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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



1427
Augustine, Confessions, 5.14.24-5.14.25


nan1. Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You — man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You resist the proud, - yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. [cor nostrum inquietum est donec requiescat in Te] Lord, teach me to know and understand which of these should be first: to call on You, or to praise You; and likewise to know You, or to call on You. But who calls upon You without knowing You? For he that knows You not may call upon You as other than You are. Or perhaps we call on You that we may know You. But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher? Romans 10:14 And those who seek the Lord shall praise Him. For those who seek shall find Him, Matthew 7:7 and those who find Him shall praise Him. Let me seek You, Lord, in calling on You, and call on You in believing in You; for You have been preached unto us. O Lord, my faith calls on You - that faith which You have imparted to me, which You have breathed into me through the incarnation of Your Son, through the ministry of Your preacher. , 2. And how shall I call upon my God - my God and my Lord? For when I call on Him I ask Him to come into me. And what place is there in me into which my God can come - into which God can come, even He who made heaven and earth? Is there anything in me, O Lord my God, that can contain You? Do indeed the very heaven and the earth, which You have made, and in which You have made me, contain You? Or, as nothing could exist without You, does whatever exists contain You? Why, then, do I ask You to come into me, since I indeed exist, and could not exist if You were not in me? Because I am not yet in hell, though You are even there; for if I go down into hell You are there. I could not therefore exist, could not exist at all, O my God, unless You were in me. Or should I not rather say, that I could not exist unless I were in You from whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things? Romans 11:36 Even so, Lord; even so. Where do I call You to, since You are in me, or whence can You come into me? For where outside heaven and earth can I go that from thence my God may come into me who has said, I fill heaven and earth? Jeremiah 23:24 , 3. Since, then, You fill heaven and earth, do they contain You? Or, as they contain You not, do You fill them, and yet there remains something over? And where do You pour forth that which remains of You when the heaven and earth are filled? Or, indeed, is there no need that You who contains all things should be contained of any, since those things which You fill You fill by containing them? For the vessels which You fill do not sustain You, since should they even be broken You will not be poured forth. And when You are poured forth on us, Acts 2:18 You are not cast down, but we are uplifted; nor are You dissipated, but we are drawn together. But, as You fill all things, fill them with Your whole self, or, as even all things cannot altogether contain You, do they contain a part, and do all at once contain the same part? Or has each its own proper part - the greater more, the smaller less? Is, then, one part of You greater, another less? Or is it that You are wholly everywhere while nothing altogether contains You? [In this section, and constantly throughout the Confessions, he refers to the materialistic views concerning God held by the Manich ans.] , 4. What, then, are You, O my God - what, I ask, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? Or who is God save our God? Most high, most excellent, most potent, most omnipotent; most piteous and most just; most hidden and most near; most beauteous and most strong, stable, yet contained of none; unchangeable, yet changing all things; never new, never old; making all things new, yet bringing old age upon the proud and they know it not; always working, yet ever at rest; gathering, yet needing nothing; sustaining, pervading, and protecting; creating, nourishing, and developing; seeking, and yet possessing all things. You love, and burn not; You are jealous, yet free from care; You repent, and have no sorrow; You are angry, yet serene; You change Your ways, leaving unchanged Your plans; You recover what You find, having yet never lost; You are never in want, while You rejoice in gain; You are never covetous, though requiring usury. Matthew 25:27 That You may owe, more than enough is given to You, [Supererogatur tibi, ut debeas] yet who has anything that is not Yours? You pay debts while owing nothing; and when You forgive debts, lose nothing. Yet, O my God, my life, my holy joy, what is this that I have said? And what says any man when He speaks of You? Yet woe to those who keep silence, seeing that even they who say most are as the dumb. , 5. Oh! How shall I find rest in You? Who will send You into my heart to inebriate it, so that I may forget my woes, and embrace You my only good? What are You to me? Have compassion on me, that I may speak. What am I to You that You demand my love, and unless I give it You art angry, and threaten me with great sorrows? Is it, then, a light sorrow not to love You? Alas! Alas! Tell me of Your compassion, O Lord my God, what You are to me. Say unto my soul, I am your salvation. So speak that I may hear. Behold, Lord, the ears of my heart are before You; open them, and say unto my soul, I am your salvation. When I hear, may I run and lay hold on You. Hide not Your face from me. Let me die, lest I die, if only I may see Your face. 6. Cramped is the dwelling of my soul; expand it, that You may enter in. It is in ruins, restore it. There is that about it which must offend Your eyes; I confess and know it, but who will cleanse it? Or to whom shall I cry but to You? Cleanse me from my secret sins, O Lord, and keep Your servant from those of other men. I believe, and therefore do I speak; Lord, You know. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto You, O my God; and You have put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with You, Job 9:3 who art the Truth; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie against itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with You, for if You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? , 7. Still suffer me to speak before Your mercy - me, dust and ashes. Genesis 18:27 Allow me to speak, for, behold, it is Your mercy I address, and not derisive man. Yet perhaps even You deride me; but when You are turned to me You will have compassion on me. Jeremiah 12:15 For what do I wish to say, O Lord my God, but that I know not whence I came hither into this - shall I call it dying life or living death? Yet, as I have heard from my parents, from whose substance You formed me - for I myself cannot remember it - Your merciful comforts sustained me. Thus it was that the comforts of a woman's milk entertained me; for neither my mother nor my nurses filled their own breasts, but You by them gave me the nourishment of infancy according to Your ordinance and that bounty of Yours which underlies all things. For You caused me not to want more than You gave, and those who nourished me willingly to give me what You gave them. For they, by an instinctive affection, were anxious to give me what You had abundantly supplied. It was, in truth, good for them that my good should come from them, though, indeed, it was not from them, but by them; for from You, O God, are all good things, and from my God is all my safety. Proverbs 21:31 This is what I have since discovered, as You have declared Yourself to me by the blessings both within me and without me which You have bestowed upon me. For at that time I knew how to suck, to be satisfied when comfortable, and to cry when in pain - nothing beyond. 8. Afterwards I began to laugh - at first in sleep, then when waking. For this I have heard mentioned of myself, and I believe it (though I cannot remember it), for we see the same in other infants. And now little by little I realized where I was, and wished to tell my wishes to those who might satisfy them, but I could not; for my wants were within me, while they were without, and could not by any faculty of theirs enter into my soul. So I cast about limbs and voice, making the few and feeble signs I could, like, though indeed not much like, unto what I wished; and when I was not satisfied - either not being understood, or because it would have been injurious to me - I grew indignant that my elders were not subject unto me, and that those on whom I had no claim did not wait on me, and avenged myself on them by tears. That infants are such I have been able to learn by watching them; and they, though unknowing, have better shown me that I was such an one than my nurses who knew it. 9. And, behold, my infancy died long ago, and I live. But You, O Lord, who ever livest, and in whom nothing dies (since before the world was, and indeed before all that can be called before, You exist, and are the God and Lord of all Your creatures; and with You fixedly abide the causes of all unstable things, the unchanging sources of all things changeable, and the eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and temporal), tell me, Your suppliant, O God; tell, O merciful One, Your miserable servant - tell me whether my infancy succeeded another age of mine which had at that time perished. Was it that which I passed in my mother's womb? For of that something has been made known to me, and I have myself seen women with child. And what, O God, my joy, preceded that life? Was I, indeed, anywhere, or anybody? For no one can tell me these things, neither father nor mother, nor the experience of others, nor my own memory. Do you laugh at me for asking such things, and command me to praise and confess You for what I know? 10. I give thanks to You, Lord of heaven and earth, giving praise to You for that my first being and infancy, of which I have no memory; for You have granted to man that from others he should come to conclusions as to himself, and that he should believe many things concerning himself on the authority of feeble women. Even then I had life and being; and as my infancy closed I was already seeking for signs by which my feelings might be made known to others. Whence could such a creature come but from You, O Lord? Or shall any man be skilful enough to fashion himself? Or is there any other vein by which being and life runs into us save this, that You, O Lord, hast made us, with whom being and life are one, because You Yourself art being and life in the highest? You are the highest, You change not, Malachi 3:6 neither in You does this present day come to an end, though it does end in You, since in You all such things are; for they would have no way of passing away unless You sustained them. And since Your years shall have no end, Your years are an ever present day. And how many of ours and our fathers' days have passed through this Your day, and received from it their measure and fashion of being, and others yet to come shall so receive and pass away! But You are the same; and all the things of tomorrow and the days yet to come, and all of yesterday and the days that are past, You will do today, You have done today. What is it to me if any understand not? Let him still rejoice and say, What is this? Let him rejoice even so, and rather love to discover in failing to discover, than in discovering not to discover You. , 11. Hearken, O God! Alas for the sins of men! Man says this, and You have compassion on him; for You created him, but did not create the sin that is in him. Who brings to my remembrance the sin of my infancy? For before You none is free from sin, not even the infant which has lived but a day upon the earth. Who brings this to my remembrance? Does not each little one, in whom I behold that which I do not remember of myself? In what, then, did I sin? Is it that I cried for the breast? If I should now so cry - not indeed for the breast, but for the food suitable to my years - I should be most justly laughed at and rebuked. What I then did deserved rebuke; but as I could not understand those who rebuked me, neither custom nor reason suffered me to be rebuked. For as we grow we root out and cast from us such habits. I have not seen any one who is wise, when purging John 15:2 anything cast away the good. Or was it good, even for a time, to strive to get by crying that which, if given, would be hurtful - to be bitterly indignant that those who were free and its elders, and those to whom it owed its being, besides many others wiser than it, who would not give way to the nod of its good pleasure, were not subject unto it - to endeavour to harm, by struggling as much as it could, because those commands were not obeyed which only could have been obeyed to its hurt? Then, in the weakness of the infant's limbs, and not in its will, lies its innocency. I myself have seen and known an infant to be jealous though it could not speak. It became pale, and cast bitter looks on its foster-brother. Who is ignorant of this? Mothers and nurses tell us that they appease these things by I know not what remedies; and may this be taken for innocence, that when the fountain of milk is flowing fresh and abundant, one who has need should not be allowed to share it, though needing that nourishment to sustain life? Yet we look leniently on these things, not because they are not faults, nor because the faults are small, but because they will vanish as age increases. For although you may allow these things now, you could not bear them with equanimity if found in an older person. 12. You, therefore, O Lord my God, who gave life to the infant, and a frame which, as we see, You have endowed with senses, compacted with limbs, beautified with form, and, for its general good and safety, hast introduced all vital energies - You command me to praise You for these things, to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praise unto Your name, O Most High; for You are a God omnipotent and good, though You had done nought but these things, which none other can do but You, who alone made all things, O You most fair, who made all things fair, and orders all according to Your law. This period, then, of my life, O Lord, of which I have no remembrance, which I believe in the word of others, and which I guess from other infants, it chagrins me - true though the guess be - to reckon in this life of mine which I lead in this world; inasmuch as, in the darkness of my forgetfulness, it is like to that which I passed in my mother's womb. But if I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me, where, I pray you, O my God, where, Lord, or when was I, Your servant, innocent? But behold, I pass by that time, for what have I to do with that, the memories of which I cannot recall? , 13. Did I not, then, growing out of the state of infancy, come to boyhood, or rather did it not come to me, and succeed to infancy? Nor did my infancy depart (for whither went it?); and yet it did no longer abide, for I was no longer an infant that could not speak, but a chattering boy. I remember this, and I afterwards observed how I first learned to speak, for my elders did not teach me words in any set method, as they did letters afterwards; but myself, when I was unable to say all I wished and to whomsoever I desired, by means of the whimperings and broken utterances and various motions of my limbs, which I used to enforce my wishes, repeated the sounds in my memory by the mind, O my God, which You gave me. When they called anything by name, and moved the body towards it while they spoke, I saw and gathered that the thing they wished to point out was called by the name they then uttered; and that they did mean this was made plain by the motion of the body, even by the natural language of all nations expressed by the countenance, glance of the eye, movement of other members, and by the sound of the voice indicating the affections of the mind, as it seeks, possesses, rejects, or avoids. So it was that by frequently hearing words, in duly placed sentences, I gradually gathered what things they were the signs of; and having formed my mouth to the utterance of these signs, I thereby expressed my will. Thus I exchanged with those about me the signs by which we express our wishes, and advanced deeper into the stormy fellowship of human life, depending the while on the authority of parents, and the beck of elders. , 14. O my God! What miseries and mockeries did I then experience, when obedience to my teachers was set before me as proper to my boyhood, that I might flourish in this world, and distinguish myself in the science of speech, which should get me honour among men, and deceitful riches! After that I was put to school to get learning, of which I (worthless as I was) knew not what use there was; and yet, if slow to learn, I was flogged! For this was deemed praiseworthy by our forefathers; and many before us, passing the same course, had appointed beforehand for us these troublesome ways by which we were compelled to pass, multiplying labour and sorrow upon the sons of Adam. But we found, O Lord, men praying to You, and we learned from them to conceive of You, according to our ability, to be some Great One, who was able (though not visible to our senses) to hear and help us. For as a boy I began to pray to You, my help and my refuge, and in invoking You broke the bands of my tongue, and entreated You though little, with no little earnestness, that I might not be beaten at school. And when You heard me not, giving me not over to folly thereby, my elders, yea, and my own parents too, who wished me no ill, laughed at my stripes, my then great and grievous ill. 15. Is there any one, Lord, with so high a spirit, cleaving to