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.

.

Book VI.

Attaining his thirtieth year, he, under the admonition of the discourses of Ambrose, discovered more and more the truth of the Catholic doctrine, and deliberates as to the better regulation of his life.


Chapter I.--His Mother Having Followed Him to Milan, Declares that She Will Not Die Before Her Son Shall Have Embraced the Catholic Faith.

1. O Thou, my hope from my youth, [432] where wert Thou to me, and whither hadst Thou gone? For in truth, hadst Thou not created me, and made a difference between me and the beasts of the field and fowls of the air? Thou hadst made me wiser than they, yet did I wander about in dark and slippery places, and sought Thee abroad out of myself, and found not the God of my heart; [433] and had entered the depths of the sea, and distrusted and despaired finding out the truth. By this time my mother, made strong by her piety, had come to me, following me over sea and land, in all perils feeling secure in Thee. For in the dangers of the sea she comforted the very sailors (to whom the inexperienced passengers, when alarmed, were wont rather to go for comfort), assuring them of a safe arrival, because she had been so assured by Thee in a vision. She found me in grievous danger, through despair of ever finding truth. But when I had disclosed to her that I was now no longer a Manichæan, though not yet a Catholic Christian, she did not leap for joy as at what was unexpected; although she was now reassured as to that part of my misery for which she had mourned me as one dead, but who would be raised to Thee, carrying me forth upon the bier of her thoughts, that Thou mightest say unto the widow's son, "Young man, I say unto Thee, arise," and he should revive, and begin to speak, and Thou shouldest deliver him to his mother. [434] Her heart, then, was not agitated with any violent exultation, when she had heard that to be already in so great a part accomplished which she daily, with tears, entreated of Thee might be done,--that though I had not yet grasped the truth, I was rescued from falsehood. Yea, rather, for that she was fully confident that Thou, who hadst promised the whole, wouldst give the rest, most calmly, and with a breast full of confidence, she replied to me, "She believed in Christ, that before she departed this life, she would see me a Catholic believer." [435] And thus much said she to me; but to Thee, O Fountain of mercies, poured she out more frequent prayers and tears, that Thou wouldest hasten Thy aid, and enlighten my darkness; and she hurried all the more assiduously to the church, and hung upon the words of Ambrose, praying for the fountain of water that springeth up into everlasting life. [436] For she loved that man as an angel of God, because she knew that it was by him that I had been brought, for the present, to that perplexing state of agitation [437] I was now in, through which she was fully persuaded that I should pass from sickness unto health, after an excess, as it were, of a sharper fit, which doctors term the "crisis."

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Footnotes

[432] Ps. lxxi. 5. [433] See iv. sec. 18, note, above. [434] Luke vii. 12-l5.
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[435] Fidelem Catholicum--those who are baptized being usually designated Fideles. The following extract from Kaye's Tertullian (pp. 230, 231) is worthy of note:--"As the converts from heathenism, to use Tertullian's expression, were not born, but became Christians [fiunt, nascuntur, Christiani], they went through a course of instruction in the principles and doctrines of the gospel, and were subjected to a strict probation before they were admitted to the rite of baptism. In this stage of their progress they were called catechumens, of whom, according to Suicer, there were two classes,--one called `Audientes,' who had only entered upon their course, and begun to hear the word of God; the other, sunaitountes, or `Competentes,' who had made such advances in Christian knowledge and practice as to be qualified to appear at the font. Tertullian, however, appears either not to have known or to have neglected this distinction, since he applies the names of `Audientes' and `Auditores' indifferently to all who had not partaken of the rite of baptism. When the catechumens had given full proof of the ripeness of their knowledge, and of the stedfastness of their faith, they were baptized, admitted to the table of the Lord, and styled Fideles. The importance which Tertullian attached to this previous probation of the candidates for baptism, appears from the fact that he founds upon the neglect of it one of his charges against the heretics. `Among them,' he says, `no distinction is made between the catechumen and the faithful or confirmed Christian; the catechumen is pronounced fit for baptism before he is instructed; all come in indiscriminately; all hear, all pray together.'" There were certain peculiar forms used in the admission of catechumens; as, for example, anointing with oil, imposition of hands, and the consecration and giving of salt; and when, from the progress of Christianity, Tertullian's above description as to converts from heathenism had ceased to be correct, these forms were continued in many churches as part of the baptismal service, whether of infants or adults. See Palmer's Origines Liturgicæ, v. 1, and also i. sec. 17, above, where Augustin says: "I was signed with the sign of the cross, and was seasoned with His salt, even from the womb of my mother." [436] John iv. 14. [437] "Sermons," says Goodwin in his Evangelical Communicant, "are, for the most part, as showers of rain that water for the instant; such as may tickle the ear and warm the affections, and put the soul into a posture of obedience. Hence it is that men are oft-times sermon-sick, as some are sea-sick; very ill, much troubled for the present, but by and by all is well again as they were."


Chapter II.--She, on the Prohibition of Ambrose, Abstains from Honouring the Memory of the Martyrs.

2. When, therefore, my mother had at one time--as was her custom in Africa--brought to the oratories built in the memory of the saints [438] certain cakes, and bread, and wine, and was forbidden by the door-keeper, so soon as she learnt that it was the bishop who had forbidden it, she so piously and obediently acceded to it, that I myself marvelled how readily she could bring herself to accuse her own custom, rather than question his prohibition. For wine-bibbing did not take possession of her spirit, nor did the love of wine stimulate her to hatred of the truth, as it doth too many, both male and female, who nauseate at a song of sobriety, as men well drunk at a draught of water. But she, when she had brought her basket with the festive meats, of which she would taste herself first and give the rest away, would never allow herself more than one little cup of wine, diluted according to her own temperate palate, which, out of courtesy, she would taste. And if there were many oratories of departed saints that ought to be honoured in the same way, she still carried round with her the selfsame cup, to be used everywhere; and this, which was not only very much watered, but was also very tepid with carrying about, she would distribute by small sips to those around; for she sought their devotion, not pleasure. As soon, therefore, as she found this custom to be forbidden by that famous preacher and most pious prelate, even to those who would use it with moderation, lest thereby an occasion of excess [439] might be given to such as were drunken, and because these, so to say, festivals in honour of the dead were very like unto the superstition of the Gentiles, she most willingly abstained from it. And in lieu of a basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to the oratories of the martyrs a heart full of more purified petitions, and to give all that she could to the poor; [440] that so the communion of the Lord's body might be rightly celebrated there, where, after the example of His passion, the martyrs had been sacrificed and crowned. But yet it seems to me, O Lord my God, and thus my heart thinks of it in thy sight, that my mother perhaps would not so easily have given way to the relinquishment of this custom had it been forbidden by another whom she loved not as Ambrose, [441] whom, out of regard for my salvation, she loved most dearly; and he loved her truly, on account of her most religious conversation, whereby, in good works so "fervent in spirit," [442] she frequented the church; so that he would often, when he saw me, burst forth into her praises, congratulating me that I had such a mother--little knowing what a son she had in me, who was in doubt as to all these things, and did not imagine the way of life could be found out.

Footnotes

[438] That is, as is explained further on in the section, the Martyrs. Tertullian gives us many indications of the veneration in which the martyrs were held towards the close of the second century. The anniversary of the martyr's death was called his natalitium, or natal day, as his martyrdom ushered him into eternal life, and oblationes pro defunctis were then offered. (De Exhor. Cast. c. 11; De Coro. c. 3). Many extravagant things were said about the glory of martyrdom, with the view, doubtless, of preventing apostasy in time of persecution. It was described (De Bap. c. 16; and De Pat. c. 13.) as a second baptism, and said to secure for a man immediate entrance into heaven, and complete enjoyment of its happiness. These views developed in Augustin's time into all the wildness of Donatism. Augustin gives us an insight into the customs prevailing in his day, and their significance, which greatly illustrates the present section. In his De Civ. Dei, viii. 27, we read: "But, nevertheless, we do not build temples, and ordain priests, rites, and sacrifices for these same martyrs; for they are not our gods, but their God is our God. Certainly we honour their reliquaries, as the memorials of holy men of God, who strove for the truth even to the death of their bodies, that the true religion might be made known, and false and fictitious religions exposed....But who ever heard a priest of the faithful, standing at an altar built for the honour and worship of God over the holy body of some martyr, say in the prayers, I offer to thee a sacrifice, O Peter, or O Paul, or O Cyprian? For it is to God that sacrifices are offered at their tombs,--the God who made them both men and martyrs, and associated them with holy angels in celestial honour; and the reason why we pay such honours to their memory is, that by so doing we may both give thanks to the true God for their victories, and, by recalling them afresh to remembrance, may stir ourselves up to imitate them by seeking to obtain like crowns and palms, calling to our help that same God on whom they called. Therefore, whatever honours the religious may pay in the places of the martyrs, they are but honours rendered to their memory [ornamenta memoriarum], not sacred rites or sacrifices offered to dead men as to gods. And even such as bring thither food--which, indeed, is not done by the better Christians, and in most places of the world is not done at all--do so in order that it may be sanctified to them through the merits of the martyrs, in the name of the Lord of the martyrs, first presenting the food and offering prayer, and thereafter taking it away to be eaten, or to be in part bestowed upon the needy. But he who knows the one sacrifice of Christians, which is the sacrifice offered in those places, also knows that these are not sacrifices offered to the martyrs." He speaks to the same effect in Book xxii. sec. 10; and in his Reply to Faustus (xx. 21), who had charged the Christians with imitating the Pagans, "and appeasing the `shades' of the departed with wine and food." See v. sec. 17, note. [439] Following the example of Ambrose, Augustin used all his influence and eloquence to correct such shocking abuses in the churches. In his letter to Alypius, Bishop of Thagaste (when as yet only a presbyter assisting the venerable Valerius), he gives an account of his efforts to overcome them in the church of Hippo. The following passage is instructive (Ep. xxix. 9):--"I explained to them the circumstances out of which this custom seems to have necessarily risen in the Church, namely, that when, in the peace which came after such numerous and violent persecutions, crowds of heathen who wished to assume the Christian religion were kept back, because, having been accustomed to celebrate the feasts connected with their worship of idols in revelling and drunkenness, they could not easily refrain from pleasures so hurtful and so habitual, it had seemed good to our ancestors, making for the time a concession to this infirmity, to permit them to celebrate, instead of the festivals which they renounced, other feasts in honour of the holy martyrs, which were observed, not as before with a profane design, but with similar self-indulgence." [440] See v. sec. 17, note 5, above. [441] On another occasion, when Monica's mind was exercised as to non-essentials, Ambrose gave her advice which has perhaps given origin to the proverb, "When at Rome, do as Rome does." It will be found in the letter to Casulanus (Ep. xxxvi. 32), and is as follows:--"When my mother was with me in that city, I, as being only a catechumen, felt no concern about these questions; but it was to her a question causing anxiety, whether she ought, after the custom of our own town, to fast on the Saturday, or, after the custom of the church of Milan, not to fast. To deliver her from perplexity, I put the question to the man of God whom I have first named. He answered, `What else can I recommend to others than what I do myself?' When I thought that by this he intended simply to prescribe to us that we should take food on Saturdays,--for I knew this to be his own practice,--he, following me, added these words: `When I am here I do not fast on Saturday, but when I am at Rome I do; Whatever church you may come to, conform to its custom, if you would avoid either receiving or giving offence.'" We find the same incident referred to in Ep. liv. 3. [442] Rom. xii. 11.


Chapter III.--As Ambrose Was Occupied with Business and Study, Augustin Could Seldom Consult Him Concerning the Holy Scriptures.

3. Nor did I now groan in my prayers that Thou wouldest help me; but my mind was wholly intent on knowledge, and eager to dispute. And Ambrose himself I esteemed a happy man, as the world counted happiness, in that such great personages held him in honour; only his celibacy appeared to me a painful thing. But what hope he cherished, what struggles he had against the temptations that beset his very excellences, what solace in adversities, and what savoury joys Thy bread possessed for the hidden mouth of his heart when ruminating [443] on it, I could neither conjecture, nor had I experienced. Nor did he know my embarrassments, nor the pit of my danger. For I could not request of him what I wished as I wished, in that I was debarred from hearing and speaking to him by crowds of busy people, whose infirmities he devoted himself to. With whom when he was not engaged (which was but a little time), he either was refreshing his body with necessary sustenance, or his mind with reading. But while reading, his eyes glanced over the pages, and his heart searched out the sense, but his voice and tongue were silent. Ofttimes, when we had come (for no one was forbidden to enter, nor was it his custom that the arrival of those who came should be announced to him), we saw him thus reading to himself, and never otherwise; and, having long sat in silence (for who durst interrupt one so intent?), we were fain to depart, inferring that in the little time he secured for the recruiting of his mind, free from the clamour of other men's business, he was unwilling to be taken off. And perchance he was fearful lest, if the author he studied should express aught vaguely, some doubtful and attentive hearer should ask him to expound it, or to discuss some of the more abstruse questions, as that, his time being thus occupied, he could not turn over as many volumes as he wished; although the preservation of his voice, which was very easily weakened, might be the truer reason for his reading to himself. But whatever was his motive in so doing, doubtless in such a man was a good one.

4. But verily no opportunity could I find of ascertaining what I desired from that Thy so holy oracle, his breast, unless the thing might be entered into briefly. But those surgings in me required to find him at full leisure, that I might pour them out to him, but never were they able to find him so; and I heard him, indeed, every Lord's day, "rightly dividing the word of truth" [444] among the people; and I was all the more convinced that all those knots of crafty calumnies, which those deceivers of ours had knit against the divine books, could be unravelled. But so soon as I understood, withal, that man made "after the image of Him that created him" [445] was not so understood by Thy spiritual sons (whom of the Catholic mother Thou hadst begotten again through grace), as though they believed and imagined Thee to be bounded by human form,--although what was the nature of a spiritual substance [446] I had not the faintest or dimmest suspicion,--yet rejoicing, I blushed that for so many years I had barked, not against the Catholic faith, but against the fables of carnal imaginations. For I had been both impious and rash in this, that what I ought inquiring to have learnt, I had pronounced on condemning. For Thou, O most high and most near, most secret, yet most present, who hast not limbs some larger some smaller, but art wholly everywhere, and nowhere in space, nor art Thou of such corporeal form, yet hast Thou created man after Thine own image, and, behold, from head to foot is he confined by space.

Footnotes

[443] In his Reply to Faustus (vi. 7), he, conformably with this idea, explains the division into clean and unclean beasts under the Levitical law symbolically. "No doubt," he says, "the animal is pronounced unclean by the law because it does not chew the cud, which is not a fault, but its nature. But the men of whom this animal is a symbol are unclean, not by nature, but from their own fault; because, though they gladly hear the words of wisdom, they never reflect on them afterwards. For to recall, in quiet repose, some useful instruction from the stomach of memory to the mouth of reflection, is a kind of spiritual rumination. The animals above mentioned are a symbol of those people who do not do this. And the prohibition of the flesh of these animals is a warning against this fault. Another passage of Scripture (Prov. xxi. 20) speaks of the precious treasure of wisdom, and describes ruminating as clean, and not ruminating as unclean: `A precious treasure resteth in the mouth of a wise man, but a foolish man swallows it up.' Symbols of this kind, either in words or in things, give useful and pleasant exercise to intelligent minds in the way of inquiry and comparison." [444] 2 Tim. ii. 15. [445] Col. iii. 10, and Gen. i. 26, 27. And because we are created in the image of God, Augustin argues (Serm. lxxxviii. 6), we have the ability to see and know Him, just as, having eyes to see, we can look upon the sun. And hereafter, too (Ep. xcii. 3), "We shall see Him according to the measure in which we shall be like Him; because now the measure in which we do not see Him is according to the measure of our unlikeness to Him." [446] See iii. sec. 12, note, above.


Chapter IV.--He Recognises the Falsity of His Own Opinions, and Commits to Memory the Saying of Ambrose.

5. As, then, I knew not how this image of Thine should subsist, I should have knocked and propounded the doubt how it was to be believed, and not have insultingly opposed it, as if it were believed. Anxiety, therefore, as to what to retain as certain, did all the more sharply gnaw into my soul, the more shame I felt that, having been so long deluded and deceived by the promise of certainties, I had, with puerile error and petulance, prated of so many uncertainties as if they were certainties. For that they were falsehoods became apparent to me afterwards. However, I was certain that they were uncertain, and that I had formerly held them as certain when with a blind contentiousness I accused Thy Catholic Church, which though I had not yet discovered to teach truly, yet not to teach that of which I had so vehemently accused her. In this manner was I confounded and converted, and I rejoiced, O my God, that the one Church, the body of Thine only Son (wherein the name of Christ had been set upon me when an infant), did not appreciate these infantile trifles, nor maintained, in her sound doctrine, any tenet that would confine Thee, the Creator of all, in space--though ever so great and wide, yet bounded on all sides by the restraints of a human form.

6. I rejoiced also that the old Scriptures of the law and the prophets were laid before me, to be perused, not now with that eye to which they seemed most absurd before, when I censured Thy holy ones for so thinking, whereas in truth they thought not so; and with delight I heard Ambrose, in his sermons to the people, oftentimes most diligently recommend this text as a rule,--"The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life;" [447] whilst, drawing aside the mystic veil, he spiritually laid open that which, accepted according to the "letter," seemed to teach perverse doctrines--teaching herein nothing that offended me, though he taught such things as I knew not as yet whether they were true. For all this time I restrained my heart from assenting to anything, fearing to fall headlong; but by hanging in suspense I was the worse killed. For my desire was to be as well assured of those things that I saw not, as I was that seven and three are ten. For I was not so insane as to believe that this could not be comprehended; but I desired to have other things as clear as this, whether corporeal things, which were not present to my senses, or spiritual, whereof I knew not how to conceive except corporeally. And by believing I might have been cured, that so the sight of my soul being cleared, [448] it might in some way be directed towards Thy truth, which abideth always, and faileth in naught. But as it happens that he who has tried a bad physician fears to trust himself with a good one, so was it with the health of my soul, which could not be healed but by believing, and, lest it should believe falsehoods, refused to be cured--resisting Thy hands, who hast prepared for us the medicaments of faith, and hast applied them to the maladies of the whole world, and hast bestowed upon them so great authority.

Footnotes

[447] 2 Cor. iii. 6. The spiritual or allegorical meaning here referred to is one that Augustin constantly sought, as did many of the early Fathers, both Greek and Latin. He only employs this method of interpretation, however, in a qualified way--never going to the lengths of Origen or Clement of Alexandria. He does not depreciate the letter of Scripture, though, as we have shown above (iii. sec. 14, note), he went as far as he well could in interpreting the history spiritually. He does not seem, however, quite consistent in his statements as to the relative prominence to be given to the literal and spiritual meanings, as may be seen by a comparison of the latter portions of secs. 1 and 3 of book xvii. of the City of God. His general idea may be gathered from the following passage in the 21st sec. of book xiii.:--"Some allegorize all that concerns paradise itself, where the first men, the parents of the human race, are, according to the truth of Holy Scripture, recorded to have been; and they understand all its trees and fruit-bearing plants as virtues and habits of life, as if they had no existence in the external world, but were only so spoken of or related for the sake of spiritual meanings. As if there could not be a real terrestrial paradise! As if there never existed these two women, Sarah and Hagar, nor the two sons who were born to Abraham, the one of the bond-woman, the other of the free, because the apostle says that in them the two covenants were prefigured! or as if water never flowed from the rock when Moses struck it, because therein Christ can be seen in a figure, as the same apostle says: `Now that rock was Christ' (1 Cor. x. 4)....These and similar allegorical interpretations may be suitably put upon paradise without giving offence to any one, while yet we believe the strict truth of the history, confirmed by its circumstantial narrative of facts." The allusion in the above passage to Sarah and Hagar invites the remark, that in Galatians iv. 24, the words in our version rendered, "which things are an allegory," should be, "which things are such as may be allegorized." [Hatina estin allegoroumena. See Jelf, 398, sec. 2.] It is important to note this, as the passage has been quoted in support of the more extreme method of allegorizing, though it could clearly go no further than to sanction allegorizing by way of spiritual meditation upon Scripture, and not in the interpretation of it--which first, as Waterland thinks (Works, vol. v. p. 311), was the end contemplated by most of the Fathers. Thoughtful students of Scripture will feel that we have no right to make historical facts typical or allegorical, unless (as in the case of the manna, the brazen serpent, Jacob's ladder, etc.) we have divine authority for so doing; and few such will dissent from the opinion of Bishop Marsh (Lecture vi.) that the type must not only resemble the antitype, but must have been designed to resemble it, and further, that we must have the authority of Scripture for the existence of such design. The text, "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," as a perusal of the context will show, has nothing whatever to do with either "literal" or "spiritual" meanings. Augustin himself interprets it in one place (De Spir. et Lit. cc. 4, 5) as meaning the killing letter of the law, as compared with the quickening power of the gospel. "An opinion," to conclude with the thoughtful words of Alfred Morris on this Chapter ( Words for the Heart and Life, p. 203), "once common must therefore be rejected. Some still talk of `letter' and `spirit' in a way which has no sanction here. The `letter' with them is the literal meaning of the text, the `spirit' is its symbolic meaning. And, as the `spirit' possesses an evident superiority to the `letter,' they fly away into the region of secret senses and hidden doctrines, find types where there is nothing typical, and allegories where there is nothing allegorical; make Genesis more evangelical than the Epistle to the Romans, and Leviticus than the Epistle to the Hebrews; mistaking lawful criticism for legal Christianity, they look upon the exercise of a sober judgment as a proof of a depraved taste, and forget that diseased as well as very powerful eyes may see more than others. It is not the obvious meaning and the secret meaning that are intended by `letter' and `spirit,' nor any two meanings of Christianity, nor two meanings of any thing or things, but the two systems of Moses and of Christ." Reference may be made on this whole subject of allegorical interpretation in the writings of the Fathers to Blunt's Right Use of the Early Fathers, series i. lecture 9. [448] Augustin frequently dilates on this idea. In sermon 88 (cc. 5, 6, etc.), he makes the whole of the ministries of religion subservient to the clearing of the inner eye of the soul and in his De Trin. i. 3, he says: "And it is necessary to purge our minds, in order to be able to see ineffably that which is ineffable [i.e. the Godhead], whereto not having yet attained, we are to be nourished by faith, and led by such ways as are more suited to our capacity, that we may be rendered apt and able to comprehend it."


Chapter V.--Faith is the Basis of Human Life; Man Cannot Discover that Truth Which Holy Scripture Has Disclosed.

7. From this, however, being led to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I felt that it was with more moderation and honesty that it commanded things to be believed that were not demonstrated (whether it was that they could be demonstrated, but not to any one, or could not be demonstrated at all), than was the method of the Manichæans, where our credulity was mocked by audacious promise of knowledge, and then so many most fabulous and absurd things were forced upon belief because they were not capable of demonstration. [449] After that, O Lord, Thou, by little and little, with most gentle and most merciful hand, drawing and calming my heart, didst persuade taking into consideration what a multiplicity of things which I had never seen, nor was present when they were enacted, like so many of the things in secular history, and so many accounts of places and cities which I had not seen; so many of friends, so many of physicians, so many now of these men, now of those, which unless we should believe, we should do nothing at all in this life; lastly, with how unalterable an assurance I believed of what parents I was born, which it would have been impossible for me to know otherwise than by hearsay,--taking into consideration all this, Thou persuadest me that not they who believed Thy books (which, with so great authority, Thou hast established among nearly all nations), but those who believed them not were to be blamed; [450] and that those men were not to be listened unto who should say to me, "How dost thou know that those Scriptures were imparted unto mankind by the Spirit of the one true and most true God?" For it was the same thing that was most of all to be believed, since no wranglings of blasphemous questions, whereof I had read so many amongst the self-contradicting philosophers, could once wring the belief from me that Thou art,--whatsoever Thou wert, though what I knew not,--or that the government of human affairs belongs to Thee.

