation for profit.17
But the word of knowledge, wherein all mysteries are contained, which are varied in their seasons, like the moon, and those other descriptions of gifts, which have been narrated in order, like stars, in so far as they differ from the brightness of wisdom, in which the predicted day rejoices, are only to rule the night. They are necessary to those to whom your most prudent servant could not speak as to spiritual men, but only as to carnal,18 even he who speaks “wisdom among the perfect.”19 But the natural man, like a babe in Christ, and a drinker of milk until he become strong enough for solid food, and can steady his eye so as to look at the sun, let him not hold his night to be bereft of all light, but let him be content with the light of the moon and the stars. These things you, our God, wisely discuss with us in your book, your firmament, so that we may discern all things in wondrous contemplation, although as yet in signs and in times, and in days and in years.20
THE RICH YOUNG MAN
(24) But first “wash yourselves, be clean, take away the evil” from your souls and from the sight of my eyes,1 so that the dry land may appear. “Learn to do good, judge for the fatherless, defend the widow,”2 so that the earth may bring forth the green herb and the tree yielding fruit.3 Come, let us discuss it, says the Lord,4 so that lights may be made in the firmament of the heaven to shine upon the earth.5 That rich man asked of the good Master what he should do to attain eternal life. Let the good Master, whom he thought to be man and nothing more—but he is good because he is God—tell him that if he wishes to enter into life, he must keep the commandments; that he must put away the bitterness of malice and wickedness; that he must not kill, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness, so that the dry land may appear, and bring forth honor of father and mother and love of neighbor. “All these have I done,” he says. Whence then so many thorns, if the earth is fruitful? Go, root up the spreading thickets of covetousness, “sell what you have,” and be filled with fruits by giving to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven. Follow the Lord, if you will be perfect, a comrade of those among whom he speaks wisdom, who knows what to distribute to the day and to the night, so that you also may know it and so that for you lights may be made in the firmament of heaven. But this will not be done unless your heart is in it, and again this latter will not be done, unless your treasure is there, as you have heard from the good Master. But that barren earth was sorrowful,6 and “thorns choked the word.”7
(25) But you, “a chosen generation,”8 weak things of the world,9 who have forsaken all things,10 so that you may follow the Lord, go after him, and confound the strong;11 go after him, you beautiful feet,12 and shine in the firmament so that the heavens may declare his glory,13 making division between the light of the perfect, although they are not yet like the angels, and the darkness of the little ones, although they are not yet like those without hope. Shine over the whole earth, and let the day, brightened by the sun, utter unto day speech of wisdom, and let the night, shining with the moon, declare to the night the word of knowledge.
The moon and the stars shine for the night, and yet the night does not darken them, since they give it light in accordance with its measure. For behold, it is as if God says, “Let there be lights made in the firmament of heaven,”14 and “suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, … and there appeared parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon each one of them,”15 and there were made lights in the firmament of heaven, holding the word of life.16 Run into every place, O you holy fires, you beautiful fires! You are the light of the world, and you are not put under a measure.17 He to whom you have held fast has been exalted, and he has exalted you. Run forth, and make it known to all nations.
WHAT THE SEA BRINGS FORTH
(26) Let the sea also conceive, and let it bring forth your works and “let the waters bring forth the creeping creatures having life.”1 For by separating the precious from the vile, you have been made the mouth of God,2 through which he said: “Let the waters bring forth,” not the living soul which the earth brings forth, but “creeping creatures having life, and the fowls that fly over the earth.”3 For your mysteries, O God, through the works of your saints, have crept amid the waves of the world’s temptations, to imbue the nations with your name in your baptism. Among these deeds, great wonders were wrought, like great whales,4 and the voices of your messengers, winged creatures above the earth, in the firmament of your book, which was set in authority over them and under which they were to fly, wheresoever they went. For “there are no speeches nor languages where their voices are not heard,” since “their sound has gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”5 For by your blessing O Lord, you multiplied them.
