Writings of Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustin

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The Confessions of St. Augustin

St. Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo

In Thirteen Books

Translated and Annotated by J.G. Pilkington, M.A., Vicar of St. Mark's, West Hackney; And Sometime Clerical Secretary of the Bishop of London's Fund.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

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Book III.

Of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth years of his age, passed at Carthage, when, having completed his course of studies, he is caught in the snares of a licentious passion, and falls into the errors of the Manichæans.


Chapter I.--Deluded by an Insane Love, He, Though Foul and Dishonourable, Desires to Be Thought Elegant and Urbane.

1. To Carthage I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves bubbled up all around me. I loved not as yet, yet I loved to love; and with a hidden want, I abhorred myself that I wanted not. I searched about for something to love, in love with loving, and hating security, and a way not beset with snares. For within me I had a dearth of that inward food, Thyself, my God, though that dearth caused me no hunger; but I remained without all desire for incorruptible food, not because I was already filled thereby, but the more empty I was the more I loathed it. For this reason my soul was far from well, and, full of ulcers, it miserably cast itself forth, craving to be excited by contact with objects of sense. Yet, had these no soul, they would not surely inspire love. To love and to be loved was sweet to me, and all the more when I succeeded in enjoying the person I loved. I befouled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I dimmed its lustre with the hell of lustfulness; and yet, foul and dishonourable as I was, I craved, through an excess of vanity, to be thought elegant and urbane. I fell precipitately, then, into the love in which I longed to be ensnared. My God, my mercy, with how much bitterness didst Thou, out of Thy infinite goodness, besprinkle for me that sweetness! For I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of enjoying; and was joyfully bound with troublesome ties, that I might be scourged with the burning iron rods of jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger, and strife.


Chapter II.--In Public Spectacles He is Moved by an Empty Compassion. He is Attacked by a Troublesome Spiritual Disease.

2. Stage-plays also drew me away, full of representations of my miseries and of fuel to my fire. [218] Why does man like to be made sad when viewing doleful and tragical scenes, which yet he himself would by no means suffer? And yet he wishes, as a spectator, to experience from them a sense of grief, and in this very grief his pleasure consists. What is this but wretched insanity? For a man is more affected with these actions, the less free he is from such affections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his own person, it is the custom to style it "misery" but when he compassionates others, then it is styled "mercy." [219] But what kind of mercy is it that arises from fictitious and scenic passions? The hearer is not expected to relieve, but merely invited to grieve; and the more he grieves, the more he applauds the actor of these fictions. And if the misfortunes of the characters (whether of olden times or merely imaginary) be so represented as not to touch the feelings of the spectator, he goes away disgusted and censorious; but if his feelings be touched, he sits it out attentively, and sheds tears of joy.

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3. Are sorrows, then, also loved? Surely all men desire to rejoice? Or, as man wishes to be miserable, is he, nevertheless, glad to be merciful, which, because it cannot exist without passion, for this cause alone are passions loved? This also is from that vein of friendship. But whither does it go? Whither does it flow? Wherefore runs it into that torrent of pitch, [220] seething forth those huge tides of loathsome lusts into which it is changed and transformed, being of its own will cast away and corrupted from its celestial clearness? Shall, then, mercy be repudiated? By no means. Let us, therefore, love sorrows sometimes. But beware of uncleanness, O my soul, under the protection of my God, the God of our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted above all for ever, [221] beware of uncleanness. For I have not now ceased to have compassion; but then in the theatres I sympathized with lovers when they sinfully enjoyed one another, although this was done fictitiously in the play. And when they lost one another, I grieved with them, as if pitying them, and yet had delight in both. But now-a-days I feel much more pity for him that delighteth in his wickedness, than for him who is counted as enduring hardships by failing to obtain some pernicious pleasure, and the loss of some miserable felicity. This, surely, is the truer mercy, but grief hath no delight in it. For though he that condoles with the unhappy be approved for his office of charity, yet would he who had real compassion rather there were nothing for him to grieve about. For if goodwill be ill-willed (which it cannot), then can he who is truly and sincerely commiserating wish that there should be some unhappy ones, that he might commiserate them. Some grief may then be justified, none loved. For thus dost Thou, O Lord God, who lovest souls far more purely than do we, and art more incorruptibly compassionate, although Thou art wounded by no sorrow. "And who is sufficient for these things?" [222]

4. But I, wretched one, then loved to grieve, and sought out what to grieve at, as when, in another man's misery, though reigned and counterfeited, that delivery of the actor best pleased me, and attracted me the most powerfully, which moved me to tears. What marvel was it that an unhappy sheep, straying from Thy flock, and impatient of Thy care, I became infected with a foul disease? And hence came my love of griefs--not such as should probe me too deeply, for I loved not to suffer such things as I loved to look upon, but such as, when hearing their fictions, should lightly affect the surface; upon which, like as with empoisoned nails, followed burning, swelling, putrefaction, and horrible corruption. Such was my life! But was it life, O my God?

Footnotes

[218] The early Fathers strongly reprobated stage-plays, and those who went to them were excluded from baptism. This is not to be wondered at, when we learn that "even the laws of Rome prohibited actors from being enrolled as citizens" (De Civ. Dei, ii. 14), and that they were accounted infamous (Tertullian, De Spectac. sec. xxii.). See also Tertullian, De Pudicitia, c. vii. [219] See i. 9, note, above. [220] An allusion, probably, as Watts suggests, to the sea of Sodom, which, according to Tacitus (Hist. book v.), throws up bitumen "at stated seasons of the year." Tacitus likewise alludes to its pestiferous odour, and to its being deadly to birds and fish. See also Gen. xiv. 3, 10. [221] Song of the Three Holy Children, verse 3. [222] 2 Cor. ii. 16.


Chapter III.--Not Even When at Church Does He Suppress His Desires. In the School of Rhetoric He Abhors the Acts of the Subverters.

5. And Thy faithful mercy hovered over me afar. Upon what unseemly iniquities did I wear myself out, following a sacrilegious curiosity, that, having deserted Thee, it might drag me into the treacherous abyss, and to the beguiling obedience of devils, unto whom I immolated my wicked deeds, and in all which Thou didst scourge me! I dared, even while Thy solemn rites were being celebrated within the walls of Thy church, to desire, and to plan a business sufficient to procure me the fruits of death; for which Thou chastisedst me with grievous punishments, but nothing in comparison with my fault, O Thou my greatest mercy, my God, my refuge from those terrible hurts, among which I wandered with presumptuous neck, receding farther from Thee, loving my own ways, and not Thine--loving a vagrant liberty.

6. Those studies, also, which were accounted honourable, were directed towards the courts of law; to excel in which, the more crafty I was, the more I should be praised. Such is the blindness of men, that they even glory in their blindness. And now I was head in the School of Rhetoric, whereat I rejoiced proudly, and became inflated with arrogance, though more sedate, O Lord, as Thou knowest, and altogether removed from the subvertings of those "subverters" [223] (for this stupid and diabolical name was held to be the very brand of gallantry) amongst whom I lived, with an impudent shamefacedness that I was not even as they were. And with them I was, and at times I was delighted with their friendship whose acts I ever abhorred, that is, their "subverting," wherewith they insolently attacked the modesty of strangers, which they disturbed by uncalled for jeers, gratifying thereby their mischievous mirth. Nothing can more nearly resemble the actions of devils than these. By what name, therefore, could they be more truly called than "subverters"?--being themselves subverted first, and altogether perverted--being secretly mocked at and seduced by the deceiving spirits, in what they themselves delight to jeer at and deceive others.

Footnotes

[223] Eversores. "These for their boldness were like our `Roarers,' and for their jeering like the worser sort of those that would be called `The Wits.'"--W. W. "This appears to have been a name which a pestilent and savage set of persons gave themselves, licentious alike in speech and action. Augustin names them again, De Vera Relig. c. 40; Ep. 185 ad Bonifac. c. 4; and below, v. c. 12; whence they seemed to have consisted mainly of Carthaginian students, whose savage life is mentioned again, ib. c. 8."--E. B. P.


Chapter IV.--In the Nineteenth Year of His Age (His Father Having Died Two Years Before) He is Led by the "Hortensius" Of Cicero to "Philosophy," To God, and a Better Mode of Thinking.

7. Among such as these, at that unstable period of my life, I studied books of eloquence, wherein I was eager to be eminent from a damnable and inflated purpose, even a delight in human vanity. In the ordinary course of study, I lighted upon a certain book of Cicero, whose language, though not his heart, almost all admire. This book of his contains an exhortation to philosophy, and is called Hortensius. This book, in truth, changed my affections, and turned my prayers to Thyself, O Lord, and made me have other hopes and desires. Worthless suddenly became every vain hope to me; and, with an incredible warmth of heart, I yearned for an immortality of wisdom, [224] and began now to arise [225] that I might return to Thee. Not, then, to improve my language--which I appeared to be purchasing with my mother's means, in that my nineteenth year, my father having died two years before--not to improve my language did I have recourse to that book; nor did it persuade me by its style, but its matter.

8. How ardent was I then, my God, how ardent to fly from earthly things to Thee! Nor did I know how Thou wouldst deal with me. For with Thee is wisdom. In Greek the love of wisdom is called "philosophy," [226] with which that book inflamed me. There be some who seduce through philosophy, under a great, and alluring, and honourable name colouring and adorning their own errors. And almost all who in that and former times were such, are in that book censured and pointed out. There is also disclosed that most salutary admonition of Thy Spirit, by Thy good and pious servant: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." [227] And since at that time (as Thou, O Light of my heart, knowest) the words of the apostle were unknown to me, I was delighted with that exhortation, in so far only as I was thereby stimulated, and enkindled, and inflamed to love, seek, obtain, hold, and embrace, not this or that sect, but wisdom itself, whatever it were; and this alone checked me thus ardent, that the name of Christ was not in it. For this name, according to Thy mercy, O Lord, this name of my Saviour Thy Son, had my tender heart piously drunk in, deeply treasured even with my mother's milk; and whatsoever was without that name, though never so erudite, polished, and truthful, took not complete hold of me.

Footnotes

[224] Up to the time of Cicero the Romans employed the term sapientia for philosophia (Monboddo's Ancient Metaphys. i. 5). It is interesting to watch the effect of the philosophy in which they had been trained on the writings of some of the Fathers. Even Justin Martyr, the first after the "Apostolic," has traces of this influence. See the account of his search for "wisdom," and conversion, in his Dialogue with Trypho, ii. and iii. [225] Luke xv. 18. [226] See above, note 1. [227] Col. ii. 8, 9.


Chapter V.--He Rejects the Sacred Scriptures as Too Simple, and as Not to Be Compared with the Dignity of Tully.

9. I resolved, therefore, to direct my mind to the Holy Scriptures, that I might see what they were. And behold, I perceive something not comprehended by the proud, not disclosed to children, but lowly as you approach, sublime as you advance, and veiled in mysteries; and I was not of the number of those who could enter into it, or bend my neck to follow its steps. For not as when now I speak did I feel when I tuned towards those Scriptures, [228] but they appeared to me to be unworthy to be compared with the dignity of Tully; for my inflated pride shunned their style, nor could the sharpness of my wit pierce their inner meaning. [229] Yet, truly, were they such as would develope in little ones; but I scorned to be a little one, and, swollen with pride, I looked upon myself as a great one.

Footnotes

[228] In connection with the opinion Augustin formed of the Scriptures before and after his conversion, it is interesting to recall Fenelon's glowing description of the literary merit of the Bible. The whole passage might well be quoted did space permit:--"L'Ecriture surpasse en naivete, en vivacite, en grandeur, tous les ecrivains de Rome et de la Grece. Jamais Homere meme n'a approche de la sublimite de Moise dans ses cantiques....Jamais nulle ode Grecque ou Latine n'a pu atteindre a la hauteur des Psaumes....Jamais Homere ni aucun autre poete n'a egale Isaïe peignant la majeste de Dieu....Tantot ce prophète a toute la douceur et toute la tendresse d'une eglogue, dans les riantes peintures qu'il fait de la paix, tantot il s'elove jusqu' a laisser tout au-dessous de lui. Mais qu'y a-t-il, dans l'antiquite profane, de comparable au tendre Jeremie, deplorant les maux de son peuple; ou a Nahum, voyant de loin, en esprit, tomber la superbe Ninive sous les efforts d'une armee innombrable? On croit voir cette armee, ou croit entendre le bruit des armes et des chariots; tout est depeint d'une manière vive qui saisit l'imagination; il laisse Homère loin derrière lui....Enfin, il y a autant de difference entre les poëtes profanes et les prophetes, qu'il y en a entre le veritable enthousiasme et le faux."--Sur l' Eloq. de la Chaire, Dial. iii. [229] That is probably the "spiritual" meaning on which Ambrose (vi. 6, below) laid so much emphasis. How different is the attitude of mind indicated in xi. 3 from the spiritual pride which beset him at this period of his life! When converted he became as a little child, and ever looked to God as a Father, from whom he must receive both light and strength. He speaks, on Ps. cxlvi., of the Scriptures, which were plain to "the little ones," being obscured to the mocking spirit of the Manichæans. See also below, iii. 14, note.


