Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book I/Chapter 4

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Chapter IV.—The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable.

4. What, then, art Thou, O my God—what, I ask, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God?[1] Most high, most excellent, most potent, most omnipotent; most piteous and most just; most hidden and most near; most beauteous and most strong, stable, yet contained of none; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud and they know it not; always working, yet ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing; sustaining, pervading, and protecting; creating, nourishing, and developing; seeking, and yet possessing all things. Thou lovest, and burnest not; art jealous, yet free from care; repentest, and hast no sorrow; art angry, yet serene; changest Thy ways, leaving unchanged Thy plans; recoverest what Thou findest, having yet never lost; art never in want, whilst Thou rejoicest in gain; never covetous, though requiring usury.[2] That Thou mayest owe, more than enough is given to Thee;[3] yet who hath anything that is not Thine? Thou payest debts while owing nothing; and when Thou forgivest debts, losest nothing. Yet, O my God, my life, my holy joy, what is this that I have said? And what saith any man when He speaks of Thee? Yet woe to them that keep silence, seeing that even they who say most are as the dumb.[4]


  1. Ps. xviii. 31.
  2. Matt. xxv. 27.
  3. Supererogatur tibi, ut debeas.
  4. “As it is impossible for mortal, imperfect, and perishable man to comprehend the immortal, perfect and eternal, we cannot expect that he should be able to express in praise the fulness of God’s attributes. The Talmud relates of a rabbi, who did not consider the terms, ‘the great, mighty, and fearful God,’ which occur in the daily prayer, as being sufficient, but added some more attributes—‘What!’ exclaimed another rabbi who was present, ‘imaginest thou to be able to exhaust the praise of God? Thy praise is blasphemy. Thou hadst better be quiet.’ Hence the Psalmist’s exclamation, after finding that the praises of God were inexhaustible: הלהת הּימוד ךל, ‘Silence is praise to Thee.’”—Breslau.