Writings of Augustine. The Confessions of St. Augustin

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The Confessions of St. Augustin

St. Aurelius Augustin, Bishop of Hippo

In Thirteen Books

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

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

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Book IX.

He speaks of his design of forsaking the profession of rhetoric; of the death of his friends, Nebridius and Verecundus; of having received baptism in the thirty-third year of his age; and of the virtues and death of his mother, Monica.


Chapter I.--He Praises God, the Author of Safety, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, Acknowledging His Own Wickedness.

1. "O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving." [688] Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee, and let all my bones say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee?" [689] Let them so say, and answer Thou me, and "say unto my soul, I am Thy salvation." [690] Who am I, and what is my nature? How evil have not my deeds been; or if not my deeds, my words; or if not my words, my will? But Thou, O Lord, art good and merciful, and Thy right hand had respect unto the profoundness of my death, and removed from the bottom of my heart that abyss of corruption. And this was the result, that I willed not to do what I willed, and willed to do what thou willedst. [691] But where, during all those years, and out of what deep and secret retreat was my free will summoned forth in a moment, whereby I gave my neck to Thy "easy yoke," and my shoulders to Thy "light burden," [692] O Christ Jesus, "my strength and my Redeemer"? [693] How sweet did it suddenly become to me to be without the delights of trifles! And what at one time I feared to lose, it was now a joy to me to put away. [694] For Thou didst cast them away from me, Thou true and highest sweetness. Thou didst cast them away, and instead of them didst enter in Thyself, [695] --sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more veiled than all mysteries; more exalted than all honour, but not to the exalted in their own conceits. Now was my soul free from the gnawing cares of seeking and getting, and of wallowing and exciting the itch of lust. And I babbled unto Thee my brightness, my riches, and my health, the Lord my God.

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Footnotes

[688] Ps. cxvi. 16, 17. [689] Ibid. xxxv. 10. [690] Ibid. xxxv. 3. [691] Volebas, though a few mss. have nolebas; and Watts accordingly renders "nilledst." [692] Matt. xi. 30. [693] Ps. xix. 14.
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[694] Archbishop Trench, in his exposition of the parable of the Hid Treasure, which the man who found sold all that he had to buy, remarks on this passage of the Confessions: "Augustin excellently illustrates from his own experience this part of the parable. Describing the crisis of his own conversion, and how easy he found it, through this joy, to give up all those pleasures of sin that he had long dreaded to be obliged to renounce, which had long held him fast bound in the chains of evil custom, and which if he renounced, it had seemed to him as though life itself would not be worth the living, he exclaims, `How sweet did it suddenly become to me,'" etc. [695] His love of earthly things was expelled by the indwelling love of God, "for," as he says in his De Musica, vi. 52, "the love of the things of time could only be expelled by some sweetness of things eternal." Compare also Dr. Chalmers' sermon on The Expulsive Power of a New Affection (the ninth of his "Commercial Discourses"), where this idea is expanded.


Chapter II.--As His Lungs Were Affected, He Meditates Withdrawing Himself from Public Favour.

2. And it seemed good to me, as before Thee, not tumultuously to snatch away, but gently to withdraw the service of my tongue from the talker's trade; that the young, who thought not on Thy law, nor on Thy peace, but on mendacious follies and forensic strifes, might no longer purchase at my mouth equipments for their vehemence. And opportunely there wanted but a few days unto the Vacation of the Vintage; [696] and I determined to endure them, in order to leave in the usual way, and, being redeemed by Thee, no more to return for sale. Our intention then was known to Thee; but to men--excepting our own friends--was it not known. For we had determined among ourselves not to let it get abroad to any; although Thou hadst given to us, ascending from the valley of tears, [697] and singing the song of degrees, "sharp arrows," and destroying coals, against the "deceitful tongue," [698] which in giving counsel opposes, and in showing love consumes, as it is wont to do with its food.

3. Thou hadst penetrated our hearts with Thy charity, and we carried Thy words fixed, as it were, in our bowels; and the examples of Thy servant, whom of black Thou hadst made bright, and of dead, alive, crowded in the bosom of our thoughts, burned and consumed our heavy torpor, that we might not topple into the abyss; and they enkindled us exceedingly, that every breath of the deceitful tongue of the gainsayer might inflame us the more, not extinguish us. Nevertheless, because for Thy name's sake which Thou hast sanctified throughout the earth, this, our vow and purpose, might also find commenders, it looked like a vaunting of oneself not to wait for the vacation, now so near, but to leave beforehand a public profession, and one, too, under general observation; so that all who looked on this act of mine, and saw how near was the vintage-time I desired to anticipate, would talk of me a great deal as if I were trying to appear to be a great person. And what purpose would it serve that people should consider and dispute about my intention, and that our good should be evil spoken of? [699]

4. Furthermore, this very summer, from too great literary labour, my lungs [700] began to be weak, and with difficulty to draw deep breaths; showing by the pains in my chest that they were affected, and refusing too loud or prolonged speaking. This had at first been a trial to me, for it compelled me almost of necessity to lay down that burden of teaching; or, if I could be cured and become strong again, at least to leave it off for a while. But when the full desire for leisure, that I might see that Thou art the Lord, [701] arose, and was confirmed in me, my God, Thou knowest I even began to rejoice that I had this excuse ready,--and that not a feigned one,--which might somewhat temper the offence taken by those who for their sons' good wished me never to have the freedom of sons. Full, therefore, with such joy, I bore it till that period of time had passed,--perhaps it was some twenty days,--yet they were bravely borne; for the cupidity which was wont to sustain part of this weighty business had departed, and I had remained overwhelmed had not its place been supplied by patience. Some of Thy servants, my brethren, may perchance say that I sinned in this, in that having once fully, and from my heart, entered on Thy warfare, I permitted myself to sit a single hour in the seat of falsehood. I will not contend. But hast not Thou, O most merciful Lord, pardoned and remitted this sin also, with my others, so horrible and deadly, in the holy water?

Footnotes

[696] "In harvest and vintage time had the lawyers their vacation. So Minutius Felix. Scholars, their Non Terminus, as here; yea, divinity lectures and catechizings then ceased. So Cyprian, Ep. 2. The law terms gave way also to the great festivals of the Church. Theodosius forbade any process to go out from fifteen days before Easter till the Sunday after. For the four Terms, see Caroli Calvi, Capitula, Act viii. p. 90."--W. W. [697] Ps. lxxxiv. 6. [698] Ps. cxx. 3, 4, according to the Old Ver. This passage has many difficulties we need not enter into. The Vulgate, however, we may say, renders verse 3: "Quid detur tibi aut quid apponatur tibi ad linguam dolosam,"--that is, shall be given as a defence against the tongues of evil speakers. In this way Augustin understands it, and in his commentary on this place makes the fourth verse give the answer to the third. Thus, "sharp arrows" he interprets to be the word of God, and "destroying coals" those who, being converted to Him, have become examples to the ungodly. [699] Rom. xiv. 16. [700] In his De Vita Beata, sec. 4, and Con. Acad. i. 3, he also alludes to this weakness of his chest. He was therefore led to give up his professorship, partly from this cause, and partly from a desire to devote himself more entirely to God's service. See also p. 115, note. [701] Ps. xlvi. 10.


Chapter III.--He Retires to the Villa of His Friend Verecundus, Who Was Not Yet a Christian, and Refers to His Conversion and Death, as Well as that of Nebridius.

5. Verecundus was wasted with anxiety at that our happiness, since he, being most firmly held by his bonds, saw that he would lose our fellowship. For he was not yet a Christian, though his wife was one of the faithful; [702] and yet hereby, being more firmly enchained than by anything else, was he held back from that journey which we had commenced. Nor, he declared, did he wish to be a Christian on any other terms than those that were impossible. However, he invited us most courteously to make use of his country house so long as we should stay there. Thou, O Lord, wilt "recompense" him for this "at the resurrection of the just," [703] seeing that Thou hast already given him "the lot of the righteous." [704] For although, when we were absent at Rome, he, being overtaken with bodily sickness, and therein being made a Christian, and one of the faithful, departed this life, yet hadst Thou mercy on him, and not on him only, but on us also; [705] lest, thinking on the exceeding kindness of our friend to us, and unable to count him in Thy flock, we should be tortured with intolerable grief. Thanks be unto Thee, our God, we are Thine. Thy exhortations, consolations, and faithful promises assure us that Thou now repayest Verecundus for that country house at Cassiacum, where from the fever of the world we found rest in Thee, with the perpetual freshness of Thy Paradise, in that Thou hast forgiven him his earthly sins, in that mountain flowing with milk, [706] that fruitful mountain,--Thine own.

6. He then was at that time full of grief; but Nebridius was joyous. Although he also, not being yet a Christian, had fallen into the pit of that most pernicious error of believing Thy Son to be a phantasm, [707] yet, coming out thence, he held the same belief that we did; not as yet initiated in any of the sacraments of Thy Church, but a most earnest inquirer after truth. [708] Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by Thy baptism, he being also a faithful member of the Catholic Church, and serving Thee in perfect chastity and continency amongst his own people in Africa, when his whole household had been brought to Christianity through him, didst Thou release from the flesh; and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. Whatever that may be which is signified by that bosom, [709] there lives my Nebridius, my sweet friend, Thy son, O Lord, adopted of a freedman; there he liveth. For what other place could there be for such a soul? There liveth he, concerning which he used to ask me much,--me, an inexperienced, feeble one. Now he puts not his ear unto my mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto Thy fountain, and drinketh as much as he is able, wisdom according to his desire,--happy without end. Nor do I believe that he is so inebriated with it as to forget me, [710] seeing Thou, O Lord, whom he drinketh, art mindful of us. Thus, then, were we comforting the sorrowing Verecundus (our friendship being untouched) concerning our conversion, and exhorting him to a faith according to his condition, I mean, his married state. And tarrying for Nebridius to follow us, which being so near, he was just about to do, when, behold, those days passed over at last; for long and many they seemed, on account of my love of easeful liberty, that I might sing unto Thee from my very marrow. My heart said unto Thee,--I have sought Thy face; "Thy face, Lord, will I seek." [711]

Footnotes

[702] See vi. sec. 1, note, above. [703] Luke xiv. 14. [704] Ps. cxxv. 2. [705] Phil. ii. 27. [706] Literally, In monte incaseato, "the mountain of curds," from the Old Ver. of Ps. lxviii. 16. The Vulgate renders coagulatus. But the Authorized Version is nearer the true meaning, when it renders G+uaB+N+N+iJ+M%, hunched, as "high." The LXX. renders it teturomenos, condensed, as if from G+uB+iJ+N+oH+, cheese. This divergence arises from the unused root G+uoB+aN%, to be curved, having derivatives meaning (1) "hunch-backed," when applied to the body, and (2) "cheese" or "curds," when applied to milk. Augustin, in his exposition of this place, makes the "mountain" to be Christ, and parallels it with Isa. ii. 2; and the "milk" he interprets of the grace that comes from Him for Christ's little ones: Ipse est mons incaseatus, propter parvulos gratia tanquam lacte nutriendos. [707] See. v. 16, note, above. [708] See vi. 17, note 6, above. [709] Though Augustin, in his Quæst. Evang. ii. qu. 38, makes Abraham's bosom to represent the rest into which the Gentiles entered after the Jews had put it from them, yet he, for the most part, in common with the early Church (see Serm. xiv. 3; Con. Faust. xxxiii. 5; and Eps. clxiv. 7, and clxxxvii. Compare also Tertullian, De Anima, lviii), takes it to mean the resting-place of the souls of the righteous after death. Abraham's bosom, indeed, is the same as the "Paradise" of Luke xxiii. 43. The souls of the faithful after they are delivered from the flesh are in "joy and felicity" (De Civ. Dei, i. 13, and xiii. 19); but they will not have "their perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul" until the morning of the resurrection, when they shall be endowed with "spiritual bodies." See note p. 111; and for the difference between the ades of Luke xvi. 23, that is, the place of departed spirits,--into which it is said in the Apostles' Creed Christ descended,--and geenna, or Hell, see Campbell on The Gospels, i. 253. In the A.V. both Greek words are rendered "Hell." [710] See sec. 37, note, below. [711] Ps. xxvii. 8.


Chapter IV.--In the Country He Gives His Attention to Literature, and Explains the Fourth Psalm in Connection with the Happy Conversion of Alypius. He is Troubled with Toothache.

7. And the day arrived on which, in very deed, I was to be released from the Professorship of Rhetoric, from which in intention I had been already released. And done it was; and Thou didst deliver my tongue whence Thou hadst already delivered my heart; and full of joy I blessed Thee for it, and retired with all mine to the villa. [712] What I accomplished here in writing, which was now wholly devoted to Thy service, though still, in this pause as it were, panting from the school of pride, my books testify, [713] --those in which I disputed with my friends, and those with myself alone [714] before Thee; and what with the absent Nebridius, my letters [715] testify. And when can I find time to recount all Thy great benefits which Thou bestowedst upon us at that time, especially as I am hasting on to still greater mercies? For my memory calls upon me, and pleasant it is to me, O Lord, to confess unto Thee, by what inward goads Thou didst subdue me, and how Thou didst make me low, bringing down the mountains and hills of my imaginations, and didst straighten my crookedness, and smooth my rough ways; [716] and by what means Thou also didst subdue that brother of my heart, Alypius, unto the name of Thy only-begotten, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which he at first refused to have inserted in our writings. For he rather desired that they should savour of the "cedars" of the schools, which the Lord hath now broken down, [717] than of the wholesome herbs of the Church, hostile to serpents.

8. What utterances sent I up unto Thee, my God, when I read the Psalms of David, [718] those faithful songs and sounds of devotion which exclude all swelling of spirit, when new to Thy true love, at rest in the villa with Alypius, a catechumen like myself, my mother cleaving unto us,--in woman's garb truly, but with a man's faith, with the peacefulness of age, full of motherly love and Christian piety! What utterances used I to send up unto Thee in those Psalms, and how was I inflamed towards Thee by them, and burned to rehearse them, if it were possible, throughout the whole world, against the pride of the human race! And yet they are sung throughout the whole world, and none can hide himself from Thy heat. [719] With what vehement and bitter sorrow was I indignant at the Manichæans; whom yet again I pitied, for that they were ignorant of those sacraments, those medicaments, and were mad against the antidote which might have made them sane! I wished that they had been somewhere near me then, and, without my being aware of their presence, could have beheld my face, and heard my words, when I read the fourth Psalm in that time of my leisure,--how that Psalm wrought upon me. When I called upon Thee, Thou didst hear me, O God of my righteousness; Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. [720] Oh that they might have heard what I uttered on these words, without my knowing whether they heard or no, lest they should think that I spake it because of them! For, of a truth, neither should I have said the same things, nor in the way I said them, if I had perceived that I was heard and seen by them; and had I spoken them, they would not so have received them as when I spake by and for myself before Thee, out of the private feelings of my soul.

9. I alternately quaked with fear, and warmed with hope, and with rejoicing in Thy mercy, O Father. And all these passed forth, both by mine eyes and voice, when Thy good Spirit, turning unto us, said, O ye sons of men, how long will ye be slow of heart? "How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing?" [721] For I had loved vanity, and sought after leasing. And Thou, O Lord, hadst already magnified Thy Holy One, raising Him from the dead, and setting Him at Thy right hand, [722] whence from on high He should send His promise, [723] the Paraclete, "the Spirit of Truth." [724] And He had already sent Him, [725] but I knew it not; He had sent Him, because He was now magnified, rising again from the dead, and ascending into heaven. For till then "the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." [726] And the prophet cries out, How long will ye be slow of heart? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Know this, that the Lord hath magnified His Holy One. He cries out, "How long?" He cries out, "Know this," and I, so long ignorant, "loved vanity, and sought after leasing." And therefore I heard and trembled, because these words were spoken unto such as I remembered that I myself had been. For in those phantasms which I once held for truths was there "vanity" and "leasing." And I spake many things loudly and earnestly, in the sorrow of my remembrance, which, would that they who yet "love vanity and seek after leasing" had heard! They would perchance have been troubled, and have vomited it forth, and Thou wouldest hear them when they cried unto Thee; [727] for by a true [728] death in the flesh He died for us, who now maketh intercession for us [729] with Thee.

10. I read further, "Be ye angry, and sin not." [730] And how was I moved, O my God, who had now learned to "be angry" with myself for the things past, so that in the future I might not sin! Yea, to be justly angry; for that it was not another nature of the race of darkness [731] which sinned for me, as they affirm it to be who are not angry with themselves, and who treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and of the revelation of Thy righteous judgment. [732] Nor were my good things [733] now without, nor were they sought after with eyes of flesh in that sun; [734] for they that would have joy from without easily sink into oblivion, and are wasted upon those things which are seen and temporal, and in their starving thoughts do lick their very shadows. Oh, if only they were wearied out with their fasting, and said, "Who will show us any good?" [735] And we would answer, and they hear, O Lord. The light of Thy countenance is lifted up upon us. [736] For we are not that Light, which lighteth every man, [737] but we are enlightened by Thee, that we, who were sometimes darkness, may be light in Thee. [738] Oh that they could behold the internal Eternal, [739] which having tasted I gnashed my teeth that I could not show It to them, while they brought me their heart in their eyes, roaming abroad from Thee, and said, "Who will show us any good?" But there, where I was angry with myself in my chamber, where I was inwardly pricked, where I had offered my "sacrifice," slaying my old man, and beginning the resolution of a new life, putting my trust in Thee, [740] --there hadst Thou begun to grow sweet unto me, and to "put gladness in my heart." [741] And I cried out as I read this outwardly, and felt it inwardly. Nor would I be increased [742] with worldly goods, wasting time and being wasted by time; whereas I possessed in Thy eternal simplicity other corn, and wine, and oil. [743]

11. And with a loud cry from my heart, I called out in the following verse, "Oh, in peace!" and "the self-same!" [744] Oh, what said he, "I will lay me down and sleep!" [745] For who shall hinder us, when "shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory?" [746] And Thou art in the highest degree "the self-same," who changest not; and in Thee is the rest which forgetteth all labour, for there is no other beside Thee, nor ought we to seek after those many other things which are not what Thou art; but Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in hope. [747] These things I read, and was inflamed; but discovered not what to do with those deaf and dead, of whom I had been a pestilent member,--a bitter and a blind declaimer against the writings be-honied with the honey of heaven and luminous with Thine own light; and I was consumed on account of the enemies of this Scripture.

12. When shall I call to mind all that took place in those holidays? Yet neither have I forgotten, nor will I be silent about the severity of Thy scourge, and the amazing quickness of Thy mercy. [748] Thou didst at that time torture me with toothache; [749] and when it had become so exceeding great that I was not able to speak, it came into my heart to urge all my friends who were present to pray for me to Thee, the God of all manner of health. And I wrote it down on wax, [750] and gave it to them to read. Presently, as with submissive desire we bowed our knees, that pain departed. But what pain? Or how did it depart? I confess to being much afraid, my Lord my God, seeing that from my earliest years I had not experienced such pain. And Thy purposes were profoundly impressed upon me; and, rejoicing in faith, I praised Thy name. And that faith suffered me not to be at rest in regard to my past sins, which were not yet forgiven me by Thy baptism.