8. Thus much I believed, at one time more strongly than another, yet did I ever believe both that Thou wert, and hadst a care of us, although I was ignorant both what was to be thought of Thy substance, and what way led, or led back to Thee. Seeing, then, that we were too weak by unaided reason to find out the truth, and for this cause needed the authority of the holy writings, I had now begun to believe that Thou wouldest by no means have given such excellency of authority to those Scriptures throughout all lands, had it not been Thy will thereby to be believed in, and thereby sought. For now those things which heretofore appeared incongruous to me in the Scripture, and used to offend me, having heard divers of them expounded reasonably, I referred to the depth of the mysteries, and its authority seemed to me all the more venerable and worthy of religious belief, in that, while it was visible for all to read it, it reserved the majesty of its secret [451] within its profound significance, stooping to all in the great plainness of its language and lowliness of its style, yet exercising the application of such as are not light of heart; that it might receive all into its common bosom, and through narrow passages waft over some few towards Thee, yet many more than if it did not stand upon such a height of authority, nor allured multitudes within its bosom by its holy humility. These things I meditated upon, and Thou wert with me; I sighed, and Thou heardest me; I vacillated, and Thou didst guide me; I roamed through the broad way [452] of the world, and Thou didst not desert me.

Footnotes

[449] He similarly exalts the claims of the Christian Church over Manichæanism in his Reply to Faustus (xxxii. 19): "If you submit to receive a load of endless fictions at the bidding of an obscure and irrational authority, so that you believe all those things because they are written in the books which your misguided judgment pronounces trustworthy, though there is no evidence of their truth, why not rather submit to the evidence of the gospel, which is so well-founded, so confirmed, so generally acknowledged and admired, and which has an unbroken series of testimonies from the apostles down to our own day, that so you may have an intelligent belief, and may come to know that all your objections are the fruit of folly and perversity?" And again, in his Reply to Manichæus' Fundamental Epistle (sec. 18), alluding to the credulity required in those who accept Manichæan teaching on the mere authority of the teacher: "Whoever thoughtlessly yields this becomes a Manichæan, not by knowing undoubted truth, but by believing doubtful statements. Such were we when in our inexperienced youth we were deceived." [450] He has a like train of thought in another place (De Fide Rer. quæ non Vid. sec. 4): "If, then (harmony being destroyed), human society itself would not stand if we believe not that we see not, how much more should we have faith in divine things, though we see them not; which if we have it not, we do not violate the friendship of a few men, but the profoundest religion--so as to have as its consequence the profoundest misery." Again, referring to belief in Scripture, he argues (Con. Faust. xxxiii. 6) that, if we doubt its evidence, we may equally doubt that of any book, and asks, "How do we know the authorship of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Varro, and other similar writers, but by the unbroken chain of evidence?" And once more he contends (De Mor. Cath. Eccles. xxix. 60) that, "The utter overthrow of all literature will follow and there will be an end to all books handed down from the past, if what is supported by such a strong popular belief, and established by the uniform testimony of so many men and so many times, is brought into such suspicion that it is not allowed to have the credit and the authority of common history." [451] See i. sec. 10, note, above. [452] Matt. vii. 13.


Chapter VI.--On the Source and Cause of True Joy,--The Example of the Joyous Beggar Being Adduced.

9. I longed for honours, gains, wedlock; and Thou mockedst me. In these desires I underwent most bitter hardships, Thou being the more gracious the less Thou didst suffer anything which was not Thou to grow sweet to me. Behold my heart, O Lord, who wouldest that I should recall all this, and confess unto Thee. Now let my soul cleave to Thee, which Thou hast freed from that fast-holding bird-lime of death. How wretched was it! And Thou didst irritate the feeling of its wound, that, forsaking all else, it might be converted unto Thee,--who art above all, and without whom all things would be naught,--be converted and be healed. How wretched was I at that time, and how didst Thou deal with me, to make me sensible of my wretchedness on that day wherein I was preparing to recite a panegyric on the Emperor, [453] wherein I was to deliver many a lie, and lying was to be applauded by those who knew I lied; and my heart panted with these cares, and boiled over with the feverishness of consuming thoughts. For, while walking along one of the streets of Milan, I observed a poor mendicant,--then, I imagine, with a full belly,--joking and joyous; and I sighed, and spake to the friends around me of the many sorrows resulting from our madness, for that by all such exertions of ours,--as those wherein I then laboured, dragging along, under the spur of desires, the burden of my own unhappiness, and by dragging increasing it, we yet aimed only to attain that very joyousness which that mendicant had reached before us, who, perchance, never would attain it! For what he had obtained through a few begged pence, the same was I scheming for by many a wretched and tortuous turning,--the joy of a temporary felicity. For he verily possessed not true joy, but yet I, with these my ambitions, was seeking one much more untrue. And in truth he was joyous, I anxious; he free from care, I full of alarms. But should any one inquire of me whether I would rather be merry or fearful, I would reply, Merry. Again, were I asked whether I would rather be such as he was, or as I myself then was, I should elect to be myself, though beset with cares and alarms, but out of perversity; for was it so in truth? For I ought not to prefer myself to him because I happened to be more learned than he, seeing that I took no delight therein, but sought rather to please men by it; and that not to instruct, but only to please. Wherefore also didst Thou break my bones with the rod of Thy correction. [454]

10. Away with those, then, from my soul, who say unto it, "It makes a difference from whence a man's joy is derived. That mendicant rejoiced in drunkenness; thou longedst to rejoice in glory." What glory, O Lord? That which is not in Thee. For even as his was no true joy, so was mine no true glory; [455] and it subverted my soul more. He would digest his drunkenness that same night, but many a night had I slept with mine, and risen again with it, and was to sleep again and again to rise with it, I know not how oft. It does indeed "make a difference whence a man's joy is derived." I know it is so, and that the joy of a faithful hope is incomparably beyond such vanity. Yea, and at that time was he beyond me, for he truly was the happier man; not only for that he was thoroughly steeped in mirth, I torn to pieces with cares, but he, by giving good wishes, had gotten wine, I, by lying, was following after pride. Much to this effect said I then to my dear friends, and I often marked in them how it fared with me; and I found that it went ill with me, and fretted, and doubled that very ill. And if any prosperity smiled upon me, I loathed to seize it, for almost before I could grasp it flew away.

Footnotes

[453] In the Benedictine edition it is suggested that this was probably Valentinian the younger, whose court was, according to Possidius (c. i.), at Milan when Augustin was professor of rhetoric there, who writes (Con. Litt. Petil. iii. 25) that he in that city recited a panegyric to Bauto, the consul, on the first of January, according to the requirements of his profession of rhetoric. [454] Prov. xxii. 15. [455] Here, as elsewhere, we have the feeling which finds its expression in i. sec. 1, above: "Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee."


Chapter VII.--He Leads to Reformation His Friend Alypius, Seized with Madness for the Circensian Games.

11. These things we, who lived like friends together, jointly deplored, but chiefly and most familiarly did I discuss them with Alypius and Nebridius, of whom Alypius was born in the same town as myself, his parents being of the highest rank there, but he being younger than I. For he had studied under me, first, when I taught in our own town, and afterwards at Carthage, and esteemed me highly, because I appeared to him good and learned; and I esteemed him for his innate love of virtue, which, in one of no great age, was sufficiently eminent. But the vortex of Carthaginian customs (amongst whom these frivolous spectacles are hotly followed) had inveigled him into the madness of the Circensian games. But while he was miserably tossed about therein, I was professing rhetoric there, and had a public school. As yet he did not give ear to my teaching, on account of some ill-feeling that had arisen between me and his father. I had then found how fatally he doted upon the circus, and was deeply grieved that he seemed likely--if, indeed, he had not already done so--to cast away his so great promise. Yet had I no means of advising, or by a sort of restraint reclaiming him, either by the kindness of a friend or by the authority of a master. For I imagined that his sentiments towards me were the same as his father's; but he was not such. Disregarding, therefore, his father's will in that matter, he commenced to salute me, and, coming into my lecture-room, to listen for a little and depart.

12. But it slipped my memory to deal with him, so that he should not, through a blind and headstrong desire of empty pastimes, undo so great a wit. But Thou, O Lord, who governest the helm of all Thou hast created, hadst not forgotten him, who was one day to be amongst Thy sons, the President of Thy sacrament; [456] and that his amendment might plainly be attributed to Thyself, Thou broughtest it about through me, but I knowing nothing of it. For one day, when I was sitting in my accustomed place, with my scholars before me, he came in, saluted me, sat himself down, and fixed his attention on the subject I was then handling. It so happened that I had a passage in hand, which while I was explaining, a simile borrowed from the Circensian games occurred to me, as likely to make what I wished to convey pleasanter and plainer, imbued with a biting jibe at those whom that madness had enthralled. Thou knowest, O our God, that I had no thought at that time of curing Alypius of that plague. But he took it to himself, and thought that I would not have said it but for his sake. And what any other man would have made a ground of offence against me, this worthy young man took as a reason for being offended at himself, and for loving me more fervently. For Thou hast said it long ago, and written in Thy book, "Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee." [457] But I had not rebuked him, but Thou, who makest use of all consciously or unconsciously, in that order which Thyself knowest (and that order is right), wroughtest out of my heart and tongue burning coals, by which Thou mightest set on fire and cure the hopeful mind thus languishing. Let him be silent in Thy praises who meditates not on Thy mercies, which from my inmost parts confess unto Thee. For he upon that speech rushed out from that so deep pit, wherein he was wilfully plunged, and was blinded by its miserable pastimes; and he roused his mind with a resolute moderation; whereupon all the filth of the Circensian pastimes [458] flew off from him, and he did not approach them further. Upon this, he prevailed with his reluctant father to let him be my pupil. He gave in and consented. And Alypius, beginning again to hear me, was involved in the same superstition as I was, loving in the Manichæans that ostentation of continency [459] which he believed to be true and unfeigned. It was, however, a senseless and seducing continency, ensnaring precious souls, not able as yet to reach the height of virtue, and easily beguiled with the veneer of what was but a shadowy and feigned virtue.

Footnotes

[456] Compare v. sec. 17, note, above, and sec. 15, note, below. [457] Prov. ix. 8. [458] The games in the Provinces of the empire were on the same model as those held in the Circus Maximus at Rome, though not so imposing. This circus was one of those vast works executed by Tarquinius Priscus. Hardly a vestige of it at the present time remains, though the Cloaca Maxima, another of his stupendous works, has not, after more than 2500 years, a stone displaced, and still performs its appointed service of draining the city of Rome into the Tiber. In the circus were exhibited chariot and foot races, fights on horseback, representations of battles (on which occasion camps were pitched in the circus), and the Grecian athletic sports introduced after the conquest of that country. See also sec. 13, note, below. [459] Augustin, in book v. sec. 9, above, refers to the reputed sanctity of Manichæus, and it may well be questioned whether the sect deserved that unmitigated reprobation he pours out upon them in his De Moribus, and in parts of his controversy with Faustus. Certain it is that Faustus laid claim, on behalf of his sect, to a very different moral character to that Augustin would impute to them. He says (Con. Faust. v. 1): "Do I believe the gospel? You ask me if I believe it, though my obedience to its commands shows that I do. I should rather ask you if you believe it, since you give no proof of your belief. I have left my father, mother, wife, and children, and all else that the Gospel requires (Matt. xix. 29); and do you ask if I believe the gospel? Perhaps you do not know what is called the gospel. The gospel is nothing else than the preaching and the precept of Christ. I have parted with all gold and silver, and have left off carrying money in my purse; content with daily food; without anxiety for to-morrow; and without solicitude about how I shall be fed, or wherewithal I shall be clothed: and do you ask if I believe the gospel? You see in me the blessings of the gospel (Matt. v. 3-11); and do you ask if I believe the gospel? You see me poor, meek, a peacemaker, pure in heart, mourning, hungering, thirsting, bearing persecutions and enmity for righteousness' sake; and do you doubt my belief in the gospel?" It is difficult to understand that Manichæanism can have spread as largely as it did at that time, if the asceticism of many amongst them had not been real. It may be noted that in his controversy with Fortunatus, Augustin strangely declines to discuss the charges of immorality that had been brought against the Manichæans; and in the last Chapter of his De Moribus, it appears to be indicated that one, if not more, of those whose evil deeds are there spoken of had a desire to follow the rule of life laid down by Manichæus.


Chapter VIII.--The Same When at Rome, Being Led by Others into the Amphitheatre, is Delighted with the Gladiatorial Games.

13. He, not relinquishing that worldly way which his parents had bewitched him to pursue, had gone before me to Rome, to study law, and there he was carried away in an extraordinary manner with an incredible eagerness after the gladiatorial shows. For, being utterly opposed to and detesting such spectacles, he was one day met by chance by divers of his acquaintance and fellow-students returning from dinner, and they with a friendly violence drew him, vehemently objecting and resisting, into the amphitheatre, on a day of these cruel and deadly shows, he thus protesting: "Though you drag my body to that place, and there place me, can you force me to give my mind and lend my eyes to these shows? Thus shall I be absent while present, and so shall overcome both you and them." They hearing this, dragged him on nevertheless, desirous, perchance, to see whether he could do as he said. When they had arrived thither, and had taken their places as they could, the whole place became excited with the inhuman sports. But he, shutting up the doors of his eyes, forbade his mind to roam abroad after such naughtiness; and would that he had shut his ears also! For, upon the fall of one in the fight, a mighty cry from the whole audience stirring him strongly, he, overcome by curiosity, and prepared as it were to despise and rise superior to it, no matter what it were, opened his eyes, and was struck with a deeper wound in his soul than the other, whom he desired to see, was in his body; [460] and he fell more miserably than he on whose fall that mighty clamour was raised, which entered through his ears, and unlocked his eyes, to make way for the striking and beating down of his soul, which was bold rather than valiant hitherto; and so much the weaker in that it presumed on itself, which ought to have depended on Thee. For, directly he saw that blood, he therewith imbibed a sort of savageness; nor did he turn away, but fixed his eye, drinking in madness unconsciously, and was delighted with the guilty contest, and drunken with the bloody pastime. Nor was he now the same he came in, but was one of the throng he came unto, and a true companion of those who had brought him thither. Why need I say more? He looked, shouted, was excited, carried away with him the madness which would stimulate him to return, not only with those who first enticed him, but also before them, yea, and to draw in others. And from all this didst Thou, with a most powerful and most merciful hand, pluck him, and taughtest him not to repose confidence in himself, but in Thee--but not till long after.

Footnotes

[460] The scene of this episode was, doubtless, the great Flavian Amphitheatre, known by us at this day as the Colosseum. It stands in the valley between the Cælian and Esquiline hills, on the site of a lake formerly attached to the palace of Nero. Gibbon, in his graphic way, says of the building (Decline and Fall, i. 355): "Posterity admires, and will long admire, the awful remains of the amphitheatre of Titus, which so well deserved the epithet of colossal. It was a building of an elliptic figure, five hundred and sixty-four feet in length, and four hundred and sixty-seven in breadth, founded on fourscore arches, and rising, with four successive orders of architecture, to the height of one hundred and forty feet. The outside of the edifice was encrusted with marble, and decorated with statues. The slopes of the vast concave which formed the inside were filled and surrounded with sixty or eighty rows of seats of marble, likewise covered with cushions, and capable of receiving with ease above fourscore thousand spectators. Sixty-four vomitories (for by that name the doors were very aptly distinguished) poured forth the immense multitude; and the entrances, passages, and staircases were contrived with such exquisite skill, that each person, whether of the senatorial, the equestrian, or the plebeian order, arrived at his destined place without trouble or confusion. Nothing was omitted which in any respect could be subservient to the convenience or pleasure of the spectators. They were protected from the sun and rain by an ample canopy occasionally drawn over their heads. The air was continually refreshed by the playing of fountains, and profusely impregnated by the grateful scent of aromatics. In the centre of the edifice, the arena, or stage, was strewed with the finest sand, and successively assumed the most different forms; at one moment it seemed to rise out of the earth, like the garden of the Hesperides, and was afterwards broken into the rocks and caverns of Thrace. The subterraneous pipes conveyed an inexhaustible supply of water; and what had just before appeared a level plain might be suddenly converted into a wide lake, covered with armed vessels and replenished with the monsters of the deep. In the decoration of these scenes the Roman emperors displayed their wealth and liberality; and we read, on various occasions, that the whole furniture of the amphitheatre consisted either of silver, or of gold, or of amber." In this magnificent building were enacted venatios or hunting scenes, sea-fights, and gladiatorial shows, in all of which the greatest lavishness was exhibited. The men engaged were for the most part either criminals or captives taken in war. On the occasion of the triumph of Trajan for his victory over the Dacians, it is said that ten thousand gladiators were engaged in combat, and that in the naumachia or sea-fight shown by Domitian, ships and men in force equal to two real fleets were engaged, at an enormous expenditure of human life. "If," says James Martineau (Endeavours after the Christian Life, pp. 261, 262), "you would witness a scene characteristic of the popular life of old, you must go to the amphitheatre of Rome, mingle with its eighty thousand spectators, and watch the eager faces of senators and people; observe how the masters of the world spend the wealth of conquest, and indulge the pride of power. See every wild creature that God has made to dwell, from the jungles of India to the mountains of Wales, from the forests of Germany to the deserts of Nubia, brought hither to be hunted down in artificial groves by thousands in an hour, behold the captives of war, noble, perhaps, and wise in their own land, turned loose, amid yells of insult, more terrible for their foreign tongue, to contend with brutal gladiators, trained to make death the favourite amusement, and present the most solemn of individual realities as a wholesale public sport; mark the light look with which the multitude, by uplifted finger, demands that the wounded combatant be slain before their eyes; notice the troop of Christian martyrs awaiting hand in hand the leap from the tiger's den. And when the day's spectacle is over, and the blood of two thousand victims stains the ring, follow the giddy crowd as it streams from the vomitories into the street, trace its lazy course into the Forum, and hear it there scrambling for the bread of private indolence doled out by the purse of public corruption; and see how it suns itself to sleep in the open ways, or crawls into foul dens till morning brings the hope of games and merry blood again;--and you have an idea of the Imperial people, and their passionate living for the moment, which the gospel found in occupation of the world." The desire for these shows increased as the empire advanced. Constantine failed to put a stop to them at Rome, though they were not admitted into the Christian capital he established at Constantinople. We have already shown (iii. sec. 2, note, above) how strongly attendance at stage-plays and scenes like these was condemned by the Christian teachers. The passion, however, for these exhibitions was so great, that they were only brought to an end after the monk Telemachus--horrified that Christians should witness such scenes--had been battered to death by the people in their rage at his flinging himself between the swordsmen to stop the combat. This tragic episode occurred in the year 403, at a show held in commemoration of a temporary success over the troops of Alaric.


Chapter IX.--Innocent Alypius, Being Apprehended as a Thief, is Set at Liberty by the Cleverness of an Architect.

14. But this was all being stored up in his memory for a medicine hereafter. As was that also, that when he was yet studying under me at Carthage, and was meditating at noonday in the market-place upon what he had to recite (as scholars are wont to be exercised), Thou sufferedst him to be apprehended as a thief by the officers of the market-place. For no other reason, I apprehend, didst Thou, O our God, suffer it, but that he who was in the future to prove so great a man should now begin to learn that, in judging of causes, man should not with a reckless credulity readily be condemned by man. For as he was walking up and down alone before the judgment-seat with his tablets and pen, lo, a young man, one of the scholars, the real thief, privily bringing a hatchet, got in without Alypius' seeing him as far as the leaden bars which protect the silversmiths' shops, and began to cut away the lead. But the noise of the hatchet being heard, the silversmiths below began to make a stir, and sent to take in custody whomsoever they should find. But the thief, hearing their voices, ran away, leaving his hatchet, fearing to be taken with it. Now Alypius, who had not seen him come in, caught sight of him as he went out, and noted with what speed he made off. And, being curious to know the reasons, he entered the place, where, finding the hatchet, he stood wondering and pondering, when behold, those that were sent caught him alone, hatchet in hand, the noise whereof had startled them and brought them thither. They lay hold of him and drag him away, and, gathering the tenants of the market-place about them, boast of having taken a notorious thief, and thereupon he was being led away to apppear before the judge.

15. But thus far was he to be instructed. For immediately, O Lord, Thou camest to the succour of his innocency, whereof Thou wert the sole witness. For, as he was being led either to prison or to punishment, they were met by a certain architect, who had the chief charge of the public buildings. They were specially glad to come across him, by whom they used to be suspected of stealing the goods lost out of the market-place, as though at last to convince him by whom these thefts were committed. He, however, had at divers times seen Alypius at the house of a certain senator, whom he was wont to visit to pay his respects; and, recognising him at once, he took him aside by the hand, and inquiring of him the cause of so great a misfortune, heard the whole affair, and commanded all the rabble then present (who were very uproarious and full of threatenings) to go with him. And they came to the house of the young man who had committed the deed. There, before the door, was a lad so young as not to refrain from disclosing the whole through the fear of injuring his master. For he had followed his master to the market-place. Whom, so soon as Alypius recognised, he intimated it to the architect; and he, showing the hatchet to the lad, asked him to whom it belonged. "To us," quoth he immediately; and on being further interrogated, he disclosed everything. Thus, the crime being transferred to that house, and the rabble shamed, which had begun to triumph over Alypius, he, the future dispenser of Thy word, and an examiner of numerous causes in Thy Church, [461] went away better experienced and instructed.

Footnotes

[461] "Alypius became Bishop of Thagaste (Aug. De Gestis c. Emerit. secs. 1 and 5). On the necessity which bishops were under of hearing secular causes, and its use, see Bingham, ii. c. 7."--E. B. P.


Chapter X.--The Wonderful Integrity of Alypius in Judgment. The Lasting Friendship of Nebridius with Augustin.

16. Him, therefore, had I lighted upon at Rome, and he clung to me by a most strong tie, and accompanied me to Milan, both that he might not leave me, and that he might practise something of the law he had studied, more with a view of pleasing his parents than himself. There had he thrice sat as assessor with an uncorruptness wondered at by others, he rather wondering at those who could prefer gold to integrity. His character was tested, also, not only by the bait of covetousness, but by the spur of fear. At Rome, he was assessor to the Count of the Italian Treasury. [462] There was at that time a most potent senator, to whose favours many were indebted, of whom also many stood in fear. He would fain, by his usual power, have a thing granted him which was forbidden by the laws. This Alypius resisted; a bribe was promised, he scorned it with all his heart; threats were employed, he trampled them under foot,--all men being astonished at so rare a spirit, which neither coveted the friendship nor feared the enmity of a man at once so powerful and so greatly famed for his innumerable means of doing good or ill. Even the judge whose councillor Alypius was, although also unwilling that it should be done, yet did not openly refuse it, but put the matter off upon Alypius, alleging that it was he who would not permit him to do it; for verily, had the judge done it, Alypius would have decided otherwise. With this one thing in the way of learning was he very nearly led away,--that he might have books copied for him at prætorian prices. [463] But, consulting justice, he changed his mind for the better, esteeming equity, whereby he was hindered, more gainful than the power whereby he was permitted. These are little things, but "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much." [464] Nor can that possibly be void which proceedeth out of the mouth of Thy Truth. "If, therefore, ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own?" [465] He, being such, did at that time cling to me, and wavered in purpose, as I did, what course of life was to be taken.

17. Nebridius also, who had left his native country near Carthage, and Carthage itself, where he had usually lived, leaving behind his fine paternal estate, his house, and his mother, who intended not to follow him, had come to Milan, for no other reason than that he might live with me in a most ardent search after truth and wisdom. Like me he sighed, like me he wavered, an ardent seeker after true life, and a most acute examiner of the most abstruse questions. [466] So were there three begging mouths, sighing out their wants one to the other, and waiting upon Thee, that Thou mightest give them their meat in due season. [467] And in all the bitterness which by Thy mercy followed our worldly pursuits, as we contemplated the end, why this suffering should be ours, darkness came upon us; and we turned away groaning and exclaiming, "How long shall these things be?" And this we often said; and saying so, we did not relinquish them, for as yet we had discovered nothing certain to which, when relinquished, we might betake ourselves.

Footnotes

[462] "The Lord High Treasurer of the Western Empire was called Comes Sacrarum largitionum. He had six other treasurers in so many provinces under him, whereof he of Italy was one under whom this Alypius had some office of judicature, something like (though far inferior) to our Baron of the Exchequer. See Sir Henry Spelman's Glossary, in the word Comes; and Cassiodor, Var. v. c. 40."--W. W. [463] Pretiis prætorianis. Du Cange says that "Pretium regium is the right of a king or lord to purchase commodities at a certain and definite price." This may perhaps help us to understand the phrase as above employed. [464] Luke xvi. 10. [465] Luke xvi. 11, 12. [466] Augustin makes a similar allusion to Nebridius' ardour in examining difficult questions, especially those which refer ad doctrinam pietatis, in his 98th Epistle. [467] Ps. cxlv. 15.