(27) Do I lie, or do I confuse things together and fail to distinguish between clear knowledge of these things in the firmament of heaven and corporeal works in the restless sea and beneath the firmament of heaven? Our knowledge of certain things is made solid and complete without increase in generations, such as are the lights of wisdom and knowledge. But in these same things there are many different corporeal operations, and with one growing out of another, they are multiplied under your blessing, O God. For you have consoled us for the weakness of our mortal senses, so that for the knowing mind a single thing may be pictured and expressed in many ways by bodily motions. “The waters have brought forth” these things, but it is in your Word. The needs of people alienated from your eternal truth have brought them forth, but in your gospel. For these waters have cast them forth, of which waters a bitter disease was the cause whereby these things came forth in your Word.6
(28) All things are beautiful because you made them, but you who made all things are inexpressibly more beautiful. If Adam had not fallen away from you, from his reins7 there would not have flowed that salt sea water, the human race, so deeply active, so swelling in storms, and so restlessly flowing. Then there would have been no need for your dispensers to work corporeally and sensibly amid many waters, and thus produce mystical deeds and words. For now the creeping things and the flying animals seem to me to be such. Men subject to corporeal rites, and instructed and initiated by such signs, would not make further progress unless the soul began to live spiritually upon another plane, and after words of admission8 would look forward to their consummation.
THE LIVING SOUL
(29) Because of this, in your Word, it was not the depths of the sea, but the earth, separated from the bitterness of the waters, that brought forth not creeping creatures possessed of life and the fowls of the air, but “a living soul.”1 It does not now have need of baptism, as the heathen have need, and as it also once had need, when it was covered over with the waters—for there is no other entrance into the kingdom of heaven from the time that you decreed that such should be the entrance—nor does it seek after great and wonderful things whereby its faith would be established. It is not such that unless it sees signs and wonders, it does not believe,2 for now the faithful earth is separated from the sea’s waters, which were bitter with infidelity, and “tongues are as a sign, not to believers but to unbelievers.”3
Nor does the earth, which you have established over the waters, need that kind of flying fowl which by your Word “the waters brought forth.” Send your Word into it by your messengers. We narrate their works, but it is you who work in them,4 and they labor and produce a living soul. The earth brings it forth, for the earth is the cause why they may work these things in it, just as the sea was the cause why they bring about “the creeping creatures having life, and the fowls that fly under the firmament of heaven.”5 Of these the earth now has no need, although it feeds upon the Fish,6 raised out of the deep and put upon that table which you have prepared in the sight of believers.7 He was taken out of the deep to the end that he might nourish the dry land. And the birds, offspring of the sea, are yet multiplied upon the earth. Man’s infidelity shows itself to be the reason for the first words of the evangelists, but the faithful also are exhorted and blessed by them many times, day after day. But the living soul takes its beginning from the earth, for it profits no one except those faithful to keep continent from the love of this world, so that their soul may live to you, for it was dead while it lived in pleasures,8 in pleasures that bring death, O Lord. For it is you who are the life-bringing pleasure of the pure of heart.
(30) Therefore, let your ministers now work upon the earth, not as upon the waters of infidelity by preaching and speaking through miracles and mysteries and mystic words, where ignorance, mother of wonder, is made attentive out of fear of these secret signs. Such is the entrance into faith for the sons of Adam, forgetful of you, while they hide themselves from your face9 and become a deep. But let them work as upon the dry land, separated from the whirlpools of the great deep. Let them be a pattern to the faithful10by living before them and by arousing them to imitation. For thus do men truly hear, not merely to hear, but also to do. “Seek God, and your soul shall live,”11 so that “the earth may bring forth a living soul.” “Do not be conformed to this world.”12 Keep yourselves from it. The soul lives by avoiding what it dies by desiring. Keep yourselves clean from the monstrous savagery of pride, from sluggish delights of sensuality, and from the false name of knowledge,13 so that the wild beasts may be tamed, the cattle mastered, and the serpents rendered harmless. In allegory, the passions of the soul are such things, but haughty pride, lustful delight, and poisonous curiosity are motions of a dead soul. For the soul does not die in such wise as to lose all action, since it dies by forsaking the fountain of life,14 and so is taken up by the passing world and is conformed to it.