Chapter VI.--Deceived by His Own Fault, He Falls into the Errors of the Manichæans, Who Gloried in the True Knowledge of God and in a Thorough Examination of Things.

10. Therefore I fell among men proudly raving, very carnal, and voluble, in whose mouths were the snares of the devil--the birdlime being composed of a mixture of the syllables of Thy name, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. [230] These names departed not out of their mouths, but so far forth as the sound only and the clatter of the tongue, for the heart was empty of truth. Still they cried, "Truth, Truth," and spoke much about it to me, "yet was it not in them;" [231] but they spake falsely not of Thee only--who, verily, art the Truth--but also of these elements of this world, Thy creatures. And I, in truth, should have passed by philosophers, even when speaking truth concerning them, for love of Thee, my Father, supremely good, beauty of all things beautiful. O Truth, Truth! how inwardly even then did the marrow of my soul pant after Thee, when they frequently, and in a multiplicity of ways, and in numerous and huge books, sounded out Thy name to me, though it was but a voice! [232] And these were the dishes in which to me, hungering for Thee, they, instead of Thee, served up the sun and moon, Thy beauteous works--but yet Thy works, not Thyself, nay, nor Thy first works. For before these corporeal works are Thy spiritual ones, celestial and shining though they be. But I hungered and thirsted not even after those first works of Thine, but after Thee Thyself, the Truth, "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning;" [233] yet they still served up to me in those dishes glowing phantasies, than which better were it to love this very sun (which, at least, is true to our sight), than those illusions which deceive the mind through the eye. And yet, because I supposed them to be Thee, I fed upon them; not with avidity, for Thou didst not taste to my mouth as Thou art, for Thou wast not these empty fictions; neither was I nourished by them, but the rather exhausted. Food in our sleep appears like our food awake; yet the sleepers are not nourished by it, for they are asleep. But those things were not in any way like unto Thee as Thou hast now spoken unto me, in that those were corporeal phantasies, false bodies, than which these true bodies, whether celestial or terrestrial, which we perceive with our fleshly sight, are much more certain. These things the very beasts and birds perceive as well as we, and they are more certain than when we imagine them. And again, we do with more certainty imagine them, than by them conceive of other greater and infinite bodies which have no existence. With such empty husks was I then fed, and was not fed. But Thou, my Love, in looking for whom I fail [234] that I may be strong, art neither those bodies that we see, although in heaven, nor art Thou those which we see not there; for Thou hast created them, nor dost Thou reckon them amongst Thy greatest works. How far, then, art Thou from those phantasies of mine, phantasies of bodies which are not at all, than which the images of those bodies which are, are more certain, and still more certain the bodies themselves, which yet Thou art not; nay, nor yet the soul, which is the life of the bodies. Better, then, and more certain is the life of bodies than the bodies themselves. But Thou art the life of souls, the life of lives, having life in Thyself; and Thou changest not, O Life of my soul.

11. Where, then, wert Thou then to me, and how far from me? Far, indeed, was I wandering away from Thee, being even shut out from the very husks of the swine, whom with husks I fed. [235] For how much better, then, are the fables of the grammarians and poets than these snares! For verses, and poems, and Medea flying, are more profitable truly than these men's five elements, variously painted, to answer to the five caves of darkness, [236] none of which exist, and which slay the believer. For verses and poems I can turn into [237] true food, but the "Medea flying," though I sang, I maintained it not; though I heard it sung, I believed it not; but those things I did believe. Woe, woe, by what steps was I dragged down "to the depths of hell!" [238] --toiling and turmoiling through want of Truth, when I sought after Thee, my God,--to Thee I confess it, who hadst mercy on me when I had not yet confessed,--sought after Thee not according to the understanding of the mind, in which Thou desiredst that I should excel the beasts, but according to the sense of the flesh! Thou wert more inward to me than my most inward part; and higher than my highest. I came upon that bold woman, who "is simple, and knoweth nothing," [239] the enigma of Solomon, sitting "at the door of the house on a seat," and saying, "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." [240] This woman seduced me, because she found my soul beyond its portals, dwelling in the eye of my flesh, and thinking on such food as through it I had devoured.

Footnotes

[230] So, in Book xxii. sec. 13 of his reply to Faustus, he charges them with "professing to believe the New Testament in order to entrap the unwary;" and again, in sec. 15, he says: " They claim the impious liberty of holding and teaching, that whatever they deem favourable to their heresy was said by Christ and the apostles; while they have the profane boldness to say, that whatever in the same writings is unfavourable to them is a spurious interpolation." They professed to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, but affirmed (ibid. xx. 6) "that the Father dwells in a secret light, the power of the Son in the sun, and His wisdom in the moon, and the Holy Spirit in the air." It was this employment of the phraseology of Scripture to convey doctrines utterly unscriptural that rendered their teaching such a snare to the unwary. See also below, v. 12, note. [231] 1 John ii. 4. [232] There was something peculiarly enthralling to an ardent mind like Augustin's in the Manichæan system. That system was kindred in many ways to modern Rationalism. Reason was exalted at the expense of faith. Nothing was received on mere authority, and the disciple's inner consciousness was the touchstone of truth. The result of this is well pointed out by Augustin (Con. Faust, xxxii. sec. 19): "Your design, clearly, is to deprive Scripture of all authority, and to make every man's mind the judge what passage of Scripture he is to approve of, and what to disapprove of. This is not to be subject to Scripture in matters of faith, but to make Scripture subject to you. Instead of making the high authority of Scripture the reason of approval, every man makes his approval the reason for thinking a passage correct." Compare also Con. Faust, xi. sec. 2, and xxxii. sec. 16. [233] Jas. i. 17. [234] Ps. lxix. 3. [235] Luke xv. 16; and see below, vi. sec. 3, note. [236] See below, xii. sec. 6, note. [237] "Of this passage St. Augustin is probably speaking when he says, `Praises bestowed on bread in simplicity of heart, let him (Petilian) defame, if he will, by the ludicrous title of poisoning and corrupting frenzy.' Augustin meant in mockery, that by verses he could get his bread; his calumniator seems to have twisted the word to signify a love-potion.--Con. Lit. Petiliani, iii. 16."--E. B. P. [238] Prov. ix. 18. [239] Prov. ix. 13. [240] Prov. ix. 14, 17.


Chapter VII.--He Attacks the Doctrine of the Manichæans Concerning Evil, God, and the Righteousness of the Patriarchs.

12. For I was ignorant as to that which really is, and was, as it were, violently moved to give my support to foolish deceivers, when they asked me, "Whence is evil?" [241] --and, "Is God limited by a bodily shape, and has He hairs and nails?"--and, "Are they to be esteemed righteous who had many wives at once and did kill men, and sacrificed living creatures?" [242] At which things I, in my ignorance, was much disturbed, and, retreating from the truth, I appeared to myself to be going towards it; because as yet I knew not that evil was naught but a privation of good, until in the end it ceases altogether to be; which how should I see, the sight of whose eyes saw no further than bodies, and of my mind no further than a phantasm? And I knew not God to be a Spirit, [243] not one who hath parts extended in length and breadth, nor whose being was bulk; for every bulk is less in a part than in the whole, and, if it be infinite, it must be less in such part as is limited by a certain space than in its infinity; and cannot be wholly everywhere, as Spirit, as God is. And what that should be in us, by which we were like unto God, and might rightly in Scripture be said to be after "the image of God," [244] I was entirely ignorant.

13. Nor had I knowledge of that true inner righteousness, which doth not judge according to custom, but out of the most perfect law of God Almighty, by which the manners of places and times were adapted to those places and times--being itself the while the same always and everywhere, not one thing in one place, and another in another; according to which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and all those commended by the mouth of God were righteous, [245] but were judged unrighteous by foolish men, judging out of man's judgment, [246] and gauging by the petty standard of their own manners the manners of the whole human race. Like as if in an armoury, one knowing not what were adapted to the several members should put greaves on his head, or boot himself with a helmet, and then complain because they would not fit. Or as if, on some day when in the afternoon business was forbidden, one were to fume at not being allowed to sell as it was lawful to him in the forenoon. Or when in some house he sees a servant take something in his hand which the butler is not permitted to touch, or something done behind a stable which would be prohibited in the dining-room, and should be indignant that in one house, and one family, the same thing is not distributed everywhere to all. Such are they who cannot endure to hear something to have been lawful for righteous men in former times which is not so now; or that God, for certain temporal reasons, commanded them one thing, and these another, but both obeying the same righteousness; though they see, in one man, one day, and one house, different things to be fit for different members, and a thing which was formerly lawful after a time unlawful--that permitted or commanded in one corner, which done in another is justly prohibited and punished. Is justice, then, various and changeable? Nay, but the times over which she presides are not all alike, because they are times. [247] But men, whose days upon the earth are few, [248] because by their own perception they cannot harmonize the causes of former ages and other nations, of which they had no experience, with these of which they have experience, though in one and the same body, day, or family, they can readily see what is suitable for each member, season, part, and person--to the one they take exception, to the other they submit.

14. These things I then knew not, nor observed. They met my eyes on every side, and I saw them not. I composed poems, in which it was not permitted me to place every foot everywhere, but in one metre one way, and in another, nor even in any one verse the same foot in all places. Yet the art itself by which I composed had not different principles for these different cases, but comprised all in one. Still I saw not how that righteousness, which good and holy men submitted to, far more excellently and sublimely comprehended in one all those things which God commanded, and in no part varied, though in varying times it did not prescribe all things at once, but distributed and enjoined what was proper for each. And I, being blind, blamed those pious fathers, not only for making use of present things as God commanded and inspired them to do, but also for foreshowing things to come as God was revealing them. [249]

Footnotes

[241] The strange mixture of the pensive philosophy of Persia with Gnosticism and Christianity, propounded by Manichæus, attempted to solve this question, which was "the great object of heretical inquiry" (Mansel's Gnostics, lec. i.). It was Augustin's desire for knowledge concerning it that united him to this sect, and which also led him to forsake it, when he found therein nothing but empty fables (De Lib. Arb. i. sec. 4). Manichæus taught that evil and good were primeval, and had independent existences. Augustin, on the other hand, maintains that it was not possible for evil so to exist (De Civ. Dei, xi. sec. 22) but, as he here states, evil is "a privation of good." The evil will has a causa deficiens, but not a causa efficiens (ibid. xii. 6), as is exemplified in the fall of the angels. [242] 1 Kings xviii. 40. [243] John iv. 24. [244] Gen. i. 27; see vi. sec. 4, note. [245] Heb. xi. 8-40. [246] 1 Cor. iv. 3. [247] The law of the development of revelation implied in the above passage is one to which Augustin frequently resorts in confutation of objections such as those to which he refers in the previous and following sections. It may likewise be effectively used when similar objections are raised by modern sceptics. In the Rabbinical books there is a tradition of the wanderings of the children of Israel, that not only did their clothes not wax old (Deut. xxix. 5) during those forty years, but that they grew with their growth. The written word is as it were the swaddling-clothes of the holy child Jesus; and as the revelation concerning Him--the Word Incarnate--grew, did the written word grow. God spoke in sundry parts [poluemros] and in divers manners unto the fathers by the prophets (Heb. i. 1); but when the "fulness of the time was come" (Gal. iv. 4), He completed the revelation in His Son. Our Lord indicates this principle when He speaks of divorce in Matt. xix. 8. "Moses," he says, "because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." (See Con. Faust. xix. 26, 29.) When objections, then, as to obsolete ritual usages, or the sins committed by Old Testament worthies are urged, the answer is plain: the ritual has become obsolete, because only intended for the infancy of revelation, and the sins, while recorded in, are not approved by Scripture, and those who committed them will be judged according to the measure of revelation they received. See also De Ver. Relig. xvii.; in Ps. lxxiii. 1, liv. 22; Con. Faust. xxii. 25; Trench, Hulsean Lecs. iv., v. (1845); and Candlish's Reason and Revelation, pp. 58-75. [248] Job xiv. 1. [249] Here, as at the end of sec. 17, he alludes to the typical and allegorical character of Old Testament histories. Though he does not with Origen go so far as to disparage the letter of Scripture (see De Civ. Dei, xiii. 21), but upholds it, he constantly employs the allegorical principle. He (alluding to the patriarchs) goes so far, indeed, as to say (Con. Faust., xxii. 24), that "not only the speech but the life of these men was prophetic; and the whole kingdom of the Hebrews was like a great prophet;" and again: "We may discover a prophecy of the coming of Christ and of the Church both in what they said and what they did". This method of interpretation he first learned from Ambrose. See note on "the letter killeth," etc. (below, vi. sec. 6), for the danger attending it. On the general subject, reference may also be made to his in Ps. cxxxvi. 3; Serm. 2; De Tentat. Abr. sec. 7; and De Civ. Dei, xvii. 3.