Footnotes

[712] As Christ went into the wilderness after His baptism (Matt. iv. 1), and Paul into Arabia after his conversion (Gal. i. 17), so did Augustin here find in his retirement a preparation for his future work. He tells us of this time of his life (De Ordin. i. 6) that his habit was to spend the beginning or end, and often almost half the night, in watching and searching for truth, and says further (ibid. 29), that "he almost daily asked God with tears that his wounds might be healed, and often proved to himself that he was unworthy to be healed as soon as he wished." [713] These books are (Con. Acad. i. 4) his three disputations Against the Academics, his De Vita Beata, begun (ibid. 6) "Idibus Novembris die ejus natali;" and (Retract. i. 3) his two books De Ordine. [714] That is, his two books of Soliloquies. In his Retractations, i. 4, sec 1, he tells us that in these books he held an argument,--me interrogans, mihique respondens, tanquam duo essemus, ratio et ego. [715] Several of these letters to Nebridius will be found in the two vols. of Letters in this series. [716] Luke iii. 5. [717] Ps. xxix. 5. [718] Reference may with advantage be made to Archbishop Trench's Hulsean Lectures (1845), who in his third lect., on "The Manifoldness of Scripture," adverts to this very passage, and shows in an interesting way how the Psalms have ever been to the saints of God, as Luther said, "a Bible in little," affording satisfaction to their needs in every kind of trial, emergency, and experience. [719] Ps. xix. 6. [720] Ps. iv. 1. [721] Ibid. ver. 23. [722] Eph. i. 20. [723] Luke xxiv. 49. [724] John xiv. 16, 17. [725] Acts ii. 1-4. [726] John vii. 39. [727] Ps. iv. 1. [728] See v. 16, note, above. [729] Rom. viii. 34. [730] Eph. iv. 26. [731] See iv. 26, note, above. [732] Rom. ii. 5. [733] Ps. iv. 6. [734] See v. 12, note, above. [735] Ps. iv. 6. [736] Ibid. [737] John i. 9. [738] Eph. v. 8. [739] Internum æternum, but some mss. read internum lumen æternum. [740] Ps. iv. 5. [741] Ps. iv. 7. [742] That is, lest they should distract him from the true riches. For, as he says in his exposition of the fourth Psalm, "Cum dedita temporalibus voluptatibus anima semper exardescit cupiditate, nec satiari potest." He knew that the prosperity of the soul (3 John 2) might be injuriously affected by the prosperity of the body; and disregarding the lower life (bios) and its "worldly goods," he pressed on to increase the treasure he had within,--the true life (zoe) which he had received from God. See also Enarr. in Ps. xxxviii. 6. [743] Ps. iv. 7. [744] Ibid. ver. 8, Vulg. [745] Ps. iv. 8; in his comment whereon, Augustin applies this passage as above. [746] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [747] Ps. iv. 9, Vulg. [748] Compare the beautiful Talmudical legend quoted by Jeremy Taylor (Works, viii. 397, Eden's ed.), that of the two archangels, Gabriel and Michael, Gabriel has two wings that he may "fly swiftly" (Dan. ix. 21) to bring the message of peace, while Michael has but one, that he may labour in his flight when he comes forth on his ministries of justice. [749] In his Soliloquies (see note, sec. 7, above), he refers in i. 21 to this period. He there tells us that his pain was so great that it prevented his learning anything afresh, and only permitted him to revolve in his mind what he had already learnt. Compare De Quincey's description of the agonies he had to endure from tooth ache in his Confessions of an Opium Eater. [750] That is, on the waxen tablet used by the ancients. The iron stilus, or pencil, used for writing, was pointed at one end and flattened at the other--the flattened circular end being used to erase the writing by smoothing down the wax. Hence vertere stilum signifies to put out or correct. See sec. 19, below.


Chapter V.--At the Recommendation of Ambrose, He Reads the Prophecies of Isaiah, But Does Not Understand Them.

13. The vintage vacation being ended, I gave the citizens of Milan notice that they might provide their scholars with another seller of words; because both of my election to serve Thee, and my inability, by reason of the difficulty of breathing and the pain in my chest, to continue the Professorship. And by letters I notified to Thy bishop, [751] the holy man Ambrose, my former errors and present resolutions, with a view to his advising me which of Thy books it was best for me to read, so that I might be readier and fitter for the reception of such great grace. He recommended Isaiah the Prophet; [752] I believe, because he foreshows more clearly than others the gospel, and the calling of the Gentiles. But I, not understanding the first portion of the book, and imagining the whole to be like it, laid it aside, intending to take it up hereafter, when better practised in our Lord's words.

Footnotes

[751] Antistiti. [752] In his De Civ. Dei, xviii. 29, he likewise alludes to the evangelical character of the writings of Isaiah.


Chapter VI.--He is Baptized at Milan with Alypius and His Son Adeodatus. The Book "De Magistro."

14. Thence, when the time had arrived at which I was to give in my name, [753] having left the country, we returned to Milan. Alypius also was pleased to be born again with me in Thee, being now clothed with the humility appropriate to Thy sacraments, and being so brave a tamer of the body, as with unusual fortitude to tread the frozen soil of Italy with his naked feet. We took into our company the boy Adeodatus, born of me carnally, of my sin. Well hadst Thou made him. He was barely fifteen years, yet in wit excelled many grave and learned men. [754] I confess unto Thee Thy gifts, O Lord my God, Creator of all, and of exceeding power to reform our deformities; for of me was there naught in that boy but the sin. For that we fostered him in Thy discipline, Thou inspiredst us, none other,--Thy gifts I confess unto Thee. There is a book of ours, which is entitled The Master. [755] It is a dialogue between him and me. Thou knowest that all things there put into the mouth of the person in argument with me were his thoughts in his sixteenth year. Many others more wonderful did I find in him. That talent was a source of awe to me. And who but Thou could be the worker of such marvels? Quickly didst Thou remove his life from the earth; and now I recall him to mind with a sense of security, in that I fear nothing for his childhood or youth, or for his whole self. We took him coeval with us in Thy grace, to be educated in Thy discipline; and we were baptized, [756] and solicitude about our past life left us. Nor was I satiated in those days with the wondrous sweetness of considering the depth of Thy counsels concerning the salvation of the human race. How greatly did I weep in Thy hymns and canticles, deeply moved by the voices of Thy sweet-speaking Church! The voices flowed into mine ears, and the truth was poured forth into my heart, whence the agitation of my piety overflowed, and my tears ran over, and blessed was I therein.

Footnotes

[753] "They were baptized at Easter, and gave up their names before the second Sunday in Lent, the rest of which they were to spend in fasting, humility, prayer, and being examined in the scrutinies (Tertull. Lib. de Bapt. c. 20). Therefore went they to Milan, that the bishop might see their preparation. Adjoining to the cathedrals were there certain lower houses for them to lodge and be exercised in, till the day of baptism" (Euseb. x. 4).--W. W. See also Bingham, x. 2, sec. 6; and above, note 4, p. 89; note 4, p. 118, and note 8, p. 118. [754] In his De Vita Beata, sec. 6, he makes a similar illusion to the genius of Adeodatus. [755] This book, in which he and his son are the interlocutors, will be found in vol. i. of the Benedictine edition, and is by the editors assumed to be written about A.D. 389. Augustin briefly gives its argument in his Retractations, i. 12. He says: "There it is disputed, sought, and discovered that there is no master who teaches man knowledge save God, as it is written in the gospel (Matt. xxiii. 10), `One is your Master, even Christ.'" [756] He was baptized by Ambrose, and tradition says, as he came out of the water, they sang alternate verses of the Te Deum (ascribed by some to Ambrose), which, in the old offices of the English Church is called "The Song of Ambrose and Augustin." In his Con. Julian. Pelag. i. 10, he speaks of Ambrose as being one whose devoted labours and perils were known throughout the whole Roman world, and says: "In Christo enim Jesu per evangelium ipse me genuit, et eo Christi ministro lavacrum regenerationis accepti." See also the last sec. of his De Nupt. et Concup., and Ep. cxlvii. 23. In notes 3, p. 50, and 4, p. 89, will be found references to the usages of the early Church as to baptism.


Chapter VII.--Of the Church Hymns Instituted at Milan; Of the Ambrosian Persecution Raised by Justina; And of the Discovery of the Bodies of Two Martyrs.

15. Not long had the Church of Milan begun to employ this kind of consolation and exhortation, the brethren singing together with great earnestness of voice and heart. For it was about a year, or not much more, since Justina, the mother of the boy-Emperor Valentinian, persecuted [757] Thy servant Ambrose in the interest of her heresy, to which she had been seduced by the Arians. The pious people kept guard in the church, prepared to die with their bishop, Thy servant. There my mother, Thy handmaid, bearing a chief part of those cares and watchings, lived in prayer. We, still unmelted by the heat of Thy Spirit, were yet moved by the astonished and disturbed city. At this time it was instituted that, after the manner of the Eastern Church, hymns and psalms should be sung, lest the people should pine away in the tediousness of sorrow; which custom, retained from then till now, is imitated by many, yea, by almost all of Thy congregations throughout the rest of the world.

16. Then didst Thou by a vision make known to Thy renowned bishop [758] the spot where lay the bodies of Gervasius and Protasius, the martyrs (whom Thou hadst in Thy secret storehouse preserved uncorrupted for so many years), whence Thou mightest at the fitting time produce them to repress the feminine but royal fury. For when they were revealed and dug up and with due honour transferred to the Ambrosian Basilica, not only they who were troubled with unclean spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were healed, but a certain man also, who had been blind [759] many years, a well-known citizen of that city, having asked and been told the reason of the people's tumultuous joy, rushed forth, asking his guide to lead him thither. Arrived there, he begged to be permitted to touch with his handkerchief the bier of Thy saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight. [760] When he had done this, and put it to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. Thence did the fame spread; thence did Thy praises burn,--shine; thence was the mind of that enemy, though not yet enlarged to the wholeness of believing, restrained from the fury of persecuting. Thanks be to Thee, O my God. Whence and whither hast Thou thus led my remembrance, that I should confess these things also unto Thee,--great, though I, forgetful, had passed them over? And yet then, when the "savour" of Thy "ointments" was so fragrant, did we not "run after Thee." [761] And so I did the more abundantly weep at the singing of Thy hymns, formerly panting for Thee, and at last breathing in Thee, as far as the air can play in this house of grass.

Footnotes

[757] The Bishop of Milan who preceded Ambrose was an Arian, and though Valentinian the First approved the choice of Ambrose as bishop, Justina, on his death, greatly troubled the Church. Ambrose subsequently had great influence over both Valentinian the Second and his brother Gratian. The persecution referred to above, says Pusey, was "to induce him to give up to the Arians a church,--the Portian Basilica without the walls; afterwards she asked for the new Basilica within the walls, which was larger." See Ambrose, Epp. 20-22; Serm. c. Auxentium de Basilicis Tradendis, pp. 852-880, ed. Bened.; cf. Tillemont, Hist. Eccl. St. Ambroise, art. 44-48, pp. 76-82. Valentinian was then at Milan. See next sec., the beginning of note. [758] Antistiti. [759] Augustin alludes to this, amongst other supposed miracles, in his De Civ. Dei, xxii. 8; and again in Serm. cclxxxvi. sec. 4, where he tells us that the man, after being cured, made a vow that he would for the remainder of his life serve in that Basilica where the bodies of the martyrs lay. St. Ambrose also examines the miracle at great length in one of his sermons. We have already referred in note 5, p. 69 to the origin of these false miracles in the early Church. Lecture vi. series 2, of Blunt's Lectures on the Right Use of the Early Fathers, is devoted to an examination of the various passages in the Ante-Nicene Fathers where the continuance of miracles in the Church is either expressed or implied. The reader should also refer to the note on p. 485 of vol. ii. of the City of God, in this series. [760] Ps. cxvi. 15. [761] Cant. i. 3, 4.


Chapter VIII.--Of the Conversion of Evodius, and the Death of His Mother When Returning with Him to Africa; And Whose Education He Tenderly Relates.

17. Thou, who makest men to dwell of one mind in a house, [762] didst associate with us Evodius also, a young man of our city, who, when serving as an agent for Public Affairs, [763] was converted unto Thee and baptized prior to us; and relinquishing his secular service, prepared himself for Thine. We were together, [764] and together were we about to dwell with a holy purpose. We sought for some place where we might be most useful in our service to Thee, and were going back together to Africa. And when we were at the Tiberine Ostia my mother died. Much I omit, having much to hasten. Receive my confessions and thanksgivings, O my God, for innumerable things concerning which I am silent. But I will not omit aught that my soul has brought forth as to that Thy handmaid who brought me forth,--in her flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light, and in her heart, that I might be born to life eternal. [765] I will speak not of her gifts, but Thine in her; for she neither made herself nor educated herself. Thou createdst her, nor did her father nor her mother know what a being was to proceed from them. And it was the rod of Thy Christ, the discipline of Thine only Son, that trained her in Thy fear, in the house of one of Thy faithful ones, who was a sound member of Thy Church. Yet this good discipline did she not so much attribute to the diligence of her mother, as that of a certain decrepid maid-servant, who had carried about her father when an infant, as little ones are wont to be carried on the backs of elder girls. For which reason, and on account of her extreme age and very good character, was she much respected by the heads of that Christian house. Whence also was committed to her the care of her master's daughters, which she with diligence performed, and was earnest in restraining them when necessary, with a holy severity, and instructing them with a sober sagacity. For, excepting at the hours in which they were very temperately fed at their parents' table, she used not to permit them, though parched with thirst, to drink even water; thereby taking precautions against an evil custom, and adding the wholesome advice, "You drink water only because you have not control of wine; but when you have come to be married, and made mistresses of storeroom and cellar, you will despise water, but the habit of drinking will remain." By this method of instruction, and power of command, she restrained the longing of their tender age, and regulated the very thirst of the girls to such a becoming limit, as that what was not seemly they did not long for.

18. And yet--as Thine handmaid related to me, her son--there had stolen upon her a love of wine. For when she, as being a sober maiden, was as usual bidden by her parents to draw wine from the cask, the vessel being held under the opening, before she poured the wine into the bottle, she would wet the tips of her lips with a little, for more than that her inclination refused. For this she did not from any craving for drink, but out of the overflowing buoyancy of her time of life, which bubbles up with sportiveness, and is, in youthful spirits, wont to be repressed by the gravity of elders. And so unto that little, adding daily littles (for "he that contemneth small things shall fall by little and little"), [766] she contracted such a habit as, to drink off eagerly her little cup nearly full of wine. Where, then, was the sagacious old woman with her earnest restraint? Could anything prevail against a secret disease if Thy medicine, O Lord, did not watch over us? Father, mother, and nurturers absent, Thou present, who hast created, who callest, who also by those who are set over us workest some good for the salvation of our souls, what didst Thou at that time, O my God? How didst Thou heal her? How didst Thou make her whole? Didst Thou not out of another woman's soul evoke a hard and bitter insult, as a surgeon's knife from Thy secret store, and with one thrust remove all that putrefaction? [767] For the maidservant who used to accompany her to the cellar, falling out, as it happens, with her little mistress, when she was alone with her, cast in her teeth this vice, with very bitter insult, calling her a "wine-bibber." Stung by this taunt, she perceived her foulness, and immediately condemned and renounced it. Even as friends by their flattery pervert, so do enemies by their taunts often correct us. Yet Thou renderest not unto them what Thou dost by them, but what was proposed by them. For she, being angry, desired to irritate her young mistress, not to cure her; and did it in secret, either because the time and place of the dispute found them thus, or perhaps lest she herself should be exposed to danger for disclosing it so late. But Thou, Lord, Governor of heavenly and earthly things, who convertest to Thy purposes the deepest torrents, and disposest the turbulent current of the ages, [768] healest one soul by the unsoundness of another; lest any man, when he remarks this, should attribute it unto his own power if another, whom he wishes to be reformed, is so through a word of his.

Footnotes

[762] Ps. lxviii. 6. [763] See viii. sec. 15, note, above. [764] We find from his Retractations (i. 7, sec. 1), that at this time he wrote his De Moribus Ecclesiæ Catholicæ and his De Moribus Manichæorum. He also wrote (ibid. 8, sec. I) his De Animæ Quantitate, and (ibid. 9, sec. I) his three books De Libero Arbitrio. [765] In his De Vita Beata and in his De Dono Persev. he attributes all that he was to his mother's tears and prayers. [766] Ecclus. xix. 1. Augustin frequently alludes to the subtle power of little things. As when he says,--illustrating (Serm. cclxxviii.) by the plagues of Egypt,--tiny insects, if they be numerous enough, will be as harmful as the bite of great beasts; and (Serm. lvi.) a hill of sand, though composed of tiny grains, will crush a man as surely as the same weight of lead. Little drops (Serm. lviii.) make the river, and little leaks sink the ship; wherefore, he urges, little things must not be despised. "Men have usually," says Sedgwick in his Anatomy of Secret Sins, "been first wading in lesser sins who are now swimming in great transgressions." It is in the little things of evil that temptation has its greatest strength. The snowflake is little and not to be accounted of, but from its multitudinous accumulation results the dread power of the avalanche. Satan often seems to act as it is said Pompey did, when he could not gain entrance to a city. He persuaded the citizens to admit a few of his weak and wounded soldiers, who, when they had become strong, opened the gates to his whole army. But if little things have such subtlety in temptation, they have likewise higher ministries. The Jews, in their Talmudical writings, have many parables illustrating how God by little things tries and proves men to see if they are fitted for greater things. They say, for example, that He tried David when keeping sheep in the wilderness, to see whether he would be worthy to rule over Israel, the sheep of his inheritance. See Ch. Schoettgen, Hor. Heb. et Talmud, i. 300. [767] "`Animam oportet assiduis saliri tentationibus,' says St. Ambrose. Some errors and offences do rub salt upon a good man's integrity, that it may not putrefy with presumption."--Bishop Hacket's Sermons, p 210. [768] Not only is this true in private, but in public concerns. Even in the crucifixion of our Lord, the wicked rulers did (Acts. iv. 26) what God's hand and God's counsel had before determined to be done. Perhaps by reason of His infinite knowledge it is that God, who knows our thoughts long before (Ps. cxxxix. 2, 4), weaves man's self-willed purposes into the pattern which His inscrutable providence has before ordained. Or, to use Augustin's own words (De Civ. Dei, xxii. 2), "It is true that wicked men do many things contrary to God's will; but so great is His wisdom and power, that all things which seem adverse to His purpose do still tend towards those just and good ends and issues which He Himself has foreknown."


Chapter IX.--He Describes the Praiseworthy Habits of His Mother; Her Kindness Towards Her Husband and Her Sons.

19. Being thus modestly and soberly trained, and rather made subject by Thee to her parents, than by her parents to Thee, when she had arrived at a marriageable age, she was given to a husband whom she served as her lord. And she busied herself to gain him to Thee, preaching Thee unto him by her behaviour; by which Thou madest her fair, and reverently amiable, and admirable unto her husband. For she so bore the wronging of her bed as never to have any dissension with her husband on account of it. For she waited for Thy mercy upon him, that by believing in Thee he might become chaste. And besides this, as he was earnest in friendship, so was he violent in anger; but she had learned that an angry husband should not be resisted, neither in deed, nor even in word. But so soon as he was grown calm and tranquil, and she saw a fitting moment, she would give him a reason for her conduct, should he have been excited without cause. In short, while many matrons, whose husbands were more gentle, carried the marks of blows on their dishonoured faces, and would in private conversation blame the lives of their husbands, she would blame their tongues, monishing them gravely, as if in jest: "That from the hour they heard what are called the matrimonial tablets [769] read to them, they should think of them as instruments whereby they were made servants; so, being always mindful of their condition, they ought not to set themselves in opposition to their lords." And when they, knowing what a furious husband she endured, marvelled that it had never been reported, nor appeared by any indication, that Patricius had beaten his wife, or that there had been any domestic strife between them, even for a day, and asked her in confidence the reason of this, she taught them her rule, which I have mentioned above. They who observed it experienced the wisdom of it, and rejoiced; those who observed it not were kept in subjection, and suffered.

20. Her mother-in-law, also, being at first prejudiced against her by the whisperings of evil-disposed servants, she so conquered by submission, persevering in it with patience and meekness, that she voluntarily disclosed to her son the tongues of the meddling servants, whereby the domestic peace between herself and her daughter-in-law had been agitated, begging him to punish them for it. When, therefore, he had--in conformity with his mother's wish, and with a view to the discipline of his family, and to ensure the future harmony of its members--corrected with stripes those discovered, according to the will of her who had discovered them, she promised a similar reward to any who, to please her, should say anything evil to her of her daughter-in-law. And, none now daring to do so, they lived together with a wonderful sweetness of mutual good-will.

