- I. Exhortation of the mind to the contemplation of
- II. Truly there is a God, although the fool has
said in his heart, etc.
- III. God cannot be conceived not to exist
- IV. How the fool has said in his heart what
cannot be conceived
- V. God, as the only self-existent being, creates
all things from nothing
- VI. How God is sensible (sensibilis)
although he is not a body
- VII. How he is omnipotent, although there are
many things of which he is not capable
- VIII. How he is compassionate and passionless
- IX. How God is supremely just
- X. How he justly punishes and justly spares the
- XI. How all the ways of God are compassion and
truth; and yet God is just in all his ways
- XII. God is the very life whereby he lives
- XIII. How he alone is uncircumscribed and
- XIV. How and why God is seen and yet not seen by
those who seek him
- XV. He is greater than can be conceived
- XVI. This is the unapproachable light wherein he
- XVII. In God is harmony, etc.
- XVIII. God is life, wisdom, eternity, and
every true good
- XIX. He does not exist in place or time, but all
things exist in him
- XX. He exists before all things and transcends
all things, even the eternal things
- XXI. Is this the age of the age, or ages of ages
- XXII. He alone is what he is and who he is
- XXIII. This good is equally Father, and Son
and Holy Spirit
- XXIV. Conjecture as to the character and the
magnitude of this good
- XXV. What goods, and how great, belong to those
who enjoy this good
- XXVI. Is this joy which the Lord promises made
OR DISCOURSE ON THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
In this brief work the author aims at proving in a single argument the existence of
God, and whatsoever we believe of God. --The difficulty of the task. --The author writes
in the person of one who contemplates God, and seeks to understand what he believes. To
this work he had given this title: Faith Seeking Understanding. He finally named it
Proslogium, --that is, A Discourse.
AFTER I had published, at the solicitous entreaties of certain brethren, a brief work
(the Monologium) as an example of meditation on the grounds of faith, in the person
of one who investigates, in a course of silent reasoning with himself, matters of which he
is ignorant; considering that this book was knit together by the linking of many
arguments, I began to ask myself whether there might be found a single argument which
would require no other for its proof than itself alone; and alone would suffice to
demonstrate that God truly exists, and that there is a supreme good requiring nothing
else, which all other things require for their existence and well-being; and whatever we
believe regarding the divine Being.
Although I often and earnestly directed my thought to this end, and at some times that
which I sought seemed to be just within my reach, while again it wholly evaded my mental
vision, at last in despair I was about to cease, as if from the search for a thing which
could not be found. But when I wished to exclude this thought altogether, lest, by busying
my mind to no purpose, it should keep me from other thoughts, in which I might be
successful; then more and more, though I was unwilling and shunned it, it began to force
itself upon me, with a kind of importunity. So, one day, when I was exceedingly wearied
with resisting its importunity, in the very conflict of my thoughts, the proof of which I
had despaired offered itself, so that I eagerly embraced the thoughts which I was
Thinking, therefore, that what I rejoiced to have found, would, if put in writing, be
welcome to some readers, of this very matter, and of some others, I have written the
following treatise, in the person of one who strives to lift his mind to the contemplation
of God, and seeks to understand what he believes. In my judgment, neither this work nor
the other, which I mentioned above, deserved to be called a book, or to bear the name of
an author; and yet I thought they ought not to be sent forth without some title by which
they might, in some sort, invite one into whose hands they fell to their perusal. I
accordingly gave each a title, that the first might be known as, An Example of Meditation
on the Grounds of Faith, and its sequel as, Faith Seeking Understanding. But, after, both
had been copied by many under these titles, many urged me, and especially Hugo, the
reverend Archbishop of Lyons, who discharges the apostolic office in Gaul, who instructed
me to this effect on his apostolic authority --to prefix my name to these writings. And
that this might be done more fitly, I named the first, Monologium, that is, A
Soliloquy; but the second, Proslogium, that is, A Discourse.
Exhortation of the mind to the contemplation of God. --It casts aside cares, and
excludes all thoughts save that of God, that it may seek Him. Man was created to see God.
Man by sin lost the blessedness for which he was made, and found the misery for which he
was not made. He did not keep this good when he could keep it easily. Without God it is
ill with us. Our labors and attempts are in vain without God. Man cannot seek God, unless
God himself teaches him; nor find him, unless he reveals himself. God created man in his
image, that he might be mindful of him, think of him, and love him. The believer does not
seek to understand, that he may believe, but he believes that he may understand: for
unless he believed he would not understand.
Up now, slight man! flee, for a little while, your occupations; hide yourself, for a
time, from your disturbing thoughts. Cast aside, now, your burdensome cares, and put away
your toilsome business. Yield room for some little time to God; and rest for a little time
in him. Enter the inner chamber of your mind; shut out all thoughts save that of God, and
such as can aid you in seeking him; close your door and seek him. Speak now, my whole
heart! speak now to God, saying, I seek your face; your face, Lord, will I seek (Psalms
xxvii. 8). And come you now, O Lord my God, teach my heart where and how it may seek you,
where and how it may find you.