You with so strong an affection - for even a kind of obtuseness may do that much - but is there, I say, any one who, by cleaving devoutly to You, is endowed with so great a courage that he can esteem lightly those racks and hooks, and varied tortures of the same sort, against which, throughout the whole world, men supplicate You with great fear, deriding those who most bitterly fear them, just as our parents derided the torments with which our masters punished us when we were boys? For we were no less afraid of our pains, nor did we pray less to You to avoid them; and yet we sinned, in writing, or reading, or reflecting upon our lessons less than was required of us. For we wanted not, O Lord, memory or capacity, of which, by Your will, we possessed enough for our age - but we delighted only in play; and we were punished for this by those who were doing the same things themselves. But the idleness of our elders they call business, while boys who do the like are punished by those same elders, and yet neither boys nor men find any pity. For will any one of good sense approve of my being whipped because, as a boy, I played ball, and so was hindered from learning quickly those lessons by means of which, as a man, I should play more unbecomingly? And did he by whom I was beaten do other than this, who, when he was overcome in any little controversy with a co-tutor, was more tormented by anger and envy than I when beaten by a playmate in a match at ball? , 16. And yet I erred, O Lord God, the Creator and Disposer of all things in Nature, - but of sin the Disposer only - I erred, O Lord my God, in doing contrary to the wishes of my parents and of those masters; for this learning which they (no matter for what motive) wished me to acquire, I might have put to good account afterwards. For I disobeyed them not because I had chosen a better way, but from a fondness for play, loving the honour of victory in the matches, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables, in order that they might itch the more furiously - the same curiosity beaming more and more in my eyes for the shows and sports of my elders. Yet those who give these entertainments are held in such high repute, that almost all desire the same for their children, whom they are still willing should be beaten, if so be these same games keep them from the studies by which they desire them to arrive at being the givers of them. Look down upon these things, O Lord, with compassion, and deliver us who now call upon You; deliver those also who do not call upon You, that they may call upon You, and that You may deliver them. , 17. Even as a boy I had heard of eternal life promised to us through the humility of the Lord our God condescending to our pride, and I was signed with the sign of the cross, and was seasoned with His salt even from the womb of my mother, who greatly trusted in You. You saw, O Lord, how at one time, while yet a boy, being suddenly seized with pains in the stomach, and being at the point of death - You saw, O my God, for even then You were my keeper, with what emotion of mind and with what faith I solicited from the piety of my mother, and of Your Church, the mother of us all, the baptism of Your Christ, my Lord and my God. On which, the mother of my flesh being much troubled - since she, with a heart pure in Your faith, travailed in birth Galatians 4:19 more lovingly for my eternal salvation - would, had I not quickly recovered, have without delay provided for my initiation and washing by Your life-giving sacraments, confessing You, O Lord Jesus, for the remission of sins. So my cleansing was deferred, as if I must needs, should I live, be further polluted; because, indeed, the guilt contracted by sin would, after baptism, be greater and more perilous. Thus I at that time believed with my mother and the whole house, except my father; yet he did not overcome the influence of my mother's piety in me so as to prevent my believing in Christ, as he had not yet believed in Him. For she was desirous that You, O my God, should be my Father rather than he; and in this You aided her to overcome her husband, to whom, though the better of the two, she yielded obedience, because in this she yielded obedience to You, who so commands. 18. I beseech You, my God, I would gladly know, if it be Your will, to what end my baptism was then deferred? Was it for my good that the reins were slackened, as it were, upon me for me to sin? Or were they not slackened? If not, whence comes it that it is still dinned into our ears on all sides, Let him alone, let him act as he likes, for he is not yet baptized? But as regards bodily health, no one exclaims, Let him be more seriously wounded, for he is not yet cured! How much better, then, had it been for me to have been cured at once; and then, by my own and my friends' diligence, my soul's restored health had been kept safe in Your keeping, who gave it! Better, in truth. But how numerous and great waves of temptation appeared to hang over me after my childhood! These were foreseen by my mother; and she preferred that the unformed clay should be exposed to them rather than the image itself. , 19. But in this my childhood (which was far less dreaded for me than youth) I had no love of learning, and hated to be forced to it, yet was I forced to it notwithstanding; and this was well done towards me, but I did not well, for I would not have learned had I not been compelled. For no man does well against his will, even if that which he does be well. Neither did they who forced me do well, but the good that was done to me came from You, my God. For they considered not in what way I should employ what they forced me to learn, unless to satisfy the inordinate desires of a rich beggary and a shameful glory. But You, by whom the very hairs of our heads are numbered, Matthew 10:30 used for my good the error of all who pressed me to learn; and my own error in willing not to learn, You made use of for my punishment - of which I, being so small a boy and so great a sinner, was not unworthy. Thus by the instrumentality of those who did not well did You do well for me; and by my own sin You justly punished me. For it is even as You have appointed, that every inordinate affection should bring its own punishment. , 20. But what was the cause of my dislike of Greek literature, which I studied from my boyhood, I cannot even now understand. For the Latin I loved exceedingly - not what our first masters, but what the grammarians teach; for those primary lessons of reading, writing, and ciphering, I considered no less of a burden and a punishment than Greek. Yet whence was this unless from the sin and vanity of this life? For I was but flesh, a wind that passes away and comes not again. For those primary lessons were better, assuredly, because more certain; seeing that by their agency I acquired, and still retain, the power of reading what I find written, and writing myself what I will; while in the others I was compelled to learn about the wanderings of a certain Æneas, oblivious of my own, and to weep for Biab dead, because she slew herself for love; while at the same time I brooked with dry eyes my wretched self dying far from You, in the midst of those things, O God, my life. 21. For what can be more wretched than the wretch who pities not himself shedding tears over the death of Dido for love of Æneas, but shedding no tears over his own death in not loving You, O God, light of my heart, and bread of the inner mouth of my soul, and the power that weddest my mind with my innermost thoughts? I did not love You, and committed fornication against You; and those around me thus sinning cried, Well done! Well done! For the friendship of this world is fornication against You; James 4:4 and Well done! Well done! is cried until one feels ashamed not to be such a man. And for this I shed no tears, though I wept for Dido, who sought death at the sword's point, myself the while seeking the lowest of Your creatures - having forsaken You - earth tending to the earth; and if forbidden to read these things, how grieved would I feel that I was not permitted to read what grieved me. This sort of madness is considered a more honourable and more fruitful learning than that by which I learned to read and write. 22. But now, O my God, cry unto my soul; and let Your Truth say unto me, It is not so; it is not so; better much was that first teaching. For behold, I would rather forget the wanderings of Æneas, and all such things, than how to write and read. But it is true that over the entrance of the grammar school there hangs a veil; but this is not so much a sign of the majesty of the mystery, as of a covering for error. Let not them exclaim against me of whom I am no longer in fear, while I confess to You, my God, that which my soul desires, and acquiesce in reprehending my evil ways, that I may love Your good ways. Neither let those cry out against me who buy or sell grammar-learning. For if I ask them whether it be true, as the poet says, that Æneas once came to Carthage, the unlearned will reply that they do not know, the learned will deny it to be true. But if I ask with what letters the name Æneas is written, all who have learned this will answer truly, in accordance with the conventional understanding men have arrived at as to these signs. Again, if I should ask which, if forgotten, would cause the greatest inconvenience in our life, reading and writing, or these poetical fictions, who does not see what every one would answer who had not entirely forgotten himself? I erred, then, when as a boy I preferred those vain studies to those more profitable ones, or rather loved the one and hated the other. One and one are two, two and two are four, this was then in truth a hateful song to me; while the wooden horse full of armed men, and the burning of Troy, and the spectral image of Creusa were a most pleasant spectacle of vanity. , 23. But why, then, did I dislike Greek learning which was full of like tales? For Homer also was skilled in inventing similar stories, and is most sweetly vain, yet was he disagreeable to me as a boy. I believe Virgil, indeed, would be the same to Grecian children, if compelled to learn him, as I was Homer. The difficulty, in truth, the difficulty of learning a foreign language mingled as it were with gall all the sweetness of those fabulous Grecian stories. For not a single word of it did I understand, and to make me do so, they vehemently urged me with cruel threatenings and punishments. There was a time also when (as an infant) I knew no Latin; but this I acquired without any fear or tormenting, by merely taking notice, amid the blandishments of my nurses, the jests of those who smiled on me, and the sportiveness of those who toyed with me. I learned all this, indeed, without being urged by any pressure of punishment, for my own heart urged me to bring forth its own conceptions, which I could not do unless by learning words, not of those who taught me, but of those who talked to me; into whose ears, also, I brought forth whatever I discerned. From this it is sufficiently clear that a free curiosity has more influence in our learning these things than a necessity full of fear. But this last restrains the overflowings of that freedom, through Your laws, O God - Your laws, from the ferule of the schoolmaster to the trials of the martyr, being effective to mingle for us a salutary bitter, calling us back to Yourself from the pernicious delights which allure us from You. , 24. Hear my prayer, O Lord; let not my soul faint under Your discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto You Your mercies, whereby You have saved me from all my most mischievous ways, that You might become sweet to me beyond all the seductions which I used to follow; and that I may love You entirely, and grasp Your hand with my whole heart, and that You may deliver me from every temptation, even unto the end. For lo, O Lord, my King and my God, for Your service be whatever useful thing I learned as a boy - for Your service what I speak, and write, and count. For when I learned vain things, You granted me Your discipline; and my sin in taking delight in those vanities, You have forgiven me. I learned, indeed, in them many useful words; but these may be learned in things not vain, and that is the safe way for youths to walk in. , 25. But woe unto you, you stream of human custom! Who shall stay your course? How long shall it be before you are dried up? How long will you carry down the sons of Eve into that huge and formidable ocean, which even they who are embarked on the cross (lignum) can scarce pass over? Do I not read in you of Jove the thunderer and adulterer? And the two verily he could not be; but it was that, while the fictitious thunder served as a cloak, he might have warrant to imitate real adultery. Yet which of our gowned masters can lend a temperate ear to a man of his school who cries out and says: These were Homer's fictions; he transfers things human to the gods. I could have wished him to transfer divine things to us. But it would have been more true had he said: These are, indeed, his fictions, but he attributed divine attributes to sinful men, that crimes might not be accounted crimes, and that whosoever committed any might appear to imitate the celestial gods and not abandoned men. 26. And yet, you stream of hell, into you are cast the sons of men, with rewards for learning these things; and much is made of it when this is going on in the forum in the sight of laws which grant a salary over and above the rewards. And you beat against your rocks and roar, saying, Hence words are learned; hence eloquence is to be attained, most necessary to persuade people to your way of thinking, and to unfold your opinions. So, in truth, we should never have understood these words, golden shower, bosom, intrigue, highest heavens, and other words written in the same place, unless Terence had introduced a good-for-nothing youth upon the stage, setting up Jove as his example of lewdness:- Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn, Of Jove's descending in a golden shower To Danaë's bosom . . . with a woman to intrigue. And see how he excites himself to lust, as if by celestial authority, when he says:- Great Jove, Who shakes the highest heavens with his thunder, And I, poor mortal man, not do the same! I did it, and with all my heart I did it. Not one whit more easily are the words learned for this vileness, but by their means is the vileness perpetrated with more confidence. I do not blame the words, they being, as it were, choice and precious vessels, but the wine of error which was drunk in them to us by inebriated teachers; and unless we drank, we were beaten, without liberty of appeal to any sober judge. And yet, O my God - in whose presence I can now with security recall this - did I, unhappy one, learn these things willingly, and with delight, and for this was I called a boy of good promise. , 27. Bear with me, my God, while I speak a little of those talents You have bestowed upon me, and on what follies I wasted them. For a lesson sufficiently disquieting to my soul was given me, in hope of praise, and fear of shame or stripes, to speak the words of Juno, as she raged and sorrowed that she could not Latium bar From all approaches of the Dardan king, which I had heard Juno never uttered. Yet were we compelled to stray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to turn that into prose which the poet had said in verse. And his speaking was most applauded in whom, according to the reputation of the persons delineated, the passions of anger and sorrow were most strikingly reproduced, and clothed in the most suitable language. But what is it to me, O my true Life, my God, that my declaiming was applauded above that of many who were my contemporaries and fellow-students? Behold, is not all this smoke and wind? Was there nothing else, too, on which I could exercise my wit and tongue? Your praise, Lord, Your praises might have supported the tendrils of my heart by Your Scriptures; so had it not been dragged away by these empty trifles, a shameful prey of the fowls of the air. For there is more than one way in which men sacrifice to the fallen angels. , 28. But what matter of surprise is it that I was thus carried towards vanity, and went forth from You, O my God, when men were proposed to me to imitate, who, should they in relating any acts of theirs - not in themselves evil- be guilty of a barbarism or solecism, when censured for it became confounded; but when they made a full and ornate oration, in well-chosen words, concerning their own licentiousness, and were applauded for it, they boasted? You see this, O Lord, and keepest silence, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth, as You are. Will You keep silence for ever? And even now You draw out of this vast deep the soul that seeks You and thirsts after Your delights, whose heart said to You, I have sought Your face, Your face, Lord, will I seek. For I was far from Your face, through my darkened Romans 1:21 affections. For it is not by our feet, nor by change of place, that we either turn from You or return to You. Or, indeed, did that younger son look out for horses, or chariots, or ships, or fly away with visible wings, or journey by the motion of his limbs, that he might, in a far country, prodigally waste all that You gave him when he set out? A kind Father when You gave, and kinder still when he returned destitute! Luke 15:11-32 So, then, in wanton, that is to say, in darkened affections, lies distance from Your face. 29. Behold, O Lord God, and behold patiently, as You are wont to do, how diligently the sons of men observe the conventional rules of letters and syllables, received from those who spoke prior to them, and yet neglect the eternal rules of everlasting