21. This great gift Thou bestowedst also, my God, my mercy, upon that good handmaid of Thine, out of whose womb Thou createdst me, even that, whenever she could, she showed herself such a peacemaker between any differing and discordant spirits, that when she had heard on both sides most bitter things, such as swelling and undigested discord is wont to give vent to, when the crudities of enmities are breathed out in bitter speeches to a present friend against an absent enemy, she would disclose nothing about the one unto the other, save what might avail to their reconcilement. A small good this might seem to me, did I not know to my sorrow countless persons, who, through some horrible and far-spreading infection of sin, not only disclose to enemies mutually enraged the things said in passion against each other, but add some things that were never spoken at all; whereas, to a generous man, it ought to seem a small thing not to incite or increase the enmities of men by ill-speaking, unless he endeavour likewise by kind words to extinguish them. Such a one was she,--Thou, her most intimate Instructor, teaching her in the school of her heart.

22. Finally, her own husband, now towards the end of his earthly existence, did she gain over unto Thee; and she had not to complain of that in him, as one of the faithful, which, before he became so, she had endured. She was also the servant of Thy servants. Whosoever of them knew her, did in her much magnify, honour, and love Thee; for that through the testimony of the fruits of a holy conversation, they perceived Thee to be present in her heart. For she had "been the wife of one man," had requited her parents, had guided her house piously, was "well-reported of for good works," had "brought up children," [770] as often travailing in birth of them [771] as she saw them swerving from Thee. Lastly, to all of us, O Lord (since of Thy favour Thou sufferest Thy servants to speak), who, before her sleeping in Thee, [772] lived associated together, having received the grace of Thy baptism, did she devote, care such as she might if she had been mother of us all; served us as if she had been child of all.

Footnotes

[769] That is, not only from the time of actual marriage, but from the time of betrothal, when the contract was written upon tablets (see note 10, p. 133), and signed by the contracting parties. The future wife was then called sponsa sperata or pacta. Augustin alludes to this above (vii. sec. 7), when he says, "It is also the custom that the affianced bride (pactæ sponsæ) should not immediately be given up, that the husband may not less esteem her whom, as betrothed, he longed not for" (non suspiraverit sponsus). It should be remembered, in reading this section, that women amongst the Romans were not confined after the Eastern fashion of the Greeks to separate apartments, but had charge of the domestic arrangements and the training of the children. [770] 1 Tim. v. 4, 9, 10, 14. [771] Gal. iv. 19. [772] 1 Thess. iv. 14.


Chapter X.--A Conversation He Had with His Mother Concerning the Kingdom of Heaven.

23. As the day now approached on which she was to depart this life (which day Thou knewest, we did not), it fell out--Thou, as I believe, by Thy secret ways arranging it--that she and I stood alone, leaning in a certain window, from which the garden of the house we occupied at Ostia could be seen; at which place, removed from the crowd, we were resting ourselves for the voyage, after the fatigues of a long journey. We then were conversing alone very pleasantly; and, "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before," [773] we were seeking between ourselves in the presence of the Truth, which Thou art, of what nature the eternal life of the saints would be, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man. [774] But yet we opened wide the mouth of our heart, after those supernal streams of Thy fountain, "the fountain of life," which is "with Thee;" [775] that being sprinkled with it according to our capacity, we might in some measure weigh so high a mystery.

24. And when our conversation had arrived at that point, that the very highest pleasure of the carnal senses, and that in the very brightest material light, seemed by reason of the sweetness of that life not only not worthy of comparison, but not even of mention, we, lifting ourselves with a more ardent affection towards "the Selfsame," [776] did gradually pass through all corporeal things, and even the heaven itself, whence sun, and moon, and stars shine upon the earth; yea, we soared higher yet by inward musing, and discoursing, and admiring Thy works; and we came to our own minds, and went beyond them, that we might advance as high as that region of unfailing plenty, where Thou feedest Israel [777] for ever with the food of truth, and where life is that Wisdom by whom all these things are made, both which have been, and which are to come; and she is not made, but is as she hath been, and so shall ever be; yea, rather, to "have been," and "to be hereafter," are not in her, but only "to be," seeing she is eternal, for to "have been" and "to be hereafter" are not eternal. And while we were thus speaking, and straining after her, we slightly touched her with the whole effort of our heart; and we sighed, and there left bound "the first-fruits of the Spirit;" [778] and returned to the noise of our own mouth, where the word uttered has both beginning and end. And what is like unto Thy Word, our Lord, who remaineth in Himself without becoming old, and "maketh all things new"? [779]

25. We were saying, then, If to any man the tumult of the flesh were silenced,--silenced the phantasies of earth, waters, and air,--silenced, too, the poles; yea, the very soul be silenced to herself, and go beyond herself by not thinking of herself,--silenced fancies and imaginary revelations, every tongue, and every sign, and whatsoever exists by passing away, since, if any could hearken, all these say, "We created not ourselves, but were created by Him who abideth for ever:" If, having uttered this, they now should be silenced, having only quickened our ears to Him who created them, and He alone speak not by them, but by Himself, that we may hear His word, not by fleshly tongue, nor angelic voice, nor sound of thunder, nor the obscurity of a similitude, but might hear Him--Him whom in these we love--without these, like as we two now strained ourselves, and with rapid thought touched on that Eternal Wisdom which remaineth over all. If this could be sustained, and other visions of a far different kind be withdrawn, and this one ravish, and absorb, and envelope its beholder amid these inward joys, so that his life might be eternally like that one moment of knowledge which we now sighed after, were not this "Enter thou into the joy of Thy Lord"? [780] And when shall that be? When we shall all rise again; but all shall not be changed. [781]

26. Such things was I saying; and if not after this manner, and in these words, yet, Lord, Thou knowest, that in that day when we were talking thus, this world with all its delights grew contemptible to us, even while we spake. Then said my mother, "Son, for myself, I have no longer any pleasure in aught in this life. What I want here further, and why I am here, I know not, now that my hopes in this world are satisfied. There was indeed one thing for which I wished to tarry a little in this life, and that was that I might see thee a Catholic Christian before I died. [782] My God has exceeded this abundantly, so that I see thee despising all earthly felicity, made His servant,--what do I here?"

Footnotes

[773] Phil. iii. 13. [774] 1 Cor. ii. 9.; Isa. lxiv. 4. [775] Ps. xxxvi. 9. [776] Ps. iv. 8, Vulg. [777] Ps. lxxx. 5. [778] Rom. viii. 23. [779] Wisd. vii. 27. [780] Matt. xxv. 21. [781] 1 Cor. xv. 51, however, is, "we shall all be changed." [782] Dean Stanley (Canterbury Sermons, serm. 10) draws the following, amongst other lessons, from God's dealings with Augustin. "It is an example," he says, "like the conversion of St. Paul, of the fact that from time to time God calls His servants not by gradual, but by sudden changes. These conversions are, it is true, the exceptions and not the rule of Providence, but such examples as Augustin show us that we must acknowledge the truth of the exceptions when they do occur. It is also an instance how, even in such sudden conversions, previous good influences have their weight. The prayers of his mother, the silent influence of his friend, the high character of Ambrose, the preparation for Christian truth in the writings of heathen philosophers, were all laid up, as it were, waiting for the spark, and, when it came, the fire flashed at once through every corner of his soul."


Chapter XI.--His Mother, Attacked by Fever, Dies at Ostia.

27. What reply I made unto her to these things I do not well remember. However, scarcely five days after, or not much more, she was prostrated by fever; and while she was sick, she one day sank into a swoon, and was for a short time unconscious of visible things. We hurried up to her; but she soon regained her senses, and gazing on me and my brother as we stood by her, she said to us inquiringly, "Where was I?" Then looking intently at us stupefied with grief, "Here," saith she, "shall you bury your mother." I was silent, and refrained from weeping; but my brother said something, wishing her, as the happier lot, to die in her own country and not abroad. She, when she heard this, with anxious countenance arrested him with her eye, as savouring of such things, and then gazing at me, "Behold," saith she, "what he saith;" and soon after to us both she saith, "Lay this body anywhere, let not the care for it trouble you at all. This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord's altar, wherever you be." And when she had given forth this opinion in such words as she could, she was silent, being in pain with her increasing sickness.

28. But, as I reflected on Thy gifts, O thou invisible God, which Thou instillest into the hearts of Thy faithful ones, whence such marvellous fruits do spring, I did rejoice and give thanks unto Thee, calling to mind what I knew before, how she had ever burned with anxiety respecting her burial-place, which she had provided and prepared for herself by the body of her husband. For as they had lived very peacefully together, her desire had also been (so little is the human mind capable of grasping things divine) that this should be added to that happiness, and be talked of among men, that after her wandering beyond the sea, it had been granted her that they both, so united on earth, should lie in the same grave. But when this uselessness had, through the bounty of Thy goodness, begun to be no longer in her heart, I knew not, and I was full of joy admiring what she had thus disclosed to me; though indeed in that our conversation in the window also, when she said, "What do I here any longer?" she appeared not to desire to die in her own country. I heard afterwards, too, that at the time we were at Ostia, with a maternal confidence she one day, when I was absent, was speaking with certain of my friends on the contemning of this life, and the blessing of death; and when they--amazed at the courage which Thou hadst given to her, a woman--asked her whether she did not dread leaving her body at such a distance from her own city, she replied, "Nothing is far to God; nor need I fear lest He should be ignorant at the end of the world of the place whence He is to raise me up." On the ninth day, then, of her sickness, the fifty-sixth year of her age, and the thirty-third of mine, was that religious and devout soul set free from the body.


Chapter XII.--How He Mourned His Dead Mother.

29. I closed her eyes; and there flowed a great sadness into my heart, and it was passing into tears, when mine eyes at the same time, by the violent control of my mind, sucked back the fountain dry, and woe was me in such a struggle! But, as soon as she breathed her last the boy Adeodatus burst out into wailing, but, being checked by us all, he became quiet. In like manner also my own childish feeling, which was, through the youthful voice of my heart, finding escape in tears, was restrained and silenced. For we did not consider it fitting to celebrate that funeral with tearful plaints and groanings; [783] for on such wise are they who die unhappy, or are altogether dead, wont to be mourned. But she neither died unhappy, nor did she altogether die. For of this were we assured by the witness of her good conversation, her "faith unfeigned," [784] and other sufficient grounds.

30. What, then, was that which did grievously pain me within, but the newly-made wound, from having that most sweet and dear habit of living together suddenly broken off? I was full of joy indeed in her testimony, when, in that her last illness, flattering my dutifulness, she called me "kind," and recalled, with great affection of love, that she had never heard any harsh or reproachful sound come out of my mouth against her. But yet, O my God, who madest us, how can the honour which I paid to her be compared with her slavery for me? As, then, I was left destitute of so great comfort in her, my soul was stricken, and that life torn apart as it were, which, of hers and mine together, had been made but one.

31. The boy then being restrained from weeping, Evodius took up the Psalter, and began to sing--the whole house responding--the Psalm, "I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto Thee, O Lord." [785] But when they heard what we were doing, many brethren and religious women came together; and whilst they whose office it was were, according to custom, making ready for the funeral, I, in a part of the house where I conveniently could, together with those who thought that I ought not to be left alone, discoursed on what was suited to the occasion; and by this alleviation of truth mitigated the anguish known unto Thee--they being unconscious of it, listened intently, and thought me to be devoid of any sense of sorrow. But in Thine ears, where none of them heard, did I blame the softness of my feelings, and restrained the flow of my grief, which yielded a little unto me; but the paroxysm returned again, though not so as to burst forth into tears, nor to a change of countenance, though I knew what I repressed in my heart. And as I was exceedingly annoyed that these human things had such power over me, [786] which in the due order and destiny of our natural condition must of necessity come to pass, with a new sorrow I sorrowed for my sorrow, and was wasted by a twofold sadness.

32. So, when the body was carried forth, we both went and returned without tears. For neither in those prayers which we poured forth unto Thee when the sacrifice of our redemption [787] was offered up unto Thee for her,--the dead body being now placed by the side of the grave, as the custom there is, prior to its being laid therein,--neither in their prayers did I shed tears; yet was I most grievously sad in secret all the day, and with a troubled mind entreated Thee, as I was able, to heal my sorrow, but Thou didst not; fixing, I believe, in my memory by this one lesson the power of the bonds of all habit, even upon a mind which now feeds not upon a fallacious word. It appeared to me also a good thing to go and bathe, I having heard that the bath [balneum] took its name from the Greek balaneion, because it drives trouble from the mind. Lo, this also I confess unto Thy mercy, "Father of the fatherless," [788] that I bathed, and felt the same as before I had done so. For the bitterness of my grief exuded not from my heart. Then I slept, and on awaking found my grief not a little mitigated; and as I lay alone upon my bed, there came into my mind those true verses of Thy Ambrose, for Thou art--

"Deus creator omnium,

Polique rector, vestiens

Diem decora lumine,

Noctem sopora gratia;

Artus solutos ut quies

Reddat laboris usui,

Mentesque fessas allevet,

Luctusque solvat anxios." [789]

33. And then little by little did I bring back my former thoughts of Thine handmaid, her devout conversation towards Thee, her holy tenderness and attentiveness towards us, which was suddenly taken away from me; and it was pleasant to me to weep in Thy sight, for her and for me, concerning her and concerning myself. And I set free the tears which before I repressed, that they might flow at their will, spreading them beneath my heart; and it rested in them, for Thy ears were nigh me,--not those of man, who would have put a scornful interpretation on my weeping. But now in writing I confess it unto Thee, O Lord! Read it who will, and interpret how he will; and if he finds me to have sinned in weeping for my mother during so small a part of an hour,--that mother who was for a while dead to mine eyes, who had for many years wept for me, that I might live in Thine eyes,--let him not laugh at me, but rather, if he be a man of a noble charity, let him weep for my sins against Thee, the Father of all the brethren of Thy Christ.

Footnotes

[783] For this would be to sorrow as those that have no hope. Chrysostom accordingly frequently rebukes the Roman custom of hiring persons to wail for the dead (see e.g. Hom. xxxii. in Matt.); and Augustin in Serm. 2 of his De Consol. Mor. makes the same objection, and also reproves those Christians who imitated the Romans in wearing black as the sign of mourning. But still (as in his own case on the death of his mother) he admits that there is a grief at the departure of friends that is both natural and seemly. In a beautiful passage in his De Civ. Dei (xix. 8), he says: "That he who will have none of this sadness must, if possible, have no friendly intercourse....Let him burst with ruthless insensibility the bonds of every human relationship;" and he continues: "Though the cure is effected all the more easily and rapidly the better condition the soul is in, we must not on this account suppose that there is nothing at all to heal." See p. 140, note 2, below. [784] 1 Tim. i. 5. [785] Ps. ci. 1. "I suppose they continued to the end of Psalm cii. This was the primitive fashion; Nazianzen says that his speechless sister Gorgonia's lips muttered the fourth Psalm: `I will lie down in peace and sleep.' As St. Austen lay a dying, the company prayed (Possid.). That they had prayers between the departure and burial, see Tertull. De Anima, c. 51. They used to sing both at the departure and burial. Nazianzen, Orat. 10, says, the dead Cæsarius was carried from hymns to hymns. The priests were called to sing (Chrysost. Hom. 70, ad Antioch). They sang the 116th Psalm usually (see Chrysost. Hom. 4, in c. 2, ad Hebræos)."--W. W. See also note 13, p. 141, below. [786] In addition to the remarks quoted in note 1, see Augustin's recognition of the naturalness and necessity of exercising human affections, such as sorrow, in his De Civ. Dei, xiv. 9. [787] "Here my Popish translator says, that the sacrifice of the mass was offered for the dead. That the ancients had communion with their burials, I confess. But for what? (1) To testify their dying in the communion of the Church. (2) To give thanks for their departure. (3) To Pray God to give them place in His Paradise, (4) and a part in the first resurrection; but not as a propitiatory sacrifice to deliver them out of purgatory, which the mass is now only meant for."--W. W. See also note 13, p. 141. [788] Ps. lxviii. 5. [789] Rendered as follows in a translation of the first ten books of the Confessions, described on the title-page as "Printed by J. C., for John Crook, and are to be sold at the sign of the `Ship,' in St. Paul's Churchyard. 1660":-- "O God, the world's great Architect, Who dost heaven's rowling orbs direct; Cloathing the day with beauteous light, And with sweet slumbers silent night; When wearied limbs new vigour gain From rest, new labours to sustain, When hearts oppressed do meet relief, And anxious minds forget their grief." See x. sec. 52, below, where this hymn is referred to.


Chapter XIII.--He Entreats God for Her Sins, and Admonishes His Readers to Remember Her Piously.

34. But,--my heart being now healed of that wound, in so far as it could be convicted of a carnal [790] affection,--I pour out unto Thee, O our God, on behalf of that Thine handmaid, tears of a far different sort, even that which flows from a spirit broken by the thoughts of the dangers of every soul that dieth in Adam. And although she, having been "made alive" in Christ [791] even before she was freed from the flesh had so lived as to praise Thy name both by her faith and conversation, yet dare I not say [792] that from the time Thou didst regenerate her by baptism, no word went forth from her mouth against Thy precepts. [793] And it hath been declared by Thy Son, the Truth, that "Whosoever shall say to his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." [794] And woe even unto the praiseworthy life of man, if, putting away mercy, Thou shouldest investigate it. But because Thou dost not narrowly inquire after sins, we hope with confidence to find some place of indulgence with Thee. But whosoever recounts his true merits [795] to Thee, what is it that he recounts to Thee but Thine own gifts? Oh, if men would know themselves to be men; and that "he that glorieth" would "glory in the Lord!" [796]

35. I then, O my Praise and my Life, Thou God of my heart, putting aside for a little her good deeds, for which I joyfully give thanks to Thee, do now beseech Thee for the sins of my mother. Hearken unto me, through that Medicine of our wounds who hung upon the tree, and who, sitting at Thy right hand, "maketh intercession for us." [797] I know that she acted mercifully, and from the heart [798] forgave her debtors their debts; do Thou also forgive her debts, [799] whatever she contracted during so many years since the water of salvation. Forgive her, O Lord, forgive her, I beseech Thee; "enter not into judgment" with her. [800] Let Thy mercy be exalted above Thy justice, [801] because Thy words are true, and Thou hast promised mercy unto "the merciful;" [802] which Thou gavest them to be who wilt "have mercy" on whom Thou wilt "have mercy," and wilt "have compassion" on whom Thou hast had compassion. [803]

36. And I believe Thou hast already done that which I ask Thee; but "accept the free-will offerings of my mouth, O Lord." [804] For she, when the day of her dissolution was near at hand, took no thought to have her body sumptuously covered, or embalmed with spices; nor did she covet a choice monument, or desire her paternal burial-place. These things she entrusted not to us, but only desired to have her name remembered at Thy altar, which she had served without the omission of a single day; [805] whence she knew that the holy sacrifice was dispensed, by which the handwriting that was against us is blotted out; [806] by which the enemy was triumphed over, [807] who, summing up our offences, and searching for something to bring against us, found nothing in Him [808] in whom we conquer. Who will restore to Him the innocent blood? Who will repay Him the price with which He bought us, so as to take us from Him? Unto the sacrament of which our ransom did Thy handmaid bind her soul by the bond of faith. Let none separate her from Thy protection. Let not the "lion" and the "dragon" [809] introduce himself by force or fraud. For she will not reply that she owes nothing, lest she be convicted and got the better of by the wily deceiver; but she will answer that her "sins are forgiven" [810] by Him to whom no one is able to repay that price which He, owing nothing, laid down for us.