Chapter VIII.--He Argues Against the Same as to the Reason of Offences.

15. Can it at any time or place be an unrighteous thing for a man to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind, and his neighbour as himself? [250] Therefore those offences which be contrary to nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and punished; such were those of the Sodomites, which should all nations commit, they should all be held guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which hath not so made men that they should in that way abuse one another. For even that fellowship which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature of which He is author is polluted by the perversity of lust. But those offences which are contrary to the customs of men are to be avoided according to the customs severally prevailing; so that an agreement made, and confirmed by custom or law of any city or nation, may not be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, whether citizen or stranger. For any part which is not consistent with its whole is unseemly. But when God commands anything contrary to the customs or compacts of any nation to be done, though it were never done by them before, it is to be done; and if intermitted it is to be restored, and, if never established, to be established. For if it be lawful for a king, in the state over which he reigns, to command that which neither he himself nor any one before him had commanded, and to obey him cannot be held to be inimical to the public interest,--nay, it were so if he were not obeyed (for obedience to princes is a general compact of human society),--how much more, then, ought we unhesitatingly to obey God, the Governor of all His creatures! For as among the authorities of human society the greater authority is obeyed before the lesser, so must God above all.

16. So also in deeds of violence, where there is a desire to harm, whether by contumely or injury; and both of these either by reason of revenge, as one enemy against another; or to obtain some advantage over another, as the highwayman to the traveller; or for the avoiding of some evil, as with him who is in fear of another; or through envy, as the unfortunate man to one who is happy; or as he that is prosperous in anything to him who he fears will become equal to himself, or whose equality he grieves at; or for the mere pleasure in another's pains, as the spectators of gladiators, or the deriders and mockers of others. These be the chief iniquities which spring forth from the lust of the flesh, of the eye, and of power, whether singly, or two together, or all at once. And so do men live in opposition to the three and seven, that psaltery "of ten strings," [251] Thy ten commandments, O God most high and most sweet. But what foul offences can there be against Thee who canst not be defiled? Or what deeds of violence against thee who canst not be harmed? But Thou avengest that which men perpetrate against themselves, seeing also that when they sin against Thee, they do wickedly against their own souls; and iniquity gives itself the lie, [252] either by corrupting or perverting their nature, which Thou hast made and ordained, or by an immoderate use of things permitted, or in "burning" in things forbidden to that use which is against nature; [253] or when convicted, raging with heart and voice against Thee, kicking against the pricks; [254] or when, breaking through the pale of human society, they audaciously rejoice in private combinations or divisions, according as they have been pleased or offended. And these things are done whenever Thou art forsaken, O Fountain of Life, who art the only and true Creator and Ruler of the universe, and by a self-willed pride any one false thing is selected therefrom and loved. So, then, by a humble piety we return to Thee; and thou purgest us from our evil customs, and art merciful unto the sins of those who confess unto Thee, and dost "hear the groaning of the prisoner," [255] and dost loosen us from those fetters which we have forged for ourselves, if we lift not up against Thee the horns of a false liberty,--losing all through craving more, by loving more our own private good than Thee, the good of all.

Footnotes

[250] Deut. vi. 5, and Matt. xxii. 37-39. [251] Ps. cxliv. 9. "St. Augustin (Quæst in Exod. ii. qu. 71) mentions the two modes of dividing the ten commandments into three and seven, or four and six, and gives what appear to have been his own private reasons for preferring the first. Both commonly existed in his day, but the Anglican mode appears to have been the most usual. It occurs in Origen, Greg. Naz., Jerome, Ambrose, Chrys. St. Augustin alludes to his division again, Serm. 8, 9, de x.Chordis, and sec. 33 on this psalm: `To the first commandment there belong three strings because God is trine. To the other, i.e., the love of our neighbour, seven strings. These let us join to those three, which belong to the love of God, if we would on the psaltery of ten strings sing a new song.'"--E.B.P. [252] Ps. xxvii. 12, Vulg. [253] Rom. i. 24-29. [254] Acts ix. 5. [255] Ps. cii. 20.


Chapter IX.--That the Judgment of God and Men as to Human Acts of Violence, is Different.

17. But amidst these offences of infamy and violence, and so many iniquities, are the sins of men who are, on the whole, making progress; which, by those who judge rightly, and after the rule of perfection, are censured, yet commended withal, upon the hope of bearing fruit, like as in the green blade of the growing corn. And there are some which resemble offences of infamy or violence, and yet are not sins, because they neither offend Thee, our Lord God, nor social custom: when, for example, things suitable for the times are provided for the use of life, and we are uncertain whether it be out of a lust of having; or when acts are punished by constituted authority for the sake of correction, and we are uncertain whether it be out of a lust of hurting. Many a deed, then, which in the sight of men is disapproved, is approved by Thy testimony; and many a one who is praised by men is, Thou being witness, condemned; because frequently the view of the deed, and the mind of the doer, and the hidden exigency of the period, severally vary. But when Thou unexpectedly commandest an unusual and unthought-of thing--yea, even if Thou hast formerly forbidden it, and still for the time keepest secret the reason of Thy command, and it even be contrary to the ordinance of some society of men, who doubts but it is to be done, inasmuch as that society is righteous which serves Thee? [256] But blessed are they who know Thy commands! For all things were done by them who served Thee either to exhibit something necessary at the time, or to foreshow things to come. [257]

Footnotes

[256] The Manichæans, like the deistical writers of the last century, attacked the spoiling of the Egyptians, the slaughter of the Canaanites, and such episodes. Referring to the former, Augustin says (Con. Faust. xxii. 71), "Then, as for Faustus' objection to the spoiling of the Egyptians, he knows not what he says. In this Moses not only did not sin, but it would have been sin not to do it. It was by the command of God, who, from His knowledge both of the actions and of the hearts of men, can decide upon what every one should be made to suffer, and through whose agency. The people at that time were still carnal, and engrossed with earthly affection; while the Egyptians were in open rebellion against God, for they used the gold, God's creature, in the service of idols, to the dishonour of the Creator, and they had grievously oppressed strangers by making them work without pay. Thus the Egyptians deserved the punishment, and the Israelites were suitably employed in inflicting it." For an exhaustive vindication of the conduct of the children of Israel as the agents of God in punishing the Canaanites, see Graves on the Pentateuch, Part iii. lecture I. See also De Civ. Dei, i. 26; and Quæst. in Jos. 8, 16, etc. [257] See note on sec. 14, above.


Chapter X.--He Reproves the Triflings of the Manichæans as to the Fruits of the Earth.

18. These things being ignorant of, I derided those holy servants and prophets of Thine. And what did I gain by deriding them but to be derided by Thee, being insensibly, and little by little, led on to those follies, as to credit that a fig-tree wept when it was plucked, and that the mother-tree shed milky tears? Which fig notwithstanding, plucked not by his own but another's wickedness, had some "saint" [258] eaten and mingled with his entrails, he should breathe out of it angels; yea, in his prayers he shall assuredly groan and sigh forth particles of God, which particles of the most high and true God should have remained bound in that fig unless they had been set free by the teeth and belly of some "elect saint"! [259] And I, miserable one, believed that more mercy was to be shown to the fruits of the earth than unto men, for whom they were created; for if a hungry man--who was not a Manichæan--should beg for any, that morsel which should be given him would appear, as it were, condemned to capital punishment. [260]

Footnotes

[258] i.e. Manichæan saint. [259] According to this extraordinary system, it was the privilege of the "elect" to set free in eating such parts of the divine substance as were imprisoned in the vegetable creation (Con. Faust. xxxi. 5). They did not marry or work in the fields, and led an ascetic life, the "hearers" or catechumens being privileged to provide them with food. The "elect" passed immediately on dying into the realm of light, while, as a reward for their service, the souls of the "hearers" after death transmigrated into plants (from which they might be most readily freed), or into the "elect," so as, in their turn, to pass away into the realm of light. See Con. Faust. v. 10, xx. 23; and in Ps. cxl. [260] Augustin frequently alludes to their conduct to the poor, in refusing to give them bread or the fruits of the earth, lest in eating they should defile the portion of God contained therein. But to avoid the odium of their conduct, they would inconsequently give money whereby food might be bought. See in Ps. cxl. sec. 12; and De Mor. Manich. 36, 37, and 53.


Chapter XI.--He Refers to the Tears, and the Memorable Dream Concerning Her Son, Granted by God to His Mother.

19. And Thou sendedst Thine hand from above, [261] and drewest my soul out of that profound darkness, when my mother, Thy faithful one, wept to thee on my behalf more than mothers are wont to weep the bodily death of their children. For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from Thee, and Thou heardest her, O Lord. Thou heardest her, and despisedst not her tears, when, pouring down, they watered the earth [262] under her eyes in every place where she prayed; yea, Thou heardest her. For whence was that dream with which Thou consoledst her, so that she permitted me to live with her, and to have my meals at the same table in the house, which she had begun to avoid, hating and detesting the blasphemies of my error? For she saw herself standing on a certain wooden rule, [263] and a bright youth advancing towards her, joyous and smiling upon her, whilst she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But he having inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (he wishing to teach, as is their wont, and not to be taught), and she answering that it was my perdition she was lamenting, he bade her rest contented, and told her to behold and see "that where she was, there was I also." And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule. Whence was this, unless that Thine ears were inclined towards her heart? O Thou Good Omnipotent, who so carest for every one of us as if Thou caredst for him only, and so for all as if they were but one!

20. Whence was this, also, that when she had narrated this vision to me, and I tried to put this construction on it, "That she rather should not despair of being some day what I was," she immediately, without hesitation, replied, "No; for it was not told me that `where he is, there shalt thou be,' but `where thou art, there shall he be'"? I confess to Thee, O Lord, that, to the best of my remembrance (and I have oft spoken of this), Thy answer through my watchful mother--that she was not disquieted by the speciousness of my false interpretation, and saw in a moment what was to be seen, and which I myself had not in truth perceived before she spoke--even then moved me more than the dream itself, by which the happiness to that pious woman, to be realized so long after, was, for the alleviation of her present anxiety, so long before predicted. For nearly nine years passed in which I wallowed in the slime of that deep pit and the darkness of falsehood, striving often to rise, but being all the more heavily dashed down. But yet that chaste, pious, and sober widow (such as Thou lovest), now more buoyed up with hope, though no whit less zealous in her weeping and mourning, desisted not, at all the hours of her supplications, to bewail my case unto Thee. And her prayers entered into Thy presence, [264] and yet Thou didst still suffer me to be involved and re-involved in that darkness.

Footnotes

[261] Ps. cxliv. 7. [262] He alludes here to that devout manner of the Eastern ancients, who used to lie flat on their faces in prayer.--W. W. [263] Symbolical of the rule of faith. See viii. sec. 30, below. [264] Ps. lxxxviii. 1.


Chapter XII.--The Excellent Answer of the Bishop When Referred to by His Mother as to the Conversion of Her Son.

21. And meanwhile Thou grantedst her another answer, which I recall; for much I pass over, hastening on to those things which the more strongly impel me to confess unto Thee, and much I do not remember. Thou didst grant her then another answer, by a priest of Thine, a certain bishop, reared in Thy Church and well versed in Thy books. He, when this woman had entreated that he would vouchsafe to have some talk with me, refute my errors, unteach me evil things, and teach me good (for this he was in the habit of doing when he found people fitted to receive it), refused, very prudently, as I afterwards came to see. For he answered that I was still unteachable, being inflated with the novelty of that heresy, and that I had already perplexed divers inexperienced persons with vexatious questions, [265] as she had informed him. "But leave him alone for a time," saith he, "only pray God for him; he will of himself, by reading, discover what that error is, and how great its impiety." He disclosed to her at the same time how he himself, when a little one, had, by his misguided mother, been given over to the Manichæans, and had not only read, but even written out almost all their books, and had come to see (without argument or proof from any one) how much that sect was to be shunned, and had shunned it. Which when he had said, and she would not be satisfied, but repeated more earnestly her entreaties, shedding copious tears, that he would see and discourse with me, he, a little vexed at her importunity, exclaimed, "Go thy way, and God bless thee, for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish." Which answer (as she often mentioned in her conversations with me) she accepted as though it were a voice from heaven.