salvation received from You, insomuch that he who practises or teaches the hereditary rules of pronunciation, if, contrary to grammatical usage, he should say, without aspirating the first letter, a uman being, will offend men more than if, in opposition to Your commandments, he, a human being, were to hate a human being. As if, indeed, any man should feel that an enemy could be more destructive to him than that hatred with which he is excited against him, or that he could destroy more utterly him whom he persecutes than he destroys his own soul by his enmity. And of a truth, there is no science of letters more innate than the writing of conscience- that he is doing unto another what he himself would not suffer. How mysterious are You, who in silence dwellest on high, Isaiah 33:5 Thou God, the only great, who by an unwearied law dealest out the punishment of blindness to illicit desires! When a man seeking for the reputation of eloquence stands before a human judge while a thronging multitude surrounds him, inveighs against his enemy with the most fierce hatred, he takes most vigilant heed that his tongue slips not into grammatical error, but takes no heed lest through the fury of his spirit he cut off a man from his fellow-men. 30. These were the customs in the midst of which I, unhappy boy, was cast, and on that arena it was that I was more fearful of perpetrating a barbarism than, having done so, of envying those who had not. These things I declare and confess unto You, my God, for which I was applauded by them whom I then thought it my whole duty to please, for I did not perceive the gulf of infamy wherein I was cast away from Your eyes. For in Your eyes what was more infamous than I was already, displeasing even those like myself, deceiving with innumerable lies both tutor, and masters, and parents, from love of play, a desire to see frivolous spectacles, and a stage-stuck restlessness, to imitate them? Pilferings I committed from my parents' cellar and table, either enslaved by gluttony, or that I might have something to give to boys who sold me their play, who, though they sold it, liked it as well as I In this play, likewise, I often sought dishonest victories, I myself being conquered by the vain desire of pre-eminence. And what could I so little endure, or, if I detected it, censured I so violently, as the very things I did to others, and, when myself detected I was censured, preferred rather to quarrel than to yield? Is this the innocence of childhood? Nay, Lord, nay, Lord; I entreat Your mercy, O my God. For these same sins, as we grow older, are transferred from governors and masters, from nuts, and balls, and sparrows, to magistrates and kings, to gold, and lands, and slaves, just as the rod is succeeded by more severe chastisements. It was, then, the stature of childhood that You, O our King, approved of as an emblem of humility when You said: Of such is the kingdom of heaven. 31. But yet, O Lord, to You, most excellent and most good, Thou Architect and Governor of the universe, thanks had been due unto You, our God, even had You willed that I should not survive my boyhood. For I existed even then; I lived, and felt, and was solicitous about my own well-being - a trace of that most mysterious unity from whence I had my being; I kept watch by my inner sense over the wholeness of my senses, and in these insignificant pursuits, and also in my thoughts on things insignificant, I learned to take pleasure in truth. I was averse to being deceived, I had a vigorous memory, was provided with the power of speech, was softened by friendship, shunned sorrow, meanness, ignorance. In such a being what was not wonderful and praiseworthy? But all these are gifts of my God; I did not give them to myself; and they are good, and all these constitute myself. Good, then, is He that made me, and He is my God; and before Him will I rejoice exceedingly for every good gift which, as a boy, I had. For in this lay my sin, that not in Him, but in His creatures - myself and the rest - I sought for pleasures, honours, and truths, falling thereby into sorrows, troubles, and errors. Thanks be to You, my joy, my pride, my confidence, my God - thanks be to You for Your gifts; but preserve them to me. For thus will You preserve me; and those things which You have given me shall be developed and perfected, and I myself shall be with You, for from You is my being. <


nan1. I Will now call to mind my past foulness, and the carnal corruptions of my soul, not because I love them, but that I may love You, O my God. For love of Your love do I it, recalling, in the very bitterness of my remembrance, my most vicious ways, that You may grow sweet to me - Thou sweetness without deception! Thou sweetness happy and assured!- and re-collecting myself out of that my dissipation, in which I was torn to pieces, while, turned away from You the One, I lost myself among many vanities. For I even longed in my youth formerly to be satisfied with worldly things, and I dared to grow wild again with various and shadowy loves; my form consumed away, and I became corrupt in Your eyes, pleasing myself, and eager to please in the eyes of men. , 2. But what was it that I delighted in save to love and to be beloved? But I held it not in moderation, mind to mind, the bright path of friendship, but out of the dark concupiscence of the flesh and the effervescence of youth exhalations came forth which obscured and overcast my heart, so that I was unable to discern pure affection from unholy desire. Both boiled confusedly within me, and dragged away my unstable youth into the rough places of unchaste desires, and plunged me into a gulf of infamy. Your anger had overshadowed me, and I knew it not. I was become deaf by the rattling of the chains of my mortality, the punishment for my soul's pride; and I wandered farther from You, and You suffered Matthew 17:17 me; and I was tossed to and fro, and wasted, and poured out, and boiled over in my fornications, and You held Your peace, O Thou my tardy joy! Thou then held Your peace, and I wandered still farther from You, into more and more barren seed-plots of sorrows, with proud dejection and restless lassitude. 3. Oh for one to have regulated my disorder, and turned to my profit the fleeting beauties of the things around me, and fixed a bound to their sweetness, so that the tides of my youth might have spent themselves upon the conjugal shore, if so be they could not be tranquillized and satisfied within the object of a family, as Your law appoints, O Lord, - who thus formest the offspring of our death, being able also with a tender hand to blunt the thorns which were excluded from Your paradise! For Your omnipotency is not far from us even when we are far from You, else in truth ought I more vigilantly to have given heed to the voice from the clouds: Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh, but I spare you; 1 Corinthians 7:28 and, It is good for a man not to touch a woman; 1 Corinthians 7:1 and, He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is married cares for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:32-33 I should, therefore, have listened more attentively to these words, and, being severed for the kingdom of heaven's sake, Matthew 19:12 I would with greater happiness have expected Your embraces. 4. But I, poor fool, seethed as does the sea, and, forsaking You, followed the violent course of my own stream, and exceeded all Your limitations; nor did I escape Your scourges. Isaiah 10:26 For what mortal can do so? But You were always by me, mercifully angry, and dashing with the bitterest vexations all my illicit pleasures, in order that I might seek pleasures free from vexation. But where I could meet with such except in You, O Lord, I could not find - except in You, who teachest by sorrow, Deuteronomy 32:39 and woundest us to heal us, and killest us that we may not die from You. 'Formest trouble in or as a precept.' Thou makest to us a precept out of trouble, so that trouble itself shall be a precept to us, i.e. hast willed so to discipline and instruct those Thy sons, that they should not be without fear, lest they should love something else, and forget Thee, their true good."—S. ad loc.—E. B. P}-- Where was I, and how far was I exiled from the delights of Your house, in that sixteenth year of the age of my flesh, when the madness of lust- to the which human shamelessness grants full freedom, although forbidden by Your laws- held complete sway over me, and I resigned myself entirely to it? Those about me meanwhile took no care to save me from ruin by marriage, their sole care being that I should learn to make a powerful speech, and become a persuasive orator. , 5. And for that year my studies were intermitted, while after my return from Madaura (a neighbouring city, whither I had begun to go in order to learn grammar and rhetoric), the expenses for a further residence at Carthage were provided for me; and that was rather by the determination than the means of my father, who was but a poor freeman of Thagaste. To whom do I narrate this? Not unto You, my God; but before You unto my own kind, even to that small part of the human race who may chance to light upon these my writings. And to what end? That I and all who read the same may reflect out of what depths we are to cry unto You. For what comes nearer to Your ears than a confessing heart and a life of faith? For who did not extol and praise my father, in that he went even beyond his means to supply his son with all the necessaries for a far journey for the sake of his studies? For many far richer citizens did not the like for their children. But yet this same father did not trouble himself how I grew towards You, nor how chaste I was, so long as I was skilful in speaking - however barren I was to Your tilling, O God, who art the sole true and good Lord of my heart, which is Your field. 6. But while, in that sixteenth year of my age, I resided with my parents, having holiday from school for a time (this idleness being imposed upon me by my parents' necessitous circumstances), the thorns of lust grew rank over my head, and there was no hand to pluck them out. Moreover when my father, seeing me at the baths, perceived that I was becoming a man, and was stirred with a restless youthfulness, he, as if from this anticipating future descendants, joyfully told it to my mother; rejoicing in that intoxication wherein the world so often forgets You, its Creator, and falls in love with Your creature instead of You, from the invisible wine of its own perversity turning and bowing down to the most infamous things. But in my mother's breast You had even now begun Your temple, and the commencement of Your holy habitation, whereas my father was only a catechumen as yet, and that but recently. She then started up with a pious fear and trembling; and, although I had not yet been baptized, she feared those crooked ways in which they walk who turn their back to You, and not their face. Jeremiah 2:27 7. Woe is me! And dare I affirm that You held Your peace, O my God, while I strayed farther from You? Did You then hold Your peace to me? And whose words were they but Yours which by my mother, Your faithful handmaid, You poured into my ears, none of which sank into my heart to make me do it? For she desired, and I remember privately warned me, with great solicitude, not to commit fornication; but above all things never to defile another man's wife. These appeared to me but womanish counsels, which I should blush to obey. But they were Yours, and I knew it not, and I thought that You held Your peace, and that it was she who spoke, through whom You held not Your peace to me, and in her person wast despised by me, her son, the son of Your handmaid, Your servant. But this I knew not; and rushed on headlong with such blindness, that among my equals I was ashamed to be less shameless, when I heard them pluming themselves upon their disgraceful acts, yea, and glorying all the more in proportion to the greatness of their baseness; and I took pleasure in doing it, not for the pleasure's sake only, but for the praise. What is worthy of dispraise but vice? But I made myself out worse than I was, in order that I might not be dispraised; and when in anything I had not sinned as the abandoned ones, I would affirm that I had done what I had not, that I might not appear abject for being more innocent, or of less esteem for being more chaste. 8. Behold with what companions I walked the streets of Babylon, in whose filth I was rolled, as if in cinnamon and precious ointments. And that I might cleave the more tenaciously to its very centre, my invisible enemy trod me down, and seduced me, I being easily seduced. Nor did the mother of my flesh, although she herself had ere this fled out of the midst of Babylon, Jeremiah 51:6 - progressing, however, but slowly in the skirts of it - in counselling me to chastity, so bear in mind what she had been told about me by her husband as to restrain in the limits of conjugal affection (if it could not be cut away to the quick) what she knew to be destructive in the present and dangerous in the future. But she took no heed of this, for she was afraid lest a wife should prove a hindrance and a clog to my hopes. Not those hopes of the future world, which my mother had in You; but the hope of learning, which both my parents were too anxious that I should acquire - he, because he had little or no thought of You, and but vain thoughts for me - she, because she calculated that those usual courses of learning would not only be no drawback, but rather a furtherance towards my attaining You. For thus I conjecture, recalling as well as I can the dispositions of my parents. The reins, meantime, were slackened towards me beyond the restraint of due severity, that I might play, yea, even to dissoluteness, in whatsoever I fancied. And in all there was a mist, shutting out from my sight the brightness of Your truth, O my God; and my iniquity displayed itself as from very fatness. , 9. Theft is punished by Your law, O Lord, and by the law written in men's hearts, which iniquity itself cannot blot out. For what thief will suffer a thief? Even a rich thief will not allow him who is driven to it by want. Yet had I a desire to commit robbery, and did so, compelled neither by hunger, nor poverty through a distaste for well-doing, and a lustiness of iniquity. For I pilfered that of which I had already sufficient, and much better. Nor did I desire to enjoy what I pilfered, but the theft and sin itself. There was a pear-tree close to our vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was tempting neither for its color nor its flavour. To shake and rob this some of us wanton young fellows went, late one night (having, according to our disgraceful habit, prolonged our games in the streets until then), and carried away great loads, not to eat ourselves, but to fling to the very swine, having only eaten some of them; and to do this pleased us all the more because it was not permitted. Behold my heart, O my God; behold my heart, which You had pity upon when in the bottomless pit. Behold, now, let my heart tell You what it was seeking there, that I should be gratuitously wanton, having no inducement to evil but the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved to perish. I loved my own error- not that for which I erred, but the error itself. Base soul, falling from Your firmament to utter destruction - not seeking anything through the shame but the shame itself! , 10. There is a desirableness in all beautiful bodies, and in gold, and silver, and all things; and in bodily contact sympathy is powerful, and each other sense has his proper adaptation of body. Worldly honour has also its glory, and the power of command, and of overcoming; whence proceeds also the desire for revenge. And yet to acquire all these, we must not depart from You, O Lord, nor deviate from Your law. The life which we live here has also its peculiar attractiveness, through a certain measure of comeliness of its own, and harmony with all things here below. The friendships of men also are endeared by a sweet bond, in the oneness of many souls. On account of all these, and such as these, is sin committed; while through an inordinate preference for these goods of a lower kind, the better and higher are neglected - even You, our Lord God, Your truth, and Your law. For these meaner things have their delights, but not like my God, who has created all things; for in Him does the righteous delight, and He is the sweetness of the upright in heart. 