37. May she therefore rest in peace with her husband, before or after whom she married none; whom she obeyed, with patience bringing forth fruit [811] unto Thee, that she might gain him also for Thee. And inspire, O my Lord my God, inspire Thy servants my brethren, Thy sons my masters, who with voice and heart and writings I serve, that so many of them as shall read these confessions may at Thy altar remember Monica, Thy handmaid, together with Patricius, her sometime husband, by whose flesh Thou introducedst me into this life, in what manner I know not. May they with pious affection be mindful of my parents in this transitory light, of my brethren that are under Thee our Father in our Catholic mother, and of my fellow-citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, which the wandering of Thy people sigheth for from their departure until their return. That so my mother's last entreaty to me may, through my confessions more than through my prayers, be more abundantly fulfilled to her through the prayers of many. [812]

Footnotes

[790] Rom. viii. 7. [791] 1 Cor. xv. 22. The universalists of every age have interpreted the word "all" here so as to make salvation by Christ Jesus extend to every child of Adam. If their interpretation were true, Monica's spirit need not have been troubled at the thought of the danger of unregenerate souls. But Augustin in his De Civ. Dei, xiii. 23, gives the import of the word: "Not that all who die in Adam shall be members of Christ--for the great majority shall be punished in eternal death,--but he uses the word `all' in both clauses because, as no one dies in an animal body except in Adam, so no one is quickened a spiritual body save in Christ." See x. sec. 68, note 1, below. [792] For to have done so would have been to go perilously near to the heresy of the Pelagians, who laid claim to the possibility of attaining perfection in this life by the power of free-will, and without the assistance of divine grace; and went even so far, he tells us (Ep. clxxvi. 2), as to say that those who had so attained need not utter the petition for forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer,--ut ei non sit jam necessarium dicere "Dimitte nobis debita nostra." Those in our own day who enunciate perfectionist theories,-- though, it is true, not denying the grace of God as did these,--may well ponder Augustin's forcible words in his De Pecc. Mer. et Rem. iii. 13: "Optandum est ut fiat, conandum est ut fiat, supplicandum est ut fiat; non tamen quasi factum fuerit, confitendum." We are indeed commanded to be perfect (Matt. v. 48); and the philosophy underlying the command is embalmed in the words of the proverb, "Aim high, and you will strike high." But he who lives nearest to God will have the humility of heart which will make him ready to confess that in His sight he is a "miserable sinner." Some interesting remarks on this subject will be found in Augustin's De Civ. Dei, xiv. 9, on the text, "If we say we have no sin," etc. (1 John i. 8.) On sins after baptism, see note on next section. [793] Matt. xii. 36. [794] Matt. v. 22. [795] There is a passage parallel to this in his Ep. to Sextus (cxciv. 19). "Merits" therefore would appear to be used simply in the sense of good actions. Compare sec. 17, above, xiii. sec. 1, below, and Ep. cv. That righteousness is not by merit, appears from Ep. cxciv.; Ep. clxxvii., to Innocent; and Serm.ccxciii. [796] 2 Cor. x. 17. [797] Rom. viii. 34. [798] Matt. xviii. 35. [799] Matt. vi. 12. Augustin here as elsewhere applies this petition in the Lord's Prayer to the forgiveness of sins after baptism. He does so constantly. For example, in his Ep. cclxv. he says: "We do not ask for those to be forgiven which we doubt not were forgiven in baptism; but those which, though small, are frequent, and spring from the frailty of human nature." Again, in his Con Ep. Parmen. ii. 10, after using almost the same words, he points out that it is a prayer against daily sins; and in his De Civ. Dei, xxi. 27, where he examines the passage in relation to various erroneous beliefs, he says it "was a daily prayer He [Christ] was teaching, and it was certainly to disciples already justified He was speaking. What, then, does He mean by `your sins' (Matt. vi. 14), but those sins from which not even you who are justified and sanctified can be free?" See note on the previous section; and also for the feeling in the early Church as to sins after baptism, the note on i. sec. 17, above. [800] Ps. cxliii. 2. [801] Jas. ii. 13. [802] Matt. v. 7. [803] Rom. ix. 15. [804] Ps. cxix. 108. [805] See v. sec. 17, above. [806] Col. ii. 14. [807] See his De Trin. xiii. 18, the passage beginning, "What then is the righteousness by which the devil was conquered?" [808] John xiv. 30. [809] Ps. xci. 13. [810] Matt. ix. 2. [811] Luke viii. 15. [812] The origin of prayers for the dead dates back probably to the close of the second century. In note 1, p. 90, we have quoted from Tertullian's De Corona Militis, where he says "Oblationes pro defunctis pro natalitiis annua die facimus." In his De Monogamia, he speaks of a widow praying for her departed husband, that "he might have rest, and be a partaker in the first resurrection." From this time a catena of quotations from the Fathers might be given, if space permitted, showing how, beginning with early expressions of hope for the dead, there, in process of time, arose prayers even for the unregenerate, until at last there was developed purgatory on the one side, and creature-worship on the other. That Augustin did not entertain the idea of creature-worship will be seen from his Ep. to Maximus, xvii. 5. In his De Dulcit. Quæst. 2 (where he discusses the whole question), he concludes that prayer must not be made for all, because all have not led the same life in the flesh. Still, in his Enarr. in Ps. cviii. 17, he argues from the case of the rich man in the parable, that the departed do certainly "have a care for us." Arius, towards the close of the fourth century, objected to prayers for the dead, chiefly on the ground (see Usher's Answer to a Jesuit, iii. 258) of their uselessness. In the Church of England, as will be seen by reference to Keeling's Liturgicæ Britannicæ, pp. 210, 335, 339, and 341, prayers for the dead were eliminated from the second Prayer Book; and to the prudence of this step Palmer bears testimony in his Origines Liturgicæ, iv. 10, justifying it on the ground that the retaining of these prayers implied a belief in her holding the doctrine of purgatory. Reference may be made to Epiphanius, Adv. Hær. 75; Bishop Bull, Sermon 3; and Bingham, xv. 3, secs. 15, 16, and xxiii. 3, sec. 13.


.

Book X.

Having manifested what he was and what he is, he shows the great fruit of his confession; and being about to examine by what method God and the happy life may be found, he enlarges on the nature and power of memory. Then he examines his own acts, thoughts and affections, viewed under the threefold division of temptation; and commemorates the Lord, the one mediator of God and men.


Chapter I.--In God Alone is the Hope and Joy of Man.

1. Let me know Thee, O Thou who knowest me; let me know Thee, as I am known. [813] O Thou strength of my soul, enter into it, and prepare it for Thyself, that Thou mayest have and hold it without "spot or wrinkle." [814] This is my hope, "therefore have I spoken;" [815] and in this hope do I rejoice, when I rejoice soberly. Other things of this life ought the less to be sorrowed for, the more they are sorrowed for; and ought the more to be sorrowed for, the less men do sorrow for them. For behold, "Thou desirest truth," [816] seeing that he who does it "cometh to the light." [817] This wish I to do in confession in my heart before Thee, and in my writing before many witnesses.

Footnotes

[813] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [814] Eph. v. 27. [815] Ps. cxvi. 10. [816] Ps. 1i. 6. [817] John iii. 20.


Chapter II.--That All Things are Manifest to God. That Confession Unto Him is Not Made by the Words of the Flesh, But of the Soul, and the Cry of Reflection.

2. And from Thee, O Lord, unto whose eyes the depths of man's conscience are naked, [818] what in me could be hidden though I were unwilling to confess to Thee? For so should I hide Thee from myself, not myself from Thee. But now, because my groaning witnesseth that I am dissatisfied with myself, Thou shinest forth, and satisfiest, and art beloved and desired; that I may blush for myself, and renounce myself, and choose Thee, and may neither please Thee nor myself, except in Thee. To Thee, then, O Lord, am I manifest, whatever I am, and with what fruit I may confess unto Thee I have spoken. Nor do I it with words and sounds of the flesh, but with the words of the soul, and that cry of reflection which Thine ear knoweth. For when I am wicked, to confess to Thee is naught but to be dissatisfied with myself; but when I am truly devout, it is naught but not to attribute it to myself, because Thou, O Lord, dost "bless the righteous;" [819] but first Thou justifiest him "ungodly." [820] My confession, therefore, O my God, in Thy sight, is made unto Thee silently, and yet not silently. For in noise it is silent, in affection it cries aloud. For neither do I give utterance to anything that is right unto men which Thou hast not heard from me before, nor dost Thou hear anything of the kind from me which Thyself saidst not first unto me.

Footnotes

[818] Heb. iv. 13. [819] Ps. v. 12. [820] Rom. iv. 5.


Chapter III.--He Who Confesseth Rightly Unto God Best Knoweth Himself.

3. What then have I to do with men, that they should hear my confessions, as if they were going to cure all my diseases? [821] A people curious to know the lives of others, but slow to correct their own. Why do they desire to hear from me what I am, who are unwilling to hear from Thee what they are? And how can they tell, when they hear from me of myself, whether I speak the truth, seeing that no man knoweth what is in man, "save the spirit of man which is in him "? [822] But if they hear from Thee aught concerning themselves, they will not be able to say, "The Lord lieth." For what is it to hear from Thee of themselves, but to know themselves? And who is he that knoweth himself and saith, "It is false," unless he himself lieth? But because "charity believeth all things" [823] (amongst those at all events whom by union with itself it maketh one), I too, O Lord, also so confess unto Thee that men may hear, to whom I cannot prove whether I confess the truth, yet do they believe me whose ears charity openeth unto me.

4. But yet do Thou, my most secret Physician, make clear to me what fruit I may reap by doing it. For the confessions of my past sins,--which Thou hast "forgiven" and "covered," [824] that Thou mightest make me happy in Thee, changing my soul by faith and Thy sacrament,--when they are read and heard, stir up the heart, that it sleep not in despair and say, "I cannot;" but that it may awake in the love of Thy mercy and the sweetness of Thy grace, by which he that is weak is strong, [825] if by it he is made conscious of his own weakness. As for the good, they take delight in hearing of the past errors of such as are now freed from them; and they delight, not because they are errors, but because they have been and are so no longer. For what fruit, then, O Lord my God, to whom my conscience maketh her daily confession, more confident in the hope of Thy mercy than in her own innocency,--for what fruit, I beseech Thee, do I confess even to men in Thy presence by this book what I am at this time, not what I have been? For that fruit I have both seen and spoken of, but what I am at this time, at the very moment of making my confessions, divers people desire to know, both who knew me and who knew me not,--who have heard of or from me,--but their ear is not at my heart, where I am whatsoever I am. They are desirous, then, of hearing me confess what I am within, where they can neither stretch eye, nor ear, nor mind; they desire it as those willing to believe,--but will they understand? For charity, by which they are good, says unto them that I do not lie in my confessions, and she in them believes me.

Footnotes

[821] Ps. ciii. 3. [822] 1 Cor. ii. 11. [823] 1 Cor. xiii. 7. [824] Ps. xxxii. 1. [825] 2 Cor. xii. 10.


Chapter IV.--That in His Confessions He May Do Good, He Considers Others.

5. But for what fruit do they desire this? Do they wish me happiness when they learn how near, by Thy gift, I come unto Thee; and to pray for me, when they learn how much I am kept back by my own weight? To such will I declare myself. For it is no small fruit, O Lord my God, that by many thanks should be given to Thee on our behalf, [826] and that by many Thou shouldest be entreated for us. Let the fraternal soul love that in me which Thou teachest should be loved, and lament that in me which Thou teachest should be lamented. Let a fraternal and not an alien soul do this, nor that "of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood," [827] but that fraternal one which, when it approves me, rejoices for me, but when it disapproves me, is sorry for me; because whether it approves or disapproves it loves me. To such will I declare myself; let them breathe freely at my good deeds, and sigh over my evil ones. My good deeds are Thy institutions and Thy gifts, my evil ones are my delinquencies and Thy judgments. [828] Let them breathe freely at the one, and sigh over the other; and let hymns and tears ascend into Thy sight out of the fraternal hearts--Thy censers. [829] And do Thou, O Lord, who takest delight in the incense of Thy holy temple, have mercy upon me according to Thy great mercy, [830] "for Thy name's sake;" [831] and on no account leaving what Thou hast begun in me, do Thou complete what is imperfect in me.

6. This is the fruit of my confessions, not of what I was, but of what I am, that I may confess this not before Thee only, in a secret exultation with trembling, [832] and a secret sorrow with hope, but in the ears also of the believing sons of men,--partakers of my joy, and sharers of my mortality, my fellow-citizens and the companions of my pilgrimage, those who are gone before, and those that are to follow after, and the comrades of my way. These are Thy servants, my brethren, those whom Thou wishest to be Thy sons; my masters, whom Thou hast commanded me to serve, if I desire to live with and of Thee. But this Thy word were little to me did it command in speaking, without going before in acting. This then do I both in deed and word, this I do under Thy wings, in too great danger, were it not that my soul, under Thy wings, is subject unto Thee, and my weakness known unto Thee. I am a little one, but my Father liveth for ever, and my Defender is "sufficient" [833] for me. For He is the same who begat me and who defends me; and Thou Thyself art all my good; even Thou, the Omnipotent, who art with me, and that before I am with Thee. To such, therefore, whom Thou commandest me to serve will I declare, not what I was, but what I now am, and what I still am. But neither do I judge myself. [834] Thus then I would be heard.

Footnotes

[826] 2 Cor. i. 11. [827] Ps. cxliv. 11. [828] In note 9, p. 79, we have seen how God makes man's sin its own punishment. Reference may also be made to Augustin's Con. Advers. Leg. et Proph. i. 14, where he argues that "the punishment of a man's disobedience is found in himself, when he in his turn cannot get obedience even from himself." And again, in his De Lib. Arb. v. 18, he says, God punishes by taking from him that which he does not use well, "et qui recte facere cum possit noluit amittat posse cum velit." See also Serm. clxxi. 4, and Ep. cliii. [829] Rev. viii. 3. [830] Ps. li. l. [831] Ps. xxv. 11. [832] Ps. ii. 11. [833] 2 Cor. xii. 9. [834] 1 Cor. iv. 3.


Chapter V.--That Man Knoweth Not Himself Wholly.

7. For it is Thou, Lord, that judgest me; [835] for although no "man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him," [836] yet is there something of man which "the spirit of man which is in him" itself knoweth not. But Thou, Lord, who hast made him, knowest him wholly. I indeed, though in Thy sight I despise myself, and reckon "myself but dust and ashes," [837] yet know something concerning Thee, which I know not concerning myself. And assuredly "now we see through a glass darkly," not yet "face to face." [838] So long, therefore, as I be "absent" from Thee, I am more "present" with myself than with Thee; [839] and yet know I that Thou canst not suffer violence; [840] but for myself I know not what temptations I am able to resist, and what I am not able. [841] But there is hope, because Thou art faithful, who wilt not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but wilt with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. [842] I would therefore confess what I know concerning myself; I will confess also what I know not concerning myself. And because what I do know of myself, I know by Thee enlightening me; and what I know not of myself, so long I know not until the time when my "darkness be as the noonday" [843] in Thy sight.

Footnotes

[835] 1 Cor. iv. 4. [836] 1 Cor. ii. 11. [837] Gen. xviii. 27. [838] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [839] 2 Cor. v. 6. [840] See Nebridius' argument against the Manichæans, as to God's not being violable, in vii. sec. 3, above, and the note thereon. [841] See his Enarr. in Ps. lv. 8 and xciii. 19, where he beautifully describes how the winds and waves of temptation will be stilled if Christ be present in the ship. See also Serm. lxiii.; and Eps. cxxx. 22, and clxxvii. 4. [842] 1 Cor. x. 13. [843] Isa. lviii. 10.


Chapter VI.--The Love of God, in His Nature Superior to All Creatures, is Acquired by the Knowledge of the Senses and the Exercise of Reason.

8. Not with uncertain, but with assured consciousness do I love Thee, O Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee. And also the heaven, and earth, and all that is therein, behold, on every side they say that I should love Thee; nor do they cease to speak unto all, "so that they are without excuse." [844] But more profoundly wilt Thou have mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy, and compassion on whom Thou wilt have compassion, [845] otherwise do both heaven and earth tell forth Thy praises to deaf ears. But what is it that I love in loving Thee? Not corporeal beauty, nor the splendour of time, nor the radiance of the light, so pleasant to our eyes, nor the sweet melodies of songs of all kinds, nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs pleasant to the embracements of flesh. I love not these things when I love my God; and yet I love a certain kind of light, and sound, and fragrance, and food, and embracement in loving my God, who is the light, sound, fragrance, food, and embracement of my inner man--where that light shineth unto my soul which no place can contain, where that soundeth which time snatcheth not away, where there is a fragrance which no breeze disperseth, where there is a food which no eating can diminish, and where that clingeth which no satiety can sunder. This is what I love, when I love my God.

9. And what is this? I asked the earth; and it answered, "I am not He;" and whatsoever are therein made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the creeping things that lived, and they replied, "We are not thy God, seek higher than we." I asked the breezy air, and the universal air with its inhabitants answered, "Anaximenes [846] was deceived, I am not God." I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars: "Neither," say they, "are we the God whom thou seekest." And I answered unto all these things which stand about the door of my flesh, "Ye have told me concerning my God, that ye are not He; tell me something about Him." And with a loud voice they exclaimed, "He made us." My questioning was my observing of them; and their beauty was their reply. [847] And I directed my thoughts to myself, and said, "Who art thou?" And I answered, "A man." And lo, in me there appear both body and soul, the one without, the other within. By which of these should I seek my God, whom I had sought through the body from earth to heaven, as far as I was able to send messengers--the beams of mine eyes? But the better part is that which is inner; for to it, as both president and judge, did all these my corporeal messengers render the answers of heaven and earth and all things therein, who said, "We are not God, but He made us." These things was my inner man cognizant of by the ministry of the outer; I, the inner man, knew all this--I, the soul, through the senses of my body. I asked the vast bulk of the earth of my God, and it answered me, "I am not He, but He made me."

10. Is not this beauty visible to all whose senses are unimpaired? Why then doth it not speak the same things unto all? Animals, the very small and the great, see it, but they are unable to question it, because their senses are not endowed with reason to enable them to judge on what they report. But men can question it, so that "the invisible things of Him . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;" [848] but by loving them, they are brought into subjection to them; and subjects are not able to judge. Neither do the creatures reply to such as question them, unless they can judge; nor will they alter their voice (that is, their beauty), [849] if so be one man only sees, another both sees and questions, so as to appear one way to this man, and another to that; but appearing the same way to both, it is mute to this, it speaks to that--yea, verily, it speaks unto all but they only understand it who compare that voice received from without with the truth within. For the truth declareth unto me, "Neither heaven, nor earth, nor any body is thy God." This, their nature declareth unto him that beholdeth them. "They are a mass; a mass is less in part than in the whole." Now, O my soul, thou art my better part, unto thee I speak; for thou animatest the mass of thy body, giving it life, which no body furnishes to a body but thy God is even unto thee the Life of life.

Footnotes

[844] Rom. i. 20. [845] Rom. ix. 15. [846] Anaximenes of Miletus was born about 520 B.C. According to his philosophy the air was animate, and from it, as from a first principle, all things in heaven, earth, and sea sprung, first by condensation (puknosis), and after that by a process of rarefaction (araiosis). See Ep. cxviii. 23; and Aristotle, Phys. iii. 4. Compare this theory and that of Epicurus (p. 100, above) with those of modern physicists; and see thereon The Unseen Universe, arts. 85, etc., and 117, etc. [847] In Ps. cxliv. 13, the earth he describes as "dumb," but as speaking to us while we meditate upon its beauty--Ipsa inquisitio interrogatio est. [848] Rom. i. 20. [849] See note 2 to previous section.


Chapter VII.--That God is to Be Found Neither from the Powers of the Body Nor of the Soul.

11. What then is it that I love when I love my God? Who is He that is above the head of my soul? By my soul itself will I mount up unto Him. I will soar beyond that power of mine whereby I cling to the body, and fill the whole structure of it with life. Not by that power do I find my God; for then the horse and the mule, "which have no understanding," [850] might find Him, since it is the same power by which their bodies also live. But there is another power, not that only by which I quicken, but that also by which I endow with sense my flesh, which the Lord hath made for me; bidding the eye not to hear, and the ear not to see; but that, for me to see by, and this, for me to hear by; and to each of the other senses its own proper seat and office, which being different, I, the single mind, do through them govern. I will soar also beyond this power of mine; for this the horse and mule possess, for they too discern through the body.

