- I. There is a being which is best, and greatest,
and highest of all existing beings
- II. The same subject continued
- III. There is a certain Nature through which
whatever is exists, etc.
- IV. The same subject continued
- V. Just as this Nature exists through itself, and
other beings through it, so it derives existence from itself, and other beings from it
- VI. This Nature was not brought into existence
with the help of any external cause, yet it does not exist through nothing, or derive
existence from nothing
- VII. In what way all other beings exist through
this Nature and derive existence from it
- VIII. How it is to be understood that this
Nature created all things from nothing
- IX. Those things which were created from nothing
had an existence before their creation in the thought of the Creator
- X. This thought is a kind of expression of the
thoughts created (locutio rerum), like the expression which an artisan forms in his
mind for what he intends to make
- XI. The analogy, however, between the expression
of the Creator and the expression of the artisan is very complete
- XII. This expression of the supreme Being is the
- XIII. As all things were created through the
supreme Being, so all live through it
- XIV. This Being is in all things. and throughout
- XV. What can or cannot be stated concerning the
substance of this Being
- XVI. For this Being it is the same to be just
that it is to be justice
- XVII. It is simple in such a way that all
things that can be said of its essence are one and the same in it
- XVIII. It is without beginning and without end
- XIX. In what sense nothing existed before or
will exist after this Being
- XX. It exists in every place and at every time
- XXI. It exists in no place or time
- XXII. How it exists in every place and time,
and in none
- XXIII. How it is better conceived to exist
everywhere than in every place
- XXIV. How it is better understood to exist always than at every time
- XXV. It cannot suffer change by any accidents
- XXVI. How this Being is said to be substance
- XXVII. It is not included among substances as
commonly treated, yet it is a substance and an indivisible spirit
- XXVIII. This Spirit exists simply, and
created beings are not comparable with him
- XXIX. His expression is identical with himself,
and consubstantial with him
- XXX. This expression does not consist of more
words than one, but is one Word
- XXXI. This Word itself is not the likeness of
created beings, but the reality of their being
- XXXII. The supreme Spirit expresses himself by
a coeternal Word
- XXXIII. He utters himself and what he creates
by a single consubstantial Word
- XXXIV. How he can express the created world by
- XXXV. Whatever has been created is in his Word
and knowledge, life and truth
- XXXVI. In how incomprehensible a way he
expresses or knows the objects created by him
- XXXVII. Whatever his relations to his
creatures, this relation his Word also sustains
- XXXVIII. It cannot be explained why they are
two, although they must be so
- XXXIX. This Word derives existence from the
supreme Spirit by birth
- XL. He is most truly a parent, and that Word his
- XLI. He most truly begets, and it is most truly
- XLII. It is the property of the one to be most
truly progenitor and Father, and of the other to be begotten and Son
- XLIII. Consideration of the common attributes
of both and the individual properties of each
- XLIV. How one is the essence of the other
- XLV. The Son may more appropriately be called
the essence of the Father, than the Father the essence of the son
- XLVI. How some of these truths which are thus
expounded may also be conceived of in another way
- XLVII. The Son is the intelligence of
intelligence and the truth of truth
- XLVIII. How the Son is the intelligence or
wisdom of memory or the memory of the Father and of memory
- XLIX. The supreme Spirit loves himself
- L. The same love proceeds equally from Father and
- LI. Each loves himself and the other with equal
- LII. This love is as great as the supreme Spirit
- LIII. This Love is identical with the supreme
Spirit, and yet it is itself with the Father and the Son one spirit
- LIV. It proceeds as a whole from the Father, and
as a whole from the Son, and yet does not exist except as one love
- LV. This love is not their Son
- LVI. Only the Father begets and is unbegotten;
only the Son is begotten; only love neither begotten nor unbegotten
- LVII. This love is uncreated and creator, as
are Father and Son; it may be called the Spirit of Father and Son
- LVIII. As the Son is the essence or wisdom of
the Father in the sense that he has the same essence or wisdom that the Father has; so
likewise the Spirit is the essence and wisdom etc. of Father and Son
- LIX. The Father and the Son and their Spirit
exist equally the one in the other
- LX. To none of these is another necessary that he
may remember, conceive, or love
- LXI. Yet there are not three, but one Father and
one Son and one Spirit
- LXII. How it seems that of these three more
sons than one are born
- LXIII. How among them there is only one Son of
one Father, that is, one Word, and that from the Father alone
- LXIV. Though this truth is inexplicable, it
- LXV. How real truth may be reached in the
discussion of an ineffable subject
- LXVI. Through the rational mind is the nearest
approach to the supreme Being
- LXVII. The mind itself is the mirror and image
of that Being
- LXVIII. The rational creature was created in
order that it might love this Being
- LXIX. The soul that ever loves this Essence
lives at some time in true blessedness
- LXX. This Being gives itself in return to the
creature that loves it, that that creature may be eternally blessed
- LXXI. The soul that despises this being will be
- LXXII. Every human soul is immortal. And it is
either forever miserable, or at some time truly blessed.
- LXXIII. No soul is unjustly deprived of the
supreme good, and every effort must be directed toward that good
- LXXIV. The supreme Being is to be hoped for
- LXXV. We must believe in this Being, that is,
by believing we must reach for it
- LXXVI. We should believe in Father and Son and
in their Spirit equally, and in each separately, and in the three at once
- LXXVII. What is living and what dead faith
- LXXVIII. The supreme Being may in some sort
be called Three
- LXXIX. The Essence itself is God, who alone is
lord and ruler of all
ON THE BEING OF GOD
In this book Anselm discusses, under the form of a meditation, the Being of God,
basing his argument not on the authority of Scripture, but on the force of reason. It
contains nothing that is inconsistent with the writings of the Holy Fathers, and
especially nothing that is inconsistent with those of St. Augustine. --The Greek
terminology is employed in Chapter LXXVIII., where it is stated that the Trinity may be
said to consist of three substances, that is, three persons.
CERTAIN brethren have often and earnestly entreated me to put in writing some thoughts
that I had offered them in familiar conversation, regarding meditation on the Being of
God, and on some other topics connected with this subject, under the form of a meditation
on these themes. It is in accordance with their wish, rather than with my ability, that
they have prescribed such a form for the writing of this meditation; in order that nothing
in Scripture should be urged on the authority of Scripture itself, but that whatever the
conclusion of independent investigation should declare to be true, should, in an unadorned
style, with common proofs and with a simple argument, be briefly enforced by the cogency
of reason, and plainly expounded in the light of truth. It was their wish also, that I
should not disdain to meet such simple and almost foolish objections as occur to me.
This task I have long refused to undertake. And, reflecting on the matter, I have tried
on many grounds to excuse myself; for the more they wanted this work to be adaptable to
practical use, the more was what they enjoined on me difficult of execution. Overcome at
last, however, both by the modest importunity of their entreaties and by the not
contemptible sincerity of their zeal; and reluctant as I was because of the difficulty of
my task and the weakness of my talent, I entered upon the work they asked for. But it is
with pleasure inspired by their affection that, so far as I was able, I have prosecuted
this work within the limits they set.
I was led to this undertaking in the hope that whatever I might accomplish would soon
be overwhelmed with contempt, as by men disgusted with some worthless thing. For I know
that in this book I have not so much satisfied those who entreated me, as put an end to
the entreaties that followed me so urgently. Yet, somehow it fell out, contrary to my
hope, that not only the brethren mentioned above, but several others, by making copies for
their own use, condemned this writing to long remembrance. And, after frequent
consideration, I have not been able to find that I have made in it any statement which is
inconsistent with the writings of the Catholic Fathers, or especially with those of St.
Augustine. Wherefore, if it shall appear to any man that I have offered in this work any
thought that is either too novel or discordant with the truth, I ask him not to denounce
me at once as one who boldly seizes upon new ideas, or as a maintainer of falsehood; but
let him first read diligently Augustine's books on the Trinity, and then judge my treatise
in the light of those.
In stating that the supreme Trinity may be said to consist of three substances, I have
followed the Greeks, who acknowledge three substances in one Essence, in the same faith
wherein we acknowledge three persons in one Substance. For they designate by the word substance that attribute of God which we designate by the word person.
Whatever I have said on that point, however, is put in the mouth of one debating and
investigating in solitary reflection, questions to which he had given no attention before.
And this method I knew to be in accordance with the wish of those whose request I was
striving to fulfil. But it is my prayer and earnest entreaty, that if any shall wish to
copy this work, he shall be careful to place this preface at the beginning of the book,
before the body of the meditation itself. For I believe that one will be much helped in
understanding the matter of this book, if he has taken note of the intention, and the
method according to which it is discussed. It is my opinion, too, that one who has first
seen this preface will not pronounce a rash judgment, if he shall find offered here any
thought that is contrary to his own belief.
There is a being which is best, and greatest, and highest of all
IF any man, either from ignorance or unbelief, has no knowledge of the existence of one
Nature which is highest of all existing beings, which is also sufficient to itself in its
eternal blessedness, and which confers upon and effects in all other beings, through its
omnipotent goodness, the very fact of their existence, and the fact that in any way their
existence is good; and if he has no knowledge of many other things, which we necessarily
believe regarding God and his creatures, he still believes that he can at least convince
himself of these truths in great part, even if his mental powers are very ordinary, by the
force of reason alone.
And, although he could do this in many ways, I shall adopt one which I consider easiest
for such a man. For, since all desire to enjoy only those things which they suppose to be
good, it is natural that this man should, at some time, turn his mind's eye to the
examination of that cause by which these things are good, which he does not desire, except
as he judges them to be good. So that, as reason leads the way and follows up these
considerations, he advances rationally to those truths of which, without reason, he has no
knowledge. And if, in this discussion, I use any argument which no greater authority
adduces, I wish it to be received in this way: although, on the grounds that I shall see
fit to adopt, the conclusion is reached as if necessarily, yet it is not, for this reason,
said to be absolutely necessary, but merely that it can appear so for the time being.
It is easy, then, for one to say to himself: Since there are goods so innumerable,
whose great diversity we experience by the bodily senses, and discern by our mental
faculties, must we not believe that there is some one thing, through which all goods
whatever are good? Or are they good one through one thing and another through another? To
be sure, it is most certain and clear, for all who are willing to see, that whatsoever
things are said to possess any attribute in such a way that in mutual comparison they may
be said to possess it in greater, or less, or equal degree, are said to possess it by
virtue of some fact, which is not understood to be one thing in one case and another in
another, but to be the same in different cases, whether it is regarded as existing in
these cases in equal or unequal degree. For, whatsoever things are said to be just, when compared one with another, whether equally, or more, or less, cannot be understood as
just, except through the quality of justness, which is not one thing in one
instance, and another in another.
Since it is certain, then, that all goods, if mutually compared, would prove either
equally or unequally good, necessarily they are all good by virtue of something which is
conceived of as the same in different goods, although sometimes they seem to be called
good, the one by virtue of one thing, the other by virtue of another. For, apparently it
is by virtue of one quality, that a horse is called good, because he is strong, and
by virtue of another, that he is called good, because he is swift. For, though he
seems to be called good by virtue of his strength, and good by virtue of his swiftness,
yet swiftness and strength do not appear to be the same thing.
But if a horse, because he is strong and swift, is therefore good, how is it that a
strong, swift robber is bad? Rather, then, just as a strong, swift robber is bad, because
he is harmful, so a strong, swift horse is good, because he is useful. And, indeed,
nothing is ordinarily regarded as good, except either for some utility -- as, for
instance, safety is called good, and those things which promote safety --or for some
honorable character -- as, for instance, beauty is reckoned to be good, and what promotes
But, since the reasoning which we have observed is in no wise refutable, necessarily,
again, all things, whether useful or honorable, if they are truly good, are good through
that same being through which all goods exist, whatever that being is. But who can doubt
this very being, through which all goods exist, to be a great good? This must be, then, a
good through itself, since ever other good is through it.
It follows, therefore, that all other goods are good through another being than that
which they themselves are, and this being alone is good through itself. Hence, this alone
is supremely good, which is alone good through itself. For it is supreme, in that it so
surpasses other beings, that it is neither equalled nor excelled. But that which is
supremely good is also supremely great. There is, therefore, some one being which is
supremely good, and supremely great, that is, the highest of all existing beings.
The same subject continued.
BUT, just as it has been proved that there is a being that is supremely good, since all
goods are good through a single being, which is good through itself; so it is necessarily
inferred that there is something supremely great, which is great through itself. But, I do
not mean physically great, as a material object is great, but that which, the greater it
is, is the better or the more worthy, --wisdom, for instance. And since there can be
nothing supremely great except what is supremely good, there must be a being that is
greatest and best, i. e., the highest of all existing beings.
There is a certain Nature through which whatever is exists, and which exists through
itself, and is the highest of all existing beings.
THEREFORE, not only are all good things such through something that is one and the
same, and all great things such through something that is one and the same; but whatever
is, apparently exists through something that is one and the same. For, everything that is,
exists either through something, or through nothing. But nothing exists through nothing.
For it is altogether inconceivable that anything should not exist by virtue of something.
Whatever is, then, does not exist except through something. Since this is true, either
there is one being, or there are more than one, through which all things that are exist.
But if there are more than one, either these are themselves to be referred to some one
being, through which they exist, or they exist separately, each through itself, or they
exist mutually through one another.
But, if these beings exist through one being, then all things do not exist through more
than one, but rather through that one being through which these exist.
If, however, these exist separately, each through itself, there is, at any rate, some
power or property of existing through self (existendi per se), by which they are
able to exist each through itself. But, there can be no doubt that, in that case, they
exist through this very power, which is one, and through which they are able to exist,
each through itself. More truly, then, do all things exist through this very being, which
is one, than through these, which are more than one, which, without this one, cannot
But that these beings exist mutually through one another, no reason can admit; since it
is an irrational conception that anything should exist through a being on which it confers
existence. For not even beings of a relative nature exist thus mutually, the one through
the other. For, though the terms master and servant are used with mutual
reference, and the men thus designated are mentioned as having mutual relations, yet they
do not at all exist mutually, the one through the other, since these relations exist
through the subjects to which they are referred.
Therefore, since truth altogether excludes the supposition that there are more beings
than one, through which all things exist, that being, through which all exist, must be
one. Since, then, all things that are exist through this one being, doubtless this one
being exists through itself. Whatever things there are else then, exist through something
other than themselves, and this alone through itself. But whatever exists through another
is less than that, through which all things are, and which alone exists through itself.
Therefore, that which exists through itself exists in the greatest degree of all things.
There is, then, some one being which alone exists in the greatest and the highest
degree of all. But that which is greatest of all, and through which exists whatever is
good or great, and, in short, whatever has any existence -- that must be supremely good,
and supremely great, and the highest of all existing beings.
The same subject continued.
FURTHERMORE, if one observes the nature of things be perceives, whether he will or no,
that not all are embraced in a single degree of dignity; but that certain among them are
distinguished by inequality of degree. For, he who doubts that the horse is superior in
its nature to wood, and man more excellent than the horse, assuredly does not deserve the
name of man. Therefore, although it cannot be denied that some natures are superior to
others, nevertheless reason convinces us that some nature is so preeminent among these,
that it has no superior. For, if the distinction of degrees is infinite, so that there is
among them no degree, than which no higher can be found, our course of reasoning reaches
this conclusion: that the multitude of natures themselves is not limited by any bounds.
But only an absurdly foolish man can fail to regard such a conclusion as absurdly foolish.
There is, then, necessarily some nature which is so superior to some nature or natures,
that there is none in comparison with which it is ranked as inferior.
Now, this. nature which is such, either is single, or there are more natures than one
of this sort, and they are of equal degree.
But, if they are more than one and equal, since they cannot be equal through any
diverse causes, but only through some cause which is one and the same, that one cause,
through which they are equally so great, either is itself what they are, that is, the very
essence of these natures; or else it is another than what they are.
But if it is nothing else than their very essence itself, just as they have not more
than one essence, but a single essence, so they have not more than one nature, but a
single nature. For I here understand nature as identical with essence.
If, however, that through which these natures are so great is another than that which
they are, then, certainly, they are less than that through which they are so great. For,
whatever is great through something else is less than that through which it is great.
Therefore, they are not so great that there is nothing else greater than they.
But if, neither through what they are nor through anything other than themselves, can
there be more such natures than one, than which nothing else shall be more excellent, then
in no wise can there be more than one nature of this kind. We conclude, then, that there
is some nature which is one and single, and which is so superior to others that it is
inferior to none. But that which is such is the greatest and best of all existing beings.
Hence, there is a certain nature which is the highest of all existing beings. This,
however, it cannot be, unless it is what it is through itself, and all existing beings are
what they are through it.