11. When, therefore, we inquire why a crime was committed, we do not believe it, unless it appear that there might have been the wish to obtain some of those which we designated meaner things, or else a fear of losing them. For truly they are beautiful and comely, although in comparison with those higher and celestial goods they be abject and contemptible. A man has murdered another; what was his motive? He desired his wife or his estate; or would steal to support himself; or he was afraid of losing something of the kind by him; or, being injured, he was burning to be revenged. Would he commit murder without a motive, taking delight simply in the act of murder? Who would credit it? For as for that savage and brutal man, of whom it is declared that he was gratuitously wicked and cruel, there is yet a motive assigned. Lest through idleness, he says, hand or heart should grow inactive. And to what purpose? Why, even that, having once got possession of the city through that practice of wickedness, he might attain unto honours, empire, and wealth, and be exempt from the fear of the laws, and his difficult circumstances from the needs of his family, and the consciousness of his own wickedness. So it seems that even Catiline himself loved not his own villanies, but something else, which gave him the motive for committing them. , 12. What was it, then, that I, miserable one, so doted on in you, you theft of mine, you deed of darkness, in that sixteenth year of my age? Beautiful you were not, since you were theft. But are you anything, that so I may argue the case with you? Those pears that we stole were fair to the sight, because they were Your creation, You fairest of all, Creator of all, You good God - God, the highest good, and my true good. Those pears truly were pleasant to the sight; but it was not for them that my miserable soul lusted, for I had abundance of better, but those I plucked simply that I might steal. For, having plucked them, I threw them away, my sole gratification in them being my own sin, which I was pleased to enjoy. For if any of these pears entered my mouth, the sweetener of it was my sin in eating it. And now, O Lord my God, I ask what it was in that theft of mine that caused me such delight; and behold it has no beauty in it - not such, I mean, as exists in justice and wisdom; nor such as is in the mind, memory, senses, and animal life of man; nor yet such as is the glory and beauty of the stars in their courses; or the earth, or the sea, teeming with incipient life, to replace, as it is born, that which decays; nor, indeed, that false and shadowy beauty which pertains to deceptive vices. 13. For thus does pride imitate high estate, whereas You alone art God, high above all. And what does ambition seek but honours and renown, whereas You alone are to be honoured above all, and renowned for evermore? The cruelty of the powerful wishes to be feared; but who is to be feared but God only, out of whose power what can be forced away or withdrawn - when, or where, or whither, or by whom? The enticements of the wanton would fain be deemed love; and yet is naught more enticing than Your charity, nor is anything loved more healthfully than that, Your truth, bright and beautiful above all. Curiosity affects a desire for knowledge, whereas it is You who supremely knows all things. Yea, ignorance and foolishness themselves are concealed under the names of ingenuousness and harmlessness, because nothing can be found more ingenuous than You; and what is more harmless, since it is a sinner's own works by which he is harmed? And sloth seems to long for rest; but what sure rest is there besides the Lord? Luxury would fain be called plenty and abundance; but You are the fullness and unfailing plenteousness of unfading joys. Prodigality presents a shadow of liberality; but You are the most lavish giver of all good. Covetousness desires to possess much; and You are the Possessor of all things. Envy contends for excellence; but what so excellent as You? Anger seeks revenge; who avenges more justly than You? Fear starts at unwonted and sudden chances which threaten things beloved, and is wary for their security; but what can happen that is unwonted or sudden to You? Or who can deprive You of what You love? Or where is there unshaken security save with You? Grief languishes for things lost in which desire had delighted itself, even because it would have nothing taken from it, as nothing can be from You. 14. Thus does the soul commit fornication when she turns away from You, and seeks without You what she cannot find pure and untainted until she returns to You. Thus all pervertedly imitate You who separate themselves far from You and raise themselves up against You. But even by thus imitating You they acknowledge You to be the Creator of all nature, and so that there is no place whither they can altogether retire from You. What, then, was it that I loved in that theft? And wherein did I, even corruptedly and pervertedly, imitate my Lord? Did I wish, if only by artifice, to act contrary to Your law, because by power I could not, so that, being a captive, I might imitate an imperfect liberty by doing with impunity things which I was not allowed to do, in obscured likeness of Your omnipotency? Behold this servant of Yours, fleeing from his Lord, and following a shadow! O rottenness! O monstrosity of life and profundity of death! Could I like that which was unlawful only because it was unlawful? , 15. What shall I render unto the Lord, that while my memory recalls these things my soul is not appalled at them? I will love You, O Lord, and thank You, and confess unto Your name, Revelation 3:5 because You have put away from me these so wicked and nefarious acts of mine. To Your grace I attribute it, and to Your mercy, that You have melted away my sin as it were ice. To Your grace also I attribute whatsoever of evil I have not committed; for what might I not have committed, loving as I did the sin for the sin's sake? Yea, all I confess to have been pardoned me, both those which I committed by my own perverseness, and those which, by Your guidance, I committed not. Where is he who, reflecting upon his own infirmity, dares to ascribe his chastity and innocency to his own strength, so that he should love You the less, as if he had been in less need of Your mercy, whereby You forgive the transgressions of those that turn to You? For whosoever, called by You, obeyed Your voice, and shunned those things which he reads me recalling and confessing of myself, let him not despise me, who, being sick, was healed by that same Physician Luke 4:23 by whose aid it was that he was not sick, or rather was less sick. And for this let him love You as much, yea, all the more, since by whom he sees me to have been restored from so great a feebleness of sin, by Him he sees himself from a like feebleness to have been preserved. , 16. What fruit had I then, Romans 6:21 wretched one, in those things which, when I remember them, cause me shame - above all in that theft, which I loved only for the theft's sake? And as the theft itself was nothing, all the more wretched was I who loved it. Yet by myself alone I would not have done it - I recall what my heart was - alone I could not have done it. I loved, then, in it the companionship of my accomplices with whom I did it. I did not, therefore, love the theft alone - yea, rather, it was that alone that I loved, for the companionship was nothing. What is the fact? Who is it that can teach me, but He who illuminates mine heart and searches out the dark corners thereof? What is it that has come into my mind to inquire about, to discuss, and to reflect upon? For had I at that time loved the pears I stole, and wished to enjoy them, I might have done so alone, if I could have been satisfied with the mere commission of the theft by which my pleasure was secured; nor needed I have provoked that itching of my own passions, by the encouragement of accomplices. But as my enjoyment was not in those pears, it was in the crime itself, which the company of my fellow-sinners produced. , 17. By what feelings, then, was I animated? For it was in truth too shameful; and woe was me who had it. But still what was it? Who can understand his errors? We laughed, because our hearts were tickled at the thought of deceiving those who little imagined what we were doing, and would have vehemently disapproved of it. Yet, again, why did I so rejoice in this, that I did it not alone? Is it that no one readily laughs alone? No one does so readily; but yet sometimes, when men are alone by themselves, nobody being by, a fit of laughter overcomes them when anything very droll presents itself to their senses or mind. Yet alone I would not have done it - alone I could not at all have done it. Behold, my God, the lively recollection of my soul is laid bare before You - alone I had not committed that theft, wherein what I stole pleased me not, but rather the act of stealing; nor to have done it alone would I have liked so well, neither would I have done it. O Friendship too unfriendly! You mysterious seducer of the soul, you greediness to do mischief out of mirth and wantonness, you craving for others' loss, without desire for my own profit or revenge; but when they say, Let us go, let us do it, we are ashamed not to be shameless. , 18. Who can unravel that twisted and tangled knottiness? It is foul. I hate to reflect on it. I hate to look on it. But you do I long for, O righteousness and innocency, fair and comely to all virtuous eyes, and of a satisfaction that never palls! With you is perfect rest, and life unchanging. He who enters into you enters into the joy of his Lord, Matthew 25:21 and shall have no fear, and shall do excellently in the most Excellent. I sank away from You, O my God, and I wandered too far from You, my stay, in my youth, and became to myself an unfruitful land. <


nan1. During this space of nine years, then, from my nineteenth to my eight and twentieth year, we went on seduced and seducing, deceived and deceiving, in various lusts; publicly, by sciences which they style liberal- secretly, with a falsity called religion. Here proud, there superstitious, everywhere vain! Here, striving after the emptiness of popular fame, even to theatrical applauses, and poetic contests, and strifes for grassy garlands, and the follies of shows and the intemperance of desire. There, seeking to be purged from these our corruptions by carrying food to those who were called elect and holy, out of which, in the laboratory of their stomachs, they should make for us angels and gods, by whom we might be delivered. These things did I follow eagerly, and practise with my friends - by me and with me deceived. Let the arrogant, and such as have not been yet savingly cast down and stricken by You, O my God, laugh at me; but notwithstanding I would confess to You my own shame in Your praise. Bear with me, I beseech You, and give me grace to retrace in my present remembrance the circlings of my past errors, and to offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving. For what am I to myself without You, but a guide to my own downfall? Or what am I even at the best, but one sucking Your milk, 1 Peter 2:2 and feeding upon You, the meat that perishes not? John 6:27 But what kind of man is any man, seeing that he is but a man? Let, then, the strong and the mighty laugh at us, but let us who are poor and needy confess unto You. , 2. In those years I taught the art of rhetoric, and, overcome by cupidity, put to sale a loquacity by which to overcome. Yet I preferred - Lord, You know- to have honest scholars (as they are esteemed); and these I, without artifice, taught artifices, not to be put in practise against the life of the guiltless, though sometimes for the life of the guilty. And You, O God, from afar saw me stumbling in that slippery path, and amid much smoke sending out some flashes of fidelity, which I exhibited in that my guidance of such as loved vanity and sought after leasing, I being their companion. In those years I had one (whom I knew not in what is called lawful wedlock, but whom my wayward passion, void of understanding, had discovered), yet one only, remaining faithful even to her; in whom I found out truly by my own experience what difference there is between the restraints of the marriage bonds, contracted for the sake of issue, and the compact of a lustful love, where children are born against the parents will, although, being born, they compel love. 3. I remember, too, that when I decided to compete for a theatrical prize, a soothsayer demanded of me what I would give him to win; but I, detesting and abominating such foul mysteries, answered, That if the garland were of imperishable gold, I would not suffer a fly to be destroyed to secure it for me. For he was to slay certain living creatures in his sacrifices, and by those honours to invite the devils to give me their support. But this ill thing I also refused, not out of a pure love for You, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to love You, knowing not how to conceive anything beyond corporeal brightness. And does not a soul, sighing after such-like fictions, commit fornication against You, trust in false things, and nourish the wind? Hosea 12:1 But I would not, forsooth, have sacrifices offered to devils on my behalf, though I myself was offering sacrifices to them by that superstition. For what else is nourishing the wind but nourishing them, that is, by our wanderings to become their enjoyment and derision? , 4. Those impostors, then, whom they designate Mathematicians, I consulted without hesitation, because they used no sacrifices, and invoked the aid of no spirit for their divinations, which art Christian and true piety fitly rejects and condemns. For good it is to confess unto You, and to say, Be merciful unto me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against You; and not to abuse Your goodness for a license to sin, but to remember the words of the Lord, Behold, you are made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you. John 5:14 All of which salutary advice they endeavour to destroy when they say, The cause of your sin is inevitably determined in heaven; and, This did Venus, or Saturn, or Mars; in order that man, forsooth, flesh and blood, and proud corruption, may be blameless, while the Creator and Ordainer of heaven and stars is to bear the blame. And who is this but You, our God, the sweetness and well-spring of righteousness, who renderest to every man according to his deeds, and despisest not a broken and a contrite heart! 5. There was in those days a wise man, very skilful in medicine, and much renowned therein, who had with his own proconsular hand put the Agonistic garland upon my distempered head, not, though, as a physician; for this disease You alone heal, who resistest the proud, and givest grace to the humble. But did You fail me even by that old man, or forbear from healing my soul? For when I had become more familiar with him, and hung assiduously and fixedly on his conversation (for though couched in simple language, it was replete with vivacity, life, and earnestness), when he had perceived from my discourse that I was given to books of the horoscope-casters, he, in a kind and fatherly manner, advised me to throw them away, and not vainly bestow the care and labour necessary for useful things upon these vanities; saying that he himself in his earlier years had studied that art with a view to gaining his living by following it as a profession, and that, as he had understood Hippocrates, he would soon have understood this, and yet he had given it up, and followed medicine, for no other reason than that he discovered it to be utterly false, and he, being a man of character, would not gain his living by beguiling people. But you, says he, who hast rhetoric to support yourself by, so that you follow this of free will, not of necessity - all the more, then, ought you to give me credit herein, who laboured to attain it so perfectly, as I wished to gain my living by it alone. When I asked him to account for so many true things being foretold by it, he answered me (as he could) that the force of chance, diffused throughout the whole order of nature, brought this about. For if when a man by accident opens the leaves of some poet, who sang and intended something far different, a verse oftentimes fell out wondrously apposite to the present business, it were not to be wondered at, he continued, if out of the soul of man, by some higher instinct, not knowing what goes on within itself, an answer should be given by chance, not art, which should coincide with the business and actions of the questioner. 