Lord, if you are not here, where shall I seek you, being absent? But if you are
everywhere, why do I not see you present? Truly you dwell in unapproachable light. But
where is unapproachable light, or how shall I come to it? Or who shall lead me to that
light and into it, that I may see you in it? Again, by what marks, under what form, shall
I seek you? I have never seen you, O Lord, my God; I do not know your form. What, 0 most
high Lord, shall this man do, an exile far from you? What shall your servant do, anxious
in his love of you, and cast out afar from your face? He pants to see you, and your face
is too far from him. He longs to come to you, and your dwelling-place is inaccessible. He
is eager to find you, and knows not your place. He desires to seek you, and does not know
your face. Lord, you are my God, and you are my Lord, and never have I seen you. It is you
that hast made me, and has made me anew, and has bestowed upon me all the blessing I
enjoy; and not yet do I know you. Finally, I was created to see you, and not yet have I
done that for which I was made.
0 wretched lot of man, when he has lost that for which he was made! 0 hard and terrible
fate! Alas, what has he lost, and what has he found? What has departed, and what remains?
He has lost the blessedness for which he was made, and has found the misery for which he
was not made. That has departed without which nothing is happy, and that remains which, in
itself, is only miserable. Man once did eat the bread of angels, for which he hungers now;
he eateth now the bread of sorrows, of which he knew not then. Alas! for the mourning of
all mankind, for the universal lamentation of the sons of Hades! He choked with satiety,
we sigh with hunger. He abounded, we beg. He possessed in happiness, and miserably forsook
his possession; we suffer want in unhappiness, and feel a miserable longing, and alas! we
Why did he not keep for us, when he could so easily, that whose lack we should feel so
heavily? Why did he shut us away from the light, and cover us over with darkness? With
what purpose did he rob us of life, and inflict death upon us? Wretches that we are,
whence have we been driven out; whither are we driven on? Whence hurled? Whither consigned
to ruin? From a native country into exile, from the vision of God into our present
blindness, from the joy of immortality into the bitterness and horror of death. Miserable
exchange of how great a good, for how great an evil! Heavy loss, heavy grief heavy all our
But alas! wretched that I am, one of the sons of Eve, far removed from God! What have I
undertaken? What have I accomplished? Whither was I striving? How far have I come? To what
did I aspire? Amid what thoughts am I sighing? I sought blessings, and lo! confusion. I
strove toward God, and I stumbled on myself. I sought calm in privacy, and I found
tribulation and grief, in my inmost thoughts. I wished to smile in the joy of my mind, and
I am compelled to frown by the sorrow of my heart. Gladness was hoped for, and lo! a
source of frequent sighs!
And you too, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, do you forget us; how long do you turn
your face from us? When will you look upon us, and hear us? When will you enlighten our
eyes, and show us your face? When will you restore yourself to us? Look upon us, Lord;
hear us, enlighten us, reveal yourself to us. Restore yourself to us, that it may be well
with us, --yourself, without whom it is so ill with us. Pity our toilings and strivings
toward you since we can do nothing without you. You do invite us; do you help us. I
beseech you, O Lord, that I may not lose hope in sighs, but may breathe anew in hope.
Lord, my heart is made bitter by its desolation; sweeten you it, I beseech you, with your
consolation. Lord, in hunger I began to seek you; I beseech you that I may not cease to
hunger for you. In hunger I have come to you; let me not go unfed. I have come in poverty
to the Rich, in misery to the Compassionate; let me not return empty and despised. And if,
before I eat, I sigh, grant, even after sighs, that which I may eat. Lord, I am bowed down
and can only look downward; raise me up that I may look upward. My iniquities have gone
over my head; they overwhelm me; and, like a heavy load, they weigh me down. Free me from
them; unburden me, that the pit of iniquities may not close over me.
Be it mine to look up to your light, even from afar, even from the depths. Teach me to
seek you, and reveal yourself to me, when I seek you, for I cannot seek you, except you
teach me, nor find you, except you reveal yourself. Let me seek you in longing, let me
long for you in seeking; let me find you in love, and love you in finding. Lord, I
acknowledge and I thank you that you has created me in this your image, in order that I
may be mindful of you, may conceive of you, and love you; but that image has been so
consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrong-doing, that it
cannot achieve that for which it was made, except you renew it, and create it anew. I do
not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my
understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my
heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I
believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, --that unless I believed, I
should not understand.
Truly there is a God, although the fool has said in his heart, There is
AND so, Lord, do you, who do give understanding to faith, give me, so far as you
knowest it to be profitable, to understand that you are as we believe; and that you are
that which we believe. And indeed, we believe that you are a being than which nothing
greater can be conceived. Or is there no such nature, since the fool has said in his
heart, there is no God? (Psalms xiv. 1). But, at any rate, this very fool, when he hears
of this being of which I speak --a being than which nothing greater can be conceived
--understands what be hears, and what he understands is in his understanding; although he
does not understand it to exist.
For, it is one thing for an object to be in the understanding, and another to
understand that the object exists. When a painter first conceives of what he will
afterwards perform, he has it in his understanding, but be does not yet understand it to
be, because he has not yet performed it. But after he has made the painting, be both has
it in his understanding, and he understands that it exists, because he has made it.
Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least,
than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands
it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understanding. And assuredly that, than
which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For,
suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in
reality; which is greater.
Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the
understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one,
than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is
doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it
exists both in the understanding and in reality.
God cannot be conceived not to exist. --God is that, than which nothing greater can be
conceived. --That which can be conceived not to exist is not God.