(31) But your Word, O God, is the fountain of eternal life,15 and it does not pass away. Therefore, this departure of the soul is restrained by your Word, when it is said to us, “Do not be conformed to this world,” so that the earth may bring forth in the fountain of life a living soul, a soul continent in your Word through the evangelists, by imitating the imitators of your Christ.16 For this is to be “according to its kind,” since a man is emulated by his friend. He says, “Be you as I am, because I also am as you.”17 Thus there will be in the living soul, beasts good in meekness of conduct. For you have commanded them by saying: “Do your works in meekness, and you shall be beloved,”18 by all men. There will be good cattle, which will neither have too much if they eat, nor if they do not eat, will they be in need.19 The serpents, too, will be good, not pernicious, so as to do harm, but wise to take heed, searching only so far into temporal nature as suffices for eternity to be “clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made.”20 For these animals are obedient to reason, when they are restrained from a deadly course, and thus live and are good.
IN HIS IMAGE
(32) For behold, O Lord our God, our creator, when our affections have been restrained from love of this world, in which affections we were dying by living evilly, and when by living well a living soul has begun to exist, and your Word, by which you spoke to us through your apostle, has been fulfilled in us, namely, “Do not be conformed to this world,” there follows what you immediately adjoined, and said, “But be reformed in the newness of your mind.”1 No longer is this “after one’s kind,” as though imitating our neighbor who goes on before us, or living according to the example of some better man. You did not say, “Let man be made according to his kind,” but “Let us make man to our image and likeness,”2 so that we may prove what is your will.3
It was for this purpose that that dispenser of yours, who begot children through the Gospel, lest he always keep them as babes, whom he would have to nourish with milk and cherish as a nurse,4 said, “Be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove,” for yourselves “what is the will of God, what is the good and the acceptable, and the perfect thing.”5 Therefore, you do not say, “Let man be made,” but, “Let us make man,” and you do not say, “according to his kind,” but “to our image and likeness.” For since he is renewed in mind and perceives your truth that he has understood, he does not need a man to point the way so that he may imitate his own kind. By your direction, he himself establishes what is your will, what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect thing. Since he is now capable of receiving it, you teach him to see the Trinity of unity and the unity of the Trinity. Therefore, to what was stated in the plural number, “Let us make man,” there is added in the singular, “and God made man,” and to what was said in the plural, “to our image,” is added in the singular, “to the image of God.” Thus man “is renewed unto knowledge of God, according to the image of him who created him,”6 and being made spiritual, he “judges all things,” that is, all things that are to be judged, but “he himself is judged by no man.”7
TWO KINDS OF DOMINION
(33) It is said that he judges all things, that is, that he has dominion over the fishes of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and all herds and wild beasts, and the whole earth, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth.1 He does this by the mind’s understanding, through which he “perceives the things that are of the Spirit of God.”2 Otherwise, “man when he was placed in honor did not understand; he has been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them.”3 Therefore, our God, in your Church, according to your grace which you have given to it, “for we are your workmanship, created in good works”4 not only those who preside spiritually, but also those who spiritually are subject to those in authority—for in this way you made man male and female in your spiritual grace, where as to bodily sex there is neither male nor female, because there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor freeman5—therefore spiritual people, whether those in authority or those who obey, judge spiritually. This is not with regard to the forms of spiritual knowledge, which shine in the firmament, for they ought not to judge so sublime an authority. Nor is it of your book itself, even though something does not shine forth clearly from it, for we submit our minds to it, and we hold it for certain that even things closed to our sight are rightly and truly spoken.
Thus man, although now spiritual and “renewed unto knowledge of God according to the image of him who created him,”6 ought to be “a doer of the law”7 and not a judge. Nor does he judge concerning that distinction, namely, of spiritual and carnal men, who are known to your eyes, O our God, but have not yet become apparent to us by their works, so that we might know them by their fruits.8 But you, O Lord, already know them, and you have divided them apart, and you have called them in secret before the firmament was made. Nor does he, although a spiritual man, judge the restless people of this world. What has he “to do to judge those that are without,”9 not knowing which shall come from that state into your sweet grace, and which shall remain in the everlasting bitterness of impiety?
