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of it. Then was I soothed at my mother's breasts; but neither did my mother nor my nurses distend them with milk, but Thou through them didst supply me with the food of infancy, according to Thy appointment and Thy liberality, which extend even to the very root of things. Thou also didst give me the desire only for what Thou gavest; and didst give my nurses the desire to give me what Thou gavest them. For they, through the affection which Thou didst implant in them, were desirous to give me out of the abundance with which Thou hadst supplied them. For it was good for them that my good came from them, of which, however, they were not the source but only the channel;-from Thee, indeed, O God, are all good things, and "from my God is all my salvation." This I have learned since, through inward and outward gifts by which Thou calledst to me; for then I knew only how to suck, and to rest in that which brought me bodily delight, and to cry at that which was irksome to me-nothing more.
After this I began to laugh, first in my sleep, then when I was awake. This I was told about myself, and I believed it, since we see other infants do the same; for I do not remember anything about it. And behold, by degrees I began to perceive where I was, and I wanted to make known my desires to those who could gratify them, and I could not; for my desires were within me, and they were without me, nor could they by any sense of theirs enter into my thoughts. Therefore I tossed about my limbs and uttered sounds, making the few signs I could to express my desires, though they were but a very poor 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
8 HE REFLECTS ON THE beginning of his beinG,
index of them. And when, either from not understanding me, or because my wishes were hurtful, they did not grant them, I became indignant with my elders who would not give me my own way, and with those upon whom I had no claim, for not serving me, and I avenged myself upon them by crying. I have learned from observation that this is the way of infants; and they have unconsciously taught me what I then did, better than those who knew me and nursed me.
And behold, my infancy is dead and a thing of the past, and I live. But Thou, O Lord, art ever living, and nothing dies in Thee, since before the first beginning of ages, and before everything which can be said to be "before," Thou art, and Thou art God, and Lord of all which Thou hast created and with Thee abide the causes of all unstable things; and with Thee remain the unchangeable sources of all changeable things; and the eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and temporal, live in Thee. Tell me, Thy suppliant, O God, and be merciful to Thy miserable creature-tell me, whether my infancy followed a stage of life which had died before it; was it that which I passed in my mother's womb? For of that I have had some information, and have myself seen women who are about to become mothers. But what was I, my God, my sweet Joy, before that? was I anywhere, or had I any being? And here all sources of knowledge fail me; neither father nor mother, neither experience of others, nor my own memory can help me. Dost Thou laugh me to scorn for asking such things, and bid me praise Thee and acknowledge Thee for that which I do know?
I confess unto Thee, O Lord of heaven and
THE UNCHANGEABLENESS OF GOD
earth, giving Thee praise for the earliest stages of my life and infancy, which I do not remember; for Thou hast left man to guess about himself from what he sees in others, and to believe many things on the authority of feeble women. Even then I existed, and had my being, and as I grew older I sought for signs, whereby to make known to others my ideas. From whence could such a living being come but from Thee, O Lord? or can any one form himself? or can any vein be derived from some other source through which being and life may flow into us, save from Thyself, for "Thou hast made us," O Lord; and to Thee being and living are all one, for Thou Thyself art highest Essence, and highest Life. For Thou art most High, and "Thou changest not,"2 neither does to-day pass away in Thee, and yet it does pass away in Thee, because all such things are in Thee; for they would have no way of passing away, unless Thou holdest them. And since "Thy years fail not,"3 Thy years are one to-day: and how many of our days and of the days of our fathers have passed away through Thy "to-day," and have received from it the measure and manner of their existence, and others still shall pass away, and shall receive in like manner their degree of being! But "Thou Thyself art the same;"4 and all the things of to-morrow and beyond it, and all the things of yesterday and behind it, Thou shalt do, and hast done "to-day." What is it to me, if any one does not understand this? Let him also rejoice, saying: What is this?" 5 yea, let him so rejoice, as to prefer by not finding out these things, 3 Ps. cii. 27. 5 Exod. xvi. 15.
Ps. c. 2.
4 Ps. cii. 27.
2 Mal. iii. 6.
to find out Thee, rather than by finding them out not to find Thee.
Infancy also is prone to sin.
EAR me, O God. Alas! for man's sins. And man speaks thus, and Thou hast mercy upon him; since Thou hast made him, but hast not made sin in him. Who reminds me of the sin of my infancy? "For no one in Thy sight is pure from sin,"1 not even the infant who is but a day old. Who reminds me? Does not each little infant in whom I see what I do not remember of myself? What then was my sin at that time? Was it that crying, with open mouth I sought the breast? For if now I should in the same greedy manner catch at, not the breasts, but the food suitable to my present age, I should most justly be laughed at and rebuked. Therefore I did things then which were blameworthy, but as I could not understand those who blamed me, neither custom nor reason suffered me to be reproved; for such things as were then blameworthy, when we grow older, we ourselves uproot and cast away. Now no one in his right senses, when he purges anything, throws away what is good. Or was it at that time good, to cry for that which would have been injurious to me; to be indignant and resentful with those who were not under me, free persons, my elders, and parents, and many besides, who were wiser than myself, because they would not let me have my own way; and to try as much as I could to strike and do harm to those who ' Job xxv. 4. 2 John xv. 2.
TENDENCY TO SIN
would not obey my commands, when they knew that, had they obeyed them, it would have been to my hurt? Thus in the weakness of infant limbs, and not in the disposition of infants, is their harmlessness. I myself have seen and noticed envy in a baby; it could not speak, yet it turned a pale and bitter look upon its foster-brother. Who does not know this? Mothers and nurses tell you, that they appease these things in such cases with I know not what remedies. This then is your innocence, when the fountain of milk flows richly and plentifully, not to let another who is in extreme need, and whose life depends on this one source, share it with you. But such tempers are blandly borne, not because they are of little or no consequence, but because they will disappear as the child grows older; for, although you may tolerate them in a child, you would not be able to endure them in a grown person.
Thou, therefore, O Lord my God, Who gavest life to me in infancy, and a body, which, as we see, Thou hast furnished with senses, fitted with limbs, made comely in form, and for its completeness and safety has imbued with all vital energies,-Thou commandest me to praise Thee for these things, and "to confess unto Thee, and sing unto Thy Name, O most High: " because Thou art God, Almighty and Good, even if this were all that Thou hadst done, which no one else could have done but Thyself, O Thou the Only One Who givest to all things their mode of being, O Thou most Beautiful, Who givest all things their beauty, and orderest all things by Thy law. This age then, O Lord, of which I have no remembrance,
I Ps. xc, I.