Footnotes

[265] We can easily understand that Augustin's dialectic skill would render him a formidable opponent, while, with the zeal of a neophyte, he urged those difficulties of Scripture (De Agon. Christ. iv ) which the Manichæans knew so well how to employ. In an interesting passage (De Duab. Anim. con. Manich. ix.) he tells us that his victories over "inexperienced persons" stimulated him to fresh conquests, and thus kept him bound longer than he would otherwise have been in the chains of this heresy.


.

Book IV.

Then follows a period of nine years from the nineteenth year of his age, during which having lost a friend, he followed the Manichæans--and wrote books on the fair and fit, and published a work on the liberal arts, and the categories of Aristotle.


Chapter I.--Concerning that Most Unhappy Time in Which He, Being Deceived, Deceived Others; And Concerning the Mockers of His Confession.

1. 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 divers 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. [266] 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 Thee, O my God, laugh at me; but notwithstanding I would confess to Thee mine own shame in Thy praise. Bear with me, I beseech Thee, and give me grace to retrace in my present remembrance the circlings of my past errors, and to "offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving." [267] For what am I to myself without Thee, but a guide to mine own downfall? Or what am I even at the best, but one sucking Thy milk, [268] and feeding upon Thee, the meat that perisheth not? [269] 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" [270] confess unto Thee.

Footnotes

[266] Augustin tells us that he went not beyond the rank of a "hearer," because he found the Manichæan teachers readier in refuting others than in establishing their own views, and seems only to have looked for some esoteric doctrine to have been disclosed to him under their materialistic teaching as to God--viz. that He was an unmeasured Light that extended all ways but one, infinitely (Serm. iv. sec 5.)--rather than to have really accepted it.--De Util. Cred. Præf. See also iii. sec. 18, notes 1 and 2, above. [267] Ps. cxvi. 17. [268] 1 Pet. ii. 2. [269] John vi. 27. [270] Ps. lxxiv. 21.


Chapter II.--He Teaches Rhetoric, the Only Thing He Loved, and Scorns the Soothsayer, Who Promised Him Victory.

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, Thou knowest--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 Thou, O God, from afar sawest me stumbling in that slippery path, and amid much smoke [271] sending out some flashes of fidelity, which I exhibited in that my guidance of such as loved vanity and sought after leasing, [272] 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 [273] for Thee, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to love Thee, knowing not how to conceive aught beyond corporeal brightness. [274] And doth not a soul, sighing after such-like fictions, commit fornication against Thee, trust in false things, [275] and nourish the wind? [276] 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?

Footnotes

[271] Isa. xlii. 3, and Matt. xii. 20. [272] Ps. iv. 2. [273] "He alone is truly pure who waiteth on God, and keepeth himself to Him alone " (Aug. De Vita Beata, sec. 18). "Whoso seeketh God is pure, because the soul hath in God her legitimate husband. Whosoever seeketh of God anything besides God, doth not love God purely. If a wife loved her husband because he is rich, she is not pure, for she loveth not her husband but the gold of her husband" (Aug. Serm. 137). "Whoso seeks from God any other reward but God, and for it would serve God, esteems what he wishes to receive more than Him from whom he would receive it. What, then? hath God no reward? None, save Himself. The reward of God is God Himself. This it loveth; if it love aught beside, it is no pure love. You depart from the immortal flame, you will be chilled, corrupted. Do not depart; it will be thy corruption, will be fornication in thee" (Aug. in Ps. lxxii. sec. 32). "The pure fear of the Lord (Ps. xix. 9) is that wherewith the Church, the more ardently she loveth her husband, the more diligently she avoids offending Him, and therefore love, when perfected, casteth not out this fear, but it remaineth for ever and ever" (Aug. in loc.). "Under the name of pure fear is signified that will whereby we must needs be averse from sin, and avoid sin, not through the constant anxiety of infirmity, but through the tranquillity of affection" (De Civ. Dei, xiv. sec. 65).--E. B. P. [274] See note on sec. 9, below. [275] "Indisputably we must take care, lest the mind, believing that which it does not see, feign to itself something which is not, and hope for and love that which is false. For in that case it will not be charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, which is the end of the commandment" (De Trin. viii. sec. 6). And again (Confessions, i. 1): "For who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? For he that knoweth Thee not may call on Thee as other than Thou art." [276] Hosea xii. 1.


Chapter III.--Not Even the Most Experienced Men Could Persuade Him of the Vanity of Astrology to Which He Was Devoted.

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. [277] For good it is to confess unto Thee, and to say, "Be merciful unto me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee;" [278] and not to abuse Thy goodness for a license to sin, but to remember the words of the Lord, "Behold, thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." [279] All of which salutary advice they endeavour to destroy when they say, "The cause of thy 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 Thee, our God, the sweetness and well-spring of righteousness, who renderest "to every man according to his deeds," [280] and despisest not "a broken and a contrite heart!" [281]

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; [282] for this disease Thou alone healest, who resistest the proud, and givest grace to the humble. [283] But didst Thou 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 thou," saith he, "who hast rhetoric to support thyself by, so that thou followest this of free will, not of necessity--all the more, then, oughtest thou 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, Thou didst look after me. And Thou didst delineate 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.

Footnotes

[277] Augustin classes the votaries of both wizards and astrologers (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 23; and De Civ. Dei, x. 9; compare also Justin Martyr, Apol. ii. c. 5) as alike "deluded and imposed on by the false angels, to whom the lowest part of the world has been put in subjection by the law of God's providence;" and he says, "All arts of this sort are either nullities, or are part of a guilty superstition springing out of a baleful fellowship between men and devils, and are to be utterly repudiated and avoided by the Christian, as the covenants of a false and treacherous friendship." It is remarkable that though these arts were strongly denounced in the Pentateuch, the Jews--acquiring them from the surrounding Gentile nations--have embedded them deeply in their oral law, said also to be given by Moses (e.g. in Moed Katon 28, and Shabbath 156, prosperity comes from the influence of the stars; in Shabbath 61 it is a question whether the influence of the stars or a charm has been effective; and in Sanhedrin 17 magic is one of the qualifications for the Sanhedrim). It might have been expected that the Christians, if only from that reaction against Judaism which shows itself in Origen's disparagement of the letter of the Old Testament Scriptures (see De Princip. iv. 15, 16), would have shrunk from such strange arts. But the influx of pagans, who had practiced them, into the Christian Church appears gradually to have leavened it in no slight degree. This is not only true of the Valentinians (see Kaye's Clement of Alex. vi.) and other heretics, but the influence of these contacts is seen even in the writings of the "orthodox." Those who can read between the lines will find no slight trace of this (after separating what they would conceive to be true from what is manifestly false) in the story told by Zonaras, in his Annals, of the controversy between the Rabbis and Sylvester, Bishop of Rome, before Constantine. The Jews were worsted in argument, and evidently thought an appeal to miracles might, from the Emperor's education, bring him over to their side. An ox is brought forth. The Jewish wonder-worker whispers a mystic name into its ear, and it falls dead; but Sylvester, according to the story, is quite equal to the occasion, and restores the animal to life again by uttering the name of the Redeemer. It may have been that the cessation of miracles may have gradually led unstable professors of Christianity to invent miracles; and, as Bishop Kaye observes (Tertullian, p. 95), "the success of the first attempts naturally encouraged others to practice similar impositions on the credulity of mankind." As to the time of the cessation of miracles, comparison may be profitably made of the views of Kaye, in the early part of c. ii. of his Tertullian, and of Blunt, in his Right Use of the Early Fathers, series ii. lecture 6. [278] Ps. xli. 4. [279] John v. 14. [280] Rom. ii. 6, and Matt. xvi. 27. [281] Ps. li. 17. [282] This physician was Vindicianus, the "acute old man" mentioned in vii. sec. 8, below, and again in Ep. 138, as "the most eminent physician of his day." Augustin's disease, however, could not be reached by his remedies. We are irresistibly reminded of the words of our great poet:-- "Canst thou minister to a mind diseased; Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow; Raze out the written troubles of the brain; And, with some sweet oblivious antidote, Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff Which weighs upon the heart!" --Macbeth, act. v. scene 3. [283] 1 Pet. v. 5, and Jas. iv. 6.


Chapter IV.--Sorely Distressed by Weeping at the Death of His Friend, He Provides Consolation for Himself.

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 mine 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 school-fellows and play-fellows. But he was not then my friend, nor, indeed, afterwards, as true friendship is; for true it is not but in such as Thou bindest together, cleaving unto Thee by that love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us. [284] 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, Thou wert close behind Thy fugitives--at once God of vengeance [285] and Fountain of mercies, who turnest us to Thyself by wondrous means. Thou removedst 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 Thy praise" [286] which he hath experienced in himself alone? What was it that Thou didst then, O my God, and how unsearchable are the depths of Thy judgments! [287] 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; [288] 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 learnt 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 Thee 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. Mine 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; [289] but she knew not what to answer me. And if I said, "Hope thou in God," [290] 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 [291] she was bid to hope in. Naught but tears were sweet to me, and they succeeded my friend in the dearest of my affections.

Footnotes

[284] Rom. v. 5. [285] Ps. xciv. 1. [286] Ps. cvi. 2. [287] Ps. xxxvi. 6, and Rom. xi. 33. [288] See i. sec. 17, note 3, above. [289] Ps. xlii. 5. [290] Ibid. [291] The mind may rest in theories and abstractions, but the heart craves a being that it can love; and Archbishop Whately has shown in one of his essays that the idol worship of every age had doubtless its origin in the craving of mind and heart for an embodiment of the object of worship. "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," says Philip (John xiv. 8), and he expresses the longing of the soul; and when the Lord replies, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father," He reveals to us God's satisfaction of human wants in the incarnation of His Son. Augustin's heart was now thrown in upon itself, and his view of God gave him no consolation. It satisfied his mind, perhaps, in a measure, to think of God as a "corporeal brightness" (see iii. 12; iv. 3, 12, 31; v. 19, etc.) when free from trouble, but it could not satisfy him now. He had yet to learn of Him who is the very image of God--who by His divine power raised the dead to life again, while, with perfect human sympathy, He could "weep with those that wept,"--the "Son of Man" (not of a man, He being miraculously born, but of the race of men [anthropou]), i.e. the Son of Mankind. See also viii. sec. 27, note, below.


Chapter V.--Why Weeping is Pleasant to the Wretched.

10. And now, O Lord, these things are passed away, and time hath healed my wound. May I learn from Thee, who art Truth, and apply the ear of my heart unto Thy mouth, that Thou mayest tell me why weeping should be so sweet to the unhappy. [292] Hast Thou--although present everywhere--cast away far from Thee our misery? And Thou abidest in Thyself, but we are disquieted with divers trials; and yet, unless we wept in Thine 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 Thou hearest us that sweetens it? This is true of prayer, for therein is a desire to approach unto Thee. 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?

Footnotes

[292] For so it has ever been found to be:-- "Est quædam flere voluptas; Expletur lacrymis egeriturque dolor." --Ovid, Trist. iv. 3, 38.


Chapter VI.--His Friend Being Snatched Away by Death, He Imagines that He Remains Only as Half.

11. But why do I speak of these things? For this is not the time to question, but rather to confess unto Thee. 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 mine eyes towards Thee, and plucking my feet out of the net. [293] 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," [294] for I felt that my soul and his soul were but one soul in two bodies; [295] 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 [296] whom I had so greatly loved.

Footnotes

[293] Ps. xxv. 15. [294] Horace, Carm. i. ode 3. [295] Ovid, Trist. iv. eleg. iv. 72. [296] Augustin's reference to this passage in his Retractations is quoted at the beginning of the book. He might have gone further than to describe his words here as declamatio levis, since the conclusion is not logical.


Chapter VII.--Troubled by Restlessness and Grief, He Leaves His Country a Second Time for Carthage.

12. O madness, which knowest 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 Thee, O Lord, should it have been raised, for Thee to lighten and avert it. [297] This I knew, but was neither willing nor able; all the more since, in my thoughts of Thee, Thou wert not any solid or substantial thing to me. For Thou wert not Thyself, but an empty phantasm, [298] 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 mine 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.

Footnotes

[297] "The great and merciful Architect of His Church, whom not only the philosophers have styled, but the Scripture itself calls technites (an artist or artificer), employs not on us the hammer and chisel with an intent to wound or mangle us, but only to square and fashion our hard and stubborn hearts into such lively stones as may both grace and strengthen His heavenly structure."--Boyle. [298] See iii. 9; iv. 3, 12, 31; v. 19.