(34) Therefore, man, whom you have made to your image, did not receive dominion over the lights of heaven, or over that bidden heaven itself, or over day and night, which you called before the foundation of heaven, or over the gathering of the waters, which is the sea, but he has received dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all beasts, and the whole earth, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth.10 For he judges and approves what he finds right, and he disapproves what he finds wrong, whether in that sacramental administration whereby those men are initiated whom your mercy searches out in many waters;11 or in that wherein that Fish is set forth, which, having been taken out of the deep, the devout earth feeds upon;12 or in the signs and utterance of words, made subject to the authority of your book, like birds flying under the firmament, by interpreting, expounding, discoursing, disputing, blessing, or praying to you, with the signs thereof bursting from the mouth and sounding forth, to the end that the people may answer, “Amen.”
The cause of the physical utterance of these words is the abyss of this world and the blindness of our flesh. Because of them, thoughts cannot be seen, so that there is need for sounds to strike our ears. Thus, although these flying fowls are multiplied upon the earth, they take their rise from the waters. The spiritual man also judges by approving what is right and disapproving what he finds wrong in the deeds and habits of the faithful: in their almsgiving, like the earth bringing forth fruit. He passes judgment on the living soul, with its affections made meek in chastity, in fastings,13 in holy meditations on things perceived by the bodily senses. He is now said to pass judgment upon these things, over which he also has power of correction.
INCREASE AND MULTIPLY
(35) But what is this, and what sort of mystery is it? Behold, you bless men, O Lord, so that they may “increase and multiply, and fill the earth.”1 By this do you give us no indication whereby we may understand something further? Why do you not bless in this same manner the light, which you have called day, and the firmament of heaven, and the lights, and the stars, and the earth, and the sea? I might say that you, our God, who created us to your image, I might say that you had willed to bestow this gift solely upon man, if you had not in like manner blessed the fishes and the whales, so that they should increase and multiply and fill the waters of the sea, and the birds, so that they would be multiplied over the earth. Again, I might say that this blessing pertains to such kinds of things as are propagated by being begotten from themselves, if I had also found it given to trees, and plants, and beasts of the earth. But now neither to herbs nor to trees, nor to beasts and serpents, has it been said “Increase and multiply,” although all these, like fishes, birds, and men, by generation increase and preserve their kind.
(36) What then shall I say, O Truth, my light? That it means nothing? That it was stated in this way for no purpose? Not so, O Father of mercy! Far be it from a servant of your Word to speak thus. If I do not understand what you mean by that passage, let my betters, that is, men more intelligent than I am, make better use of it, according as you have given to each of them to understand.2 But let my confession likewise be pleasing in your eyes, for in it I confess to you that I believe, O Lord, that you have not spoken thus to me in vain. I will not keep silent as to what occasion to read this suggests to me. For the passage is true, and I do not see what should impede me from thus understanding the figurative statements in your books.
I have known a thing to be signified in many ways by the body that is understood in one way by the mind, and a thing to be understood in many ways by the mind that is signified in but one way by the body. Consider sincere love of God and neighbor, see how it is expressed corporeally in many holy rites, and in innumerable languages, and in each language by innumerable turns of speech. Thus do the offspring of the waters increase and multiply. Note this again, whoever you are who read these words. See what Scripture delivers and how the voice pronounces it in one way only, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” Is not this statement understood in many ways, not by deceit of error, but by various kinds of true interpretations? Thus do man’s offspring increase and multiply.
