THE CONFESSIONS, BOOKS VII-X
Book VII. Book IX.
Book VIII Book X.
HE RECALLS THE BEGINNING OF HIS YOUTH, I.E., THE THIRTY-FIRST YEAR OF HIS AGE, IN WHICH VERY GRAVE ERRORS AS TO THE NATURE OF GOD AND THE ORIGIN OF EVIL BEING DISTINGUISHED, AND THE SACRED BOOKS MORE ACCURATELY KNOWN, HE AT LENGTH ARRIVES AT A CLEAR KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, NOT YET RIGHTLY APPREHENDING JESUS CHRIST.
Chap. I.—He regarded not God indeed under the form of a human body, but as a corporeal substance diffused through space.
1. DEAD now was that evil and abominable youth of mine, and I was passing into early manhood: as I increased in years, the fouler became I in vanity, who could not conceive of any substance but such as I saw with my own eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God, under the form of a human body. Since the time I began to hear something of wisdom, I always avoided this; and I rejoiced to have found the same in the faith of our spiritual mother, Thy Catholic Church. But what else to imagine Thee I knew not. And I, a man, and such a man, sought to conceive of Thee, the sovereign and only true God; and I did in my inmost heart believe that Thou wert incorruptible, and inviolable, and unchangeable; because, not knowing whence or how, yet most plainly did I see and feel sure that that which may be corrupted must be worse than that which cannot, and what cannot be violated did I without hesitation prefer before that which can, and deemed that which suffers no change to be better than that which is changeable. Violently did my heart cry out against all my phantasms, and with this one blow I endeavoured to beat away from the eye of my mind all that unclean crowd which fluttered around it.1 And lo, being scarce put off, they, in the twinkling of an eye, pressed in multitudes around me, dashed against my face, and beclouded it; so that, though I thought not of Thee under the form of a human body, yet was I constrained to image Thee to be something corporeal in space, either infused into the world, or infinitely diffused beyond it,—even that incorruptible, inviolable, and unchangeable, which I preferred to the corruptible, and violable, and changeable; since whatsoever I conceived, deprived of this space, appeared as nothing to me, yea, altogether nothing, not even a void, as if a body were removed from its place and the place should remain empty of any body at all, whether earthy, terrestrial, watery, aerial, or celestial, but should remain a void place—a spacious nothing, as it were.
2. I therefore being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to myself, whatsoever was not stretched over certain spaces, nor diffused, nor crowded together, nor swelled out, or which did not or could not receive some of these dimensions, I judged to be altogether nothing. For over such forms as my eyes are wont to range did my heart then range; nor did I see that this same observation, by which I formed those same images, was not of this kind, and yet it could not have formed them had not itself been something great. In like manner did I conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vast through infinite spaces, on every side penetrating the whole mass of the world, and beyond it, all ways, through immeasurable and boundless spaces; so that the earth should have Thee, the heaven have Thee, all things have Thee, and they bounded in Thee, but Thou nowhere. For as the body of this air which is above the earth preventeth not the light of the sun from passing through it, penetrating it, not by bursting or by cutting, but by filling it entirely, so I imagined the body, not of heaven, air, and sea only, but of the earth also, to be pervious to Thee, and in all its greatest parts as well as smallest penetrable to receive Thy presence, by a secret inspiration, both inwardly and outwardly governing all things which Thou hast created. So I conjectured, because I was unable to think of anything else; for it was untrue. For in this way would a greater part of the earth contain a greater portion of Thee, and the less a lesser; and all things should so be full of Thee, as that the body of an elephant should contain more of Thee than that of a sparrow by how much larger it is, and occupies more room; and so shouldest Thou make the portions of Thyself present unto the several portions of the world, in pieces, great to the great, little to the little. But Thou art not such a one; nor hadst Thou as yet enlightened my darkness.
Chap. II.—The disputation of Nebridius against the Manichaeans, on the question "whether God be corruptible or incorruptible."
3. It was sufficient for me, O Lord, to oppose to those deceived deceivers and dumb praters (dumb, since Thy word sounded not forth from them) that which a long while ago, while we were at Carthage, Nebridius used to propound, at which all we who heard it were disturbed: "What could that reputed nation of darkness, which the Manichaeans are in the habit of setting up as a mass opposed to Thee, have done unto Thee hadst Thou objected to fight with it? For had it been answered, 'It would have done Thee some injury,' then shouldest Thou be subject to violence and corruption; but if the reply were: 'It could do Thee no injury,' then was no cause assigned for Thy fighting with it; and so fighting as that a certain portion and member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very substance, should be blended with adverse powers and natures not of Thy creation, and be by them corrupted and deteriorated to such an extent as to be turned from happiness into misery, and need help whereby it might be delivered and purged; and that this offspring of Thy substance was the soul, to which, being enslaved, contaminated, and corrupted, Thy word, free, pure, and entire, might bring succour; but yet also the word itself being corruptible, because it was from one and the same substance. So that should they affirm Thee, whatsoever Thou art, that is, Thy substance whereby Thou art, to be incorruptible, then were all these assertions false and execrable; but if corruptible, then that were false, and at the first utterance to be abhorred." This argument, then, was enough against those who wholly merited to be vomited forth from the surfeited stomach, since they had no means of escape without horrible sacrilege, both of heart and tongue, thinking and speaking such things of Thee.
Chap. III.—That the cause of evil is the free judgment of the will.
4. But I also, as yet, although I said and was firmly persuaded, that Thou our Lord, the true God, who madest not only our souls but our bodies, and not our souls and bodies alone, but all creatures and all things, wert uncontaminable and inconvertible, and in no part mutable: yet understood I not readily and clearly what was the cause of evil. And yet, whatever it was, I perceived that it must be so sought out as not to constrain me by it to believe that the immutable God was mutable, lest I myself should become the thing that I was seeking out. I sought, therefore, for it free from care, certain of the untruthfulness of what these asserted, whom I shunned with my whole heart; for I perceived that through seeking after the origin of evil, they were filled with malice, in that they liked better to think that Thy Substance did suffer evil than that their own did commit it.