Chapter VIII.--That His Grief Ceased by Time, and the Consolation of Friends.

13. Times lose no time, nor do they idly roll through our senses. They work strange operations on the mind. [299] 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 by little and 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. [300] 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, [301] with whom I did love what instead of Thee 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.

Footnotes

[299] As Seneca has it: "Quod ratio non quit, sæpe sanabit mora" (Agam. 130). [300] See iv. cc. 1, 10, 12, and vi. c. 16. [301] "Friendship," says Lord Bacon, in his essay thereon,--the sentiment being perhaps suggested by Cicero's "Secundas res splendidiores facit amicitia et adversas partiens communicansque leviores" (De Amicit. 6),--"redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves." Augustin appears to have been eminently open to influences of this kind. In his De Duab. Anim. con. Manich. (c. ix.) he tells us that friendship was one of the bonds that kept him in the ranks of the Manichæans; and here we find that, aided by time and weeping, it restored him in his great grief. See also v. sec. 19, and vi. sec 26, below.


Chapter IX.--That the Love of a Human Being, However Constant in Loving and Returning Love, Perishes; While He Who Loves God Never Loses a Friend.

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 loveth Thee, and his friend in Thee, and his enemy for Thy 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, [302] and filleth them, [303] because by filling them He created them? [304] None loseth Thee but he who leaveth Thee. And he who leaveth Thee, whither goeth he, or whither fleeth he, but from Thee well pleased to Thee angry? For where doth not he find Thy law in his own punishment? "And Thy law is the truth," [305] and truth Thou. [306]

Footnotes

[302] Gen. i. 1. [303] Jer. xxiii. 24. [304] See i. 2, 3, above. [305] Ps. cxix. 142, and John xvii. 17. [306] John xiv. 6.


Chapter X.--That All Things Exist that They May Perish, and that We are Not Safe Unless God Watches Over Us.

15. "Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts, cause Thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." [307] For whithersoever the soul of man turns itself, unless towards Thee, it is affixed to sorrows, [308] yea, though it is affixed to beauteous things without Thee and without itself. And yet they were not unless they were from Thee. 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. [309] Thus much hast Thou 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 Thee 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 sufficeth 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 Thy word, by which they were created, they hear the fiat, "Hence and hitherto."

Footnotes

[307] Ps. lxxx. 19. [308] See iv. cc. 1, 12, and vi. c. 16, below. [309] It is interesting in connection with the above passages to note what Augustin says elsewhere as to the origin of the law of death in the sin of our first parents. In his De Gen. ad Lit. (vi. 25) he speaks thus of their condition in the garden, and the provision made for the maintenance of their life: "Aliud est non posse mori, sicut quasdam naturas immortales creavit Deus; aliud est autem posse non mori, secundum quem modum primus creatus est homo immortalis." Adam, he goes on to say, was able to avert death, by partaking of the tree of life. He enlarges on this doctrine in Book xiii. De Civ. Dei. He says (sec. 20): "Our first parents decayed not with years, nor drew nearer to death--a condition secured to them in God's marvellous grace by the tree of life, which grew along with the forbidden tree in the midst of Paradise." Again (sec. 19) he says: "Why do the philosophers find that absurd which the Christian faith preaches, namely, that our first parents were so created, that, if they had not sinned, they would not have been dismissed from their bodies by any death, but would have been endowed with immortality as the reward of their obedience, and would have lived eternally with their bodies?" That this was the doctrine of the early Church has been fully shown by Bishop Bull in his State of Man before the Fall, vol. ii. Theophilus of Antioch was of opinion (Ad Autolyc. c. 24) that Adam might have gone on from strength to strength, until at last he "would have been taken up into heaven." See also on this subject Dean Buckland's Sermon on Death; and Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychol. vi. secs. 1 and 2.


Chapter XI.--That Portions of the World are Not to Be Loved; But that God, Their Author, is Immutable, and His Word Eternal.

16. Be not foolish, O my soul, and deaden not the ear of thine heart with the tumult of thy folly. Hearken thou also. The word itself invokes thee to return; and there is the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not abandoned if itself abandoneth 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, saith the word of God? There fix thy habitation. There commit whatsoever thou hast thence, O my soul; at all events now thou art tired out with deceits. Commit to truth whatsoever thou hast from the truth, and nothing shall thou lose; and thy decay shall flourish again, and all thy diseases be healed, [310] and thy perishable parts shall be reformed and renovated, and drawn together to thee; nor shall they put thee down where themselves descend, but they shall abide with thee, and continue for ever before God, who abideth and continueth for ever. [311]

17. Why, then, be perverse and follow thy flesh? Rather let it be converted and follow thee. Whatever by her thou feelest, is but in part; and the whole, of which these are portions, thou art ignorant of, and yet they delight thee. But had the sense of thy flesh been capable of comprehending the whole, and not itself also, for thy punishment, been justly limited to a portion of the whole, thou wouldest that whatsoever existeth at the present time should pass away, that so the whole might please thee more. [312] For what we speak, also by the same sense of the flesh thou hearest; and yet wouldest not thou that the syllables should stay, but fly away, that others may come, and the whole [313] 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 passeth not away, for there is nothing to succeed Him. If bodies please thee, praise God for them, and turn back thy love upon their Creator, lest in those things which please thee thou displease.

Footnotes

[310] Ps. ciii. 3. [311] 1 Pet. i. 23. [312] See xiii. sec. 22, below. [313] A similar illustration occurs in sec. 15, above.


Chapter XII.--Love is Not Condemned, But Love in God, in Whom There is Rest Through Jesus Christ, is to Be Preferred.

18. If souls please thee, 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 thee as many souls as thou canst, 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 hath the heart wandered from Him. Return to your heart, [314] O ye transgressors, [315] 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. Whither go ye in rugged paths? Whither go ye? 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, [316] because whatsoever cometh from Him is unjustly loved if He be forsaken for it. Why, then, will ye wander farther and farther in these difficult and toilsome ways? There is no rest where ye seek it. Seek what ye seek; but it is not there where ye seek. Ye 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." [317] 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 thither, whence He never departed, because "the world was made by Him." [318] And in this world He was, and into this world He came to save sinners, [319] unto whom my soul doth confess, that He may heal it, for it hath sinned against Him. [320] O ye sons of men, how long so slow of heart? [321] Even now, after the Life is descended to you, will ye not ascend and live? [322] But whither ascend ye, when ye are on high, and set your mouth against the heavens? [323] Descend that ye may ascend, [324] and ascend to God. For ye have fallen by "ascending against Him." Tell them this, that they may weep in the valley of tears, [325] and so draw them with thee to God, because it is by His Spirit that thou speakest thus unto them, if thou speakest burning with the fire of love.

Footnotes

[314] Augustin is never weary of pointing out that there is a lex occulta (in Ps. lvii. sec. 1), a law written on the heart, which cries to those who have forsaken the written law, "Return to your hearts, ye transgressors." In like manner he interprets (De Serm. Dom. in Mon. ii. sec. 11) "Enter into thy closet," of the heart of man. The door is the gate of the senses through which carnal thoughts enter into the mind. We are to shut the door, because the devil (in Ps. cxli. 3) si clausum invenerit transit. In sec. 16, above, the figure is changed, and we are to fear lest these objects of sense render us "deaf in the ear of our heart" with the tumult of our folly. Men will not, he says, go back into their hearts, because the heart is full of sin, and they fear the reproaches of conscience, just (in Ps. xxxiii. 5) "as those are unwilling to enter their houses who have troublesome wives." These outer things, which too often draw us away from Him, God intends should lift us up to Him who is better than they, though they could all be ours at once, since He made them all; and "woe," he says (De Lib. Arb. ii. 16), "to them who love the indications of Thee rather than Thee, and remember not what these indicated." [315] Isa. lvi. 8. [316] See iv. cc. 1, 10, above, and vi. c. 16, below. [317] Ps. xix. 5. [318] John i. 10. [319] 1 Tim. i. 15. [320] Ps. xli. 4. [321] Luke xxiv. 25. [322] "The Son of God," says Augustin in another place, "became a son of man, that the sons of men might be made sons of God." He put off the form of God--that by which He manifested His divine glory in heaven--and put on the "form of a servant" (Phil. ii. 6, 7), that as the outshining [apaugasma] of the Father's glory (Heb. i. 3) He might draw us to Himself. He descended and emptied Himself of His dignity that we might ascend, giving an example for all time (in Ps. xxxiii. sec. 4); for, "lest man should disdain to imitate a humble man, God humbled Himself, so that the pride of the human race might not disdain to walk in the footsteps of God." See also v. sec. 5, note, below. [323] Ps. lxxiii. 9. [324] "There is something in humility which, strangely enough, exalts the heart, and something in pride which debases it. This seems, indeed, to be contradictory, that loftiness should debase and lowliness exalt. But pious humility enables us to submit to what is above us; and nothing is more exalted above us than God; and therefore humility, by making us subject to God, exalts us."--De Civ. Dei, xiv. sec. 13. [325] Ps. lxxxiv. 6.


Chapter XIII.--Love Originates from Grace and Beauty Enticing Us.

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." Thou knowest, O Lord, for it has escaped me; for I have them not, but they have strayed from me, I know not how.


Chapter XIV.--Concerning the Books Which He Wrote "On the Fair and Fit," Dedicated to Hierius.

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. Doth this love enter into the heart of the hearer from the mouth of the commender? Not so. But through one who loveth 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 Thine, O my God, in which no man is deceived. But yet why not as the renowned charioteer, as the huntsman [326] 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 divers 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 Thou numberest, O Lord, and they fall not to the ground without Thee. [327] 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," [328] but yet was piloted by Thee, though very secretly. And whence know I, and whence confidently confess I unto Thee 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 lieth 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 Thy 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.

Footnotes

[326] See vi. sec. 13, below. [327] Matt. x. 29, 30. [328] Eph. iv. 14.


Chapter XV.--While Writing, Being Blinded by Corporeal Images, He Failed to Recognise the Spiritual Nature of God.

24. But not yet did I perceive the hinge on which this impotent matter turned in Thy wisdom, O Thou Omnipotent, "who alone doest great wonders;" [329] 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 colours, 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 [330] 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 Thee, 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, [331] 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 Thou wilt light my candle; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness; [332] and "of His fulness have all we received," [333] for "that was the true Light which lighted every man that cometh into the world;" [334] for in Thee there is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning." [335]

26. But I pressed towards Thee, and was repelled by Thee that I might taste of death, for Thou "resistest the proud." [336] But what prouder than for me, with a marvellous madness, to assert myself to be that by nature which Thou art? 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 Thee mutable, than myself not to be that which Thou art. Therefore was I repelled by Thee, and Thou resistedst my changeable stiffneckedness; and I imagined corporeal forms, and, being flesh, I accused flesh, and, being "a wind that passeth away," [337] I returned not to Thee, but went wandering and wandering on towards those things that have no being, neither in Thee, nor in me, nor in the body. Neither were they created for me by Thy truth, but conceived by my vain conceit out of corporeal things. And I used to ask Thy faithful little ones, my fellow-citizens,--from whom I unconsciously stood exiled,--I used flippantly and foolishly to ask, "Why, then, doth the soul which God created err?" But I would not permit any one to ask me, "Why, then, doth God err?" And I contended that Thy immutable substance erred of constraint, rather than admit that my mutable substance had gone astray of free will, and erred as a punishment. [338]

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 Thy inward melody, pondering on the "fair and fit," and longing to stay and listen to Thee, and to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voice, [339] 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 Thou didst not "make me to hear joy and gladness;" nor did the bones which were not yet humbled rejoice. [340]