Footnotes

[850] Ps. xxxii. 9.


Chapter VIII.----Of the Nature and the Amazing Power of Memory.

12. I will soar, then, beyond this power of my nature also, ascending by degrees unto Him who made me. And I enter the fields and roomy chambers of memory, where are the treasures of countless images, imported into it from all manner of things by the senses. There is treasured up whatsoever likewise we think, either by enlarging or diminishing, or by varying in any way whatever those things which the sense hath arrived at; yea, and whatever else hath been entrusted to it and stored up, which oblivion hath not yet engulfed and buried. When I am in this storehouse, I demand that what I wish should be brought forth, and some things immediately appear; others require to be longer sought after, and are dragged, as it were, out of some hidden receptacle; others, again, hurry forth in crowds, and while another thing is sought and inquired for, they leap into view, as if to say, "Is it not we, perchance?" These I drive away with the hand of my heart from before the face of my remembrance, until what I wish be discovered making its appearance out of its secret cell. Other things suggest themselves without effort, and in continuous order, just as they are called for,--those in front giving place to those that follow, and in giving place are treasured up again to be forthcoming when I wish it. All of which takes place when I repeat a thing from memory.

13. All these things, each of which entered by its own avenue, are distinctly and under general heads there laid up: as, for example, light, and all colours and forms of bodies, by the eyes; sounds of all kinds by the ears; all smells by the passage of the nostrils; all flavours by that of the mouth; and by the sensation of the whole body is brought in what is hard or soft, hot or cold, smooth or rough, heavy or light, whether external or internal to the body. All these doth that great receptacle of memory, with its many and indescribable departments, receive, to be recalled and brought forth when required; each, entering by its own door, is hid up in it. And yet the things themselves do not enter it, but only the images of the things perceived are there ready at hand for thought to recall. And who can tell how these images are formed, notwithstanding that it is evident by which of the senses each has been fetched in and treasured up? For even while I live in darkness and silence, I can bring out colours in memory if I wish, and discern between black and white, and what others I wish; nor yet do sounds break in and disturb what is drawn in by mine eyes, and which I am considering, seeing that they also are there, and are concealed, laid up, as it were, apart. For these too I can summon if I please, and immediately they appear. And though my tongue be at rest, and my throat silent, yet can I sing as much as I will; and those images of colours, which notwithstanding are there, do not interpose themselves and interrupt when another treasure is under consideration which flowed in through the ears. So the remaining things carried in and heaped up by the other senses, I recall at my pleasure. And I discern the scent of lilies from that of violets while smelling nothing; and I prefer honey to grape-syrup, a smooth thing to a rough, though then I neither taste nor handle, but only remember.

14. These things do I within, in that vast chamber of my memory. For there are nigh me heaven, earth, sea, and whatever I can think upon in them, besides those which I have forgotten. There also do I meet with myself, and recall myself,--what, when, or where I did a thing, and how I was affected when I did it. There are all which I remember, either by personal experience or on the faith of others. Out of the same supply do I myself with the past construct now this, now that likeness of things, which either I have experienced, or, from having experienced, have believed; and thence again future actions, events, and hopes, and upon all these again do I meditate as if they were present. "I will do this or that," say I to myself in that vast womb of my mind, filled with the images of things so many and so great, "and this or that shall follow upon it." "Oh that this or that might come to pass!" "God avert this or that!" Thus speak I to myself; and when I speak, the images of all I speak about are present, out of the same treasury of memory; nor could I say anything at all about them were the images absent.

15. Great is this power of memory, exceeding great, O my God,--an inner chamber large and boundless! Who has plumbed the depths thereof? Yet it is a power of mine, and appertains unto my nature; nor do I myself grasp all that I am. Therefore is the mind too narrow to contain itself. And where should that be which it doth not contain of itself? Is it outside and not in itself? How is it, then, that it doth not grasp itself? A great admiration rises upon me; astonishment seizes me. And men go forth to wonder at the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the extent of the ocean, and the courses of the stars, and omit to wonder at themselves; nor do they marvel that when I spoke of all these things, I was not looking on them with my eyes, and yet could not speak of them unless those mountains, and waves, and rivers, and stars which I saw, and that ocean which I believe in, I saw inwardly in my memory, and with the same vast spaces between as when I saw them abroad. But I did not by seeing appropriate them when I looked on them with my eyes; nor are the things themselves with me, but their images. And I knew by what corporeal sense each made impression on me.


Chapter IX.--Not Only Things, But Also Literature and Images, are Taken from the Memory, and are Brought Forth by the Act of Remembering.

16. And yet are not these all that the illimitable capacity of my memory retains. Here also is all that is apprehended of the liberal sciences, and not yet forgotten--removed as it were into an inner place, which is not a place; nor are they the images which are retained, but the things themselves. For what is literature, what skill in disputation, whatsoever I know of all the many kinds of questions there are, is so in my memory, as that I have not taken in the image and left the thing without, or that it should have sounded and passed away like a voice imprinted on the ear by that trace, whereby it might be recorded, as though it sounded when it no longer did so; or as an odour while it passes away, and vanishes into wind, affects the sense of smell, whence it conveys the image of itself into the memory, which we realize in recollecting; or like food, which assuredly in the belly hath now no taste, and yet hath a kind of taste in the memory, or like anything that is by touching felt by the body, and which even when removed from us is imagined by the memory. For these things themselves are not put into it, but the images of them only are caught up, with a marvellous quickness, and laid up, as it were, in most wonderful garners, and wonderfully brought forth when we remember.


Chapter X.--Literature is Not Introduced to the Memory Through the Senses, But is Brought Forth from Its More Secret Places.

17. But truly when I hear that there are three kinds of questions, "Whether a thing is?--what it is?--of what kind it is?" I do indeed hold fast the images of the sounds of which these words are composed, and I know that those sounds passed through the air with a noise, and now are not. But the things themselves which are signified by these sounds I never arrived at by any sense of the body, nor ever perceived them otherwise than by my mind; and in my memory have I laid up not their images, but themselves, which, how they entered into me, let them tell if they are able. For I examine all the gates of my flesh, but find not by which of them they entered. For the eyes say, "If they were coloured, we announced them." The ears say, "If they sounded, we gave notice of them." The nostrils say, "If they smell, they passed in by us." The sense of taste says, "If they have no flavour, ask not me." The touch says, "If it have not body, I handled it not, and if I never handled it, I gave no notice of it." Whence and how did these things enter into my memory? I know not how. For when I learned them, I gave not credit to the heart of another man, but perceived them in my own; and I approved them as true, and committed them to it, laying them up, as it were, whence I might fetch them when I willed. There, then, they were, even before I learned them, but were not in my memory. Where were they, then, or wherefore, when they were spoken, did I acknowledge them, and say, "So it is, it is true," unless as being already in the memory, though so put back and concealed, as it were, in more secret caverns, that had they not been drawn forth by the advice of another I would not, perchance, have been able to conceive of them?


Chapter XI.--What It is to Learn and to Think.

18. Wherefore we find that to learn these things, whose images we drink not in by our senses, but perceive within as they are by themselves, without images, is nothing else but by meditation as it were to concentrate, and by observing to take care that those notions which the memory did before contain scattered and confused, be laid up at hand, as it were, in that same memory, where before they lay concealed, scattered and neglected, and so the more easily present themselves to the mind well accustomed to observe them. And how many things of this sort does my memory retain which have been found out already, and, as I said, are, as it were, laid up ready to hand, which we are said to have learned and to have known; which, should we for small intervals of time cease to recall, they are again so submerged and slide back, as it were, into the more remote chambers, that they must be evolved thence again as if new (for other sphere they have none), and must be marshalled [cogenda] again that they may become known; that is to say, they must be collected [colligenda], as it were, from their dispersion; whence we have the word cogitare. For cogo [I collect] and cogito [I recollect] have the same relation to each other as ago and agito, facio and factito. But the mind has appropriated to itself this word [cogitation], so that not that which is collected anywhere, but what is collected, [851] that is marshalled, [852] in the mind, is properly said to be "cogitated." [853]

Footnotes

[851] Colligitur. [852] Cogitur. [853] Cogitari.


Chapter XII.--On the Recollection of Things Mathematical.

19. The memory containeth also the reasons and innumerable laws of numbers and dimensions, none of which hath any sense of the body impressed, seeing they have neither colour, nor sound, nor taste, nor smell, nor sense of touch. I have heard the sound of the words by which these things are signified when they are discussed; but the sounds are one thing, the things another. For the sounds are one thing in Greek, another in Latin; but the things themselves are neither Greek, nor Latin, nor any other language. I have seen the lines of the craftsmen, even the finest, like a spider's web; but these are of another kind, they are not the images of those which the eye of my flesh showed me; he knoweth them who, without any idea whatsoever of a body, perceives them within himself. I have also observed the numbers of the things with which we number all the senses of the body; but those by which we number are of another kind, nor are they the images of these, and therefore they certainly are. Let him who sees not these things mock me for saying them; and I will pity him, whilst he mocks me.


Chapter XIII.--Memory Retains All Things.

20. All these things I retain in my memory, and how I learnt them I retain. I retain also many things which I have heard most falsely objected against them, which though they be false, yet is it not false that I have remembered them; and I remember, too, that I have distinguished between those truths and these falsehoods uttered against them; and I now see that it is one thing to distinguish these things, another to remember that I often distinguished them, when I often reflected upon them. I both remember, then, that I have often understood these things, and what I now distinguish and comprehend I store away in my memory, that hereafter I may remember that I understood it now. Therefore also I remember that I have remembered; so that if afterwards I shall call to mind that I have been able to remember these things, it will be through the power of memory that I shall call it to mind.


Chapter XIV.--Concerning the Manner in Which Joy and Sadness May Be Brought Back to the Mind and Memory.

21. This same memory contains also the affections of my mind; not in the manner in which the mind itself contains them when it suffers them, but very differently according to a power peculiar to memory. For without being joyous, I remember myself to have had joy; and without being sad, I call to mind my past sadness; and that of which I was once afraid, I remember without fear; and without desire recall a former desire. Again, on the contrary, I at times remember when joyous my past sadness, and when sad my joy. Which is not to be wondered at as regards the body; for the mind is one thing, the body another. If I, therefore, when happy, recall some past bodily pain, it is not so strange a thing. But now, as this very memory itself is mind (for when we give orders to have a thing kept in memory, we say, "See that you bear this in mind;" and when we forget a thing, we say, "It did not enter my mind," and, "It slipped from my mind," thus calling the memory itself mind), as this is so, how comes it to pass that when being joyful I remember my past sorrow, the mind has joy, the memory sorrow,--the mind, from the joy than is in it, is joyful, yet the memory, from the sadness that is in it, is not sad? Does not the memory perchance belong unto the mind? Who will say so? The memory doubtless is, so to say, the belly of the mind, and joy and sadness like sweet and bitter food, which, when entrusted to the memory, are, as it were, passed into the belly, where they can be reposited, but cannot taste. It is ridiculous to imagine these to be alike; and yet they are not utterly unlike.

22. But behold, out of my memory I educe it, when I affirm that there be four perturbations of the mind,--desire, joy, fear, sorrow; and whatsoever I shall be able to dispute on these, by dividing each into its peculiar species, and by defining it, there I find what I may say, and thence I educe it; yet am I not disturbed by any of these perturbations when by remembering them I call them to mind; and before I recollected and reviewed them, they were there; wherefore by remembrance could they be brought thence. Perchance, then, even as meat is in ruminating brought up out of the belly, so by calling to mind are these educed from the memory. Why, then, does not the disputant, thus recollecting, perceive in the mouth of his meditation the sweetness of joy or the bitterness of sorrow? Is the comparison unlike in this because not like in all points? For who would willingly discourse on these subjects, if, as often as we name sorrow or fear, we should be compelled to be sorrowful or fearful? And yet we could never speak of them, did we not find in our memory not merely the sounds of the names, according to the images imprinted on it by the senses of the body, but the notions of the things themselves, which we never received by any door of the flesh, but which the mind itself, recognising by the experience of its own passions, entrusted to the memory, or else which the memory itself retained without their being entrusted to it.


Chapter XV.--In Memory There are Also Images of Things Which are Absent.

23. But whether by images or no, who can well affirm? For I name a stone, I name the sun, and the things themselves are not present to my senses, but their images are near to my memory. I name some pain of the body, yet it is not present when there is no pain; yet if its image were not in my memory, I should be ignorant what to say concerning it, nor in arguing be able to distinguish it from pleasure. I name bodily health when sound in body; the thing itself is indeed present with me, but unless its image also were in my memory, I could by no means call to mind what the sound of this name signified. Nor would sick people know, when health was named, what was said, unless the same image were retained by the power of memory, although the thing itself were absent from the body. I name numbers whereby we enumerate; and not their images, but they themselves are in my memory. I name the image of the sun, and this, too, is in my memory. For I do not recall the image of that image, but itself, for the image itself is present when I remember it. I name memory, and I know what I name. But where do I know it, except in the memory itself? Is it also present to itself by its image, and not by itself?


Chapter XVI.--The Privation of Memory is Forgetfulness.

24. When I name forgetfulness, and know, too, what I name, whence should I know it if I did not remember it? I do not say the sound of the name, but the thing which it signifies which, had I forgotten, I could not know what that sound signified. When, therefore, I remember memory, then is memory present with itself, through itself. But when I remember forgetfulness, there are present both memory and forgetfulness,--memory, whereby I remember, forgetfulness, which I remember. But what is forgetfulness but the privation of memory? How, then, is that present for me to remember, since, when it is so, I cannot remember? But if what we remember we retain in memory, yet, unless we remembered forgetfulness, we could never at the hearing of the name know the thing meant by it, then is forgetfulness retained by memory. Present, therefore, it is, lest we should forget it; and being so, we do forget. Is it to be inferred from this that forgetfulness, when we remember it, is not present to the memory through itself, but through its image; because, were forgetfulness present through itself, it would not lead us to remember, but to forget? Who will now investigate this? Who shall understand how it is?

25. Truly, O Lord, I labour therein, and labour in myself. I am become a troublesome soil that requires overmuch labour. For we are not now searching out the tracts of heaven, or measuring the distances of the stars, or inquiring about the weight of the earth. It is I myself--I, the mind--who remember. It is not much to be wondered at, if what I myself am not be far from me. But what is nearer to me than myself? And, behold, I am not able to comprehend the force of my own memory, though I cannot name myself without it. For what shall I say when it is plain to me that I remember forgetfulness? Shall I affirm that which I remember is not in my memory? Or shall I say that forgetfulness is in my memory with the view of my not forgetting? Both of these are most absurd. What third view is there? How can I assert that the image of forgetfulness is retained by my memory, and not forgetfulness itself, when I remember it? And how can I assert this, seeing that when the image of anything is imprinted on the memory, the thing itself must of necessity be present first by which that image may be imprinted? For thus do I remember Carthage; thus, all the places to which I have been; thus, the faces of men whom I have seen, and things reported by the other senses; thus, the health or sickness of the body. For when these objects were present, my memory received images from them, which, when they were present, I might gaze on and reconsider in my mind, as I remembered them when they were absent. If, therefore, forgetfulness is retained in the memory through its image, and not through itself, then itself was once present, that its image might be taken. But when it was present, how did it write its image on the memory, seeing that forgetfulness by its presence blots out even what it finds already noted? And yet, in whatever way, though it be incomprehensible and inexplicable, yet most certain I am that I remember also forgetfulness itself, whereby what we do remember is blotted out.


Chapter XVII.--God Cannot Be Attained Unto by the Power of Memory, Which Beasts and Birds Possess.

26. Great is the power of memory; very wonderful is it, O my God, a profound and infinite manifoldness; and this thing is the mind, and this I myself am. What then am I, O my God? Of what nature am I? A life various and manifold, and exceeding vast. Behold, in the numberless fields, and caves, and caverns of my memory, full without number of numberless kinds of things, either through images, as all bodies are; or by the presence of the things themselves, as are the arts; or by some notion or observation, as the affections of the mind are, which, even though the mind doth not suffer, the memory retains, while whatsoever is in the memory is also in the mind: through all these do I run to and fro, and fly; I penetrate on this side and that, as far as I am able, and nowhere is there an end. So great is the power of memory, so great the power of life in man, whose life is mortal. What then shall I do, O Thou my true life, my God? I will pass even beyond this power of mine which is called memory--I will pass beyond it, that I may proceed to Thee, O Thou sweet Light. What sayest Thou to me? Behold, I am soaring by my mind towards Thee who remainest above me. I will also pass beyond this power of mine which is called memory, wishful to reach Thee whence Thou canst be reached, and to cleave unto Thee whence it is possible to cleave unto Thee. For even beasts and birds possess memory, else could they never find their lairs and nests again, nor many other things to which they are used; neither indeed could they become used to anything, but by their memory. I will pass, then, beyond memory also, that I may reach Him who has separated me from the four-footed beasts and the fowls of the air, making me wiser than they. I will pass beyond memory also, but where shall I find Thee, O Thou truly good and assured sweetness? But where shall I find Thee? If I find Thee without memory, then am I unmindful of Thee. And how now shall I find Thee, if I do not remember Thee?


Chapter XVIII.--A Thing When Lost Could Not Be Found Unless It Were Retained in the Memory.

27. For the woman who lost her drachma, and searched for it with a lamp, [854] unless she had remembered it, would never have found it. For when it was found, whence could she know whether it were the same, had she not remembered it? I remember to have lost and found many things; and this I know thereby, that when I was searching for any of them, and was asked, "Is this it?" "Is that it?" I answered "No," until such time as that which I sought were offered to me. Which had I not remembered,--whatever it were,--though it were offered me, yet would I not find it, because I could not recognise it. And thus it is always, when we search for and find anything that is lost. Notwithstanding, if anything be by accident lost from the sight, not from the memory,--as any visible body,--the image of it is retained within, and is searched for until it be restored to sight; and when it is found, it is recognised by the image which is within. Nor do we say that we have found what we had lost unless we recognise it; nor can we recognise it unless we remember it. But this, though lost to the sight, was retained in the memory.

Footnotes

[854] Luke xv. 8.


Chapter XIX.--What It is to Remember.

28. But how is it when the memory itself loses anything, as it happens when we forget anything and try to recall it? Where finally do we search, but in the memory itself? And there, if perchance one thing be offered for another, we refuse it, until we meet with what we seek; and when we do, we exclaim, "This is it!" which we should not do unless we knew it again, nor should we recognise it unless we remembered it. Assuredly, therefore, we had forgotten it. Or, had not the whole of it slipped our memory, but by the part by which we had hold was the other part sought for; since the memory perceived that it did not revolve together as much as it was accustomed to do, and halting, as if from the mutilation of its old habit, demanded the restoration of that which was wanting. For example, if we see or think of some man known to us, and, having forgotten his name, endeavour to recover it, whatsoever other thing presents itself is not connected with it; because it was not used to be thought of in connection with him, and is consequently rejected, until that is present whereon the knowledge reposes fittingly as its accustomed object. And whence, save from the memory itself, does that present itself? For even when we recognise it as put in mind of it by another, it is thence it comes. For we do not believe it as something new, but, as we recall it, admit what was said to be correct. But if it were entirely blotted out of the mind, we should not, even when put in mind of it, recollect it. For we have not as yet entirely forgotten what we remember that we have forgotten. A lost notion, then, which we have entirely forgotten, we cannot even search for.


Chapter XX.--We Should Not Seek for God and the Happy Life Unless We Had Known It.