5. And I directed my attention to discern what I now heard, that free will was the cause of our doing evil, and Thy righteous judgment of our suffering it. But I was unable clearly to discern it. So, then, trying to draw the eye of my mind from that pit, I was plunged again therein, and trying often, was as often plunged back again. But this raised me towards Thy light, that I knew as well that I had a will as that I had life: when, therefore, I was willing or unwilling to do anything, I was most certain that it was none but myself that was willing and unwilling; and immediately I perceived that there was the cause of my sin. But what I did against my will I saw that I suffered rather than did, and that judged I not to be my fault, but my punishment; whereby, believing Thee to be most just, I quickly confessed myself to be not unjustly punished. But again I said: "Who made me? Was it not my God, who is not only good, but goodness itself? Whence came I then to will to do evil, and to be unwilling to do good, that there might be cause for my just punishment? Who was it that put this in me, and implanted in me the root of bitterness, seeing I was altogether made by my most sweet God? If the devil were the author, whence is that devil? And if he also, by his own perverse will, of a good angel became a devil, whence also was the evil will in him whereby he became a devil, seeing that the angel was made altogether good by that most Good Creator?" By these reflections was I again cast down and stifled; yet not plunged into that hell of error (where no man confesseth unto Thee), to think that Thou dost suffer evil, rather than that man doth it.
Chap. IV.—That God is not corruptible, who, if He were, would not be God at all.
6. For I was so struggling to find out the rest, as having already found that what was incorruptible must be better than the corruptible; and Thee, therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, did I acknowledge to be incorruptible. For never yet was, nor will be, a soul able to conceive of anything better than Thou, who art the highest and best good. But whereas most truly and certainly that which is incorruptible is to be preferred to the corruptible (like as I myself did now prefer it), then, if Thou were not incorruptible, I could in my thoughts have reached unto something better than my God. Where, then, I saw that the incorruptible was to be preferred to the corruptible, there ought I to seek Thee, and there observe "whence evil itself was," that is, whence comes the corruption by which Thy substance can by no means be profaned. For corruption, truly, in no way injures our God,—by no will, by no necessity, by no unforeseen chance, - - because He is God, and what He wills is good, and Himself is that good; but to be corrupted is not good. Nor art Thou compelled to do anything against Thy will in that Thy will is not greater than Thy power. But greater should it be wert Thou Thyself greater than Thyself; for the will and power of God is God Himself. And what can be unforeseen by Thee, who knowest all things? Nor is there any sort of nature but Thou knowest it. And what more should we say "why that substance which God is should not be corruptible," seeing that if it were so it could not be God?
Chap. V.—Questions concerning the origin of evil in regard to God, who, since He is the chief good, cannot be the cause of evil.
7. And I sought "whence is evil?" And sought in an evil way; nor saw I the evil in my very search. And I set in order before the view of my spirit the whole creation, and whatever we can discern in it, such as earth, sea, air, stars, trees, living creatures; yea, and whatever in it we do not see, as the firmament of heaven, all the angels, too, and all the spiritual inhabitants thereof. But these very beings, as though they were bodies, did my fancy dispose in such and such places, and I made one huge mass of all Thy creatures, distinguished according to the kinds of bodies,—some of them being real bodies, some what I myself had feigned for spirits. And this mass I made huge,—not as it was, which I could not know, but as large as I thought well, yet every way finite. But Thee, O Lord, I imagined on every part environing and penetrating it, though every way infinite; as if there were a sea everywhere, and on every side through immensity nothing but an infinite sea; and it contained within itself some sponge, huge, though finite, so that the sponge would in all its parts be filled from the immeasurable sea. So conceived I Thy Creation to be itself finite, and filled by Thee, the Infinite. And I said, Behold God, and behold what God hath created; and God is good, yea, most mightily and incomparably better than all these; but yet He, who is good, hath created them good, and behold how He encircleth and filleth them. Where, then, is evil, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being at all? Why, then, do we fear and shun that which hath no being? Or if we fear it needlessly, then surely: is that fear evil whereby the heart is unnecessarily pricked and tormented,—and so much a greater evil, as we have naught to fear, and yet do fear. Therefore either that is evil which we fear, or the act of fearing is in itself evil. Whence, therefore, is it, seeing that God, who is good, hath made all these things good? He, indeed, the greatest and chiefest Good, hath created these lesser goods; but both Creator and created are all good. Whence is evil? Or was there some evil matter of which He made and formed and ordered it, but left something in it which He did not convert into good? But why was this? Was He powerless to change the whole lump, so that no evil should remain in it, seeing that He is omnipotent? Lastly, why would He make anything at all of it, and not rather by the same omnipotency cause it not to be at all? Or could it indeed exist contrary to His will? Or if it were from eternity, why did He permit it so to be for infinite spaces of times in the past, and was pleased so long after to make something out of it? Or if He wished now all of a sudden to do something, this rather should the Omnipotent have accomplished, that this evil matter should not be at all, and that He only should be the whole, true, chief, and infinite Good. Or if it were not good that He, who was good, should not also be the framer and creator of what was good, then that matter which was evil being removed, and brought to nothing, He might form good matter, whereof He might create all things. For He would not be omnipotent were He not able to create something good without being assisted by that matter which had not been created by Himself. Such like things did I revolve in my miserable breast, overwhelmed with most gnawing cares lest I should die ere I discovered the truth; yet was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and Saviour, as held in the Catholic Church, fixed firmly in my heart, unformed, indeed, as yet upon many points, and diverging from doctrinal rules, but yet my mind did not utterly leave it, but every day rather drank in more and more of it.
Chap. VI.—He refutes the divinations of the astrologers, deduced from the constellations.