Chapter XI.--Being Troubled by His Grievous Errors, He Meditates Entering on a New Life.

18. And I, puzzling over and reviewing these things, most marvelled at the length of time from that my nineteenth year, wherein I began to be inflamed with the desire of wisdom, resolving, when I had found her, to forsake all the empty hopes and lying insanities of vain desires. And behold, I was now getting on to my thirtieth year, sticking in the same mire, eager for the enjoyment of things present, which fly away and destroy me, whilst I say, "Tomorrow I shall discover it; behold, it will appear plainly, and I shall seize it; behold, Faustus will come and explain everything! O ye great men, ye Academicians, it is then true that nothing certain for the ordering of life can be attained! Nay, let us search the more diligently, and let us not despair. Lo, the things in the ecclesiastical books, which appeared to us absurd aforetime, do not appear so now, and may be otherwise and honestly interpreted. I will set my feet upon that step, where, as a child, my parents placed me, until the clear truth be discovered. But where and when shall it be sought? Ambrose has no leisure,--we have no leisure to read. Where are we to find the books? Whence or when procure them? From whom borrow them? Let set times be appointed, and certain hours be set apart for the health of the soul. Great hope has risen upon us, the Catholic faith doth not teach what we conceived, and vainly accused it of. Her learned ones hold it as an abomination to believe that God is limited by the form of a human body. And do we doubt to `knock,' in order that the rest may be `opened'? [468] The mornings are taken up by our scholars; how do we employ the rest of the day? Why do we not set about this? But when, then, pay our respects to our great friends, of whose favours we stand in need? When prepare what our scholars buy from us? When recreate ourselves, relaxing our minds from the pressure of care?"

19. "Perish everything, and let us dismiss these empty vanities, and betake ourselves solely to the search after truth! Life is miserable, death uncertain. If it creeps upon us suddenly, in what state shall we depart hence, and where shall we learn what we have neglected here? Or rather shall we not suffer the punishment of this negligence? What if death itself should cut off and put an end to all care and feeling? This also, then, must be inquired into. But God forbid that it should be so. It is not without reason, it is no empty thing, that the so eminent height of the authority of the Christian faith is diffused throughout the entire world. Never would such and so great things be wrought for us, if, by the death of the body, the life of the soul were destroyed. Why, therefore, do we delay to abandon our hopes of this world, and give ourselves wholly to seek after God and the blessed life? But stay! Even those things are enjoyable; and they possess some and no little sweetness. We must not abandon them lightly, for it would be a shame to return to them again. Behold, now is it a great matter to obtain some post of honour! And what more could we desire? We have crowds of influential friends, though we have nothing else, and if we make haste a presidentship may be offered us; and a wife with some money, that she increase not our expenses; and this shall be the height of desire. Many men, who are great and worthy of imitation, have applied themselves to the study of wisdom in the marriage state."

20. Whilst I talked of these things, and these winds veered about and tossed my heart hither and thither, the time passed on; but I was slow to turn to the Lord, and from day to day deferred to live in Thee, and deferred not daily to die in myself. Being enamoured of a happy life, I yet feared it in its own abode, and, fleeing from it, sought after it. I conceived that I should be too unhappy were I deprived of the embracements of a woman; [469] and of Thy merciful medicine to cure that infirmity I thought not, not having tried it. As regards continency, I imagined it to be under the control of our own strength (though in myself I found it not), being so foolish as not to know what is written, that none can be continent unless Thou give it; [470] and that Thou wouldst give it, if with heartfelt groaning I should knock at Thine ears, and should with firm faith cast my care upon Thee.

Footnotes

[468] Matt. vii. 7. [469] "I was entangled in the life of this world, clinging to dull hopes of a beauteous wife, the pomp of riches, the emptiness of honours, and the other hurtful and destructive pleasures" (Aug. De Util. Credendi, sec. 3). "After I had shaken off the Manichæans and escaped, especially when I had crossed the sea, the Academics long detained me tossing in the waves, winds from all quarters beating against my helm. And so I came to this shore, and there found a pole-star to whom to entrust myself. For I often observed in the discourses of our priest [Ambrose], and sometimes in yours [Theodorus], that you had no corporeal notions when you thought of God, or even of the soul, which of all things is next to God. But I was withheld, I own, from casting myself speedily into the bosom of true wisdom by the alluring hopes of marriage and honours; meaning, when I had obtained these, to press (as few singularly happy, had before me) with oar and sail into that haven, and there rest" (Aug. De Vita Beata, sec. 4).--E. B. P. [470] Wisd. viii. 2, Vulg.


Chapter XII.--Discussion with Alypius Concerning a Life of Celibacy.

21. It was in truth Alypius who prevented me from marrying, alleging that thus we could by no means live together, having so much undistracted leisure in the love of wisdom, as we had long desired. For he himself was so chaste in this matter that it was wonderful--all the more, too, that in his early youth he had entered upon that path, but had not clung to it; rather had he, feeling sorrow and disgust at it, lived from that time to the present most continently. But I opposed him with the examples of those who as married men had loved wisdom, found favour with God, and walked faithfully and lovingly with their friends. From the greatness of whose spirit I fell far short, and, enthralled with the disease of the flesh and its deadly sweetness, dragged my chain along, fearing to be loosed; and, as if it pressed my wound, rejected his kind expostulations, as it were the hand of one who would unchain me. Moreover, it was by me that the serpent spake unto Alypius himself, weaving and laying in his path, by my tongue, pleasant snares, wherein his honourable and free feet [471] might be entangled.

22. For when he wondered that I, for whom he had no slight esteem, stuck so fast in the bird-lime of that pleasure as to affirm whenever we discussed the matter that it would be impossible for me to lead a single life, and urged in my defence when I saw him wonder that there was a vast difference between the life that he had tried by stealth and snatches (of which he had now but a faint recollection, and might therefore, without regret, easily despise), and my sustained acquaintance with it, whereto if but the honourable name of marriage were added, he would not then be astonished at my inability to contemn that course,--then began he also to wish to be married, not as if overpowered by the lust of such pleasure, but from curiosity. For, as he said, he was anxious to know what that could be without which my life, which was so pleasing to him, seemed to me not life but a penalty. For his mind, free from that chain, was astounded at my slavery, and through that astonishment was going on to a desire of trying it, and from it to the trial itself, and thence, perchance, to fall into that bondage whereat he was so astonished, seeing he was ready to enter into "a covenant with death;" [472] and he that loves danger shall fall into it. [473] For whatever the conjugal honour be in the office of well-ordering a married life, and sustaining children, influenced us but slightly. But that which did for the most part afflict me, already made a slave to it, was the habit of satisfying an insatiable lust; him about to be enslaved did an admiring wonder draw on. In this state were we, until Thou, O most High, not forsaking our lowliness, commiserating our misery, didst come to our rescue by wonderful and secret ways.

Footnotes

[471] "Paulinus says that though he lived among the people and sat over them, ruling the sheep of the Lord's fold, as a watchful shepherd, with anxious sleeplessness, yet by renunciation of the world, and denial of flesh and blood, he had made himself a wilderness, severed from the many, called among the few" (Ap. Aug. Ep. 24, sec. 2). St. Jerome calls him "his holy and venerable brother, Father (Papa) Alypius" (Ep. 39, ibid.). Earlier, Augustin speaks of him as "abiding in union with him, to be an example to the brethren who wished to avoid the cares of this world" (Ep. 22); and to Paulinus (Ep. 27), [Romanianus] "is a relation of the venerable and truly blessed Bishop Alypius, whom you embrace with your whole heart deservedly; for whosoever thinks favourably of that man, thinks of the great mercy of God. Soon, by the help of God, I shall transfuse Alypius wholly into your soul [Paulinus had asked Alypius to write him his life, and Augustin had, at Alypius' request, undertaken to relieve him, and to do it]; for I feared chiefly lest he should shrink from laying open all which the Lord has bestowed upon him, lest, if read by any ordinary person (for it would not be read by you only), he should seem not so much to set forth the gifts of God committed to men, as to exalt himself."--E. B. P. [472] Isa. xxviii. 15. [473] Ecclus. iii. 27.


Chapter XIII.--Being Urged by His Mother to Take a Wife, He Sought a Maiden that Was Pleasing Unto Him.

23. Active efforts were made to get me a wife. I wooed, I was engaged, my mother taking the greatest pains in the matter, that when I was once married, the health-giving baptism might cleanse me; for which she rejoiced that I was being daily fitted, remarking that her desires and Thy promises were being fulfilled in my faith. At which time, verily, both at my request and her own desire, with strong heartfelt cries did we daily beg of Thee that Thou wouldest by a vision disclose unto her something concerning my future marriage; but Thou wouldest not. She saw indeed certain vain and fantastic things, such as the earnestness of a human spirit, bent thereon, conjured up; and these she told me of, not with her usual confidence when Thou hadst shown her anything, but slighting them. For she could, she declared, through some feeling which she could not express in words, discern the difference betwixt Thy revelations and the dreams of her own spirit. Yet the affair was pressed on, and a maiden sued who wanted two years of the marriageable age; and, as she was pleasing, she was waited for.


Chapter XIV.--The Design of Establishing a Common Household with His Friends is Speedily Hindered.

24. And many of us friends, consulting on and abhorring the turbulent vexations of human life, had considered and now almost determined upon living at ease and separate from the turmoil of men. And this was to be obtained in this way; we were to bring whatever we could severally procure, and make a common household, so that, through the sincerity of our friendship, nothing should belong more to one than the other; but the whole, being derived from all, should as a whole belong to each, and the whole unto all. It seemed to us that this society might consist of ten persons, some of whom were very rich, especially Romanianus, [474] our townsman, an intimate friend of mine from his childhood, whom grave business matters had then brought up to Court; who was the most earnest of us all for this project, and whose voice was of great weight in commending it, because his estate was far more ample than that of the rest. We had arranged, too, that two officers should be chosen yearly, for the providing of all necessary things, whilst the rest were left undisturbed. But when we began to reflect whether the wives which some of us had already, and others hoped to have, would permit this, all that plan, which was being so well framed, broke to pieces in our hands, and was utterly wrecked and cast aside. Thence we fell again to sighs and groans, and our steps to follow the broad and beaten ways [475] of the world; for many thoughts were in our heart, but Thy counsel standeth for ever. [476] Out of which counsel Thou didst mock ours, and preparedst Thine own, purposing to give us meat in due season, and to open Thy hand, and to fill our souls with blessing. [477]

Footnotes

[474] Romanianus was a relation of Alypius (Aug. Ep. 27, ad Paulin.), of talent which astonished Augustin himself (C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), "surrounded by affluence from early youth, and snatched by what are thought adverse circumstances from the absorbing whirlpools of life" (ibid.). Augustin frequently mentions his great wealth, as also this vexatious suit, whereby he was harassed (C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), and which so clouded his mind that his talents were almost unknown (C. Acad. ii. 2); as also his very great kindness to himself, when, "as a poor lad, setting out to foreign study, he had received him in his house, supported and (yet more) encouraged him; when deprived of his father, comforted, animated, aided him: when returning to Carthage, in pursuit of a higher employment, supplied him with all necessaries." "Lastly," says Augustin, "whatever ease I now enjoy, that I have escaped the bonds of useless desires, that, laying aside the weight of dead cares, I breathe, recover, return to myself, that with all earnestness I am seeking the truth [Augustin wrote this the year before his baptism], that I am attaining it, that I trust wholly to arrive at it, you encouraged, impelled, effected" (C. Acad. ii. 2). Augustin had "cast him headlong with himself" (as so many other of his friends) into the Manichæan heresy (ibid. i. sec. 3), and it is to be hoped that he extricated him with himself; but we only learn positively that he continued to be fond of the works of Augustin (Ep. 27), whereas in that which he dedicated to him (C. Acad.), Augustin writes very doubtingly to him, and afterwards recommends him to Paulinus, "to be cured wholly or in part by his conversation" (Ep. 27).--E. B. P. [475] Matt. vii. 13. [476] Ps. xxxiii. 11. [477] Ps. cxlv. 15, 16.


Chapter XV.--He Dismisses One Mistress, and Chooses Another.

25. Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied, and my mistress being torn from my side as an impediment to my marriage, my heart, which clave to her, was racked, and wounded, and bleeding. And she went back to Africa, making a vow unto Thee never to know another man, leaving with me my natural son by her. But I, unhappy one, who could not imitate a woman, impatient of delay, since it was not until two years' time I was to obtain her I sought,--being not so much a lover of marriage as a slave to lust,--procured another (not a wife, though), that so by the bondage of a lasting habit the disease of my soul might be nursed up, and kept up in its vigour, or even increased, into the kingdom of marriage. Nor was that wound of mine as yet cured which had been caused by the separation from my former mistress, but after inflammation and most acute anguish it mortified, [478] and the pain became numbed, but more desperate.

Footnotes

[478] In his De Natura Con. Manich. he has the same idea. He is speaking of the evil that has no pain, and remarks: "Likewise in the body, better is a wound with pain than putrefaction without pain, which is specially styled corruption;" and the same idea is embodied in the extract from Caird's Sermons, on p. 5, note 7.


Chapter XVI.--The Fear of Death and Judgment Called Him, Believing in the Immortality of the Soul, Back from His Wickedness, Him Who Aforetime Believed in the Opinions of Epicurus.

26. Unto Thee be praise, unto Thee be glory, O Fountain of mercies! I became more wretched, and Thou nearer. Thy right hand was ever ready to pluck me out of the mire, and to cleanse me, but I was ignorant of it. Nor did anything recall me from a yet deeper abyss of carnal pleasures, but the fear of death and of Thy future judgment, which, amid all my fluctuations of opinion, never left my breast. And in disputing with my friends, Alypius and Nebridius, concerning the nature of good and evil, I held that Epicurus had, in my judgment, won the palm, had I not believed that after death there remained a life for the soul, and places of recompense, which Epicurus would not believe. [479] And I demanded, "Supposing us to be immortal, and to be living in the enjoyment of perpetual bodily pleasure, and that without any fear of losing it, why, then, should we not be happy, or why should we search for anything else?"--not knowing that even this very thing was a part of my great misery, that, being thus sunk and blinded, I could not discern that light of honour and beauty to be embraced for its own sake, [480] which cannot be seen by the eye of the flesh, it being visible only to the inner man. Nor did I, unhappy one, consider out of what vein it emanated, that even these things, loathsome as they were, I with pleasure discussed with my friends. Nor could I, even in accordance with my then notions of happiness, make myself happy without friends, amid no matter how great abundance of carnal pleasures. And these friends assuredly I loved for their own sakes, and I knew myself to be loved of them again for my own sake. O crooked ways! Woe to the audacious soul which hoped that, if it forsook Thee, it would find some better thing! It hath turned and returned, on hack, sides, and belly, and all was hard, [481] and Thou alone rest. And behold, Thou art near, and deliverest us from our wretched wanderings, and stablishest us in Thy way, and dost comfort us, and say, "Run; I will carry you, yea, I will lead you, and there also will I carry you."

Footnotes

[479] The ethics of Epicurus were a modified Hedonism (Diog. Laërt. De Vitis, etc., x. 123). With him the earth was a congeries of atoms (ibid. 38, 40), which atoms existed from eternity, and formed themselves, uninfluenced by the gods. The soul he held to be material. It was diffused through the body, and was in its nature somewhat like air. At death it was resolved into its original atoms, when the being ceased to exist (ibid. 63, 64). Hence death was a matter of indifference to man [ho thanatos ouden pros hemas, ibid. 124, etc.]. In that great upheaval after the scholasticism of the Middle Ages, the various ancient philosophies were revived. This of Epicurus was disentombed and, as it were, vitalized by Gassendi, in the beginning of the seventeenth century; and it has a special importance from its bearing on the physical theories and investigations of modern times. Archer Butler, adverting to the inadequacy of the chief philosophical schools to satisfy the wants of the age in the early days of the planting of Christianity (Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, ii. 333), says of the Epicurean: "Its popularity was unquestioned; its adaptation to a luxurious age could not be doubted. But it was not formed to satisfy the wants of the time, however it might minister to its pleasures. It was, indeed, as it still continues to be, the tacit philosophy of the careless, and might thus number a larger army of disciples than any contemporary system. But its supremacy existed only when it estimated numbers, it ceased when tried by weight. The eminent men of Rome were often its avowed favourers; but they were for the most part men eminent in arms and statesmanship, rather than the influential directors of the world of speculation. Nor could the admirable poetic art of Lucretius, or the still more attractive ease of Horace, confer such strength or dignity upon the system as to enable it to compete with the new and mysterious elements now upon all sides gathering into conflict." [480] See viii. sec. 17, note, below. [481] See above, iv. cc. 1, 10, and 12.


.

Book VII.

He recalls the beginning of his youth, i.e. the thirty-first year of his age, in which very grave errors as to the nature of God and the origin of evil being distinguished, and the Sacred Books more accurately known, he at length arrives at a clear knowledge of God, not yet rightly apprehending Jesus Christ.


Chapter I.--He Regarded Not God Indeed Under the Form of a Human Body, But as a Corporeal Substance Diffused Through Space.

1. Dead now was that evil and abominable youth of mine, and I was passing into early manhood: as I increased in years, the fouler became I in vanity, who could not conceive of any substance but such as I saw with my own eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God, under the form of a human body. Since the time I began to hear something of wisdom, I always avoided this; and I rejoiced to have found the same in the faith of our spiritual mother, Thy Catholic Church. But what else to imagine Thee I knew not. And I, a man, and such a man, sought to conceive of Thee, the sovereign and only true God; and I did in my inmost heart believe that Thou wert incorruptible, and inviolable, and unchangeable; because, not knowing whence or how, yet most plainly did I see and feel sure that that which may be corrupted must be worse than that which cannot, and what cannot be violated did I without hesitation prefer before that which can, and deemed that which suffers no change to be better than that which is changeable. Violently did my heart cry out against all my phantasms, and with this one blow I endeavoured to beat away from the eye of my mind all that unclean crowd which fluttered around it. [482] And lo, being scarce put off, they, in the twinkling of an eye, pressed in multitudes around me, dashed against my face, and beclouded it; so that, though I thought not of Thee under the form of a human body, yet was I constrained to image Thee to be something corporeal in space, either infused into the world, or infinitely diffused beyond it,--even that incorruptible, inviolable, and unchangeable, which I preferred to the corruptible, and violable, and changeable; since whatsoever I conceived, deprived of this space, appeared as nothing to me, yea, altogether nothing, not even a void, as if a body were removed from its place and the place should remain empty of any body at all, whether earthy, terrestrial, watery, aerial, or celestial, but should remain a void place--a spacious nothing, as it were.

2. I therefore being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to myself, whatsoever was not stretched over certain spaces, nor diffused, nor crowded together, nor swelled out, or which did not or could not receive some of these dimensions, I judged to be altogether nothing. [483] For over such forms as my eyes are wont to range did my heart then range; nor did I see that this same observation, by which I formed those same images, was not of this kind, and yet it could not have formed them had not itself been something great. In like manner did I conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vast through infinite spaces, on every side penetrating the whole mass of the world, and beyond it, all ways, through immeasurable and boundless spaces; so that the earth should have Thee, the heaven have Thee, all things have Thee, and they bounded in Thee, but Thou nowhere. For as the body of this air which is above the earth preventeth not the light of the sun from passing through it, penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by filling it entirely, so I imagined the body, not of heaven, air, and sea only, but of the earth also, to be pervious to Thee, and in all its greatest parts as well as smallest penetrable to receive Thy presence, by a secret inspiration, both inwardly and outwardly governing all things which Thou hast created. So I conjectured, because I was unable to think of anything else; for it was untrue. For in this way would a greater part of the earth contain a greater portion of Thee, and the less a lesser; and all things should so be full of Thee, as that the body of an elephant should contain more of Thee than that of a sparrow by how much larger it is, and occupies more room; and so shouldest Thou make the portions of Thyself present unto the several portions of the world, in pieces, great to the great, little to the little. But Thou art not such a one; nor hadst Thou as yet enlightened my darkness.

Footnotes

[482] See iii. sec. 12, iv. secs. 3 and 12, and v. sec. 19, above. [483] "For with what understanding can man apprehend God, who does not yet apprehend that very understanding itself of his own by which he desires to apprehend Him? And if he does already apprehend this, let him carefully consider that there is nothing in his own nature better than it: and let him see whether he can there see any outlines of forms, or brightness of colours, or greatness of space, or distance of parts, or extension of size, or any movements through intervals of place, or any such thing at all. Certainly we find nothing of all this in that, than which we find nothing better in our own nature, that is, in our own intellect, by which we apprehend wisdom according to our capacity. What, therefore, we do not find in that, which is our own best, we ought not to seek in Him, who is far better than that best of ours; that so we may understand God, if we are able, and as much as we are able, as good without quality, great without quantity, a Creator though He lack nothing, ruling but from no position, sustaining all things without `having' them, in His wholeness everywhere yet without place, eternal without time, making things that are changeable without change of Himself, and without passion. Whoso thus thinks of God, although he cannot yet find out in all ways what He is, yet piously takes heed, as much as he is able, to think nothing of Him that He is not."--De Trin. v. 2.


Chapter II.--The Disputation of Nebridius Against the Manichæans, on the Question "Whether God Be Corruptible or Incorruptible."

3. It was sufficient for me, O Lord, to oppose to those deceived deceivers and dumb praters (dumb, since Thy word sounded not forth from them) that which a long while ago, while we were at Carthage, Nebridius used to propound, at which all we who heard it were disturbed: "What could that reputed nation of darkness, which the Manichæans are in the habit of setting up as a mass opposed to Thee, have done unto Thee hadst Thou objected to fight with it? For had it been answered, `It would have done Thee some injury,' then shouldest Thou be subject to violence and corruption; but if the reply were: `It could do Thee no injury,' then was no cause assigned for Thy fighting with it; and so fighting as that a certain portion and member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very substance, should be blended with adverse powers and natures not of Thy creation, and be by them corrupted and deteriorated to such an extent as to be turned from happiness into misery, and need help whereby it might be delivered and purged; and that this offspring of Thy substance was the soul, to which, being enslaved, contaminated, and corrupted, Thy word, free, pure, and entire, might bring succour; but yet also the word itself being corruptible, because it was from one and the same substance. So that should they affirm Thee, whatsoever Thou art, that is, Thy substance whereby Thou art, to be incorruptible, then were all these assertions false and execrable; but if corruptible, then that were false, and at the first utterance to be abhorred." [484] This argument, then, was enough against those who wholly merited to be vomited forth from the surfeited stomach, since they had no means of escape without horrible sacrilege, both of heart and tongue, thinking and speaking such things of Thee.

Footnotes

[484] Similar arguments are made use of in his controversy with Fortunatus (Dis. ii. 5), where he says, that as Fortunatus could find no answer, so neither could he when a Manichæan, and that this led him to the true faith. Again, in his De Moribus (sec. 25), where he examines the answers which had been given, he commences: "For this gives rise to the question, which used to throw us into great perplexity, even when we were your zealous disciples, nor could we find any answer,--what the race of darkness would have done to God, supposing He had refused to fight with it at the cost of such calamity to part of Himself. For if God would not have suffered any loss by remaining quiet, we thought it hard that we had been sent to endure so much. Again, if He would have suffered, His nature cannot have been incorruptible, as it behooves the nature of God to be." We have already, in the note to book iv. sec. 26, referred to some of the matters touched on in this section; but they call for further elucidation. The following passage, quoted by Augustin from Manichæus himself (Con. Ep. Manich. 19), discloses to us (1) their ideas as to the nature and position of the two kingdoms: "In one direction, on the border of this bright and holy region, there was a land of darkness, deep and vast in extent, where abode fiery bodies, destructive races. Here was boundless darkness flowing from the same source in immeasurable abundance, with the productions properly belonging to it. Beyond this were muddy, turbid waters with their inhabitants; and inside of them winds terrible and violent, with their prince and their progenitors. Then, again, a fiery region of destruction, with its chiefs and peoples. And similarly inside of this, a race full of smoke and gloom, where abode the dreadful prince and chief of all, having around him innumerable princes, himself the mind and source of them all. Such are the five natures of the region of corruption." Augustin also designates them (ibid. sec. 20) "the five dens of the race of darkness." The nation of darkness desires to possess the kingdom of light, and prepares to make war upon it; and in the controversy with Faustus we have (2) the beginning and issue of the war (Con. Faust. ii. 3; see also De Hæres, 46). Augustin says: "You dress up for our benefit some wonderful First Man, who came down from the race of light, to war with the race of darkness, armed with his waters against the waters of the enemy, and with his fire against their fire, and with his winds against their winds." And again (ibid. sec. 5): "You say that he mingled with the principles of darkness in his conflict with the race of darkness, that by capturing these principles the world might be made out of the mixture. So that, by your profane fancies, Christ is not only mingled with heaven and all the stars, but conjoined and compounded with the earth and all its productions--a Saviour no more, but needing to be saved by you, by your eating and disgorging Him. This foolish custom of making your disciples bring you food, that your teeth and stomach may be the means of relieving Christ, who is bound up in it, is a consequence of your profane fancies. You declare that Christ is liberated in this way,--not, however, entirely; for you hold that some tiny particles of no value still remain in the excrement, to be mixed up and compounded again and again in various material forms, and to be released and purified at any rate by the fire in which the world will be burned up, if not before. Nay, even then, you say, Christ is not entirely liberated, but some extreme particles of His good and divine nature, which have been so defiled that they cannot be cleansed, are condemned to stay for ever in the mass of darkness." The result of this commingling of the light with the darkness was, that a certain portion and member of God was turned "from happiness into misery," and placed in bondage in the world, and was in need of help "whereby it might be delivered and purged." (See also Con. Fortunat. i. 1.) Reference may be made (3), for information as to the method by which the divine substance was released in the eating of the elect, to the notes on book iii. sec. 18, above; and for the influence of the sun and moon in accomplishing that release, to the note on book v. sec, 12, above.