For since, as our reasoning showed us not long since, that which exists through itself,
and through which all other things exist, is the highest of all existing beings; either
conversely, that which is the highest exists through itself, and all others through it;
or, there will be more than one supreme being. But it is manifest that there cannot be
more than one supreme being. There is, therefore, a certain Nature, or Substance, or
Essence, which is through itself good and great, and through itself is what it is; and
through which exists whatever is truly good, or great, or has any existence at all; and
which is the supreme good being, the supreme great being, being or subsisting as supreme,
that is, the highest of all existing beings.
Just as this Nature exists through itself, and other beings through it, so it derives
existence from itself, and other beings from it.
Seeing, then, that the truth already discovered has been satisfactorily demonstrated,
it is profitable to examine whether this Nature, and all things that have any existence,
derive existence from no other source than it, just as they do not exist except through
But it is clear that one may say, that what derives existence from something exists
through the same thing; and what exists through something also derives existence from it.
For instance, what derives existence from matter, and exists through the artificer, may
also be said to exist through matter, and to derive existence from the artificer, since it
exists through both, and derives existence from both. That is, it is endowed with
existence by both, although it exists through matter and from the artificer in another
sense than that in which it exists through, and from, the artificer.
It follows, then, that just as all existing beings are what they are, through the
supreme Nature, and as that Nature exists through itself, but other beings through another
than themselves, so all existing beings derive existence from this supreme Nature. And
therefore, this Nature derives existence from itself, but other beings from it.
This Nature was not brought into existence with the help of any external cause, yet it
does not exist through nothing, or derive existence from nothing. --How existence through
self, and derived from self, is conceivable.
SINCE the same meaning is not always attached to the phrase, "existence
through" something, or, to the phrase, "existence derived from" something,
very diligent inquiry must be made, in what way all existing beings exist through the
supreme Nature, or derive existence from it. For, what exists through itself, and what
exists through another, do not admit the same ground of existence. Let us first consider,
separately, this supreme Nature, which exists through self; then these beings which exist
Since it is evident, then, that this Nature is whatever it is, through itself, and all
other beings are what they are, through it, how does it exist through itself? For, what is
said to exist through anything apparently exists through an efficient agent, or through
matter, or through some other external aid, as through some instrument. But, whatever
exists in any of these three ways exists through another than itself, and is of later
existence, and, in some sort, less than that through which it obtains existence.
But, in no wise does the supreme Nature exist through another, nor is it later or less
than itself or anything else. Therefore, the supreme Nature could be created neither by
itself, nor by another; nor could itself or an other be the matter whence it should be
created; nor did it assist itself in any way; nor did anything assist it to be what it was
What is to be inferred? For that which cannot have come into existence by any creative
agent, or from any matter, or with any external aids, seems either to be nothing, or, if
it has any existence, to exist through nothing, and derive existence from nothing. And
although, in accordance with the observations I have already made, in the light of reason,
regarding the supreme Substance, I should think such propositions could in no wise be true
in the case of supreme Substance; yet, I would not neglect to give a connected
demonstration of this matter.
For, seeing that this my meditation has suddenly brought me to an important and
interesting point, I am unwilling to pass over carelessly even any simple or almost
foolish objection that occurs to me, in my argument; in order that by leaving no ambiguity
in my discussion up to this point, I may have the better assured strength to advance
toward what follows; and in order that if, perchance, I shall wish to convince any one of
the truth of my speculations, even one of the slower minds, through the removal of every
obstacle, however slight, may acquiesce in what it finds here.
That this Nature, then, without which no nature exists, is nothing, is as false as it
would be absurd to say that whatever is is nothing. And, moreover, it does not exist
through nothing, because it is utterly inconceivable that what is something should exist
through nothing. But, if in any way it derives existence from nothing, it does so through
itself, or through another, or through nothing. But it is evident that in no wise does
anything exist through nothing. If, then, in any way it derives existence from nothing, it
does so either through itself or through another.
But nothing can, through itself, derive existence from nothing, because if anything
derives existence from nothing, through something, then that through which it exists must
exist before it. Seeing that this Being, then, does not exist before itself, by no means
does it derive existence from itself.
But if it is supposed to have derived existence from some other nature, then it is not
the supreme Nature, but some inferior one, nor is it what it is through itself, but
Again: if this Nature derives existence from nothing, through something, that through
which it exists was a great good, since it was the cause of good. But no good can be
understood as existing before that good, without which nothing is good; and it is
sufficiently clear that this good, without which there is no good, is the supreme Nature
which is under discussion. Therefore, it is not even conceivable that this Nature was
preceded by any being, through which it derived existence from nothing.
Hence, if it has any existence through nothing, or derives existence from nothing,
there is no doubt that either, whatever it is, it does not exist through itself, or derive
existence from itself, or else it is itself nothing. It is unnecessary to show that both
these suppositions are false. The supreme Substance, then, does not exist through any
efficient agent, and does not derive existence from any matter, and was not aided in being
brought into existence by any external causes. Nevertheless, it by no means exists through
nothing, or derives existence from nothing; since, through itself and from itself, it is
whatever it is.
Finally, as to how it should be understood to exist through itself, and to derive
existence from itself: it did not create itself, nor did it spring up as its own matter,
nor did it in any way assist itself to become what it was not before, unless, haply, it
seems best to conceive of this subject in the way in which one says that the light
lights or is lucent, through and from itself. For, as are the mutual relations
of the light and to light and lucent (lux, lucere, lucens),
such are the relations of essence, and to be and being, that is, existing or subsisting. So the supreme Being, and to be in the highest degree,
and being in the highest degree, bear much the same relations, one to another, as the
light and to light and lucent.
In what way all other beings exist through this Nature and derive
existence from it.
THERE now remains the discussion of that whole class of beings that exist through
another, as to how they exist through the supreme Substance, whether because this
Substance created them all, or because it was the material of all. For, there is no need
to inquire whether all exist through it, for this reason, namely, that there being another
creative agent, or another existing material, this supreme Substance has merely aided in
bringing about the existence of all things: since it is inconsistent with what has already
been shown, that whatever things are should exist secondarily, and not primarily, through
First, then, it seems to me, we ought to inquire whether that whole class of beings
which exist through another derive existence from any material. But I do not doubt that
all this solid world, with its parts, just as we see, consists of earth, water, fire, and
air. These four elements, of course, can be conceived of without these forms which we see
in actual objects, so that their formless, or even confused, nature appears to be the
material of all bodies, distinguished by their own forms. -- I say that I do not doubt
this. But I ask, whence this very material that I have mentioned, the material of the
mundane mass, derives its existence. For, if there is some material of this material, then
that is more truly the material of the physical universe.
If, then, the universe of things, whether visible or invisible, derives existence from
any material, certainly it not only cannot be, but it cannot even be supposed to be, from
any other material than from the supreme Nature or from itself, or from some third being
-- but this last, at any rate, does not exist. For, indeed, nothing is even conceivable
except that highest of all beings, which exists through itself, and the universe of beings
which exist, not through themselves, but through this supreme Being. Hence, that which has
no existence at all is not the material of anything.
From its own nature the universe cannot derive existence, since, if this were the case,
it would in some sort exist through itself and so through another than that through which
all things exist. But all these suppositions are false.
Again, everything that derives existence from material derives existence from another,
and exists later than that other. Therefore, since nothing is other than itself, or later
than itself, it follows that nothing derives material existence from itself.
But if, from the material of the supreme Nature itself, any lesser being can derive
existence, the supreme good is subject to change and corruption. But this it is impious to
suppose. Hence, since everything that is other than this supreme Nature is less than it,
it is impossible that anything other than it in this way derives existence from it.
Furthermore: doubtless that is in no wise good, through which the supreme good is
subjected to change or corruption. But, if any lesser nature derives existence from the
material of the supreme good, inasmuch as nothing exists whencesoever, except through the
supreme Being, the supreme good is subjected to change and corruption through the supreme
Being itself. Hence, the supreme Being, which is itself the supreme good, is by no means
good; which is a contradiction. There is, therefore, no lesser nature which derives
existence in a material way from the supreme Nature.
Since, then, it is evident that the essence of those things which exist through another
does not derive existence as if materially, from the supreme Essence, nor from itself, nor
from another, it is manifest that it derives existence from no material. Hence, seeing
that whatever is exists through the supreme Being, nor can anything else exist through
this Being, except by its creation, or by its existence as material, it follows,
necessarily, that nothing besides it exists, except by its creation. And, since nothing
else is or has been, except that supreme Being and the beings created by it, it could
create nothing at all through any other instrument or aid than itself. But all that it has
created, it has doubtless created either from something, as from material, or from
Since, then, it is most patent that the essence of all beings, except the supreme
Essence, was created by that supreme Essence, and derives existence from no material,
doubtless nothing can be more clear than that this supreme Essence nevertheless produced
from nothing, alone and through itself, the world of material things, so numerous a
multitude, formed in such beauty, varied in such order, so fitly diversified.
How it is to be understood that this Nature created all things from
BUT we are confronted with a doubt regarding this term nothing. For, from
whatever source anything is created, that source is the cause of what is created from it,
and, necessarily, every cause affords some assistance to the being of what it effects.
This is so firmly believed, as a result of experience, by every one, that the belief can
be wrested from no one by argument, and can scarcely be purloined by sophistry.
Accordingly, if anything was created from nothing, this very nothing was the cause of
what was created from it. But how could that which had no existence, assist anything in
coming into existence? If, however, no aid to the existence of anything ever had its
source in nothing, who can be convinced, and how, that anything is created out of nothing?
Moreover, nothing either means something, or does not mean something. But if nothing is
something, whatever has been created from nothing has been created from something. If,
however, nothing is not something; since it is inconceivable that anything should be
created from what does not exist, nothing is created from nothing; just as all agree that
nothing comes from nothing. Whence, it evidently follows, that whatever is created is
created from something; for it is created either from something or from nothing. Whether,
then, nothing is something, or nothing is not something, it apparently follows, that
whatever has been created was created from something.
But, if this is posited as a truth, then it is so posited in opposition to the whole
argument propounded in the preceding chapter. Hence, since what was nothing will thus be
something, that which was something in the highest degree will be nothing. For, from the
discovery of a certain Substance existing in the greatest degree of all existing beings,
my reasoning had brought me to this conclusion, that all other beings were so created by
this Substance, that that from which they were created was nothing. Hence, if that from
which they were created, which I supposed to be nothing, is something, whatever I supposed
to have been ascertained regarding the supreme Being, is nothing.
What, then, is to be our understanding of the term nothing? -- For I have
already determined not to neglect in this meditation any possible objection, even if it be
almost foolish. --In three ways, then -- and this suffices for the removal of the present
obstacle -- can the statement that any substance was created from nothing be explained.
There is one way, according to which we wish it to be understood, that what is said to
have been created from nothing has not been created at all; just as, to one who asks
regarding a dumb man, of what he speaks, the answer is given, "of nothing," that
is, he does not speak at all. According to this interpretation, to one who enquires
regarding the supreme Being, or regarding what never has existed and does not exist at
all, as to whence it was created, the answer, "from nothing" may properly be
given; that is, it never was created. But this answer is unintelligible in the case of any
of those things that actually were created.
There is another interpretation which is, indeed, capable of supposition, but cannot be
true; namely, that if anything is said to have been created from nothing, it was created
from nothing itself (de nihilo ipso), that is, from what does not exist at all, as
if this very nothing were some existent being, from which something could be created. But,
since this is always false, as often as it is assumed an irreconcilable contradiction
There is a third interpretation, according to which a thing is said to have been
created from nothing, when we understand that it was indeed created, but that there is not
anything whence it was created. Apparently it is said with a like meaning, when a man is
afflicted without cause, that he is afflicted "over nothing."
If, then, the conclusion reached in the preceding chapter is understood in this sense,
that with the exception of the supreme Being all things have been created by that Being
from nothing, that is, not from anything; just as this conclusion consistently follows the
preceding arguments, so, from it, nothing inconsistent is inferred; although it may be
said, without inconsistency or any contradiction, that what has been created by the
creative Substance was created from nothing, in the way that one frequently says a rich
man has been made from a poor man, or that one has recovered health from sickness; that
is, he who was poor before, is rich now, as he was not before; and he who was ill before,
is well now, as he was not before.
In this way, then, we can understand, without inconsistency, the statement that the
creative Being created all things from nothing, or that all were created through it from
nothing; that is, those things which before were nothing, are now something. For, indeed,
from the very word that we use, saying that it created them or that they were created,
we understand that when this Being created them, it created something, and that when they
were created, they were created only as something. For so, beholding a man of very lowly
fortunes exalted with many riches and honors by some one, we say, "Lo, he has made
that man out of nothing"; that is, the man who was before reputed as nothing is now,
by virtue of that other's making, truly reckoned as something.
Those things which were created from nothing had an existence before
their creation in the thought of the Creator.
BUT I seem to see a truth that compels me to distinguish carefully in what sense those
things which were created may be said to have been nothing before their creation. For, in
no wise can anything conceivably be created by any, unless there is, in the mind of the
creative agent, some example, as it were, or (as is more fittingly supposed) some model,
or likeness, or rule. It is evident, then, that before the world was created, it was in
the thought of the supreme Nature, what, and of what sort, and how, it should be. Hence,
although it is clear that the being that were created were nothing before their creation,
to this extent, that they were not what they now are, nor was there anything whence they
should be created, yet they were not nothing, so far as the creator's thought is
concerned, through which, and according to which, they were created.
This thought is a kind of expression of the objects created (locutio rerum),
like the expression which an artisan forms in his mind for what he intends to make.
BUT this model of things, which preceded their creation in the thought of the creator,
what else is it than a kind of expression of these things in his thought itself; just as
when an artisan is about to make something after the manner of his craft, he first
expresses it to himself through a concept? But by the expression of the mind or
reason I mean, here, not the conception of words signifying the objects, but the general
view in the mind, by the vision of conception, of the objects themselves, whether destined
to be, or already existing.
For, from frequent usage, it is recognised that we can express the same object in three
ways. For we express objects either by the sensible use of sensible signs, that is, signs
which are perceptible to the bodily senses; or by thinking within ourselves insensibly of
these signs which, when outwardly used, are sensible; or not by employing these signs,
either sensibly or insensibly, but by expressing the things themselves inwardly in our
mind, whether by the power of imagining material bodies or of understanding thought,
according to the diversity of these objects themselves.
For I express a man in one way, when I signify him by pronouncing these words, a man;
in another, when I think of the same words in silence; and in another, when the mind
regards the man himself, either through the image of his body, or through the reason;
through the image of his body, when the mind imagines his visible form; through the
reason, however, when it thinks of his universal essence, which is a rational, mortal
Now, the first two kinds of expression are in the language of one's race. But the words
of that kind of expression, which I have put third and last, when they concern objects
well known, are natural, and are the same among all nations. And, since all other words
owe their invention to these, where these are, no other word is necessary for the
recognition of an object, and where they cannot be, no other word is of any use for the
description of an object.
For, without absurdity, they may also be said to be the truer, the more like they are
to the objects to which they correspond, and the more expressively they signify these
objects. For, with the exception of those objects, which we employ as their own names, in
order to signify them, like certain sounds , the vowel a for instance -- with the
exception of these, I say, no other word appears so similar to the object to which it is
applied, or expresses it as does that likeness which is expressed by the vision of the
mind thinking of the object itself.
This last, then, should be called the especially proper and primary word,
corresponding to the thing. Hence, if no expression of any object whatever so nearly
approaches the object as that expression which consists of this sort of words, nor
can there be in the thought of any another word so like the object, whether destined to
be, or already existing, not without reason it may be thought that such an expression of
objects existed with (apud) the supreme Substance before their creation, that they
might be created; and exists, now that they have been created, that they may be known
The analogy, however, between the expression of the Creator and the
expression of the artisan is very incomplete.
BUT, though it is most certain that the supreme Substance expressed, as it were, within
itself the whole created world, which it established according to, and through, this same
most profound expression, just as an artisan first conceives in his mind what he
afterwards actually executes in accordance with his mental concept, yet I see that this
analogy is very incomplete.
For the supreme Substance took absolutely nothing from any other source, whence it
might either frame a model in itself, or make its creatures what they are; while the
artisan is wholly unable to conceive in his imagination any bodily thing, except what he
has in some way learned from external objects, whether all at once, or part by part; nor
can he perform the work mentally conceived, if there is a lack of material, or of anything
without which a work premeditated cannot be performed. For, though a man can, by
meditation or representation, frame the idea of some sort of animal, such as has no
existence; yet, by no means has he the power to do this, except by uniting in this idea
the parts that he has gathered in his memory from objects known externally.
Hence, in this respect, these inner expressions of the works they are to create differ
in the creative substance and in the artisan: that the former expression, without being
taken or aided from any external source, but as first and sole cause, could suffice the
Artificer for the performance of his work, while the latter is neither first, nor sole,
nor sufficient, cause for the inception of the artisan's work. Therefore, whatever has
been created through the former expression is only what it is through that expression,
while whatever has been created through the latter would not exist at all, unless it were
something that it is not through this expression itself.