29. How, then, do I seek Thee, O Lord? For when I seek Thee, my God, I seek a happy life. [855] I will seek Thee, that my soul may live. [856] For my body liveth by my soul, and my soul liveth by Thee. How, then, do I seek a happy life, seeing that it is not mine till I can say, "It is enough!" in that place where I ought to say it? How do I seek it? Is it by remembrance, as though I had forgotten it, knowing too that I had forgotten it? or, longing to learn it as a thing unknown, which either I had never known, or had so forgotten it as not even to remember that I had forgotten it? Is not a happy life the thing that all desire, and is there any one who altogether desires it not? But where did they acquire the knowledge of it, that they so desire it? Where have they seen it, that they so love it? Truly we have it, but how I know not. Yea, there is another way in which, when any one hath it, he is happy; and some there be that are happy in hope. These have it in an inferior kind to those that are happy in fact; and yet are they better off than they who are happy neither in fact nor in hope. And even these, had they it not in some way, would not so much desire to be happy, which that they do desire is most certain. How they come to know it, I cannot tell, but they have it by some kind of knowledge unknown to me, who am in much doubt as to whether it be in the memory; for if it be there, then have we been happy once; whether all individually, or as in that man who first sinned, in whom also we all died, [857] and from whom we are all born with misery, I do not now ask; but I ask whether the happy life be in the memory? For did we not know it, we should not love it. We hear the name, and we all acknowledge that we desire the thing; for we are not delighted with the sound only. For when a Greek hears it spoken in Latin, he does not feel delighted, for he knows not what is spoken; but we are delighted, [858] as he too would be if he heard it in Greek; because the thing itself is neither Greek nor Latin, which Greeks and Latins, and men of all other tongues, long so earnestly to obtain. It is then known unto all, and could they with one voice be asked whether they wished to be happy, without doubt they would all answer that they would. And this could not be unless the thing itself, of which it is the name, were retained in their memory.

Footnotes

[855] See note, p. 75, above. [856] Amos v. 4. [857] 1 Cor. xv. 22; see p. 140, note 3, and note p. 73, above. [858] That is, as knowing Latin.


Chapter XXI.--How a Happy Life May Be Retained in the Memory.

30. But is it so as one who has seen Carthage remembers it? No. For a happy life is not visible to the eye, because it is not a body. Is it, then, as we remember numbers? No. For he that hath these in his knowledge strives not to attain further; but a happy life we have in our knowledge, and, therefore, do we love it, while yet we wish further to attain it that we may be happy. Is it, then, as we remember eloquence? No. For although some, when they hear this name, call the thing to mind, who, indeed, are not yet eloquent, and many who wish to be so, whence it appears to be in their knowledge; yet have these by their bodily perceptions noticed that others are eloquent, and been delighted with it, and long to be so,--although they would not be delighted save for some interior knowledge, nor desire to be so unless they were delighted,--but a happy life we can by no bodily perception make experience of in others. Is it, then, as we remember joy? It may be so; for my joy I remember, even when sad, like as I do a happy life when I am miserable. Nor did I ever with perception of the body either see, hear, smell, taste, or touch my joy; but I experienced it in my mind when I rejoiced; and the knowledge of it clung to my memory, so that I can call it to mind sometimes with disdain and at others with desire, according to the difference of the things wherein I now remember that I rejoiced. For even from unclean things have I been bathed with a certain joy, which now calling to mind, I detest and execrate; at other times, from good and honest things, which, with longing, I call to mind, though perchance they be not nigh at hand, and then with sadness do I call to mind a former joy.

31. Where and when, then, did I experience my happy life, that I should call it to mind, and love and long for it? Nor is it I alone or a few others who wish to be happy, but truly all; which, unless by certain knowledge we knew, we should not wish with so certain a will. But how is this, that if two men be asked whether they would wish to serve as soldiers one, it may be, would reply that he would, the other that he would not; but if they were asked whether they would wish to be happy, both of them would unhesitatingly say that they would; and this one would wish to serve, and the other not, from no other motive but to be happy? Is it, perchance, that as one joys in this, and another in that, so do all men agree in their wish for happiness, as they would agree, were they asked, in wishing to have joy,--and this joy they call a happy life? Although, then, one pursues joy in this way, and another in that, all have one goal, which they strive to attain, namely, to have joy. This life, being a thing which no one can say he has not experienced, it is on that account found in the memory, and recognised whenever the name of a happy life is heard.


Chapter XXII.--A Happy Life is to Rejoice in God, and for God.

32. Let it be far, O Lord,--let it be far from the heart of Thy servant who confesseth unto Thee; let it be far from me to think myself happy, be the joy what it may. For there is a joy which is not granted to the "wicked," [859] but to those who worship Thee thankfully, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And the happy life is this,--to rejoice unto Thee, in Thee, and for Thee; this it is, and there is no other. [860] But those who think there is another follow after another joy, and that not the true one. Their will, however, is not turned away from some shadow of joy.

Footnotes

[859] Isa. xlviii. 22. [860] Since "life eternal is the supreme good," as he remarks in his De Civ. Dei, xix. 4. Compare also ibid. viii. sec. 8, where he argues that the highest good is God, and that he who loves Him is in the enjoyment of that good. See also note on the chief good, p. 75, above.


Chapter XXIII.--All Wish to Rejoice in the Truth.

33. It is not, then, certain that all men wish to be happy, since those who wish not to rejoice in Thee, which is the only happy life, do not verily desire the happy life. Or do all desire this, but because "the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh," so that they "cannot do the things that they would," [861] they fall upon that which they are able to do, and with that are content; because that which they are not able to do, they do not so will as to make them able? [862] For I ask of every man, whether he would rather rejoice in truth or in falsehood. They will no more hesitate to say, "in truth," than to say, "that they wish to be happy." For a happy life is joy in the truth. For this is joy in Thee, who art "the truth," [863] O God, "my light," [864] "the health of my countenance, and my God." [865] All wish for this happy life; this life do all wish for, which is the only happy one; joy in the truth do all wish for. [866] I have had experience of many who wished to deceive, but not one who wished to be deceived. Where, then, did they know this happy life, save where they knew also the truth? For they love it, too, since they would not be deceived. And when they love a happy life, which is naught else but joy in the truth, assuredly they love also the truth; which yet they would not love were there not some knowledge of it in the memory. Wherefore, then, do they not rejoice in it? Why are they not happy? Because they are more entirely occupied with other things which rather make them miserable, than that which would make them happy, which they remember so little of. For there is yet a little light in men; let them walk--let them "walk," that the "darkness" seize them not. [867]

34. Why, then, doth truth beget hatred [868] and that man of thine, [869] preaching the truth become an enemy unto them, whereas a happy life is loved, which is naught else but joy in the truth; unless that truth is loved in such a sort as that those who love aught else wish that to be the truth which they love, and, as they are willing to be deceived, are unwilling to be convinced that they are so? Therefore do they hate the truth for the sake of that thing which they love instead of the truth. They love truth when she shines on them, and hate her when she rebukes them. For, because they are not willing to be deceived, and wish to deceive, they love her when she reveals herself, and hate her when she reveals them. On that account shall she so requite them, that those who were unwilling to be discovered by her she both discovers against their will, and discovers not herself unto them. Thus, thus, truly thus doth the human mind, so blind and sick, so base and unseemly, desire to lie concealed, but wishes not that anything should be concealed from it. But the opposite is rendered unto it,--that itself is not concealed from the truth, but the truth is concealed from it. Yet, even while thus wretched, it prefers to rejoice in truth rather than in falsehood. Happy then will it be, when, no trouble intervening, it shall rejoice in that only truth by whom all things else are true.

Footnotes

[861] Gal. v. 17. [862] See viii. sec. 20, above. [863] John xiv. 6. [864] Ps. xxvii. 1. [865] Ps. xlii. 11. [866] See sec. 29, above. [867] John xii. 35. [868] "Veritas parit odium." Compare Terence, Andria, i. 1, 41: "Obsequiam amicos, veritas odium parit." [869] John viii. 40.


Chapter XXIV.--He Who Finds Truth, Finds God.

35. Behold how I have enlarged in my memory seeking Thee, O Lord; and out of it have I not found Thee. Nor have I found aught concerning Thee, but what I have retained in memory from the time I learned Thee. For from the time I learned Thee have I never forgotten Thee. For where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the Truth itself, [870] which from the time I learned it have I not forgotten. And thus since the time I learned Thee, Thou abidest in my memory; and there do I find Thee whensoever I call Thee to remembrance, and delight in Thee. These are my holy delights, which Thou hast bestowed upon me in Thy mercy, having respect unto my poverty.

Footnotes

[870] See iv. c. 12, and vii. c. 10, above.


Chapter XXV.--He is Glad that God Dwells in His Memory.

36. But where in my memory abidest Thou, O Lord, where dost Thou there abide? What manner of chamber hast Thou there formed for Thyself? What sort of sanctuary hast Thou erected for Thyself? Thou hast granted this honour to my memory, to take up Thy abode in it; but in what quarter of it Thou abidest, I am considering. For in calling Thee to mind, [871] I soared beyond those parts of it which the beasts also possess, since I found Thee not there amongst the images of corporeal things; and I arrived at those parts where I had committed the affections of my mind, nor there did I find Thee. And I entered into the very seat of my mind, which it has in my memory, since the mind remembers itself also--nor wert Thou there. For as Thou art not a bodily image, nor the affection of a living creature, as when we rejoice, condole, desire, fear, remember, forget, or aught of the kind; so neither art Thou the mind itself, because Thou art the Lord God of the mind; and all these things are changed, but Thou remainest unchangeable over all, yet vouchsafest to dwell in my memory, from the time I learned Thee. But why do I now seek in what part of it Thou dwellest, as if truly there were places in it? Thou dost dwell in it assuredly, since I have remembered Thee from the time I learned Thee, and I find Thee in it when I call Thee to mind.

Footnotes

[871] In connection with Augustin's views as to memory, Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding, ii. 10, and Stewart's Philosophy of the Human Mind, c. 6, may be profitably consulted.


Chapter XXVI.--God Everywhere Answers Those Who Take Counsel of Him.

37. Where, then, did I find Thee, so as to be able to learn Thee? For Thou wert not in my memory before I learned Thee. Where, then, did I find Thee, so as to be able to learn Thee, but in Thee above me? Place there is none; we go both "backward" and "forward," [872] and there is no place. Everywhere, O Truth, dost Thou direct all who consult Thee, and dost at once answer all, though they consult Thee on divers things. Clearly dost Thou answer, though all do not with clearness hear. All consult Thee upon whatever they wish, though they hear not always that which they wish. He is Thy best servant who does not so much look to hear that from Thee which he himself wisheth, as to wish that which he heareth from Thee.

Footnotes

[872] Job xxiii. 8.


Chapter XXVII.--He Grieves that He Was So Long Without God.

38. Too late did I love Thee, O Fairness, so ancient, and yet so new! Too late did I love Thee! For behold, Thou wert within, and I without, and there did I seek Thee; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty Thou madest. [873] Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee. Those things kept me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not. Thou calledst, and criedst aloud, and forcedst open my deafness. Thou didst gleam and shine, and chase away my blindness. Thou didst exhale odours, and I drew in my breath and do pant after Thee. I tasted, and do hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burned for Thy peace.

Footnotes

[873] See p. 74, note 1, above.


Chapter XXVIII.--On the Misery of Human Life.

39. When I shall cleave unto Thee with all my being, then shall I in nothing have pain and labour; and my life shall be a real life, being wholly full of Thee. But now since he whom Thou fillest is the one Thou liftest up, I am a burden to myself, as not being full of Thee. Joys of sorrow contend with sorrows of joy; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows contend with my good joys; and on which side the victory may be I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have pity on me. Woe is me! Lo, I hide not my wounds; Thou art the Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, I miserable. Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation? [874] Who is he that wishes for vexations and difficulties? Thou commandest them to be endured, not to be loved. For no man loves what he endures, though he may love to endure. For notwithstanding he rejoices to endure, he would rather there were naught for him to endure. [875] In adversity, I desire prosperity; in prosperity, I fear adversity. What middle place, then, is there between these, where human life is not a temptation? Woe unto the prosperity of this world, once and again, from fear of misfortune and a corruption of joy! Woe unto the adversities of this world, once and again, and for the third time, from the desire of prosperity; and because adversity itself is a hard thing, and makes shipwreck of endurance! Is not the life of man upon earth a temptation, and that without intermission? [876]

Footnotes

[874] Job vii. 1. The Old Ver. rendering ZJoB+o# by tentatio, after the LXX. peiraterion. The Vulg. has militia, which ="warfare" in margin of A.V. [875] "It will not be safe," says Anthony Farindon (vol. iv. Christ's Temptation, serm. 107), "for us to challenge and provoke a temptation, but to arm and prepare ourselves against it; to stand upon our guard, and neither to offer battle nor yet refuse it. Sapiens feret ista, non eliget: `It is the part of a wise man not to seek for evil, but to endure it.' And to this end it concerneth every man to exercise ten pneumatiken sunesin, `his spiritual wisdom,' that he may discover Spiritus ductiones et diaboli seductiones, `the Spirit's leadings and the devil's seducements.'" See also Augustin's Serm. lxxvi. 4, and p. 79, note 9, above. [876] We have ever to endure temptation, either in the sense of a testing, as when it is said, "God did tempt Abraham" (Gen. xxii. 1); or with the additional idea of yielding to the temptation, and so committing sin, as in the use of the word in the Lord's Prayer (Matt. vi. 13); for, as Dyke says in his Michael and the Dragon (Works, i. 203, 204): "No sooner have we bathed and washed our souls in the waters of Repentance, but we must presently expect the fiery darts of Satan's temptations to be driving at us. What we get and gain from Satan by Repentance, he seeks to regain and recover by his Temptations. We must not think to pass quietly out of Egypt without Pharaoh's pursuit, nor to travel the wilderness of this world without the opposition of the Amalekites." Compare Augustin, In Ev. Joann. Tract. xliii. 6, and Serm. lvii. 9. See also p. 79, note 3, above.


Chapter XXIX.--All Hope is in the Mercy of God.

40. And my whole hope is only in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. Thou imposest continency upon us, [877] "nevertheless, when I perceived," saith one, "that I could not otherwise obtain her, except God gave her me; . . . that was a point of wisdom also to know whose gift she was." [878] For by continency are we bound up and brought into one, whence we were scattered abroad into many. For he loves Thee too little who loves aught with Thee, which he loves not for Thee, [879] O love, who ever burnest, and art never quenched! O charity, my God, kindle me! Thou commandest continency; give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.

Footnotes

[877] In his 38th Sermon, he distinguishes between continentia and sustinentia; the first guarding us from the allurements of worldliness and sin, while the second enables us to endure the troubles of life. [878] Wisd. viii. 21. [879] In his De Trin. ix. 13 ("In what desire and love differ"), he says, that when the creature is loved for itself, and the love of it is not referred to its Creator, it is desire (cupiditas) and not true love. See also p. 129, note 8, above.


Chapter XXX.--Of the Perverse Images of Dreams, Which He Wishes to Have Taken Away.

41. Verily, Thou commandest that I should be continent from the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." [880] Thou hast commanded me to abstain from concubinage; and as to marriage itself, Thou hast advised something better than Thou hast allowed. And because Thou didst give it, it was done; and that before I became a dispenser of Thy sacrament. But there still exist in my memory--of which I have spoken much--the images of such things as my habits had fixed there; and these rush into my thoughts, though strengthless, when I am awake; but in sleep they do so not only so as to give pleasure, but even to obtain consent, and what very nearly resembles reality. [881] Yea, to such an extent prevails the illusion of the image, both in my soul and in my flesh, that the false persuade me, when sleeping, unto that which the true are not able when waking. Am I not myself at that time, O Lord my God? And there is yet so much difference between myself and myself, in that instant wherein I pass back from waking to sleeping, or return from sleeping to waking! Where, then, is the reason which when waking resists such suggestions? And if the things themselves be forced on it, I remain unmoved. Is it shut up with the eyes? Or is it put to sleep with the bodily senses? But whence, then, comes it to pass, that even in slumber we often resist, and, bearing our purpose in mind, and continuing most chastely in it, yield no assent to such allurements? And there is yet so much difference that, when it happeneth otherwise, upon awaking we return to peace of conscience; and by this same diversity do we discover that it was not we that did it, while we still feel sorry that in some way it was done in us.

42. Is not Thy hand able, O Almighty God, to heal all the diseases of my soul, [882] and by Thy more abundant grace to quench even the lascivious motions of my sleep? Thou wilt increase in me, O Lord, Thy gifts more and more, that my soul may follow me to Thee, disengaged from the bird-lime of concupiscence; that it may not be in rebellion against itself, and even in dreams not simply not, through sensual images, commit those deformities of corruption, even to the pollution of the flesh, but that it may not even consent unto them. For it is no great thing for the Almighty, who is "able to do . . . above all that we ask or think," [883] to bring it about that no such influence--not even so slight a one as a sign might restrain--should afford gratification to the chaste affection even of one sleeping; and that not only in this life, but at my present age. But what I still am in this species of my ill, have I confessed unto my good Lord; rejoicing with trembling [884] in that which Thou hast given me, and bewailing myself for that wherein I am still imperfect; trusting that Thou wilt perfect Thy mercies in me, even to the fulness of peace, which both that which is within and that which is without [885] shall have with Thee, when death is swallowed up in victory. [886]

Footnotes

[880] 1 John ii. 16. Dilating on Ps. viii. he makes these three roots of sin to correspond to the threefold nature of our Lord's temptation in the wilderness. See also p. 80, note 5, above. [881] In Augustin's view, then, dreams appear to result from our thoughts and feelings when awake. In this he has the support of Aristotle (Ethics, i. 13), as also that of Solomon, who says (Eccles. v. 3), "A dream cometh through the multitude of business." An apt illustration of this is found in the life of the great Danish sculptor, Thorwaldsen. It is said that he could not satisfy himself with his models for The Christ, in the Frauenkirche at Copenhagen,--as Da Vinci before him was never able to paint the face of the Christ in His noble fresco of the Last Supper,--and that it was only in consequence of a dream (that dream doubtless the result of his stedfast search for an ideal) that this great work was accomplished. But see Ep. clix. [882] Ps. ciii. 3. [883] Eph. iii. 20. [884] Ps. ii. 11. [885] See note 4, p. 140, above. [886] 1 Cor. xv. 54.


Chapter XXXI.--About to Speak of the Temptations of the Lust of the Flesh, He First Complains of the Lust of Eating and Drinking.

43. There is another evil of the day that I would were "sufficient" unto it. [887] For by eating and drinking we repair the daily decays of the body, until Thou destroyest both food and stomach, when Thou shall destroy my want with an amazing satiety, and shalt clothe this corruptible with an eternal incorruption. [888] But now is necessity sweet unto me, and against this sweetness do I fight, lest I be enthralled; and I carry on a daily war by fasting, [889] oftentimes "bringing my body into subjection," [890] and my pains are expelled by pleasure. For hunger and thirst are in some sort pains; they consume and destroy like unto a fever, unless the medicine of nourishment relieve us. The which, since it is at hand through the comfort we receive of Thy gifts, with which land and water and air serve our infirmity, our calamity is called pleasure.

44. This much hast Thou taught me, that I should bring myself to take food as medicine. But during the time that I am passing from the uneasiness of want to the calmness of satiety, even in the very passage doth that snare of concupiscence lie in wait for me. For the passage itself is pleasure, nor is there any other way of passing thither, whither necessity compels us to pass. And whereas health is the reason of eating and drinking, there joineth itself as an hand-maid a perilous delight, which mostly tries to precede it, in order that I may do for her sake what I say I do, or desire to do, for health's sake. Nor have both the same limit; for what is sufficient for health is too little for pleasure. And oftentimes it is doubtful whether it be the necessary care of the body which still asks nourishment, or whether a sensual snare of desire offers its ministry. In this uncertainty does my unhappy soul rejoice, and therein prepares an excuse as a defence, glad that it doth not appear what may be Sufficient for the moderation of health, that so under the pretence of health it may conceal the business of pleasure. These temptations do I daily endeavour to resist, and I summon Thy right hand to my help, and refer my excitements to Thee, because as yet I have no resolve in this matter.