Chapter III.--That the Cause of Evil is the Free Judgment of the Will.

4. But I also, as yet, although I said and was firmly persuaded, that Thou our Lord, the true God, who madest not only our souls but our bodies, and not our souls and bodies alone, but all creatures and all things, wert uncontaminable and inconvertible, and in no part mutable: yet understood I not readily and clearly what was the cause of evil. And yet, whatever it was, I perceived that it must be so sought out as not to constrain me by it to believe that the immutable God was mutable, lest I myself should become the thing that I was seeking out. I sought, therefore, for it free from care, certain of the untruthfulness of what these asserted, whom I shunned with my whole heart; for I perceived that through seeking after the origin of evil, they were filled with malice, in that they liked better to think that Thy Substance did suffer evil than that their own did commit it. [485]

5. And I directed my attention to discern what I now heard, that free will [486] was the cause of our doing evil, and Thy righteous judgment of our suffering it. But I was unable clearly to discern it. So, then, trying to draw the eye of my mind from that pit, I was plunged again therein, and trying often, was as often plunged back again. But this raised me towards Thy light, that I knew as well that I had a will as that I had life: when, therefore, I was willing or unwilling to do anything, I was most certain that it was none but myself that was willing and unwilling; and immediately I perceived that there was the cause of my sin. But what I did against my will I saw that I suffered rather than did, and that judged I not to be my fault, but my punishment; whereby, believing Thee to be most just, I quickly confessed myself to be not unjustly punished. But again I said: "Who made me? Was it not my God, who is not only good, but goodness itself? Whence came I then to will to do evil, and to be unwilling to do good, that there might be cause for my just punishment? Who was it that put this in me, and implanted in me the root of bitterness, seeing I was altogether made by my most sweet God? If the devil were the author, whence is that devil? And if he also, by his own perverse will, of a good angel became a devil, whence also was the evil will in him whereby he became a devil, seeing that the angel was made altogether good by that most Good Creator?" By these reflections was I again cast down and stifled; yet not plunged into that hell of error (where no man confesseth unto Thee), [487] to think that Thou dost suffer evil, rather than that man doth it.

Footnotes

[485] See iv. sec. 26, note, above. [486] See iii. sec. 12, note, and iv. sec. 26, note, above. [487] Ps. vi. 5.


Chapter IV.--That God is Not Corruptible, Who, If He Were, Would Not Be God at All.

6. For I was so struggling to find out the rest, as having already found that what was incorruptible must be better than the corruptible; and Thee, therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, did I acknowledge to be incorruptible. For never yet was, nor will be, a soul able to conceive of anything better than Thou, who art the highest and best good. But whereas most truly and certainly that which is incorruptible is to be preferred to the corruptible (like as I myself did now prefer it), then, if Thou were not incorruptible, I could in my thoughts have reached unto something better than my God. Where, then, I saw that the incorruptible was to be preferred to the corruptible, there ought I to seek Thee, and there observe "whence evil itself was," that is, whence comes the corruption by which Thy substance can by no means be profaned. For corruption, truly, in no way injures our God,--by no will, by no necessity, by no unforeseen chance,--because He is God, and what He wills is good, and Himself is that good; but to be corrupted is not good. Nor art Thou compelled to do anything against Thy will in that Thy will is not greater than Thy power. But greater should it be wert Thou Thyself greater than Thyself; for the will and power of God is God Himself. And what can be unforeseen by Thee, who knowest all things? Nor is there any sort of nature but Thou knowest it. And what more should we say "why that substance which God is should not be corruptible," seeing that if it were so it could not be God?


Chapter V.--Questions Concerning the Origin of Evil in Regard to God, Who, Since He is the Chief Good, Cannot Be the Cause of Evil.

7. And I sought "whence is evil?" And sought in an evil way; nor saw I the evil in my very search. And I set in order before the view of my spirit the whole creation, and whatever we can discern in it, such as earth, sea, air, stars, trees, living creatures; yea, and whatever in it we do not see, as the firmament of heaven, all the angels, too, and all the spiritual inhabitants thereof. But these very beings, as though they were bodies, did my fancy dispose in such and such places, and I made one huge mass of all Thy creatures, distinguished according to the kinds of bodies,--some of them being real bodies, some what I myself had feigned for spirits. And this mass I made huge,--not as it was, which I could not know, but as large as I thought well, yet every way finite. But Thee, O Lord, I imagined on every part environing and penetrating it, though every way infinite; as if there were a sea everywhere, and on every side through immensity nothing but an infinite sea; and it contained within itself some sponge, huge, though finite, so that the sponge would in all its parts be filled from the immeasurable sea. So conceived I Thy Creation to be itself finite, and filled by Thee, the Infinite. And I said, Behold God, and behold what God hath created; and God is good, yea, most mightily and incomparably better than all these; but yet He, who is good, hath created them good, and behold how He encircleth and filleth them. Where, then, is evil, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being at all? Why, then, do we fear and shun that which hath no being? Or if we fear it needlessly, then surely is that fear evil whereby the heart is unnecessarily pricked and tormented,--and so much a greater evil, as we have naught to fear, and yet do fear. Therefore either that is evil which we fear, or the act of fearing is in itself evil. Whence, therefore, is it, seeing that God, who is good, hath made all these things good? He, indeed, the greatest and chiefest Good, hath created these lesser goods; but both Creator and created are all good. Whence is evil? Or was there some evil matter of which He made and formed and ordered it, but left something in it which He did not convert into good? But why was this? Was He powerless to change the whole lump, so that no evil should remain in it, seeing that He is omnipotent? Lastly, why would He make anything at all of it, and not rather by the same omnipotency cause it not to be at all? Or could it indeed exist contrary to His will? Or if it were from eternity, why did He permit it so to be for infinite spaces of times in the past, and was pleased so long after to make something out of it? Or if He wished now all of a sudden to do something, this rather should the Omnipotent have accomplished, that this evil matter should not be at all, and that He only should be the whole, true, chief, and infinite Good. Or if it were not good that He, who was good, should not also be the framer and creator of what was good, then that matter which was evil being removed, and brought to nothing, He might form good matter, whereof He might create all things. For He would not be omnipotent were He not able to create something good without being assisted by that matter which had not been created by Himself. [488] Such like things did I revolve in my miserable breast, overwhelmed with most gnawing cares lest I should die ere I discovered the truth; yet was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and Saviour, as held in the Catholic Church, fixed firmly in my heart, unformed, indeed, as yet upon many points, and diverging from doctrinal rules, but yet my mind did not utterly leave it, but every day rather drank in more and more of it.

Footnotes

[488] See xi. sec. 7, note, below.


Chapter VI.--He Refutes the Divinations of the Astrologers, Deduced from the Constellations.

8. Now also had I repudiated the lying divinations and impious absurdities of the astrologers. Let Thy mercies, out of the depth of my soul, confess unto thee [489] for this also, O my God. For Thou, Thou altogether,--for who else is it that calls us back from the death of all errors, but that Life which knows not how to die, and the Wisdom which, requiring no light, enlightens the minds that do, whereby the universe is governed, even to the fluttering leaves of trees?--Thou providedst also for my obstinacy wherewith I struggled with Vindicianus, [490] an acute old man, and Nebridius, a young one of remarkable talent; the former vehemently declaring, and the latter frequently, though with a certain measure of doubt, saying, "That no art existed by which to foresee future things, but that men's surmises had oftentimes the help of luck, and that of many things which they foretold some came to pass unawares to the predictors, who lighted on it by their oft speaking." Thou, therefore, didst provide a friend for me, who was no negligent consulter of the astrologers, and yet not thoroughly skilled in those arts, but, as I said, a curious consulter with them; and yet knowing somewhat, which he said he had heard from his father, which, how far it would tend to overthrow the estimation of that art, he knew not. This man, then, by name Firminius, having received a liberal education, and being well versed in rhetoric, consulted me, as one very dear to him, as to what I thought on some affairs of his, wherein his worldly hopes had risen, viewed with regard to his so-called constellations; and I, who had now begun to lean in this particular towards Nebridius' opinion, did not indeed decline to speculate about the matter, and to tell him what came into my irresolute mind, but still added that I was now almost persuaded that these were but empty and ridiculous follies. Upon this he told me that his father had been very curious in such books, and that he had a friend who was as interested in them as he was himself, who, with combined study and consultation, fanned the flame of their affection for these toys, insomuch that they would observe the moment when the very dumb animals which bred in their houses brought forth, and then observed the position of the heavens with regard to them, so as to gather fresh proofs of this so-called art. He said, moreover, that his father had told him, that at the time his mother was about to give birth to him (Firminius), a female servant of that friend of his father's was also great with child, which could not be hidden from her master, who took care with most diligent exactness to know of the birth of his very dogs. And so it came to pass that (the one for his wife, and the other for his servant, with the most careful observation, calculating the days and hours, and the smaller divisions of the hours) both were delivered at the same moment, so that both were compelled to allow the very selfsame constellations, even to the minutest point, the one for his son, the other for his young slave. For so soon as the women began to be in travail, they each gave notice to the other of what was fallen out in their respective houses, and had messengers ready to despatch to one another so soon as they had information of the actual birth, of which they had easily provided, each in his own province, to give instant intelligence. Thus, then, he said, the messengers of the respective parties met one another in such equal distances from either house, that neither of them could discern any difference either in the position of the stars or other most minute points. And yet Firminius, born in a high estate in his parents' house, ran his course through the prosperous paths of this world, was increased in wealth, and elevated to honours; whereas that slave--the yoke of his condition being unrelaxed--continued to serve his masters, as Firminius, who knew him, informed me.

9. Upon hearing and believing these things, related by so reliable a person, all that resistance of mine melted away; and first I endeavoured to reclaim Firminius himself from that curiosity, by telling him, that upon inspecting his constellations, I ought, were I to foretell truly, to have seen in them parents eminent among their neighbours, a noble family in its own city, good birth, becoming education, and liberal learning. But if that servant had consulted me upon the same constellations, since they were his also, I ought again to tell him, likewise truly, to see in them the meanness of his origin, the abjectness of his condition, and everything else altogether removed from and at variance with the former. Whence, then, looking upon the same constellations, I should, if I spoke the truth, speak diverse things, or if I spoke the same, speak falsely; thence assuredly was it to be gathered, that whatever, upon consideration of the constellations, was foretold truly, was not by art, but by chance; and whatever falsely, was not from the unskillfulness of the art, but the error of chance.

10. An opening being thus made, I ruminated within myself on such things, that no one of those dotards (who followed such occupations, and whom I longed to assail, and with derision to confute) might urge against me that Firminius had informed me falsely, or his father him: I turned my thoughts to those that are born twins, who generally come out of the womb so near one to another, that the small distance of time between them--how much force soever they may contend that it has in the nature of things--cannot be noted by human observation, or be expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to examine that he may pronounce the truth. Nor can they be true; for, looking into the same figures, he must have foretold the same of Esau and Jacob, [491] whereas the same did not happen to them. He must therefore speak falsely; or if truly, then, looking into the same figures, he must not speak the same things. Not then by art, but by chance, would he speak truly. For Thou, O Lord, most righteous Ruler of the universe, the inquirers and inquired of knowing it not, workest by a hidden inspiration that the consulter should hear what, according to the hidden deservings of souls, he ought to hear, out of the depth of Thy righteous judgment, to whom let not man say, "What is this?" or "Why that?" Let him not say so, for he is man.

Footnotes

[489] Ps. cvii. 8, Vulg. [490] See iv. sec. 5, note, above. [491] He uses the same illustration when speaking of the mathematici, or astrologers, in his De Doct. Christ. ii. 33.


Chapter VII.--He is Severely Exercised as to the Origin of Evil.

11. And now, O my Helper, hadst Thou freed me from those fetters; and I inquired, "Whence is evil?" and found no result. But Thou sufferedst me not to be carried away from the faith by any fluctuations of thought, whereby I believed Thee both to exist, and Thy substance to be unchangeable, and that Thou hadst a care of and wouldest judge men; and that in Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and the Holy Scriptures, which the authority of Thy Catholic Church pressed upon me, Thou hadst planned the way of man's salvation to that life which is to come after this death. These things being safe and immoveably settled in my mind, I eagerly inquired, "Whence is evil?" What torments did my travailing heart then endure! What sighs, O my God! Yet even there were Thine ears open, and I knew it not; and when in stillness I sought earnestly, those silent contritions of my soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy. No man knoweth, but only Thou, what I endured. For what was that which was thence through my tongue poured into the ears of my most familiar friends? Did the whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time nor speech was sufficient, reach them? Yet went the whole into Thine ears, all of which I bellowed out from the sightings of my heart; and my desire was before Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not with me; [492] for that was within, I without. Nor was that in place, but my attention was directed to things contained in place; but there did I find no resting-place, nor did they receive me in such a way as that I could say, "It is sufficient, it is well;" nor did they let me turn back, where it might be well enough with me. For to these things was I superior, but inferior to Thee; and Thou art my true joy when I am subjected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what Thou createdst beneath me. [493] And this was the true temperature and middle region of my safety, to continue in Thine image, and by serving Thee to have dominion over the body. But when I lifted myself proudly against Thee, and "ran against the Lord, even on His neck, with the thick bosses" of my buckler, [494] even these inferior things were placed above me, and pressed upon me, and nowhere was there alleviation or breathing space. They encountered my sight on every side in crowds and troops, and in thought the images of bodies obtruded themselves as I was returning to Thee, as if they would say unto me, "Whither goest thou, unworthy and base one?" And these things had sprung forth out of my wound; for thou humblest the proud like one that is wounded, [495] and through my own swelling was I separated from Thee; yea, my too much swollen face closed up mine eyes.

Footnotes

[492] Ps. xxxvii. 9-11, Vulg. [493] Man can only control the forces of nature by yielding obedience to nature's laws; and our true joy and safety is only to be found being "subjected" to God. So Augustin says in another place, (De Trin. x. 7), the soul is enjoined to know itself, "in order that it may consider itself, and live according to its own nature; that is, seek to be regulated according to its own nature, viz. under Him to whom it ought to be subject, and above those things to which it is to be preferred; under Him by whom it ought to be ruled, above those things which it ought to rule." [494] Job xv. 26. [495] Ps. lxxxix. 11. Vulg.


Chapter VIII.--By God's Assistance He by Degrees Arrives at the Truth.

12. "But Thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever," [496] yet not for ever art Thou angry with us, because Thou dost commiserate our dust and ashes; and it was pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformity, and by inward stings didst Thou disturb me, that I should be dissatisfied until Thou wert made sure to my inward sight. And by the secret hand of Thy remedy was my swelling lessened, and the disordered and darkened eyesight of my mind, by the sharp anointings of healthful sorrows, was from day to day made whole.

Footnotes

[496] Ps. cii. 12.


Chapter IX.--He Compares the Doctrine of the Platonists Concerning the Logos With the Much More Excellent Doctrine of Christianity.

13. And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou "resistest the proud, but givest grace unto the humble" [497] and by how great art act of mercy Thou hadst pointed out to men the path of humility, in that Thy "Word was made flesh" and dwelt among men,--Thou procuredst for me, by the instrumentality of one inflated with most monstrous pride, certain books of the Platonists, [498] translated from Greek into Latin. [499] And therein I read, not indeed in the same words, but to the selfsame effect, [500] enforced by many and divers reasons, that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." That which was made by Him is "life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not." [501] And that the soul of man, though it "bears witness of the light," [502] yet itself "is not that light; [503] but the Word of God, being God, is that true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [504] And that "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." [505] But that "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. [506] But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." [507] This I did not read there.

14. In like manner, I read there that God the Word was born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. But that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," [508] I read not there. For I discovered in those books that it was in many and divers ways said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and "thought it not robbery to be equal with God," for that naturally He was the same substance. But that He emptied Himself, "and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him" from the dead, "and given Him a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father;" [509] those books have not. For that before all times, and above all times, Thy only-begotten Son remaineth unchangeably co-eternal with Thee; and that of "His fulness" souls receive, [510] that they may be blessed; and that by participation of the wisdom remaining in them they are renewed, that they may be wise, is there. But that "in due time Christ died for the ungodly," [511] and that Thou sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us all, [512] is not there. "Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes;" [513] that they "that labour and are heavy laden" might "come" unto Him and He might refresh them, [514] because He is "meek and lowly in heart." [515] "The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way;" [516] looking upon our humility and our distress, and forgiving all our sins. [517] But such as are puffed up with the elation of would-be sublimer learning, do not hear Him saying, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." [518] "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." [519]

15. And therefore also did I read there, that they had changed the glory of Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers forms,--"into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things," [520] namely, into that Egyptian food [521] for which Esau lost his birthright; [522] for that Thy first-born people worshipped the head of a four-footed beast instead of Thee, turning back in heart towards Egypt, and prostrating Thy image--their own soul--before the image "of an ox that eateth grass." [523] These things found I there; but I fed not on them. For it pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away the reproach of diminution from Jacob, that the elder should serve the younger; [524] and Thou hast called the Gentiles into Thine inheritance. And I had come unto Thee from among the Gentiles, and I strained after that gold which Thou willedst Thy people to take from Egypt, seeing that wheresoever it was it was Thine. [525] And to the Athenians Thou saidst by Thy apostle, that in Thee "we live, and move, and have our being;" as one of their own poets has said. [526] And verily these books came from thence. But I set not my mind on the idols of Egypt, whom they ministered to with Thy gold, [527] "who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." [528]

Footnotes

[497] Jas. iv. 6, and l Pet. v. 5. [498] "This,"says Watts, "was likely to be the book of Amelius the Platonist, who hath indeed this beginning of St. John's Gospel, calling the apostle a barbarian." This Amelius was a disciple of Plotinus, who was the first to develope and formulate the Neo-Platonic doctrines, and of whom it is said that he would not have his likeness taken, nor be reminded of his birthday, because it would recall the existence of the body he so much despised. A popular account of the theories of Plotinus, and their connection with the doctrines of Plato and of Christianity respectively, will be found in Archer Butler's Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. pp. 348-358. For a more systematic view of his writings, see Ueberweg's History of Philosophy, sec. 68. Augustin alludes again in his De Vita Beata (sec. 4) to the influence the Platonic writings had on him at this time; and it is interesting to note how in God's providence they were drawing him to seek a fuller knowledge of Him, just as in his nineteenth year (book iii. sec. 7, above) the Hortensius of Cicero stimulated him to the pursuit of wisdom. Thus in his experience was exemplified the truth embodied in the saying of Clemens Alexandrinus,--"Philosophy led the Greeks to Christ, as the law did the Jews." Archbishop Trench, in his Hulsean Lectures (lecs. 1 and 3, 1846, "Christ the Desire of all Nations"), enters with interesting detail into this question, specially as it relates to the heathen world. "None," he says in lecture 3, "can thoughtfully read the early history of the Church without marking how hard the Jewish Christians found it to make their own the true idea of a Son of God, as indeed is witnessed by the whole Epistle to the Hebrews--how comparatively easy the Gentile converts; how the Hebrew Christians were continually in danger of sinking down into Ebionite heresies, making Christ but a man as other men, refusing to go on unto perfection, or to realize the truth of His higher nature; while, on the other hand, the genial promptness is as remarkable with which the Gentile Church welcomed and embraced the offered truth, `God manifest in the flesh.' We feel that there must have been effectual preparations in the latter, which wrought its greater readiness for receiving and heartily embracing this truth when it arrived." The passage from Amelius the Platonist, referred to at the beginning of this note, is examined in Burton's Bampton Lectures, note 90. It has been adverted to by Eusebius, Theodoret, and perhaps by Augustin in the De Civ. Dei, x. 29, quoted in note 2, sec. 25, below. See Kayes' Clement, pp. 116-124. [499] See i. sec. 23, note, above, and also his Life, in the last vol. of the Benedictine edition of his works, for a very fair estimate of his knowledge of Greek. [500] The Neo-Platonic ideas as to the "Word" or Logos, which Augustin (1) contrasts during the remainder of this book with the doctrine of the gospel, had its germ in the writings of Plato. The Greek term expresses both reason and the expression of reason in speech; and the Fathers frequently illustrate, by reference to this connection between ideas and uttered words, the fact that the "Word" that was with God had an incarnate existence in the world as the "Word" made flesh. By the Logos of the Alexandrian school something very different was meant from the Christian doctrine as to the incarnation, of which the above can only be taken as a dim illustration. It has been questioned, indeed, whether the philosophers, from Plotinus to the Gnostics of the time of St. John, believed the Logos and the supreme God to have in any sense separate "personalities." Dr. Burton, in his Bampton Lectures, concludes that they did not (lect. vii. p. 215, and note 93; compare Dorner, Person of Christ, i. 27, Clark); and quotes Origen when he points out to Celsus, that "while the heathen use the reason of God as another term for God Himself, the Christians use the term Logos for the Son of God." Another point of difference which appears in Augustin's review of Platonism above, is found in the Platonist's discarding the idea of the Logos becoming man. This the very genius of their philosophy forbade them to hold, since they looked on matter as impure. (2) It has been charged against Christianity by Gibbon and other sceptical writers, that it has borrowed largely from the doctrines of Plato; and it has been said that this doctrine of the Logos was taken from them by Justin Martyr. This charge, says Burton (ibid. p. 194), "has laid open in its supporters more inconsistencies and more misstatements than any other which ever has been advanced." We have alluded in the note to book iii. sec. 8, above, to Justin Martyr's search after truth. He endeavoured to find it successively in the Stoical, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Platonic schools; and he appears to have thought as highly of Plato's philosophy as did Augustin. He does not, however, fail to criticise his doctrine when inconsistent with Christianity (see Burton, ibid. notes 18 and 86). Justin Martyr has apparently been chosen for attack as being the earliest of the post-apostolic Fathers. Burton, however, shows that Ignatius, who knew St. John, and was bishop of Antioch thirty years before his death, used precisely the same expression as applied to Christ (ibid. p. 204). This would appear to be a conclusive answer to this objection. (3) It may be well to note here Burton's general conclusions as to the employment of this term Logos in St. John, since it occurs frequently in this part of the Confessions. Every one must have observed St. John's use of the term is peculiar as compared with the other apostles, but it is not always borne in mind that a generation probably elapsed between the date of his gospel and that of the other apostolic writings. In this interval the Gnostic heresy had made great advances; and it would appear that John, finding this term Logos prevalent when he wrote, infused into it a nobler meaning, and pointed out to those being led away by this heresy that there was indeed One who might be called "the Word"--One who was not, indeed, God's mind, or as the word that comes from the mouth and passes away, but One who, while He had been "made flesh" like unto us, was yet co-eternal with God. "You will perceive," says Archer Butler (Ancient Philosophy, vol. ii. p. 10), "how natural, or rather how necessary, is such a process, when you remember that this is exactly what every teacher must do who speaks of God to a heathen; he adopts the term, but he refines and exalts its meaning. Nor, indeed, is the procedure different in any use whatever of language in sacred senses and for sacred purposes. It has been justly remarked, by (I think) Isaac Casaubon, that the principle of all these adaptations is expressed in the sentence of St. Paul, On agnoountes eusebeite, touton ego katangello humin." On the charge against Christianity of having borrowed from heathenism, reference may be made to Trench's Hulsean Lectures, lect. i. (1846); and for the sources of Gnosticism, and St. John's treatment of heresies as to the "Word," lects. ii. and v. in Mansel's Gnostic Heresies will be consulted with profit. [501] John i. 1-5. [502] Ibid. i. 7, 8. [503] See note, sec. 23, below. [504] John i. 9. [505] Ibid. i. 10. [506] Ibid. i. 11. [507] Ibid. i. 12. [508] Ibid. i. 14. [509] Phil. ii. 6-11. [510] John i. 16. [511] Rom. v. 6. [512] Rom. viii. 32. [513] Matt. xi. 25. [514] Ibid. ver. 28. [515] Ibid. ver. 29. [516] Ps. xxv. 9. [517] Ibid. ver. 18. [518] Matt. xi. 29. [519] Rom. i. 21, 22. [520] Ibid. i. 23. [521] In the Benedictine edition we have reference to Augustin's in Ps. xlvi. 6, where he says: "We find the lentile is an Egyptian food, for it abounds in Egypt, whence the Alexandrian lentile is esteemed so as to be brought to our country, as if it grew not here. Esau, by desiring Egyptian food, lost his birthright; and so the Jewish people, of whom it is said they turned back in heart to Egypt, in a manner craved for lentiles, and lost their birthright." See Ex. xvi. 3; Num. xi. 5. [522] Gen. xxv. 33, 34. [523] Ps. cvi. 20; Ex. xxxii. 1-6. [524] Rom. ix. 12. [525] Similarly, as to all truth being God's, Justin Martyr says: "Whatever things were rightly said among all men are the property of us Christians" (Apol. ii. 13). In this he parallels what Augustin claims in another place (De Doctr. Christ. ii. 28): "Let every good and true Christian understand that wherever truth may be found, it belongs to his Master." Origen has a similar allusion to that of Augustin above (Ep. ad Gregor. vol. i. 30), but echoes the experience of our erring nature, when he says that the gold of Egypt more frequently becomes transformed into an idol, than into an ornament for the tabernacle of God. Augustin gives us at length his views on this matter in his De Doctr. Christ. ii. 60, 61: "If those who are called philosophers, and especially the Platonists, have said aught that is true and in harmony with our faith, we are not only not to shrink from it, but to claim it for our own use from those who have unlawful possession of it. For, as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver, and garments, which the same people when going out of Egypt appropriated to themselves, designing them for a better use,--not doing this on their own authority, but by the command of God, the Egyptians themselves, in their ignorance, providing them with things which they themselves were not making a good use of (Ex. iii. 21, 22, xii. 35, 36); in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen ought to abhor and avoid, but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of the truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they did not create themselves, but dug out of the mines of God's providence which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully prostituting to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them, and to devote to their proper use in preaching the gospel. Their garments, also,--that is, human institutions such as are adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable in this life,--we must take and turn to a Christian use. And what else have many good and faithful men among our brethren done? Do we not see with what quantity of gold and silver, and garments, Cyprian, that most persuasive teacher and most blessed martyr, was loaded when he came out of Egypt? How much Lactantius brought with him! And Victorinus, and Optatus, and Hilary, not to speak of living men! How much Greeks out of number have borrowed! And, prior to all these, that most faithful servant of God, Moses, had done the same thing; for of him it is written that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts vii. 22)....For what was done at the time of the exodus was no doubt a type prefiguring what happens now." [526] Acts xvii. 28. [527] Hosea ii. 8. [528] Rom. i. 25.