AND it assuredly exists so truly, that it cannot be conceived not to exist. For, it is
possible to conceive of a being which cannot be conceived not to exist; and this is
greater than one which can be conceived not to exist. Hence, if that, than which nothing
greater can be conceived, can be conceived not to exist, it is not that, than which
nothing greater can be conceived. But this is an irreconcilable contradiction. There is,
then, so truly a being than which nothing greater can be conceived to exist, that it
cannot even be conceived not to exist;. and this being you are, O Lord, our God.
So truly, therefore, do you exist, O Lord, my God, that you can not be conceived not to
exist; and rightly. For, if a mind could conceive of a being better than you, the creature
would rise above the Creator; and this is most absurd. And, indeed, whatever else there
is, except you alone, can be conceived not to exist. To you alone, therefore, it belongs
to exist more truly than all other beings, and hence in a higher degree than all others.
For, whatever else exists does not exist so truly, and hence in a less degree it belongs
to it to exist. Why, then, has the fool said in his heart, there is no God (Psalms xiv.
1), since it is so evident, to a rational mind, that you do exist in the highest degree of
all? Why, except that he is dull and a fool?
How the fool has said in his heart what cannot be conceived. --A thing may be conceived
in two ways: (1) when the word signifying it is conceived; (2) when the thing itself is
understood As far as the word goes, God can be conceived not to exist; in reality he
BUT how has the fool said in his heart what he could not conceive; or how is it that he
could not conceive what he said in his heart? since it is the same to say in the heart,
and to conceive.
But, if really, nay, since really, he both conceived, because he said in his heart; and
did not say in his heart, because he could not conceive; there is more than one way in
which a thing is said in the heart or conceived. For, in one sense, an object is
conceived, when the word signifying it is conceived; and in another, when the very entity,
which the object is, is understood.
In the former sense, then, God can be conceived not to exist; but in the latter, not at
all. For no one who understands what fire and water are can conceive fire to be water, in
accordance with the nature of the facts themselves, although this is possible according to
the words. So, then, no one who understands what God is can conceive that God does not
exist; although he says these words in his heart, either without any or with some foreign,
signification. For, God is that than which a greater cannot be conceived. And he who
thoroughly understands this, assuredly understands that this being so truly exists, that
not even in concept can it be non-existent. Therefore, he who understands that God so
exists, cannot conceive that he does not exist.
I thank you, gracious Lord, I thank you; because what I formerly believed by your
bounty, I now so understand by your illumination, that if I were unwilling to believe that
you do exist, I should not be able not to understand this to be true.
God is whatever it is better to be than not to be; and he, as the only self-existent
being, creates all things from nothing.
WHAT are you, then, Lord God, than whom nothing greater can be conceived? But what are
you, except that which, as the highest of all beings, alone exists through itself, and
creates all other things from nothing? For, whatever is not this is less than a thing
which can be conceived of. But this cannot be conceived of you. What good, therefore, does
the supreme Good lack, through which every good is? Therefore, you are just, truthful,
blessed, and whatever it is better to be than not to be. For it is better to be just than
not just; better to be blessed than not blessed.
How God is sensible (sensibilis) although he is not a body. --God is sensible,
omnipotent, compassionate, passionless; for it is better to be these than not be. He who
in any way knows, is not improperly said in some sort to feel.
BUT, although it is better for you to be sensible, omnipotent, compassionate,
passionless, than not to be these things; how are you sensible, if you are not a body; or
omnipotent, if you has not all powers; or at once compassionate and passionless? For, if
only corporeal things are sensible, since the senses encompass a body and are in a body,
how are you sensible, although you are not a body, but a supreme Spirit, who is superior
to body? But, if feeling is only cognition, or for the sake of cognition, --for he who
feels obtains knowledge in accordance with the proper functions of his senses; as through
sight, of colors; through taste, of flavors, --whatever in any way cognises is not
inappropriately said, in some sort, to feel.
Therefore, O Lord, although you are not a body yet you are truly sensible in the
highest degree in respect of this, that you do cognise all things in the highest degree;
and not as an animal cognises, through a corporeal sense.
How he is omnipotent, although there are many things of which he is not capable. --To
be capable of being corrupted, or of lying, is not power, but impotence. God can do
nothing by virtue of impotence, and nothing has power against him.
BUT how are you omnipotent, if you are not capable of all things? Or, if you can not be
corrupted, and can not lie, nor make what is true, false --as, for example, if you should
make what has been done not to have been done, and the like. --how are you capable of all
things? Or else to be capable of these things is not power, but impotence. For, he who is
capable of these things is capable of what is not for his good, and of what he ought not
to do; and the more capable of them he is, the more power have adversity and perversity
against him; and the less has he himself against these.
He, then, who is thus capable is so not by power, but by impotence. For, he is not said
to be able because he is able of himself, but because his impotence gives something else
power over him. Or, by a figure of speech, just as many words are improperly applied, as
when we use "to be" for "not to be," and "to do" for what is
really not to do, "or to do nothing." For, often we say to a man who denies the
existence of something: "It is as you say it to be," though it might seem more
proper to say, "It is not, as you say it is not." In the same way, we say,
"This man sits just as that man does," or, "This man rests just as that man
does"; although to sit is not to do anything, and to rest is to do nothing.
So, then, when one is said to have the power of doing or experiencing what is not for
his good, or what he ought not to do, impotence is understood in the word power. For, the
more he possesses this power, the more powerful are adversity and perversity against him,
and the more powerless is he against them.