6. And thus truly, either by or through him, You looked after me. And You delineated in my memory what I might afterwards search out for myself. But at that time neither he, nor my most dear Nebridius, a youth most good and most circumspect, who scoffed at that whole stock of divination, could persuade me to forsake it, the authority of the authors influencing me still more; and as yet I had lighted upon no certain proof- such as I sought - whereby it might without doubt appear that what had been truly foretold by those consulted was by accident or chance, not by the art of the star-gazers. , 7. In those years, when I first began to teach rhetoric in my native town, I had acquired a very dear friend, from association in our studies, of my own age, and, like myself, just rising up into the flower of youth. He had grown up with me from childhood, and we had been both classmates and playmates. But he was not then my friend, nor, indeed, afterwards, as true friendship is; for true it is not but in such as You bind together, cleaving unto You by that love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. Romans 5:5 But yet it was too sweet, being ripened by the fervour of similar studies. For, from the true faith (which he, as a youth, had not soundly and thoroughly become master of), I had turned him aside towards those superstitious and pernicious fables which my mother mourned in me. With me this man's mind now erred, nor could my soul exist without him. But behold, You were close behind Your fugitives - at once God of vengeance and Fountain of mercies, who turnest us to Yourself by wondrous means. You removed that man from this life when he had scarce completed one whole year of my friendship, sweet to me above all the sweetness of that my life. 8. Who can show forth all Your praise which he has experienced in himself alone? What was it that Thou did then, O my God, and how unsearchable are the depths of Your judgments! For when, sore sick of a fever, he long lay unconscious in a death-sweat, and all despaired of his recovery, he was baptized without his knowledge; myself meanwhile little caring, presuming that his soul would retain rather what it had imbibed from me, than what was done to his unconscious body. Far different, however, was it, for he was revived and restored. Straightway, as soon as I could talk to him (which I could as soon as he was able, for I never left him, and we hung too much upon each other), I attempted to jest with him, as if he also would jest with me at that baptism which he had received when mind and senses were in abeyance, but had now learned that he had received. But he shuddered at me, as if I were his enemy; and, with a remarkable and unexpected freedom, admonished me, if I desired to continue his friend, to desist from speaking to him in such a way. I, confounded and confused, concealed all my emotions, till he should get well, and his health be strong enough to allow me to deal with him as I wished. But he was withdrawn from my frenzy, that with You he might be preserved for my comfort. A few days after, during my absence, he had a return of the fever, and died. 9. At this sorrow my heart was utterly darkened, and whatever I looked upon was death. My native country was a torture to me, and my father's house a wondrous unhappiness; and whatsoever I had participated in with him, wanting him, turned into a frightful torture. My eyes sought him everywhere, but he was not granted them; and I hated all places because he was not in them; nor could they now say to me, Behold; he is coming, as they did when he was alive and absent. I became a great puzzle to myself, and asked my soul why she was so sad, and why she so exceedingly disquieted me; but she knew not what to answer me. And if I said, Hope in God, she very properly obeyed me not; because that most dear friend whom she had lost was, being man, both truer and better than that phantasm she was bid to hope in. Naught but tears were sweet to me, and they succeeded my friend in the dearest of my affections. , 10. And now, O Lord, these things are passed away, and time has healed my wound. May I learn from You, who art Truth, and apply the ear of my heart unto Your mouth, that You may tell me why weeping should be so sweet to the unhappy. Have You - although present everywhere - cast away far from You our misery? And You abide in Yourself, but we are disquieted with various trials; and yet, unless we wept in Your ears, there would be no hope for us remaining. Whence, then, is it that such sweet fruit is plucked from the bitterness of life, from groans, tears, sighs, and lamentations? Is it the hope that You hear us that sweetens it? This is true of prayer, for therein is a desire to approach unto You. But is it also in grief for a thing lost, and the sorrow with which I was then overwhelmed? For I had neither hope of his coming to life again, nor did I seek this with my tears; but I grieved and wept only, for I was miserable, and had lost my joy. Or is weeping a bitter thing, and for distaste of the things which aforetime we enjoyed before, and even then, when we are loathing them, does it cause us pleasure? , 11. But why do I speak of these things? For this is not the time to question, but rather to confess unto You. Miserable I was, and miserable is every soul fettered by the friendship of perishable things - he is torn to pieces when he loses them, and then is sensible of the misery which he had before ever he lost them. Thus was it at that time with me; I wept most bitterly, and found rest in bitterness. Thus was I miserable, and that life of misery I accounted dearer than my friend. For though I would willingly have changed it, yet I was even more unwilling to lose it than him; yea, I knew not whether I was willing to lose it even for him, as is handed down to us (if not an invention) of Pylades and Orestes, that they would gladly have died one for another, or both together, it being worse than death to them not to live together. But there had sprung up in me some kind of feeling, too, contrary to this, for both exceedingly wearisome was it to me to live, and dreadful to die, I suppose, the more I loved him, so much the more did I hate and fear, as a most cruel enemy, that death which had robbed me of him; and I imagined it would suddenly annihilate all men, as it had power over him. Thus, I remember, it was with me. Behold my heart, O my God! Behold and look into me, for I remember it well, O my Hope! Who cleansest me from the uncleanness of such affections, directing my eyes towards You, and plucking my feet out of the net. For I was astonished that other mortals lived, since he whom I loved, as if he would never die, was dead; and I wondered still more that I, who was to him a second self, could live when he was dead. Well did one say of his friend, Thou half of my soul, for I felt that my soul and his soul were but one soul in two bodies; and, consequently, my life was a horror to me, because I would not live in half. And therefore, perchance, was I afraid to die, lest he should die wholly whom I had so greatly loved. , 12. O madness, which know not how to love men as men should be loved! O foolish man that I then was, enduring with so much impatience the lot of man! So I fretted, sighed, wept, tormented myself, and took neither rest nor advice. For I bore about with me a rent and polluted soul, impatient of being borne by me, and where to repose it I found not. Not in pleasant groves, not in sport or song, not in fragrant spots, nor in magnificent banquetings, nor in the pleasures of the bed and the couch, nor, finally, in books and songs did it find repose. All things looked terrible, even the very light itself; and whatsoever was not what he was, was repulsive and hateful, except groans and tears, for in those alone found I a little repose. But when my soul was withdrawn from them, a heavy burden of misery weighed me down. To You, O Lord, should it have been raised, for You to lighten and avert it. This I knew, but was neither willing nor able; all the more since, in my thoughts of You, You were not any solid or substantial thing to me. For You were not Yourself, but an empty phantasm, and my error was my god. If I attempted to discharge my burden thereon, that it might find rest, it sank into emptiness, and came rushing down again upon me, and I remained to myself an unhappy spot, where I could neither stay nor depart from. For whither could my heart fly from my heart? Whither could I fly from my own self? Whither not follow myself? And yet fled I from my country; for so should my eyes look less for him where they were not accustomed to see him. And thus I left the town of Thagaste, and came to Carthage. , 13. Times lose no time, nor do they idly roll through our senses. They work strange operations on the mind. Behold, they came and went from day to day, and by coming and going they disseminated in my mind other ideas and other remembrances, and little by little patched me up again with the former kind of delights, unto which that sorrow of mine yielded. But yet there succeeded, not certainly other sorrows, yet the causes of other sorrows. For whence had that former sorrow so easily penetrated to the quick, but that I had poured out my soul upon the dust, in loving one who must die as if he were never to die? But what revived and refreshed me especially was the consolations of other friends, with whom I did love what instead of You I loved. And this was a monstrous fable and protracted lie, by whose adulterous contact our soul, which lay itching in our ears, was being polluted. But that fable would not die to me so oft as any of my friends died. There were other things in them which did more lay hold of my mind - to discourse and jest with them; to indulge in an interchange of kindnesses; to read together pleasant books; together to trifle, and together to be earnest; to differ at times without ill-humour, as a man would do with his own self; and even by the infrequency of these differences to give zest to our more frequent consentings; sometimes teaching, sometimes being taught; longing for the absent with impatience, and welcoming the coming with joy. These and similar expressions, emanating from the hearts of those who loved and were beloved in return, by the countenance, the tongue, the eyes, and a thousand pleasing movements, were so much fuel to melt our souls together, and out of many to make but one. , 14. This is it that is loved in friends; and so loved that a man's conscience accuses itself if he love not him by whom he is beloved, or love not again him that loves him, expecting nothing from him but indications of his love. Hence that mourning if one die, and gloom of sorrow, that steeping of the heart in tears, all sweetness turned into bitterness, and upon the loss of the life of the dying, the death of the living. Blessed be he who loves You, and his friend in You, and his enemy for Your sake. For he alone loses none dear to him to whom all are dear in Him who cannot be lost. And who is this but our God, the God that created heaven and earth, Genesis 1:1 and fills them, Jeremiah 23:24 because by filling them He created them? None loses You but he who leaves You. And he who leaves You, whither goes he, or whither flees he, but from You well pleased to You angry? For where does not he find Your law in his own punishment? And Your law is the truth, and truth Thou. John 14:6 , 15. Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Your face to shine; and we shall be saved. For wherever the soul of man turns itself, unless towards You, it is affixed to sorrows, yea, though it is affixed to beauteous things without You and without itself. And yet they were not unless they were from You. They rise and set; and by rising, they begin as it were to be; and they grow, that they may become perfect; and when perfect, they wax old and perish; and all wax not old, but all perish. Therefore when they rise and tend to be, the more rapidly they grow that they may be, so much the more they hasten not to be. This is the way of them. Thus much have You given them, because they are parts of things, which exist not all at the same time, but by departing and succeeding they together make up the universe, of which they are parts. And even thus is our speech accomplished by signs emitting a sound; but this, again, is not perfected unless one word pass away when it has sounded its part, in order that another may succeed it. Let my soul praise You out of all these things, O God, the Creator of all; but let not my soul be affixed to these things by the glue of love, through the senses of the body. For they go whither they were to go, that they might no longer be; and they rend her with pestilent desires, because she longs to be, and yet loves to rest in what she loves. But in these things no place is to be found; they stay not - they flee; and who is he that is able to follow them with the senses of the flesh? Or who can grasp them, even when they are near? For tardy is the sense of the flesh, because it is the sense of the flesh, and its boundary is itself. It suffices for that for which it was made, but it is not sufficient to stay things running their course from their appointed starting-place to the end appointed. For in Your word, by which they were created, they hear the fiat, Hence and hitherto. , 16. Be not foolish, O my soul, and deaden not the ear of your heart with the tumult of your folly. Hearken also. The word itself invokes you to return; and there is the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not abandoned if itself abandons not. Behold, these things pass away, that others may succeed them, and so this lower universe be made complete in all its parts. But do I depart anywhere, says the word of God? There fix your habitation. There commit whatsoever you have thence, O my soul; at all events now you are tired out with deceits. Commit to truth whatsoever you have from the truth, and nothing shall you lose; and your decay shall flourish again, and all your diseases be healed, and your perishable parts shall be reformed and renovated, and drawn together to you; nor shall they put you down where themselves descend, but they shall abide with you, and continue for ever before God, who abides and continues forever. 1 Peter 1:23 17. Why, then, be perverse and follow your flesh? Rather let it be converted and follow you. Whatever by her you feel, is but in part; and the whole, of which these are portions, you are ignorant of, and yet they delight you. But had the sense of your flesh been capable of comprehending the whole, and not itself also, for your punishment, been justly limited to a portion of the whole, you would that whatsoever exists at the present time should pass away, that so the whole might please you more. For what we speak, also by the same sense of the flesh you hear, and yet wouldest not thou that the syllables should stay, but fly away, that others may come, and the whole be heard. Thus it is always, when any single thing is composed of many, all of which exist not together, all together would delight more than they do simply could all be perceived at once. But far better than these is He who made all; and He is our God, and He passes not away, for there is nothing to succeed Him. If bodies please you, praise God for them, and turn back your love upon their Creator, lest in those things which please you you displease. , 18. If souls please you, let them be loved in God; for they also are mutable, but in Him are they firmly established, else would they pass, and pass away. In Him, then, let them be beloved; and draw unto Him along with you as many souls as you can and say to them, Him let us love, Him let us love; He created these, nor is He far off. For He did not create them, and then depart; but they are of Him, and in Him. Behold, there is He wherever truth is known. He is within the very heart, but yet has the heart wandered from Him. Return to your heart, O you transgressors, Isaiah 56:8 and cleave fast unto Him that made you. Stand with Him, and you shall stand fast. Rest in Him, and you shall be at rest. Where do you go in rugged paths? Where do you go? The good that you love is from Him; and as it has respect unto Him it is both good and pleasant, and justly shall it be embittered, because whatsoever comes from Him is unjustly loved if He be forsaken for it. Why, then, will you wander farther and farther in these difficult and toilsome ways? There is no rest where you seek it. Seek what you seek; but it is not there where you seek. You seek a blessed life in the land of death; it is not there. For could a blessed life be where life itself is not? 19. But our very Life descended hither, and bore our death, and slew it, out of the abundance of His own life; and thundering He called loudly to us to return hence to Him into that secret place whence He came forth to us - first into the Virgin's womb, where the human creature was married to Him - our mortal flesh, that it might not be for ever mortal - and thence as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, rejoicing as a strong man to run a race. For He tarried not, but ran crying out by words, deeds, death, life, descent, ascension, crying aloud to us to return to Him. And He departed from our sight, that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. He would not be long with us, yet left us not; for He departed there, whence He never departed, because the world was made by Him. John 1:10 And in this world He was, and into this world He came to save sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15 unto whom my soul does confess, that He may heal it, for it has sinned against Him. O you sons of men, how long so slow of heart? Luke 24:25 Even now, after the Life is descended to you, will you not ascend and live? But where do you ascend, when you are on high, and set your mouth against the heavens? Descend that you may ascend, and ascend to God. For you have fallen by ascending against Him. Tell them this, that they may weep in the valley of tears, and so draw them with you to God, because it is by His Spirit that you speak thus unto them, if you speak burning with the fire of love. , 20. These things I knew not at that time, and I loved these lower beauties, and I was sinking to the very depths; and I said to my friends, Do we love anything but the beautiful? What, then, is the beautiful? And what is beauty? What is it that allures and unites us to the things we love; for unless there were a grace and beauty in them, they could by no means attract us to them? And I marked and perceived that in bodies themselves there was a beauty from their forming a kind of whole, and another from mutual fitness, as one part of the body with its whole, or a shoe with a foot, and so on. And this consideration sprang up in my mind out of the recesses of my heart, and I wrote books (two or three, I think) on the fair and fit. You know, O Lord, for it has escaped me; for I have them not, but they have strayed from me, I know not how. , 21. But what was it that prompted me, O Lord my God, to dedicate these books to Hierius, an orator of Rome, whom I knew not by sight, but loved the man for the fame of his learning, for which he was renowned, and some words of his which I had heard, and which had pleased me? But the more did he please me in that he pleased others, who highly extolled him, astonished that a native of Syria, instructed first in Greek eloquence, should afterwards become a wonderful Latin orator, and one so well versed in studies pertaining unto wisdom. Thus a man is commended and loved when absent. Does this love enter into the heart of the hearer from the mouth of the commender? Not so. But through one who loves is another inflamed. For hence he is loved who is commended when the commender is believed to praise him with an unfeigned heart; that is, when he that loves him praises him. 22. Thus, then, loved I men upon the judgment of men, not upon Yours, O my God, in which no man is deceived. But yet why not as the renowned charioteer, as the huntsman known far and wide by a vulgar popularity - but far otherwise, and seriously, and so as I would desire to be myself commended? For I would not that they should commend and love me as actors are - although I myself did commend and love them - but I would prefer being unknown than so known, and even being hated than so loved. Where now are these influences of such various and various kinds of loves distributed in one soul? What is it that I am in love with in another, which, if I did not hate, I should not detest and repel from myself, seeing we are equally men? For it does not follow that because a good horse is loved by him who would not, though he might, be that horse, the same should therefore be affirmed by an actor, who partakes of our nature. Do I then love in a man that which I, who am a man, hate to be? Man himself is a great deep, whose very hairs You number, O Lord, and they fall not to the ground without You. Matthew 10:29-30 And yet are the hairs of his head more readily numbered than are his affections and the movements of his heart. 