45. I hear the voice of my God commanding, let not "your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness." [891] "Drunkenness," it is far from me; Thou wilt have mercy, that it approach not near unto me. But "surfeiting" sometimes creepeth upon Thy servant; Thou wilt have mercy, that it may be far from me. For no man can be continent unless Thou give it. [892] Many things which we pray for dost Thou give us; and what good soever we receive before we prayed for it, do we receive from Thee, and that we might afterwards know this did we receive it from Thee. Drunkard was I never, but I have known drunkards to be made sober men by Thee. Thy doing, then, was it, that they who never were such might not be so, as from Thee it was that they who have been so heretofore might not remain so always; and from Thee, too was it, that both might know from whom it was. I heard another voice of Thine, "Go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself from thine appetites." [893] And by Thy favour have I heard this saying likewise, which I have much delighted in, "Neither if we eat, are we the better; neither if we eat not, are we the worse;" [894] which is to say, that neither shall the one make me to abound, nor the other to be wretched. I heard also another voice, "For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content, I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound . . . I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." [895] Lo! a soldier of the celestial camp--not dust as we are. But remember, O Lord, "that we are dust," [896] and that of dust Thou hast created man; [897] and he "was lost, and is found." [898] Nor could he do this of his own power, seeing that he whom I so loved, saying these things through the afflatus of Thy inspiration, was of that same dust. "I can," saith he, "do all things through Him which strengtheneth me." [899] Strengthen me, that I may be able. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. [900] He confesses to have received, and when he glorieth, he glorieth in the Lord. [901] Another have I heard entreating that he might receive,--"Take from me," saith he, "the greediness of the belly;" [902] by which it appeareth, O my holy God, that Thou givest when what Thou commandest to be done is done.

46. Thou hast taught me, good Father, that "unto the pure all things are pure;" [903] but "it is evil for that man who eateth with offence;" [904] "and that every creature of Thine is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with, thanksgiving;" [905] and that "meat commendeth us not to God;" [906] and that no man should "judge us in meat or in drink;" [907] and that he that eateth, let him not despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth. [908] These things have I learned, thanks and praise be unto Thee, O my God and Master, who dost knock at my ears and enlighten my heart; deliver me out of all temptation. It is not the uncleanness of meat that I fear, but the uncleanness of lusting. I know that permission was granted unto Noah to eat every kind of flesh [909] that was good for food; [910] that Elias was fed with flesh; [911] that John, endued with a wonderful abstinence, was not polluted by the living creatures (that is, the locusts [912] ) which he fed on. I know, too, that Esau was deceived by a longing for lentiles, [913] and that David took blame to himself for desiring water, [914] and that our King was tempted not by flesh but bread. [915] And the people in the wilderness, therefore, also deserved reproof, not because they desired flesh, but because, in their desire for food, they murmured against the Lord. [916]

47. Placed, then, in the midst of these temptations, I strive daily against longing for food and drink. For it is not of such a nature as that I am able to resolve to cut it off once for all, and not touch it afterwards, as I was able to do with concubinage. The bridle of the throat, therefore, is to be held in the mean of slackness and tightness. [917] And who, O Lord, is he who is not in some degree carried away beyond the bounds of necessity? Whoever he is, he is great; let him magnify Thy name. But I am not such a one, "for I am a sinful man." [918] Yet do I also magnify Thy name; and He who hath "overcome the world" [919] maketh intercession to Thee for my sins, [920] accounting me among the "feeble members" of His body, [921] because Thine eyes saw that of him which was imperfect; and in Thy book all shall be written. [922]

Footnotes

[887] Matt. vi. 34. [888] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [889] In Augustin's time, and indeed till the Council of Orleans, A.D. 538, fasting appears to have been left pretty much to the individual conscience. We find Tertullian in his De Jejunio lamenting the slight observance it received during his day. We learn, however, from the passage in Justin Martyr, quoted in note 4, on p. 118, above, that in his time it was enjoined as a preparation for Baptism. [890] 1 Cor. ix. 27. [891] Luke xxi. 34. [892] Wisd. viii. 21. [893] Ecclus. xviii. 30. [894] 1 Cor. viii. 8. [895] Phil. iv. 11-14. [896] Ps. ciii. 14. [897] Gen. iii. 19. [898] Luke xv. 32. [899] Phil. iv. 13. [900] In his De Dono Persev. sec. 53, he tells us that these words were quoted to Pelagius, when at Rome, by a certain bishop, and that they excited him to contradict them so warmly as nearly to result in a rupture between Pelagius and the bishop. [901] 1 Cor. i. 31. [902] Ecclus. xxiii. 6. [903] Titus i. 15. [904] Rom. xiv. 20. [905] 1 Tim. iv. 4. [906] 1 Cor. viii. 8. [907] Col. ii. 16. [908] Rom. xiii. 23. [909] He here refers to the doctrine of the Manichæans in the matter of eating flesh. In his De Mor. Manich. secs. 36, 37, he discusses the prohibition of flesh to the "Elect." From Ep. ccxxxvi. we find that the "Hearers" had not to practice abstinence from marriage and from eating flesh. For other information on this subject, see notes, pp. 66 and 83. [910] Gen. ix. 3. [911] 1 Kings xvii. 6. [912] Matt. iii. 4. [913] Gen. xxv. 34. [914] 2 Sam. xxiii. 15-17. [915] Matt. iv. 3. [916] Num. xi. [917] So all God's gifts are to be used, but not abused; and those who deny the right use of any, do so by virtually accepting the principle of asceticism. As Augustin, in his De Mor. Ecc. Cath. sec. 39, says of all transient things, we "should use them as far as is required for the purposes and duties of life, with the moderation of an employer instead of the ardour of a lover." [918] Luke v. 8. [919] John xvi. 33. [920] Rom. viii. 34. [921] 1 Cor. xii. 22. [922] Ps. cxxxix. 16; he similarly applies this passage when commenting on it in Ps. cxxxviii. 21, and also in Serm. cxxxv.


Chapter XXXII.--Of the Charms of Perfumes Which are More Easily Overcome.

48. With the attractions of odours I am not much troubled. When absent I do not seek them; when present I do not refuse them; and am prepared ever to be without them. At any rate thus I appear to myself; perchance I am deceived. For that also is a lamentable darkness wherein my capacity that is in me is concealed, so that my mind, making inquiry into herself concerning her own powers, ventures not readily to credit herself; because that which is already in it is, for the most part, concealed, unless experience reveal it. And no man ought to feel secure [923] in this life, the whole of which is called a temptation, [924] that he, who could be made better from worse, may not also from better be made worse. Our sole hope, our sole confidence, our sole assured promise, is Thy mercy.

Footnotes

[923] "For some," says Thomas Taylor (Works, vol. I. "Christ's Temptation," p. 11), "through vain prefidence of God's protection, run in times of contagion into infected houses, which upon just calling a man may: but for one to run out of his calling in the way of an ordinary visitation, he shall find that God's angels have commission to protect him no longer than he is in his way (Ps. xci. 11), and that being out of it, this arrow of the Lord shall sooner hit him than another that is not half so confident." We should not, as Fuller quaintly says, "hollo in the ears of a sleeping temptation;" and when we are tempted, let us remember that if (Hibbert, Syntagma Theologicum, p. 342) "a giant knock while the door is shut, he may with ease be still kept out; but if once open, that he gets in but a limb of himself, then there is no course left to keep out the remaining bulk." See also Augustin on Peter's case, De Corrept. et Grat. c. 9. [924] Job vii. 1, Old Vers. See p. 153, note 1.


Chapter XXXIII.--He Overcame the Pleasures of the Ear, Although in the Church He Frequently Delighted in the Song, Not in the Thing Sung.

49. The delights of the ear had more powerfully inveigled and conquered me, but Thou didst unbind and liberate me. Now, in those airs which Thy words breathe soul into, when sung with a sweet and trained voice, do I somewhat repose; yet not so as to cling to them, but so as to free myself when I wish. But with the words which are their life do they, that they may gain admission into me, strive after a place of some honour in my heart; and I can hardly assign them a fitting one. Sometimes I appear to myself to give them more respect than, is fitting, as I perceive that our minds are more devoutly and earnestly elevated into a flame of piety by the holy words themselves when they are thus sung, than when they are not; and that all affections of our spirit, by their own diversity, have their appropriate measures in the voice and singing, wherewith by I know not what secret relationship they are stimulated. But the gratification of my flesh, to which the mind ought never to be given over to be enervated, often beguiles me, while the sense does not so attend on reason as to follow her patiently; but having gained admission merely for her sake, it strives even to run on before her, and be her leader. Thus in these things do I sin unknowing, but afterwards do I know it.

50. Sometimes, again, avoiding very earnestly this same deception, I err out of too great preciseness; and sometimes so much as to desire that every air of the pleasant songs to which David's Psalter is often used, be banished both from my ears and those of the Church itself; and that way seemed unto me safer which I remembered to have been often related to me of Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, who obliged the reader of the psalm to give utterance to it with so slight an inflection of voice, that it was more like speaking than singing. Notwithstanding, when I call to mind the tears I shed at the songs of Thy Church, at the outset of my recovered faith, and how even now I am moved not by the singing but by what is sung, when they are sung with a clear and skilfully modulated voice, I then acknowledge the great utility of this custom. Thus vacillate I between dangerous pleasure and tried soundness; being inclined rather (though I pronounce no irrevocable opinion upon the subject) to approve of the use of singing in the church, that so by the delights of the ear the weaker minds may be stimulated to a devotional frame. Yet when it happens to me to be more moved by the singing than by what is sung, I confess myself to have sinned criminally, and then I would rather not have heard the singing. See now the condition I am in! Weep with me, and weep for me, you who so control your inward feelings as that good results ensue. As for you who do not thus act, these things concern you not. But Thou, O Lord my God, give ear, behold and see, and have mercy upon me, and heal me, [925] --Thou, in whose sight I am become a puzzle to myself; and "this is my infirmity." [926]

Footnotes

[925] Ps. vi. 2. [926] Ps. lxxvii. 10.


Chapter XXXIV.--Of the Very Dangerous Allurements of the Eyes; On Account of Beauty of Form, God, the Creator, is to Be Praised.

51. There remain the delights of these eyes of my flesh, concerning which to make my confessions in the hearing of the ears of Thy temple, those fraternal and devout ears; and so to conclude the temptations of "the lust of the flesh" [927] which still assail me, groaning and desiring to be clothed upon with my house from heaven. [928] The eyes delight in fair and varied forms, and bright and pleasing colours. Suffer not these to take possession of my soul; let God rather possess it, He who made these things "very good" [929] indeed; yet is He my good, not these. And these move me while awake, during the day; nor is rest from them granted me, as there is from the voices of melody, sometimes, in silence, from them all. For that queen of colours, the light, flooding all that we look upon, wherever I be during the day, gliding past me in manifold forms, doth soothe me when busied about other things, and not noticing it. And so strongly doth it insinuate itself, that if it be suddenly withdrawn it is looked for longingly, and if long absent doth sadden the mind.

52. O Thou Light, which Tobias saw, [930] when, his eyes being closed, he taught his son the way of life; himself going before with the feet of charity, never going astray. Or that which Isaac saw, when his fleshly "eyes were dim, so that he could not see" [931] by reason of old age; it was permitted him, not knowingly to bless his sons, but in blessing them to know them. Or that which Jacob saw, when he too, blind through great age, with an enlightened heart, in the persons of his own sons, threw light upon the races of the future people, presignified in them; and laid his hands, mystically crossed, upon his grandchildren by Joseph, not as their father, looking outwardly, corrected them, but as he himself distinguished them. [932] This is the light, the only one, and all those who see and love it are one. But that corporeal light of which I was speaking seasoneth the life of the world for her blind lovers, with a tempting and fatal sweetness. But they who know how to praise Thee for it, "O God, the world's great Architect," [933] take it up in Thy hymn, and are not taken up with it [934] in their sleep. Such desire I to be. I resist seductions of the eyes, lest my feet with which I advance on Thy way be entangled; and I raise my invisible eyes to Thee, that Thou wouldst be pleased to "pluck my feet out of the net." [935] Thou dost continually pluck them out, for they are ensnared. Thou never ceasest to pluck them out, but I, constantly remain fast in the snares set all around me; because Thou "that keepest Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." [936]

53. What numberless things, made by divers arts and manufactures, both in our apparel, shoes, vessels, and every kind of work, in pictures, too, and sundry images, and these going far beyond necessary and moderate use and holy signification, have men added for the enthralment of the eyes; following outwardly what they make, forsaking inwardly Him by whom they were made, yea, and destroying that which they themselves were made! But I, O my God and my Joy, do hence also sing a hymn unto Thee, and offer a sacrifice of praise unto my Sanctifier, [937] because those beautiful patterns, which through the medium of men's souls are conveyed into their artistic hands, [938] emanate from that Beauty which is above our souls, which my soul sigheth after day and night. But as for the makers and followers of those outward beauties, they from thence derive the way of approving them, but not of using them. [939] And though they see Him not, yet is He there, that they might not go astray, but keep their strength for Thee, [940] and not dissipate it upon delicious lassitudes. And I, though I both say and perceive this, impede my course with such beauties, but Thou dost rescue me, O Lord, Thou dost rescue me; "for Thy loving-kindness is before mine eyes." [941] For I am taken miserably, and Thou rescuest me mercifully; sometimes not perceiving it, in that I had come upon them hesitatingly; at other times with pain, because I was held fast by them.

Footnotes

[927] 1 John ii. 16. [928] 2 Cor. v. 2. [929] Gen. i. 31. [930] Tobit iv. [931] Gen. xxvii. 1. [932] Gen. xlviii. 13-19. [933] From the beginning of the hymn of St. Ambrose, part of which is quoted, ix. sec. 32, above. [934] Assumunt eam, in hymno tuo, non absumuntur ab ea. [935] Ps. xxv. 15. [936] Ps. cxxi. 4. [937] Sanctificatori meo, but some mss. have sacreficatori. [938] See xi. sec. 7, and note, below. [939] See note 6, sec. 40, above. [940] Ps. lviii. 10, Vulg. [941] Ps. xxvi. 3.


Chapter XXXV.--Another Kind of Temptation is Curiosity, Which is Stimulated by the Lust of the Eyes.

54. In addition to this there is another form of temptation, more complex in its peril. For besides that concupiscence of the flesh which lieth in the gratification of all senses and pleasures, wherein its slaves who "are far from Thee perish," [942] there pertaineth to the soul, through the same senses of the body, a certain vain and curious longing, cloaked under the name of knowledge and learning, not of having pleasure in the flesh, but of making experiments through the flesh. This longing, since it originates in an appetite for knowledge, and the sight being the chief amongst the senses in the acquisition of knowledge, is called in divine language, "the lust of the eyes." [943] For seeing belongeth properly to the eyes; yet we apply this word to the other senses also, when we exercise them in the search after knowledge. For we do not say, Listen how it glows, smell how it glistens, taste how it shines, or feel how it flashes, since all these are said to be seen. And yet we say not only, See how it shineth, which the eyes alone can perceive; but also, See how it soundeth, see how it smelleth, see how it tasteth, see how hard it is. And thus the general experience of the senses, as was said before, is termed "the lust of the eyes," because the function of seeing, wherein the eyes hold the pre-eminence, the other senses by way of similitude take possession of, whensoever they seek out any knowledge.

55. But by this is it more clearly discerned, when pleasure and when curiosity is pursued by the senses; for pleasure follows after objects that are beautiful, melodious, fragrant, savoury, soft; but curiosity, for experiment's sake, seeks the contrary of these,--not with a view of undergoing uneasiness, but from the passion of experimenting upon and knowing them. For what pleasure is there to see, in a lacerated corpse, that which makes you shudder? And yet if it lie near, we flock thither, to be made sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep they fear lest they should see it. Just as if when awake any one compelled them to go and see it, or any report of its beauty had attracted them! Thus also is it with the other senses, which it were tedious to pursue. From this malady of curiosity are all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence do we proceed to search out the secret powers of nature (which is beside our end), which to know profits not, [944] and wherein men desire nothing but to know. Hence, too, with that same end of perverted knowledge we consult magical arts. Hence, again, even in religion itself, is God tempted, when signs and wonders are eagerly asked of Him,--not desired for any saving end, but to make trial only.

56. In this so vast a wilderness, replete with snares and dangers, lo, many of them have I lopped off, and expelled from my heart, as Thou, O God of my salvation, hast enabled me to do. And yet when dare I say, since so many things of this kind buzz around our daily life,--when dare I say that no such thing makes me intent to see it, or creates in me vain solicitude? It is true that the theatres never now carry me away, nor do I now care to know the courses of the stars, nor hath my soul at any time consulted departed spirits; all sacrilegious oaths I abhor. O Lord my God, to whom I owe all humble and single-hearted service, with what subtlety of suggestion does the enemy influence me to require some sign from Thee! But by our King, and by our pure land chaste country Jerusalem, I beseech Thee, that as any consenting unto such thoughts is far from me, so may it always be farther and farther. But when I entreat Thee for the salvation of any, the end I aim at is far otherwise, and Thou who doest what Thou wilt, givest and wilt give me willingly to "follow" Thee. [945]

57. Nevertheless, in how many most minute and contemptible things is our curiosity daily tempted, and who can number how often we succumb? How often, when people are narrating idle tales, do we begin by tolerating them, lest we should give offence unto the weak; and then gradually we listen willingly! I do not now-a-days go to the circus to see a dog chasing a hare; [946] but if by chance I pass such a coursing in the fields, it possibly distracts me even from some serious thought, and draws me after it,--not that I turn the body of my beast aside, but the inclination of my mind. And except Thou, by demonstrating to me my weakness, dost speedily warn me, either through the sight itself, by some reflection to rise to Thee, or wholly to despise and pass it by, I, vain one, am absorbed by it. How is it, when sitting at home, a lizard catching flies, or a spider entangling them as they rush into her nets, oftentimes arrests me? Is the feeling of curiosity not the same because these are such tiny creatures? From them I proceed to praise Thee, the wonderful Creator and Disposer of all things; but it is not this that first attracts my attention. It is one thing to get up quickly, and another not to fall, and of such things is my life full; and my only hope is in Thy exceeding great mercy. For when this heart of ours is made the receptacle of such things, and bears crowds of this abounding vanity, then are our prayers often interrupted and disturbed thereby; and whilst in Thy presence we direct the voice of our heart to Thine ears, this so great a matter is broken off by the influx of I know not what idle thoughts.

Footnotes

[942] Ps. lxiii. 27. [943] 1 John ii. 16. [944] Augustin's great end was to attain the knowledge of God. Hence, in his Soliloquia, i. 7, we read: "Deum et animam scire cupio. Nihilne plus? Nihil omnino." And he only esteemed the knowledge of physical laws so far as they would lead to Him. (See v. sec. 7, above, and the note there.) In his De Ordine, ii. 14, 15, etc., writing at the time of his conversion, he had contended that the knowledge of the liberal sciences would lead to a knowledge of the divine wisdom; but in his Retractations (i. 3, sec. 2) he regrets this, pointing out that while many holy men have not this knowledge, many who have it are not holy. Compare also Enchir. c. 16; Serm. lxviii. 1, 2; and De Civ. Dei, ix. 22. [945] John xxi. 22. [946] In allusion to those venatios, or hunting scenes, in which the less savage animals were slain. These were held in the circus, which was sometimes planted for the occasion, so as to resemble a forest. See Smith's Greek and Roman Antiquities, under "Venatio," and vi. sec. 13, note, above.


Chapter XXXVI.--A Third Kind is "Pride" Which is Pleasing to Man, Not to God.

58. Shall we, then, account this too amongst such things as are to be lightly esteemed, or shall anything restore us to hope, save Thy complete mercy, since Thou hast begun to change us? And Thou knowest to what extent Thou hast already changed me, Thou who first healest me of the lust of vindicating myself, that so Thou mightest forgive all my remaining "iniquities," and heal all my "diseases," and redeem my life from corruption, and crown me with "loving-kindness and tender mercies," and satisfy my desire with "good things;" [947] who didst restrain my pride with Thy fear, and subdue my neck to Thy "yoke." And now I bear it, and it is "light" [948] unto me, because so hast Thou promised, and made it, and so in truth it was, though I knew it not, when I feared to take it up. But, O Lord,--Thou who alone reignest without pride, because Thou art the only true Lord, who hast no lord,--hath this third kind of temptation left me, or can it leave me during this life?