8. Now also had I repudiated the lying divinations and impious absurdities of the astrologers. Let Thy mercies, out of the depth of my soul, confess unto thee for this also, O my God. For Thou, Thou altogether,—for who else is it that calls us back from the death of all errors, but that Life which knows not how to die, and the Wisdom which, requiring no light, enlightens the minds that do, whereby the universe is governed, even to the fluttering leaves of trees?—Thou providedst also for my obstinacy wherewith I struggled with Vindicianus, an acute old man, and Nebridius, a young one of remarkable talent; the former vehemently declaring, and the latter frequently, though with a certain measure of doubt, saying, "That no art existed by which to foresee future things, but that men's surmises had oftentimes the help of luck, and that of many things which they foretold some came to pass unawares to the predictors, who lighted on it by their oft speaking." Thou, therefore, didst provide a friend for me, who was no negligent consulter of the 'astrologers, and yet not thoroughly skilled in those arts, but, as I said, a curious consulter with them; and yet knowing somewhat, which he said he had heard from his father, which, how far it would tend to overthrow the estimation of that art, he knew not. This man, then, by name Firminius, having received a liberal education, and being well versed in rhetoric, consulted me, as one very dear to him, as to what I thought on some affairs of his, wherein his worldly hopes had risen, viewed with regard to his so-called constellations; and I, who had now begun to lean in this particular towards Nebridius' opinion, did not indeed decline to speculate about the matter, and to tell him what came into my irresolute mind, but still added that I was now almost persuaded that these were but empty and ridiculous follies. Upon this he told me that his father had been very curious in such books, and that he had a friend who was as interested in them as he was himself, who, with combined study and consultation, fanned the flame of their affection for these toys, insomuch that they would observe the moment when the very dumb animals which bred in their houses brought forth, and then observed the position of the heavens with regard to them, so as to gather fresh proofs of this so-called art. He said, moreover, that his father had told him, that at the time his mother was about to give birth to him (Firminius), a female servant of that friend of his father's was also great with child, which could not be hidden from her master, who took care with most diligent exactness to know of the birth of his very dogs. And so it came to pass that (the one for his wife, and the other for his servant, with the most careful observation, calculating the days and hours, and the smaller divisions of the hours) both were delivered at the same moment, so that both were compelled to allow the very selfsame constellations, even to the minutest point, the one for his son, the other for his young slave. For so soon as the women began to be in travail, they each gave notice to the other of what was fallen out in their respective houses, and had messengers ready to despatch to one another so soon as they had information of the actual birth, of which they had easily provided, each in his own province, to give instant intelligence. Thus, then, he said, the messengers of the respective parties met one another in such equal distances from either house, that neither of them could discern any difference either in the position of the stars or other most minute points. And yet Firminius, born in a high estate in his parents' house, ran his course through the prosperous paths of this world, was increased in wealth, and elevated to honours; whereas that slave—the yoke of his condition being unrelaxed—continued to serve his masters, as Firminius, who knew him, informed me.
9. Upon hearing and believing these things, related by so reliable a person, all that resistance of mine melted away; and first I endeavoured to reclaim Firminius himself from that curiosity, by telling him, that upon inspecting his constellations, I ought, were I to foretell truly, to have seen in them parents eminent among their neighbours, a noble family in its own city, good birth, becoming education, and liberal learning. But if that servant had consulted me upon the same constellations, since they were his also, I ought again to tell him, likewise truly, to see in them the meanness of his origin, the abjectness of his condition, and everything else altogether removed from and at variance with the former. Whence, then, looking upon the same constellations, I should, if I spoke the truth, speak diverse things, or if I spoke the same, speak falsely; thence assuredly was it to be gathered, that whatever, upon consideration of the constellations, was foretold truly, .was not by art, but by chance; and whatever falsely, was not from the unskillfulness of the art, but the error of chance.
10. An opening being thus made, I ruminated within myself on such things, that no one of those dotards (who followed such occupations, and whom I longed to assail, and with derision to confute) might urge against me that Firminius had informed me falsely, or his father him: I turned my thoughts to those that are born twins, who generally come out of the womb so near one to another, that the small distance of time between them—how much force soever they may contend that it has in the nature of things—cannot be noted by human observation, or be expressed in those figures which the astrologer is to examine that he may pronounce the truth. Nor can they be true; for, looking into the same figures, he must have foretold the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas the same did not happen to them. He must therefore speak falsely; or if truly, then, looking into the same figures, he must not speak the same things. Not then by art, but by chance, would he speak truly. For Thou, O Lord, most righteous Ruler of the universe, the inquirers and inquired of knowing it not, workest by a hidden inspiration that the consulter should hear what, according to the hidden deservings of souls, he ought to hear, out of the depth of Thy righteous judgment, to whom let not man say, "What is this ?" or "Why that ?" Let him not say so, for he is man.
Chap. VII.—He is severely exercised as to the origin of evil.
11. And now, O my He]per, hadst Thou freed me from those fetters; and I inquired, "Whence is evil?" and found no result. But Thou sufferedst me not to be carried away from the faith by any fluctuations of thought, whereby I believed Thee both to exist, and Thy substance to be unchangeable, and that Thou hadst a care of and wouldest judge men; and that in Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, and the Holy Scriptures, which the authority of Thy Catholic Church pressed upon me, Thou hadst planned the way of man's salvation to that life which is to come after this death. These things being safe and immoveably settled in my mind, I eagerly inquired, "Whence is evil ?" What torments did my travailing heart then endure! What sighs, O my God! Yet even there were Thine ears open, and I knew it not; and when in stillness I sought earnestly, those silent contritions of my soul were strong cries unto Thy mercy. No man knoweth, but only Thou, what I endured. For what was that which was thence through my tongue poured into the ears of my most familiar friends? Did the whole tumult of my soul, for which neither time nor speech was sufficient, reach them? Yet went the whole into Thine ears, all of which I bellowed out from the sightings of my heart; and my desire was before Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not with me; for that was within, I without. Nor was that in place, but my attention was directed to things contained in place; but there did I find no resting-place, nor did they receive me in such a way as that I could say, "It is sufficient, it is well;" nor did they let me turn back, where it might be well enough with me. For to these things was I superior, but inferior to Thee; and Thou art my true joy when I am subjected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what Thou createdst beneath me. And this was the true temperature and middle region of my safety, to continue in Thine image, and by serving Thee to have dominion over the body. But when I lifted myself proudly against I Thee, and "ran against the Lord, even on His l neck, with the thick bosses" of my buckler, even these inferior things were placed above l me, and pressed upon me, and nowhere was/ there alleviation or breathing space. They/ encountered my sight on every side in crowds I and troops, and in thought the images of l bodies obtruded themselves as I was returning to Thee, as if they would say unto me, "Whither goest thou, unworthy and base one ?" And these things had sprung forth out of my wound; for thou humblest the proud like one that is wounded, and through my own swelling was I separated from Thee; yea, my too much swollen face closed up mine eyes.