Chapter X.--Divine Things are the More Clearly Manifested to Him Who Withdraws into the Recesses of His Heart.

16. And being thence warned to return to myself, I entered into my inward self, Thou leading me on; and I was able to do it, for Thou wert become my helper. And I entered, and with the eye of my soul (such as it was) saw above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the Unchangeable Light. [529] Not this common light, which all flesh may look upon, nor, as it were, a greater one of the same kind, as though the brightness of this should be much more resplendent, and with its greatness fill up all things. Not like this was that light, but different, yea, very different from all these. Nor was it above my mind as oil is above water, nor as heaven above earth; but above it was, because it made me, and I below it, because I was made by it. He who knows the Truth knows that Light; and he that knows it knoweth eternity. Love knoweth it. O Eternal Truth, and true Love, and loved Eternity! [530] Thou art my God; to Thee do I sigh both night and day. When I first knew Thee, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was that which I might see, and that yet it was not I that did see. And Thou didst beat back the infirmity of my sight, pouring forth upon me most strongly Thy beams of light, and I trembled with love and fear; and I found myself to be far off from Thee, in the region of dissimilarity, as if I heard this voice of Thine from on high: "I am the food of strong men; grow, and thou shalt feed upon me; nor shall thou convert me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shall be converted into me." And I learned that Thou for iniquity dost correct man, and Thou dost make my soul to consume away like a spider. [531] And I said, "Is Truth, therefore, nothing because it is neither diffused through space, finite, nor infinite?" And Thou criedst to me from afar, "Yea, verily, `I Am that I Am.'" [532] And I heard this, as things are heard in the heart, nor was there room for doubt; and I should more readily doubt that I live than that Truth is not, which is "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." [533]

Footnotes

[529] Not the "corporeal brightness" which as a Manichee he had believed in, and to which reference has been made in iii. secs. 10, 12, iv. sec. 3, and sec. 2, above. The Christian belief he indicates in his De Trin. viii. 2: "God is Light (1 John i. 5), not in such way that these eyes see, but in such way as the heart sees when it is said, `He is Truth.'" See also note 1, sec. 23, above. [530] If we knew not God, he says, we could not love Him (De Trin. viii. 12); but in language very similar to that above, he tells us "we are men, created in the image of our Creator, whose eternity is true, and whose truth is eternal; whose love is eternal and true, and who Himself is the eternal, true, and adorable Trinity, without confusion, without separation", (De Civ. Dei, xi. 28); God, then, as even the Platonists hold, being the principle of all knowledge. "Let Him," he concludes, in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 4), "be sought in whom all things are secured to us, let Him be discovered in whom all truth becomes certain to us, let Him be loved in whom all becomes right to us." [531] Ps. xxxix. 11, Vulg. [532] Ex. iii. 14. Augustin, when in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 11, 12) he makes reference to this text, leans to the belief, from certain parallels between Plato's doctrines and those of the word of God, that he may have derived information concerning the Old Testament Scriptures from an interpreter when in Egypt. He says: "The most striking thing in this connection, and that which most of all inclines me almost to assent to the opinion that Plato was not ignorant of those writings, is the answer which was given to the question elicited from the holy Moses when the words of God were conveyed to him by the angel; for when he asked what was the name of that God who was commanding him to go and deliver the Hebrew people out of Egypt, this answer was given: `I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, He who is sent me unto you;' as though, compared with Him that truly is, because He is unchangeable, those things which have been created mutable are not,--a truth which Plato vehemently held, and most diligently commended. And I know not whether this sentiment is anywhere to be found in the books of those who were before Plato, unless in that book where it is said, `I am who am; and thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Who is sent me unto you.' But we need not determine from what source he learned these things,--whether it was from the books of the ancients who preceded him or, as is more likely, from the words of the apostle (Rom. i. 20), `Because that which is known of God has been manifested among them, for God hath manifested it to them. For His invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by those thing which have been made, also His eternal power and Godhead.'"--De Civ. Dei, viii. 11, 12. [533] Rom. i. 20.


Chapter XI.--That Creatures are Mutable and God Alone Immutable.

17. And I viewed the other things below Thee, and perceived that they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not. They are, indeed, because they are from Thee; but are not, because they are not what Thou art. For that truly is which remains immutably. [534] It is good, then, for me to cleave unto God, [535] for if I remain not in Him, neither shall I in myself; but He, remaining in Himself, reneweth all things. [536] And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou standest not in need of my goodness. [537]

Footnotes

[534] Therefore, he argues, is God called the I AM (De Nat. Boni, 19): for omnis mutatio facit non esse quod erat. Similarly, we find him speaking in his De Mor. Manich. (c. I.): "For that exists in the highest sense of the word which continues always the same, which is throughout like itself, which cannot in any part be corrupted or changed, which is not subject to time, which admits of no variation in its present as compared with its former condition. This is existence in its true sense." See also note 3, p. 158. [535] Ps. lxxiii. 28. [536] Wisd. vii. 27. [537] Ps. xvi. 2.


Chapter XII.--Whatever Things the Good God Has Created are Very Good.

18. And it was made clear unto me that those things are good which yet are corrupted, which, neither were they supremely good, nor unless they were good, could be corrupted; because if supremely good, they were incorruptible, and if not good at all, there was nothing in them to be corrupted. For corruption harms, but, less it could diminish goodness, it could not harm. Either, then, corruption harms not, which cannot be; or, what is most certain, all which is corrupted is deprived of good. But if they be deprived of all good, they will cease to be. For if they be, and cannot be at all corrupted, they will become better, because they shall remain incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to assert that those things which have lost all their goodness are made better? Therefore, if they shall be deprived of all good, they shall no longer be. So long, therefore, as they are, they are good; therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil, then, which I sought whence it was, is not any substance; for were it a substance, it would be good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance, and so a chief good, or a corruptible substance, which unless it were good it could not be corrupted. I perceived, therefore, and it was made clear to me, that Thou didst make all things good, nor is there any substance at all that was not made by Thee; and because all that Thou hast made are not equal, therefore all things are; because individually they are good, and altogether very good, because our God made all things very good. [538]

Footnotes

[538] Gen. i. 31, and Ecclus. xxxix. 21. Evil, with Augustin, is a "privation of good." See iii. sec. 12, note, above.


Chapter XIII.--It is Meet to Praise the Creator for the Good Things Which are Made in Heaven and Earth.

19. And to Thee is there nothing at all evil, and not only to Thee, but to Thy whole creation; because there is nothing without which can break in, and mar that order which Thou hast appointed it. But in the parts thereof, some things, because they harmonize not with others, are considered evil; [539] whereas those very things harmonize with others, and are good, and in themselves are good. And all these things which do not harmonize together harmonize with the inferior part which we call earth, having its own cloudy and windy sky concordant to it. Far be it from me, then, to say, "These things should not be." For should I see nothing but these, I should indeed desire better; but yet, if only for these, ought I to praise Thee; for that Thou art to be praised is shown from the "earth, dragons, and all deeps; fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy winds fulfilling Thy word; mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl; kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children," praise Thy name. But when, "from the heavens," these praise Thee, praise Thee, our God, "in the heights," all Thy "angels," all Thy "hosts," "sun and moon," all ye stars and light, "the heavens of heavens," and the "waters that be above the heavens," praise Thy name. [540] I did not now desire better things, because I was thinking of all; and with a better judgment I reflected that the things above were better than those below, but that all were better than those above alone.

Footnotes

[539] See v. sec. 2, note 1, above, where Augustin illustrates the existence of good and evil by the lights and shades in a painting, etc. [540] Ps. cxlviii. 1-12.


Chapter XIV.--Being Displeased with Some Part Of God's Creation, He Conceives of Two Original Substances.

20. There is no wholeness in them whom aught of Thy creation displeased no more than there was in me, when many things which Thou madest displeased me. And, because my soul dared not be displeased at my God, it would not suffer aught to be Thine which displeased it. Hence it had gone into the opinion of two substances, and resisted not, but talked foolishly. And, returning thence, it had made to itself a god, through infinite measures of all space; and imagined it to be Thee, and placed it in its heart, and again had become the temple of its own idol, which was to Thee an abomination. But after Thou hadst fomented the head of me unconscious of it, and closed mine eyes lest they should "behold vanity," [541] I ceased from myself a little, and my madness was lulled to sleep; and I awoke in Thee, and saw Thee to be infinite, though in another way; and this sight was not derived from the flesh.

Footnotes

[541] Ps. cxix. 37.


Chapter XV.--Whatever Is, Owes Its Being to God.

21. And I looked back on other things, and I perceived that it was to Thee they owed their being, and that they were all bounded in Thee; but in another way, not as being in space, but because Thou holdest all things in Thine hand in truth: and all things are true so far as they have a being; nor is there any falsehood, unless that which is not is thought to be. And I saw that all things harmonized, not with their places only, but with their seasons also. And that Thou, who only art eternal, didst not begin to work after innumerable spaces of times; for that all spaces of times, both those which have passed and which shall pass, neither go nor come, save through Thee, working and abiding. [542]

Footnotes

[542] See xi. secs. 15, 16, 26, etc., below.

Chapter XVI.--Evil Arises Not from a Substance, But from the Perversion of the Will.

22. And I discerned and found it no marvel, that bread which is distasteful to an unhealthy palate is pleasant to a healthy one; and that the light, which is painful to sore eyes, is delightful to sound ones. And Thy righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more the viper and little worm, which Thou hast created good, fitting in with inferior parts of Thy creation; with which the wicked themselves also fit in, the more in proportion as they are unlike Thee, but with the superior creatures, in proportion as they become like to Thee. [543] And I inquired what iniquity was, and ascertained it not to be a substance, but a perversion of the will, bent aside from Thee, O God, the Supreme Substance, towards these lower things, and casting out its bowels, [544] and swelling outwardly.

Footnotes

[543] See v. sec. 2, note 1, above. [544] Ecclus x. 9. Commenting on this passage of the Apocrypha (De Mus. vi. 40), he says, that while the soul's happiness and life is in God, "what is to go into outer things, but to cast out its inward parts, that is, to place itself far from God--not by distance of place, but by the affection of the mind?"


Chapter XVII.--Above His Changeable Mind, He Discovers the Unchangeable Author of Truth.

23. And I marvelled that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm instead of Thee. And yet I did not merit to enjoy my God, but was transported to Thee by Thy beauty, and presently torn away from Thee by mine own weight, sinking with grief into these inferior things. This weight was carnal custom. Yet was there a remembrance of Thee with me; nor did I any way doubt that there was one to whom I might cleave, but that I was not yet one who could cleave unto Thee; for that the body which is corrupted presseth down the soul, and the earthly dwelling weigheth down the mind which thinketh upon many things. [545] And most certain I was that Thy "invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even Thy eternal power and Godhead." [546] For, inquiring whence it was that I admired the beauty of bodies whether celestial or terrestrial, and what supported me in judging correctly on things mutable, and pronouncing, "This should be thus, this not,"--inquiring, then, whence I so judged, seeing I did so judge, I had found the unchangeable and true eternity of Truth, above my changeable mind. And thus, by degrees, I passed from bodies to the soul, which makes use of the senses of the body to perceive; and thence to its inward [547] faculty, to which the bodily senses represent outward things, and up to which reach the capabilities of beasts; and thence, again, I passed on to the reasoning faculty, [548] unto which whatever is received from the senses of the body is referred to be judged, which also, finding itself to be variable in me, raised itself up to its own intelligence, and from habit drew away my thoughts, withdrawing itself from the crowds of contradictory phantasms; that so it might find out that light [549] by which it was besprinkled, when, without all doubting, it cried out, "that the unchangeable was to be preferred before the changeable;" whence also it knew that unchangeable, which, unless it had in some way known, it could have had no sure ground for preferring it to the changeable. And thus, with the flash of a trembling glance, it arrived at that which is. And then I saw Thy invisible things understood by the things that are made. [550] But I was not able to fix my gaze thereon; and my infirmity being beaten back, I was thrown again on my accustomed habits, carrying along with me naught but a loving memory thereof, and an appetite for what I had, as it were, smelt the odour of, but was not yet able to eat.

Footnotes

[545] Wisd. ix. 15. [546] Rom. i. 20. [547] See above, sec. 10. [548] Here, and more explicitly in sec. 25, we have before us what has been called the "trichotomy" of man. This doctrine Augustin does not deny in theory, but appears to consider (De Anima, iv. 32) it prudent to overlook in practice. The biblical view of psychology may well be considered here not only on its own account, but as enabling us clearly to apprehend this passage and that which follows it. It is difficult to understand how any one can doubt that St. Paul, when speaking in 1 Thess. v. 23, of our "spirit, soul, and body being preserved unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," implies a belief in a kind of trinity in man. And it is very necessary to the understanding of other Scriptures that we should realize what special attributes pertain to the soul and the spirit respectively. It may be said, generally, that the soul (psuche) is that passionate and affectionate nature which is common to us and the inferior creatures, while the spirit (pneuma) is the higher intellectual nature which is peculiar to man. Hence our Lord in His agony in the garden says (Matt. xxvi. 38), "My Soul is exceeding sorrowful"--the soul being liable to emotions of pleasure and pain. In the same passage (ver 41) he says to the apostles who had slept during His great agony, "The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," so that the spirit is the seat of the will. And that the spirit is also the seat of consciousness we gather from St. Paul's words (1 Cor. ii. 11), "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." And it is on the spirit of man that the Spirit of God operates; whence we read (Rom. viii. 16), "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." It is important to note that the word "flesh" (sarx) has its special significance, as distinct from body. The word comes to us from the Hebrew through the Hellenistic Greek of the LXX., and in biblical language (see Bishop Pearson's Præfatio Parænetica to his edition of the LXX.) stands for our human nature with it worldly surroundings and liability to temptation; so that when it is said, "The Word was made flesh," we have what is equivalent to, "The Word put on human nature." It is, therefore, the flesh and the spirit that are ever represented in conflict one with the other when men are in the throes of temptation. So it must be while life lasts; for it is characteristic of our position in the world that we possess soulish bodies (to employ the barbarous but expressive word of Dr. Candlish in his Life in a Risen Saviour, p. 182), and only on the morning of the resurrection will the body be spiritual and suited to the new sphere of its existence: "It is sown a natural [psuchikon, "soulish"] body, it is raised a spiritual [pneumatikon] body" (1 Cor. xv. 44); "for," as Augustin says in his Enchiridion (c. xci.), "just as now the body is called animate (or, using the Greek term, as above, instead of the Latin, "soulish"), though it is a body and not a soul, so then the body shall be called spiritual, though it shall be a body, not a spirit....No part of our nature shall be in discord with another; but as we shall be free from enemies without, so we shall not have ourselves for enemies within." For further information on this most interesting subject, see Delitzsch, Biblical Psychology, ii. 4 ("The True and False Trichotomy"); Olshausen, Opuscula Theologica, iv. ("De Trichotomia") and cc. 2, 17, and 18 of R. W. Evans' Ministry of the Body, where the subject is discussed with thoughtfulness and spiritual insight. This matter is also treated of in the introductory chapters of Schlegel's Philosophy of Life. [549] That light which illumines the soul, he tells us in his De Gen. ad Lit. (xii. 31), is God Himself, from whom all light cometh; and, though created in His image and likeness, when it tries to discover Him, palpitat infirmitate, et minus valet. In sec. 13, above, speaking of Platonism, he describes it as holding "that the soul of man, though it `bears witness of the Light,' yet itself `is not that Light.'" In his De Civ. Dei, x. 2, he quotes from Plotinus (mentioned in note 2, sec. 13, above) in regard to the Platonic doctrine as to enlightenment from on high. He says: "Plotinus, commenting on Plato, repeatedly and strongly asserts that not even the soul, which they believe to be the soul of the world, derives its blessedness from any other source than we do, viz. from that Light which is distinct from it and created it, and by whose intelligible illumination it enjoys light in things intelligible. He also compares those spiritual things to the vast and conspicuous heavenly bodies, as if God were the sun, and the soul the moon; for they suppose that the moon derives its light from the sun. That great Platonist, therefore, says that the rational soul, or rather the intellectual soul,--in which class he comprehends the souls of the blessed immortal who inhabit heaven,--has no nature superior to it save God, the Creator of the world and the soul itself, and that these heavenly spirits derive their blessed life, and the light of truth, from the same source as ourselves, agreeing with the gospel where we read, `There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light, that through Him all might believe. He was not that Light, but that he might bear witness of the Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world' (John i. 6-9);--a distinction which sufficiently proves that the rational or intellectual soul, such as John had, cannot be its own light, but needs to receive illumination from another, the true Light. This John himself avows when he delivers his witness (ibid. 16): `We have all received of His fulness.'" Comp. Tertullian, De Testim. Anim., and the note to iv. sec. 25, above, where other references to God's being the Father of Lights are given. [550] Rom. i. 20.


Chapter XVIII.--Jesus Christ, the Mediator, is the Only Way of Safety.

24. And I sought a way of acquiring strength sufficient to enjoy Thee; but I found it not until I embraced that "Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," [551] "who is over all, God blessed for ever," [552] calling unto me, and saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," [553] and mingling that food which I was unable to receive with our flesh. For "the Word was made flesh," [554] that Thy wisdom, by which Thou createdst all things, might provide milk for our infancy. For I did not grasp my Lord Jesus,--I, though humbled, grasped not the humble One; [555] nor did I know what lesson that infirmity of His would teach us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth, pre-eminent above the higher parts of Thy creation, raises up those that are subject unto Itself; but in this lower world built for Itself a humble habitation of our clay, whereby He intended to abase from themselves such as would be subjected and bring them over unto Himself, allaying their swelling, and fostering their love; to the end that they might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather should become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak by taking our "coats of skins;" [556] and wearied, might cast themselves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them up.

Footnotes

[551] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [552] Rom. ix. 5. [553] John xiv. 6. [554] John i. 14. [555] Christ descended that we may ascend. See iv. sec. 19, notes 1 and 3, above. [556] Gen. iii. 21. Augustin frequently makes these "coats of skin" symbolize the mortality to which our first parents became subject by being deprived of the tree of life (see iv. sec. 15, note 3, above); and in his Enarr. in Ps. (ciii. 1, 8), he says they are thus symbolical inasmuch as the skin is only taken from animals when dead.


Chapter XIX.--He Does Not Yet Fully Understand the Saying of John, that "The Word Was Made Flesh."