This expression of the supreme Being is the supreme Being.
BUT since, as our reasoning shows, it is equally certain that whatever the supreme
Substance created, it created through nothing other than itself; and whatever.it created,
it created through its own most intimate expression, whether separately, by the utterance
of separate words, or all at once, by the utterance of one word; what conclusion can be
more evidently necessary, than that this expression of the supreme Being is no other than
the supreme Being? Therefore, the consideration of this expression should not, in my
opinion, be carelessly passed over. But before it can be discussed, I think some of the
properties of this supreme Substance should be diligently and earnestly investigated.
As all things were created through the supreme Being, so all live
IT is certain, then, that through the supreme Nature whatever is not identical with it
has been created. But no rational mind can doubt that all creatures live and continue to
exist, so long as they do exist, by the sustenance afforded by that very Being through
whose creative act they are endowed with the existence that they have. For, by a like
course of reasoning to that by which it has been gathered that all existing beings exist
through some one being, hence that being alone exists through itself, and others through
another than themselves -- by a like course of reasoning, I say, it can be proved that
whatever things live, live through some one being; hence that being alone lives through
itself, and others through another than themselves.
But, since it cannot but be that those things which have been created live through
another, and that by which they have been created lives through itself, necessarily, just
as nothing has been created except through the creative, present Being, so nothing lives
except through its preserving presence.
This Being is in all things, and throughout all; and all derive
existence from it and exist through and in it.
BUT if this is true -- rather, since this must be true, it follows that, where this
Being is not, nothing is. It is, then, everywhere, and throughout all things, and in all.
But seeing that it is manifestly absurd that as any created being can in no wise exceed
the immeasurableness of what creates and cherishes it, so the creative and cherishing
Being cannot, in anyway, exceed the sum of the things it has created; it is clear that
this Being itself, is what supports and surpasses, includes and permeates all other
things. If we unite this truth with the truths already discovered, we find it is this same
Being which is in all and through all, and from which, and through which, and in which,
What can or cannot be stated concerning the substance of this Being.
NOT without reason I am now strongly impelled to inquire as earnestly as I am able,
which of all the statements that may be made regarding anything is substantially
applicable to this so wonderful Nature. For, though I should be surprised if, among the
names or words by which we designate things created from nothing, any should be found that
could worthily be applied to the Substance which is the creator of all; yet, we must try
and see to what end reason will lead this investigation.
As to relative expressions, at any rate, no one can doubt that no such expression
describes what is essential to that in regard to which it is relatively employed. Hence,
if any relative predication is made regarding the supreme Nature, it is not significant of
Therefore, it is manifest that this very expression, that this Nature, is the highest of all beings, or greater than those which have been created by it; or any other
relative term that can, in like manner, be applied to it, does not describe its natural
For, if none of those things ever existed, in relation to which it is called supreme or greater, it would not be conceived as either supreme or greater,
yet it would not, therefore, be less good, or suffer detriment to its essential greatness
in any degree. And this truth is clearly seen from the fact that this Nature exists
through no other than itself, whatever there be that is good or great. If, then, the
supreme Nature can be so conceived of as not supreme, that still it shall be in no wise
greater or less than when it is conceived of as the highest of all beings, it is manifest
that the term supreme, taken by itself, does not describe that Being which is
altogether greater and better than whatever is not what it is. But, what these
considerations show regarding the term supreme or highest is found to be
true, in like manner, of other similar, relative expressions.
Passing over these relative predications, then, since none of them taken by itself
represents the essence of anything, let our attention be turned to the discussion of other
kinds of predication.
Now, certainly if one diligently considers separately whatever there is that is not of
a relative nature, either it is such that, to be it is in general better than not
to be it, or such that, in some cases, not to be it is better than to be it.
But I here understand the phrases, to be it and not to be it, in the same
way in which I understand to be true and not to be true, to be bodily and not to be bodily, and the like. Indeed, to be anything is, in general, better
than not to be it; as to be wise is better than not to be so; that is, it is
better to be wise than not to be wise. For, though one who is just, but not wise, is
apparently a better man than one who is wise, but not just, yet, taken by itself, it is
not better not to be wise than to be wise. For, everything that is not wise,
simply in so far as it is not wise, is less than what is wise, since everything that is
not wise would be better if it were wise. In the same way, to be true is altogether
better than not to be so, that is, better than not to be true; and just is better than not just; and to live than not to live.
But, in some cases, not to be a certain thing is better than to be it, as not to be gold may be better than to be gold. For it is better for man not
to be gold, than to be gold; although it might be better for something to be gold, than
not to be gold -- lead, for instance. For though both, namely, man and lead are not gold,
man is something as much better than gold, as he would be of inferior nature, were he
gold; while lead is something as much more base than gold, as it would be more precious,
were it gold.
But, from the fact that the supreme Nature may be so conceived of as not supreme, that supreme is neither in general better than not supreme, nor not supreme better, in
any case, than supreme --from this fact it is evident that there are many relative
expressions which are by no means included in this classification. Whether, however, any
are so included, I refrain from inquiring; since it is sufficient, for my purpose, that
undoubtedly none of these, taken by itself, describes the substance of the supreme Nature.
Since, then, it is true of whatever else there is, that, if it is taken independently, to
be it is better than not to be it; as it is impious to suppose that the
substance of the supreme Nature is anything, than which what is not it is in any way
better, it must be true that this substance is whatever is, in general, better than what
is not it. For, it alone is that, than which there is nothing better at all, and which is
better than all things, which are not what it is.
It is not a material body, then, or any of those things which the bodily senses
discern. For, then all these there is something better, which is not what they themselves
are. For, the rational mind, as to which no bodily sense can perceive what, or of what
character, or how great, it is --the less this rational mind would be if it were any of
those things that are in the scope of the bodily senses, the greater it is than any of
these. For by no means should this supreme Being be said to be any of those things to
which something, which they themselves are not, is superior; and it should by all means,
as our reasoning shows, be said to be any of those things to which everything, which is
not what they themselves are, is inferior.
Hence, this Being must be living, wise, powerful, and all-powerful, true, just,
blessed, eternal, and whatever, in like manner, is absolutely better than what is not it.
Why, then, should we make any further inquiry as to what that supreme Nature is, if it is
manifest which of all things it is, and which it is not?
For this Being it is the same to be just that it is to be justice; and so with regard
to attributes that can be expressed in the same way: and none of these shows of what
character, or how great, but what this Being is.
BUT perhaps, when this Being is called just, or great, or anything like these, it is
not shown what it is, but of what character, or how great it is. For every such term seems
to be used with reference to quantity or magnitude; because everything that is just is so
through justness, and so with other like cases, in the same way. Hence, the supreme Nature
itself is not just, except through justness.
It seems, then, that by participation in this quality, that is, justness, the
supremely good Substance is called just. But, if this is so, it is just through another,
and not through itself. But this is contrary to the truth already established, that it is
good, or great or whatever it is at all, through itself and not through another. So, if it
is not just, except through justness, and cannot be just, except through itself, what can
be more clear than that this Nature is itself justness? And, when it is said to be just
through justness, it is the same as saying that it is just through itself. And, when it is
said to be just through itself, nothing else is understood than that it is just through
justness. Hence, if it is inquired what the supreme Nature, which is in question, is in
itself, what truer answer can be given, than Justness?
We must observe, then, how we are to understand the statement, that the Nature which is
itself justness is just. For, since a man cannot be justness, but can possess justness, we
do not conceive of a just man as being justness, but as possessing justness. Since,
on the other hand, it cannot properly be said of the supreme Nature that it possesses
justness, but that it is justness, when it is called just it is properly conceived of as
being justness, but not as possessing justness. Hence, if, when it is said to be justness,
it is not said of what character it is, but what it is, it follows that, when it is
called just, it is not said of what character it is, but what it is.
Therefore, seeing that it is the same to say of the supreme Being, that it is just and
that it is justness; and, when it is said that it is justness, it is nothing else than
saying that it is just; it makes no difference whether it is said to be justness or to be
just. Hence, when one is asked regarding the supreme Nature, what it is, the answer, Just,
is not less fitting than the answer, Justness. Moreover, what we see to have been
proved in the case of justness, the intellect is compelled to acknowledge as true of all
attributes which are similarly predicated of this supreme Nature. Whatever such attribute
is predicated of it, then, it is shown, not of what character, or how great, but what it is.
But it is obvious that whatever good thing the supreme Nature is, it is in the highest
degree. It is, therefore, supreme Being, supreme Justness, supreme Wisdom, supreme Truth,
supreme Goodness, supreme Greatness, supreme Beauty, supreme Immortality, supreme
Incorruptibility, supreme Immutability, supreme Blessedness, supreme Eternity, supreme
Power, supreme Unity; which is nothing else than supremely being, supremely living, etc.
It is simple in such a way that all things that can be said of its essence are one and
the same in it: and nothing can be said of its substance except in terms of what it is.
Is it to be inferred, then, that if the supreme Nature is so many goods, it will
therefore be compounded of more goods than one? Or is it true, rather, that there are not
more goods than one, but a single good described by many names? For, everything which is
composite requires for its subsistence the things of which it is compounded, and, indeed,
owes to them the fact of its existence, because, whatever it is, it is through these
things; and they are not what they are through it, and therefore it is not at all supreme.
If, then, that Nature is compounded of more goods than one, all these facts that are true
of every composite must be applicable to it. But this impious falsehood the whole cogency
of the truth that was shown above refutes and overthrows, through a clear argument.
Since, then, that Nature is by no means composite and yet is by all means those so many
goods, necessarily all these are not more than one, but are one. Any one of them is,
therefore, the same as all, whether taken all at once or separately. Therefore, just as
whatever is attributed to the essence of the supreme Substance is one; so this substance
is whatever it is essentially in one way, and by virtue of one consideration. For, when a
man is said to be a material body, and rational, and human, these three things are not
said in one way, or in virtue of one consideration. For, in accordance with one fact, be
is a material body; and in accordance with another, rational; and no one of these, taken
by itself, is the whole of what man is.
That supreme Being, however, is by no means anything in such a way that it is not this
same thing, according to another way, or another consideration; because, whatever it is
essentially in any way, this is all of what it is. Therefore, nothing that is truly said
of the supreme Being is accepted in terms of quality or quantity, but only in terms of what it is. For, whatever it is in terms of either quality or quantity would constitute still
another element, in terms of what it is; hence, it would not be simple, but composite.
It is without beginning and without end.
FROM what time, then, as this so simple Nature which creates and animates all things
existed, or until what time is it to exist? Or rather, let us ask neither from what time,
nor to what time, it exists; but is it without beginning and without end? For, if it has a
beginning, it has this either from or through itself, or from or through another, or from
or through nothing.
But it is certain, according to truths already made plain, that in no wise does it
derive existence from another, or from nothing; or exist through another, or through
nothing. In no wise, therefore, has it had inception through or from another, or through
or from nothing.
Moreover, it cannot have inception from or through itself, although it exists from and
through itself. For it so exists from and through itself, that by no means is there one
essence which exists from and through itself, and another through which, and from which,
it exists. But, whatever begins to exist from or through something, is by no means
identical with that from or through which it begins to exist. Therefore, the supreme
Nature does not begin through or from, itself.
Seeing, then, that it has a beginning neither through nor from itself, and neither
through nor from nothing, it assuredly has no beginning at all. But neither will it have
an end. For, if it is to have end, it is not supremely immortal and supremely
incorruptible. But we have proved that it is supremely immortal and supremely
incorruptible. Therefore, it will not have an end.
Furthermore, if it is to have an end, it will perish either willingly or against its
will. But certainly that is not a simple, unmixed good, at whose will the supreme good
perishes. But this Being is itself the true and simple, unmixed good. Therefore, that very
Being, which is certainly the supreme good, will not die of its own will. If, however, it
is to perish against its will, it is not supremely powerful, or all-powerful. But cogent
reasoning has asserted it to be powerful and all-powerful. Therefore, it will not die
against its will. Hence, if neither with nor against its will the supreme Nature is to
have an end, in no way will it have an end.
Again, if the supreme nature has an end or a beginning, it is not true eternity, which
it has been irrefutably proved to be above.
Then, let him who can conceive of a time when this began to be true, or when it was not
true, namely, that something was destined to be; or when this shall cease to be true, and
shall not be true, namely, that something has existed. But, if neither of these
suppositions is conceivable, and both these facts cannot exist without truth, it is
impossible even to conceive that truth has either beginning or end. And then, if truth had
a beginning, or shall have an end; before it began it was true that truth did not exist,
and after it shall be ended it will be true that truth will not exist. Yet, anything that
is true cannot exist without truth. Therefore, truth existed before truth existed,
and truth will exist after truth shall be ended, which is a most contradictory conclusion.
Whether, then, truth is said to have, or understood not to have, beginning or end, it
cannot be limited by any beginning or end. Hence, the same follows as regards the supreme
Nature, since it is itself the supreme Truth.
In what sense nothing existed before or will exist after this Being.
BUT here we are again confronted by the term nothing, and whatever our reasoning
thus far, with the concordant attestation of truth and necessity, has concluded nothing to
be. For, if the propositions duly set forth above have been confirmed by the fortification
of logically necessary truth, not anything existed before the supreme Being, nor will
anything exist after it. Hence, nothing existed before, and nothing will exist after, it.
For, either something or nothing must have preceded it; and either something or nothing
must be destined to follow it.
But, he who says that nothing existed before it appears to make this statement,
"that there was before it a time when nothing existed, and that there will be after
it a time when nothing will exist." Therefore, when nothing existed, that Being did
not exist, and when nothing shall exist, that Being will not exist. How is it, then, that
it does not take inception from nothing or how is it that it will not come to nothing? --
if that Being did not yet exist, when nothing already existed; and the same Being shall no
longer exist, when nothing shall still exist. Of what avail is so weighty a mass of
arguments, if this nothing so easily demolishes their structure? For, if it is
established that the supreme Being succeeds nothing [Nothing is here treated as an
entity, supposed actually to precede the supreme Being in existence. The fallacy involved
is shown below. --Tr.], which precedes it, and yields its place to nothing,
which follows it, whatever has been posited as true above is necessarily unsettled by
But, rather ought this nothing to be resisted, lest so many structures of cogent
reasoning be stormed by nothing; and the supreme good, which has been sought and
found by the light of truth, be lost for nothing. Let it rather be declared, then,
that nothing did not exist before the supreme Being, and that nothing will not exist after
it, rather than that, when a place is given before or after it to nothing, that Being
which through itself brought into existence what was nothing, should be reduced through
nothing to nothing.
For this one assertion, namely, that nothing existed before the supreme Being, carries
two meanings. For, one sense of this statement is that, before the supreme Being, there
was a time when nothing was. But another understanding of the same statement is that,
before the supreme Being, not anything existed. Just as, supposing I should say,
"Nothing has taught me to fly," I could explain this assertion either in this
way, that nothing, as an entity in itself, which signifies not anything, has taught
me actually to fly -- which would be false; or in this way, that not anything has taught
me to fly, which would be true.
The former interpretation, therefore, which is followed by the inconsistency discussed
above, is rejected by all reasoning as false. But there remains the other interpretation,
which unites in perfect consistency with the foregoing arguments, and which, from the
force of their whole correlation, must be true.
Hence, the statement that nothing existed before that Being must be received in the
latter sense. Nor should it be so explained, that it shall be understood that there was
any time when that Being did not exist, and nothing did exist; but, so that it shall be
understood that, before that Being, there was not anything. The same sort of double
signification is found in the statement that nothing will exist after that Being.
If, then, this interpretation of the term nothing, that has been given, is
carefully analysed, most truly neither something nor nothing preceded or will follow the
supreme Being, and the conclusion is reached, that nothing existed before or will exist
after it. Yet, the solidity of the truths already established is in no wise impaired by
the emptiness of nothing.
It exists in every place and at every time.
BUT, although it has been concluded above that this creative Nature exists everywhere,
and in all things, and through all; and from the fact that it neither began, nor will
cease to be, it follows that it always has been, and is, and will be; yet, I perceive a
certain secret murmur of contradiction which compels me to inquire more carefully where
and when that Nature exists.
The supreme Being, then, exists either everywhere and always, or merely at some place
and time, or nowhere and never: or, as I express it, either in every place and at every
time, or finitely, in some place and at some time, or in no place and at no time.
But what can be more obviously contradictory, than that what exists most really and
supremely exists nowhere and never? It is, therefore, false that it exists nowhere and
never. Again, since there is no good, nor anything at all without it; if this Being itself
exists nowhere or never, then nowhere or never is there any good, and nowhere and never is
there anything at all. But there is no need to state that this is false. Hence, the former
proposition is also false, that that Being exists nowhere and never.