(37) Hence, if we think of the actual natures of things, not allegorically but properly, then the words, “Increase and multiply,” hold for all things that are begotten from seed. But if we interpret these words as set down figuratively—and this I am inclined to think is intended by Scripture, for surely it did not needlessly ascribe this blessing only to the offspring of water animals and men—then we find multitudes among spiritual and among corporeal creatures, as in heaven and earth; and among both just and unjust souls, as in light and darkness; and among the holy authors, through whom the Law has been administered, as in the firmament which is established between water and water; and among the society of embittered people, as in the sea; and in the zeal of holy souls, as in the dry land; and in works of mercy belonging to the present life, as in herbs bearing seed and trees bearing fruit; and among spiritual gifts made manifest for our profit, as in the lights of heaven; and among affections formed to temperance, as in the living soul.
In all these instances we meet with multitudes, fertility, and increase. But as to what may in such wise increase and multiply that a single thing may be stated in many ways and a single statement may be understood in many ways, this we find only in signs corporeally expressed and in things intelligibly conceived. By signs corporeally expressed we understand the generations of the waters, on account of causes necessitated by fleshly depth; by things mentally conceived, human generations, on account of the fecundity of reason. Therefore, we have believed, O Lord, that the words “Increase and multiply” have been said to both these kinds. In this blessing I conclude that the power and the faculty have been granted to us to express in manifold ways what we understand in but one, and to understand in manifold ways what we read as obscurely uttered in but one way. Thus are the waters of the sea replenished, and they are moved only by various significations. Thus by human offspring is the earth also replenished, the dryness of which appears in its longing, for you, and over which reason rules.
AN OBLIGATION PREFIGURED
(38) I also wish to state, O Lord my God, what the following passage in your Scripture brings to my mind. I will speak out, and I will have no fear. I will speak the truth under your inspiration as to what you will me to interpret out of those words. For under the inspiration of none but you do I trust myself to speak the truth, for you are the truth,1 but “every man is a liar.”2 Hence, he who “speaks a lie speaks of his own.”3 Therefore, that I may speak the truth, I will speak out of your gift.
Behold, you have given to us for food “every herb bearing seed which is upon the whole earth, and every tree that has in itself fruit of its own seed,”4 and not to us alone, but also to all the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the earth, and to the serpents, but you have not given them to the fishes and to the great whales. We were saying that by these fruits of the earth are signified and figured forth in an allegory the works of mercy, which are provided for the needs of this life out of the fruitful earth. The devout Onesiphorus was of such an earth, and to his house you granted mercy, because he often provided refreshment for your own Paul and was not ashamed of his chain.5 The brethren also did this, and brought forth such fruit, for those who came from Macedonia supplied what was wanting to him.6 But note how he grieves over certain trees that did not give him the fruit that was due to him, where he says: “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge.”7 For these fruits are owed to those who minister rational doctrine by means of their understanding of divine mysteries, and so they are owed to them as men. They are owed to them as the living soul, for they show themselves for imitation in every form of continence. Again, they are owed to them as flying creatures, because of their blessings, which are multiplied upon the earth, since “their sound has gone forth into all the earth.”8
THE GIFT AND THE FRUIT
(39) But they who find delight in such fruits are fed by them, but those whose God is their belly1 do not find delight in them. For in those who offer such things, the fruit is not what they give but with what sort of mind they give it. Hence I see plainly why that man who served God and not his own belly rejoiced,2 and I rejoice greatly with him. From the Philippians he had received what they had sent to him by Epaphroditus; yet I perceive why it was he rejoiced. He is nourished upon that in which he rejoices, for speaking in all truth, he says: “I rejoiced exceedingly in the Lord, that now at length your thought for me has flourished again, wherein you were thoughtful,”3 but it had become tedious to you.
These men, therefore, had now grown weak from long weariness, and had withered away as it were with regard to bearing that fruit of good works, and he rejoices with them because they had flourished again, and not merely for himself because they supplied his wants. Hence he continues, and says: “I do not speak because anything was wanting; for I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content. I know how to put up with less, and I know how to live in abundance; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, and to have abundance and to suffer want. I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”4
(40) Whence, therefore, do you rejoice, O great Paul? Whence do you rejoice; whence are you fed, O man renewed “unto knowledge of God, according to the image of him who created you,”5 O living soul of such great continence, O tongue that is a flying fowl, speaking mysteries?6 In truth it is to such living souls that this food is due. What is it that feeds you? Joy! Let me hear what follows: “Nevertheless you have done well,” he says, “by sharing in my affliction.”7 From this comes his joy, from this his nourishment, that they have done well, not that his troubles have been eased. He says to you, “When I was in distress you have enlarged me,”8 because he knows how to live in abundance and how to suffer want in you who comfort him. “For you know,” he says, “you also know, O Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving but you only. For unto Thessalonica also you sent once and again something for my needs.”9 Now he rejoices that they have returned to these good works, and he is glad that they have flourished again, like a fertile field again producing life.