Footnotes

[329] Ps. cxxxvi. 4. [330] Augustin tells us (De Civ. Dei, xix. 1) that Varro, in his lost book De Philosophia, gives two hundred and eighty-eight different opinions as regards the chief good, and shows us how readily they may be reduced in number. Now, as then, philosophers ask the same questions. We have our hedonists, whose "good" is their own pleasure and happiness; our materialists, who would seek the common good of all; and our intuitionists, who aim at following the dictates of conscience. When the pretensions of these various schools are examined without prejudice, the conclusion is forced upon us that we must have recourse to Revelation for a reconcilement of the difficulties of the various systems; and that the philosophers, to employ Davidson's happy illustration (Prophecies, Introd.), forgetting that their faded taper has been insensibly kindled by gospel light, are attempting now, as in Augustin's time (ibid. sec. 4), "to fabricate for themselves a happiness in this life based upon a virtue as deceitful as it is proud." Christianity gives the golden key to the attainment of happiness, when it declares that "godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come " (1 Tim. iv. 8). It was a saying of Bacon (Essay on Adversity), that while "prosperity is the blessing of the old Testament, adversity is the blessing of the New." He would have been nearer the truth had he said that while temporal rewards were the special promise of the Old Testament, spiritual rewards are the special promise of the New. For though Christ's immediate followers had to suffer "adversity" in the planting of our faith, adversity cannot properly be said to be the result of following Christ. It has yet to be shown that, on the whole, the greatest amount of real happiness does not result, even in this life, from a Christian life, for virtue is, even here, its own reward. The fulness of the reward, however, will only be received in the life to come. Augustin's remark, therefore, still holds good that "life eternal is the supreme good, and death eternal the supreme evil, and that to obtain the one and escape the other we must live rightly" (ibid. sec. 4); and again, that even in the midst of the troubles of life, "as we are saved, so we are made happy, by hope. And as we do not as yet possess a present, but look for a future salvation, so it is with our happiness,...we ought patiently to endure till we come to the ineffable enjoyment of unmixed good." See Abbe Anselme, Sur le Souverain Bien, vol. v. serm. 1; and the last Chapter of Professor Sidgwick's Methods of Ethics, for the conclusions at which a mind at once lucid and dispassionate has arrived on this question. [331] "Or `an unintelligent soul;' very good mss. reading `sensu,' the majority, it appears, `sexu.' If we read `sexu,' the absolute unity of the first principle or Monad, may be insisted upon, and in the inferior principle, divided into `violence' and `lust,' `violence,' as implying strength, may be looked on as the male, `lust' was, in mythology, represented as female; if we take `sensu,' it will express the living but unintelligent soul of the world in the Manichæan, as a pantheistic system."--E. B. P. [332] Ps. xviii. 28. Augustin constantly urges our recognition of the truth that God is the "Father of lights." From Him as our central sun, all light, whether of wisdom or knowledge proceedeth, and if changing the figure, our candle which He hath lighted be blown out, He again must light it. Compare Enar. in Ps. xciii. 147; and Sermons, 67 and 341. [333] John i. 16. [334] John i. 9. [335] Jas. i. 17. [336] Jas. iv. 6, and 1 Pet. v. 5. [337] Ps. lxxviii. 39. [338] It may assist those unacquainted with Augustin's writings to understand the last three sections, if we set before them a brief view of the Manichæan speculations as to the good and evil principles, and the nature of the human soul:--(1) The Manichæans believed that there were two principles or substances, one good and the other evil, and that both were eternal and opposed one to the other. The good principle they called God, and the evil, matter or Hyle (Con. Faust. xxi. 1, 2). Faustus, in his argument with Augustin, admits that they sometimes called the evil nature "God," but simply as a conventional usage. Augustin says thereon (ibid. sec. 4): "Faustus glibly defends himself by saying, `We speak not of two gods, but of God and Hyle;' but when you ask for the meaning of Hyle, you find that it is in fact another god. If the Manichæans gave the name of Hyle, as the ancients did, to the unformed matter which is susceptible of bodily forms, we should not accuse them of making two gods. But it is pure folly and madness to give to matter the power of forming bodies, or to deny that what has this power is God." Augustin alludes in the above passage to the Platonic theory of matter, which, as the late Dean Mansel has shown us (Gnostic Heresies, Basilides, etc.), resulted after his time in Pantheism, and which was entirely opposed to the dualism of Manichæus. It is to this "power of forming bodies" claimed for matter, then, that Augustin alludes in our text (sec. 24) as "not only a substance but real life also." (2) The human soul the Manichæans declared to be of the same nature as God, though not created by Him--it having originated in the intermingling of part of His being with the evil principle, in the conflict between the kingdoms of light and darkness (in Ps. cxl. sec. 10). Augustin says to Faustus: "You generally call your soul not a temple, but a part or member of God " (Con. Faust. xx. 15); and thus, "identifying themselves with the nature and substance of God" (ibid. xii. 13), they did not refer their sin to themselves, but to the race of darkness, and so did not "prevail over their sin." That is, they denied original sin, and asserted that it necessarily resulted from the soul's contact with the body. To this Augustin steadily replied, that as the soul was not of the nature of God, but created by Him and endowed with free will, man was responsible for his transgressions. Again, referring to the Confessions, we find Augustin speaking consistently with his then belief, when he says that he had not then learned that the soul was not a "chief and unchangeable good" (sec. 24), or that "it was not that nature of truth" (sec. 25); and that when he transgressed "he accused flesh" rather than himself; and, as a result of his Manichæan errors (sec. 26), "contended that God's immutable substance erred of constraint, rather than admit that his mutable substance had gone astray of free will, and erred as a punishment." [339] John iii. 29. [340] Ps. li. 8, Vulg.


Chapter XVI.--He Very Easily Understood the Liberal Arts and the Categories of Aristotle, But Without True Fruit.

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 [341] --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, [342] --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, Thy wonderful and unchangeable unity as if Thou also hadst been subjected to Thine own greatness or beauty, so that they should exist in Thee as their subject, like as in bodies, whereas Thou Thyself art Thy 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 Thee was falsehood, not truth,--fictions of my misery, not the supports of Thy blessedness. For Thou hadst commanded, and it was done in me, that the earth should bring forth briars and thorns to me, [343] and that with labour I should get my bread. [344]

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 Thou knowest, O Lord my God, because both quickness of comprehension and acuteness of perception are Thy gifts. Yet did I not thereupon sacrifice to Thee. 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 [345] into my own power; and I kept not my strength for Thee, [346] but went away from Thee into a far country, to waste it upon harlotries. [347] 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, wert a bright and vast body, [348] and I a piece of that body? Perverseness too great! But such was I. Nor do I blush, O my God, to confess to Thee Thy mercies towards me, and to call upon Thee--I, who blushed not then to avow before men my blasphemies, and to bark against Thee. 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 Thy little ones to have a far slower wit, seeing that they departed not far from Thee, that in the nest of Thy 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 Thy wings let us hope, [349] defend us, and carry us. Thou wilt carry us both when little, and even to grey hairs wilt Thou carry us; [350] 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 Thee, from which when we are averted we are perverted. Let us now, O Lord, return, that we be not overturned, because with Thee our good lives without any eclipse, which good Thou Thyself art. [351] 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--Thy Eternity--fell not.

Footnotes

[341] As the mathematicians did their figures, in dust or sand. [342] "The categories enumerated by Aristotle are ousia, poson, poion, prosti, pou, pote, keisthai, echein, poiein, paschein; which are usually rendered, as adequately as perhaps they can be in our language, substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, situation, possession, action, suffering. The catalogue (which certainly is but a very crude one) has been by some writers enlarged, as it is evident may easily be done by subdividing some of the heads; and by others curtailed, as it is no less evident that all may ultimately be referred to the two heads of substance and attribute, or, in the language of some logicians, `accident'" (Whately's Logic, iv. 2, sec. 1, note). "These are called in Latin the prædicaments, because they can be said or predicated in the same sense of all other terms, as well as of all the objects denoted by them, whereas no other term can be correctly said of them, because no other is employed to express the full extent of their meaning" (Gillies, Analysis of Aristotle, c. 2). [343] Isa. xxxii. 13. [344] Gen. iii. 19. [345] Luke xv. 12. [346] Ps. lix. 9, Vulg. [347] Luke xv. 13. [348] See iii. 12; iv. 3, 12; v. 19. [349] Ps. xxxvi. 7. [350] Isa. xlvi. 4. [351] See xi. sec. 5, note, below.


.

Book V.

He describes the twenty-ninth year of his age, in which, having discovered the fallacies of the Manichæans, he professed rhetoric at Rome and Milan. Having heard Ambrose, he begins to come to himself.


Chapter I.--That It Becomes the Soul to Praise God, and to Confess Unto Him.

1. Accept the sacrifice of my confessions by the agency of my tongue, which Thou hast formed and quickened, that it may confess to Thy name; and heal Thou all my bones, and let them say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee?" [352] For neither does he who confesses to Thee teach Thee what may be passing within him, because a closed heart doth not exclude Thine eye, nor does man's hardness of heart repulse Thine hand, but Thou dissolvest it when Thou wiliest, either in pity or in vengeance, "and there is no One who can hide himself from Thy heart." [353] But let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee; and let it confess Thine own mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. Thy whole creation ceaseth not, nor is it silent in Thy praises--neither the spirit of man, by the voice directed unto Thee, nor animal nor corporeal things, by the voice of those meditating thereon; [354] so that our souls may from their weariness arise towards Thee, leaning on those things which Thou hast made, and passing on to Thee, who hast made them wonderfully and there is there refreshment and true strength.

Footnotes

[352] Ps. xxxv. 10. [353] Ps. xix. 6. [354] St. Paul speaks of a "minding of the flesh" and a "minding of the spirit" (Rom. viii. 6, margin), and we are prone to be attracted and held by the carnal surroundings of life; that is, "quæ per carnem sentiri querunt id est per oculos, per aures, ceterosque corporis sensus" (De Vera Relig.. xxiv.). But God would have us, as we meditate on the things that enter by the gates of the senses, to arise towards Him, through these His creatures. Our Father in heaven might have ordered His creation simply in a utilitarian way, letting, for example, hunger be satisfied without any of the pleasures of taste, and so of the other senses. But He has not so done. To every sense He has given its appropriate pleasure as well as its proper use. And though this presents to us a source of temptation, still ought we for it to praise His goodness to the full, and that corde are opere.--Bradward, ii. c. 23. See also i. sec. 1, note 3, and iv. sec. 18, above.


Chapter II.--On the Vanity of Those Who Wished to Escape the Omnipotent God.

2. Let the restless and the unjust depart and flee from Thee. Thou both seest them and distinguishest the shadows. And lo! all things with them are fair, yet are they themselves foul. [355] And how have they injured Thee? [356] Or in what have they disgraced Thy government, which is just and perfect from heaven even to the lowest parts of the earth. For whither fled they when they fled from Thy presence? [357] Or where dost Thou not find them? But they fled that they might not see Thee seeing them, and blinded might stumble against Thee; [358] since Thou forsakest nothing that Thou hast made [359] --that the unjust might stumble against Thee, and justly be hurt, [360] withdrawing themselves from Thy gentleness, and stumbling against Thine uprightness, and falling upon their own roughness. Forsooth, they know not that Thou art everywhere whom no place encompasseth, and that Thou alone art near even to those that remove far from Thee. [361] Let them, then, be converted and seek Thee; because not as they have forsaken their Creator hast Thou forsaken Thy creature. Let them be converted and seek Thee; and behold, Thou art there in their hearts, in the hearts of those who confess to Thee, and cast themselves upon Thee, and weep on Thy 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 didst make, remakest and comfortest them. And where was I when I was seeking Thee? And Thou wert before me, but I had gone away even from myself; nor did I find myself, much less Thee!

Footnotes

[355] Augustin frequently recurs to the idea, that in God's overruling Providence, the foulness and sin of man does not disturb the order and fairness of the universe. He illustrates the idea by reference to music, painting, and oratory. "For as the beauty of a picture is increased by well-managed shadows, so, to the eye that has skill to discern it, the universe is beautified even by sinners, though, considered by themselves, their deformity is a sad blemish" (De Civ. Dei, xi. 23). So again, he says, God would never have created angels or men whose future wickedness he foreknew, unless He could turn them to the use of the good, "thus embellishing the course of the ages as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses" (ibid. xi. 18); and further on, in the same section, "as the oppositions of contraries lend beauty to language, so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged, as it were, by an eloquence not of words, but of things." These reflections affected Augustin's views as to the last things. They seemed to him to render the idea entertained by Origen (De Princ. i. 6) and other Fathers as to a general restoration [apokatastasis] unnecessary. See Hagenbach's Hist. of Doct. etc. i. 383 (Clark). [356] "In Scripture they are called God's enemies who oppose His rule not by nature but by vice, having no power to hurt Him, but only themselves. For they are His enemies not through their power to hurt, but by their will to oppose Him. For God is unchangeable, and wholly proof against injury" (De Civ. Dei, xii. 3). [357] Ps. cxxxix. 7. [358] Gen. xvi. 13, 14. [359] Wisd. ii. 26. Old ver. [360] He also refers to the injury man does himself by sin in ii. sec. 13, above; and elsewhere he suggests the law which underlies it: "The vice which makes those who are called God's enemies resist Him, is an evil not to God but to themselves. And to them it is an evil solely because it corrupts the good of their nature." And when we suffer for our sins we should thank God that we are not unpunished (De Civ. Dei, xii. 3). But if, when God punishes us, we still continue in our sin, we shall be more confirmed in habits of sin, and then, as Augustin in another place (in Ps. vii. 15) warns us, "our facility in sinning will be the punishment of God for our former yieldings to sin." See also Butler's Analogy, Pt. i. ch. 5, "On a state of probation as intended for moral discipline and improvement." [361] Ps. lxxiii. 27.


