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On the difference between Platonists and Christianity concerning the doctrine of the Logos
13. And You, willing first to show me how You resist the proud, but give grace to the humble and by how great art act of mercy You had pointed out to men the path of humility, in that Your Word was made flesh and dwelt among men—You procured for me, by the instrumentality of one inflated with most monstrous pride, certain books of the Platonists, translated from Greek into Latin. And therein I read, not indeed in the same words, but to the selfsame effect, enforced by many and various reasons, that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made. That which was made by Him is life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehends it not”. [John 1:1-5] And that the soul of man, though it “bears witness of the light, yet itself is not that light; but the Word of God, being God, is that true light that lights every man that comes into the world”. [John 1:9] And that He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. But that He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name. This I did not read there.
14. In like manner, I read there that God the Word was born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. But that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us”, I read not there. For I discovered in those books that it was in many and various ways said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and “thought it not robbery to be equal with God”, for that naturally He was the same substance. But that He emptied Himself, “and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him from the dead, and given Him a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father;” [Philippians 2:6-11] those books have not. For that before all times, and above all times, Your only-begotten Son remains unchangeably co-eternal with You; and that of “His fullness” souls receive, [John 1:16] that they may be blessed; and that by participation of the wisdom remaining in them they are renewed, that they may be wise, is there. But that “in due time Christ died for the ungodly”, [Romans 5:6] and that You spared not Your only Son, but delivered Him up for us all, [Romans 8:32] is not there. “Because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes”; [Matthew 11:25] that they that labour and are heavy laden might come unto Him and He might refresh them, because He is meek and lowly in heart. The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way; looking upon our humility and our distress, and forgiving all our sins. But such as are puffed up with the elation of would-be sublimer learning, do not hear Him saying, “Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls”. [Matthew 11:29] “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”. [Romans 1:21-22]
15. And therefore also did I read there, that they had changed the glory of Your incorruptible nature into idols and various forms,— “into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things”, namely, into that Egyptian food for which Esau lost his birthright; [Genesis 25:33-34] for that Your first-born people worshipped the head of a four-footed beast instead of You, turning back in heart towards Egypt, and prostrating Your image— their own soul— before the image “of an ox that eats grass”. These things found I there; but I fed not on them. For it pleased You, O Lord, to take away the reproach of diminution from Jacob, that the elder should serve the younger; [Romans 9:12] and You have called the Gentiles into Your inheritance. And I had come unto You from among the Gentiles, and I strained after that gold which You willed Your people to take from Egypt, seeing that wheresoever it was it was Yours. And to the Athenians Thou said by Your apostle, that in You “we live, and move, and have our being”; as one of their own poets has said. [Acts 17:28] And verily these books came from thence. But I set not my mind on the idols of Egypt, whom they ministered to with Your gold, [Hosea 2:8] “who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.” [Romans 1:25]
Confessions, Book VII, c. 9
Source of the English digital text: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/110107.htm