23. But that orator was of the kind that I so loved as I wished myself to be such a one; and I erred through an inflated pride, and was carried about with every wind, Ephesians 4:14 but yet was piloted by You, though very secretly. And whence know I, and whence confidently confess I unto You that I loved him more because of the love of those who praised him, than for the very things for which they praised him? Because had he been upraised, and these self-same men had dispraised him, and with dispraise and scorn told the same things of him, I should never have been so inflamed and provoked to love him. And yet the things had not been different, nor he himself different, but only the affections of the narrators. See where lies the impotent soul that is not yet sustained by the solidity of truth! Just as the blasts of tongues blow from the breasts of conjecturers, so is it tossed this way and that, driven forward and backward, and the light is obscured to it and the truth not perceived. And behold it is before us. And to me it was a great matter that my style and studies should be known to that man; the which if he approved, I were the more stimulated, but if he disapproved, this vain heart of mine, void of Your solidity, had been offended. And yet that fair and fit, about which I wrote to him, I reflected on with pleasure, and contemplated it, and admired it, though none joined me in doing so. , 24. But not yet did I perceive the hinge on which this impotent matter turned in Your wisdom, O Thou Omnipotent, who alone does great wonders; and my mind ranged through corporeal forms, and I defined and distinguished as fair, that which is so in itself, and fit, that which is beautiful as it corresponds to some other thing; and this I supported by corporeal examples. And I turned my attention to the nature of the mind, but the false opinions which I entertained of spiritual things prevented me from seeing the truth. Yet the very power of truth forced itself on my gaze, and I turned away my throbbing soul from incorporeal substance, to lineaments, and colors, and bulky magnitudes. And not being able to perceive these in the mind, I thought I could not perceive my mind. And whereas in virtue I loved peace, and in viciousness I hated discord, in the former I distinguished unity, but in the latter a kind of division. And in that unity I conceived the rational soul and the nature of truth and of the chief good to consist. But in this division I, unfortunate one, imagined there was I know not what substance of irrational life, and the nature of the chief evil, which should not be a substance only, but real life also, and yet not emanating from You, O my God, from whom are all things. And yet the first I called a Monad, as if it had been a soul without sex, but the other a Duad - anger in deeds of violence, in deeds of passion, lust - not knowing of what I talked. For I had not known or learned that neither was evil a substance, nor our soul that chief and unchangeable good. 25. For even as it is in the case of deeds of violence, if that emotion of the soul from whence the stimulus comes be depraved, and carry itself insolently and mutinously; and in acts of passion, if that affection of the soul whereby carnal pleasures are imbibed is unrestrained - so do errors and false opinions contaminate the life, if the reasonable soul itself be depraved, as it was at that time in me, who was ignorant that it must be enlightened by another light that it may be partaker of truth, seeing that itself is not that nature of truth. For You will light my candle; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness; and of His fullness have all we received, John 1:16 for that was the true Light which lighted every man that comes into the world; John 1:9 for in You there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17 26. But I pressed towards You, and was repelled by You that I might taste of death, for You resist the proud. But what prouder than for me, with a marvellous madness, to assert myself to be that by nature which You are? For whereas I was mutable - so much being clear to me, for my very longing to become wise arose from the wish from worse to become better - yet chose I rather to think You mutable, than myself not to be that which You are. Therefore was I repelled by You, and You resisted my changeable stiffneckedness; and I imagined corporeal forms, and, being flesh, I accused flesh, and, being a wind that passes away, I returned not to You, but went wandering and wandering on towards those things that have no being, neither in You, nor in me, nor in the body. Neither were they created for me by Your truth, but conceived by my vain conceit out of corporeal things. And I used to ask Your faithful little ones, my fellow-citizens - from whom I unconsciously stood exiled - I used flippantly and foolishly to ask, Why, then, does the soul which God created err? But I would not permit any one to ask me, Why, then, does God err? And I contended that Your immutable substance erred of constraint, rather than admit that my mutable substance had gone astray of free will, and erred as a punishment. 27. I was about six or seven and twenty years of age when I wrote those volumes - meditating upon corporeal fictions, which clamoured in the ears of my heart. These I directed, O sweet Truth, to Your inward melody, pondering on the fair and fit, and longing to stay and listen to You, and to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voice, John 3:29 and I could not; for by the voices of my own errors was I driven forth, and by the weight of my own pride was I sinking into the lowest pit. For You did not make me to hear joy and gladness; nor did the bones which were not yet humbled rejoice. , 28. And what did it profit me that, when scarce twenty years old, a book of Aristotle's, entitled The Ten Predicaments, fell into my hands - on whose very name I hung as on something great and divine, when my rhetoric master of Carthage, and others who were esteemed learned, referred to it with cheeks swelling with pride - I read it alone and understood it? And on my conferring with others, who said that with the assistance of very able masters - who not only explained it orally, but drew many things in the dust - they scarcely understood it, and could tell me no more about it than I had acquired in reading it by myself alone? And the book appeared to me to speak plainly enough of substances, such as man is, and of their qualities, - such as the figure of a man, of what kind it is; and his stature, how many feet high; and his relationship, whose brother he is; or where placed, or when born; or whether he stands or sits, or is shod or armed, or does or suffers anything; and whatever innumerable things might be classed under these nine categories, - of which I have given some examples - or under that chief category of substance. 29. What did all this profit me, seeing it even hindered me, when, imagining that whatsoever existed was comprehended in those ten categories, I tried so to understand, O my God, Your wonderful and unchangeable unity as if Thou also had been subjected to Your own greatness or beauty, so that they should exist in You as their subject, like as in bodies, whereas You Yourself art Your greatness and beauty? But a body is not great or fair because it is a body, seeing that, though it were less great or fair, it should nevertheless be a body. But that which I had conceived of You was falsehood, not truth - fictions of my misery, not the supports of Your blessedness. For You had commanded, and it was done in me, that the earth should bring forth briars and thorns to me, Isaiah 32:13 and that with labour I should get my bread. Genesis 3:19 30. And what did it profit me that I, the base slave of vile affections, read unaided, and understood, all the books that I could get of the so-called liberal arts? And I took delight in them, but knew not whence came whatever in them was true and certain. For my back then was to the light, and my face towards the things enlightened; whence my face, with which I discerned the things enlightened, was not itself enlightened. Whatever was written either on rhetoric or logic, geometry, music, or arithmetic, did I, without any great difficulty, and without the teaching of any man, understand, as You know, O Lord my God, because both quickness of comprehension and acuteness of perception are Your gifts. Yet did I not thereupon sacrifice to You. So, then, it served not to my use, but rather to my destruction, since I went about to get so good a portion of my substance Luke 15:12 into my own power; and I kept not my strength for You, but went away from You into a far country, to waste it upon harlotries. Luke 15:13 For what did good abilities profit me, if I did not employ them to good uses? For I did not perceive that those arts were acquired with great difficulty, even by the studious and those gifted with genius, until I endeavoured to explain them to such; and he was the most proficient in them who followed my explanations not too slowly. 31. But what did this profit me, supposing that Thou, O Lord God, the Truth, were a bright and vast body, and I a piece of that body? Perverseness too great! But such was I. Nor do I blush, O my God, to confess to You Your mercies towards me, and to call upon You - I, who blushed not then to avow before men my blasphemies, and to bark against You. What profited me then my nimble wit in those sciences and all those knotty volumes, disentangled by me without help from a human master, seeing that I erred so odiously, and with such sacrilegious baseness, in the doctrine of piety? Or what impediment was it to Your little ones to have a far slower wit, seeing that they departed not far from You, that in the nest of Your Church they might safely become fledged, and nourish the wings of charity by the food of a sound faith? O Lord our God, under the shadow of Your wings let us hope, defend us, and carry us. You will carry us both when little, and even to grey hairs will You carry us; Isaiah 46:4 for our firmness, when it is Thou, then is it firmness; but when it is our own, then it is infirmity. Our good lives always with You, from which when we are averted we are perverted. Let us now, O Lord, return, that we be not overturned, because with You our good lives without any eclipse, which good You Yourself art. And we need not fear lest we should find no place unto which to return because we fell away from it; for when we were absent, our home - Your Eternity - fell not. <


nan1. Accept the sacrifice of my confessions by the agency of my tongue, which You have formed and quickened, that it may confess to Your name; and heal Thou all my bones, and let them say, Lord, who is like You? For neither does he who confesses to You teach You what may be passing within him, because a closed heart does not exclude Your eye, nor does man's hardness of heart repulse Your hand, but You dissolve it when You will, either in pity or in vengeance, and there is no One who can hide himself from Your heart. But let my soul praise You, that it may love You; and let it confess Your own mercies to You, that it may praise You. Your whole creation ceases not, nor is it silent in Your praises - neither the spirit of man, by the voice directed unto You, nor animal nor corporeal things, by the voice of those meditating thereon; so that our souls may from their weariness arise towards You, leaning on those things which You have made, and passing on to You, who hast made them wonderfully and there is there refreshment and true strength. , 2. Let the restless and the unjust depart and flee from You. You both see them and distinguish the shadows. And lo! All things with them are fair, yet they themselves are foul. And how have they injured You? Or in what have they disgraced Your government, which is just and perfect from heaven even to the lowest parts of the earth. For whither fled they when they fled from Your presence? Or where do You not find them? But they fled that they might not see You seeing them, and blinded might stumble against You; Genesis 16:13-14 since You forsake nothing that You have made - that the unjust might stumble against You, and justly be hurt, withdrawing themselves from Your gentleness, and stumbling against Your uprightness, and falling upon their own roughness. Forsooth, they know not that You are everywhere whom no place encompasses, and that You alone are near even to those that remove far from You. Let them, then, be converted and seek You; because not as they have forsaken their Creator have You forsaken Your creature. Let them be converted and seek You; and behold, You are there in their hearts, in the hearts of those who confess to You, and cast themselves upon You, and weep on Your bosom after their obdurate ways, even Thou gently wiping away their tears. And they weep the more, and rejoice in weeping, since Thou, O Lord, not man, flesh and blood, but Thou, Lord, who made, remakest and comfortest them. And where was I when I was seeking You? And You were before me, but I had gone away even from myself; nor did I find myself, much less You! , 3. Let me lay bare before my God that twenty-ninth year of my age. There had at this time come to Carthage a certain bishop of the Manich ans, by name Faustus, a great snare of the devil, and in any were entangled by him through the allurement of his smooth speech; the which, although I did commend, yet could I separate from the truth of those things which I was eager to learn. Nor did I esteem the small dish of oratory so much as the science, which this their so praised Faustus placed before me to feed upon. Fame, indeed, had before spoken of him to me, as most skilled in all becoming learning, and pre-eminently skilled in the liberal sciences. And as I had read and retained in memory many injunctions of the philosophers, I used to compare some teachings of theirs with those long fables of the Manich ans and the former things which they declared, who could only prevail so far as to estimate this lower world, while its lord they could by no means find out, Wisdom 13:9 seemed to me the more probable. For You are great, O Lord, and hast respect unto the lowly, but the proud You know afar off. Nor do You draw near but to the contrite heart, nor are You found by the proud, - not even could they number by cunning skill the stars and the sand, and measure the starry regions, and trace the courses of the planets. 4. For with their understanding and the capacity which You have bestowed upon them they search out these things; and much have they found out, and foretold many years before - the eclipses of those luminaries, the sun and moon, on what day, at what hour, and from how many particular points they were likely to come. Nor did their calculation fail them; and it came to pass even as they foretold. And they wrote down the rules found out, which are read at this day; and from these others foretell in what year and in what month of the year, and on what day of the month, and at what hour of the day, and at what quarter of its light, either moon or sun is to be eclipsed, and thus it shall be even as it is foretold. And men who are ignorant of these things marvel and are amazed, and they that know them exult and are exalted; and by an impious pride, departing from You, and forsaking Your light, they foretell a failure of the sun's light which is likely to occur so long before, but see not their own, which is now present. For they seek not religiously whence they have the ability where-with they seek out these things. And finding that You have made them, they give not themselves up to You, that You may preserve what You have made, nor sacrifice themselves to You, even such as they have made themselves to be; nor do they slay their own pride, as fowls of the air, nor their own curiosities, by which (like the fishes of the sea) they wander over the unknown paths of the abyss, nor their own extravagance, as the beasts of the field, that Thou, Lord, a consuming fire, Deuteronomy 4:24 may burn up their lifeless cares and renew them immortally. 