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It has been compared with the original, and a considerable number of alterations made. The changes in some instances were necessary from a misconception of the original; but more often for the purpose of making the meaning of the translator himself more clear. It is believed that a comparison between the original and revised translation will show that the latter is the more intelligible.

At the same time, the reviser would not be too confident that in every instance the exact meaning of Augustin has been expressed, by either the translator or reviser. The history of St. It is placed by him in his Retractations among the works written which in the present case, it appears, must mean begun in ad In letters of ad , , and at the end of ad Ad Consentium, Ep. But a letter of ad Ad Marcellinum, Ep. And the letter to Aurelius, which was sent to that bishop with the treatise itself when actually completed, informs us that a portion of it, while it was still unrevised and incomplete, was in fact surreptitiously made public,—a proceeding which the letters above cited postpone apparently until at least after ad John, indicates most probably a date of at least a year later, viz.

The Retractations, which refer to it, are usually dated not later than ad The letter to Bishop Aurelius also informs us that the work was many years in progress, and was begun in St. We may infer from this evidence that it was written by him between ad , when he was forty-six years old, and had been Bishop of Hippo about four years, and ad at the latest; but probably it was published ten or twelve years before this date.

His motive for writing on the subject may be learned from the treatise itself. It was not directed against any individual antagonist, or occasioned by any particular controversial emergency. In fact, his labors upon it were, he says, continually interrupted by the distraction of such controversies. Certain ingenious and subtle theories respecting types or resemblances of the Holy Trinity, traceable in human nature as being the image of God, seemed to him to supply, not indeed a logical proof, but a strong rational presumption, of the truth of the doctrine itself; and thus to make it incumbent upon him to expound and unfold them in order to meet rationalizing objectors upon so to say their own ground.

He is careful not to deal with these analogies or images as if they either constituted a purely argumentative proof or exhausted the full meaning of the doctrine, upon both which assumptions such speculations have at all times been the fruitful parent both of presumptious theorizing and of grievous heresy.

But he nevertheless employs them more affirmatively than would perhaps have been the case. While modern theologians would argue negatively, from the triplicity of independent faculties,—united, nevertheless, in the unity of a single human person,—that any presumption of reason against the Trinity of persons in the Godhead is thereby, if not removed, at least materially and enormously lessened, St.

Augustin seems to argue positively from analogous grounds, as though they constituted a direct intimation of the doctrine itself.

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But he takes especial pains, at the same time, to dwell upon the incapacity of human thought to fathom the depths of the nature of God; and he carefully prefaces his reasonings by a statement of the Scripture evidence of the catholic doctrine as a matter of faith and not of reason, and by an explanation of difficult texts upon the subject. One of the most valuable portions, indeed, of the treatise is the eloquent and profound exposition given in this part of it of the rule of interpretation to be applied to Scripture language respecting the person of our Lord.

It should be noticed, however, that a large proportion of St. And the rule followed in rendering Scripture texts in the present translation has been, accordingly, wherever the argument in the context rests upon the variations of the old Latin, there to translate the words as St. Augustin gives them, while adhering otherwise to the language of the authorized English version. It may be added, that the writings of the Greek Fathers on the subject were, if not wholly unknown, yet unfamiliar to Augustin, who quotes directly only the Latin work of Hilary of Poictiers.

He is therefore answerable for the work as now published. In the Retractations ii. When, however, I had not yet finished the thirteenth Book, and some who were exceedingly anxious to have the work were kept waiting longer than they could bear, it was stolen from me in a less correct state than it either could or would have been had it appeared when I intended. And as soon as I discovered this, having other copies of it, I had determined at first not to publish it myself, but to mention what had happened in the matter in some other work; but at the urgent request of brethren, whom I could not refuse, I corrected it as much as I thought fit, and finished and published it, with the addition, at the beginning, of a letter that I had written to the venerable Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, in which I set forth, in the way of prologue, what had happened, what I had intended to do of myself, and what love of my brethren had forced me to do.

I had in truth laid the work aside, upon discovering that it had been prematurely, or rather surreptitiously, stolen from me before I had completed it, and before I had revised and put the finishing touches to it, as had been my intention.

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For I had not designed to publish the Books one by one, but all together, inasmuch as the progress of the inquiry led me to add the later ones to those which precede them. When, therefore, these people had hindered the fulfillment of my purpose in that some of them had obtained access to the work before I intended , I had given over dictating it, with the idea of making my complaint public in some other work that I might write, in order that whoso could might know that the Books had not been published by myself, but had been taken away from my possession before they were in my own judgment fit for publication.

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Doubtless, if I could have fulfilled my original intention, although they would have contained the same sentiments, they would have been worked out much more thoroughly and clearly, so far as the difficulty of unfolding so profound a subject, and so far, too, as my own powers, might have allowed. There are some persons, however, who have the first four, or rather five, Books without the prefaces, and the twelfth with no small part of its later chapters omitted. But these, if they please and can, will amend the whole, if they become acquainted with the present edition.

At any rate, I have to request that you will order this letter to be prefixed separately, but at the beginning of the Books.

Pray for me. The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason. Now one class of such men endeavor to transfer to things incorporeal and spiritual the ideas they have formed, whether through experience of the bodily senses, or by natural human wit and diligent quickness, or by the aid of art, from things corporeal; so as to seek to measure and conceive of the former by the latter.

Others, again, frame whatever sentiments they may have concerning God according to the nature or affections of the human mind; and through this error they govern their discourse, in disputing concerning God, by distorted and fallacious rules. While yet a third class strive indeed to transcend the whole creation, which doubtless is changeable, in order to raise their thought to the unchangeable substance, which is God; but being weighed down by the burden of mortality, whilst they both would seem to know what they do not, and cannot know what they would, preclude themselves from entering the very path of understanding, by an over-bold affirmation of their own presumptuous judgments; choosing rather not to correct their own opinion when it is perverse, than to change that which they have once defended.