It therefore exists finitely, at some time and place, or everywhere and always. But, if
it exists finitely, at some place or time, there and then only, where and when it exists,
can anything exist. Where and when it does not exist, moreover, there is no existence at
all, because, without it, nothing exists. Whence it will follow, that there is some place
and time where and when nothing at all exists. But seeing that this is false -- for place
and time themselves are existing things -- the supreme Nature cannot exist finitely, at
some place or time. But, if it is said that it of itself exists finitely, at some place
and time, but that, through its power, it is wherever and whenever anything is, this is
not true. For, since it is manifest that its power is nothing else than itself, by no
means does its power exist without it.
Since, then, it does not exist finitely, at some place or time, it must exist
everywhere and always, that is, in every place and at every time.
It exists in no place or time.
BUT, if this is true, either it exists in every place and at every time, or else only a
part of it so exists, the other part transcending every place and time.
But, if in part it exists, and in part does not exist, in every place and at every
time, it has parts; which is false. It does not, therefore, exist everywhere and always in
But how does it exist as a whole, everywhere and always? For, either it is to be
understood that it exists as a whole at once, in all places or at all times, and by parts
in individual places and times; or, that it exists as a whole, in individual places and
times as well.
But, if it exists by parts in individual places or times, it is not exempt from
composition and division of parts; which has been found to be in a high degree alien to
the supreme Nature. Hence, it does not so exist, as a whole, in all places and at all
times that it exists by parts in individual places and times.
We are confronted, then, by the former alternative, that is, how the supreme Nature can
exist, as a whole, in every individual place and time. This is doubtless impossible,
unless it either exists at once or at different times in individual places or times. But,
since the law of place and the law of time, the investigation of which it has hitherto
been possible to prosecute in a single discussion, because they advanced on exactly the
same lines, here separate one from another and seem to avoid debate, as if by evasion in
diverse directions, let each be investigated independently in discussion directed on
First, then, let us see whether the supreme Nature can exist, as a whole, in individual
places, either at once in all, or at different times, in different places. Then, let us
make the same inquiry regarding the times at which it can exist.
If, then, it exists as a whole in each individual place, then, for each individual
place there is an individual whole. For, just as place is so distinguished from place that
there are individual places, so that which exists as a whole, in one place, is so distinct
from that which exists as a whole at the same time, in another place, that there are
indiviual wholes. For, of what exists as a whole, in any place, there is no part that does
not exist in that place. And that of which there is no part that does not exist in a given
place, is no part of what exists at the same time outside this place.
What exists as a whole, then, in any place, is no part of what exists at the same time
outside that place. But, of that of which no part exists outside any given place, no part
exists, at the same time, in another place. How, then, can what exists as a whole, in any
place, exist simultaneously, as a whole, in another place, if no part of it can at that
time exist in another place?
Since, then, one whole cannot exist as a whole in different places at the same time, it
follows that, for individual places, there are individual wholes, if anything is to exist
as a whole in different individual places at once. Hence, if the supreme Nature exists as
a whole, at one time, in every individual place, there are as many supreme Natures as
there can be individual places; which it would be irrational to believe. Therefore, it
does not exist, as a whole, at one time in individual places.
If, however, at different times it exists, as a whole, in individual places, then, when
it is in one place, there is in the meantime no good and no existence in other places,
since without it absolutely nothing exists. But the absurdity of this supposition is
proved by the existence of places themselves, which are not nothing, but something.
Therefore, the supreme Nature does not exist, as a whole, in individual places at
But, if neither at the same time nor at different times does it exist, as a whole, in
individual places, it is evident that it does not at all exist, as a whole, in each
individual place. We must now examine, then, whether this supreme Nature exists, as a
whole, at individual times, either simultaneously or at distinct times for individual
But, how can anything exist, as a whole, simultaneously, at individual times, if these
times are not themselves simultaneous? But, if this Being exists, as a whole, separately
and at distinct times for individual times, just as a man exists as a whole yesterday,
to-day, and to-morrrow; it is properly said that it was and is and will be. Its age, then,
which is no other than its eternity, does not exist, as a whole, simultaneously, but it is
distributed in parts according to the parts of time.
But its eternity is nothing else than itself. The supreme Being, then, will be divided
into parts, according to the divisions of time. For, if its age is prolonged through
periods of time, it has with this time present, past, and future. But what else is its age
than its duration of existence, than its eternity? Since, then, its eternity is nothing
else than its essence, as considerations set forth above irrefutably prove; if its
eternity has past, present, and future, its essence also has, in consequence, past,
present, and future.
But what is past is not present or future; and what is present is not past or future;
and what is future is not past or present. How, then, shall that proposition be valid,
which was proved with clear and logical cogency above, namely, that that supreme Nature is
in no wise composite, but is supremely simple, supremely immutable? -- how shall this be
so, if that Nature is one thing, at one time, and another, at another, and has parts
distributed according to times? Or rather, if these earlier propositions are true, how can
these latter be possible? By no means, then, is past or future attributable to the
creative Being, either its age or its eternity. For why has it not a present, if it truly is?
But was means past, and will be future. Therefore that Being never was, nor
will be. Hence, it does not exist at distinct times, just as it does not exist, as a
whole, simultaneously in different individual times.
If, then, as our discussion has proved, it neither so exists, as a whole, in all places
or times that it exists, as a whole, at one time in all, or by parts in individual places
and times; nor so that it exists, as a whole, in individual times and places, it is
manifest that it does not in any way exist, as a whole, in every time or place.
And, since, in like manner, it has been demonstrated that it neither so exists in every
time or place, that a part exists in every, and a part transcends every, place and time,
it is impossible that it exists everywhere and always.
For, in no way can it be conceived to exist everywhere and always, except either as a
whole or in part. But if it does not at all exist everywhere and always, it will exist
either finitely in some place or time, or in none. But it has already been proved, that it
cannot exist finitely, in any place or time. In no place or time, that is, nowhere and
never does it exist. For it cannot exist, except in every or in some place or time.
But, on the other hand, since it is irrefutably established, not only that it exists
through itself, and without beginning and without end, but that without it nothing
anywhere or ever exists, it must exist everywhere and always.
How it exists in every place and time, and in none.
How, then, shall these prepositions, that are so necessary according to our exposition,
and so necessary according to our proof, be reconciled? Perhaps the supreme Nature exists
in place and time in some such way, that it is not prevented from so existing
simultaneously, as a whole, in different places or times, that there are not more wholes
than one; and that its age, which does not exist, except as true eternity, is not
distributed among past, present, and future.
For, to this law of space and time, nothing seems to be subject, except the beings
which so exist in space or time that they do not transcend extent of space or duration of
time. Hence, though of beings of this class it is with all truth asserted that one and the
same whole cannot exist simultaneously, as a whole, in different places or times; in the
case of those beings which are not of this class, no such conclusion is necessarily
For it seems to be rightly said, that place is predicable only of objects whose
magnitude place contains by including it, and includes by containing it; and that time is
predicable only of objects whose duration time ends by measuring it, and measures by
ending it. Hence, to any being, to whose spatial extent or duration no bound can be set,
either by space or time, no place or time is properly attributed. For, seeing that place
does not act upon it as place, nor time as time, it is not irrational to say, that no
place is its place, and no time its time.
But, what evidently has no place or time is doubtless by no means compelled to submit
to the law of place or time. No law of place or time, then, in any way governs any nature,
which no place or time limits by some kind of restraint. But what rational consideration
can by any course of reasoning fail to reach the conclusion, that the Substance which
creates and is supreme among all beings, which must be alien to, and free from, the nature
and law of all things which itself created from nothing, is limited by no restraint of
space or time; since, more truly, its power, which is nothing else than its essence,
contains and includes under itself all these things which it created? Is it not impudently
foolish, too, to say either, that space circumscribes the magnitude of truth, or, that
time measures its duration --truth, which regards no greatness or smallness of spatial or
temporal extent at all?
Seeing, then, that this is the condition of place or time; that only whatever is
limited by their bounds neither escapes the law of parts -- such as place follows,
according to magnitude, or such as time submits to, according to duration -- nor can in
any way be contained, as a whole, simultaneously by different places or times; but
whatever is in no wise confined by the restraint of place or time, is not compelled by any
law of places or times to multiplicity of parts, nor is it prevented from being present,
as a whole and simultaneously, in more places or times than one --seeing, I say, that this
is the condition governing place or time, no doubt the supreme Substance, which is
encompassed by no restraint of place or time, is bound by none of their laws.
Hence, since inevitable necessity requires that the supreme Being, as a whole, be
lacking to no place or time, and no law of place or time prevents it from being
simultaneously in every place or time; it must simultaneously present in every individual
place or time. For, because it is present in one place, it is not therefore prevented from
being present at the same time, and in like manner in this, or that other, place or time.
Nor, because it was, or is, or shall be, has any part of its eternity therefore
vanished from the present, with the past, which no longer is; nor does it pass with the
present, which is, for an instant; nor is it to come with the future, which is not yet.
For, by no means is that Being compelled or forbidden by a law of space or time to
exist, or not to exist, at any place or time -- the Being which, in no wise, includes its
own existence in space or time. For, when the supreme Being is said to exist in space or
time, although the form of expression regarding it, and regarding local and temporal
natures, is the same, because of the usage of language, yet the sense is different,
because of the unlikeness of the objects of discussion. For in the latter case the same
expression has two meanings, namely: (1) that these objects are present in those places
and times in which they are said to be, and (2) that they are contained by these places
and times themselves.
But in the case of the supreme Being, the first sense only is intended, namely, that it
is present; not that it is also contained. If the usage of language permitted, it would,
therefore, seem to be more fittingly said, that it exists with place or time, than
that it exists in place or time. For the statement that a thing exists in another implies that it is contained, more than does the statement that it exists
In no place or time, then, is this Being properly said to exist, since it is contained
by no other at all. And yet it may be said, after a manner of its own, to be in every
place or time, since whatever else exists is sustained by its presence, lest it lapse into
nothingness. It exists in every place and time, because it is absent from none; and it
exists in none, because it has no place or time, and has not taken to itself distinctions
of place or time, neither here nor there, nor anywhere, nor then, nor now, nor at any
time; nor does it exist in terms of this fleeting present, in which we live, nor has it
existed, nor will it exist, in terms of past or future, since these are restricted to
things finite and mutable, which it is not.
And yet, these properties of time and place can, in some sort, be ascribed to it, since
it is just as truly present in all finite and mutable beings as if it were circumscribed
by the same places, and suffered change by the same times.
We have sufficient evidence, then, to dispel the contradiction that threatened us; as
to how the highest Being of all exists, everywhere and always, and nowhere and never, that
is, in every place and time, and in no place or time, according to the consistent truth of
different senses of the terms employed.
How it is better conceived to exist everywhere than in every place
BUT, since it is plain that this supreme Nature is not more truly in all places than in
all existing things, not as if it were contained by them, but as containing all, by
permeating all, why should it not be said to be everywhere, in this sense, that it may be
understood rather to be in all existing things, than merely in all places, since this
sense is supported by the truth of the fact, and is not forbidden by the proper
signification of the word of place?
For we often quite properly apply terms of place to objects which are not places; as,
when I say that the understanding is there in the soul, where rationality
is. For, though there and where are adverbs of place, yet, by no local
limitation, does the mind contain anything, nor is either rationality or understanding
Hence, as regards the truth of the matter, the supreme Nature is more appropriately
said to be everywhere, in this sense, that it is in all existing things, than in this
sense, namely that it is merely in all places. And since, as the reasons set forth above
show, it cannot exist otherwise, it must so be in all existing things, that it is one and
the same, perfect whole in every individual thing simultaneously.
How it is better understood to exist always than at every time.
IT is also evident that this supreme Substance is without beginning and without end;
that it has neither past, nor future, nor the temporal, that is, transient present in
which we live; since its age, or eternity, which is nothing else than itself, is immutable
and without parts. Is not, therefore, the term which seems to mean all time more
properly understood, when applied to this Substance, to signify eternity, which is never
unlike itself, rather than a changing succession of times, which is ever in some sort
Hence, if this Being is said to exist always; since, for it, it is the same to exist
and to live, no better sense can be attached to this statement, than that it exists or
lives eternally, that is, it possesses interminable life, as a perfect whole at once. For
its eternity apparently is an interminable life, existing at once as a perfect whole.
For, since it has already been shown that this Substance is nothing else than its own
life and its own eternity, is in no wise terminable, and does not exist, except as at once
and perfectly whole, what else is true eternity, which is consistent with the nature of
that Substance alone, than an interminable life, existing as at once and perfectly whole?
For this truth is, at any rate, clearly perceived from the single fact that true
eternity belongs only to that substance which alone, as we have proved, was not created,
but is the creator, since true eternity is conceived to be free from the limitations of
beginning and end; and this is proved to be consistent with the nature of no created
being, from the very fact that all such have been created from nothing.
It cannot suffer change by any accidents [Accidents, as Anselm uses the term, are facts
external to the essence of a being, which may yet be conceived to produce changes in a
BUT does not this Being, which has been shown to exist as in every way substantially
identical with itself, sometimes exist as different from itself, at any rate accidentally?
But how is it supremely immutable, if it can, I will not say, be, but, be conceived
of, as variable by virtue of accidents? And, on the ocher hand, does it not partake of
accident, since even this very fact that it is greater than all other natures and that it
is unlike them seems to be an accident in its case (illi accidere)? But what is the
inconsistency between susceptibility to certain facts, called accidents, and
natural immutability, if from the undergoing of these accidents the substance undergoes no
For, of all the facts, called accidents, some are understood not to be present or
absent without some variation in the subject of the accident -- all colors, for instance
-- while others are known not to effect any change in a thing either by occurring or not
occurring -- certain relations, for instance. For it is certain that I am neither older
nor younger than a man who is not yet born, nor equal to him, nor like him. But I shall be
able to sustain and to lose all these relations toward him, as soon as he shall have been
born, according as he shall grow, or undergo change through divers qualities.
It is made clear, then, that of all those facts, called accidents, a part bring some
degree of mutability in their train, while a part do not impair at all the immutability of
that in whose case they occur. Hence, although the supreme Nature in its simplicity has
never undergone such accidents as cause mutation, yet it does not disdain occasional
expression in terms of those accidents which are in no wise inconsistent with supreme
immutability; and yet there is no accident respecting its essence, whence it would be
conceived of, as itself variable.
Whence this conclusion, also, may be reached, that it is susceptible of no accident;
since, just as those accidents, which effect some change by their occurrence or
non-occurrence, are by virtue of this very effect of theirs regarded as being true accidents,
so those facts, which lack a like effect, are found to be improperly called accidents.
Therefore, this Essence is always, in every way, substantially identical with itself; and
it is never in any way different from itself, even accidentally. But, however it may be as
to the proper signification of the term accident, this is undoubtedly true, that of
the supremely immutable Nature no statement can be made, whence it shall be conceived of
How this Being is said to be substance: it transcends all substance and
is individually whatever it is.
BUT, if what we have ascertained concerning the simplicity of this Nature is
established, how is it substance? For, though every substance is susceptible of admixture
of difference, or, at any rate, susceptible of mutation by accidents, the immutable purity
of this Being is inaccessible to admixture or mutation, in any form.
How, then, shall it be maintained that it is a substance of any kind, except as it is
called substance for being, and so transcends, as it is above, every
substance? For, as great as is the difference between that Being, which is through itself
whatever it is, and which creates every other being from nothing, and a being, which is
made whatever it is through another, from nothing; so much does the supreme Substance
differ from these beings, which are not what it is. And, since it alone, of all natures,
derives from itself, without the help of another nature, whatever existence it has, is it
not whatever it is individually and apart from association with its creatures?
Hence, if it ever shares any name with other beings, doubtless a very different
signification of that name is to be understood in its case.
It is not included among substances as commonly treated, yet it is a
substance and an indivisible spirit.
IT is, therefore, evident that in any ordinary treatment of substance, this Substance
cannot be included, from sharing in whose essence every nature is excluded. Indeed, since
every substance is treated either as universal, i. e., as essentially common to more than
one substance, as being a man is common to individual men; or as individual, having a
universal essence in common with others, as individual men have in common with individual
men the fact that they are men; does any one conceive that, in the treatment of other
substances, that supreme Nature is included, which neither divides itself into more
substances than one, nor unites with any other, by virtue of a common essence?
Yet, seeing that it not only most certainly exists, but exists in the highest degree of
all things; and since the essence of anything is usually called its substance, doubtless
if any worthy name can be given it, there is no objection to our calling it substance.
And since no worthier essence than spirit and body is known, and of these, spirit is
more worthy than body, it must certainly be maintained that this Being is spirit and not
body. But, seeing that one spirit has not any parts, and there cannot be more spirits than
one of this kind, it must, by all means, be an indivisible spirit. For since, as is shown
above, it is neither compounded of parts, nor can be conceived of as mutable, through any
differences or accidents, it is impossible that it is divisible by any form of division.