Therefore, O Lord, our God, the more truly are you omnipotent, since you are capable of
nothing through impotence, and nothing has power against you.
How he is compassionate and passionless. God is compassionate, in terms of our
experience, because we experience the effect of compassion. God is not compassionate, in
terms of his own being, because he does not experience the feeling (affectus) of
BUT how are you compassionate, and, at the same time, passionless? For, if you are
passionless, you do not feel sympathy; and if you do not feel sympathy, your heart is not
wretched from sympathy for the wretched ; but this it is to be compassionate. But if you
are not compassionate, whence comes so great consolation to the wretched? How, then, are
you compassionate and not compassionate, O Lord, unless because you are compassionate in
terms of our experience, and not compassionate in terms of your being.
Truly, you are so in terms of our experience, but you are not so in terms of your own.
For, when you behold us in our wretchedness, we experience the effect of compassion, but
you do not experience the feeling. Therefore, you are both compassionate, because you do
save the wretched, and spare those who sin against you; and not compassionate because you
are affected by no sympathy for wretchedness.
How the all-just and supremely just God spares the wicked, and justly pities the
wicked. He is better who is good to the righteous and the wicked than he who is good to
the righteous alone. Although God is supremely just, the source of his compassion is
hidden. God is supremely compassionate, because he is supremely just. He saves the just,
because justice goes with them; he frees sinners by the authority of justice. God spares
the wicked out of justice; for it is just that God, than whom none is better or more
powerful, should be good even to the wicked, and should make the wicked good. If God ought
not to pity, he pities unjustly. But this it is impious to suppose. Therefore, God justly
BUT how do you spare the wicked, if you are all just and supremely just? For how, being
all just and supremely just, do you anything that is not just? Or, what justice is that to
give him who merits eternal death everlasting life? How, then, gracious Lord, good to the
righteous and the wicked, can you save the wicked, if this is not just, and you do not
anything that is not just? Or, since your goodness is incomprehensible, is this hidden in
the unapproachable light wherein you dwell? Truly, in the deepest and most secret parts of
your goodness is hidden the fountain whence the stream of your compassion flows.
For you are all just and supremely just, yet you are kind even to the wicked, even
because you are all supremely good. For you would be less good if you were not kind to any
wicked being. For, he who is good, both to the righteous and the wicked, is better than he
who is good to the wicked alone; and he who is good to the wicked, both by punishing and
sparing them, is better than he who is good by punishing them alone. Therefore, you are
compassionate, because you are all supremely good. And, although it appears why you do
reward the good with goods and the evil with evils; yet this, at least, is most wonderful,
why you, the all and supremely just, who lacks nothing, bestows goods on the wicked and on
those who are guilty toward you.
The depth of your goodness, O God! The source of your compassion appears, and yet is
not clearly seen! We see whence the river flows, but the spring whence it arises is not
seen. For, it is from the abundance of your goodness that you are good to those who sin
against you; and in the depth of your goodness is hidden the reason for this kindness.
For, although you do reward the good with goods and the evil with evils, out of
goodness, yet this the concept of justice seems to demand. But, when you do bestow goods
on the evil, and it is known that the supremely Good has willed to do this, we wonder why
the supremely just has been able to will this.
O compassion, from what abundant sweetness and what sweet abundance do you well forth
to us! O boundless goodness of God how passionately should sinners love you! For you save
the just, because justice goes with them; but sinners you do free by the authority of
justice. Those by the help of their deserts; these, although their deserts oppose. Those
by acknowledging the goods you has granted; these by pardoning the evils you hate. O
boundless goodness, which do so exceed all understanding, let that compassion come upon
me, which proceeds from your so great abundance! Let it flow upon me, for it wells forth
from you. Spare, in mercy; avenge not, in justice.
For, though it is hard to understand how your compassion is not inconsistent with your
justice; yet we must believe that it does not oppose justice at all, because it flows from
goodness, which is no goodness without justice; nay, that it is in true harmony with
justice. For, if you are compassionate only because you are supremely good, and supremely
good only because you are supremely just, truly you are compassionate even because you are
supremely just. Help me, just and compassionate God, whose light seek; help me to
understand what I say.
Truly, then, you are compassionate even because you are just. Is, then, your compassion
born of your justice? And do you spare the wicked, therefore, out of justice? If this is
true, my Lord, if this is true, teach me how it is. Is it because it is just, that you
should be so good that you can not be conceived better; and that you should work so
powerfully that you can not be conceived more powerful? For what can be more just than
this? Assuredly it could not be that you should be good only by requiting (retribuendo)
and not by sparing, and that you should make good only those who are not good, and not the
wicked also. In this way, therefore, it is just that you should spare the wicked, and make
good souls of evil.
Finally, what is not done justly ought not to be done; and what ought not to be done is
done unjustly. If, then, you do not justly pity the wicked, you ought not to pity them.
And, if you ought not to pity them, you pity them unjustly. And if It is impious to
suppose this, it is right to believe that you justly pity the wicked.
How he justly punishes and justly spares the wicked. --God, in sparing the wicked, is
just, according to his own nature because he does what is consistent with his goodness;
but he is not just, according to our nature, because he does not inflict the punishment
BUT it is also just that you should punish the wicked. For what is more just than that
the good should receive goods, and the evil, evils? How, then, is it just that you should
punish the wicked, and, at the same time, spare the wicked? Or, in one way, do you justly
punish, and, in another, justly spare them? For, when you punish the wicked, it is just,
because it is consistent with their deserts; and when, on the other hand, you sparest the
wicked, it is just, not because it is compatible with their deserts, but because it is
compatible with your goodness.