Chap. VIII.—By God's assistance he by degrees arrives at the truth.
12. "But Thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever," yet not for ever art Thou angry with us, because Thou dost commiserate our dust and lt ashes; and it was pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformity, and by inward stings didst Thou disturb me, that I should be dissatisfied until Thou wert made sure to my inward sight. And by the secret hand of Thy remedy was my swelling lessened, and the disordered and darkened eyesight of my mind, by the sharp anointings of healthful sorrows, was from day to day made whole.
Chap. IX.—He compares the doctrine of the Platonists concerning the Logos with the much more excellent doctrine of Christianity.
13. And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou "resistest the proud, but givest grace unto the humble," and by how great art act of mercy Thou hadst pointed out to men the path of humility, in that Thy "Word was made flesh" and dwelt among men,—Thou procuredst for me, by the instrumentality of one inflated with most monstrous pride, certain books of the Platonists, translated from Greek into Latin. And therein I read, not indeed in the same words, but to the selfsame effect, enforced by many and divers reasons, that, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made." That which was made by Him is "life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not." And that the soul of man, though it "bears witness of the light," yet itself" is not that light; but the Word of God, being God, is that true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." And that "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him,: and the world knew Him not.'' But that: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to then: that believe on His name." This I did not read there.
14. In like manner, I read there that God the Word was born not of flesh, nor of blood,: nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God. But that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us," I read not there. For I discovered in those books that it was in many and divers ways said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and "thought it not robbery to be equal with God," for that naturally He was the same substance. But that He emptied Himself, "and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him" from the dead, "and given Him a name above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father;" those books have not. For that before all times, and above all times, Thy only-begotten Son remaineth unchangeably co-eternal with Thee; and that of'' His fulness" souls receive, that they may be blessed; and that by participation of the wisdom remaining in them they are renewed, that they may be wise, is there. But that "in due time Christ died for the ungodly," and that Thou sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us all, is not there. "Because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes;" that they "that labour and are heavy laden" might "come" unto Him and He might refresh them, because He is "meek and lowly in heart." "The meek will He guide in judgment; and the meek will He teach His way;" looking upon our humility and our distress, and forgiving all our sins. But such as are puffed up with the elation of would-be sublimer learning, do not hear Him saying, "Learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.''
15. And therefore also did I read there, that they had changed the glory of Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers forms,—" into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things," namely, into that Egyptian food for which Esau lost his birthright; for that Thy first-born people worshipped the head of a four-footed beast instead of Thee, turning back in heart towards Egypt, and prostrating Thy image—their own soul—before the image "of an ox that eateth grass." These things found I there; but I fed not on them. For it pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away the reproach of diminution from Jacob, that the elder should serve the younger; and Thou hast called the Gentiles into Thine inheritance. And I had come unto Thee from among the Gentiles, and I strained after that gold which Thou willedst Thy people to take from Egypt, seeing that wheresoever it was it was Thine. And to the Athenians Thou saidst by Thy apostle, that in Thee "we live, and move, and have our being ;" as one of their own poets has said. And verily these books came from thence. But I set not my mind on the idols of Egypt, whom they ministered to with Thy gold, "who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator."
Chap. X.—Divine things are the more clearly manifested to him who withdraws into the recesses of his heart.
16. And being thence warned to return to myself, I entered into my inward self, Thou leading me on; and I was able to do it, for Thou wert become my helper. And I entered, and with the eye of my soul (such as it was) saw above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the Unchangeable Light. Not this common light, which all flesh may look upon, nor, as it were, a greater one of the same kind, as though the brightness of this should be much more resplendent, and with its greatness fill up all things. Not like this was that light, but different, yea, very different from all these. Nor was it above my mind as oil is above water, nor as heaven above earth; but above it was, because it made me, and I below it, because I was made by it. He who knows the Truth knows that Light; and he that knows it knoweth eternity. Love knoweth it. O Eternal Truth, and true Love, and loved Eternity! Thou art my God; to Thee do I sigh both night and day. When I first knew Thee, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see there was that which I might see, and that yet it was not I that did see. And Thou didst beat back the infirmity of my sight, pouring forth upon me most strongly Thy beams of light, and I trembled with love and fear; and I found myself to be far off from Thee, in the region of dissimilarity, as if I heard this voice of Thine from on high: "I am the food of strong men; grow, and thou shalt feed upon me; nor shall thou convert me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shall be converted into me." And I learned that Thou for iniquity dost correct man, and Thou dost make my soul to consume away like a spider. And I said, "Is Truth, therefore, nothing because it is neither diffused through space, finite, nor infinite ?" And Thou criedst to me from afar, "Yea, verily, 'I AM THAT I AM'" And I heard this, as things are heard in the heart, nor was there room for doubt; and I should more readily doubt that I live than that Truth is not, which is "clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made."
Chap. XI.—That creatures are mutable and God alone immutable.
17. And I viewed the other things below Thee, and perceived that they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not. They are, indeed, because they are from Thee; but are not, because they are not what Thou art. For that truly is which remains immutably. It is good, then, for me to cleave unto God, for if I remain not in Him, neither shall I in myself; but He, remaining in Himself, reneweth all things. And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou standest not in need of my goodness.
Chap. XII.—Whatever things the good God has created are very good.