59. The desire to be feared and loved of men, with no other view than that I may experience a joy therein which is no joy, is a miserable life, and unseemly ostentation. Hence especially it arises that we do not love Thee, nor devoutly fear Thee. And therefore dost Thou resist the proud, but givest grace unto the humble; [949] and Thou thunderest upon the ambitious designs of the world, and "the foundations of the hills" tremble. [950] Because now certain offices of human society render it necessary to be loved and feared of men, the adversary of our true blessedness presseth hard upon us, everywhere scattering his snares of "well done, well done;" that while acquiring them eagerly, we may be caught unawares, and disunite our joy from Thy truth, and fix it on the deceits of men; and take pleasure in being loved and feared, not for Thy sake, but in Thy stead, by which means, being made like unto him, he may have them as his, not in harmony of love, but in the fellowship of punishment; who aspired to exalt his throne in the north, [951] that dark and cold they might serve him, imitating Thee in perverse and distorted ways. But we, O Lord, lo, we are Thy "little flock;" [952] do Thou possess us, stretch Thy wings over us, and let us take refuge under them. Be Thou our glory; let us be loved for Thy sake, and Thy word feared in us. They who desire to be commended of men when Thou blamest, will not be defended of men when Thou judgest; nor will they be delivered when Thou condemnest. But when not the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul, nor he blessed who doeth unjustly, [953] but a man is praised for some gift that Thou hast bestowed upon him, and he is more gratified at the praise for himself, than that he possesses the gift for which he is praised, such a one is praised while Thou blamest. And better truly is he who praised than the one who was praised. For the gift of God in man was pleasing to the one, while the other was better pleased with the gift of man than that of God.

Footnotes

[947] Ps. ciii. 3-5. [948] Matt. xi. 30. [949] Jas. iv. 6. [950] Ps. xviii. 7. [951] Isa. xiv. 13, 14. [952] Luke xii. 32. [953] Ps. x. 3, in Vulg. and LXX.


Chapter XXXVII.--He is Forcibly Goaded on by the Love of Praise.

60. By these temptations, O Lord, are we daily tried; yea, unceasingly are we tried. Our daily "furnace" [954] is the human tongue. And in this respect also dost Thou command us to be continent. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. Regarding this matter, Thou knowest the groans of my heart, and the rivers [955] of mine eyes. For I am not able to ascertain how far I am clean of this plague, and I stand in great fear of my "secret faults," [956] which Thine eyes perceive, though mine do not. For in other kinds of temptations I have some sort of power of examining myself; but in this, hardly any. For, both as regards the pleasures of the flesh and an idle curiosity, I see how far I have been able to hold my mind in check when I do without them, either voluntarily or by reason of their not being at hand; [957] for then I inquire of myself how much more or less troublesome it is to me not to have them. Riches truly which are sought for in order that they may minister to some one of these three "lusts," [958] or to two, or the whole of them, if the mind be not able to see clearly whether, when it hath them, it despiseth them, they may be cast on one side, that so it may prove itself. But if we desire to test our power of doing without praise, need we live ill, and that so flagitiously and immoderately as that every one who knows us shall detest us? What greater madness than this can be either said or conceived? But if praise both is wont and ought to be the companion of a good life and of good works, we should as little forego its companionship as a good life itself. But unless a thing be absent, I do not know whether I shall be contented or troubled at being without it.

61. What, then, do I confess unto Thee, O Lord, in this kind of temptation? What, save that I am delighted with praise, but more with the truth itself than with praise? For were I to have my choice, whether I had rather, being mad, or astray on all things, be praised by all men, or, being firm and well-assured in the truth, be blamed by all, I see which I should choose. Yet would I be unwilling that the approval of another should even add to my joy for any good I have. Yet I admit that it doth increase it, and, more than that, that dispraise doth diminish it. And when I am disquieted at this misery of mine, an excuse presents itself to me, the value of which Thou, God, knowest, for it renders me uncertain. For since it is not continency alone that Thou hast enjoined upon us, that is, from what things to hold back our love, but righteousness also, that is, upon what to bestow it, and hast wished us to love not Thee only, but also our neighbour, [959] --often, when gratified by intelligent praise, I appear to myself to be gratified by the proficiency or towardliness of my neighbour, and again to be sorry for evil in him when I hear him dispraise either that which he understands not, or is good. For I am sometimes grieved at mine own praise, either when those things which I am displeased at in myself be praised in me, or even lesser and trifling goods are more valued than they should be. But, again, how do I know whether I am thus affected, because I am unwilling that he who praiseth me should differ from me concerning myself--not as being moved with consideration for him, but because the same good things which please me in myself are more pleasing to me when they also please another? For, in a sort, I am not praised when my judgment of myself is not praised; since either those things which are displeasing to me are praised, or those more so which are less pleasing to me. Am I then uncertain of myself in this matter?

62. Behold, O Truth, in Thee do I see that I ought not to be moved at my own praises for my own sake, but for my neighbour's good. And whether it be so, in truth I know not. For concerning this I know less of myself than dost Thou. I beseech Thee now, O my God, to reveal to me myself also, that I may confess unto my brethren, who are to pray for me, what I find in myself weak. Once again let me more diligently examine myself. [960] If, in mine own praise, I am moved with consideration for my neighbour, why am I less moved if some other man be unjustly dispraised than if it be myself? Why am I more irritated at that reproach which is cast upon myself, than at that which is with equal injustice cast upon another in my presence? Am I ignorant of this also? or does it remain that I deceive myself, [961] and do not the "truth" [962] before Thee in my heart and tongue? Put such madness far from me, O Lord, lest my mouth be to me the oil of sinners, to anoint my head. [963]

Footnotes

[954] Isa. xlviii. 10, and Prov. xxvii. 21. [955] Lam. iii. 48. [956] Ps. xix. 12. See note 5, page 47, above. [957] In his De Vera Relig. sec. 92, he points out that adversity also, when it comes to a good man, will disclose to him how far his heart is set on worldly things: "Hoc enim sine amore nostro aderat, quod sine dolore discedit." [958] 1 John ii. 16. See beginning of sec. 41, above. [959] Lev. xix. 18. See book xii. secs. 35, 41, below. [960] It may be well, in connection with the striking piece of soul-anatomy in this and the last two sections, to advert to other passages in which Augustin speaks of the temptation arising from the praise of men. In Serm. cccxxxix. 1, he says that he does not altogether dislike praise when it comes from the good, though feeling it to be a snare, and does not reject it: "Ne ingrati sint quibus prædico." That is, as he says above, he accepted it for his "neighbour's good," since, had his neighbour not been ready to give praise, it would have indicated a wrong condition of heart in him. We are, therefore, as he argues in his De Serm. Dom. in Mon. ii. 1, 2, 6, to see that the design of our acts be not that men should see and praise us (compare also Enarr. in Ps. lxv. 2). If they praise us it is well, since it shows that their heart is right; but if we "act rightly only because of the praise of men" (Matt. vi. 2, 5), we seek our own glory and not that of God. See also Serms. xciii. 9, clix. 10, etc.; and De Civ. Dei, v. 13, 14. [961] Gal. vi. 3. [962] 1 John i. 8. [963] Ps. cxli. 5, according to the Vulg. and LXX. The Authorized Version (with which the Targum is in accord) gives the more probable sense, when it makes the oil to be that of the righteous and not that of the sinner: "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head."


Chapter XXXVIII.--Vain-Glory is the Highest Danger.

63. "I am poor and needy," [964] yet better am I while in secret groanings I displease myself, and seek for Thy mercy, until what is lacking in me be renewed and made complete, even up to that peace of which the eye of the proud is ignorant. Yet the word which proceedeth out of the mouth, and actions known to men, have a most dangerous temptation from the love of praise, which, for the establishing of a certain excellency of our own, gathers together solicited suffrages. It tempts, even when within I reprove myself for it, on the very ground that it is reproved; and often man glories more vainly of the very scorn of vain-glory; wherefore it is not any longer scorn of vain-glory whereof it glories, for he does not truly contemn it when he inwardly glories.

Footnotes

[964] Ps. cix. 22.


Chapter XXXIX.--Of the Vice of Those Who, While Pleasing Themselves, Displease God.

64. Within also, within is another evil, arising out of the same kind of temptation; whereby they become empty who please themselves in themselves, although they please not, or displease, or aim at pleasing others. But in pleasing themselves, they much displease Thee, not merely taking pleasure in things not good as if they were good, but in Thy good things as though they were their own; or even as if in Thine, yet as though of their own merits; or even as if though of Thy grace, yet not with friendly rejoicings, but as envying that grace to others. [965] In all these and similar perils and labours Thou perceivest the trembling of my heart, and I rather feel my wounds to be cured by Thee than not inflicted by me.

Footnotes

[965] See his De Civ. Dei, v. 20, where he compares the truly pious man, who attributes all his good to God's mercy, "giving thanks for what in him is healed, and pouring out prayers for the healing of that which is yet unhealed," with the philosophers who make their chief end pleasure or human glory.


Chapter XL.--The Only Safe Resting-Place for the Soul is to Be Found in God.

65. Where hast Thou not accompanied me, O Truth, [966] teaching me both what to avoid and what to desire, when I submitted to Thee what I could perceive of sublunary things, and asked Thy counsel? With my external senses, as I could, I viewed the world, and noted the life which my body derives from me, and these my senses. Thence I advanced inwardly into the recesses of my memory,--the manifold rooms, wondrously full of multitudinous wealth; and I considered and was afraid, and could discern none of these things without Thee, and found none of them to be Thee. Nor was I myself the discoverer of these things,--I, who went over them all, and laboured to distinguish and to value everything according to its dignity, accepting some things upon the report of my senses, and questioning about others which I felt to be mixed up with myself, distinguishing and numbering the reporters themselves, and in the vast storehouse of my memory investigating some things, laying up others, taking out others. Neither was I myself when I did this (that is, that ability of mine whereby I did it), nor was it Thou, for Thou art that never-failing light which I took counsel of as to them all, whether they were what they were, and what was their worth; and I heard Thee teaching and commanding me. And this I do often; this is a delight to me, and, as far as I can get relief from necessary duties, to this gratification do I resort. Nor in all these which I review when consulting Thee, find I a secure place for my soul, save in Thee, into whom my scattered members may be gathered together, and nothing of me depart from Thee. [967] And sometimes Thou dost introduce me to a most rare affection, inwardly, to an inexplicable sweetness, which, if it should be perfected in me, I know not to what point that life might not arrive. But by these wretched weights [968] of mine do I relapse into these things, and am sucked in by my old customs, and am held, and sorrow much, yet am much held. To such an extent does the burden of habit press us down. In this way I can be, but will not; in that I will, but cannot,--on both ways miserable.

Footnotes

[966] See xii. sec. 35, below. [967] See ix. sec. 10, note, above, and xi. sec. 39, below. [968] Heb. xii. 1.


Chapter XLI.--Having Conquered His Triple Desire, He Arrives at Salvation.

66. And thus have I reflected upon the wearinesses of my sins, in that threefold "lust," [969] and have invoked Thy right hand to my aid. For with a wounded heart have I seen Thy brightness, and being beaten back I exclaimed, "Who can attain unto it?" "I am cut off from before Thine eyes." [970] Thou art the Truth, who presidest over all things, but I, through my covetousness, wished not to lose Thee, but with Thee wished to possess a lie; as no one wishes so to speak falsely as himself to be ignorant of the truth. So then I lost Thee, because Thou deignest not to be enjoyed with a lie.

Footnotes

[969] See p. 153, note 7, above. [970] Ps. xxxi. 22.


Chapter XLII.--In What Manner Many Sought the Mediator.

67. Whom could I find to reconcile me to Thee? Was I to solicit the angels? By what prayer? By what sacraments? Many striving to return unto Thee, and not able of themselves, have, as I am told, tried this, and have fallen into a longing for curious visions, [971] and were held worthy to be deceived. For they, being exalted, sought Thee by the pride of learning, thrusting themselves forward rather than beating their breasts, and so by correspondence of heart drew unto themselves the princes of the air, [972] the conspirators and companions in pride, by whom, through the power of magic, [973] they were deceived, seeking a mediator by whom they might be cleansed; but none was there. For the devil it was, transforming himself into an angel of light. [974] And he much allured proud flesh, in that he had no fleshly body. For they were mortal, and sinful; but Thou, O Lord, to whom they arrogantly sought to be reconciled, art immortal, and sinless. But a mediator between God and man ought to have something like unto God, and something like unto man; lest being in both like unto man, he should be far from God; or if in both like unto God, he should be far from man, and so should not be a mediator. That deceitful mediator, then, by whom in Thy secret judgments pride deserved to be deceived, hath one thing in common with man, that is, sin; another he would appear to have with God, and, not being clothed with mortality of flesh, would boast that he was immortal. [975] But since "the wages of sin is death," [976] this hath he in common with men, that together with them he should be condemned to death.

Footnotes

[971] It would be easy so to do, since even amongst believers, as we find from Evodius' letter to Augustin (Ep. clvi.), there was a prevalent belief that the blessed dead visited the earth, and that visions had an important bearing on human affairs. See also Augustin's answer to Evodius, in Ep. clix.; Chrysostom, De Sacer. vi. 4; and on Visions, see sec. 41, note, above. [972] Eph. ii. 2. [973] See note 5, p. 69, above. [974] 2 Cor. xi. 14. [975] In his De Civ. Dei, x. 24, in speaking of the Incarnation of Christ as a mystery unintelligible to Porphyry's pride, he has a similar passage, in which he speaks of the "true and benignant Mediator," and the "malignant and deceitful mediators." See vii. sec. 24, above. [976] Rom. vi. 23.


Chapter XLIII.--That Jesus Christ, at the Same Time God and Man, is the True and Most Efficacious Mediator.

68. But the true Mediator, whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast pointed out to the humble, and didst send, that by His example [977] also they might learn the same humility--that "Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus," [978] appeared between mortal sinners and the immortal Just One--mortal with men, just with God; that because the reward of righteousness is life and peace, He might, by righteousness conjoined with God, cancel the death of justified sinners, which He willed to have in common with them. [979] Hence He was pointed out to holy men of old; to the intent that they, through faith in His Passion to come, [980] even as we through faith in that which is past, might be saved. For as man He was Mediator; but as the Word He was not between, [981] because equal to God, and God with God, and together with the Holy Spirit [982] one God.

69. How hast Thou loved us, [983] O good Father, who sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us wicked ones! [984] How hast Thou loved us, for whom He, who thought it no robbery to be equal with Thee, "became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross;" [985] He alone "free among the dead," [986] that had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again; [987] for us was He unto Thee both Victor and Victim, and the Victor as being the Victim; for us was He unto Thee both Priest and Sacrifice, and Priest as being the Sacrifice; of slaves making us Thy sons, by being born of Thee, and serving us. Rightly, then, is my hope strongly fixed on Him, that Thou wilt heal all my diseases [988] by Him who sitteth at Thy right hand and maketh intercession for us; [989] else should I utterly despair. [990] For numerous and great are my infirmities, yea, numerous and great are they; but Thy medicine is greater. We might think that Thy Word was removed from union with man, and despair of ourselves had He not been "made flesh and dwelt among us." [991]

70. Terrified by my sins and the load of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; [992] but Thou didst forbid me, and didst strengthen me, saying, therefore, Christ "died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them." [993] Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon Thee, [994] that I may live, and "behold wondrous things out of Thy law." [995] Thou knowest my unskilfulness and my infirmities; teach me, and heal me. Thine only Son--He "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" [996] --hath redeemed me with His blood. Let not the proud speak evil of me, [997] because I consider my ransom, and eat and drink, and distribute; and poor, desire to be satisfied from Him, together with those who eat and are satisfied, and they praise the Lord that seek him. [998]

Footnotes

[977] See notes 3, p. 71, and 9 and 11, p. 74, above. [978] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [979] Not that our Lord is to be supposed, as some have held, to have been under the law of death in Adam, because "in Adam all die" (1 Cor. xv. 22; see the whole of c. 23, in De Civ. Dei, xiii, and compare ix. sec. 34, note 3, above); for he says in Serm. ccxxxii. 5: "As there was nothing in us from which life could spring, so there was nothing in Him from which death could come." He laid down His life (John x. 18), and as being partaker of the divine nature, could see no corruption (Acts ii. 27). This is the explanation Augustin gives in his comment on Ps. lxxxv. 5 (quoted in the next section) of Christ's being "free among the dead." So also in his De Trin. xiii. 18, he says he was thus free because "solus enim a debito mortis liber est mortuus." The true analogy between the first and second Adam is surely then to be found in our Lord's being free from the law of death by reason of His divine nature, and Adam before his transgression being able to avert death by partaking of the Tree of Life. Christ was, it is true, a child of Adam, but a child of Adam miraculously born. See note 3, p. 73, above. [980] See De Trin. iv. 2; and Trench, Hulsean Lectures (1845), latter part of lect. iv. [981] Medius, alluding to mediator immediately before. See his De Civ. Dei, ix. 15, and xi. 2, for an enlargement of this distinction between Christ as man and Christ as the Word. Compare also De Trin. i. 20 and xiii. 13; and Mansel, Bampton Lectures, lect. v. note 20. [982] Some mss. omit Cum spiritu sancto. [983] Christ did not, as in the words of a well-known hymn, "change the wrath to love." For, as Augustin remarks in a very beautiful passage in Ev. Joh. Tract. cx. 6, God loved us before the foundation of the world, and the reconcilement wrought by Christ must not be "so understood as if the Son reconciled us unto Him in this respect, that He now began to love those whom He formerly hated, in the same way as enemy is reconciled to enemy, so that thereafter they become friends, and mutual love takes the place of their mutual hatred; but we were reconciled unto Him who already loved us, but with whom we were at enmity because of our sin. Whether I say the truth on this let the apostle testify, when he says: `God commendeth His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us'" (Rom. v. 8, 9). He similarly applies the text last quoted in his De Trin. xiii. 15. See also ibid. sec. 21, where he speaks of the wrath of God, and ibid. iv. 2. Compare Archbishop Thomson, Bampton Lectures, lect. vii., and note 95. [984] Rom. viii. 34, which is not "for us wicked ones," but "for us all," as the Authorized Version has it; and we must not narrow the words. Augustin, in Ev. Joh. Tract. cx. 2, it will be remembered, when commenting on John xvii. 21, "that they all may be one...that the world may believe Thou hast sent me," limits "the world" to the believing world, and continues (ibid.sec. 4), "Ipsi sunt enim mundus, non permanens inimicus, qualis est mundis damnationi prædestinatus." On Christ being a ransom for all, see Archbishop Thomson, Bampton Lectures, lect. vii. part 5, and note 101. [985] Phil. ii. 6, 8. [986] Ps. lxxxviii. 5; see sec. 68, note, above. [987] John x. 18. [988] Ps. ciii. 3. [989] Rom. viii. 34. [990] See note 11, p. 140, above. [991] John i. 14. [992] Ps. lv. 7. [993] 2 Cor. v. 15. [994] Ps. lv. 22. [995] Ps. cxix. 18. [996] Col. ii. 3. Compare Dean Mansel, Bampton Lectures, lect. v. and note 22. [997] Ps. cxix. 122, Old Ver. He may perhaps here allude to the spiritual pride of the Donatists, who, holding rigid views as to purity of discipline, disparaged both his life and doctrine, pointing to his Manichæanism and the sinfulness of life before baptism. In his Answer to Petilian, iii. 11, 20, etc., and Serm. 3, sec. 19, on Ps. xxxvi., he alludes at length to the charges brought against him, referring then finally to his own confessions in book iii. above. [998] Ps. xxii. 26. Augustin probably alludes here to the Lord's Supper, in accordance with the general Patristic interpretation.


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