For, in sparing the wicked, you are as just, according to your nature, but not
according to ours, as you are compassionate, according to our nature, and not according to
yours; seeing that, as in saving us, whom it would be just for you to destroy, you are
compassionate, not because you feel an affection (affectum), but because we feel
the effect (effectum); so you are just, not because you requite us as we deserve,
but because you do that which becomes you as the supremely good Being. In this way,
therefore, without contradiction you do justly punish and justly spare.
How all the ways of God are compassion and truth; and yet God is just in all his ways.
--We cannot comprehend why, of the wicked, he saves these rather than those, through his
supreme goodness: and condemns those rather than these, through his supreme justice.
BUT, is there any reason why it is not also just, according to your nature, O Lord,
that you should punish the wicked? Surely it is just that you should be so just that you
can not be conceived more just; and this you would in no wise be if you did only render
goods to the good, and not evils to the evil. For, he who requites both good and evil
according to their deserts is more just than he who so requites the good alone. It is,
therefore, just, according to your nature, O just and gracious God, both when you do
punish and when you sparest.
Truly, then, all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth (Psalms xxv. 10); and yet
the Lord is righteous in all his ways (Psalms cxlv. 17). And assuredly without
inconsistency: For, it is not just that those whom you do will to punish should be saved,
and that those whom you do will to spare should be condemned. For that alone is just which
you do will; and that alone unjust which you do not will. So, then, your compassion is
born of your justice.
For it is just that you should be so good that you are good in sparing also; and this
may be the reason why the supremely Just can will goods for the evil. But if it can be
comprehended in any way why you can will to save the wicked, yet by no consideration can
we comprehend why, of those who are alike wicked, you save some rather than others,
through supreme goodness; and why you do condemn the latter rather than the former,
through supreme justice.
So, then, you are truly sensible (sensibilis), omnipotent, compassionate, and
passionless, as you are living, wise, good, blessed, eternal: and whatever it is better to
be than not to be.
God is the very life whereby he lives; and so of other like attributes.
BUT undoubtedly, whatever you are, you are through nothing else than yourself.
Therefore, you are the very life whereby you live; and the wisdom wherewith you are wise;
and the very goodness whereby you are good to the righteous and the wicked; and so of
other like attributes.
How he alone is uncircumscribed and eternal, although other spirits are uncircumscribed
and eternal. --No place and time contain God. But he is himself everywhere and always. He
alone not only does not cease to be, but also does not begin to be.
BUT everything that is in any way bounded by place or time is less than that which no
law of place or time limits. Since, then, nothing is greater than you, no place or time
contains you; but you are everywhere and always. And since this can be said of you alone,
you alone are uncircumscribed and eternal. How is it, then, that other spirits also are
said to be uncircumscribed and eternal?
Assuredly you are alone eternal; for you alone among all beings not only do not cease
to be but also do not begin to be.
But how are you alone uncircumscribed? Is it that a created spirit, when compared with
you is circumscribed, but when compared with matter, uncircumscribed? For altogether
circumscribed is that which, when it is wholly in one place, cannot at the same time be in
another. And this is seen to be true of corporeal things alone. But uncircumscribed is
that which is, as a whole, at the same time everywhere. And this is understood to be true
of you alone. But circumscribed, and, at the same time, uncircumscribed is that which,
when it is anywhere as a whole, can at the same time be somewhere else as a whole, and yet
not everywhere. And this is recognised as true of created spirits. For, if the soul were
not as a whole in the separate members of the body, it would not feel as a whole in the
separate members. Therefore, you, Lord, are peculiarly uncircumscribed and eternal; and
yet other spirits also are uncircumscribed and eternal.
How and why God is seen and yet not seen by those who seek him.
HAS you found what you did seek, my soul? You did seek God. You have found him to be a
being which is the highest of all beings, a being than which nothing better can be
conceived; that this being is life itself, light, wisdom, goodness, eternal blessedness
and blessed eternity; and that it is every where and always.
For, if you have not found your God, how is he this being which you have found, and
which you have conceived him to be, with so certain truth and so true certainty? But, if
you have found him, why is it that you do not feel you have found him? Why, O Lord, our
God, does not my soul feel you, if it has found you? Or, has it not found him whom it
found to be light and truth? For how did it understand this, except by seeing light and
truth? Or, could it understand anything at all of you, except through your light and your
Hence, if it has seen light and truth, it has seen you; if it has not seen you, it has
not seen light and truth. Or, is what it has seen both light and truth; and still it has
not yet seen you, because it has seen you only in part, but has not seen you as you are?
Lord my God, my creator and renewer, speak to the desire of my soul, what you are other
than it has seen, that it may clearly see what it desires. It strains to see you more; and
sees nothing beyond this which it has seen, except darkness. Nay, it does not see
darkness, of which-there is none in you; but it sees that it cannot see farther, because
of its own darkness.
Why is this, Lord, why is this? Is the eye of the soul darkened by its infirmity, or
dazzled by your glory? Surely it is both darkened in itself, and dazzled by you. Doubtless
it is both obscured by its own insignificance, and overwhelmed by your infinity. Truly, it
is both contracted by its own narrowness and overcome by your greatness.