25. But I thought differently, thinking only of my Lord Christ as of a man of excellent wisdom, to whom no man could be equalled; especially for that, being wonderfully born of a virgin, He seemed, through the divine care for us, to have attained so great authority of leadership,--for an example of contemning temporal things for the obtaining of immortality. But what mystery there was in, "The Word was made flesh," [557] I could not even imagine. Only I had learnt out of what is delivered to us in writing of Him, that He did eat, drink, sleep, walk, rejoice in spirit, was sad, and discoursed; that flesh alone did not cleave unto Thy Word, but with the human soul and body. All know thus who know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, which I now knew as well as I could, nor did I at all have any doubt about it. For, now to move the limbs of the body at will, now not; now to be stirred by some affection, now not; now by signs to enunciate wise sayings, now to keep silence, are properties of a soul and mind subject to change. And should these things be falsely written of Him, all the rest would risk the imputation, nor would there remain in those books any saving faith for the human race. Since, then, they were written truthfully, I acknowledged a perfect man to be in Christ--not the body of a man only, nor with the body a sensitive soul without a rational, but a very man; whom, not only as being a form of truth, but for a certain great excellency of human nature and a more perfect participation of wisdom, I decided was to be preferred before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics to believe that God was so clothed with flesh, that, besides God and flesh, there was no soul in Christ, and did not think that a human mind was ascribed to Him. And, because He was thoroughly persuaded that the actions which were recorded of Him could not be performed except by a vital and rational creature, he moved the more slowly towards the Christian faith. But, learning afterwards that this was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, [558] he rejoiced in the Catholic faith, and was conformed to it. But somewhat later it was, I confess, that I learned how in the sentence, "The Word was made flesh," the Catholic truth can be distinguished from the falsehood of Photinus. [559] For the disapproval of heretics makes the tenets of Thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly. [560] For there must be also heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak. [561]

Footnotes

[557] We have already seen, in note 1, sec. 13, above, how this text (1) runs counter to Platonic beliefs as to the Logos. The following passage from Augustin's De Civ. Dei, x. 29, is worth putting on record in this connection:--"Are ye ashamed to be corrected? This is the vice of the proud. It is forsooth, a degradation for learned men to pass from the school of Plato to the discipleship of Christ, who by His Spirit taught a fisherman to think and to say, `In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not' (John i. 1-5). The old saint Simplicianus, afterwards Bishop of Milan, used to tell me that a certain Platonist was in the habit of saying that this opening passage of the holy Gospel entitled, `According to John,' should be written in letters of gold, and hung up in all churches in the most conspicuous place. But the proud scorn to take God for their Master, because `the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us' (John i. 14). So that with these miserable creatures it is not enough that they are sick, but they boast of their sickness, and are ashamed of the medicine which could heal them. And doing so, they secure not elevation, but a more disastrous fall." This text, too, as Irenæus has remarked, (2) entirely opposes the false teaching of the Docetæ, who, as their name imports, believed, with the Manichæans, that Christ only appeared to have a body; as was the case, they said, with the angels entertained by Abraham (see Burton's Bampton Lectures, lect. 6). It is curious to note here that Augustin maintained that the Angel of the Covenant was not an anticipation, as it were, of the incarnation of the Word, but only a created angel (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 29, and De Trin. iii. 11), thus unconsciously playing into the hands of the Arians. See Bull's Def. Fid. Nic. i. 1, sec. 2, etc., and iv. 3, sec. 14. [558] The founder of this heresy was Apollinaris the younger, Bishop of Laodicea, whose erroneous doctrine was condemned at the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 381. Note 4, sec. 23, above, on the "trichotomy," affords help in understanding it. Apollinaris seems to have desired to exalt the Saviour, not to detract from His honour, like Arius. Before his time men had written much on the divine and much on the human side of our Lord's nature. He endeavoured to show (see Dorner's Person of Christ, A. ii. 252, etc., Clark) in what the two natures united differed from human nature. He concluded that our Lord had no need of the human pneuma, and that its place was supplied by the divine nature, so that God "the Word," the body and the psuche, constituted the being of the Saviour. Dr. Pusey quotes the following passages hereon:--"The faithful who believes and confesses in the Mediator a real human, i.e. our nature, although God the Word, taking it in a singular manner, sublimated it into the only Son of God, so that He who took it, and what He took, was one person in the Trinity. For, after man was assumed, there became not a quaternity but remained the Trinity, that assumption making in an ineffable way the truth of one person in God and man. Since we do not say that Christ is only God, as do the Manichæan heretics, nor only man, as the Photinian heretics, nor in such wise man as not to have anything which certainly belongs to human nature, whether the soul, or in the soul itself the rational mind, or the flesh not taken of the woman, but made of the Word, converted and changed into flesh, which three false and vain statements made three several divisions of the Apollinarian heretics; but we say that Christ is true God, born of God the Father, without any beginning of time, and also true man, born of a human mother in the fulness of time; and that His humanity, whereby He is inferior to the Father, does not derogate from His divinity, whereby He is equal to the Father" (De Dono Persev. sec. ult.). "There was formerly a heresy--its remnants perhaps still exist--of some called Apollinarians. Some of them said that that man whom the Word took, when `the Word was made flesh,' had not the human, i.e. rational (logikon) mind, but was only a soul without human intelligence, but that the very Word of God was in that man instead of a mind. They were cast out,--the Catholic faith rejected them, and they made a heresy. It was established in the Catholic faith that that man whom the wisdom of God took had nothing less than other men, with regard to the integrity of man's nature, but as to the excellency of His person, had more than other men. For other men may be said to be partakers of the Word of God, having the Word of God, but none of them can be called the Word of God, which He was called when it is said, `The Word was made flesh' " (in Ps. xxix., Enarr. ii. sec. 2). "But when they reflected that, if their doctrine were true, they must confess that the only-begotten Son of God, the Wisdom and Word of the Father, by whom all things were made, is believed to have taken a sort of brute with the figure of a human body, they were dissastisfied with themselves; yet not so as to amend, and confess that the whole man was assumed by the wisdom of God, without any diminution of nature, but still more boldly denied to Him the soul itself, and everything of any worth in man, and said that He only took human flesh" (De 83, Div. Quæst. qu. 80). Reference on the questions touched on in this note may be made to Neander's Church History, ii. 401, etc. (Clark); and Hagenbach, History of Doctrines, i. 270 (Clark). [559] See notes on p. 107. [560] Archbishop Trench's words on this sentence in the Confessions (Hulsean Lectures, lect. v. 1845) have a special interest in the present attitude of the Roman Church:--"Doubtless there is a true idea of scriptural developments which has always been recognised, to which the great Fathers of the Church have set their seal; this, namely, that the Church, informed and quickened by the Spirit of God, more and more discovers what in Holy Scripture is given her; but not this, that she unfolds by an independent power anything further therefrom. She has always possessed what she now possesses of doctrine and truth, only not always with the same distinctness of consciousness. She has not added to her wealth, but she has become more and more aware of that wealth; her dowry has remained always the same, but that dowry was so rich and so rare, that only little by little she has counted over and taken stock and inventory of her jewels. She has consolidated her doctrine, compelled to this by the challenges and provocation of enemies, or induced to it by the growing sense of her own needs." Perhaps no one, to turn from the Church to individual men, has been more indebted than was Augustin to controversies with heretics for the evolvement of truth. [561] 1 Cor. xi. 19.


Chapter XX.--He Rejoices that He Proceeded from Plato to the Holy Scriptures, and Not the Reverse.

26. But having then read those books of the Platonists, and being admonished by them to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Thy invisible things, understood by those things that are made; [562] and though repulsed, I perceived what that was, which through the darkness of my mind I was not allowed to contemplate,--assured that Thou wert, and wert infinite, and yet not diffused in space finite or infinite; and that Thou truly art, who art the same ever, [563] varying neither in part nor motion; and that all other things are from Thee, on this most sure ground alone, that they are. Of these things was I indeed assured, yet too weak to enjoy Thee. I chattered as one well skilled; but had I not sought Thy way in Christ our Saviour, I would have proved not skilful, but ready to perish. For now, filled with my punishment, I had begun to desire to seem wise; yet mourned I not, but rather was puffed up with knowledge. [564] For where was that charity building upon the "foundation" of humility, "which is Jesus Christ"? [565] Or, when would these books teach me it? Upon these, therefore, I believe, it was Thy pleasure that I should fall before I studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when I was subdued by Thy books, and when my wounds were touched by Thy healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between presumption and confession,--between those who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not the way, and the way which leadeth not only to behold but to inhabit the blessed country. [566] For had I first been moulded in Thy Holy Scriptures, and hadst Thou, in the familiar use of them, grown sweet unto me, and had I afterwards fallen upon those volumes, they might perhaps have withdrawn me from the solid ground of piety; or, had I stood firm in that wholesome disposition which I had thence imbibed, I might have thought that it could have been attained by the study of those books alone.

Footnotes

[562] Rom. i. 20. [563] See sec. 17, note, above. [564] 1 Cor. viii. 1. [565] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [566] We have already quoted a passage from Augustin's Sermons (v. sec. 5, note 7, above), where Christ as God is described as the country we seek, while as man He is the way to go to it. The Fathers frequently point out in their controversies with the philosophers that it little profited that they should know of a goal to be attained unless they could learn the way to reach it. And, in accordance with the sentiment, Augustin says: "For it is as man that He is the Mediator and the Way. Since, if the way lieth between him who goes and the place whither he goes, there is hope of his reaching it; but if there be no way, or if he know not where it is, what boots it to know whither he should go?" (De Civ. Dei, xi. 2.) And again, in his De Trin. iv. 15: "But of what use is it for the proud man, who, on that account, is ashamed to embark upon the ship of wood, to behold from afar his country beyond the sea? Or how can it hurt the humble man not to behold it from so great a distance, when he is actually coming to it by that wood upon which the other disdains to be borne?"


Chapter XXI.--What He Found in the Sacred Books Which are Not to Be Found in Plato.

27. Most eagerly, then, did I seize that venerable writing of Thy Spirit, but more especally the Apostle Paul; [567] and those difficulties vanished away, in which he at one time appeared to me to contradict himself, and the text of his discourse not to agree with the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets. And the face of that pure speech appeared to me one and the same; and I learned to "rejoice with trembling." [568] So I commenced, and found that whatsoever truth I had there read was declared here with the recommendation of Thy grace; that he who sees may not so glory as if he had not received [569] not only that which he sees, but also that he can see (for what hath he which he hath not received?); and that he may not only be admonished to see Thee, who art ever the same, but also may be healed, to hold Thee; and that he who from afar off is not able to see, may still walk on the way by which he may reach, behold, and possess Thee. For though a man "delight in the law of God after the inward man," [570] what shall he do with that other law in his members which warreth against the law of his mind, and bringeth him into captivity to the law of sin, which is in his members? [571] For Thou art righteous, O Lord, but we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, [572] and Thy hand is grown heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered over unto that ancient sinner, the governor of death; for he induced our will to be like his will, whereby he remained not in Thy truth. What shall "wretched man" do? "Who shall deliver him from the body of this death," but Thy grace only, "through Jesus `Christ our Lord,'" [573] whom Thou hast begotten co-eternal, and createdst [574] in the beginning of Thy ways, in whom the Prince of this world found nothing worthy of death, [575] yet killed he Him, and the handwriting which was contrary to us was blotted out? [576] This those writings contain not. Those pages contain not the expression of this piety,--the tears of confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, "a broken and a contrite heart," [577] the salvation of the people, the espoused city, [578] the earnest of the Holy Ghost, [579] the cup of our redemption. [580] No man sings there, Shall not my soul be subject unto God? For of Him cometh my salvation, for He is my God and my salvation, my defender, I shall not be further moved. [581] No one there hears Him calling, "Come unto me all ye that labour." They scorn to learn of Him, because He is meek and lowly of heart; [582] for "Thou hast hid those things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." [583] For it is one thing, from the mountain's wooded summit to see the land of peace, [584] and not to find the way thither,--in vain to attempt impassable ways, opposed and waylaid by fugitives and deserters, under their captain the "lion" [585] and the "dragon;" [586] and another to keep to the way that leads thither, guarded by the host of the heavenly general, where they rob not who have deserted the heavenly army, which they shun as torture. These things did in a wonderful manner sink into my bowels, when I read that "least of Thy apostles," [587] and had reflected upon Thy works, and feared greatly.

Footnotes

[567] Literally, "The venerable pen of Thy Spirit (Logos); words which would seem to imply a belief on Augustin's part in a verbal inspiration of Scripture. That he gave Scripture the highest honour as God's inspired word is clear not only from this, but other passages in his works. It is equally clear, however, that he gave full recognition to the human element in the word. See De Cons. Evang. ii. 12, where both these aspects are plainly discoverable. Compare also ibid. c. 24. [568] Ps. ii. 11. [569] l Cor. iv. 7. [570] Rom. vii. 22. [571] Ibid. ver. 23. [572] Song of the Three Children, 4 sq. [573] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [574] Prov. viii. 22, as quoted from the old Italic version. It must not be understood to teach that the Lord is a creature. (1) Augustin, as indeed is implied in the Confessions above, understands the passage of the incarnation of Christ, and in his De Doct. Christ. i. 38, he distinctly so applies it: "For Christ...desiring to be Himself the Way to those who are just setting out, determined to take a fleshly body. Whence also that expression, `The Lord created me in the beginning of his Way,'--that is, that those who wish to come might begin their journey in Him." Again, in a remarkable passage in his De Trin. i. 24, he makes a similar application of the words: "According to the form of a servant, it is said, `The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways.' Because, according to the form of God, he said, `I am the Truth;' and, according to the form of a servant, `I am the Way.'" (2) Again, creasti is from the LXX. ektise, which is that version's rendering in this verse of the Hebrew Q+oN+oN+iJ+. The Vulgate, more correctly translating from the Hebrew, gives possedit, thus corresponding to our English version, "The Lord possessed me," etc. The LXX. would appear to have made an erroneous rendering here, for ktizo is generally in that version the equivalent for B+oR+o#, "to create," while Q+oG+oH+ is usually rendered by ktaomai, "to possess," "to acquire." It is true that Gesenius supposes that in a few passages, and Prov. viii. 22 among them, Q+oN+oH+ should be rendered "to create;" but these very passages our authorized version renders "to get," or "to possess;" and, as Dr. Tregelles observes, referring to M'Call on the Divine Sonship, "in all passages cited for that sense, `to possess' appears to be the true meaning." [575] John xviii. 38. [576] Col. ii. 14. [577] Ps. li. 17. [578] Rev. xxi. 2. [579] 2 Cor. v. 5. [580] Ps. cxvi. 13. [581] Ps. lxii. 1, 2. [582] Matt. xi. 28, 29. [583] Matt. xi. 25. [584] Deut. xxxii. 49. [585] 1 Pet. v. 8. [586] Rev. xii. 3. [587] 1 Cor. xv. 9. In giving an account, remarks Pusey, of this period to his friend and patron Romanianus, St. Augustin seems to have blended together this and the history of his completed conversion, which was also wrought in connection with words in the same apostle, but the account of which he uniformly suppresses, for fear, probably, of injuring the individual to whom he was writing (see on book ix. sec. 4, note, below). "Since that vehement flame which was about to seize me as yet was not, I thought that by which I was slowly kindled was the very greatest. When lo! certain books, when they had distilled a very few drops of most precious unguent on that tiny flame, it is past belief, Romanianus, past belief, and perhaps past what even you believe of me (and what could I say more?), nay, to myself also is it past belief, what a conflagration of myself they lighted. What ambition, what human show, what empty love of fame, or, lastly, what incitement or band of this mortal life could hold me then? I turned speedily and wholly back into myself. I cast but a glance, I confess, as one passing on, upon that religion which was implanted into us as boys, and interwoven with our very inmost selves; but she drew me unknowing to herself. So then, stumbling, hurrying, hesitating, I seized the Apostle Paul; `for never,' said I, `could they have wrought such things, or lived as it is plain they did live, if their writings and arguments were opposed to this so high good.' I read the whole most intently and carefully. But then, never so little light having been shed thereon, such a countenance of wisdom gleamed upon me, that if I could exhibit it--I say not to you, who ever hungeredst after her, though unknown--but to your very adversary (see book vi. sec. 24, note, above), casting aside and abandoning whatever now stimulates him so keenly to whatsoever pleasures, he would, amazed, panting, enkindled, fly to her Beauty" (Con. Acad. ii. 5).


.

Book VIII.

He finally describes the thirty-second year of his age, the most memorable of his whole life, in which, being instructed by Simplicianus concerning the conversion of others, and the manner of acting, he is, after a severe struggle, renewed in his whole mind, and is converted unto God.


Chapter I.--He, Now Given to Divine Things, and Yet Entangled by the Lusts of Love, Consults Simplicianus in Reference to the Renewing of His Mind.

1. O My God, let me with gratitude remember and confess unto Thee Thy mercies bestowed upon me. Let my bones be steeped in Thy love, and let them say, Who is like unto Thee, O Lord? [588] "Thou hast loosed my bonds, I will offer unto Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving." [589] And how Thou hast loosed them I will declare; and all who worship Thee when they hear these things shall say: "Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is His name." Thy words had stuck fast into my breast, and I was hedged round about by Thee on every side. [590] Of Thy eternal life I was now certain, although I had seen it "through a glass darkly." [591] Yet I no longer doubted that there was an incorruptible substance, from which was derived all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more certain of Thee, but more stedfast in Thee. As for my temporal life, all things were uncertain, and my heart had to be purged from the old leaven. [592] The "Way," [593] the Saviour Himself, was pleasant unto me, but as yet I disliked to pass through its straightness. And Thou didst put into my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go unto Simplicianus, [594] who appeared to me a faithful servant of Thine, and Thy grace shone in him. I had also heard that from his very youth he had lived most devoted to Thee. Now he had grown into years, and by reason of so great age, passed in such zealous following of Thy ways, he appeared to me likely to have gained much experience; and so in truth he had. Out of which experience I desired him to tell me (setting before him my griefs) which would be the most fitting way for one afflicted as I was to walk in Thy way.

2. For the Church I saw to be full, and one went this way, and another that. But it was displeasing to me that I led a secular life; yea, now that my passions had ceased to excite me as of old with hopes of honour and wealth, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so great a servitude. For, compared with Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house, which I loved, [595] those things delighted me no longer. But still very tenaciously was I held by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry, although he exhorted me to something better, especially wishing that all men were as he himself was. [596] But I, being weak, made choice of the more agreeable place, and because of this alone was tossed up and down in all beside, faint and languishing with withering cares, because in other matters I was compelled, though unwilling, to agree to a married life, to which I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of truth that "there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake;" but, saith He, "he that is able to receive it, let him receive it." [597] Vain, assuredly, are all men in whom the knowledge of God is not, and who could not, out of the good things which are seen, find out Him who is good. [598] But I was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it, and by the united testimony of Thy whole creation had found Thee, our Creator, [599] and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee and the Holy Ghost [600] one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another kind of impious men, who "when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful." [601] Into this also had I fallen; but Thy right hand held me up, [602] and bore me away, and Thou placedst me where I might recover. For Thou hast said unto man, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;" [603] and desire not to seem wise, [604] because, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." [605] But I had now found the goodly pearl, [606] which, selling all that I had, [607] I ought to have bought; and I hesitated.

Footnotes

[588] Ps. xxxv. 10. [589] Ps. cxvi. 16, 17. [590] Job. i. 10. [591] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [592] 1 Cor. v. 7. [593] John xiv. 6. [594] "Simplicianus `became a successor of the most blessed Ambrose, Bishop of the Church of Milan' (Aug. Retract. ii. 1). To him St. Augustin wrote two books, De Diversis Quæstionibus (Op. t. vi. p. 82 sq.), and calls him `father' (ibid.), speaks of his `fatherly affections from his most benevolent heart, not recent or sudden, but tried and known' (Ep. 37), requests his `remarks and corrections of any books of his which might chance to fall into his holy hands' (ibid.) St. Ambrose mentions his `having traversed the whole world, for the sake of the faith, and of acquiring divine knowledge, and having given the whole period of this life to holy reading, night and day: that he had an acute mind, whereby he took in intellectual studies, and was in the habit of proving how far the books of philosophy were gone astray from the truth,' Ep. 65, sec 5, p. 1052, ed. Ben. See also Tillemont, H. E. t. 10, Art. `S. Simplicien.'"--E. B. P. [595] Ps. xxvi. 8. [596] 1 Cor. vii. 7. [597] Matt. xix. 12. [598] Wisd. xiii. 1. [599] See iv. sec, 18, and note, above. [600] "And the Holy Ghost." These words, though in the text of the Benedictine edition are not, as the editors point out, found in the majority of the best mss. [601] Rom. i. 21. [602] Ps. xviii. 35. [603] Job xxviii. 28. [604] Prov. iii. 7. [605] Rom. i. 22. [606] In his Quæst. ex. Matt. 13, likewise, Augustin compares Christ to the pearl of great price, who is in every way able to satisfy the cravings of man. [607] Matt. xiii. 46.


Chapter II.--The Pious Old Man Rejoices that He Read Plato and the Scriptures, and Tells Him of the Rhetorician Victorinus Having Been Converted to the Faith Through the Reading of the Sacred Books.

3. To Simplicianus then I went,--the father of Ambrose [608] (at that time a bishop) in receiving Thy grace, and whom he truly loved as a father. To him I narrated the windings of my error. But when I mentioned to him that I had read certain books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, sometime Professor of Rhetoric at Rome (who died a Christian, as I had been told), had translated into Latin, he congratulated me that I had not fallen upon the writings of other philosophers, which were full of fallacies and deceit, "after the rudiments of the world," [609] whereas they, [610] in many ways, led to the belief in God and His word. [611] Then, to exhort me to the humility of Christ, [612] hidden from the wise, and revealed to little ones, [613] he spoke of Victorinus himself, [614] whom, whilst he was at Rome, he had known very intimately; and of him he related that about which I will not be silent. For it contains great praise of Thy grace, which ought to be confessed unto Thee, how that most learned old man, highly skilled in all the liberal sciences, who had read, criticised, and explained so many works of the philosophers; the teacher of so many noble senators; who also, as a mark of his excellent discharge of his duties, had (which men of this world esteem a great honour) both merited and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum, he,--even to that age a worshipper of idols, and a participator in the sacrilegious rites to which almost all the nobility of Rome were wedded, and had inspired the people with the love of

"The dog Anubis, and a medley crew

Of monster gods [who] 'gainst Neptune stand in arms,

'Gainst Venus and Minerva, steel-clad Mars," [615]

whom Rome once conquered, now worshipped, all which old Victorinus had with thundering eloquence defended so many years,--he now blushed not to be the child of Thy Christ, and an infant at Thy fountain, submitting his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead to the reproach of the Cross.

4. O Lord, Lord, who hast bowed the heavens and come down, touched the mountains and they did smoke, [616] by what means didst Thou convey Thyself into that bosom? He used to read, as Simplicianus said, the Holy Scripture, most studiously sought after and searched into all the Christian writings, and said to Simplicianus,--not openly, but secretly, and as a friend,--"Know thou that I am a Christian." To which he replied, "I will not believe it, nor will I rank you among the Christians unless I see you in the Church of Christ." Whereupon he replied derisively, "Is it then the walls that make Christians?" And this he often said, that he already was a Christian; and Simplidanus making the same answer, the conceit of the "walls" was by the other as often renewed. For he was fearful of offending his friends, proud demon-worshippers, from the height of whose Babylonian dignity, as from cedars of Lebanon which had not yet been broken by the Lord, [617] he thought a storm of enmity would descend upon him. But after that, from reading and inquiry, he had derived strength, and feared lest he should be denied by Christ before the holy angels if he now was afraid to confess Him before men, [618] and appeared to himself guilty of a great fault in being ashamed of the sacraments [619] of the humility of Thy word, and not being ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud demons, whose pride he had imitated and their rites adopted, he became bold-faced against vanity, and shame-faced toward the truth, and suddenly and unexpectedly said to Simplicianus,--as he himself informed me,--"Let us go to the church; I wish to be made a Christian." But he, not containing himself for joy, accompanied him. And having been admitted to the first sacraments of instruction, [620] he not long after gave in his name, that he might be regenerated by baptism,--Rome marvelling, and the Church rejoicing. The proud saw, and were enraged; they gnashed with their teeth, and melted away! [621] But the Lord God was the hope of Thy servant, and He regarded not vanities and lying madness. [622]

5. Finally, when the hour arrived for him to make profession of his faith (which at Rome they who are about to approach Thy grace are wont to deliver [623] from an elevated place, in view of the faithful people, in a set form of words learnt by heart), [624] the presbyters, he said, offered Victorinus to make his profession more privately, as the custom was to do to those who were likely, through bashfulness, to be afraid; but he chose rather to profess his salvation in the presence of the holy assembly. For it was not salvation that he taught in rhetoric, and yet he had publicly professed that. How much less, therefore, ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to dread Thy meek flock, who, in the delivery of his own words, had not feared the mad multitudes! So, then, when he ascended to make his profession, all, as they recognised him, whispered his name one to the other, with a voice of congratulation. And who was there amongst them that did not know him? And there ran a low murmur through the mouths of all the rejoicing multitude, "Victorinus! Victorinus!" Sudden was the burst of exultation at the sight of him; and suddenly were they hushed, that they might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all desired to take him to their very heart--yea, by their love and joy they took him thither; such were the hands with which they took him.

