29. I have heard from a learned man that the motions of the sun,
moon, and stars constituted time, and I assented not. For why
should not rather the motions of all bodies be time? What if the
lights of heaven should cease, and a potter's wheel run round, would
there be no time by which we might measure those revolutions, and say
either that it turned with equal pauses, or, if it were moved at one
time more slowly, at another more quickly, that some revolutions were
longer, others less so? Or while we were saying this, should we not
also be speaking in time? Or should there in our words be some
syllables long, others short, but because those sounded in a longer
time, these in a shorter? God grant to men to see in a small thing
ideas common to things great and small. Both the stars and luminaries
of heaven are "for signs and for seasons, and for days and years."
No doubt they are; but neither should I say that the circuit of that
wooden wheel was a day, nor yet should he say that therefore there was
30. I desire to know the power and nature of time, by which we
measure the motions of bodies, and say (for example) that this motion
is twice as long as that. For, I ask, since "day" declares not
the stay only of the sun upon the earth, according to which day is one
thing, night another, but also its entire circuit from east even to
east, according to which we say, "So many days have passed"
(the nights being included when we say "so many days," and their
spaces not counted apart), since, then, the day is finished by
the motion of the sun, and by his circuit from east to east, I ask,
whether the motion itself is the day, or the period in which that
motion is completed, or both?
For if the first be the day, then would there be a day although the
sun should finish that course in so small a space of time as an hour.
If the second, then that would not be a day if from one sunrise to
another there were but so short a period as an hour, but the sun must
go round four-and-twenty times to complete a day. If both, neither
could that be called a day if the sun should run his entire round in the
space of an hour; nor that, if, while the sun stood still, so much
time should pass as the sun is accustomed to accomplish his whole course
in from morning to morning. I shall not therefore now ask, what that
is which is called day, but what time is, by which we, measuring the
circuit of the sun, should say that it was accomplished in half the
space of time it was wont, if it had been completed in so small a space
as twelve hours; and comparing both times, we should call that
single, this double time, although the sun should run his course from
east to east sometimes in that single, sometimes in that double time.
Let no man then tell me that the motions of the heavenly bodies are
times, because, when at the prayer of one the sun stood still in order
that he might achieve his victorious battle, the sun stood still, but
time went on. For in such space of time as was sufficient was that
battle fought and ended. I see that time, then, is a certain
extension. But do I see it, or do I seem to see it? Thou, O
Light and Truth, wilt show me.