CHAPTER XV. ALLEGORICAL EXPLANATION OF THE FIRMAMENT AND UPPER WORKS, VER. 6.

16. Or who but Thou, our God, made for us that firmament . of authority over us in Thy divine Scripture?. As it is said, For heaven shall be folded up like a scroll; and now it is extended over us like a skin. For Thy divine Scripture is of more sublime authority, since those mortals through whom Thou didst dispense it unto us underwent mortality. And Thou knowest, O Lord, Thou knowest, how Thou with skins didst clothe men . when by sin they became mortal. Whence as a skin hast Thou stretched out the firmament of Thy Book; that is to say, Thy harmonious words, which by the ministry of mortals Thou hast spread over us. For by their very death is that solid firmament of authority in Thy discourses set forth by them more sublimely extended above all things that are under it, the which, while they were living here, was not so eminently extended. Thou hadst not as yet spread abroad the heaven like a skin; Thou hadst not as yet noised everywhere the report of their deaths.

17. Let us look, O Lord, "upon the heavens, the work of Thy fingers;". clear from our eyes that mist with which Thou hast covered them. There is that testimony of Thine which giveth wisdom unto the little ones. Perfect, O my God, Thy praise out of the mouth of babes and sucklings.30 Nor have we known any other books so destructive to pride, so destructive to the enemy and the defender, who resisteth Thy reconciliation in defence of his own sins. I know not, O Lord, I know not other such "pure" words which so persuade me to confession, and make my neck submissive to Thy yoke, and invite me to serve Thee for nought. Let me understand these things, good Father. Grant this to me, placed under them; because Thou hast established these things for those placed under them.

18. Other "waters" there be "above" this "firmament," I believe immortal, and removed from earthly corruption. Let them praise Thy Name, those super-celestial people, Thine angels, who have no need to look up at this firmament, or by reading to attain the knowledge of Thy Word, let them praise Thee. For they always behold Thy face, and therein read without any syllables in time what Thy eternal will willeth. They read, they choose, they love. They are always reading; and that which they read never passeth away. For, by choosing and by loving, they read the very unchangeableness of Thy counsel. Their book is not closed, nor is the scroll folded up, because Thou Thyself art this to them, yea, and art so eternally; because Thou hast appointed them above this firmament, which Thou hast made firm over the weakness of the lower people, where they might look up and learn Thy mercy, announcing in time Thee who hast made times. "For Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds." The clouds pass away, but the heaven remaineth. The preachers of Thy Word pass away from this life into another; but Thy Scripture is spread abroad over the people, even to the end of the world. Yea, both heaven and earth shall pass away, but Thy Words shall not pass away. Because the scroll shall be rolled together, and the grass over which it was spread shall with its goodliness pass away; but Thy Word remaineth for ever, which now appeareth unto us in the dark image of the clouds, and through the glass of the heavens, not as it is; because we also, although we be the well-beloved of Thy Son, yet it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. He looketh through the lattice of our flesh, and He is fair-speaking, and hath inflamed us, and we run after His odours. But "when He shall appear, then shall we be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." As He is, O Lord, shall we see Him, although the time be not yet.