Footnotes

[608] Simplicianus succeeded Ambrose, 397 A.D. He has already been referred to, in the extract from De Civ. Dei, in note 1, p. 113, above as "the old saint Simplicianus, afterwards Bishop of Milan." In Ep. p. 37, Augustin addresses him as "his father, most worthy of being cherished with respect and sincere affection." When Simplicianus is spoken of above as "the father of Ambrose in receiving Thy grace," reference is doubtless made to his having been instrumental in his conversion--he having "begotten" him "through the gospel" (1 Cor. iv. 15). Ambrose, when writing to him (Ep. 65), concludes, "Vale, et nos parentis affectu dilige, ut facis." [609] Col. ii. 8. [610] i.e. the Platonists. [611] In like manner Augustin, in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 5), says: "No philosophers come nearer to us than the Platonists;" and elsewhere, in the same book, he speaks, in exalted terms, of their superiority to other philosophers. When he speaks of the Platonists, he means the Neo-Platonists, from whom he conceived that he could best derive a knowledge of Plato, who had, by pursuing the Socratic method in concealing his opinions, rendered it difficult "to discover clearly what he himself thought on various matters, any more than it is to discover what were the real opinions of Socrates" (ibid. sec 4). Whether Plato himself had or not knowledge of the revelation contained in the Old Testament Scriptures, as Augustin supposed (De Civ. Dei, viii. 11, 12), it is clear that the later Platonists were considerably affected by Judaic ideas, even as the philosophizing Jews were indebted to Platonism. This view has been embodied in the proverb frequently found in the Fathers, Latin as well as Greek, E Platon philonizei e Philon platonizei. Archer Butler, in the fourth of his Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, treats of the vitality of Plato's teaching and the causes of its influence, and shows how in certain points there is a harmony between his ideas and the precepts of the gospel. On the difficulty of unravelling the subtleties of the Platonic philosophy, see Burton's Bampton Lectures (lect. 3). [612] See iv. sec. 19, above. [613] Matt. xi. 25. [614] "Victorinus, by birth an African, taught rhetoric at Rome under Constantius, and in extreme old age, giving himself up to the faith of Christ, wrote some books against Arius, dialectically [and so] very obscure, which are not understood but by the learned, and a commentary on the Apostle" [Paul] (Jerome, De Viris Ill. c. 101). It is of the same, probably, that Gennadius speaks (De Viris Ill. c. 60), "that he commented in a Christian and pious strain, but inasmuch as he was a man taken up with secular literature, and not trained in the Divine Scriptures by any teacher, he produced what was comparatively of little weight." Comp. Jerome, Præf. in Comm. in Gal., and see Tillemont, 1. c. p. 179, sq. Some of his works are extant.--E. B. P. [615] Æneid, viii. 736-8. The Kennedys. [616] Ps. cxliv. 5. [617] Ps. xxix. 5. [618] Luke ix. 26. [619] "The Fathers gave the name of sacrament, or mystery, to everything which conveyed one signification or property to unassisted reason, and another to faith. Hence Cyprian speaks of the `sacraments' of the Lord's Prayer, meaning the hidden meaning conveyed therein, which could only be appreciated by a Christian. The Fathers sometimes speak of confirmation as a sacrament, because the chrism signified the grace of the Holy Ghost; and the imposition of hands was not merely a bare sign, but the form by which it was conveyed. See Bingham, book xii. c. 1, sec. 4. Yet at the same time they continually speak of two great sacraments of the Christian Church" (Palmer's Origines Liturgicæ, vol. ii. c. 6, sec. 1, p. 201). [620] That is, he became a catechumen. In addition to the information on this subject, already given in the note to book vi. sec. 2, above, the following references to it may prove instructive. (1) Justin Martyr, describing the manner of receiving converts into the Church in his day, says (Apol. i. 61): "As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray, and to entreat God with fasting for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings." And again (ibid. 65): "We, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers, in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place....Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread, and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he, taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost....And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present, to partake of, the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion." And once more (ibid. 66): "This food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined." (2) In Watts' translation, we have the following note on this episode in our text: "Here be divers particulars of the primitive fashion, in this story of Victorinus. First, being converted, he was to take some well-known Christian (who was to be his godfather) to go with him to the bishop, who, upon notice of it, admitted him a catechumenus, and gave him those six points of catechistical doctrine mentioned Heb. vi, 1, 2. When the time of baptism drew near, the young Christian came to give in his heathen name, which was presently registered, submitting himself to examination. On the eve, was he, in a set form, first, to renounce the devil, and to pronounce, I confess to Thee, O Christ, repeating the Creed with it, in the form here recorded. The time for giving in their names must be within the two first weeks in Lent; and the solemn day to renounce upon was Maundy Thursday. So bids the Council of Laodicea (Can. 45 and 46)." The renunciation adverted to by Watts in the above passage may be traced to an early period in the writings of the Fathers. It is mentioned by Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome, and "in the fourth century," says Palmer (Origines Liturgicæ, c. 5, sec. 2, where the authorities will be found), "the renunciation was made with great solemnity. Cyril of Jerusalem, speaking to those who had been recently baptized, said, `First, you have entered into the vestibule of the baptistry, and, standing towards the west, you have heard, and been commanded, and stretch forth your hands, and renounce Satan as if he were present.' This rite of turning to the west at the renunciation of Satan is also spoken of by Jerome, Gregory, Nazianzen, and Ambrose; and it was sometimes performed with exsufflations and other external signs of enmity to Satan, and rejection of him and his works. To the present day these customs remain in the patriarchate of Constantinople, where the candidates for baptism turn to the west to renounce Satan, stretching forth their hands and using an exsufflation as a sign of enmity against him. And the Monophysites of Antioch and Jerusalem, Alexandria and Armenia, also retain the custom of renouncing Satan with faces turned to the west." [621] Ps. cxii. 10. [622] Ps. xxxi. 6, 14, 18. [623] Literally, "give back," reddere. [624] Anciently, as Palmer has noted in the introduction to his Origines Liturgicæ, the liturgies of the various churches were learnt by heart. They probably began to be committed to writing about Augustin's day. The reference, however, in this place, is to the Apostles' Creed, which, Dr. Pusey in a note remarks, was delivered orally to the catechumens to commit it to memory, and by them delivered back, i.e. publicly repeated before they were baptized. "The symbol [creed] bearing hallowed testimony, which ye have together received, and are this day severally to give back [reddidistis], are the words in which the faith of our mother the Church is solidly constructed on a stable foundation, which is Christ the Lord. `For other foundation can no man lay,' etc. Ye have received them, and given back [reddidistis] what ye ought to retain in heart and mind, what ye should repeat in your beds, think on in the streets, and forget not in your meals, and while sleeping in body, in heart watch therein. For this is the faith, and the rule of salvation, that `We believe in God, the Father Almighty,'" etc. (Aug. Serm. 215, in Redditione Symboli). "On the Sabbath day [Saturday], when we shall keep a vigil through the mercy of God, ye will give back [reddituri] not the [Lord's] Prayer, but the Creed" (Serm. 58, sec. ult.). "What ye have briefly heard, ye ought not only to believe, but to commit to memory in so many words, and utter with your mouth" (Serm. 214, in Tradit. Symb. 3, sec. 2). "Nor, in order to retain the very words of the Creed, ought ye any wise to write it, but to learn it thoroughly by hearing, nor, when ye have learnt it, ought ye to write it, but always to keep and refresh it in your memories.--`This is my covenant, which I will make with them after those days,' saith the Lord; `I will place my law in their minds, and in their hearts will I write it.' To convey this, the Creed is learnt by hearing, and not written on tables or any other substance, but on the heart" (Serm. 212, sec. 2). See the Roman Liturgy (Assem, Cod. Liturg. t. i. p. 11 sq., 16), and the Gothic and Gallican (pp. 30 sq., 38 sq., 40 sq., etc.). "The renunciation of Satan," to quote once more from Palmer's Origines (c. 5, sec. 3), "was always followed by a profession of faith in Christ, as it is now in the English ritual....The promise of obedience and faith in Christ was made by the catechumens and sponsors, with their faces turned towards the east, as we learn from Cyril of Jerusalem and many other writers. Tertullian speaks of the profession of faith made at baptism, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in the Church. Cyprian mentions the interrogation, `Dost thou believe in eternal life, and remission of sins through the Holy Church?' Eusebius and many other Fathers also speak of the profession of faith made at this time; and it is especially noted in the Apostolical Constitutions, which were written in the East at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century. The profession of faith in the Eastern churches has generally been made by the sponsor, or the person to be baptized, not in the form of answers to questions, but by repeating the Creed after the priest. In the Western churches, the immemorial custom has been, for the priest to interrogate the candidate for baptism, or his sponsor, on the principal articles of the Christian faith."


Chapter III.--That God and the Angels Rejoice More on the Return of One Sinner Than of Many Just Persons.

6. Good God, what passed in man to make him rejoice more at the salvation of a soul despaired of, and delivered from greater danger, than if there had always been hope of him, or the danger had been less? For so Thou also, O merciful Father, dost "joy over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance." And with much joyfulness do we hear, whenever we hear, how the lost sheep is brought home again on the Shepherd's shoulders, while the angels rejoice, and the drachma is restored to Thy treasury, the neighhours rejoicing with the woman who found it; [625] and the joy of the solemn service of Thy house constraineth to tears, when in Thy house it is read of Thy younger son that he "was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found." [626] For Thou rejoicest both in us and in Thy angels, holy through holy charity. For Thou art ever the same; for all things which abide neither the same nor for ever, Thou ever knowest after the same manner.

7. What, then, passes in the soul when it more delights at finding or having restored to it the thing it loves than if it had always possessed them? Yea, and other things bear witness hereunto; and all things are full of witnesses, crying out, "So it is." The victorious commander triumpheth; yet he would not have conquered had he not fought, and the greater the peril of the battle, the more the rejoicing of the triumph. The storm tosses the voyagers, threatens shipwreck, and every one waxes pale at the approach of death; but sky and sea grow calm, and they rejoice much, as they feared much. A loved one is sick, and his pulse indicates danger; all who desire his safety are at once sick at heart: he recovers, though not able as yet to walk with his former strength, and there is such joy as was not before when he walked sound and strong. Yea, the very pleasures of human life--not those only which rush upon us unexpectedly, and against our wills, but those that are voluntary and designed--do men obtain by difficulties. There is no pleasure at all in eating and drinking unless the pains of hunger and thirst go before. And drunkards eat certain salt meats with the view of creating a troublesome heat, which the drink allaying causes pleasure. It is also the custom that the affianced bride should not immediately be given up, that the husband may not less esteem her whom, as betrothed, he longed not for. [627]

8. This law obtains in base and accursed joy; in that joy also which is permitted and lawful; in the sincerity of honest friendship; and in Him who was dead, and lived again, had been lost, and was found. [628] The greater joy is everywhere preceded by the greater pain. What meaneth this, O Lord my God, when Thou art, an everlasting joy unto Thine own self, and some things about Thee are ever rejoicing in Thee? [629] What meaneth this, that this portion of things thus ebbs and flows, alternately offended and reconciled? Is this the fashion of them, and is this all Thou hast allotted to them, whereas from the highest heaven to the lowest earth, from the beginning of the world to its end, from the angel to the worm, from the first movement unto the last, Thou settedst each in its right place, and appointedst each its proper seasons, everything good after its kind? Woe is me! How high art Thou in the highest, and how deep in the deepest! Thou withdrawest no whither, and scarcely do we return to Thee.

Footnotes

[625] Luke xv. 4-10. [626] Luke xv. 32. [627] See ix. sec 19, note. [628] Luke xv. 32. [629] See xii. sec. 12, and xiii. sec. 11, below.


Chapter IV.--He Shows by the Example of Victorinus that There is More Joy in the Conversion of Nobles.

9. Haste, Lord, and act; stir us up, and call us back; inflame us, and draw us to Thee; stir us up, and grow sweet unto us; let us now love Thee, let us "run after Thee." [630] Do not many men, out of a deeper hell of blindness than that of Victorinus, return unto Thee, and approach, and are enlightened, receiving that light, which they that receive, receive power from Thee to become Thy sons? [631] But if they be less known among the people, even they that know them joy less for them. For when many rejoice together, the joy of each one is the fuller in that they are incited and inflamed by one another. Again, because those that are known to many influence many towards salvation, and take the lead with many to follow them. And, therefore, do they also who preceded them much rejoice in regard to them, because they rejoice not in them alone. May it be averted that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; since rather "Thou hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hast Thou chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are." [632] And yet, even that "least of the apostles," [633] by whose tongue Thou soundest out these words, when Paulus the proconsul [634] --his pride overcome by the apostle's warfare--was made to pass under the easy yoke [635] of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the great King,--he also, instead of Saul, his former name, desired to be called Paul, [636] in testimony of so great a victory. For the enemy is more overcome in one of whom he hath more hold, and by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud hath he more hold of by reason of their nobility; and by them of more, by reason of their authority. [637] By how much the more welcome, then, was the heart of Victorinus esteemed, which the devil had held as an unassailable retreat, and the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and cutting weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly should Thy sons rejoice, seeing that our King hath bound the strong man, [638] and they saw his vessels taken from him and cleansed, [639] and made meet for Thy honour, and become serviceable for the Lord unto every good work. [640]

Footnotes

[630] Cant. i. 4. [631] John i. 12. [632] 1 Cor. i. 27, 28. [633] 1 Cor. xv. 9. [634] Acts. xiii. 12. [635] Matt. xi. 30. [636] "`As Scipio, after the conquest of Africa, took the name of Africanus, so Saul also, being sent to preach to the Gentiles, brought back his trophy out of the first spoils won by the Church, the proconsul Sergius Paulus, and set up his banner, in that for Saul he was called Paul' (Jerome, Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. init). Origen mentions the same opinion (which is indeed suggested by the relation in the Acts), but thinks that the apostle had originally two names (Præf. in Comm. in Ep. ad Rom.), which, as a Roman, may very well have been, and yet that he made use of his Roman name Paul first in connection with the conversion of the proconsul; Chrysostom says that it was doubtless changed at the command of God, which is to be supposed, but still may have been at this time."--E. B. P. [637] "Satan makes choice of persons of place and power. These are either in the Commonwealth or church. If he can, he will secure the throne and the pulpit, as the two forts that command the whole line....A prince or a ruler may stand for a thousand; therefore saith Paul to Elymas when he would have turned the deputy from the faith, `O full of all subtilty, thou child of the devil!' (Acts. xiii. 10). As if he had said, `You have learned this of your father the devil,--to haunt the courts of princes, wind into the favour of great ones. There is a double policy Satan hath in gaining such to his side.--(a) None have such advantage to draw others to their way. Corrupt the captain, and it is hard if he bring not off his troop with him. When the princes--men of renown in their tribes--stood up with Korah, presently a multitude are drawn into the conspiracy (Num. xvi. 2, 19). Let Jeroboam set up idolatry, and Israel is soon in a snare. It is said [that] the people willingly walked after his commandment (Hos. v. 11). (b) Should the sin stay at court, and the infection go no further, yet the sin of such a one, though a good man, may cost a whole kingdom dear. Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1 Chron. xxi. 1). He owed Israel a spite, and he pays them home in their king's sin, which dropped in a fearful plague upon their heads,"--Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2. [638] Matt. xii. 29. [639] Luke xi. 22, 25. [640] 2 Tim. ii. 21.


Chapter V.--Of the Causes Which Alienate Us from God.

10. But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related this to me about Victorinus, I burned to imitate him; and it was for this end he had related it. But when he had added this also, that in the time of the Emperor Julian, there was a law made by which Christians were forbidden to teach grammar and oratory, [641] and he, in obedience to this law, chose rather to abandon the wordy school than Thy word, by which Thou makest eloquent the tongues of the dumb, [642] --he appeared to me not more brave than happy, in having thus discovered an opportunity of waiting on Thee only, which thing I was sighing for, thus bound, not with the irons of another, but my own iron will. My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a "chain"), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled. [643] But that new will which had begun to develope in me, freely to worship Thee, and to wish to enjoy Thee, O God, the only sure enjoyment, was not able as yet to overcome my former wilfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus did my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me; and by their discord they unstrung my soul.

11. Thus came I to understand, from my own experience, what I had read, how that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." [644] I verily lusted both ways; [645] yet more in that which I approved in myself, than in that which I disapproved in myself. For in this last it was now rather not "I," [646] because in much I rather suffered against my will than did it willingly. And yet it was through me that custom became more combative against me, because I had come willingly whither I willed not. And who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows the sinner? [647] Nor had I now any longer my wonted excuse, that as yet I hesitated to be above the world and serve Thee, because my perception of the truth was uncertain; for now it was certain. But I, still bound to the earth, refused to be Thy soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all embarrassments, as we ought to fear to be embarrassed.

12. Thus with the baggage of the world was I sweetly burdened, as when in slumber; and the thoughts wherein I meditated upon Thee were like unto the efforts of those desiring to awake, who, still overpowered with a heavy drowsiness, are again steeped therein. And as no one desires to sleep always, and in the sober judgment of all waking is better, yet does a man generally defer to shake off drowsiness, when there is a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, and, though displeased, yet even after it is time to rise with pleasure yields to it, so was I assured that it were much better for me to give up myself to Thy charity, than to yield myself to my own cupidity; but the former course satisfied and vanquished me, the latter pleased me and fettered me. [648] Nor had I aught to answer Thee calling to me, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." [649] And to Thee showing me on every side, that what Thou saidst was true, I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at all to reply, but the drawling and drowsy words: "Presently, lo, presently;" "Leave me a little while." But "presently, presently," had no present; and my "leave me a little while" went on for a long while. [650] In vain did I "delight in Thy law after the inner man," when "another law in my members warred against the law of my mind, and brought me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." For the law of sin is the violence of custom, whereby the mind is drawn and held, even against its will; deserving to be so held in that it so willingly falls into it. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death" but Thy grace only, through Jesus Christ our Lord? [651]

Footnotes

[641] During the reign of Constantius, laws of a persecuting character were enacted against Paganism, which led multitudes nominally to adopt the Christian faith. When Julian the Apostate came to the throne, he took steps immediately to reinstate Paganism in all its ancient splendour. His court was filled with Platonic philosophers and diviners, and he sacrificed daily to the gods. But, instead of imitating the example of his predecessor, and enacting laws against the Christians, he endeavoured by subtlety to destroy their faith. In addition to the measures mentioned by Augustin above, he endeavoured to foment divisions in the Church by recalling the banished Donatists, and stimulating them to disseminate their doctrines, and he himself wrote treatises against it. In order, if possible, to counteract the influence of Christianity, he instructed his priests to imitate the Christians in their relief of the poor and care for the sick. But while in every way enacting measures of disability against the Christians, he showed great favour to the Jews, and with the view of confuting the predictions of Christ, went so far as to encourage them to rebuild the Temple. [642] Wisd. x. 21. [643] There would appear to be a law at work in the moral and spiritual worlds similar to that of gravitation in the natural, which "acts inversely as the square of the distance." As we are more affected, for example, by events that have taken place near us either in time or place, than by those which are more remote, so in spiritual things, the monitions of conscience would seem to become feeble with far greater rapidity than the continuance of our resistance would lead us to expect, while the power of sin, in like proportion, becomes strong. When tempted, men see not the end from the beginning. The allurement, however, which at first is but as a gossamer thread, is soon felt to have the strength of a cable. "Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse" (2 Tim. iii. 13), and when it is too late they learn that the embrace of the siren is but the prelude to destruction. "Thus,"as Gurnall has it (The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2), "Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going....Many who at this day lie in open profaneness, never thought they should have rolled so far from their modest beginnings. O Christians, give not place to Satan, no, not an inch, in his first motions. He that is a beggar and a modest one without doors, will command the house if let in. Yield at first, and thou givest away thy strength to resist him in the rest; when the hem is worn, the whole garment will ravel out, if it be not mended by timely repentance." See Muller, Lehre von der Sunde, book v., where the beginnings and alarming progress of evil in the soul are graphically described. See ix. sec. 18, note, below. [644] Gal. v. 17. [645] See iv. sec. 26, note, and v. sec. 18, above. [646] Rom. vii. 20. [647] See v. sec. 2, note 6, above. [648] Illud placebat et vincebat; hoc libebat et vinciebat. Watts renders freely, "But notwithstanding that former course pleased and overcame my reason, yet did this latter tickle and enthrall my senses." [649] Eph. v. 14. [650] As Bishop Wilberforce, eloquently describing this condition of mind, says, in his sermon on The Almost Christian, "New, strange wishes were rising in his heart. The Mighty One was brooding over its currents, was stirring up its tides, was fain to overrule their troubled flow--to arise in open splendour on his eyes; to glorify his life with His own blessed presence. And he himself was evidently conscious of the struggle; he was almost won; he was drawn towards that mysterious birth, and he well-nigh yielded. He even knew what was passing within his soul; he could appreciate something of its importance, of the living value of that moment. If that conflict was indeed visible to higher powers around him; if they who longed to keep him in the kingdom of darkness, and they who were ready to rejoice at his repentance--if they could see the inner waters of that troubled heart, as they surged and eddied underneath these mighty influences, how must they have waited for the doubtful choice! how would they strain their observation to see if that Almost should turn into an Altogether, or die away again, and leave his heart harder than it had been before!" [651] Rom. vii. 22-24. This difficilis et periculosus locus (Serm. cliv. 1) he interprets differently at different periods of his life. In this place, as elsewhere in his writings, he makes the passage refer (according to the general interpretation in the Church up to that time) to man convinced of sin under the influence of the law, but not under grace. In his Retractations, however (i. 23, sec. 1), he points out that he had found reason to interpret the passage not of man convinced of sin, but of man renewed and regenerated in Christ Jesus. This is the view constantly taken in his anti-Pelagian writings, which were published subsequently to the date of his Confessions; and indeed this change in interpretation probably arose from the pressure of the Pelagian controversy (see Con. Duas Ep. Pel. i. 10, secs. 18 and 22), and the fear lest the old view should too much favour the heretics, and their exaltation of the powers of the natural man to the disparagement of the influence of the grace of God.


Chapter VI.--Pontitianus' Account of Antony, the Founder of Monachism, and of Some Who Imitated Him.

13. And how, then, Thou didst deliver me out of the bonds of carnal desire, wherewith I was most firmly fettered, and out of the drudgery of worldly business, will I now declare and confess unto Thy name, "O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." [652] Amid increasing anxiety, I was transacting my usual affairs, and daily sighing unto Thee. I resorted as frequently to Thy church as the business, under the burden of which I groaned, left me free to do. Alypius was with me, being after the third sitting disengaged from his legal occupation, and awaiting further opportunity of selling his counsel, as I was wont to sell the power of speaking, if it can be supplied by teaching. But Nebridius had, on account of our friendship, consented to teach under Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a very intimate friend of us all; who vehemently desired, and by the right of friendship demanded from our company, the faithful aid he greatly stood in need of. Nebridius, then, was not drawn to this by any desire of gain (for he could have made much more of his learning had he been so inclined), but, as a most sweet and kindly friend, he would not be wanting in an office of friendliness, and slight our request. But in this he acted very discreetly, taking care not to become known to those personages whom the world esteems great; thus avoiding distraction of mind, which he desired to have free and at leisure as many hours as possible, to search, or read, or hear something concerning wisdom.

14. Upon a certain day, then, Nebridius being away (why, I do not remember), lo, there came to the house to see Alypius and me, Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, in so far as he was an African, who held high office in the emperor's court. What he wanted with us I know not, but we sat down to talk together, and it fell out that upon a table before us, used for games, he noticed a book; he took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the Apostle Paul,--for he imagined it to be one of those books which I was wearing myself out in teaching. At this he looked up at me smilingly, and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book, and this only, before my eyes. For he was both a Christian and baptized, and often prostrated himself before Thee our God in the church, in constant and daily prayers. When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony, [653] the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among Thy servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marvelling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Thy wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered--we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.

15. From this his conversation turned to the companies in the monasteries, and their manners so fragrant unto Thee, and of the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan [654] full of good brethren, without the walls of the city, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his relation, and we listened intently and in silence. He then related to us how on a certain afternoon, at Triers, when the emperor was taken up with seeing the Circensian games, [655] he and three others, his comrades, went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls, and there, as they chanced to walk two and two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went by themselves; and these, in their rambling, came upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Thy servants, "poor in spirit," of whom "is the kingdom of heaven," [656] where they found a book in which was written the life of Antony. This one of them began to read, marvel at, and be inflamed by it; and in the reading, to meditate on embracing such a life, and giving up his worldly employments to serve Thee. And these were of the body called "Agents for Public Affairs." [657] Then, suddenly being overwhelmed with a holy love and a sober sense of shame, in anger with himself, he cast his eyes upon his friend, exclaiming, "Tell me, I entreat thee, what end we are striving for by all these labours of ours. What is our aim? What is our motive in doing service? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to be ministers of the emperor? And in such a position, what is there not brittle, and fraught with danger, and by how many dangers arrive we at greater danger? And when arrive we thither? But if I desire to become a friend of God, behold, I am even now made it." Thus spake he, and in the pangs of the travail of the new life, he turned his eyes again upon the page and continued reading, and was inwardly changed where Thou sawest, and his mind was divested of the world, as soon became evident; for as he read, and the surging of his heart rolled along, he raged awhile, discerned and resolved on a better course, and now, having become Thine, he said to his friend, "Now have I broken loose from those hopes of ours, and am determined to serve God; and this, from this hour, in this place, I enter upon. If thou art reluctant to imitate me, hinder me not." The other replied that he would cleave to him, to share in so great a reward and so great a service. Thus both of them, being now Thine, were building a tower at the necessary cost, [658] --of forsaking all that they had and following Thee. Then Pontitianus, and he that had walked with him through other parts of the garden, came in search of them to the same place, and having found them, reminded them to return as the day had declined. But they, making known to him their resolution and purpose, and how such a resolve had sprung up and become confirmed in them, entreated them not to molest them, if they refused to join themselves unto them. But the others, no whit changed from their former selves, did yet (as he said) bewail themselves, and piously congratulated them, recommending themselves to their prayers; and with their hearts inclining towards earthly things, returned to the palace. But the other two, setting their affections upon heavenly things, remained in the cottage. And both of them had affianced brides, who, when they heard of this, dedicated also their virginity unto God.