18. And it was made clear unto me that those things are good which yet are corrupted, which, neither were they supremely good, nor unless they were good, could be corrupted; because if supremely good, they were incorruptible, and if not good at all, there was nothing in them to be corrupted. For corruption harms, but, less it could diminish goodness, it could not harm. Either, then, corruption harms not, which cannot be; or, what is most certain, all which is corrupted is deprived of good. But if they be deprived of all good, they will cease to be. For if they be, and cannot be at all corrupted, they will become better, because they shall remain incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to assert that those things which have lost all their goodness are made better? Therefore, if they shall be deprived of all good, they shall no longer be. So long, therefore, as they are, they are good; therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil, then, which I sought whence it was, is not any substance; for were it a substance, it would be good. For either it would be an incorruptible substance, land so a chief good, or a corruptible substance, which unless it were good it could not be corrupted. I perceived, therefore, and it was made clear to me, that Thou didst make all things good, nor is there any substance at all that was not made by Thee; and because all that Thou hast made are not equal, therefore all things are; because individually they are good, and altogether very good, because our God made all things very good.
Chap. XIII.—It is meet to praise the Creator for the good things which are made in heaven and earth.
19. And to Thee is there nothing at all evil, and not only to Thee, but to Thy whole creation; because there is nothing without which can break in, and mar that order which Thou hast appointed it. But in the parts thereof, some things, because they harmonize not with others, are considered evil; whereas those very things harmonize with others, and are good, and in themselves are good. And all these things which do not harmonize together harmonize with the inferior part which we call earth, having its own cloudy and windy sky concordant to it. Far be it from me, then, to say, "These things should not be." For should I see nothing but these, I should indeed desire better; but yet, if only for these, ought I to praise Thee; for that Thou art to be praised is shown from the "earth, dragons, and all deeps; fire, and hail; snow, and vapours; stormy winds fulfilling Thy word; mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl; kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth; both young men and maidens; old men and children," praise Thy name. But when, "from the heavens," these praise Thee, praise Thee, our God, "in the heights," all Thy "angels," all Thy "hosts," "sun and moon," all ye stars and light, "the heavens of heavens," and the "waters that be above the heavens," praise Thy name. I did not now desire better things, because I was thinking of all; and with a better judgment I reflected that the things above were better than those below, but that all were better than those above alone.
Chap. XIV.—Being displeased with some part of God's creation, he conceives of two original substances.
20. There is no wholeness in them whom aught of Thy creation displeased no more than there was in me, when many things which Thou madest displeased me. And, because my soul dared not be displeased at my God, it would not suffer aught to be Thine which displeased it. Hence it had gone into the opinion of two substances, and resisted not, but talked foolishly. And, returning thence, it had made to itself a god, through infinite measures of all space; and imagined it to be Thee, and placed it in its heart, and again had become the temple of its own idol, which was to Thee an abomination. But after Thou hadst fomented the. head of me unconscious of it, and closed mine eyes test they should "behold vanity," I ceased from myself a little, and my madness was lulled to sleep; and I awoke in Thee, and saw Thee to be infinite, though in another way; and this sight was not derived from the flesh.
Chap. XV.—Whatever is, owes its being to God.
21. And I looked hack on other things, and I perceived that it was to Thee they owed their being, and that they were all bounded in Thee; but in another way, not as being in space, but because Thou boldest all things in Thine hand in truth: and all things are true so fir as they have a being; nor is there any falsehood, unless that which is not is thought to be. And I saw that all things harmonized, not with their places only, but with their seasons also. And that Thou, who only art eternal, didst not begin to work after innumerable spaces of times; for that all spaces of times, both those which have passed and which shall pass, neither go nor come, save through Thee, working and abiding.
Chap. XVI—Evil arises not from a substance, but from the perversion of the will.
22. And I discerned and found it no marvel, that bread which is distasteful to an unhealthy palate is pleasant to a healthy one; and that the light, which is painful to sore eyes, is delightful ' to sound ones. And Thy righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more the viper and little worm, which Thou hast created good, fitting in with inferior parts of Thy creation; with which the wicked themselves also fit in, the more in proportion as they are unlike Thee, but with the superior creatures, in proportion as they become like to Thee. And I inquired what iniquity was, and ascertained it not to be a substance, but a perversion of the will, bent aside from Thee, O God, the Supreme Substance, towards these lower things, and casting out its bowels, and swelling outwardly.
Chap. XVII.—Above his changeable mind, he discovers the unchangeable Author of truth.
23. And I marvelled that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm instead of Thee. And yet I did not merit to enjoy my God, but was transported to Thee by Thy beauty, and presently torn away from Thee by mine own weight, sinking with grief into these inferior things. This weight was carnal custom. Yet was there a remembrance of Thee with me; nor did I any way doubt that there was one to whom I might cleave, but that I was not yet one who could cleave unto Thee; for that the body which is corrupted presseth down the soul, and the earthly dwelling weigheth down the mind which thinketh upon many things. And most certain I was that Thy "invisible things from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even Thy eternal power and Godhead." For, inquiring whence it was that I admired the beauty of bodies whether celestial or terrestrial, and what supported me in judging correctly on things mutable, and pronouncing, "This should be thus, this not, ",— inquiring, then, whence I so judged, seeing I did so judge, I had found the unchangeable and true eternity of Truth, above my changeable mind. And thus, by degrees, I passed from bodies to the soul, which makes use of the senses of the body to perceive; and thence to its inward faculty, to which the bodily senses represent outward things, and up to which reach the capabilities of beasts; and thence, again, I passed on to the reasoning faculty, unto which whatever is received from the senses of the body is referred to be judged, which also, finding itself to be variable in me, raised itself up to its own intelligence, and from habit drew away my thoughts, withdrawing itself from the crowds of contradictory phantasms; that so it might find out that light by which it was besprinkled, when, without all doubting, it cried out, "that the unchangeable was to be preferred before the changeable;" whence also it knew that unchangeable, which, unless it had in some way known, it could have had no sure ground for preferring it to the changeable. And thus, with the flash of a trembling glance, it arrived at that which is. And then I saw Thy invisible things understood by the things that are made. But I was not able to fix my gaze thereon; and my infirmity being beaten back, I was thrown again on my accustomed habits, carrying along with me naught but a loving memory thereof, and an appetite for what I had, as it were, smelt the odour of, but was not yet able to eat.