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And, indeed, this is the common disease of all the three classes which I have mentioned,—viz. For he who thinks, for instance, that God is white or red, is in error; and yet these things are found in the body. Again, he who thinks of God as now forgetting and now remembering, or anything of the same kind, is none the less in error; and yet these things are found in the mind. But he who thinks that God is of such power as to have generated Himself, is so much the Edition: current; Page: [ 18 ] more in error, because not only does God not so exist, but neither does the spiritual nor the bodily creature; for there is nothing whatever that generates its own existence.

In order, therefore, that the human mind might be purged from falsities of this kind, Holy Scripture, which suits itself to babes, has not avoided words drawn from any class of things really existing, through which, as by nourishment, our understanding might rise gradually to things divine and transcendent. And hence it is that they who are shut out from the truth by that third kind of error are more mischievously and emptily vain than their fellows; in that they surmise respecting God, what can neither be found in Himself nor in any creature.

For divine Scripture is wont to frame, as it were, allurements for children from the things which are found in the creature; whereby, according to their measure, and as it were by steps, the affections of the weak may be moved to seek those things that are above, and to leave those things that are below. Further, it is difficult to contemplate and fully know the substance of God; who fashions things changeable, yet without any change in Himself, and creates things temporal, yet without any temporal movement in Hmself. And it is necessary, therefore, to purge our minds, in order to be able to see ineffably that which is ineffable; whereto not having yet attained, we are to be nourished by faith, and led by such ways as are more suited to our capacity, that we may be rendered apt and able to comprehend it.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. And sometimes, indeed, we do allege to them, not certainly that account of the case which they seek in their inquiries about God,—because neither can they themselves receive it, nor can we perhaps either apprehend or express it,—but such an account of it as to demonstrate to them how incapable and utterly unfit they are to understand that which they require of us.

But they, on their parts, because Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] they do not hear what they desire, think that we are either playing them false in order to conceal our own ignorance, or speaking in malice because we grudge them knowledge; and so go away indignant and perturbed.

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Wherefore, our Lord God helping, we will undertake to render, as far as we are able, that very account which they so importunately demand: viz. First, however, we must demonstrate, according to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, whether the faith be so. Then, if God be willing and aid us, we may perhaps at least so far serve these talkative arguers—more puffed up than capable, and therefore laboring under the more dangerous disease—as to enable them to find something which they are not able to doubt, that so, in that case where they cannot find the like, they may be led to lay the fault to their own minds, rather than to the truth itself or to our reasonings; and thus, if there be anything in them of either love or fear towards God, they may return and begin from faith in due order: perceiving at length how healthful a medicine has been provided for the faithful in the holy Church, whereby a heedful piety, healing the feebleness of the mind, may render it able to perceive the unchangeable truth, and hinder it from falling headlong, through disorderly rashness, into pestilent and false opinion.

Neither will I myself shrink from inquiry, if I am anywhere in doubt; nor be ashamed to learn, if I am anywhere in error. If, then, any reader shall say, This is not well said, because I do not understand it; such an one finds fault with my language, not with my faith: and it might perhaps in very truth have been put more clearly; yet no man ever so spoke as to be understood in all things by all men. Let him, therefore, who finds this fault with my discourse, see whether he can understand other men who have handled similar subjects and questions, when he does not understand me: and if he can, let him put down my book, or even, if he pleases, throw it away; and let him spend labor and time rather on those whom he understands.

For neither do all things, which all men have written, come into the hands of all. And possibly some, who are capable of understanding even these our writings, may not find those more lucid works, and may meet with ours only. And therefore it is useful that many persons should write many books, differing in style but not in faith, concerning even the same questions, that the matter itself may reach the greatest number—some in one way, some in another.

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But if he who complains that he has not understood these things has never been able to comprehend any careful and exact reasonings at all upon such subjects, let him in that case deal with himself by resolution and study, that he may Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] know better; not with me by quarrellings and wranglings, that I may hold my peace.

Let him, again, who says, when he reads my book, Certainly I understand what is said, but it is not true, assert, if he pleases, his own opinion, and refute mine if he is able. And if he do this with charity and truth, and take the pains to make it known to me if I am still alive , I shall then receive the most abundant fruit of this my labor.

And if he cannot inform myself, most willing and glad should I be that he should inform those whom he can. This I pray for, and this my trust and desire I commit to Him, who is sufficiently able to keep those things which He has given me, and to render those which He has promised. I expect, indeed, that some, who are more dull of understanding, will imagine that in some parts of my books I have held sentiments which I have not held, or have not held those which I have.

But their error, as none can be ignorant, ought not to be attributed to me, if they have deviated into false doctrine through following my steps without apprehending me, whilst I am compelled to pick my way through a hard and obscure subject: seeing that neither can any one, in any way, rightly ascribe the numerous and various errors of heretics to the holy testimonies themselves of the divine books; although all of them endeavor to defend out of those same Scriptures their own false and erroneous opinions.

The law of Christ, that is, charity, admonishes me clearly, and commands me with a sweet constraint, that when men think that I have held in my books something false which I have not held, and that same falsehood displeases one and pleases another, I should prefer to be blamed by him who reprehends the falsehood, rather than praised by him who praises it. For although I, who never held the error, am not rightly blamed by the former, yet the error itself is rightly censured; whilst by the latter neither am I rightly praised, who am thought to have held that which the truth censures, nor the sentiment itself, which the truth also censures.