Footnotes

[652] Ps. xix. 14. [653] It may be well here to say a few words in regard to Monachism and Antony's relation to it:--(1) There is much in the later Platonism, with its austerities and bodily mortifications (see vii. sec. 13, note 2, above), which is in common with the asceticism of the early Church. The Therapeutæ of Philo, indeed, of whom there were numbers in the neighbourhood of Alexandria in the first century, may be considered as the natural forerunners of the Egyptian monks. (2) Monachism, according to Sozomen (i. 12), had its origin in a desire to escape persecution by retirement into the wilderness. It is probable, however, that, as in the case of Paul the hermit of Thebais, the desire for freedom from the cares of life, so that by contemplation and mortification of the body, the logos or inner reason (which was held to be an emanation of God) might be purified, had as much to do with the hermit life as a fear of persecution. Mosheim, indeed (Ecc. Hist. i. part 2, c. 3), supposes Paul to have been influenced entirely by these Platonic notions. (3) Antony was born in the district of Thebes, A.D. 251, and visited Paul in the Egyptian desert a little before his death. To Antony is the world indebted for establishing communities of monks, as distinguished from the solitary asceticism of Paul; he therefore is rightly viewed as the founder of Monachism. He appears to have known little more than how to speak his native Coptic, yet during his long life (said to have been 100 years) he by his fervent enthusiasm made for himself a name little inferior to that of the "king of men," Athanasius, whom in the time of the Arian troubles he stedfastly supported, and by whom his life has been handed down to us. Augustin, in his De Doctr. Christ. (Prol. sec. 4), speaks of him as "a just and holy man, who, not being able to read himself, is said to have committed the Scriptures to memory through hearing them read by others, and by dint of wise meditation to have arrived at a thorough understanding of them." (4) According to Sozomen (iii. 14), monasteries had not been established in Europe A.D. 340. They were, Baronius tells us, introduced into Rome about that date by Athanasius, during a visit to that city. Athanasius mentions "ascetics" as dwelling at Rome A.D. 355. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Martin, Bishop of Tours, and Jerome were enthusiastic suppporters of the system. (5) Monachism in Europe presented more of its practical and less of its contemplative side, than in its cradle in the East. An example of how the monks of the East did work for the good of others is seen in the instance of the monks of Pachomius; still in this respect, as in matters of doctrine, the West has generally shown itself more practical than the East. Probably climate and the style of living consequent thereon have much to do with this. Sulpicius Severus (dial. i. 2, De Vita Martini) may be taken to give a quaint illustration of this, when he makes one of his characters say, as he hears of the mode of living of the Eastern monks, that their diet was only suited to angels. However mistaken we may think the monkish systems to be, it cannot be concealed that in the days of anarchy and semi-barbarism they were oftentimes centres of civilisation. Certainly in its originating idea of meditative seclusion, there is much that is worthy of commendation; for, as Farindon has it (Works, iv. 130), "This has been the practice not only of holy men, but of heathen men. Thus did Tully, and Antony, and Crassus make way to that honour and renown which they afterwards purchased in eloquence (Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 13, viii. 7); thus did they pass a solitudine in scholas, a scholis in forum,--`from their secret retirement into the schools, and from the schools into the pleading-place.'" [654] Augustin, when comparing Christian with Manichæan asceticism, says in his De Mor. Eccl. Cath. (sec. 70), "I saw at Milan a lodging-house of saints, in number not a few, presided over by one presbyter, a man of great excellence and learning." In the previous note we have given the generally received opinion, that the first monastery in Europe was established at Rome. It may be mentioned here that Muratori maintains that the institution was transplanted from the East first to Milan; others contend that the first European society was at Aquileia. [655] See vi. sec. 12, note 1, above. [656] Matt. v. 3. Roman commentators are ever ready to use this text of Scripture as an argument in favour of monastic poverty, and some may feel disposed from its context to imagine such an interpretation to be implied in this place. This, however, can hardly be so. Augustin constantly points out in his sermons, etc. in what the poverty that is pleasing to God consists. "Pauper Dei," he says (in Ps. cxxxi. 15), "in animo est, non in sacculo;" and his interpretation of this passage in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (i. 3) is entirely opposed to the Roman view. We there read: "The poor in spirit are rightly understood here as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not a spirit which puffeth up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to reach the highest wisdom. `The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. cxi. 10); whereas, on the other hand also, `pride' is entitled `the beginning of all sin' (Ecclus. x. 13). Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth, but `blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'" [657] "Agentes in rebus. There was a society of them still about the court. Their militia or employments were to gather in the emperor's tributes; to fetch in offenders; to do Palatini obsequia, offices of court provide corn, etc., ride on errands like messengers of the chamber, lie abroad as spies and intelligencers. They were often preferred to places of magistracy in the provinces; such were called Principes or Magistriani. St. Hierome upon Abdias, c. 1, calls them messengers. They succeeded the Frumentarii, between which two and the Curiosi and the Speculatores there was not much difference."--W. W. [658] Luke xiv. 26-35.


Chapter VII.--He Deplores His Wretchedness, that Having Been Born Thirty-Two Years, He Had Not Yet Found Out the Truth.

16. Such was the story of Pontitianus. But Thou, O Lord, whilst he was speaking, didst turn me towards myself, taking me from behind my back, where I had placed myself while unwilling to exercise self-scrutiny; and Thou didst set me face to face with myself, that I might behold how foul I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld and loathed myself; and whither to fly from myself I discovered not. And if I sought to turn my gaze away from myself, he continued his narrative, and Thou again opposedst me unto myself, and thrustedst me before my own eyes, that I might discover my iniquity, and hate it. [659] I had known it, but acted as though I knew it not,--winked at it, and forgot it.

17. But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I heard tell of, that they had given up themselves wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself when compared with them. For many of my years (perhaps twelve) had passed away since my nineteenth, when, on the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, [660] I was roused to a desire for wisdom; and still I was delaying to reject mere worldly happiness, and to devote myself to search out that whereof not the finding alone, but the bare search, [661] ought to have been preferred before the treasures and kingdoms of this world, though already found, and before the pleasures of the body, though encompassing me at my will. But I, miserable young man, supremely miserable even in the very outset of my youth, had entreated chastity of Thee, and said, "Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet." For I was afraid lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon deliver me from the disease of concupiscence, which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through perverse ways in a sacrilegious superstition; not indeed assured thereof, but preferring that to the others, which I did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously.

18. And I had thought that I delayed from day to day to reject worldly hopes and follow Thee only, because there did not appear anything certain whereunto to direct my course. And now had the day arrived in which I was to be laid bare to myself, and my conscience was to chide me. "Where art thou, O my tongue? Thou saidst, verily, that for an uncertain truth thou wert not willing to cast off the baggage of vanity. Behold, now it is certain, and yet doth that burden still oppress thee; whereas they who neither have so worn themselves out with searching after it, nor yet have spent ten years and more in thinking thereon, have had their shoulders unburdened, and gotten wings to fly away." Thus was I inwardly consumed and mightily confounded with an horrible shame, while Pontitianus was relating these things. And he, having finished his story, and the business he came for, went his way. And unto myself, what said I not within myself? With what scourges of rebuke lashed I not my soul to make it follow me, struggling to go after Thee! Yet it drew back; it refused, and exercised not itself. All its arguments were exhausted and confuted. There remained a silent trembling; and it feared, as it would death, to be restrained from the flow of that custom whereby it was wasting away even to death.

Footnotes

[659] Ps. xxxvi. 2. [660] See iii. sec. 7, above. [661] It is interesting to compare with this passage the views contained in Augustin's three books, Con. Academicos,--the earliest of his extant works, and written about this time. Licentius there maintains that the "bare search" for truth renders a man happy, while Trygetius contends that the "finding alone" can produce happiness. Augustin does not agree with the doctrine of the former, and points out that while the Academics held the probable to be attainable, it could not be so without the true, by which the probable is measured and known. And, in his De Vita Beata, he contends that he who seeks truth and finds it not, has not attained happiness, and that though the grace of God be indeed guiding him, he must not expect complete happiness (Retractations, i. 2) till after death. Perhaps no sounder philosophy can be found than that evidenced in the life of Victor Hugo's good Bishop Myriel, who rested in the practice of love, and was content to look for perfect happiness, and a full unfolding of God's mysteries, to the future life:--"Aimez-vous les uns les autres, il declarait cela complet, ne souhaitait rien de plus et c'était la toute sa doctrine. Un jour, cet homme qui se croyait `philosophe,' ce senateur, déja nommé, dit a l'évêque: `Mais voyez donc le spectacle du monde; guerre de tous contre tous; le plus fort a le plus d'ésprit. Votre aimez-vous les uns les autres est une bêtise.'--`Eh bien,' répondit Monseigneur Bienvenu, sans disputer, `si c'est une bêtise, l'âme doit s'y enfermer comme la perle dans l'huitre.' Il s'y enfermait donc, il y vivait, il s'en satisfaisait absolument, laissant de cité les questions prodigieuses qui attirent et qui épouvantent, les perspectives insoudables de l'abstraction, les précipices de la métaphysique, toutes ces profondeurs convergentes, pour l'apitre, a Dieu, pour l'athée, au néant: la destinée, le bien et le mal, la guerre de l'être contre l'être, la conscience de l'homme, le somnambulisme pensif de l'animal, la transformation par la mort, la récapitulation d'existences qui contient le tombeau, la greffe incompréhensible des amours successifs sur le moi persistant, l'essence, la substance, le Nil et l'Ens, l'âme, la nature, la liberté, la nécessité; problèmes a pic, épaisseurs sinistres, où se penchent les gigantesques archanges de l'ésprit humain; formidables abimes que Lucrèce, Manon, Saint Paul, et Dante contemplent avec cet oeil fulgurant qui semble, en regardant fixement l'infini, y faire eclore les étoiles. Monseigneur Bienvenu était simplement un homme qui constatait du dehors les questions mystérieuses sans les scruter, sans les agiter, et sans en troubler son propre ésprit; et qui avait dans l'âme le grave respect de l'ombre."--Les Misérables, c. xiv.


Chapter VIII.--The Conversation with Alypius Being Ended, He Retires to the Garden, Whither His Friend Follows Him.

19. In the midst, then, of this great strife of my inner dwelling, which I had strongly raised up against my soul in the chamber of my heart, [662] troubled both in mind and countenance, I seized upon Alypius, and exclaimed: "What is wrong with us? What is this? What heardest thou? The unlearned start up and `take' heaven, [663] and we, with our learning, but wanting heart, see where we wallow in flesh and blood! Because others have preceded us, are we ashamed to follow, and not rather ashamed at not following?" Some such words I gave utterance to, and in my excitement flung myself from him, while he gazed upon me in silent astonishment. For I spoke not in my wonted tone, and my brow, cheeks, eyes, colour, tone of voice, all expressed my emotion more than the words. There was a little garden belonging to our lodging, of which we had the use, as of the whole house; for the master, our landlord, did not live there. Thither had the tempest within my breast hurried me, where no one might impede the fiery struggle in which I was engaged with myself, until it came to the issue that Thou knewest, though I did not. But I was mad that I might be whole, and dying that I might have life, knowing what evil thing I was, but not knowing what good thing I was shortly to become. Into the garden, then, I retired, Alypius following my steps. For his presence was no bar to my solitude; or how could he desert me so troubled? We sat down at as great a distance from the house as we could. I was disquieted in spirit, being most impatient with myself that I entered not into Thy will and covenant, O my God, which all my bones cried out unto me to enter, extolling it to the skies. And we enter not therein by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, nor by going so far as I had come from the house to that place where we were sitting. For not to go only, but to enter there, was naught else but to will to go, but to will it resolutely and thoroughly; not to stagger and sway about this way and that, a changeable and half-wounded will, wrestling, with one part falling as another rose.

20. Finally, in the very fever of my irresolution, I made many of those motions with my body which men sometimes desire to do, but cannot, if either they have not the limbs, or if their limbs be bound with fetters, weakened by disease, or hindered in any other way. Thus, if I tore my hair, struck my forehead, or if, entwining my fingers, I clasped my knee, this I did because I willed it. But I might have willed and not done it, if the power of motion in my limbs had not responded. So many things, then, I did, when to have the will was not to have the power, and I did not that which both with an unequalled desire I longed more to do, and which shortly when I should will I should have the power to do; because shortly when I should will, I should will thoroughly. For in such things the power was one with the will, and to will was to do, and yet was it not done; and more readily did the body obey the slightest wish of the soul in the moving its limbs at the order of the mind, than the soul obeyed itself to accomplish in the will alone this its great will.

Footnotes

[662] Isa. xxvi. 20, and Matt. vi. 6. [663] Matt. xi. 12.


Chapter IX.--That the Mind Commandeth the Mind, But It Willeth Not Entirely.

21. Whence is this monstrous thing? And why is it? Let Thy mercy shine on me, that I may inquire, if so be the hiding-places of man's punishment, and the darkest contritions of the sons of Adam, may perhaps answer me. Whence is this monstrous thing? and why is it? The mind commands the body, and it obeys forthwith; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The mind commands the hand to be moved, and such readiness is there that the command is scarce to be distinguished from the obedience. Yet the mind is mind, and the hand is body. The mind commands the mind to will, and yet, though it be itself, it obeyeth not. Whence this monstrous thing? and why is it? I repeat, it commands itself to will, and would not give the command unless it willed; yet is not that done which it commandeth. But it willeth not entirely; therefore it commandeth not entirely. For so far forth it commandeth, as it willeth; and so far forth is the thing commanded not done, as it willeth not. For the will commandeth that there be a will;--not another, but itself. But it doth not command entirely, therefore that is not which it commandeth. For were it entire, it would not even command it to be, because it would already be. It is, therefore, no monstrous thing partly to will, partly to be unwilling, but an infirmity of the mind, that it doth not wholly rise, sustained by truth, pressed down by custom. And so there are two wills, because one of them is not entire; and the one is supplied with what the other needs.


Chapter X.--He Refutes the Opinion of the Manichæans as to Two Kinds of Minds,--One Good and the Other Evil.

22. Let them perish from Thy presence, [664] O God, as "vain talkers and deceivers" [665] of the soul do perish, who, observing that there were two wills in deliberating, affirm that there are two kinds of minds in us,--one good, the other evil. [666] They themselves verily are evil when they hold these evil opinions; and they shall become good when they hold the truth, and shall consent unto the truth, that Thy apostle may say unto them, "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." [667] But, they, desiring to be light, not "in the Lord," but in themselves, conceiving the nature of the soul to be the same as that which God is, [668] are made more gross darkness; for that through a shocking arrogancy they went farther from Thee, "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." [669] Take heed what you say, and blush for shame; draw near unto Him and be "lightened," and your faces shall not be "ashamed." [670] I, when I was deliberating upon serving the Lord my God now, as I had long purposed,--I it was who willed, I who was unwilling. It was I, even I myself. I neither willed entirely, nor was entirely unwilling. Therefore was I at war with myself, and destroyed by myself. And this destruction overtook me against my will, and yet showed not the presence of another mind, but the punishment of mine own. [671] "Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me," [672] --the punishment of a more unconfined sin, in that I was a son of Adam.

23. For if there be as many contrary natures as there are conflicting wills, there will not now be two natures only, but many. If any one deliberate whether he should go to their conventicle, or to the theatre, those men [673] at once cry out, "Behold, here are two natures,--one good, drawing this way, another bad, drawing back that way; for whence else is this indecision between conflicting wills?" But I reply that both are bad--that which draws to them, and that which draws back to the theatre. But they believe not that will to be other than good which draws to them. Supposing, then, one of us should deliberate, and through the conflict of his two wills should waver whether he should go to the theatre or to our church, would not these also waver what to answer? For either they must confess, which they are not willing to do, that the will which leads to our church is good, as well as that of those who have received and are held by the mysteries of theirs, or they must imagine that there are two evil natures and two evil minds in one man, at war one with the other; and that will not be true which they say, that there is one good and another bad; or they must be converted to the truth, and no longer deny that where any one deliberates, there is one soul fluctuating between conflicting wills.

24. Let them no more say, then, when they perceive two wills to be antagonistic to each other in the same man, that the contest is between two opposing minds, of two opposing substances, from two opposing principles, the one good and the other bad. For Thou, O true God, dost disprove, check, and convince them; like as when both wills are bad, one deliberates whether he should kill a man by poison, or by the sword; whether he should take possession of this or that estate of another's, when he cannot both; whether he should purchase pleasure by prodigality, or retain his money by covetousness; whether he should go to the circus or the theatre, if both are open on the same day; or, thirdly, whether he should rob another man's house, if he have the opportunity; or, fourthly, whether he should commit adultery, if at the same time he have the means of doing so,--all these things concurring in the same point of time, and all being equally longed for, although impossible to be enacted at one time. For they rend the mind amid four, or even (among the vast variety of things men desire) more antagonistic wills, nor do they yet affirm that there are so many different substances. Thus also is it in wills which are good. For I ask them, is it a good thing to have delight in reading the apostle, or good to have delight in a sober psalm, or good to discourse on the gospel? To each of these they will answer, "It is good." What, then, if all equally delight us, and all at the same time? Do not different wills distract the mind, when a man is deliberating which he should rather choose? Yet are they all good, and are at variance until one be fixed upon, whither the whole united will may be borne, which before was divided into many. Thus, also, when above eternity delights us, and the pleasure of temporal good holds us down below, it is the same soul which willeth not that or this with an entire will, and is therefore torn asunder with grievous perplexities, while out of truth it prefers that, but out of custom forbears not this.

Footnotes

[664] Ps. lxviii. 2. [665] Titus i. 10. [666] And that therefore they were not responsible for their evil deeds, it not being they that sinned, but the nature of evil in them. See iv. sec. 26, and note, above, where the Manichæan doctrines in this matter are fully treated. [667] Eph. v. 8. [668] See iv. sec. 26, note, above. [669] John i. 9. [670] Ps. xxxiv. 5. [671] See v. sec. 2, note 6, above, and x. sec. 5, note, below. [672] Rom. vii. 17. [673] The Manichæans.


Chapter XI.--In What Manner the Spirit Struggled with the Flesh, that It Might Be Freed from the Bondage of Vanity.

25. Thus was I sick and tormented, accusing myself far more severely than was my wont, tossing and turning me in my chain till that was utterly broken, whereby I now was but slightly, but still was held. And Thou, O Lord, pressedst upon me in my inward parts by a severe mercy, redoubling the lashes of fear and shame, lest I should again give way, and that same slender remaining tie not being broken off, it should recover strength, and enchain me the faster. For I said mentally, "Lo, let it be done now, let it be done now." And as I spoke, I all but came to a resolve. I all but did it, yet I did it not. Yet fell I not back to my old condition, but took up my position hard by, and drew breath. And I tried again, and wanted but very little of reaching it, and somewhat less, and then all but touched and grasped it; and yet came not at it, nor touched, nor grasped it, hesitating to die unto death, and to live unto life; and the worse, whereto I had been habituated, prevailed more with me than the better, which I had not tried. And the very moment in which I was to become another man, the nearer it approached me, the greater horror did it strike into me; but it did not strike me back, nor turn me aside, but kept me in suspense.

26. The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, still enthralled me; they shook my fleshly garment, and whispered softly, "Dost thou part with us? And from that moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? And from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?" And what did they suggest to me in the words "this or that?" What is it that they suggested, O my God? Let Thy mercy avert it from the soul of Thy servant. What impurities did they suggest! What shame! And now I far less than half heard them, not openly showing themselves and contradicting me, but muttering, as it were, behind my back, and furtively plucking me as I was departing, to make me look back upon them. Yet they did delay me, so that I hesitated to burst and shake myself free from them, and to leap over whither I was called,--an unruly habit saying to me, "Dost thou think thou canst live without them?"

27. But now it said this very faintly; for on that side towards which I had set my face, and whither I trembled to go, did the chaste dignity of Continence appear unto me, cheerful, but not dissolutely gay, honestly alluring me to come and doubt nothing, and extending her holy hands, full of a multiplicity of good examples, to receive and embrace me. There were there so many young men and maidens, a multitude of youth and every age, grave widows and ancient virgins, and Continence herself in all, not barren, but a fruitful mother of children of joys, by Thee, O Lord, her Husband. And she smiled on me with an encouraging mockery, as if to say, "Canst not thou do what these youths and maidens can? Or can one or other do it of themselves, and not rather in the Lord their God? The Lord their God gave me unto them. Why standest thou in thine own strength, and so standest not? Cast thyself upon Him; fear not, He will not withdraw that thou shouldest fall; cast thyself upon Him without fear, He will receive thee, and heal thee." And I blushed beyond measure, for I still heard the muttering of those toys, and hung in suspense. And she again seemed to say, "Shut up thine ears against those unclean members of thine upon the earth, that they may be mortified. [674] They tell thee of delights, but not as doth the law of the Lord thy God." [675] This controversy in my heart was naught but self against self. But Alypius, sitting close by my side, awaited in silence [676] the result of my unwonted emotion.

Footnotes

[674] Col. iii. 5. [675] Ps. cxix. 85, Old ver. [676] As in nature, the men of science tell us, no two atoms touch, but that, while an inner magnetism draws them together, a secret repulsion keeps them apart, so it is with human souls. Into our deepest feelings our dearest friends cannot enter. In the throes of conversion, for example, God's ministering servants may assist, but He alone can bring the soul to the birth. So it was here in the case of Augustin. He felt that now even the presence of his dear friend would be a burden,--God alone could come near, so as to heal the sore wound of his spirit--and Alypius was a friend who knew how to keep silence, and to await the issue of his friend's profound emotion. How comfortable a thing to find in those who would give consolation the spirit that animated the friends of Job, when "they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great" (Job ii. 13). Well has Rousseau said: "Les consolations indiscrètes ne font qu' aigrir les violentes afflictions. L' indifference et la froideur trouvent aisément des paroles, mais la tristesse et le silence sont alors le vrai langage de l'amitié." A beautiful exemplification of this is found in Victor Hugo's portrait of Bishop Myriel, in Les Misérables (c. iv.), from which we have quoted a few pages back:--"Il savait s'asseoir et se taire de longues heures auprès de l'homme que avait perdu la femme qu'ii aimait, de la mére qui avait perdu son enfant. Comme il savait le moment de se taire, il savait aussi le moment de parler. O admirable consolateur! il ne cherchait pas a effacer la douleur par l'oubli, mais a l'agrandir et a la dignifier par l'ésperance."


Chapter XII.--Having Prayed to God, He Pours Forth a Shower of Tears, And, Admonished by a Voice, He Opens the Book and Reads the Words in Rom. XIII. 13; By Which, Being Changed in His Whole Soul, He Discloses the Divine Favour to His Friend and His Mother.

28. But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. Which, that I might pour forth fully, with its natural expressions, I stole away from Alypius; for it suggested itself to me that solitude was fitter for the business of weeping. [677] So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus was it with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and in that state had I risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, most completely astonished. I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. [678] And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee,--"But Thou, O Lord, how long?" [679] "How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry for ever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities;" [680] for I felt that I was enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries,--"How long, how long? Tomorrow, and tomorrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?"

29. I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first Chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony, [681] that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." [682] And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell,--"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." [683] No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended,--by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart,--all the gloom of doubt vanished away.

30. Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrought in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This it was, verily, "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye;" [684] which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother. We make it known to her,--she rejoiceth. We relate how it came to pass,--she leapeth for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, who art "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; [685] for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other of this world's hopes,--standing in that rule of faith [686] in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her in a vision. And thou didst turn her grief into a gladness, [687] much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my body.

Footnotes

[677] See note 3, page 71. [678] 1 Pet. ii. 5. [679] Ps. vi. 3 [680] Ps. lxxix. 5, 8. [681] See his Life by St. Athanasius, secs. 2, 3. [682] Matt. xix. 2l. [683] Rom. xiii. 13, 14. [684] Rom. xiv. 1. [685] Eph. iii. 20. [686] See book iii. sec. 19. [687] Ps. xxx. 11.


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