This Spirit exists simply, and created beings are not comparable with
IT seems to follow, then, from the preceding considerations, that the Spirit which
exists in so wonderfully singular and so singularly wonderful a way of its own is in some
sort unique; while other beings which seem to be comparable with it are not so.
For, by diligent attention it will be seen that that Spirit alone exists simply, and
perfectly, and absolutely; while all other beings are almost non-existent, and hardly
exist at all. For, seeing that of this Spirit, because of its immutable eternity, it can
in no wise be said, in terms of any alteration, that it was or will be, but
simply that it is; it is not now, by mutation, anything which it either was not at
any time, or will not be in the future. Nor does it fail to be now what it was, or will
be, at any time; but, whatever it is, it is, once for all, and simultaneously, and
interminably. Seeing, I say, that its existence is of this character, it is rightly said
itself to exist simply, and absolutely, and perfectly.
But since, on the other hand, all other beings, in accordance with some cause, have at
some time been, or will be, by mutation, what they are not now; or, are what they were
not, or will not be, at some time; and, since this former existence of theirs is no longer
a fact; and that future existence is not yet a fact; and their existence in a transient,
and most brief, and scarcely existing, present is hardly a fact -- since, then, they exist
in such mutability, it is not unreasonably denied that they exist simply, and perfectly,
and absolutely; and it is asserted that they are almost nonexistent, that they scarcely
exist at all.
Again, since all beings, which are other than this Spirit himself, have come from
non-existence to existence, not through themselves, but through another; and, since they
return from existence to non-existence, so far as their own power is concerned, unless
they are sustained through another being, is it consistent with their nature to exist
simply, or perfectly, or absolutely, and not rather to be almost non-existent.
And since the existence of this ineffable Spirit alone can in no way be conceived to
have taken inception from non-existence, or to be capable of sustaining any deficiency
rising from what is in nonexistence; and since, whatever he is himself, he is not through
another than himself, that is, than what he is himself, ought not his existence alone to
be conceived of as simple, and perfect, and absolute?
But what is thus simply, and on every ground, solely perfect, simple, and absolute,
this may very certainly be justly said to be in some sort unique. And, on the other hand,
whatever is known to exist through a higher cause, and neither simply, nor perfectly, nor
absolutely, but scarcely to exist, or to be almost non-existent -- this assuredly may be
rightly said to be in some sort non-existent.
According to this course of reasoning, then, the creative Spirit alone exists, and all
creatures are nonexistent; yet, they are not wholly non-existent, because, through that
Spirit which alone exists absolutely, they have been made something from nothing.
His expression is identical with himself, and consubstantial with him,
since there are not two spirits, but one.
BUT now, having considered these questions regarding the properties of the supreme
Nature, which have occurred to me in following the guidance of reason to the present
point, I think it reasonable to examine this Spirit's expression (locutio), through
which all things were created.
For, though all that has been ascertained regarding this expression above has the
inflexible strength of reason, I am especially compelled to a more careful discussion of
this expression by the fact that it is proved to be identical with the supreme Spirit
himself. For, if this Spirit created nothing except through himself, and whatever was
created by him was created through that expression, how shall that expression be anything
else than what the Spirit himself is?
Furthermore, the facts already discovered declare irrefutably that nothing at all ever
could, or can, exist, except the creative Spirit and its creatures. But it is impossible
that the expression of this Spirit is included among created beings; for every created
being was created through that expression; but that expression could not be created
through itself. For nothing can be created through itself, since every creature exists
later than that through which it is created, and nothing exists later than itself.
The alternative remaining is, then, that this expression of the supreme Spirit, since
it cannot be a creature, is no other than the supreme Spirit. Therefore, this expression
itself can be conceived of as nothing else than the intelligence (intelligentia) of
this Spirit, by which he conceives of (intelligit) all things. For, to him, what is
expressing anything, according to this kind of expression, but conceiving of it? For he
does not, like man, ever fail to express what he conceives.
If, then, the supremely simple Nature is nothing else than what its intelligence is,
just as it is identical with its wisdom, necessarily, in the same way, it is nothing else
than what its expression is. But, since it is already manifest that the supreme Spirit is
one only, and altogether indivisible, this his expression must be so consubstantial with
him, that they are not two spirits, but one.
This expression does not consist of more words than one, but is one
WHY, then, should I have any further doubt regarding that question which I dismissed
above as doubtful, namely, whether this expression consists of more words than one, or of
one? For, if it is so consubstantial with the supreme Nature that they are not two
spirits, but one; assuredly, just as the latter is supremely simple, so is the former. It
therefore does not consist of more words than one, but is one Word, through which all
things were created.
This Word itself is not the likeness of created beings, but the reality of their being,
while created beings are a kind of likeness of reality. --What natures are greater and
more excellent than others.
BUT here, it seems to me, there arises a question that is not easy to answer, and yet
must not be left in any ambiguity. For all words of that sort by which we express any
objects in our mind, that is, conceive of them, are likenesses and images of the objects
to which they correspond; and every likeness or image is more or less true, according as
it more or less closely imitates the object of which it is the likeness.
What, then, is to be our position regarding the Word by which all things are expressed,
and through which all were created? Will it be, or will it not be, the likeness of the
things that have been created through itself? For, if it is itself the true likeness of
mutable things, it is not consubstantial with supreme immutability; which is false. But,
if it is not altogether true, and is merely a sort of likeness of mutable things, then the
Word of supreme Truth is not altogether true; which is absurd. But if it has no likeness
to mutable things, how were they created after its example?
But perhaps nothing of this ambiguity will remain if -- as the reality of a man is said
to be the living man, but the likeness or image of a man in his picture -- so the reality
of being is conceived of as in the Word, whose essence exists so supremely that in a
certain sense it alone exists; while in these things which, in comparison with that
Essence, are in some sort non-existent, and, yet were made something through, and
according to, that Word, a kind of imitation of that supreme Essence is found.
For, in this way the Word of supreme Truth, which is also itself supreme Truth, will
experience neither gain nor loss, according as it is more or less like its creatures. But
the necessary inference will rather be, that every created being exists in so much the
greater degree, or is so much the more excellent, the more like it is to what exists
supremely, and is supremely great.
For on this account, perhaps, -- nay, not perhaps, but certainly, -- does every mind
judge natures in any way alive to excel those that are not alive, the sentient to excel
the non-sentient, the rational the irrational. For, since the supreme Nature, after a
certain unique manner of its own, not only exists, but lives, and is sentient and
rational, it is clear that, of all existing beings, that which is in some way alive is
more like this supreme Nature, than that which is not alive at all; and what, in any way,
even by a corporeal sense, cognises anything, is more like this Nature than what is not
sentient at all; and what is rational, more than what is incapable of reasoning.
But it is clear, for a like reason, that certain natures exist in a greater or less
degree than others. For, just as that is more excellent by nature which, through its
natural essence, is nearer to the most excellent Being, so certainly that nature exists in
a greater degree, whose essence is more like the supreme Essence. And I think that this
can easily be ascertained as follows. If we should conceive any substance that is alive,
and sentient, and rational, to be deprived of its reason, then of its sentience, then of
its life, and finally of the bare existence that remains, who would fail to understand
that the substance that is thus destroyed, little by little, is gradually brought to
smaller and smaller degrees of existence, and at last to non-existence? But the attributes
which, taken each by itself, reduce an essence to less and less degrees of existence, if
assumed in order, lead it to greater and greater degrees.
It is evident, then, that a living substance exists in a greater degree than one that
is not living, a sentient than a non-sentient, and a rational than a nonrational. So,
there is no doubt that every substance exists in a greater degree, and is more excellent,
according as it is more like that substance which exists supremely and is supremely
It is sufficiently clear, then, that in the Word, through which all things were
created, is not their likeness, but their true and simple essence; while, in the things
created, there is not a simple and absolute essence, but an imperfect imitation of that
true Essence. Hence, it necessarily follows, that this Word is not more nor less true,
according to its likeness to the things created, but every created nature has a higher
essence and dignity, the more it is seen to approach that Word.
The supreme Spirit expresses himself by a coeternal Word.
BUT since this is true, how can what is simple Truth be the Word corresponding to those
objects, of which it is not the likeness? Since every word by which an object is thus
mentally expressed is the likeness of that object, if this is not the word corresponding
to the objects that have been created through it, how shall we be sure that it is the
Word? For every word is a word corresponding to some object. Therefore, if there were no
creature, there would be no word.
Are we to conclude, then, that if there were no creature, that Word would not exist at
all, which is the supreme self-sufficient Essence? Or, would the supreme Being itself,
perhaps, which is the Word still be the eternal Being, but not the Word, if nothing were
ever created through that Being? For, to what has not been, and is not, and will not be,
then can be no word corresponding.
But, according to this reasoning, if there were never any being but the supreme Spirit,
there would be no word at all in him. If there were no word in him, he would express
nothing to himself; if he expressed nothing to himself, since, for him, expressing
anything is the same with understanding or conceiving of it (intelligere), he would
not understand or conceive of anything; if he understood or conceived of nothing, then the
supreme Wisdom, which is nothing else than this Spirit, would understand or conceive of
nothing; which is most absurd.
What is to be inferred? For, if it conceived of nothing, how would it be the supreme
Wisdom? Or, if there were in no wise anything but it, of what would it conceive? Would it
not conceive of itself? But how can it be even imagined that the supreme Wisdom, at any
time does not conceive of itself; since a rational mind can remember not only itself, but
that supreme Wisdom, and conceive of that Wisdom and of itself? For, if the human mind
could have no memory or concept of that Wisdom or of itself, it would not distinguish
itself at all from irrational creatures, and that Wisdom from the whole created world, in
silent meditation by itself, as my mind does now.
Hence, that Spirit, supreme as he is eternal, is thus eternally mindful of himself, and
conceives of himself after the likeness of a rational mind; nay, not after the likeness of
anything; but in the first place that Spirit, and the rational mind after its likeness.
But, if he conceives of himself eternally, he expresses himself eternally. If he expresses
himself eternally, his Word is eternally with him. Whether, therefore, it be thought of in
connection with no other existing being, or with other existing beings, the Word of that
Spirit must be coeternal with him.
He utters himself and what he creates by a single consubstantial Word.
BUT here, in my inquiry concerning the Word, by which the Creator expresses all that he
creates, is suggested the word by which he, who creates all, expresses himself. Does he
express himself, then, by one word, and what be creates by another; or does he rather
express whatever he creates by the same word whereby he expresses himself?
For this Word also, by which he expresses himself, must be identical with himself, as
is evidently true of the Word by which he expresses his creatures. For since, even if
nothing but that supreme Spirit ever existed, urgent reason would still require the
existence of that word by which he expresses himself, what is more true than that his Word
is nothing else than what he himself is? Therefore, if he expresses himself and what he
creates, by a Word consubstantial with himself, it is manifest that of the Word by which
he expresses himself, and of the Word by which he expresses the created world, the
substance is one.
How, then, if the substance is one, are there two words? But, perhaps, identity of
substance does not compel us to admit a single Word. For the Creator himself, who speaks
in these words, has the same substance with them, and yet is not the Word. But,
undoubtedly the word by which the supreme Wisdom expresses itself may most fitly be called
its Word on the former ground, namely, that it contains the perfect likeness of that
For, on no ground can it be denied that when a rational mind conceives of itself in
meditation the image of itself arises in its thought, or rather the thought of the mind is
itself its image, after its likeness, as if formed from its impression. For, whatever
object the mind, either through representation of the body or through reason, desires to
conceive of truly, it at least attempts to express its likeness, so far as it is able, in
the mental concept itself. And the more truly it succeeds in this, the more truly does it
think of the object itself; and, indeed, this fact is observed more clearly when it thinks
of something else which it is not, and especially when it thinks of a material body. For,
when I think of a man I know, in his absence, the vision of my thought forms such an image
as I have acquired in memory through my ocular vision and this image is the word
corresponding to the man I express by thinking of him.
The rational mind, then, when it conceives of itself in thought, has with itself its
image born of itself that is, its thought in its likeness, as if formed from its
impression, although it cannot, except in thought alone, separate itself from its image,
which image is its word.
Who, then, can deny that the supreme Wisdom, when it conceives of itself by expressing
itself, begets a likeness of itself consubstantial with it, namely, its Word? And this
Word, although of a subject so uniquely important nothing can be said with sufficient
propriety, may still not inappropriately be called the image of that Wisdom, its
representation, just as it is called his likeness.
But the Word by which the Creator expresses the created world is not at all, in the
same way, a word corresponding to the created world, since it is not this world's
likeness, but its elementary essence. It therefore follows, that he does not express the
created world itself by a word corresponding to the created world. To what, then, does the
word belong, whereby he expresses it, if he does not express it by a word, belonging to
itself? For what he expresses, he expresses by a word, and a word must belong to
something, that is, it is the likeness of something. But if he expresses nothing but
himself or his created world he can express nothing, except by a word corresponding to
himself or to something else.
So, if he expresses nothing by a word belonging to the created world, whatever he
expresses, he expresses by the Word corresponding to himself. By one and the same Word,
then, he expresses himself and whatever he has made.
How he can express the created world by his Word.
BUT how can objects so different as the creative and the created being be expressed by
one Word, especially since that Word itself is coeternal with him who expresses them,
while the created world is not coeternal with him? Perhaps, because be himself is supreme
Wisdom and supreme Reason, in which are all things that have been created; just as a work
which is made after one of the arts, not only when it is made, but before it is made, and
after it is destroyed, is always in respect of the art itself nothing else than what that
Hence, when the supreme Spirit expresses himself, he expresses all created beings. For,
both before they were created, and now that they have been created, and after they are
decayed or changed in any way, they are ever in him not what they are in themselves, but
what this Spirit himself is. For, in themselves they are mutable beings, created according
to immutable reason; while in him is the true first being, and the first reality of
existence, the more like unto which those beings are in any way, the more really and
excellently do they exist. Thus, it may reasonably be declared that, when the supreme
Spirit expresses himself, he also expresses whatever has been created by one and the same
Whatever has been created is in his Word and knowledge, life and truth.
BUT, since it is established that his word is consubstantial with him, and perfectly
like him, it necessarily follows that all things that exist in him exist also, and in the
same way, in his Word. Whatever has been created, then, whether alive or not alive, or
howsoever it exists in itself, is very life and truth in him.
But, since knowing is the same to the supreme Spirit as conceiving or expressing, he
must know all things that he knows in the same way in which he expresses or conceives of
them. Therefore, just as all things are in his Word life and truth, so are they in his
In how incomprehensible a way he expresses or knows the objects created
HENCE, it may be most clearly comprehended that how this Spirit expresses, or how he
knows the created world, cannot be comprehended by human knowledge. For none can doubt
that created substances exist far differently in themselves than in our knowledge. For, in
themselves they exist by virtue of their own being; while in our knowledge is not their
being, but their likeness.
We conclude, then, that they exist more truly in themselves than in our knowledge, in
the same degree in which they exist more truly anywhere by virtue of their own being, than
by virtue of their likeness. Therefore, since this is also an established truth, that
every created substance exists more truly in the Word, that is, in the intelligence of the
Creator, than it does in itself, in the same degree in which the creative being exists
more truly than the created; how can the human mind comprehend of what kind is that
expression and that knowledge, which is so much higher and truer than created substances;
if our knowledge is as far surpassed by those substances as their likeness is removed from
Whatever his relation to his creatures, this relation his Word also sustains: yet both
do not simultaneously sustain this relation as more than one being.
BUT since it has already been clearly demonstrated that the supreme Spirit created all
things through his Word, did not the Word itself also create all things? For, since it is
consubstantial with him, it must be the supreme essence of that of which it is the Word.
But there is no supreme Essence, except one, which is the only creator and the only
beginning of all things which have been created. For this Essence, through no other than
itself, alone created all things from nothing. Hence, whatever the supreme Spirit creates,
the same his Word also creates, and in the same way.
Whatever relation, then, the supreme Spirit bears to what he creates, this relation his
Word also bears, and in the same way. And yet, both do not bear it simultaneously, as more
than one, since there are not more supreme creative essences than one. Therefore, just as
he is the creator and the beginning of the world, so is his Word also; and yet there are
not two, but one creator and one beginning.
It cannot be explained why they are two, although they must be so.
OUR careful attention is therefore demanded by a peculiarity which, though most unusual
in other beings, seems to belong to the supreme Spirit and his Word. For, it is certain
that in each of these separately and in both simultaneously, whatever they are so exists
that it is separately perfected in both, and yet does not admit plurality in the two. For
although, taken separately, he is perfectly supreme Truth and Creator, and his Word is
supreme Truth and Creator; yet both at once are not two truths or two creators.