5. But the way - Your Word, John 1:3 by whom Thou made these things which they number, and themselves who number, and the sense by which they perceive what they number, and the judgment out of which they number - they knew not, and that of Your wisdom there is no number. But the Only-begotten has been made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30 and has been numbered among us, and paid tribute to C sar. Matthew 17:27 This way, by which they might descend to Him from themselves, they knew not; nor that through Him they might ascend unto Him. This way they knew not, and they think themselves exalted with the stars Isaiah 14:13 and shining, and lo! They fell upon the earth, Revelation 12:4 and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:21 They say many true things concerning the creature; but Truth, the Artificer of the creature, they seek not with devotion, and hence they find Him not. Or if they find Him, knowing that He is God, they glorify Him not as God, neither are they thankful, Romans 1:21 but become vain in their imaginations, and say that they themselves are wise, Romans 1:22 attributing to themselves what is Yours; and by this, with most perverse blindness, they desire to impute to You what is their own, forging lies against You who art the Truth, and changing the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things, Romans 1:23 - changing Your truth into a lie, and worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. Romans 1:25 6. Many truths, however, concerning the creature did I retain from these men, and the cause appeared to me from calculations, the succession of seasons, and the visible manifestations of the stars; and I compared them with the sayings of Manich us, who in his frenzy has written most extensively on these subjects, but discovered not any account either of the solstices, or the equinoxes, the eclipses of the luminaries, or anything of the kind I had learned in the books of secular philosophy. But therein I was ordered to believe, and yet it corresponded not with those rules acknowledged by calculation and my own sight, but was far different. , 7. Does, then, O Lord God of truth, whosoever knows those things therefore please You? For unhappy is the man who knows all those things, but knows You not; but happy is he who knows You, though these he may not know. But he who knows both You and them is not the happier on account of them, but is happy on account of You only, if knowing You he glorify You as God, and gives thanks, and becomes not vain in his thoughts. Romans 1:21 But as he is happier who knows how to possess a tree, and for the use thereof renders thanks to You, although he may not know how many cubits high it is, or how wide it spreads, than he that measures it and counts all its branches, and neither owns it nor knows or loves its Creator; so a just man, whose is the entire world of wealth, and who, as having nothing, yet possesses all things 2 Corinthians 6:10 by cleaving unto You, to whom all things are subservient, though he know not even the circles of the Great Bear, yet it is foolish to doubt but that he may verily be better than he who can measure the heavens, and number the stars, and weigh the elements, but is forgetful of You, who hast set in order all things in number, weight, and measure. Wisdom 11:20 , 8. But yet who was it that ordered Manich us to write on these things likewise, skill in which was not necessary to piety? For You have told man to behold piety and wisdom, of which he might be in ignorance although having a complete knowledge of these other things; but since, knowing not these things, he yet most impudently dared to teach them, it is clear that he had no acquaintance with piety. For even when we have a knowledge of these worldly matters, it is folly to make a profession of them; but confession to You is piety. It was therefore with this view that this straying one spoke much of these matters, that, standing convicted by those who had in truth learned them, the understanding that he really had in those more difficult things might be made plain. For he wished not to be lightly esteemed, but went about trying to persuade men that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and Enricher of Your faithful ones, was with full authority personally resident in him. When, therefore, it was discovered that his teaching concerning the heavens and stars, and the motions of sun and moon, was false, though these things do not relate to the doctrine of religion, yet his sacrilegious arrogance would become sufficiently evident, seeing that not only did he affirm things of which he knew nothing, but also perverted them, and with such egregious vanity of pride as to seek to attribute them to himself as to a divine being. 9. For when I hear a Christian brother ignorant of these things, or in error concerning them, I can bear with patience to see that man hold to his opinions; nor can I apprehend that any want of knowledge as to the situation or nature of this material creation can be injurious to him, so long as he does not entertain belief in anything unworthy of You, O Lord, the Creator of all. But if he conceives it to pertain to the form of the doctrine of piety, and presumes to affirm with great obstinacy that whereof he is ignorant, therein lies the injury. And yet even a weakness such as this in the dawn of faith is borne by our Mother Charity, till the new man may grow up unto a perfect man, and not be carried about with every wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:13-14 But in him who thus presumed to be at once the teacher, author, head, and leader of all whom he could induce to believe this, so that all who followed him believed that they were following not a simple man only, but Your Holy Spirit, who would not judge that such great insanity, when once it stood convicted of false teaching, should be abhorred and utterly cast off? But I had not yet clearly ascertained whether the changes of longer and shorter days and nights, and day and night itself, with the eclipses of the greater lights, and whatever of the like kind I had read in other books, could be expounded consistently with his words. Should I have found myself able to do so, there would still have remained a doubt in my mind whether it were so or no, although I might, on the strength of his reputed godliness, rest my faith on his authority. , 10. And for nearly the whole of those nine years during which, with unstable mind, I had been their follower, I had been looking forward with but too great eagerness for the arrival of this same Faustus. For the other members of the sect whom I had chanced to light upon, when unable to answer the questions I raised, always bade me look forward to his coming, when, by discoursing with him, these, and greater difficulties if I had them, would be most easily and amply cleared away. When at last he did come, I found him to be a man of pleasant speech, who spoke of the very same things as they themselves did, although more fluently, and in better language. But of what profit to me was the elegance of my cup-bearer, since he offered me not the more precious draught for which I thirsted? My ears were already satiated with similar things; neither did they appear to me more conclusive, because better expressed; nor true, because oratorical; nor the spirit necessarily wise, because the face was comely and the language eloquent. But they who extolled him to me were not competent judges; and therefore, as he was possessed of suavity of speech, he appeared to them to be prudent and wise. Another sort of persons, however, was, I was aware, suspicious even of truth itself, if enunciated in smooth and flowing language. But me, O my God, You had already instructed by wonderful and mysterious ways, and therefore I believe that You instructed me because it is truth; nor of truth is there any other teacher - where or whencesoever it may shine upon us - but You. From You, therefore, I had now learned, that because a thing is eloquently expressed, it should not of necessity seem to be true; nor, because uttered with stammering lips, should it be false nor, again, perforce true, because unskilfully delivered; nor consequently untrue, because the language is fine; but that wisdom and folly are as food both wholesome and unwholesome, and courtly or simple words as town-made or rustic vessels - and both kinds of food may be served in either kind of dish. 11. That eagerness, therefore, with which I had so long waited for this man was in truth delighted with his action and feeling when disputing, and the fluent and apt words with which he clothed his ideas. I was therefore filled with joy, and joined with others (and even exceeded them) in exalting and praising him. It was, however, a source of annoyance to me that I was not allowed at those meetings of his auditors to introduce and impart any of those questions that troubled me in familiar exchange of arguments with him. When I might speak, and began, in conjunction with my friends, to engage his attention at such times as it was not unseeming for him to enter into a discussion with me, and had mooted such questions as perplexed me, I discovered him first to know nothing of the liberal sciences save grammar, and that only in an ordinary way. Having, however, read some of Tully's Orations, a very few books of Seneca and some of the poets, and such few volumes of his own sect as were written coherently in Latin, and being day by day practised in speaking, he so acquired a sort of eloquence, which proved the more delightful and enticing in that it was under the control of ready tact, and a sort of native grace. Is it not even as I recall, O Lord my God, Thou judge of my conscience? My heart and my memory are laid before You, who at that time directed me by the inscrutable mystery of Your Providence, and set before my face those vile errors of mine, in order that I might see and loathe them. , 12. For when it became plain to me that he was ignorant of those arts in which I had believed him to excel, I began to despair of his clearing up and explaining all the perplexities which harassed me: though ignorant of these, however, he might still have held the truth of piety, had he not been a Manich an. For their books are full of lengthy fables concerning the heaven and stars, the sun and moon, and I had ceased to think him able to decide in a satisfactory manner what I ardently desired - whether, on comparing these things with the calculations I had read elsewhere, the explanations contained in the works of Manich us were preferable, or at any rate equally sound? But when I proposed that these subjects should be deliberated upon and reasoned out, he very modestly did not dare to endure the burden. For he was aware that he had no knowledge of these things, and was not ashamed to confess it. For he was not one of those loquacious persons, many of whom I had been troubled with, who covenanted to teach me these things, and said nothing; but this man possessed a heart, which, though not right towards You, yet was not altogether false towards himself. For he was not altogether ignorant of his own ignorance, nor would he without due consideration be inveigled in a controversy, from which he could neither draw back nor extricate himself fairly. And for that I was even more pleased with him, for more beautiful is the modesty of an ingenuous mind than the acquisition of the knowledge I desired - and such I found him to be in all the more abstruse and subtle questions. 13. My eagerness after the writings of Manich us having thus received a check, and despairing even more of their other teachers - seeing that in sundry things which puzzled me, he, so famous among them, had thus turned out - I began to occupy myself with him in the study of that literature which he also much affected, and which I, as Professor of Rhetoric, was then engaged in teaching the young Carthaginian students, and in reading with him either what he expressed a wish to hear, or I deemed suited to his bent of mind. But all my endeavours by which I had concluded to improve in that sect, by acquaintance with that man, came completely to an end: not that I separated myself altogether from them, but, as one who could find nothing better, I determined in the meantime upon contenting myself with what I had in any way lighted upon, unless, by chance, something more desirable should present itself. Thus that Faustus, who had entrapped so many to their death - neither willing nor witting it - now began to loosen the snare in which I had been taken. For Your hands, O my God, in the hidden design of Your Providence, did not desert my soul; and out of the blood of my mother's heart, through the tears that she poured out by day and by night, was a sacrifice offered unto You for me; and by marvellous ways did Thou deal with me. Joel 2:26 It was Thou, O my God, who did it, for the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and He shall dispose his way. Or how can we procure salvation but from Your hand, remaking what it has made? , 14. You dealt with me, therefore, that I should be persuaded to go to Rome, and teach there rather what I was then teaching at Carthage. And how I was persuaded to do this, I will not fail to confess unto You; for in this also the profoundest workings of Your wisdom, and Your ever present mercy to usward, must be pondered and avowed. It was not my desire to go to Rome because greater advantages and dignities were guaranteed me by the friends who persuaded me into this - although even at this period I was influenced by these considerations - but my principal and almost sole motive was, that I had been informed that the youths studied more quietly there, and were kept under by the control of more rigid discipline, so that they did not capriciously and impudently rush into the school of a master not their own, into whose presence they were forbidden to enter unless with his consent. At Carthage, on the contrary, there was among the scholars a shameful and intemperate license. They burst in rudely, and, with almost furious gesticulations, interrupt the system which any one may have instituted for the good of his pupils. Many outrages they perpetrate with astounding phlegm, which would be punishable by law were they not sustained by custom; that custom showing them to be the more worthless, in that they now do, as according to law, what by Your unchangeable law will never be lawful. And they fancy they do it with impunity, whereas the very blindness whereby they do it is their punishment, and they suffer far greater things than they do. The manners, then, which as a student I would not adopt, I was compelled as a teacher to submit to from others; and so I was too glad to go where all who knew anything about it assured me that similar things were not done. But You, my refuge and my portion in the land of the living, while at Carthage goaded me, so that I might thereby be withdrawn from it, and exchange my worldly habitation for the preservation of my soul; while at Rome You offered me enticements by which to attract me there, by men enchanted with this dying life - the one doing insane actions, and the other making assurances of vain things; and, in order to correct my footsteps, secretly employed their and my perversity. For both they who disturbed my tranquillity were blinded by a shameful madness, and they who allured me elsewhere smacked of the earth. And I, who hated real misery here, sought fictitious happiness there. 15. But the cause of my going thence and going there, You, O God, knew, yet revealed it not, either to me or to my mother, who grievously lamented my journey, and went with me as far as the sea. But I deceived her, when she violently restrained me either that she might retain me or accompany me, and I pretended that I had a friend whom I could not quit until he had a favourable wind to set sail. And I lied to my mother - and such a mother!- and got away. For this also You have in mercy pardoned me, saving me, thus replete with abominable pollutions, from the waters of the sea, for the water of Your grace, whereby, when I was purified, the fountains of my mother's eyes should be dried, from which for me she day by day watered the ground under her face. And yet, refusing to go back without me, it was with difficulty I persuaded her to remain that night in a place quite close to our ship, where there was an oratory in memory of the blessed Cyprian. That night I secretly left, but she was not backward in prayers and weeping. And what was it, O Lord, that she, with such an abundance of tears, was asking of You, but that You would not permit me to sail? But You, mysteriously counselling and hearing the real purpose of her desire, granted not what she then asked, in order to make me what she was ever asking. The wind blew and filled our sails, and withdrew the shore from our sight; and she, wild with grief, was there on the morrow, and filled Your ears with complaints and groans, which You disregarded; while, by the means of my longings, You were hastening me on to the cessation of all longing, and the gross part of her love to me was whipped out by the just lash of sorrow. But, like all mothers - though even more than others - she loved to have me with her, and knew not what joy You were preparing for her by my absence. Being ignorant of this, she did weep and mourn, and in her agony was seen the inheritance of Eve, - seeking in sorrow what in sorrow she had brought forth. And yet, after accusing my perfidy and cruelty, she again continued her intercessions for me with You, returned to her accustomed place, and I to Rome. , 16. And behold, there was I received by the scourge of bodily sickness, and I was descending into hell burdened with all the sins that I had committed, both against You, myself, and others, many and grievous, over and above that bond of original sin whereby we all die in Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:22 For none of these things had Thou forgiven me in Christ, neither had He abolished by His cross the enmity which, by my sins, I had incurred with You. For how could He, by the crucifixion of a phantasm, which I supposed Him to be? As true, then, was the death of my soul, as that of His flesh appeared to me to be untrue; and as true the death of His flesh as the life of my soul, which believed it not, was false. The fever increasing, I was now passing away and perishing. For had I then gone hence, whither should I have gone but into the fiery torments meet for my misdeeds, in the truth of Your ordinance? She was ignorant of this, yet, while absent, prayed for me. But You, everywhere present, hearkened to her where she was, and had pity upon me where I was, that I should regain my bodily health, although still frenzied in my sacrilegious heart. For all that peril did not make me wish to be baptized, and I was better when, as a lad, I entreated it of my mother's piety, as I have already related and confessed. But I had grown up to my own dishonour, and all the purposes of Your medicine I madly derided, who would not suffer me, though such a one, to die a double death. Had my mother's heart been smitten with this wound, it never could have been cured. For I cannot sufficiently express the love she had for me, nor how she now travailed for me in the spirit with a far keener anguish than when she bore me in the flesh. 