Chapter III.--Having Heard Faustus, the Most Learned Bishop of the Manichæans, He Discerns that God, the Author Both of Things Animate and Inanimate, Chiefly Has Care for the Humble.

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 Manichæans, 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 Manichæans 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, [362] seemed to me the more probable. For Thou art great, O Lord, and hast respect unto the lowly, but the proud Thou knowest afar off." [363] Nor dost Thou draw near but to the contrite heart, [364] nor art Thou found by the proud, [365] --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 Thou hast 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 Thee, and forsaking Thy 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 Thou hast made them, they give not themselves up to Thee, that Thou mayest preserve what Thou hast made, nor sacrifice themselves to Thee, even such as they have made themselves to be; nor do they slay their own pride, as fowls of the air, [366] 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," [367] that Thou, Lord, "a consuming fire," [368] mayest burn up their lifeless cares and renew them immortally.

5. But the way--Thy Word, [369] by whom Thou didst make 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 Thy wisdom there is no number. [370] But the Only-begotten has been "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification," [371] and has been numbered amongst us, and paid tribute to Cæsar. [372] This way, by which they might descend to Him from themselves, they knew not; nor that through Him they might ascend unto Him. [373] This way they knew not, and they think themselves exalted with the stars [374] and shining, and lo! they fell upon the earth, [375] and "their foolish heart was darkened." [376] 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, [377] but become vain in their imaginations, and say that they themselves are wise, [378] attributing to themselves what is Thine; and by this, with most perverse blindness, they desire to impute to Thee what is their own, forging lies against Thee 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, [379] --changing Thy truth into a lie, and worshipping and serving the creature more than the Creator. [380]

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 Manichæus, 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.

Footnotes

[362] Wisd. xiii. 9. [363] Ps. cxxxviii 6. [364] Ps. xxxiv. 18, and cxlv. 18. [365] See Book iv. sec. 19, note, above. [366] He makes use of the same illustrations on Psalms viii. and xi. , where the birds of the air represent the proud, the fishes of the sea those who have too great a curiosity, while the beasts of the field are those given to carnal pleasures. It will be seen that there is a correspondence between them and the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, in 1 John ii. 16. See also above, Book iii. sec. 16; and below, Book x. sec. 41, etc. [367] Ps. viii. 7, 8. [368] Deut. iv. 24. [369] John i. 3. [370] Ps. cxlvii. 5, Vulg. [371] 1 Cor. i. 30. [372] Matt. xvii. 27. [373] In Sermon 123, sec. 3, we have: "Christ as God is the country to which we go--Christ as man is the way by which we go." See note on Book iv. sec. 19, above. [374] Isa. xiv. 13. [375] Rev. xii. 4. [376] Rom. i. 21. [377] Ibid. [378] Rom. i. 22. [379] Rom. i. 23. [380] Rom. i. 25.


Chapter IV.--That the Knowledge of Terrestrial and Celestial Things Does Not Give Happiness, But the Knowledge of God Only.

7. Doth, then, O Lord God of truth, whosoever knoweth those things therefore please Thee? For unhappy is the man who knoweth all those things, but knoweth Thee not; but happy is he who knoweth Thee, though these he may not know. [381] But he who knoweth both Thee and them is not the happier on account of them, but is happy on account of Thee only, if knowing Thee he glorify Thee as God, and gives thanks, and becomes not vain in his thoughts. [382] But as he is happier who knows how to possess a tree, and for the use thereof renders thanks to Thee, 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, [383] and who, as having nothing, yet possesseth all things [384] by cleaving unto Thee, 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 Thee, "who hast set in order all things in number, weight, and measure." [385]

Footnotes

[381] What a contrast does his attitude here present to his supreme regard for secular learning before his conversion! We have constantly in his writings expressions of the same kind. On Psalm ciii. he dilates lovingly on the fount of happiness the word of God is, as compared with the writings of Cicero, Tully, and Plato; and again on Psalm xxxviii. he shows that the word is the source of all true joy. So likewise in De Trin. iv. 1: "That mind is more praiseworthy which knows even its own weakness, than that which, without regard to this, searches out and even comes to know the ways of the stars, or which holds fast such knowledge already acquired, while ignorant of the way by which itself to enter into its own proper health and strength....Such a one has preferred to know his own weakness, rather than to know the walls of the world, the foundations of the earth, and the pinnacles of heaven." See iii. sec. 9, note, above. [382] Rom. i. 21. [383] Prov. xvii. 6, in the LXX. [384] 2 Cor. vi. 10. [385] Wisd. xi. 20.


Chapter V.--Of Manichæus Pertinaciously Teaching False Doctrines, and Proudly Arrogating to Himself the Holy Spirit.

8. But yet who was it that ordered Manichæus to write on these things likewise, skill in which was not necessary to piety? For Thou hast told man to behold piety and wisdom, [386] 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 Thee is piety. It was therefore with this view that this straying one spake 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 Thy faithful ones, was with full authority personally resident in him." [387] 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 Thee, 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." [388] 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 Thy 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, [389] rest my faith on his authority.

Footnotes

[386] Job xxviii. 28 in LXX. reads: Idou he theosebea esti sophia. [387] This claim of Manichæus was supported by referring to the Lord's promise (John xvi. 12, 13) to send the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to guide the apostles into that truth which they were as yet "not able to bear." The Manichæans used the words "Paraclete" and "Comforter," as indeed the names of the other two persons of the blessed Trinity, in a sense entirely different from that of the gospel. These terms were little more than the bodily frame, the soul of which was his own heretical belief. Whenever opposition appeared between that belief and the teaching of Scripture, their ready answer was that the Scriptures had been corrupted (De Mor. Ecc. Cath. xxviii. and xxix.); and in such a case, as we find Faustus contending (Con. Faust. xxxii. 6), the Paraclete taught them what part to receive and what to reject, according to the promise of Jesus that He should "guide them into all truth," and much more to the same effect. Augustin's whole argument in reply is well worthy of attention. Amongst other things, he points out that the Manichæan pretension to having received the promised Paraclete was precisely the same as that of the Montanists in the previous century. It should be observed that Beausobre (Histoire, i. 254, 264, etc.) vigorously rebuts the charge brought against Manichæus of claiming to be the Holy Ghost. An interesting examination of the claims of Montanus will be found in Kaye's Tertullian, pp. 13 to 33. [388] Eph. iv. 13, 14. [389] See vi. sec. 12, note, below.


Chapter VI.--Faustus Was Indeed an Elegant Speaker, But Knew Nothing of the Liberal Sciences.

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, Thou hadst already instructed by wonderful and mysterious ways, and therefore I believe that Thou instructedst me because it is truth; nor of truth is there any other teacher--where or whencesoever it may shine upon us [390] --but Thee. From Thee, 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 [391] 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 Thee, who didst at that time direct me by the inscrutable mystery of Thy Providence, and didst set before my face those vile errors of mine, in order that I might see and loathe them.

Footnotes

[390] Sec. vii. sec. 15, below. [391] "This was the old fashion of the East, where the scholars had liberty to ask questions of their masters, and to move doubts as the professors were reading, or so soon as the lecture was done. Thus did our Saviour with the doctors (Luke ii. 46). So it is still in some European Universities."--W. W.


Chapter VII.--Clearly Seeing the Fallacies of the Manichæans, He Retires from Them, Being Remarkably Aided by God.

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 Manichæan. For their books are full of lengthy fables [392] 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 Manichæus 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 Thee, 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 Manichæus having thus received a check, and despairing even more of their other teachers,--seeing that in sundry things which puzzled me, he, so famous amongst 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 Thy hands, O my God, in the hidden design of Thy 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 Thee for me; and by marvellous ways didst Thou deal with me. [393] It was Thou, O my God, who didst it, for the steps of a man are ordered by the Lord, and He shall dispose his way. [394] Or how can we procure salvation but from Thy hand, remaking what it hath made?

Footnotes

[392] We have referred in the note on iii. sec. 10, above, to the way in which the Manichæans parodied Scripture names. In these "fables" this is remarkably evidenced. "To these filthy rags of yours," says Augustin (Con. Faust. xx. 6), "you would unite the mystery of the Trinity; for you say that the Father dwells in a secret light, the power of the Son in the sun, and His wisdom in the moon, and the Holy Spirit in the air." The Manichæan doctrine as to the mixture of the divine nature with the substance of evil, and the way in which that nature was released by the "elect," has already been pointed out (see note iii. sec. 18, above). The part of sun and moon, also, in accomplishing this release, is alluded to in his De Mor. Manich. "This part of God," he says (c. xxxvi.), "is daily being set free in all parts of the world, and restored to its own domain. But in its passage upwards as vapour from earth to heaven, it enters plants, because their roots are fixed in the earth, and so gives fertility and strength to all herbs and shrubs." These parts of God, arrested in their rise by the vegetable world, were released, as above stated, by the "elect". All that escaped from them in the act of eating, as well as what was set free by evaporation, passed into the sun and moon, as into a kind of purgatorial state--they being purer light than the only recently emancipated good nature. In his letter to Januarius (Ep. lv. 6), he tells us that the moon's waxing and waning were said by the Manichæans to be caused by its receiving souls from matter as it were into a ship, and transferring them "into the sun as into another ship." The sun was called Christ, and was worshipped; and accordingly we find Augustin, after alluding to these monstrous doctrines, saying (Con. Faust. v. 11): "If your affections were set upon spiritual and intellectual good instead of material forms, you would not pay homage to the material sun as a divine substance and as the light of wisdom." Many other interesting quotations might be added, but we must content ourselves with the following. In his Reply to Faustus (xx. 6), he says: "You call the sun a ship, so that you are not only astray worlds off, as the saying is, but adrift. Next, while every one sees that the sun is round, which is the form corresponding from its perfection to his position among the heavenly bodies, you maintain that he is triangular [perhaps in allusion to the early symbol of the Trinity]; that is, that his light shines on the earth through a triangular window in heaven. Hence it is that you bend and bow your heads to the sun, while you worship not this visible sun, but some imaginary ship, which you suppose to be shining through a triangular opening." [393] Joel ii. 26. [394] Ps. xxxvii. 23.


Chapter VIII.--He Sets Out for Rome, His Mother in Vain Lamenting It.

14. Thou dealedst 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 Thee; for in this also the profoundest workings of Thy wisdom, and Thy 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 amongst 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 Thy 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, [395] 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 Thou, "my refuge and my portion in the land of the living," [396] didst while at Carthage goad me, so that I might thereby be withdrawn from it, and exchange my worldly habitation for the preservation of my soul; whilst at Rome Thou didst offer 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, didst secretly employ 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 thither, Thou, O God, knewest, yet revealedst 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 Thou hast in mercy pardoned me, saving me, thus replete with abominable pollutions, from the waters of the sea, for the water of Thy 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 [397] 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 Thee, but that Thou wouldest not permit me to sail? But Thou, 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 Thine ears with complaints and groans, which Thou didst disregard; whilst, by the means of my longings, Thou wert 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 Thou wert 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 Thee, returned to her accustomed place, and I to Rome.

Footnotes

[395] See iii. sec. 6, note, above. [396] Ps. cxlii. 5. [397] See vi. sec. 2, note, below.


Chapter IX.--Being Attacked by Fever, He is in Great Danger.

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 Thee, myself, and others, many and grievous, over and above that bond of original sin whereby we all die in Adam. [398] For none of these things hadst Thou forgiven me in Christ, neither had He "abolished" by His cross "the enmity" [399] which, by my sins, I had incurred with Thee. For how could He, by the crucifixion of a phantasm, [400] 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 Thy ordinance? She was ignorant of this, yet, while absent, prayed for me. But Thou, everywhere present, hearkened to her where she was, and hadst 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. [401] But I had grown up to my own dishonour, and all the purposes of Thy medicine I madly derided, [402] who wouldst 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 Thee alone? But couldst Thou, most merciful God, despise the "contrite and humble heart" [403] of that pure and prudent widow, so constant in alms-deeds, so gracious and attentive to Thy saints, not permitting one day to pass without oblation at Thy altar, twice a day, at morning and even-tide, coming to Thy church without intermission--not for vain gossiping, nor old wives' "fables," [404] but in order that she might listen to Thee in Thy sermons, and Thou to her in her prayers? [405] Couldst Thou--Thou by whose gift she was such--despise and disregard without succouring the tears of such a one, wherewith she entreated Thee 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 Thou wert near, and wert hearing and doing in that method in which Thou hadst predetermined that it should be done. Far be it from Thee that Thou shouldst delude her in those visions and the answers she had from Thee,--some of which I have spoken of, [406] and others not, [407] --which she kept [408] in her faithful breast, and, always petitioning, pressed upon Thee as Thine autograph. For Thou, "because Thy mercy endureth for ever," [409] condescendest to those whose debts Thou hast pardoned, to become likewise a debtor by Thy promises.