But although this is true, yet it is most remarkably clear that neither he, whose is
the Word, can be his own Word, nor can the Word be he, whose Word it is, although in so
far as regards either what they are substantially, or what relation they bear to the
created world, they ever preserve an indivisible unity. But in respect of the fact that he
does not derive existence from that Word, but that Word from him, they admit an ineffable
plurality, ineffable, certainly, for although necessity requires that they be two, it can
in no wise be explained why they are two.
For although they may perhaps be called two equals, or some other mutual relation may
in like manner be attributed to them, yet if it were to be asked what it is in these very
relative expressions with reference to which they are used, it cannot be expressed
plurally, as one speaks of two equal lines, or two like men. For, neither are there two
equal spirits nor two equal creators, nor is there any dual expression which indicates
either their essence or their relation to the created world; and there is no dual
expression which designates the peculiar relation of the one to the other, since there are
neither two words nor two images.
For the Word, by virtue of the fact that it is a word or image, bears a relation to the
other, because it is Word and image only as it is the Word and image of something; and so
peculiar are these attributes to the one that they are by no means predicable of the
other. For he, whose is the Word and image, is neither image nor Word. It is, therefore,
evident that it cannot be explained why they are two, the supreme Spirit and the Word,
although by certain properties of each they are required to be two. For it is the property
of the one to derive existence from the other, and the property of that other that the
first derives existence from him.
This Word derives existence from the supreme Spirit by birth.
AND this truth, it seems, can be expressed in no more familiar terms than when it is
said to be the property of the one, to be born of the other; and of the other, that the
first is born of him. For it is now clearly proved, that the Word of the supreme Spirit
does not derive existence from him, as do those beings which have been created by him; but
as Creator from Creator, supreme Being from supreme Being. And, to dispose of this
comparison with all brevity, it is one and the same being which derives existence from one
and the same being, and on such terms, that it in no wise derives existence, except from
Since it is evident, then, that the Word of the supreme Spirit so derives existence
from him alone, that it is completely analogous to the offspring of a parent; and that it
does not derive existence from him, as if it were created by him, doubtless no more
fitting supposition can be entertained regarding its origin, than that it derives
existence from the supreme Spirit by birth (nascendo).
For, innumerable objects are unhesitatingly said to be born of those things from which
they derive existence, although they possess no such likeness to those things of which
they are said to be born, as offspring to a parent. -- We say, for instance, that the hair
is born of the head, or the fruit of the tree, although the hair does not resemble the
head, nor the fruit the tree.
If, then, many objects of this sort are without absurdity said to be born, so much the
more fittingly may the Word of the supreme Spirit be said to derive existence from him by
birth, the more perfect the resemblance it bears to him, like a child's to its parent,
through deriving existence from him.
He is most truly a parent, and that Word his offspring.
BUT if it is most properly said to be born, and is so like him of whom it is born, why
should it be esteemed like, as a child is like his parent? why should it not rather
be declared, that the Spirit is more truly a parent, and the Word his offspring, the more
he alone is sufficient to effect this birth, and the more what is born expresses his
likeness? For, among other beings which we know bear the relations of parent and child,
none so begets as to be solely and without accessory, sufficient to the generation of
offspring; and none is so begotten that without any admixture of unlikeness, it shows
complete likeness to its parent.
If, then, the Word of the supreme Spirit so derives its complete existence from the
being of that Spirit himself alone, and is so uniquely like him, that no child ever so
completely derives existence from its parent, and none is so like its parent, certainly
the relation of parent and offspring can be ascribed to no beings so consistently as to
the supreme Spirit and his Word. Hence, it is his property to be most truly parent, and
its to be most truly his offspring.
He most truly begets, and it is most truly begotten.
BUT it will be impossible to establish this proposition, unless, in equal degree, he
most truly begets, and it is most truly begotten. As the former supposition is evidently
true, so the latter is necessarily most certain. Hence, it belongs to the supreme Spirit
most truly to beget, and to his Word to be most truly begotten.
It is the property of the one to be most truly progenitor and Father, and of the other
to be the begotten and Son.
I should certainly be glad, and perhaps able, now to reach the conclusion, that he is
most truly the Father, while this Word is most truly his Son. But I think that even this
question should not be neglected: whether it is more fitting to call them Father and Son,
than mother and daughter, since in them there is no distinction of sex.
For, if it is consistent with the nature of the one to be the Father, and of his
offspring to be the Son, because both are Spirit (Spiritus, masculine); why is it
not, with equal reason, consistent with the nature of the one to be the mother, and the
other the daughter, since both are truth and wisdom (veritas et sapientia,
Or, is it because in these natures that have a difference of sex, it belongs to the
superior sex to be father or son, and to the inferior to be mother or daughter? And this
is certainly a natural fact in most instances, but in some the contrary is true, as among
certain kinds of birds, among which the female is always larger and stronger, while the
male is smaller and weaker.
At any rate, it is more consistent to call the supreme Spirit father than mother, for
this reason, that the first and principal cause of offspring is always in the father. For,
if the maternal cause is ever in some way preceded by the paternal, it is exceedingly
inconsistent that the name mother should be attached to that parent with which, for
the generation of offspring, no other cause is associated, and which no other precedes. It
is, therefore, most true that the supreme Spirit is Father of his offspring. But, if the
son is always more like the father than is the daughter, while nothing is more like the
supreme Father than his offspring; then it is most true that this offspring is not a
daughter, but a Son.
Hence, just as it is the property of the one most truly to beget, and of the other to
be begotten, so it is the property of the one to be most truly progenitor, and of the
other to be most truly begotten. And as the one is most truly the parent, and the other
his offspring, so the one is most truly Father, and the other most truly Son.
Consideration of the common attributes of both and the individual
properties of each.
Now that so many and so important properties of each have been discovered, whereby a
strange plurality, as ineffable as it is inevitable, is proved to exist in the supreme
unity, I think it most interesting to reflect, again and again, upon so unfathomable a
For observe: although it is so impossible that he who begets, and he who is begotten,
are the same, and that parent and offspring are the same --so impossible that necessarily
one must be the progenitor and the other the begotten, and one the Father, the other the
Son; yet, here it is so necessary that he who begets and he who is begotten shall be the
same, and also that parent and offspring shall be the same, that the progenitor cannot be
any other than what the begotten is, nor the Father any other than the Son.
And although the one is one, and the other another, so that it is altogether evident
that they are two; yet that which the one and the other are is in such a way one and the
same, that it is a most obscure mystery why they are two. For, in such a way is one the
Father and the other the Son, that when I speak of both I perceive that I have spoken of
two; and yet so identical is that which both Father and Son are, that I do not understand
why they are two of whom I have spoken.
For, although the Father separately is the perfectly supreme Spirit, and the Son
separately is the perfectly supreme Spirit, yet, so are the Spirit-Father and the
Spirit-Son one and the same being, that the Father and the Son are not two spirits, but
one Spirit. For, just as to separate properties of separate beings, plurality is not
attributed, since they are not properties of two things, so, what is common to both
preserves an indivisible unity, although it belongs, as a whole, to them taken separately.
For, as there are not two fathers or two sons, but one Father and one Son, since
separate properties belong to separate beings, so there are not two spirits, but one
Spirit; although it belongs both to the Father, taken separately, and to the Son, taken
separately, to be the perfect Spirit. For so opposite are their relations, that the one
never assumes the property of the other; so harmonious are they in nature, that the one
ever contains the essence of the other. For they are so diverse by virtue of the fact that
the one is the Father and the other the Son, that the Father is never called the Son, nor
the Son the Father; and they are so identical, by virtue of their substance, that the
essence of the Son is ever in the Father, and the essence of the Father in the Son.
How one is the essence of the other.
HENCE, even if one is called the essence of the other, there is no departure from
truth; but the supreme simplicity and unity of their common nature is thus honored. For,
not as one conceives of a man's wisdom, through which man is wise, though he cannot be
wise through himself, can we thus understand the statement that the Father is essence of
the Son, and the Son the essence of the Father. We cannot understand that the Son is
existent through the Father, and the Father through the Son, as if the one could not be
existent except through the other, just as a man cannot be wise except through wisdom.
For, as the supreme Wisdom is ever wise through itself, so the supreme Essence ever
exists through itself. But, the perfectly supreme Essence is the Father, and the perfectly
supreme Essence is the Son. Hence, the perfect Father and the perfect Son exist, each
through himself, just as each is wise through himself.
For the Son is not the less perfect essence or wisdom because he is an essence born of
the essence of the Father, and a wisdom born of the wisdom of the Father; but he would be
a less perfect essence or wisdom if he did not exist through himself, and were not wise
For, there is no inconsistency between the subsistence of the Son through himself, and
his deriving existence from his Father. For, as the Father has essence, and wisdom, and
life in himself; so that not through another's, but through his own, essence he exists;
through his own wisdom he is wise; through his own life he lives; so, by generation, he
grants to his Son the possession of essence, and wisdom, and life in himself, so that not
through an extraneous essence, wisdom, and life, but through his own, he subsists, is
wise, and lives; otherwise, the existence of Father and Son will not be the same, nor will
the Son be equal to the Father. But it has already been clearly proved how false this
Hence, there is no inconsistency between the subsistence of the Son through himself,
and his deriving existence from the Father, since he must have from the Father this very
power of subsisting through himself. For, if a wise man should teach me his wisdom, which
I formerly lacked, he might without impropriety be said to teach me by this very wisdom of
his. But, although my wisdom would derive its existence and the fact of its being from his
wisdom, yet when my wisdom once existed, it would be no other essence than its own, nor
would it be wise except through itself.
Much more, then, the eternal Father's eternal Son, who so derives existence from the
Father that they are not two essences, subsists, is wise, and lives through himself.
Hence, it is inconceivable that the Father should be the essence of the Son, or the Son
the essence of the Father, on the ground that the one could not subsist through itself,
but must subsist through the other. But in order to indicate how they share in an essence
supremely simple and supremely one, it may consistently be said, and conceived, that the
one is so identical with the other that the one possesses the essence of the other.
On these grounds, then, since there is obviously no difference between possessing an
essence and being an essence, just as the one possesses the essence of the other, so the
one is the essence of the other, that is, the one has the same existence with the other.
The Son may more appropriately be called the essence of the Father, than the Father the
essence of the Son: and in like manner the Son is the virtue, wisdom, etc., of the Father.
AND although, for reasons we have noted, this is true, it is much more proper to call
the Son the essence of the Father than the Father the essence of the Son. For, since the
Father has his being from none other than himself, it is not wholly appropriate to say
that he has the being of another than himself; while, since the Son has his being from the
Father, and has the same essence with his Father, he may most appropriately be said to
have the essence of his Father.
Hence, seeing that neither has an essence, except by being an essence; as the
Son is more appropriately conceived to have the essence of the Father than the Father to
have the essence of the Son, so the Son may more fitly be called the essence of the Father
than the Father the essence of the son. For this single explanation proves, with
sufficiently emphatic brevity, that the Son not only has the same essence with the Father,
but has this very essence from the Father; so that, to assert that the Son is the essence
of the Father is the same as to assert that the Son is not a different essence from the
essence of the Father nay, from the Father essence.
In like manner, therefore, the Son is the virtue of the Father, and his wisdom, and
justice, and whatever is consistently attributed to the essence of the supreme Spirit.
How some of these truths which are thus expounded may also be conceived of in another
YET, some of these truths, which may be thus expounded and conceived of, are apparently
capable of another interpretation as well, not inconsistent with this same assertion. For
it is proved that the Son is the true Word, that is, the perfect intelligence, conceiving
of the whole substance of the Father, or perfect cognition of that substance, and
knowledge of it, and wisdom regarding it; that is, it understands, and conceives of, the
very essence of the Father, and cognises it, and knows it, and is wise (sapit)
If, then, in this sense, the Son is called the intelligence of the Father, and wisdom
concerning him, and knowledge and cognition of him, and acquaintance with him; since the
Son understands and conceives of the Father, is wise concerning him, knows and is
acquainted with him, there is no departure from truth.
Most properly, too, may the Son be called the truth of the Father, not only in the
sense that the truth of the Son is the same with that of the Father, as we have already
seen; but in this sense, also, that in him no imperfect imitation shall be conceived of,
but the complete truth of the substance of the Father since he is no other than what the
The Son is the intelligence of intelligence and the Truth of truth
BUT if the very substance of the Father is intelligence, and knowledge, and wisdom, and
truth, it is consequently inferred that as the Son is the intelligence, and knowledge, and
wisdom, and truth, of the paternal substance, so he is the intelligence of intelligence,
the knowledge of knowledge, the wisdom of wisdom, and the truth of truth.
How the Son is the intelligence or wisdom of memory or the memory of the Father and of
BUT what is to be our notion of memory? Is the Son to be regarded as the intelligence
conceiving of memory, or as the memory of the Father, or as the memory of memory? Indeed,
since it cannot be denied that the supreme Wisdom remembers itself, nothing can be more
consistent than to regard the Father as memory, just as the Son is the Word; because the
Word is apparently born of memory, a fact that is more clearly seen in the case of the
For, since the human mind is not always thinking of itself, though it ever remembers
itself, it is clear that, when it thinks of itself, the word corresponding to it is born
of memory. Hence, it appears that, if it always thought of itself, its word would be
always born of memory. For, to think of an object of which we have remembrance, this is to
express it mentally; while the word corresponding to the object is the thought itself,
formed after the likeness of that object from memory.
Hence, it may be clearly apprehended in the supreme Wisdom, which always thinks of
itself, just as it remembers itself, that, of the eternal remembrance of it, its coeternal
Word is born. Therefore, as the Word is properly conceived of as the child, the memory
most appropriately takes the name of parent. If, then, the child which is born of the
supreme Spirit alone is the child of his memory, there can be no more logical conclusion
than that his memory is himself. For not in respect of the fact that he remembers himself
does he exist in his own memory, like ideas that exist in the human memory, without being
the memory itself; but he so remembers himself that he is his own memory.
It therefore follows that, just as the Son is the intelligence or wisdom of the Father,
so he is that of the memory of the Father. But, regarding whatever the Son has wisdom or
understanding, this he likewise remembers. The Son is, therefore, the memory of the
Father, and the memory of memory, that is, the memory that remembers the Father, who is
memory, just as he is the wisdom of the Father, and the wisdom of wisdom, that is, the
wisdom wise regarding the wisdom of the Father; and the Son is indeed memory, born of
memory, as he is wisdom, born of wisdom, while the Father is memory and wisdom born of
The supreme Spirit loves himself.
BUT, while I am here considering with interest the individual properties and the common
attributes of Father and Son, I find none in them more pleasurable to contemplate than the
feeling of mutual love. For how absurd it would be to deny that the supreme Spirit loves
himself, just as he remembers himself, and conceives of himself! since even the rational
human mind is convinced that it can love both itself and him, because it can remember
itself and him, and can conceive of itself and of him; for idle and almost useless is the
memory and conception of any object, unless, so far as reason requires, the object itself
is loved or condemned. The supreme Spirit, then, loves himself, just as he remembers
himself and conceives of himself.
The same love proceeds equally from Father and Son.
IT is, at any rate, clear to the rational man that he does not remember himself or
conceive of himself because he loves himself, but he loves himself because he remembers
himself and conceives of himself; and that he could not love himself if he did not
remember and conceive of himself. For no object is loved without remembrance or conception
of it; while many things are retained in memory and conceived of that are not loved.
It is evident, then, that the love of the supreme Spirit proceeds from the fact that he
remember himself and conceives of himself (se intelligit). But if, by the memory of
the supreme Spirit, we understand the Father, and by his intelligence by which he
conceives of anything, the Son, it is manifest that the love of the supreme Spirit
proceeds equally from Father and Son.
Each loves himself and the other with equal love.
BUT if the supreme Spirit loves himself, no doubt the Father loves himself, the Son
loves himself, and the one the other; since the Father separately is the supreme Spirit,
and the Son separately is the supreme Spirit, and both at once one Spirit. And, since each
equally remembers himself and the other, and conceives equally of himself and the other;
and since what is loved, or loves in the Father, or in the Son, is altogether the same,
necessarily each loves himself and the other with an equal love.
This love is as great as the supreme Spirit himself.
How great, then, is this love of the supreme Spirit, common as it is to Father and Son!
But, if he loves himself as much as he remembers and conceives of himself; and, moreover,
remembers and conceives of himself in as great a degree as that in which his essence
exists, since otherwise it cannot exist; undoubtedly his love is as great as he himself
This love is identical with the supreme Spirit, and yet it is itself
with the Father and the Son one spirit.
BUT, what can be equal to the supreme Spirit, except the supreme Spirit? That love is,
then, the supreme Spirit. Hence, if no creature, that is, if nothing other than the
supreme Spirit, the Father and the Son, ever existed; nevertheless, Father and Son would
love themselves and one another.
It therefore follows that this love is nothing else than what the Father and the Son
are, which is the supreme Being. But, since there cannot be more than one supreme Being,
what inference can be more necessary than that Father and Son and the love of both are one
supreme Being? Therefore, this love is supreme Wisdom, supreme Truth, the supreme Good,
and whatsoever can be attributed to the substance the supreme Spirit.