Chap. XVIII.—Jesus Christ, the mediator, is the only way of safety.
24. And I sought a way of acquiring strength sufficient to enjoy Thee; but I found it not until I embraced that "Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus," "who is over all, God blessed for ever," calling unto me, and saying, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," and mingling that food which I was unable to receive with our flesh. For "the Word was made flesh," that Thy wisdom, by which Thou createdst all things, might provide milk for our infancy. For I did not grasp my Lord Jesus,—I, though humbled, grasped not the humble One; nor did I know what lesson that infirmity of His would teach us. For Thy Word, the Eternal Truth, pre-eminent above the higher parts of Thy creation, raises up those that am subject unto Itself; but in this lower world built for Itself a humble habitation of our clay, whereby He intended to abase from themselves such as would be subjected and bring them over unto Himself, allaying their swelling, and fostering their love; to the end that they might go on no further in self-confidence, but rather should become weak, seeing before their feet the Divinity weak by taking our "coats of skins ;" and wearied, might cast themselves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them up.
Chap. XIX.—He does not yet fully understand the saying of John, that "the Word was made flesh."
25. But I thought differently, thinking only of my Lord Christ as of a man of excellent wisdom, to whom no man could be equalled; especially for that, being wonderfully born of a virgin, He seemed, through the divine care for us, to have attained so great authority of leadership,—for an example of contemning temporal things for the obtaining of immortality. But what mystery there was in, "The Word was made flesh," I could not even imagine. Only I had learnt out of what is delivered to us in writing of Him, that He did eat, drink, sleep, walk, rejoice in spirit, was sad, and discoursed; that flesh alone did not cleave unto Thy Word, but with the human soul and body. All know thus who know the unchangeableness of Thy Word, which I now knew as well as I could, nor did I at all have any doubt about it. For, now to move the limbs of the body at will, now not; now to be stirred by some affection, now not; non, by signs to enunciate wise sayings, now to keep silence, are properties of a soul and mind subject to change. And should these things be falsely written of Him, all the rest would risk the imputation, nor would there remain in those books any saving faith for the human race. Since, then, they were written truthfully, I acknowledged a perfect man to be in Christ—not the body of a man only, nor with the body a sensitive soul without a rational, but a very! man; whom, not only as being a form of truth, but for a certain great excellency of human nature and a more perfect participation of wisdom, I decided was to be preferred before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics to believe that God was so clothed with flesh, that, besides God and flesh, there was no soul in Christ, and did not think that a human mind was ascribed to Him. And, because He was thoroughly persuaded that the actions which were recorded of Him could not be performed except by a vital and rational creature, he moved the more slowly towards the Christian faith. But, learning afterwards that this was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he rejoiced in the Catholic faith, and was conformed to it. But somewhat later it was, I confess, that I learned how in the sentence, "The Word was made flesh," the Catholic truth can be distinguished from the falsehood of Photinus. For the disapproval of heretics makes the tenets of Thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out boldly. For them must be also heresies, that the approved may be made manifest among the weak.
Chap. XX.—He rejoices that he proceeded from Plato to the Holy Scriptures, and not the reverse.
26. But having then read those books of the Platonists, and being admonished by them to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Thy invisible things, understood by those things that are made; and though repulsed, I perceived what that was, which through the darkness of my mind I was not allowed to contemplate,—assured that Thou wert, and wert infinite, and yet not diffused in space finite or infinite; and that Thou truly art, who art the same ever, varying neither in part nor motion; and that all other things are from Thee, on this most sure ground alone, that they are. Of these things was I indeed assured, yet too weak to enjoy Thee. I chattered as one well skilled; but had I not sought Thy way in Christ our Saviour, I would have proved not skilful, but ready to perish. For now, filled with my punishment, I had begun to desire to seem wise; yet mourned I not, but rather was puffed up with knowledge. For where was that charity building upon the "foundation" of humility, "which is Jesus Christ"? Or, when would these books teach me it? Upon these, therefore, I believe, it was Thy pleasure that I should fall before I studied Thy Scriptures, that it might be impressed on my memory how I was affected by them; and that afterwards when I was subdued by Thy books, and when my wounds were touched by Thy healing fingers, I might discern and distinguish what a difference there is between presumption and confession,—between those who saw whither they were to go, yet saw not the way, and the way which leadeth not only to behold but to inhabit the blessed country. For had I first been moulded in Thy Holy Scriptures, and hadst Thou, in the familiar use of them, grown sweet unto me, and had I afterwards fallen upon those volumes, they might perhaps have withdrawn me from the solid ground of piety; or, had I stood firm in that wholesome disposition which I had thence imbibed, I might have thought that it could have been attained by the study of those books alone;
Chap. XXI.—What he found in the sacred books which are not to be found in Plato.