(41) Was it because of his own needs that he said, “You sent something for my needs”? Does he rejoice because of that? No, it is not for that. How do we know this? Because he continues and says, “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit.”10 From you, O my God, I have learned to distinguish between gift and fruit. The gift is the thing itself given by a man who bestows these necessities, such as, money, food, drink, clothing, lodging, and help. But the fruit is the good and right will of the giver. For the good Master not only said, “He who receives a prophet,” but adds, “in the name of a prophet.” He says not only, “He who receives a just man,” but he adds, “in the name of a just man.” So it is that one receives the reward of a prophet, and the other the reward of a just man. He says not only, “Whoever gives to one of my little ones a cup of cold water,” but adds, but only “in the name of a disciple,” and concludes thus, “Amen, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” The gift is to receive the prophet, to receive the just man, to offer a cup of cold water to a disciple. The fruit is to do this in the name of a prophet, in the name of a just man, in the name of a disciple. Elias was fed on such fruit by the widow who knew that she fed a man of God, and fed him for that reason. By the raven he was fed with a gift: not the inner Elias, but only the outer man was fed, although he might well have perished for want of such food.
TRUE WORKS OF MERCY
(42) Therefore, I will speak what is true in your sight, O Lord. When unlearned men and infidels1—for to make a start with them and win them to the faith, there is need for the initiatory sacraments and great miracles, which we believe to be signified by the names of “fishes and whales”—when such men offer bodily refreshment to your servants or aid them in some way useful to this present life, since they are ignorant why this must be done and to what it pertains, they do not feed those servants nor are they fed by them. For the first do not perform the work out of a right and holy will, nor do the second rejoice at their gifts, wherein they do not yet see any fruit. The mind feeds on that in which it finds joy. Therefore, the fishes and whales do not feed upon food that the earth alone brings forth if it is separated and kept apart from the bitterness of the ocean waves.
THE GOOD AND THE VERY GOOD
(43) And you, O God, saw all the things that you had made, and behold, “they were very good.”1 For we also see them, and behold, they are all very good. In each separate kind of your works, when you said that they should be made, and they were made, this one and that one, you saw that it is good. In seven places I have counted it written down that you saw that what you made is good. And this is the eighth, that you saw all the things that you made, and behold they are not only good, but even very good, as all existing together. For separately, they were only good, but all existing together they are all both good and very good. All beautiful bodies likewise say this, because a body that is made up of members, all of which are beautiful, is far, far more beautiful than the several members themselves, by whose most orderly arrangement the entire being is made perfect, although each several member is likewise beautiful.
TIME AND GOD’S VISION
(44) I looked carefully so that I might discover whether it was seven or eight times that you saw that your works were good when they pleased you, and in your sight of them I did not find any time, whereby I might understand just how many times you saw the things you made. I said: “Lord, is not this your Scripture true, since you who are true and you, Truth itself,1 have set it forth? Why then do you tell me that in your seeing there is no time, whereas this passage in your Scripture tells me that on different days you saw that the things you have made are good, and when I counted them, I discovered how often?”
To this you answer me that you are my God,2 and with a mighty voice you speak to your servant in his interior ear, and break through my deafness, and cry out: “O man, true it is that what my Scripture says I myself say. Yet that Scripture speaks in time, but time does not affect my Word, because that Word exists along with me in equal eternity. So the things that you see through my Spirit I see, just as those things which you speak by my Spirit I say. So also it is that when you see those things in time, I do not see them in time, even as when you say those things in time, I do not say them in time.”