For how great is that light from which shines every truth that gives light to the
rational mind? How great is that truth in which is everything that is true, and outside
which is only nothingness and the false? How boundless is the truth which sees at one
glance whatsoever has been made, and by whom, and through whom, and how it has been made
from nothing? What purity, what certainty, what splendor where it is? Assuredly more than
a creature can conceive.
He is greater than can be conceived.
THEREFORE, O Lord, you are not only that than which a greater cannot be conceived, but
you are a being greater than can be conceived. For, since it can be conceived that there
is such a being, if you are not this very being, a greater than you can be conceived. But
this is impossible.
This is the unapproachable light wherein he dwells.
TRULY, O Lord, this is the unapproachable light in which you dwell; for truly there is
nothing else which can penetrate this light, that it may see you there. Truly, I see it
not, because it is too bright for me. And yet, whatsoever I see, I see through it, as the
weak eye sees what it sees through the light of the sun, which in the sun itself it cannot
look upon. My understanding cannot reach that light, for it shines too bright. It does not
comprehend it, nor does the eye of my soul endure to gaze upon it long. It is dazzled by
the brightness, it is overcome by the greatness, it is overwhelmed by the infinity, it is
dazed by the largeness, of the light.
0 supreme and unapproachable light! O whole and blessed truth, how far are you from me,
who am so near to you! How far removed are you from my vision, though I am so near to
yours! Everywhere you are wholly present, and I see you not. In you I move, and in you I
have my being; and I cannot come to you. You are within me, and about me, and I feel you
In God is harmony, fragrance, sweetness, pleasantness to the touch,
beauty, after his ineffable manner.
STILL you are hidden, O Lord, from my soul in your light and your blessedness; and
therefore my soul still walks in its darkness and wretchedness. For it looks, and does not
see your beauty. It hearkens, and does not hear your harmony. It smells, and does not
perceive your fragrance. It tastes, and does not recognize your sweetness. It touches, and
does not feel your pleasantness. For you have these attributes in yourself, Lord God,
after your ineffable manner, who hast given them to objects created by you, after their
sensible manner; but the sinful senses of my soul have grown rigid and dull, and have been
obstructed by their long listlessness.
God is life, wisdom, eternity, and every true good. --Whatever is composed of parts is
not wholly one; it is capable, either in fact or in concept, of dissolution. In God
wisdom, eternity, etc., are not parts, but one, and the very whole which God is, or unity
itself, not even in concept divisible.
AND lo, again confusion; lo, again grief and mourning meet him who seeks for joy and
gladness. My soul now hoped for satisfaction; and lo, again it is overwhelmed with need. I
desired now to feast, and lo, I hunger more. I tried to rise to the light of God, and I
have fallen back into my darkness. Nay, not only have I fallen into it, but I feel that I
am enveloped in it. I fell before my mother conceived me. Truly, in darkness I was
conceived, and in the cover of darkness I was born. Truly, in him we all fell, in whom we
all sinned. In him we all lost, who kept easily, and wickedly lost to himself and to us
that which when we wish to seek it, we do not know; when we seek it, we do not find; when
we find, it is not that which we seek.
Do you help me for your goodness' sake! Lord, I sought your face; your face, Lord, will
I seek; hide not your face far from me (Psalms xxvii. 8). Free me from myself toward you.
Cleanse, heal, sharpen, enlighten the eye of my mind, that it may behold you. Let my soul
recover its strength, and with all its understanding let it strive toward you, O Lord.
What are you, Lord, what are you? What shall my heart conceive you to be?
Assuredly you are life, you are wisdom, you are truth, you are goodness, you are
blessedness, you are eternity, and you are every true good. Many are these attributes: my
straitened understanding cannot see so many at one view, that it may be gladdened by all
at once. How, then, O Lord, are you all these things? Are they parts of you, or is each
one of these rather the whole, which you are? For, whatever is composed of parts is not
altogether one, but is: in some sort plural, and diverse from itself; and either in fact
or in concept is capable of dissolution. But these things are alien to you, than whom
nothing better can be conceived of. Hence, there are no parts in you, Lord, nor are you
more than one. But you are so truly a unitary being, and so identical with yourself, that
in no respect are you unlike yourself; rather you are unity itself, indivisible by any
conception. Therefore, life and wisdom and the rest are not parts of you, but all are one;
and each of these is the whole, which you are, and which all the rest are.
In this way, then, it appears that you have no parts, and that your eternity, which you
are, is nowhere and never a part of you or of your eternity. But everywhere you are as a
whole, and your eternity exists as a whole forever.
He does not exist in place or time, but all things exist in him.
BUT if through your eternity you have been, and are, and will be; and to have been is
not to be destined to be; and to be is not to have been, or to be destined to be; how does
your eternity exist as a whole forever? Or is it true that nothing of your eternity passes
away, so that it is not now; and that nothing of it is destined to be, as if it were not
You was not, then, yesterday, nor will you be to-morrow; but yesterday and to-day and
to-morrow you are; or, rather, neither yesterday nor to-day nor to-morrow you are; but
simply, you are, outside all time. For yesterday and to-day and to-morrow have no
existence, except in time; but you, although nothing exists without you, nevertheless do
not exist in space or time, but all things exist in you. For nothing contains you, but you
He exists before all things and transcends all things, even the eternal things. --The
eternity of God is present as a whole with him; while other things have not yet that part
of their eternity which is still to be, and have no longer that part which is past.