27. Most eagerly, then, did I seize that venerable writing of Thy Spirit, but more especially the Apostle Paul; and those difficulties vanished away, in which he at one time appeared to me to contradict himself, and the text of his discourse not to agree with the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets. And the face of that pure speech appeared to me one and the same; and I learned to "rejoice with trembling.'' So I commenced, and found that whatsoever truth I had there read was declared here with the recommendation of Thy grace; that he who sees may not so glory as if he had not received not only that which he sees, but also that he can see (for what hath he which he hath not received?); and that he may not only be admonished to see Thee, who art ever the same, but also may be healed, to hold Thee; and that he who from afar off is not able to see, may still walk on the way by which he may reach, behold, and possess Thee. For though a man "delight in the law of God after the inward man," what shall he do with that other law in his members which warreth against the law of his mind, and bringeth him into captivity to the law of sin, which is in his members? For Thou art righteous, O Lord, but we have sinned and committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and Thy hand is grown heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered over unto that ancient sinner, the governor of death; for he induced our will to be like his will, whereby he remained not in Thy truth. What shall "wretched man" do? "Who shall deliver him from the body of this death," but Thy grace only, "through Jesus 'Christ our Lord,'' whom Thou hast begotten co-eternal, and createdst in the beginning of Thy ways, in whom the Prince of this world found nothing worthy of death, yet killed he Him, and the handwriting which was contrary to us was blotted out? This those writings contain not. Those pages contain not the expression of this piety, —the tears of confession, Thy sacrifice, a troubled spirit, "a broken and a contrite heart," the salvation of the people, the espoused city, the earnest of the Holy Ghost, the cup of our redemption. No man sings there, Shall not my soul be subject unto God? For of Him cometh my salvation, for He is my God and my salvation, my defender, I shall not be further moved. No one there hears Him calling, "Come unto me all ye that labour." They scorn to learn of Him, because He is meek and lowly of heart; for "Thou hast hid those things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.'' For it is one thing, from the mountain's wooded summit to see the land of peace, and not to find the way thither,—in vain to attempt impassable ways, opposed and waylaid by fugitives and deserters, under their captain the "lion" and the "dragon;" and another to keep to the way that leads thither, guarded by the host of the heavenly general, where they rob not who have deserted the heavenly army, which they shun as torture. These things did in a wonderful manner sink into my bowels, when I read that "least of Thy apostles," and had reflected upon Thy works, and feared greatly.
HE FINALLY DESCRIBES THE THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF HIS AGE, THE MOST MEMORABLE OF HIS WHOLE LIFE, IN WHICH, BEING INSTRUCTED BY SIMPLICIANUS CONCERNING THE CONVERSION OF OTHERS, AND THE MANNER OF ACTING, HE IS, AFTER A SEVERE STRUGGLE, RENEWED IN HIS WHOLE MIND, AND IS CONVERTED UNTO GOD.
Chap. I.—He, now given to divine things, and yet entangled by the lusts of love, consults Simplicianus in reference to the renewing of his mind.
1. O MY God, let me with gratitude remember and confess unto Thee Thy mercies bestowed upon me. Let my bones be steeped in Thy love, and let them say, Who is like unto Thee, O Lord? "Thou hast loosed my bonds, I will offer unto Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving." And how Thou hast loosed them I will declare; and all who worship Thee when they hear these things shall say: "Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is His name." Thy words had stuck fast into my breast, and I was hedged round about by Thee on every side. Of Thy eternal life I was now certain, although I had seen it' "through a glass darkly." Yet I no longer doubted that there was an incorruptible substance, from which was derived all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more certain of Thee, but more stedfast in Thee. As for my temporal life, all things were uncertain, and my heart had to be purged from the old leaven. The "Way,'' the Saviour Himself, was pleasant unto me, but as yet I disliked to pass through its straightness. And Thou didst put into my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go unto Simplicianus, who appeared to me a faithful servant of Thine, and Thy grace shone in him. I had also heard that from his very youth he had lived most devoted to Thee. Now he had grown into years, and by reason of so great age, passed in such zealous following of Thy ways, he appeared to me likely to have gained much experience; and so in truth he had. Out of which experience I desired him to tell me (setting before him my griefs) which would be the most fitting way for one afflicted as I was to walk in Thy way.
2. For the Church I saw to. be full, and one went this way, and another that. But it was displeasing to me that I led a secular life; yea, now that my passions had ceased to excite me. as of old with hopes of honour and wealth, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so great a servitude. For, compared with Thy sweetness, and the .beauty of Thy house, which I loved, those things delighted me no longer. But still very tenaciously was I held by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry, although he exhorted me to something better, especially wishing that all men were as he himself was. But I, being weak, made choice of the more agreeable place, and because of this alone was tossed up and down in all beside, faint and languishing with withering cares, because in other matters I was compelled, though unwilling, to agree to a married life, to which I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of truth that "there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake ;" but, saith He, "he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.'' Vain, assuredly, are all men in whom the. knowledge of God is not, and who could not, out of the good things which are seen, find out Him who is good. But I was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it, and by the united testimony of Thy whole creation had found Thee, our Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee and the Holy Ghost one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another kind of impious men, who "when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful." Into this also had I fallen; but Thy right hand held me up, and bore me away, and Thou placedst me where I might recover. For Thou hast said unto man, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom ;" and desire not to seem wise, because, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.'' But I had now found the goodly pearl, which, selling all that I had, I ought to have bought; and I hesitated.
Chap.II.—The pious old man rejoices that he read Plato and the Scriptures, and tells him of the rhetorician Victorinus having been converted to the faith through the reading of the Sacred Books.
3. To Simplicianus then I went,—the father of Ambrose (at that time a bishop) in receiving Thy grace, and whom he truly loved as a father. To him I narrated l;he windings of my error. But when I mentioned to him that I had read certain books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, sometime Professor of Rhetoric at Rome (who died a Christian, as I had been told), had translated into Latin, he congratulated me that I had not fallen upon the writings of other philosophers, which were full of fallacies and deceit, "after the rudiments of the world," whereas they, in many ways, led to the belief in God and His word. Then, to exhort me to the humility of Christ, hidden from the wise, and revealed to little ones, he spoke of Victorinus himself, whom, whilst he was at Rome, he had known very intimately; and of him he related that about which I will not be silent. For it contains great praise of Thy grace, which ought to be confessed unto Thee, how that most learned old man, highly skilled in all the liberal sciences, who had read, criticised, and explained so many works of the philosophers; the teacher of so many noble senators; who also, as a mark of his excellent discharge of his duties, had (which men of this world esteem a great honour) both merited and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum, he,—even to that age a worshipper of idols, and a participator in the sacrilegious rites to which almost all the nobility of Rome were wedded, and had inspired the people with the love of "The dog Anubis, and a medley crew of monster gods [who] 'gainst Neptune stand in arms, 'Gainst Venus and Minerva, steel-clad Mars," whom Rome once conquered, now worshipped, all which old Victorinus had with thundering eloquence defended so many years,—he now blushed not to be the child of Thy Christ, and an infant at Thy fountain, submitting his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead to the reproach of the Cross.
