Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book IV/Chapter 11
Chapter XI.—That Portions of the World are Not to Be Loved; But that God, Their Author, is Immutable, and His Word Eternal.
16. Be not foolish, O my soul, and deaden not the ear of thine heart with the tumult of thy folly. Hearken thou also. The word itself invokes thee to return; and there is the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not abandoned if itself abandoneth not. Behold, these things pass away, that others may succeed them, and so this lower universe be made complete in all its parts. But do I depart anywhere, saith the word of God? There fix thy habitation. There commit whatsoever thou hast thence, O my soul; at all events now thou art tired out with deceits. Commit to truth whatsoever thou hast from the truth, and nothing shall thou lose; and thy decay shall flourish again, and all thy diseases be healed, and thy perishable parts shall be reformed and renovated, and drawn together to thee; nor shall they put thee down where themselves descend, but they shall abide with thee, and continue for ever before God, who abideth and continueth for ever.
17. Why, then, be perverse and follow thy flesh? Rather let it be converted and follow thee. Whatever by her thou feelest, is but in part; and the whole, of which these are portions, thou art ignorant of, and yet they delight thee. But had the sense of thy flesh been capable of comprehending the whole, and not itself also, for thy punishment, been justly limited to a portion of the whole, thou wouldest that whatsoever existeth at the present time should pass away, that so the whole might please thee more. For what we speak, also by the same sense of the flesh thou hearest; and yet wouldest not thou that the syllables should stay, but fly away, that others may come, and the whole be heard. Thus it is always, when any single thing is composed of many, all of which exist not together, all together would delight more than they do simply could all be perceived at once. But far better than these is He who made all; and He is our God, and He passeth not away, for there is nothing to succeed Him. If bodies please thee, praise God for them, and turn back thy love upon their Creator, lest in those things which please thee thou displease.
- Ps. ciii. 3.
- 1 Pet. i. 23.
- See xiii. sec. 22, below.
- A similar illustration occurs in sec. 15, above.