(45) I listened, O Lord my God, and I drank in a drop of sweetness out of your Truth. I understood that there are certain men to whom your works are displeasing. They say that you were compelled by necessity to make many of those works, such as the fabric of the heavens and the arrangement of the stars, and that you did not make them out of your own resources but they were already created elsewhere and from another source, and that you merely assembled them, fastened them together, and built them up, when out of your vanquished enemies you raised up the ramparts of the world, so that being bound down by that structure, they could not again rebel against you.1 As to other things, such as all things of flesh, all very minute living beings, and whatsoever clings to earth by roots, they say that you did not really make them, did not even fit them together, but that a hostile intelligence and a different nature, not made by you and opposed to you, begets and forms these beings in the lower portions of the world. Madmen say these things, for they do not see your works by your Spirit and do not recognize you in them.
KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOOD
(46) When men see these things through your Spirit, you see in them. Therefore, when they see that they are good, you see that they are good, and whatsoever things are pleasing because of you, in them you yourself are pleasing, and such things as are pleasing to us because of your Spirit are in us pleasing to you. “For what man knows the things of man, but the spirit of man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no one knows but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us of God.”1 I am admonished to say: Truly, no one knows “the things that are of God but the Spirit of God.” How then do we also know “what things are given us of God”? The answer is made to me that likewise the things that we know by his Spirit “no one knows, but the Spirit of God.” Just as it was rightly said to those who would speak in the Spirit of God, “It is not you who speak,”2 so it is rightly said to those who know in the Spirit of God, “It is not you who know.” Therefore, no less rightly is it said to those who see in the Spirit of God, “It is not you who see,” so that whatsoever in the Spirit of God they see to be good, it is not they but God who “sees that it is good.”
It is one thing, therefore, for any man to think what is good to be evil, as the aforesaid men have said. It is another thing that a man should see that that which is good is good, just as your creation, because it is good, is pleasing to many men to whom, however, you are not pleasing in it. For this reason they desire to enjoy your creation rather than you. It is another thing still, that when a man sees a thing to be good, God may see in him that it is good, namely, to the end that he may be loved in that which he has made. For he cannot be loved except through the Spirit whom he has given. “Because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.”3 Through the Spirit we see that whatsoever exists in any way is good, for it is from him who does not exist merely in some certain way, but is what he is.4
A SUMMATION OF PRAISE
(47) Thanks be to you, O Lord!1
We see heaven and earth, whether the corporeal part, superior and inferior, or spiritual and corporeal creation. And in the adorning of these parts, whereof consists either the world’s universal mass or absolutely all creation, we see light made and divided from darkness.
We see the firmament of heaven, whether the first body of the world, between the higher spiritual waters and the lower corporeal waters,2 or this airy space, for it also is called heaven, through which wander the fowls of the sky, amid those waters which are borne as vapors above them, and, on calm nights, also drop down as dew, and those heavier waters which flow upon the earth.
We see the fair expanse of waters gathered together on the fields of the sea, and the dry land, whether bare or formed so as to be visible and put in order, the mother of herbs and trees.
We see the lights shining from above, the sun to suffice for the day, the moon and the stars to comfort the night, and that by all of them times should be marked and signified.
We see humid nature on every side, fruitful of fishes and beasts and birds, for the density of the air, which supports the flight of birds, increases from the exhalation of the waters.
We see the face of the earth, adorned with earthly creatures, and man, made to your image and likeness, and by this, your own image and likeness, that is, by the power of reason and intelligence, set over all non-rational animals. And even as in his soul there is one power which is master by virtue of counsel and another made its subject so as to obey, so also for man in the corporeal order there was made woman. Because of her reasonable and intelligent mind she would have equality of nature, but as to bodily sex she would be subject to the male sex, just as the active appetite is made subject, so as to conceive right and prudent conduct from the rational mind.
These things we see, and we see that each of them is good, and that all of them together are very good.