HENCE, you do permeate and embrace all things. You are before all, and do transcend
all. And, of a surety, you are before all; for before they were made, you are. But how do
you transcend all? In what way do you transcend those beings which will have no end? Is it
because they cannot exist at all without you; while you are in no wise less, if they
should return to nothingness? For so, in a certain sense, you do transcend them. Or, is it
also because they can be conceived to have an end; but you by no means? For so they
actually have an end, in a certain sense; but you, in no sense. And certainly, what in no
sense has an end transcends what is ended in any sense. Or, in this way also do you
transcend all things, even the eternal, because your eternity and theirs is present as a
whole with you; while they have not yet that part of their eternity which is to come, just
as they no longer have that part which is past? For so you do ever transcend them, since
you are ever present with yourself, and since that to which they have not yet come is ever
present with you.
Is this the age of the age, or ages of ages? --The eternity of God contains the ages of
time themselves, and can be called the age of the age or ages of ages.
Is this, then, the age of the age, or ages of ages? For, as an age of time contains all
temporal things, so your eternity contains even the ages of time themselves. And these are
indeed an age, because of their indivisible unity; but ages, because of their endless
immeasurability. And, although you are so great, O Lord, that all things are full of you,
and exist in you; yet you are so without all space, that neither midst, nor half, nor any
part, is in you.
He alone is what he is and who be is. --All things need God for their
being and their well-being.
THEREFORE, you alone, O Lord, are what you are; and you are he who you are. For, what
is one thing in the whole and another in the parts, and in which there is any mutable
element, is not altogether what it is. And what begins from non-existence, and can be
conceived not to exist, and unless it subsists through something else, returns to
non-existence; and what has a past existence, which is no longer, or a future existence,
which is not yet, --this does not properly and absolutely exist.
But you are what you are, because, whatever you are at any time, or in any way, you are
as a whole and forever. And you are he who you are, properly and simply; for you have
neither a past existence nor a future, but only a present existence; nor can you be
conceived as at any time non-existent. But you are life, and light, and wisdom, and
blessedness, and many goods of this nature. And yet you are only one supreme good; you are
all-sufficient to yourself, and need none; and you are he whom all things need for their
existence and wellbeing.
This good is equally Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. And this is a single, necessary
Being, which is every good, and wholly good, and the only good. --Since the Word is true,
and is truth itself, there is nothing in the Father, who utters it, which is not
accomplished in the Word by which he expresses himself. Neither is the love which proceeds
from Father and Son unequal to the Father or the Son, for Father and Son love themselves
and one another in the same degree in which what they are is good. Of supreme simplicity
nothing can be born, and from it nothing can proceed, except that which is this, of which
it is born, or from which it proceeds.
THIS good you are, you, God the Father; this is your Word, that is, your Son. For
nothing, other than what you are, or greater or less than you, can be in the Word by which
you do express yourself; for the Word is true, as you are truthful. And, hence, it is
truth itself, just as you are; no other truth than you; and you are of so simple a nature,
that of you nothing can be born other than what you are. This very good is the one love
common to you and to your Son, that is, the Holy Spirit proceeding from both. For this
love is not unequal to you or to your Son; seeing that you do love yourself and him, and
he, you and himself, to the whole extent of your being and his. Nor is there anything else
proceeding from you and from him, which is not unequal to you and to him. Nor can anything
proceed from the supreme simplicity, other than what this, from which it proceeds, is.
But what each is, separately, this is all the Trinity at once, Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit; seeing that each separately is none other than the supremely simple unity, and the
supremely unitary simplicity which can neither be multiplied nor varied. Moreover, there
is a single necessary Being. Now, this is that single, necessary Being, in which is every
good; nay, which is every good, and a single entire good, and the only good.
Conjecture as to the character and the magnitude of this good. --If the created life is
good, how good is the creative life!
AND now, my soul, arouse and lift up all your understanding, and conceive, so far as
you can, of what character and how great is that good! For, if individual goods are
delectable, conceive in earnestness how delectable is that good which contains the
pleasantness of all goods; and not such as we have experienced in created objects, but as
different as the Creator from the creature. For, if the created life is good, how good is
the creative life! If the salvation given is delightful, how delightful is the salvation
which has given all salvation! If wisdom in the knowledge of the created world is lovely,
how lovely is the wisdom which has created all things from nothing! Finally, if there are
many great delights in delectable things, what and how great is the delight in him who has
made these delectable things.
What goods and how great, belong to those who enjoy this good. --Joy is multiplied in
the blessed from the blessedness and joy of others.
WHO shall enjoy this good? And what shall belong to him, and what shall not belong to
him? At any rate, whatever he shall wish shall be his, and whatever he shall not wish
shall not be his. For, these goods of body and soul will be such as eye has not seen nor
ear heard, neither has the heart of man conceived (Isaiah Ixiv. 4; I Corinthians ii. 9).
Why, then, do you wander abroad, slight man, in your search for the goods of your soul
and your body? Love the one good in which are all goods, and it suffices. Desire the
simple good which is every good, and it is enough. For, what do you love, my flesh? What
do you desire, my soul? There, there is whatever you love, whatever you desire.
If beauty delights you, there shall the righteous shine forth as the sun (Matthew xiii.