17. I cannot conceive, therefore, how she could have been healed if such a death of mine had transfixed the bowels of her love. Where then would have been her so earnest, frequent, and unintermitted prayers to You alone? But could Thou, most merciful God, despise the contrite and humble heart of that pure and prudent widow, so constant in almsdeeds, so gracious and attentive to Your saints, not permitting one day to pass without oblation at Your altar, twice a day, at morning and even-tide, coming to Your church without intermission - not for vain gossiping, nor old wives' fables, 1 Timothy 5:10 but in order that she might listen to You in Your sermons, and Thou to her in her prayers? Could You- You by whose gift she was such - despise and disregard without succouring the tears of such a one, wherewith she entreated You not for gold or silver, nor for any changing or fleeting good, but for the salvation of the soul of her son? By no means, Lord. Assuredly You were near, and were hearing and doing in that method in which You had predetermined that it should be done. Far be it from You that Thou should delude her in those visions and the answers she had from You - some of which I have spoken of, and others not, - which she kept Luke 2:19 in her faithful breast, and, always petitioning, pressed upon You as Your autograph. For Thou, because Your mercy endures for ever, condescendest to those whose debts You have pardoned, to become likewise a debtor by Your promises. , 18. You restored me then from that illness, and made sound the son of Your hand-maid meanwhile in body, that he might live for You, to endow him with a higher and more enduring health. And even then at Rome I joined those deluding and deluded saints; not their hearers only - of the number of whom was he in whose house I had fallen ill, and had recovered - but those also whom they designate The Elect. For it still seemed to me that it was not we that sin, but that I know not what other nature sinned in us. And it gratified my pride to be free from blame and, after I had committed any fault, not to acknowledge that I had done any -that You might heal my soul because it had sinned against You; but I loved to excuse it, and to accuse something else (I know not what) which was with me, but was not I. But assuredly it was wholly I, and my impiety had divided me against myself; and that sin was all the more incurable in that I did not deem myself a sinner. And execrable iniquity it was, O God omnipotent, that I would rather have You to be overcome in me to my destruction, than myself of You to salvation! Not yet, therefore, had Thou set a watch before my mouth, and kept the door of my lips, that my heart might not incline to wicked speeches, to make excuses of sins, with men that work iniquity - and, therefore, was I still united with their Elect. 19. But now, hopeless of making proficiency in that false doctrine, even those things with which I had decided upon contenting myself, providing that I could find nothing better, I now held more loosely and negligently. For I was half inclined to believe that those philosophers whom they call Academics were more sagacious than the rest, in that they held that we ought to doubt everything, and ruled that man had not the power of comprehending any truth; for so, not yet realizing their meaning, I also was fully persuaded that they thought just as they are commonly held to do. And I did not fail frankly to restrain in my host that assurance which I observed him to have in those fictions of which the works of Manich us are full. Notwithstanding, I was on terms of more intimate friendship with them than with others who were not of this heresy. Nor did I defend it with my former ardour; still my familiarity with that sect (many of them being concealed in Rome) made me slower to seek any other way - particularly since I was hopeless of finding the truth, from which in Your Church, O Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of all things visible and invisible, they had turned me aside - and it seemed to me most unbecoming to believe You to have the form of human flesh, and to be bounded by the bodily lineaments of our members. And because, when I desired to meditate on my God, I knew not what to think of but a mass of bodies (for what was not such did not seem to me to be), this was the greatest and almost sole cause of my inevitable error. 20. For hence I also believed evil to be a similar sort of substance, and to be possessed of its own foul and misshapen mass - whether dense, which they denominated earth, or thin and subtle, as is the body of the air, which they fancy some malignant spirit crawling through that earth. And because a piety- such as it was - compelled me to believe that the good God never created any evil nature, I conceived two masses, the one opposed to the other, both infinite, but the evil the more contracted, the good the more expansive. And from this mischievous commencement the other profanities followed on me. For when my mind tried to revert to the Catholic faith, I was cast back, since what I had held to be the Catholic faith was not so. And it appeared to me more devout to look upon You, my God - to whom I make confession of Your mercies - as infinite, at least, on other sides, although on that side where the mass of evil was in opposition to You I was compelled to confess You finite, that if on every side I should conceive You to be confined by the form of a human body. And better did it seem to me to believe that no evil had been created by You - which to me in my ignorance appeared not only some substance, but a bodily one, because I had no conception of the mind excepting as a subtle body, and that diffused in local spaces - than to believe that anything could emanate from You of such a kind as I considered the nature of evil to be. And our very Saviour Himself, also, Your only-begotten, I believed to have been reached forth, as it were, for our salvation out of the lump of Your most effulgent mass, so as to believe nothing of Him but what I was able to imagine in my vanity. Such a nature, then, I thought could not be born of the Virgin Mary without being mingled with the flesh; and how that which I had thus figured to myself could be mingled without being contaminated, I saw not. I was afraid, therefore, to believe Him to be born in the flesh, lest I should be compelled to believe Him contaminated by the flesh. Now will Your spiritual ones blandly and lovingly smile at me if they shall read these my confessions; yet such was I. , 21. Furthermore, whatever they had censured in Your Scriptures I thought impossible to be defended; and yet sometimes, indeed, I desired to confer on these several points with some one well learned in those books, and to try what he thought of them. For at this time the words of one Helpidius, speaking and disputing face to face against the said Manich ans, had begun to move me even at Carthage, in that he brought forth things from the Scriptures not easily withstood, to which their answer appeared to me feeble. And this answer they did not give forth publicly, but only to us in private - when they said that the writings of the New Testament had been tampered with by I know not whom, who were desirous of ingrafting the Jewish law upon the Christian faith; but they themselves did not bring forward any uncorrupted copies. But I, thinking of corporeal things, very much ensnared and in a measure stifled, was oppressed by those masses; panting under which for the breath of Your Truth, I was not able to breathe it pure and undefiled. , 22. Then began I assiduously to practise that for which I came to Rome- the teaching of rhetoric; and first to bring together at my home some to whom, and through whom, I had begun to be known; when, behold, I learned that other offenses were committed in Rome which I had not to bear in Africa. For those subvertings by abandoned young men were not practised here, as I had been informed; yet, suddenly, said they, to evade paying their master's fees, many of the youths conspire together, and remove themselves to another - breakers of faith, who, for the love of money, set a small value on justice. These also my heart hated, though not with a perfect hatred; for, perhaps, I hated them more in that I was to suffer by them, than for the illicit acts they committed. Such of a truth are base persons, and they are unfaithful to You, loving these transitory mockeries of temporal things, and vile gain, which begrimes the hand that lays hold on it; and embracing the fleeting world, and scorning You, who abides, and invites to return, and pardons the prostituted human soul when it returns to You. And now I hate such crooked and perverse men, although I love them if they are to be corrected so as to prefer the learning they obtain to money, and to learning You, O God, the truth and fullness of certain good and most chaste peace. But then was the wish stronger in me for my own sake not to suffer them evil, than was the wish that they should become good for Yours. , 23. When, therefore, they of Milan had sent to Rome to the prefect of the city, to provide them with a teacher of rhetoric for their city, and to dispatch him at the public expense, I made interest through those identical persons, drunk with Manich an vanities, to be freed from whom I was going away - neither of us, however, being aware of it - that Symmachus, the then prefect, having proved me by proposing a subject, would send me. And to Milan I came, unto Ambrose the bishop, known to the whole world as among the best of men, Your devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did at that time strenuously dispense unto Your people the flour of Your wheat, the gladness of Your oil, and the sober intoxication of Your wine. To him was I unknowingly led by You, that by him I might knowingly be led to You. That man of God received me like a father, and looked with a benevolent and episcopal kindliness on my change of abode. And I began to love him, not at first, indeed, as a teacher of the truth - which I entirely despaired of in Your Church, - but as a man friendly to myself. And I studiously hearkened to him preaching to the people, not with the motive I should, but, as it were, trying to discover whether his eloquence came up to the fame thereof, or flowed fuller or lower than was asserted; and I hung on his words intently, but of the matter I was but as a careless and contemptuous spectator; and I was delighted with the pleasantness of his speech, more erudite, yet less cheerful and soothing in manner, than that of Faustus. Of the matter, however, there could be no comparison; for the latter was straying amid Manich an deceptions, while the former was teaching salvation most soundly. But salvation is far from the wicked, such as I then stood before him; and yet I was drawing nearer gradually and unconsciously. , 24. For although I took no trouble to learn what he spoke, but only to hear how he spoke (for that empty care alone remained to me, despairing of a way accessible for man to You), yet, together with the words which I prized, there came into my mind also the things about which I was careless; for I could not separate them. And while I opened my heart to admit how skilfully he spoke, there also entered with it, but gradually, and how truly he spoke! For first, these things also had begun to appear to me to be defensible; and the Catholic faith, for which I had fancied nothing could be said against the attacks of the Manich ans, I now conceived might be maintained without presumption; especially after I had heard one or two parts of the Old Testament explained, and often allegorically - which when I accepted literally, I was killed spiritually. Many places, then, of those books having been expounded to me, I now blamed my despair in having believed that no reply could be made to those who hated and derided the Law and the Prophets. Yet I did not then see that for that reason the Catholic way was to be held because it had its learned advocates, who could at length, and not irrationally, answer objections; nor that what I held ought therefore to be condemned because both sides were equally defensible. For that way did not appear to me to be vanquished; nor yet did it seem to me to be victorious. 25. Hereupon did I earnestly bend my mind to see if in any way I could possibly prove the Manich ans guilty of falsehood. Could I have realized a spiritual substance, all their strongholds would have been beaten down, and cast utterly out of my mind; but I could not. But yet, concerning the body of this world, and the whole of nature, which the senses of the flesh can attain unto, I, now more and more considering and comparing things, judged that the greater part of the philosophers held much the more probable opinions. So, then, after the manner of the Academics (as they are supposed), doubting of everything and fluctuating between all, I decided that the Manich ans were to be abandoned; judging that, even while in that period of doubt, I could not remain in a sect to which I preferred some of the philosophers; to which philosophers, however, because they were without the saving name of Christ, I utterly refused to commit the cure of my fainting soul. I resolved, therefore, to be a catechumen in the Catholic Church, which my parents had commended to me, until something settled should manifest itself to me whither I might steer my course. <


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

5 results
1. Hebrew Bible, Genesis, 2-3, 1 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

2. Augustine, Confessions, 1.1, 4.12.18, 9.13.37, 10.3.3 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

1.1. 1. Great are You, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Your power, and of Your wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Your creation, desires to praise You — man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that You resist the proud, - yet man, this part of Your creation, desires to praise You. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You. [cor nostrum inquietum est donec requiescat in Te] Lord, teach me to know and understand which of these should be first: to call on You, or to praise You; and likewise to know You, or to call on You. But who calls upon You without knowing You? For he that knows You not may call upon You as other than You are. Or perhaps we call on You that we may know You. But how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe without a preacher? Romans 10:14 And those who seek the Lord shall praise Him. For those who seek shall find Him, Matthew 7:7 and those who find Him shall praise Him. Let me seek You, Lord, in calling on You, and call on You in believing in You; for You have been preached unto us. O Lord, my faith calls on You - that faith which You have imparted to me, which You have breathed into me through the incarnation of Your Son, through the ministry of Your preacher.
3. Jerome, Letters, 70 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

4. Jerome, Letters, 70 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

5. Jerome, Letters, 70 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
augustine Cheuk-Yin Yam, Trinity and Grace in Augustine (2019) 50; Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271, 281, 283, 285, 288
augustine , birthplace (thagaste) Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 1206
augustine , conversion Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 1206
augustine , generally Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 1206
augustine , life Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 619
augustine , manicheansim Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 619
augustine , preconversion life Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 1206
baptism Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271
bishops Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271
child/children/childhood Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271
christianity (early) Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 285, 288
confession Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 283
hymns Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 281
identity, christian identity Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271, 285, 288
identity Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 271, 285, 288
jesus christ Cheuk-Yin Yam, Trinity and Grace in Augustine (2019) 50
liberal disciplines' Conybeare, The Irrational Augustine (2006) 146
manicheanism, and augustine Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 619
paradox Cheuk-Yin Yam, Trinity and Grace in Augustine (2019) 50
per fidem diligatur Cheuk-Yin Yam, Trinity and Grace in Augustine (2019) 50
plato Cheuk-Yin Yam, Trinity and Grace in Augustine (2019) 50
prayer/praying, intercession Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 281
prototypicality Sandnes and Hvalvik, Early Christian Prayer and Identity Formation (2014) 285