PRAISE AND LOVE
(48) Your works praise you,1 to the end that we may love you, and we love you to the end that your works may praise you. Out of time, they have beginning and end, rising and setting, growth and decay, beauty and privation. Therefore, they have their sequence of morning and evening, hidden in part and in part manifest. Out of nothing have they been made by you, not out of yourself, not out of anything not your own, or which previously existed, but out of concreated matter, that is, out of matter simultaneously created by you, since without any intervening time you gave form to its formlessness. For since the matter of heaven and earth is one thing and the form of heaven and earth another, you made the matter entirely out of nothing, but the form of the world out of formless matter. Yet you made both of them together, so that form would not follow upon matter by interruption or delay.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH
(49) We have also examined those things in keeping with that mystical purpose whereby you willed them either to be fashioned in such an order or to be described in such order. We have seen that things taken one by one are good, and that together they are very good, in your Word, in your Only-begotten, both heaven and earth, the head and the body of the Church, in your predestination before all times, without morning and evening. And you began to accomplish in time the things predestined, so that you might reveal hidden things and put in place our disordered parts—for our sins were upon us,1 and we had departed from you into the darksome deep, and your good Spirit was borne over us to bring us help in due season—and you justified the ungodly2 and divided them from the wicked, and made firm the authority of your book between those above who were docile to you, and between those below who were made subject to them, and you gathered together the society of unbelievers into one conspiracy, so that the zeal of the faithful might become apparent, and they might bring forth works of mercy, even distributing their earthly resources to the poor to the end of obtaining riches in heaven.
After this you enkindled certain lights in the firmament, your holy ones, possessing the word of life, and shining with the lofty and manifest authority of their spiritual gifts. Then, for the instruction of heathen nations you produced out of corporeal matter sacraments, and visible miracles, and voices and words in keeping with the firmament of your book, and in them the faithful would likewise find blessing. Next, you formed the living soul of the faithful through affections kept in order by a manly continence. Then, after your own image and likeness, you renewed the mind, made subject to you alone and needful to imitate no human authority. Its rational actions you made subject to the primatial intellect, as is woman to man. To all officers of your ministry, who are necessary for perfecting the faithful in this life, you willed that by those same faithful, works fruitful for the life to come should be offered for their temporal usage.
We see all these things, and we see that they are very good, because you see them in us, who have given to us your Spirit, by whom we might see them and in them love you.
THE PEACE OF GOD
(50) O Lord God, give us peace,1 for you have given all things to us, the peace of rest, the peace of the sabbath, the peace without an evening. This entire most beautiful order of things that are very good, when their measures have been accomplished, is to pass away. For truly in them a morning has been made, and an evening also.
THE EVERLASTING SABBATH
(51) But the seventh day is without an evening, and it does not have a setting, because you have sanctified it to endure for all eternity, so that by the fact that you rested on the seventh day, having fulfilled all your works, which are very good, although you wrought them while still at rest, the voice of your book may proclaim to us beforehand that we also, after our works, which are very good because you have given them to us, may rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.
ETERNAL ACT, ETERNAL REST
(52) Then also you shall rest in us, even as now you work in us, and so will that rest of yours be in us, even as these your works are through us. But you, O Lord, are ever at work and ever at rest. You do not see for a time, nor are you moved for a time, nor do you rest for a time. Yet you make both that things be seen in time, and the times themselves, and the rest that comes after time.
THE ONLY GATEWAY
(53) Therefore, we see these things which you have made, because they exist, but they exist because you see them. We see outside ourselves that they are, and within ourselves that they are good. But you saw them as already made, there where you saw them as to be made. At one time we have been moved to do good, after our heart conceived this out of your Spirit, whereas at a former time, having forsaken you, we were moved to do evil. But you, O one good God, have never ceased to do good. There are certain works of ours, done indeed out of your gift, but they are not eternal. After such things, we hope to find rest in your great sanctification. But you, the Good, needful of no good, are forever at rest, for your rest is yourself.
What man will give it to a man to understand this? What angel will give it to an angel? What angel to man? From you let it be asked. In you let it be sought. At your door let us knock for it. Thus, thus is it received, thus is it found, thus is it opened to us.1