It proceeds as a whole from the Father, and as a whole from the Son, and
yet does not exist except as one love.
IT should be carefully considered whether there are two loves, one proceeding from the
Father, the other from the Son; or one, not proceeding as a whole from one, but in part
from the Father, in part from the Son; or neither more than one, nor one proceeding in
part from each separately, but one proceeding as a whole from each separately, and
likewise as a whole from the two at once.
But the solution of such a question can, without doubt, be apprehended from the fact
that this love proceeds not from that in which Father and Son are more than one, but from
that in which they are one. For, not from their relations, which are more than one, but
from their essence itself, which does not admit of plurality, do Father and Son equally
produce so great a good.
Therefore, as the Father separately is the supreme Spirit, and the Son separately is
the supreme Spirit, and Father and Son at once are not two, but one Spirit; so from the
Father separately the love of the supreme Spirit emanates as a whole, and from the Son as
a whole, and at once from Father and Son, not as two, but as one and the same whole.
This love is not their Son.
SINCE this love, then, has its being equally from Father and Son, and is so like both
that it is in no wise unlike them, but is altogether identical with them; is it to be
regarded as their Son or offspring? But, as the Word, so soon as it is examined, declares
itself to be the offspring of him from whom it derives existence, by displaying a manifold
likeness to its parent; so love plainly denies that it sustains such a relation, since, so
long as it is conceived to proceed from Father and Son, it does not at once show to one
who contemplates it so evident a likeness to him from whom it derives existence, although
deliberate reasoning teaches us that it is altogether identical with Father and Son.
Therefore, if it is their offspring, either one of them is its father and the other its
mother, or each is its father, or mother, -- suppositions which apparently contradict all
truth. For, since it proceeds in precisely the same way from the Father as from the Son,
regard for truth does not allow the relations of Father and Son to it to be described by
different words; therefore, the one is not its father, the other its mother. But that
there are two beings which, taken separately, bear each the perfect relation of father or
mother, differing in no respect, to some one being --of this no existing nature allows
proof by any example.
Hence, both, that is, Father and Son, are not father and mother of the love emanating
from them. It therefore is apparently most inconsistent with truth that their identical
love should be their son or offspring.
Only the Father begets and is unbegotten; only the son is begotten; only
love neither begotten nor unbegotten.
STILL, it is apparent that this love can neither be said, in accordance with the usage
of common speech, to be unbegotten, nor can it so properly be said to be begotten, as the
Word is said to be begotten. For we often say of a thing that it is begotten of that from
which it derives existence, as when we say that light or heat is begotten of fire, or any
effect of its cause.
On this ground, then, love, proceeding from supreme Spirit, cannot be declared to be
wholly unbegotten, but it cannot so properly be said to be begotten as can the Word; since
the Word is the most true offspring and most true Son, while it is manifest that love is
by no means offspring or son.
He alone, therefore, may, or rather should, be called begetter and unbegotten, whose is
the Word; since he alone is Father and parent, and in no wise derives existence from
another; and the Word alone should be called begotten, which alone is Son and offspring.
But only the love of both is neither begotten nor unbegotten, because it is neither son
nor off spring, and yet does in some sort derive existence from another.
This love is uncreated and creator, as are Father and Son; and yet it is with them not
three, but one uncreated and creative being. And it may be called the Spirit of Father and
BUT, since this love separately is the supreme Being, as are Father and Son, and yet at
once Father and Son, and the love of both are not more than one, but one supreme Being,
which alone was created by none, and created all things through no other than itself;
since this is true, necessarily, as the Father separately, and the Son separately, are
each uncreated and creator, so, too, love separately is uncreated and creator, and yet all
three at once are not more than one, but one uncreated and creative being.
None, therefore, makes or begets or creates the Father, but the Father alone begets,
but does not create, the Son; while Father and Son alike do not create or beget, but
somehow, if such an expression may be used, breathe their love: for, although the
supremely immutable Being does not breathe after our fashion, yet the truth that this
Being sends forth this, its love, which proceeds from it, not by departing from it, but by
deriving existence from it, can perhaps be no better expressed than by saying that this
Being breathes its love.
But, if this expression is admissible, as the Word of the supreme Being is its Son, so
its love may fittingly enough be called its breath (Spiritus). So that, though it
is itself essentially spirit, as are Father and Son, they are not regarded as the spirits
of anything, since neither is the Father born of any other nor the Son of the Father, as
it were, by breathing; while that love is regarded as the Breath or Spirit of both
since from both breathing in their transcendent way it mysteriously proceeds.
And this love, too, it seems, from the fact there is community of being between Father
and Son, may, not unreasonably, take, as it were its own, some name which is common to
Father and Son; if there is any exigency demanding that it should have a name proper to
itself. And, indeed, if this love is actually designated by the name Spirit, as by its own
name, since this name equally describes the Father and the Son: it will be useful to this
effect also, that through this name it shall be signified that this love is identical with
Father and Son, although it has its being from them.
As the Son is the essence or wisdom of the Father in the sense that he has the same
essence or wisdom that the Father has: so likewise the Spirit is the essence and wisdom
etc. of Father and Son.
ALSO, just as the Son is the substance and wisdom and virtue of the Father, in the
sense that he has the same essence and wisdom and virtue with the Father; so it may be
conceived that the Spirit of both is the essence or wisdom or virtue of Father and Son,
since it has altogether the same essence, wisdom, and virtue with these.
The Father and the Son and their Spirit exist equally the one in the
IT is a most interesting consideration that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit of
both, exist in one another with such equality that no one of them surpasses another. For,
not only is each in such a way the perfectly supreme Being that, nevertheless, all three
at once exist only as one supreme Being, but he same truth is no less capable of proof
when each is taken separately.
For the Father exists as a whole in the Son, and in the Spirit common to them; and the
Son in the Father, and in the Spirit; and the Spirit in the Father, and in the Son; for
the memory of the supreme Being exists, as a whole, in its intelligence and in its love,
and the intelligence in its memory and love, and the love in its memory and intelligence.
For the supreme Spirit conceives of (intelligit) its memory as a whole, and loves
it, and remembers its intelligence as a whole, and loves it as a whole, and remembers its
love as a whole, and conceives of it as a whole.
But we mean by the memory, the Father; by the intelligence, the Son; by the love, the
Spirit of both. In such equality, therefore, do Father and Son and Spirit embrace one
another, and exist in one another, that none of them can be proved to surpass another or
to exist without it.
To none of these is another necessary that he may remember, conceive, or love: since
each taken by himself is memory and intelligence and love and all that is necessarily
inherent in the supreme Being.
BUT, while this discussion engages our attention, I think that this truth, which occurs
to me as I reflect, ought to be most carefully commended to memory. The Father must be so
conceived of as memory, the Son as intelligence, and the Spirit as love, that it shall
also be understood that the Father does not need the Son, or the Spirit common to them,
nor the Son the Father, or the same Spirit, nor the Spirit the Father, or the Son: as if
the Father were able, through his own power, only to remember, but to conceive only
through the Son, and to love only through the Spirit of himself and his son; and the Son
could only conceive or understand (intelligere) through himself, but remembered
through the Father, and loved through his Spirit; and this Spirit were able through
himself alone only to love, while the Father remembers for him, and the Son conceives or
understands (intelligit) for him.
For, since among these three each one taken separately is so perfectly the supreme
Being and the supreme Wisdom that through himself he remembers and conceives and loves, it
must be that none of these three needs another, in order either to remember or to conceive
or to love. For, each taken separately is essentially memory and intelligence and love,
and all that is necessarily inherent in the supreme Being.
Yet there are not three, but one Father and one Son and one Spirit.
AND here I see a question arises. For, if the Father is intelligence and love as well
as memory, and the Son is memory and love as well as intelligence, and the Spirit is no
less memory and intelligence than love; how is it that the Father is not a Son and a
Spirit of some being? and why is not the Son the Father and the Spirit of some being? and
why is not this Spirit the Father of some being, and the Son of some being? For it was
understood, that the Father was memory, the Son intelligence, and the Spirit love.
But this question is easily answered, if we consider the truths already disclosed in
our discussion. For the Father, even though he is intelligence and love, is not for that
reason the Son or the Spirit of any being; since he is not intelligence, begotten of any,
or love, proceeding from any, but whatever he is, he is only the begetter, and is
he from whom the other proceeds.
The Son also, even though by his own power he remembers and loves, is not, for that
reason, the Father or the Spirit of any; since he is not memory as begetter, or love as
proceeding from another after the likeness of his Spirit, but whatever being he has he is
only begotten and is he from whom the Spirit proceeds.
The Spirit, too, is not necessarily Father or Son, because his own memory and
intelligence are sufficient to him; since he is not memory as begetter, or intelligence as
begotten, but he alone, whatever he is, proceeds or emanates.
What, then, forbids the conclusion that in the supreme Being there is only one Father,
one Son, one Spirit, and not three Fathers or Sons or Spirits?
How it seems that of these three more sons than one are born.
BUT perhaps the following observation will prove inconsistent with this assertion. It
should not be doubted that the Father and the Son and their Spirit each expresses himself
and the other two, just as each conceives of, and understands, himself and the other two.
But, if this is true, are there not in the supreme Being as many words as there are
expressive beings, and as many words as there are beings who are expressed?
For, if more men than one give expression to some one object in thought, apparently
there are as many words corresponding to that object as there are thinkers; since the word
corresponding to it exists in the thoughts of each separately. Again, if one man thinks of
more objects than one, there are as many words in the mind of the thinker as there are
objects thought of.
But in the thought of a man, when he thinks of anything outside his own mind, the word
corresponding to the object thought of is not born of the object itself, since that is
absent from the view of thought, but of some likeness or image of the object which exists
in the memory of the thinker, or which is perhaps called to mind through a corporeal sense
from the present object itself.
But in the supreme Being, Father and Son and their Spirit are always so present to one
another --for each one, as we have already seen, exists in the others no less than in
himself -- that, when they express one another, the one that is expressed seems to beget
his own word, just as when he is expressed by himself. How is it, then, that the Son and
the Spirit of the Son and of the Father beget nothing, if each begets his own word, when
he is expressed by himself or by another? Apparently as many words as can be proved to be
born of the supreme Substance, so many Sons, according to our former reasoning, must there
be begotten of this substance, and so many spirits proceeding from it.
How among them there is only one Son of one Father, that is, one Word, and that from
the Father alone.
ON these grounds, therefore, there apparently are in that Being, not only many fathers
and sons and beings proceeding from it, but other necessary attributes as well; or else
Father and Son and their Spirit, of whom it is already certain that they truly exist, are
not three expressive beings, although each taken separately is expressive, nor are there
more beings than one expressed, when each one expresses himself and the other two.
For, just as it is an inherent property of the supreme Wisdom to know and conceive, so
it is assuredly natural to eternal and immutable knowledge and intelligence ever to regard
as present what it knows and conceives of. For, to such a supreme Spirit expressing and
beholding through conception, as it were, are the same, just as the expression of our
human mind is nothing but the intuition of the thinker.
But reasons already considered have shown most convincingly that whatever is
essentially inherent in the supreme Nature is perfectly consistent with the nature of the
Father and the Son and their Spirit taken separately; and that, nevertheless, this, if
attributed to the three at once, does not admit of plurality. Now, it is established that
as knowledge and intelligence are attributes of his being, so his knowing and conceiving
is nothing else than his expression, that is, his ever beholding as present what he knows
and conceives of. Necessarily, therefore, just as the Father separately, and the Son
separately, and their Spirit separately, is a knowing and conceiving being, and yet the
three at once are not more knowing and conceiving beings than one, but one knowing and one
conceiving being: so, each taken separately is expressive, and yet there are not three
expressive beings at once, but one expressive being.
Hence, this fact may also be clearly recognised, that when these three are expressed,
either by themselves or by another, there are not more beings than one expressed. For what
is therein expressed except their being? If, then, that Being is one and only one, then
what is expressed is one and only one; therefore, if it is in them one and only one which
expresses, and one which is expressed --for it is one wisdom which expresses and one
substance which is expressed --it follows that there are not more words than one, but one
alone. Hence, although each one expresses himself and all express one another,
nevertheless there cannot be in the supreme Being another Word than that already shown to
be born of him whose is the Word, so that it may be called his true image and his Son.
And in this truth I find a strange and inexplicable factor. For observe: although it is
manifest that each one, that is, Father and Son, and the Spirit of Father and Son equally
expresses himself and both the others, and that there is one Word alone among them; yet it
appears that this Word itself can in no wise be called the Word of all three, but only of
For it has been proved that it is the image and Son of him whose Word it is. And it is
plain that it cannot properly be called either the image or son of itself, or of the
Spirit proceeding from it. For, neither of itself nor of a being proceeding from it, is it
born, nor does it in its existence imitate itself or a being proceeding from itself. For
it does not imitate itself, or take on a like existence to itself, because imitation and
likeness are impossible where only one being is concerned, but require plurality of
beings; while it does not imitate the spirit, nor does it exist in his likeness, because
it has not its existence from that Spirit, but the Spirit from it. It is to be concluded
that this sole Word corresponds to him alone, from whom it has existence by generation,
and after whose complete likeness it exists.
One Father, then, and not more than one Father; one Son, and not more than one Son; one
Spirit proceeding from them, and not more than one such Spirit, exist in the supreme
Being. And, although there are three, so that the Father is never the Son or the Spirit
proceeding from them, nor the Son at any time the Father or the Spirit, nor the Spirit of
Father and Son ever the Father or the Son; and each separately is so perfect that he is
self-sufficient, needing neither of the others; yet what they are is in such a way one
that just as it cannot be attributed to them taken separately as plural, so, neither can
it be attributed to them as plural, when the three are taken at once. And though each one
expresses himself and all express one another, yet there are not among them more words
than one, but one; and this Word corresponds not to each separately, nor to all together,
but to one alone.
Though this truth is inexplicable, it demands belief.
IT seems to me that the mystery of so sublime a subject transcends all the vision of
the human intellect. And for that reason I think it best to refrain from the attempt to
explain how this thing is. For it is my opinion that one who is investigating an
incomprehensible object ought to be satisfied if this reasoning shall have brought him far
enough to recognise that this object most certainly exists; nor ought assured belief to be
the less readily given to these truths which are declared to be such by cogent proofs, and
without the contradiction of any other reason, if, because of the incomprehensibility of
their own natural sublimity, they do not admit of explanation.
But what is so incomprehensible, so ineffable, as that which is above all things?
Hence, if these truths, which have thus far been debated in connection with the supreme
Being, have been declared on cogent grounds, even though they cannot be so examined by the
human intellect as to be capable of explanation in words, their assured certainty is not
therefore shaken. For, if a consideration, such as that above, rationally comprehends that
it is incomprehensible in what way supreme Wisdom knows its creatures, of which we
necessarily know so many; who shall explain how it knows and expresses itself, of which
nothing or scarcely anything can be known by man? Hence, if it is not by virtue of the
self-expression of this Wisdom that the Father begets and the Son is begotten, who
shall tell his generation?
How real truth may be reached in the discussion of an ineffable subject.
BUT again, if such is the character of its ineffability, -- nay, since it is such, --
how shall whatever conclusion our discussion has reached regarding it in terms of Father,
Son, and emanating Spirit be valid? For, if it has been explained on true grounds, how is
it ineffable? Or, if it is ineffable, how can it be such as our discussion has shown? Or,
could it be explained to a certain extent, and therefore nothing would disprove the truth
of our argument; but since it could not be comprehended at all, for that reason it would
But how shall we meet the truth that has already been established in this very
discussion, namely, that the supreme Being is so above and beyond every other nature that,
whenever any statement is made concerning it in words which are also applicable to other
natures, the sense of these words in this case is by no means that in which they are
applied to other natures.
For what sense have I conceived of, in all these words that I have thought of, except
the common and familiar sense? If, then, the familiar sense of words is alien to that
Being, whatever I have inferred to be attributable to it is not its property. How, then,
has any truth concerning the supreme Being been discovered, if what has been discovered is
so alien to that Being? What is to be inferred?
Or, has there in some sort been some truth discovered regarding this incomprehensible
object, and in some sort has nothing been proved regarding it? For often we speak of
things which we do not express with precision as they are; but by another expression we
indicate what we are unwilling or unable to express with precision, as when we speak in
riddles. And often we see a thing, not precisely as it is in itself, but through a
likeness or image, as when we look upon a face in a mirror. And in this way, we often
express and yet do not express, see and yet do not see, one and the same object; we
express and see it through another; we do not express it, and do not see it by virtue of
its own proper nature.
On these grounds, then, it appears that there is nothing to disprove the truth of our
discussion thus far concerning the supreme Nature, and yet this Nature itself remains not
the less ineffable, if we believe that it has never been expressed according to the
peculiar nature of its own being, but somehow described through another.
