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The Confessions And Letters Of St by St. Augustine

Chapter XV.--While Writing, Being Blinded by Corporeal Images, He Failed to Recognise the Spiritual Nature of God.

24. But not yet did I perceive the hinge on which this impotent matter turned in Thy wisdom, O Thou Omnipotent, |who alone doest great wonders;| and my mind ranged through corporeal forms, and I defined and distinguished as |fair,| that which is so in itself, and |fit,| that which is beautiful as it corresponds to some other thing; and this I supported by corporeal examples. And I turned my attention to the nature of the mind, but the false opinions which I entertained of spiritual things prevented me from seeing the truth. Yet the very power of truth forced itself on my gaze, and I turned away my throbbing soul from incorporeal substance, to lineaments, and colours, and bulky magnitudes. And not being able to perceive these in the mind, I thought I could not perceive my mind. And whereas in virtue I loved peace, and in viciousness I hated discord, in the former I distinguished unity, but in the latter a kind of division. And in that unity I conceived the rational soul and the nature of truth and of the chief good to consist. But in this division I, unfortunate one, imagined there was I know not what substance of irrational life, and the nature of the chief evil, which should not be a substance only, but real life also, and yet not emanating from Thee, O my God, from whom are all things. And yet the first I called a Monad, as if it had been a soul without sex, but the other a Duad, -- anger in deeds of violence, in deeds of passion, lust, -- not knowing of what I talked. For I had not known or learned that neither was evil a substance, nor our soul that chief and unchangeable good.

25. For even as it is in the case of deeds of violence, if that emotion of the soul from whence the stimulus comes be depraved, and carry itself insolently and mutinously; and in acts of passion, if that affection of the soul whereby carnal pleasures are imbibed is unrestrained, -- so do errors and false opinions contaminate the life, if the reasonable soul itself be depraved, as it was at that time in me, who was ignorant that it must be enlightened by another light that it may be partaker of truth, seeing that itself is not that nature of truth. |For Thou wilt light my candle; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness; and |of His fulness have all we received,| for |that was the true Light which lighted every man that cometh into the world;| for in Thee there is |no variableness, neither shadow of turning.|

26. But I pressed towards Thee, and was repelled by Thee that I might taste of death, for Thou |resistest the proud.| But what prouder than for me, with a marvellous madness, to assert myself to be that by nature which Thou art? For whereas I was mutable, -- so much being clear to me, for my very longing to become wise arose from the wish from worse to become better, -- yet chose I rather to think Thee mutable, than myself not to be that which Thou art. Therefore was I repelled by Thee, and Thou resistedst my changeable stiffneckedness; and I imagined corporeal forms, and, being flesh, I accused flesh, and, being |a wind that passeth away,| I returned not to Thee, but went wandering and wandering on towards those things that have no being, neither in Thee, nor in me, nor in the body. Neither were they created for me by Thy truth, but conceived by my vain conceit out of corporeal things. And I used to ask Thy faithful little ones, my fellow-citizens, -- from whom I unconsciously stood exiled, -- I used flippantly and foolishly to ask, |Why, then, doth the soul which God created err?| But I would not permit any one to ask me, |Why, then, doth God err?| And I contended that Thy immutable substance erred of constraint, rather than admit that my mutable substance had gone astray of free will, and erred as a punishment.

27. I was about six or seven and twenty years of age when I wrote those volumes -- meditating upon corporeal fictions, which clamoured in the ears of my heart. These I directed, O sweet Truth, to Thy inward melody, pondering on the |fair and fit,| and longing to stay and listen to Thee, and to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voice, and I could not; for by the voices of my own errors was I driven forth, and by the weight of my own pride was I sinking into the lowest pit. For Thou didst not |make me to hear joy and gladness;| nor did the bones which were not yet humbled rejoice.

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