Footnotes

[398] 1 Cor. xv. 22. [399] Eph. ii. 15, and Col. i. 20, etc. [400] The Manichæan belief in regard to the unreal nature of Christ's body may be gathered from Augustin's Reply to Faustus: "You ask," argues Faustus (xxvi. i.), "if Jesus was not born, how did He die?...In return I ask you, how did Elias not die, though he was a man? Could a mortal encroach upon the limits of immortality, and could not Christ add to His immortality whatever experience of death was required?...Accordingly, if it is a good argument that Jesus was a man because He died, it is an equally good argument that Elias was not a man because he did not die....As, from the outset of His taking the likeness of man, He underwent in appearance all the experiences of humanity, it was quite consistent that He should complete the system by appearing to die." So that with him the whole life of Jesus was a "phantasm." His birth, circumcision, crucifixion, baptism, and temptation were (ibid. xxxii. 7) the mere result of the interpolation of crafty men, or sprung from the ignorance of the apostles, when as yet they had not reached perfection in knowledge. It is noticeable that Augustin, referring to Eph. ii. 15, substitutes His cross for His flesh, he, as a Manichæan, not believing in the real humanity of the Son of God. See iii. sec. 9, note, above. [401] See i. sec. 10, above. [402] See also iv. sec. 8, above, where he derides his friend's baptism. [403] Ps. li. 19. [404] 1 Tim. v. 10. [405] Watts gives the following note here:--"Oblations were those offerings of bread, meal, or wine, for making of the Eucharist, or of alms besides for the poor, which the primitive Christians every time they communicated brought to the church, where it was received by the deacons, who presented them to the priest or bishop. Here note: (1) They communicated daily; (2) they had service morning and evening, and two sermons a day many times," etc. An interesting trace of an old use in this matter of oblations is found in the Queen's Coronation Service. After other oblations had been offered, the Queen knelt before the Archbishop and presented to him "oblations" of bread and wine for the Holy Communion. See also Palmer's Origines Liturgicæ, iv. 8, who demonstrates by reference to patristic writers that the custom was universal in the primitive Church:--"But though all the churches of the East and West agreed in this respect, they differed in appointing the time and place at which the oblations of the people were received." It would appear from the following account of early Christian worship, that in the time of Justin Martyr the oblations were collected after the reception of the Lord's Supper. In his First Apology we read (c. lxvii.): "On the day called Sunday [tou heliou legomene hemera] all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits them. When the reader has ceased, the president [ho proestos] verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray [euchas pempomen], and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings according to his ability [Kaye renders (p. 89) euchas homoios kai eucharistias, hose dunamis auto, anapempei, "with his utmost power"], and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks had been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well-to-do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected [to sullegomenon] is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows, and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds, and the stranger sojourning among us, and, in a word, takes care of all who are in need." The whole passage is given, as portions of it will be found to have a bearing on other parts of the Confessions. Bishop Kaye's Justin Martyr, c. iv., may be referred to for his view of the controverted points in the passage. See also Bingham's Antiquities, ii. 2-9; and notes to vi. sec. 2, and ix. secs. 6 and 27, below. [406] See above, iii. 11, 12. [407] Ibid. iii. 12. [408] Luke ii. 19. [409] Ps. cxviii. 1.


Chapter X.--When He Had Left the Manichæans, He Retained His Depraved Opinions Concerning Sin and the Origin of the Saviour.

18. Thou restoredst me then from that illness, and made sound the son of Thy hand-maid meanwhile in body, that he might live for Thee, 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." [410] For it still seemed to me "that it was not we that sin, but that I know not what other nature sinned in us." [411] 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 Thou mightest heal my soul because it had sinned against Thee;" [412] but I loved to excuse it, and to accuse something else (I wot 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 Thee to be overcome in me to my destruction, than myself of Thee to salvation! Not yet, therefore, hadst 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 [413] --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" [414] 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 Manichæus 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 [415] to seek any other way,--particularly since I was hopeless of finding the truth, from which in Thy 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 Thee 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 [416] (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 Thee, my God,--to whom I make confession of Thy mercies,--as infinite, at least, on other sides, although on that side where the mass of evil was in opposition to Thee [417] I was compelled to confess Thee finite, that if on every side I should conceive Thee 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 Thee--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 Thee of such a kind as I considered the nature of evil to be. And our very Saviour Himself, also, Thine only-begotten, [418] I believed to have been reached forth, as it were, for our salvation out of the lump of Thy 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. [419] Now will Thy spiritual ones blandly and lovingly smile at me if they shall read these my confessions; yet such was I.

Footnotes

[410] See iv. sec. 1, note, above. [411] See iv. sec. 26, note 2, above. [412] Ps. xli. 4. [413] Ps. cxli. 3, 4, Old Vers. See also Augustin's Commentary on the Psalms, where, using his Septuagint version, he applies this passage to the Manichæans. [414] "Amongst these philosophers," i.e. those who have founded their systems on denial, "some are satisfied with denying certainty, admitting at the same time probability, and these are the New Academics; the others, who are the Pyrrhonists, have denied even this probability, and have maintained that all things are equally certain and uncertain" (Port. Roy. Log. iv. 1). There are, according to the usual divisions, three Academies, the old, the middle, and the new; and some subdivide the middle and the new each into two schools, making five schools of thought in all. These begin with Plato, the founder (387 B.C.), and continue to the fifth school, founded by Antiochus (83 B.C.), who, by combining his teachings with that of Aristotle and Zeno, prepared the way for Neo-Platonism and its development of the dogmatic side of Plato's teaching. In the second Academic school, founded by Arcesilas,--of whom Aristo, the Stoic, parodying the line in the Iliad (vi. 181), Prosthe leon, opithen de drakon, messe de chimaira, said sarcastically he was "Plato in front, Pyrrho behind, and Diodorus in the middle,"--the "sceptical" tendency in Platonism began to develope itself, which, under Carneades, was expanded into the doctrine of the third Academic school. Arcesilas had been a pupil of Polemo when he was head of the old Academy. Zeno also, dissatisfied with the cynical philosophy of Crates, had learnt Platonic doctrine from Polemo, and was, as Cicero tells us (De Fin. iv. 16), greatly influenced by his teaching. Zeno, however, soon founded his own school of Stoical philosophy, which was violently opposed by Arcesilas (Cicero, Acad. Post. i. 12). Arcesilas, according to Cicero (ibid.), taught his pupils that we cannot know anything, not even that we are unable to know. It is exceedingly probable, however, that he taught esoterically the doctrines of Plato to those of his pupils he thought able to receive them, keeping them back from the multitude because of the prevalence of the new doctrine. This appears to have been Augustin's view when he had arrived at a fuller knowledge of their doctrines than that he possessed at the time referred to in his Confessions. In his treatises against the Academicians (iii. 17) he maintains the wisdom of Arcesilas in this matter. He says: "As the multitude are prone to rush into false opinions, and, from being accustomed to bodies, readily, but to their hurt, believe everything to be corporeal, this most acute and learned man determined rather to unteach those who had suffered from bad teaching, than to teach those whom he did not think teachable." Again, in the first of his Letters, alluding to these treatises, he says: "It seems to me to be suitable enough to the times in which they flourished, that whatever issued pure from the fountain-head of Platonic philosophy should be rather conducted into dark and thorny thickets for the refreshment of a very few men, than left to flow in open meadow-land, where it would be impossible to keep it clear and pure from the inroads of the vulgar herd. I use the word `herd' advisedly, for what is more brutish than the opinion that the soul is material?" and more to the same purpose. In his De Civ. Dei, xix 18, he contrasts the uncertainty ascribed to the doctrines of these teachers with the certainty of the Christian faith. See Burton's Bampton Lectures, note 33, and Archer Butler's Ancient Philosophy, ii. 313, 348, etc. See also vii. sec. 13, note, below. [415] See iii. sec. 21, above. [416] See iv. secs. 3, 12, and 31, above. [417] See iv. 26, note 2, above. [418] See above, sec. 12, note. [419] The dualistic belief of the Manichæan ever led him to contend that Christ only appeared in a resemblance of flesh, and did not touch its substance so as to be defiled. Hence Faustus characteristically speaks of the Incarnation (Con. Faust. xxxii. 7) as "the shameful birth of Jesus from a woman," and when pressed (ibid. xi. 1) with such passages as, Christ was "born of the seed of David according to the flesh" (Rom. i. 3), he would fall back upon what in these days we are familiar with as that "higher criticism," which rejects such parts of Scripture as it is inconvenient to receive. Paul, he said, then only "spoke as a child" (1 Cor. xiii. 11), but when he became a man in doctrine, he put away childish things, and then declared, "Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more." See above, sec. 16, note 3.


Chapter XI.--Helpidius Disputed Well Against the Manichæans as to the Authenticity of the New Testament.

21. Furthermore, whatever they had censured [420] in Thy 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 Manichæans, 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; [421] but they themselves did not bring forward any uncorrupted copies. [422] But I, thinking of corporeal things, very much ensnared and in a measure stifled, was oppressed by those masses; [423] panting under which for the breath of Thy Truth, I was not able to breathe it pure and undefiled.

Footnotes

[420] See iii. sec. 14, above. [421] On this matter reference may be made to Con. Faust. xviii. 1, 3; xix. 5, 6; xxxiii. 1, 3. [422] They might well not like to give the answer in public, for, as Augustin remarks (De Mor. Eccles. Cath. sec. 14), every one could see "that this is all that is left for men to say when it is proved that they are wrong. The astonishment that he experienced now, that they did "not bring forward any uncorrupted copies," had fast hold of him, and after his conversion he confronted them on this very ground. "You ought to bring forward," he says (ibid. sec. 61), "another manuscript with the same contents, but incorrupt and more correct, with only the passage wanting which you charge with being spurious....You say you will not, lest you be suspected of corrupting it. This is your usual reply, and a true one." See also De Mor. Manich. sec. 55; and Con. Faust. xi. 2, xiii. 5, xviii. 7, xxii. 15, xxxii. 16. [423] See above, sec. 19, Fin..


Chapter XII.--Professing Rhetoric at Rome, He Discovers the Fraud of His Scholars.

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 learnt that other offences 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;" [424] 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 Thee, 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 Thee, who abidest, and invitest to return, and pardonest the prostituted human soul when it returneth to Thee. 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 Thee, O God, the truth and fulness 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 Thine.

Footnotes

[424] Ps. cxxxix. 22.


Chapter XIII.--He is Sent to Milan, that He, About to Teach Rhetoric, May Be Known by Ambrose.

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 despatch him at the public expense, I made interest through those identical persons, drunk with Manichæan 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, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did at that time strenuously dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the "gladness" of Thy "oil," and the sober intoxication of Thy "wine." [425] To him was I unknowingly led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to Thee. 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 Thy 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 Manichæan deceptions, whilst the former was teaching salvation most soundly. But "salvation is far from the wicked," [426] such as I then stood before him; and yet I was drawing nearer gradually and unconsciously.

Footnotes

[425] Ps. iv. 7, and civ. 15. [426] Ps. cxix. 155.


Chapter XIV.--Having Heard the Bishop, He Perceives the Force of the Catholic Faith, Yet Doubts, After the Manner of the Modern Academics.

24. For although I took no trouble to learn what he spake, but only to hear how he spake (for that empty care alone remained to me, despairing of a way accessible for man to Thee), 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 whilst I opened my heart to admit "how skilfully he spake," there also entered with it, but gradually, "and how truly he spake!" 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 Manichæans, 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. [427] 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 [428] 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 Manichæans 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), [429] doubting of everything and fluctuating between all, I decided that the Manichæans 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 [430] 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. [431]

Footnotes

[427] 1 Cor. xiii. 12, and 2 Cor. iii. 6. See vi. sec. 6, note, below. [428] He frequently alludes to this scoffing spirit, so characteristic of these heretics. As an example, he says (in Ps. cxlvi. 13): "There has sprung up a certain accursed sect of the Manichæans which derides the Scriptures it takes and reads. It wishes to censure what it does not understand, and by disturbing and censuring what it understands not, has deceived many." See also sec. 16, and iv. sec. 8, above. [429] See above, sec. 19, and note. [430] See vi. sec. 2, note, below. [431] In his Benefit of Believing, Augustin adverts to the above experiences with a view to the conviction of his friend Honoratus, who was then a Manichæan.


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