For whatever terms seem applicable to that Nature do not reveal it to me in its proper
character, but rather intimate it through some likeness. For, when I think of the meanings
of these terms, I more naturally conceive in my mind of what I see in created objects,
than of what I conceive to transcend all human understanding. For it is something much
less, nay, something far different, that their meaning suggests to my mind, than that the
conception of which my mind itself attempts to achieve through this shadowy signification.
For, neither is the term wisdom sufficient to reveal to me that Being, through
which all things were created from nothing and are preserved from nothingness; nor is the
term essence capable of expressing to me that Being which, through its unique
elevation, is far above all things, and through its peculiar natural character greatly
transcends all things.
In this way, then, is that Nature ineffable, because it is incapable of description in
words or by any other means; and, at the same time, an inference regarding it, which can
be reached by the instruction of reason or in some other way, as it were in a riddle, is
not therefore necessarily false.
Through the rational mind is the nearest approach to the supreme Being.
SINCE it is clear, then, that nothing can be ascertained concerning this Nature in
terms of its own peculiar character, but only in terms of something else, it is certain
that a nearer approach toward knowledge of it is made through that which approaches it
more nearly through likeness. For the more like to it anything among created beings is
proved to be, the more excellent must that created being be by nature. Hence, this being,
through its greater likeness, assists the investigating mind in the approach to supreme
Truth; and through its more excellent created essence, teaches the more correctly what
opinion the mind itself ought to form regarding the Creator. So, undoubtedly, a greater
knowledge of the creative Being is attained, the more nearly the creature through which
the investigation is made approaches that Being. For that every being, in so far as it
exists, is like the supreme Being, reasons already considered do not permit us to doubt.
It is evident, then, that as the rational mind alone, among all created beings, is
capable of rising to the investigation of this Being, so it is not the less this same
rational mind alone, through which the mind itself can most successfully achieve the
discovery of this same Being. For it has already been acknowledged that this approaches it
most nearly, through likeness of natural essence. What is more obvious, then, than that
the more earnestly the rational mind devotes itself to learning its own nature, the more
effectively does it rise to the knowledge of that Being; and the more carelessly it
contemplates itself, the farther does it descend from the contemplation of that Being?
The mind itself is the mirror and image of that Being.
THEREFORE, the mind may most fitly be said to be its own mirror wherein it
contemplates, so to speak, the image of what it cannot see face to face. For, if the mind
itself alone among all created beings is capable of remembering and conceiving of and
loving itself, I do not see why it should be denied that it is the true image of that
being which, through its memory and intelligence and love, is united in an ineffable
Trinity. Or, at any rate, it proves itself to be the more truly the image of that Being by
its power of remembering, conceiving of, and loving, that Being. For, the greater and the
more like that Being it is, the more truly it is recognised to be its image.
But, it is utterly inconceivable that any rational creature can have been naturally
endowed with any power so excellent and so like the supreme Wisdom as this power of
remembering, and conceiving of, and loving, the best and greatest of all beings. Hence, no
faculty has been bestowed on any creature that is so truly the image of the Creator.
The rational creature was created in order that it might love this
IT seems to follow, then, that the rational creature ought to devote itself to nothing
so earnestly as to the expression, through voluntary performance, of this image which is
impressed on it through a natural potency. For, not only does it owe its very existence to
its creator; but the fact that it is known to have no power so important as that of
remembering, and conceiving of, and loving, the supreme good, proves that it ought to wish
nothing else so especially.
For who can deny that whatever within the scope one's power is better, ought to prevail
with the will? For, to the rational nature rationality is the same with the ability to
distinguish the just from the not-just, the true from the not-true, the good from the
not-good, the greater good from the lesser; but this power is altogether useless to it,
and superfluous, unless what it distinguishes it loves or condemns, in accordance with the
judgment of true discernment.
From this, then, it seems clear enough that every rational being exists for this
purpose, that according as, on the grounds of discernment, it judges a thing to be more or
less good, or not good, so it may love that thing in greater or less degree, or reject it.
It is, therefore, most obvious that the rational creature was created for this purpose,
that it might love the supreme Being above all other goods, as this Being is itself the
supreme good; nay, that it might love nothing except it, unless because of it; since that
Being is good through itself, and nothing else is good except through it.
But the rational being cannot love this Being, unless it has devoted itself to
remembering and conceiving of it. It is clear, then, that the rational creature ought to
devote its whole ability and will to remembering, and conceiving of, and loving, the
supreme good, for which end it recognises that it has its very existence.
The soul that ever loves this Essence lives at some time in true
BUT there is no doubt that the human soul is a rational creature. Hence, it must have
been created for this end, that it might love the supreme Being. It must, therefore, have
been created either for this end, that it might love that Being eternally; or for this,
that at some time it might either voluntarily, or by violence, lose this love.
But it is impious to suppose that the supreme Wisdom created it for this end, that at
some time, either it should despise so great a good, or, though wishing to keep it, should
lose it by some violence. We infer, then, that it was created for this end, that it might
love the supreme Being eternally. But this it cannot do unless it lives forever. It was so
created, then, that it lives forever, if it forever wills to do that for which it was
Hence, it is most incompatible with the nature of the supremely good, supremely wise,
and omnipotent Creator, that what he has made to exist that it might love him, he should
make not to exist, so long as it truly loves him; and that what he voluntarily gave to a
non-loving being that it might ever love, he should take away, or permit to be taken away,
from the loving being, so that necessarily it should not love; especially since it should
by no means be doubted that he himself loves every nature that loves him. Hence, it is
manifest that the human soul is never deprived of its life, if it forever devotes itself
to loving the supreme life.
How, then, shall it live? For is long life so important a matter, if it is not secure
from the invasion of troubles? For whoever, while he lives, is either through fear or
through actual suffering subject to troubles, or is deceived by a false security, does he
not live in misery? But, if any one lives in freedom from these troubles, he lives in
blessedness. But it is most absurd to suppose that any nature that forever loves him, who
is supremely good and omnipotent, forever lives in misery. So, it is plain, that the human
soul is of such a character that, if it diligently observes that end for which it exists,
it at some time lives in blessedness, truly secure from death itself and from every other
This Being gives itself in return to the creature that loves it, that
that creature may be eternally blessed.
THEREFORE it cannot be made to appear true that he who is most just and most powerful
makes no return to the being that loves him perseveringly, to which although it neither
existed nor loved him, he gave existence that it might be able to be a loving being. For,
if he makes no return to the loving soul, the most just does not distinguish between the
soul that loves, and the soul that despises what ought to be supremely loved, nor does he
love the soul that loves him; or else it does not avail to be loved by him; all of which
suppositions are inconsistent with his nature; hence he does make a return to every soul
that perseveres in loving him.
But what is this return? For, if he gave to what was nothing, a rational being, that it
might be a loving soul, what shall he give to the loving soul, if it does not cease to
love? If what waits upon love is so great, how great is the recompense given to love? And
if the sustainer of love is such as we declare, of what character is the profit? For, if
the rational creature, which is useless to itself without this love, is with it preeminent
among all creatures, assuredly nothing can be the reward of love except what is preeminent
among all natures.
For this same good, which demands such love toward itself, also requires that it be
desired by the loving soul. For, who can love justice, truth, blessedness,
incorruptibility, in such a way as not to wish to enjoy them? What return, then, shall the
supreme Goodness make to the being that loves and desires it, except itself? For, whatever
else it grants, it does not give in return, since all such bestowals neither compensate
the love, nor console the loving being, nor satisfy the soul that desires this supreme
Or, if it wishes to be loved and desired, so as to make some other return than its
love, it wishes to be loved and desired, not for its own sake, but for the sake of
another; and does not wish to be loved itself, but wishes another to be loved; which it is
impious to suppose.
So, it is most true that every rational soul, if, as it should, it earnestly devotes
itself through love to longing for supreme blessedness, shall at some time receive that
blessedness to enjoy, that what it now sees as through a glass and in a riddle,
it may then see face to face. But it is most foolish to doubt whether it enjoys
that blessedness eternally; since, in the enjoyment of that blessedness, it will be
impossible to turn the soul aside by any fear, or to deceive it by false security; nor,
having once experienced the need of that blessedness, will it be able not to love it; nor
will that blessedness desert the soul that loves it; nor shall there be anything powerful
enough to separate them against their will. Hence, the soul that has once begun to enjoy
supreme Blessedness will be eternally blessed.
The soul that despises this being will be eternally miserable.
FROM this it may be inferred, as a certain consequence, that the soul which despises
the love of the supreme good will incur eternal misery. It might be said that it would be
justly punished for such contempt if it lost existence or life, since it does not
employ itself to the end for which it was created. But reason in no wise admits such a
belief, namely, that after such great guilt it is condemned to be what it was before all
For, before it existed, it could neither be guilty nor feel a penalty. If, then, the
soul despising that end for which it was created, dies so as to feel nothing, or so as to
be nothing at all, its condition will be the same when in the greatest guilt and when
without all guilt; and the supremely wise Justice will not distinguish between what is
capable of no good and wills no evil, and what is capable of the greatest good and wills
the greatest evil.
But it is plain enough that this is a contradiction. Therefore, nothing can be more
logical, and nothing ought to be believed more confidently than that the soul of man is so
constituted that, if it scorns loving the supreme Being, it suffers eternal misery; that
just as the loving soul shall rejoice in an eternal reward, so the soul despising that
Being shall suffer eternal punishment; and as the former shall feel an immutable
sufficiency, so the latter shall feel an inconsolable need.
Every human soul is immortal. And it is either forever miserable, or at
some time truly blessed.
BUT if the soul is mortal, of course the loving soul is not eternally blessed, nor the
soul that scorns this Being eternally miserable. Whether, therefore, it loves or scorns
that for the love of which it was created, it must be immortal. But if there are some
rational souls which are to be judged as neither loving nor scorning, such as the souls of
infants seem to be, what opinion shall be held regarding these? Are they mortal or
immortal? But undoubtedly all human souls are of the same nature. Hence, since it is
established that some are immortal, every human soul must be immortal. But since every
living being is either never, or at some time, truly secure from all trouble; necessarily,
also, every human soul is either ever miserable, or at some time truly blessed.
No soul is unjustly deprived of the supreme good, and every effort must
be directed toward that good.
BUT, which souls are unhesitatingly to be judged as so loving that for the love of
which they were created, that they deserve to enjoy it at some time, and which as so
scorning it, that they deserve ever to stand in need of it; or how and on what ground
those which it seems impossible to call either loving or scorning are assigned to either
eternal blessedness or misery, -- of all this I think it certainly most difficult or even
impossible for any mortal to reach an understanding through discussion. But that no being
is unjustly deprived by the supremely great and supremely good Creator of that good for
which it was created, we ought most assuredly to believe. And toward this good every man
ought to strive, by loving and desiring it with all his heart, and all his soul, and all
The supreme Being is to be hoped for.
BUT the human soul will by no means be able to train itself in this purpose, if it
despairs of being able to reach what it aims at. Hence, devotion to effort is not more
profitable to it than hope of attainment is necessary.
We must believe in this Being, that is, by believing we must reach out
BUT what does not believe cannot love or hope. It is, therefore, profitable to this
human soul to believe the supreme Being and those things without which that Being cannot
be loved, that, by believing, the soul may reach out for it. And this truth can be more
briefly and fitly indicated, I think, if instead of saying, "strive for" the
supreme Being, we say, "believe in" the supreme Being.
For, if one says that he believes in it, he apparently shows clearly enough both
that, through the faith which he professes, he strives for the supreme Being, and that he
believes those things which are proper to this aim. For it seems that either he who does
not believe what is proper to striving for that Being, or he who does not strive for that
Being, through what he believes, does not believe in it. And, perhaps, it is
indifferent whether we say, "believe in it," or "direct belief to it," just as by believing to strive for it and toward it are the same,
except that whoever shall have come to it by striving for (tendendo in) it, will
not remain without, but within it. And this is indicated more distinctly and familiarly if
we say, "striving for" (in) it, than if we say, "toward"
On this ground, therefore, I think it may more fitly be said that we should believe in it, than that we should direct belief to it.
We should believe in Father and Son and in their Spirit equally, and in
each separately, and in the three at once.
WE should believe, then, equally in the Father and in the Son and in their Spirit, and
in each separately, and in the three at once, since the Father separately, and the Son
separately, and their Spirit separately is the supreme Being, and at once Father and Son
with their Spirit are one and the same supreme Being, in which alone every man ought to
believe; because it is the sole end which in every thought and act he ought to strive for.
Hence, it is manifest that as none is able to strive for that Being, except he believe in
it; so to believe it avails none, except he strive for it.
What is living, and what dead faith.
HENCE, with however great confidence so important a truth is believed, the faith will
be useless and, as it were, dead, unless it is strong and living through love. For, that
the faith which is accompanied by sufficient love is by no means idle, if an opportunity
of operation offers, but rather exercises itself in an abundance of works, as it could not
do without love, may be proved from this fact alone, that, since it loves the supreme
Justice, it can scorn nothing that is just, it can approve nothing that is unjust.
Therefore, seeing that the fact of its operation shows that life, without which it could
not operate, is inherent in it; it is not absurd to say that operative faith is alive,
because it has the life of love without which it could not operate; and that idle faith is
not living, because it lacks that life of love, with which it would not be idle.
Hence, if not only he who has lost his sight is called blind, but also he who ought to
have sight and has it not, why cannot, in like manner, faith without love be called dead; not because it has lost its life, that is, love; but because it has not the
life which it ought always to have? As that faith, then, which operates through love is
recognised as living, so that which is idle, through contempt, is proved to be dead. It
may, therefore, be said with sufficient fitness that living faith believes in that in which we ought to believe; while dead faith merely believes that which ought to be
The supreme Being may in some sort be called Three.
AND so it is evidently expedient for every man to believe in a certain ineffable trinal
unity, and in one Trinity; one and a unity because of its one essence, but trinal and a
trinity because of its three --what? For, although I can speak of a Trinity because of
Father and Son and the Spirit of both, who are three; yet I cannot, in one word, show why
they are three; as if I should call this Being a Trinity because of its three persons,
just as I would call it a unity because of its one substance.
For three persons are not to be supposed, because all persons which are more than one
so subsist separately from one another, that there must be as many substances as there are
persons, a fact that is recognised in the case of more men than one, when there are as
many persons as there are individual substances. Hence, in the supreme Being, just as
there are not more substances than one, so there are not more persons than one.
So, if one wishes to express to any why they are three, he will say that they are
Father and Son and the Spirit of both, unless perchance, compelled by the lack of a
precisely appropriate term, he shall choose some one of those terms which cannot be
applied in a plural sense to the supreme Being, in order to indicate what cannot be
expressed in any fitting language; as if he should say, for instance, that this wonderful
Trinity is one essence or nature, and three persons or substances.
For these two terms are more appropriately chosen to describe plurality in the supreme
Being, because the word person is applied only to an individual, rational nature;
and the word substance is ordinarily applied to individual beings, which especially
subsist in plurality. For individual beings are especially exposed to, that is, are subject to, accidents, and for this reason they more properly receive the name sub-stance.
Now, it is already manifest that the supreme Being, which is subject to no accidents,
cannot properly be called a substance, except as the word substance is used in the
same sense with the word Essence. Hence, on this ground, namely, of necessity, that
supreme and one Trinity or trinal unity may justly be called one Essence and three Persons
or three Substances.
This Essence itself is God, who alone is lord and ruler of all.
IT appears, then -- nay, it is unhesitatingly declared that what is called God is not
nothing; and that to this supreme Essence the name God is properly given. For every
one who says that a God exists, whether one or more than one, conceives of him only as of
some substance which be believes to be above every nature that is not God, and that he is
to be worshipped of men because of his preeminent majesty, and to be appeased for man's
own sake because of some imminent necessity.
But what should be so worshipped in accordance with its majesty, and what should be so
appeased in behalf of any object, as the supremely good and supremely powerful Spirit, who
is Lord of all and who rules all? For, as it is established that through the supreme Good
and its supremely wise omnipotence all things were created and live, it is most
inconsistent to suppose that the Spirit himself does not rule the beings created by him,
or that beings are governed by another less powerful or less good, or by no reason at all,
but by the confused flow of events alone. For it is he alone through whom it is well with
every creature, and without whom it is well with none, and from whom, and through
whom, and in whom, are all things.
Therefore, since he himself alone is not only the beneficent Creator, but the most
powerful lord, and most wise ruler of all; it is clear that it is he alone whom every
other nature, according to its whole ability, ought to worship in love, and to love in
worship; from whom all happiness is to be hoped for; with whom refuge from adversity is to
be sought; to whom supplication for all things is to be offered. Truly, therefore, he is
not only God, but the only God, ineffably Three and One.