43) If swiftness or endurance, or freedom of body, which naught can withstand, delight
you, they shall be as angels of God, --because it is sown a natural body; it is raised a
spiritual body (I Corinthians xv. 44) --in power certainly, though not in nature. If it is
a long and sound life that pleases you, there a healthful eternity is, and an eternal
health. For the righteous shall live for ever (Wisdom v. 15), and the salvation of the
righteous is of the Lord (Psalms xxxvii. 39) If it is satisfaction of hunger, they shall
be satisfied when the glory of the Lord has appeared (Psalms xvii. 15). If it is quenching
of thirst, they shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of your house (Psalms
xxxvi. 8). If it is melody, there the choirs of angels sing forever, before God. If it is
any not impure, but pure, pleasure, you shall make them drink of the river of your
pleasures, 0 God (Psalms xxxvi. 8).
If it is wisdom that delights you, the very wisdom of God will reveal itself to them.
If friendship, they shall love God more than themselves, and one another as themselves.
And God shall love them more than they themselves; for they love him, and themselves, and
one another, through him, and he, himself and them, through himself. If concord, they
shall all have a single will.
If power, they shall have all power to fulfil their will, as God to fulfil his. For, as
God will have power to do what he wills, through himself, so they will have power, through
him, to do what they will. For, as they will not will anything else than he, he shall will
whatever they will; and what he shall will cannot fail to be. If honor and riches, God
shall make his good and faithful servants rulers over many things (Luke xii-42); nay, they
shall be called sons of God, and gods; and where his Son shall be, there they shall be
also, heirs indeed of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans viii. 17).
If true security delights you, undoubtedly they shall be as sure that those goods, or
rather that good, will never and in no wise fail them; as they shall be sure that they
will not lose it of their own accord; and that God, who loves them, will not take it away
from those who love him against their will; and that nothing more powerful than God will
separate him from them against his will and theirs.
But what, or how great, is the joy, where such and so great is the good! Heart of man,
needy heart, heart acquainted with sorrows, nay, overwhelmed with sorrows, how greatly
would you rejoice, if you did abound in all these things! Ask your inmost mind whether it
could contain its joy over so great a blessedness of its own.
Yet assuredly, if any other whom you did love altogether as yourself possessed the same
blessedness, your joy would be doubled, because you would rejoice not less for him than
for yourself. But, if two, or three, or many more, had the same joy, you would rejoice as
much for each one as for yourself, if you did love each as yourself. Hence, in that
perfect love of innumerable blessed angels and sainted men, where none shall love another
less than himself, every one shall rejoice for each of the others as for himself.
If, then, the heart of man will scarce contain his joy over his own so great good, how
shall it contain so many and so great joys? And doubtless, seeing that every one loves
another so far as he rejoices in the other's good, and as, in that perfect felicity, each
one should love God beyond compare, more than himself and all the others with him; so he
will rejoice beyond reckoning in the felicity of God, more than in his own and that of all
the others with him.
But if they shall so love God with all their heart, and all their mind, and all their
soul, that still all the heart, and all the mind, and all the soul shall not suffice for
the worthiness of this love; doubtless they will so rejoice with all their heart, and all
their mind, and all their soul, that all the heart, and all the mind, and all the soul
shall not suffice for the fulness of their joy.
Is this joy which the Lord promises made full? --The blessed shall rejoice according as
they shall love; and they shall love according as they shall know.
My God and my Lord, my hope and the joy of my heart, speak unto my soul and tell me
whether this is the joy of which you tell us through your Son: Ask and ye shall receive,
that your joy may be full (John xvi. 24). For I have found a joy that is full, and more
than full. For when heart, and mind, and soul, and all the man, are full of that joy, joy
beyond measure will still remain. Hence, not all of that joy shall enter into those who
rejoice; but they who rejoice shall wholly enter into that joy.
Show me, O Lord, show your servant in his heart whether this is the joy into which your
servants shall enter, who shall enter into the joy of their Lord. But that joy, surely,
with which your chosen ones shall rejoice, eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has it
entered into the heart of man (Isaiah lxiv. 4; i Corinthians ii. 9). Not yet, then, have I
told or conceived, O Lord, how greatly those blessed ones of yours shall rejoice.
Doubtless they shall rejoice according as they shall love; and they shall love according
as they shall know. How far they will know you, Lord, then! and how much they will love
you! Truly, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man
in this life, how far they shall know you, and how much they shall love you in that life.
I pray, 0 God, to know you, to love you, that I may rejoice in you. And if I cannot
attain to full joy in this life may I at least advance from day to day, until that joy
shall come to the full. Let the knowledge of you advance in me here, and there be made
full. Let the love of you increase, and there let it be full, that here my joy may be
great in hope, and there full in truth. Lord, through your Son you do command, nay, you do
counsel us to ask; and you do promise that we shall receive, that our joy may be full. I
ask, O Lord, as you do counsel through our wonderful Counsellor. I will receive what you
do promise by virtue of your truth, that my joy may be full. Faithful God, I ask. I will
receive, that my joy may be full. Meanwhile, let my mind meditate upon it; let my tongue
speak of it. Let my heart love it; let my mouth talk of it. Let my soul hunger for it; let
my flesh thirst for it; let my whole being desire it, until I enter into your joy, O Lord,
who are the Three and the One God, blessed for ever and ever. Amen.