4. O Lord, Lord, who hast bowed the heavens and come down, touched the mountains and they did smoke, by what means didst Thou convey Thyself into that bosom? He used to read, as Simplicianus said, the Holy Scripture, most studiously sought after and searched into all the Christian writings, and said to Simplicianus,—not openly, but secretly, and as a friend,—" Know thou that I am a Christian." To which he replied, "I will not believe it, nor will I rank you among the Christians unless I see you in the Church of Christ." Whereupon he replied derisively, "Is it then the walls that make Christians ?" And this he often said, that he already was a Christian; and Simplidanus making the same answer, the conceit of the "walls" was by the other as often renewed. For he was fearful of offending his friends, proud demon-worshippers, from the height of whose Babylonian dignity, as from cedars of Lebanon which had not yet been broken by the Lord, he thought a storm of enmity would descend upon him. But after that, from reading and inquiry, he had derived strength, and feared lest he should be denied by Christ before the holy angels if he now was afraid to confess Him before men, and appeared to himself guilty of a great fault in being ashamed of the sacraments of the humility of Thy word, and not being ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud demons, whose pride he had imitated and their rites adopted, he became bold-faced against vanity, and shame-faced toward the truth, and suddenly and unexpectedly said to Simplicianus,—as he himself informed me,—" Let us go to the church; I wish to be made a Christian." But he, not containing himself for joy, accompanied him. And having been admitted to the first sacraments of instruction, he not long after gave in his name, that he might be regenerated by baptism,—Rome marvelling, and the Church rejoicing. The proud saw, and were enraged; they gnashed with their teeth, and melted away! But the Lord God was the hope of Thy servant, and He regarded not vanities and lying madness.
5. Finally, when the hour arrived for him to make profession of his faith (which at Rome they who are about to approach Thy grace are wont to deliver from an elevated place, in view of the faithful people, in a set form of words learnt by heart), the presbyters, he said, offered Victorinus to make his profession more privately, as the custom was to do to those who were likely, through bashfulness, to be afraid; but he chose rather to profess his salvation in the presence of the holy assembly. For it was not salvation that he taught in rhetoric, and yet he had publicly professed that. How much less, therefore, ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to dread Thy meek flock, who, in the delivery of his own words, had not feared the mad multitudes! So, then, when he ascended to make his profession, all, as they recognised him, whispered his name one to the other, with a voice of congratulation. And who was there amongst them that did not know him? And there ran a low murmur through the mouths of all the rejoicing multitude, "Victorinus! Victorinus !" Sudden was the burst of exultation at the sight of him; and suddenly were they: hushed, that they might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all desired to take him to their very heart—yea, by their love and joy they took him thither; such were the hands with which they took him.
Chap. III.—that God and the angels rejoice more on the return of one sinner than of many just persons.
6. Good God, what passed in man to make him rejoice more at the salvation of a soul despaired of, and delivered from greater danger, than if there had always been hope of him, or the danger had been less? For so Thou also, O merciful Father, dost "joy over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance." And with much joyfulness do we hear, whenever we hear, how the lost sheep is brought home again on the Shepherd's shoulders, while the angels rejoice, and the drachma is restored to Thy treasury, the neighhours rejoicing with the woman who found it; and the joy of the solemn service of Thy house constraineth to tears, when in Thy house it is read of Thy younger son that he "was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found." For Thou rejoicest both in us and in Thy angels, holy through holy charity. For Thou art ever the same; for all things which abide neither the same nor for ever, Thou ever knowest after the same manner.
7. What, then, passes in the soul when it more delights at finding or having restored to it the thing it loves than if it had always possessed them? Yea, and other things bear witness hereunto; and all things are full of witnesses, crying out, "So it is." The victorious commander triumpheth; yet he would not have conquered had he not fought, and the greater the peril of the battle, the more the rejoicing of the triumph. The storm tosses the voyagers, threatens shipwreck, and every one waxes pale at the approach of death; but sky and sea grow calm, and they rejoice much, as they feared much. A loved one is sick, and his pulse indicates danger; all who desire his safety are at once sick at heart: he recovers, though not able as yet to walk with his former strength, and there is such joy as was not before when he walked sound and strong. Yea, the very pleasures of human life—not those only which rush upon us unexpectedly, and against our wills, but those that are voluntary and designed—do men obtain by difficulties. There is no pleasure at all in eating and drinking unless the pains of hunger and thirst go before. And drunkards eat certain salt meats with the view of creating a troublesome heat, which the drink allaying causes pleasure. It is also the custom that the affianced bride should not immediately be given up, that the husband may not less esteem her whom, as betrothed, he longed not for.
8. This law obtains in base and accursed joy; in that joy also which is permitted and lawful; in the sincerity of honest friendship; and in Him who was dead, and lived again, had been lost, and was found. The greater joy is everywhere preceded by the greater pain. What meaneth this, O Lord my God, when Thou art, an everlasting joy unto Thine own self, and some i things about Thee are ever rejoicing in Thee? What meaneth this, that this portion of things thus ebbs and flows, alternately offended and reconciled? Is this the fashion of them, and is this all Thou hast allotted to them, whereas from the highest heaven to the lowest earth, from' the beginning of the world to its end, from the angel to the worm, from the first movement unto the last, Thou settedst each in its right place, and appointedst each its proper seasons, everything good after its kind? Woe is me! How high art Thou in the highest, and how deep in the deepest! Thou withdrawest no whither, and scarcely do we return to Thee.
Chap. IV.—He shows by the example of Victorinus that there is more joy in the conversion of nobles.
9. Haste, Lord, and act; stir us up, and call us back; inflame us, and draw us to Thee; stir us up, and grow sweet unto us; let us now love Thee, let us "run after Thee." Do not many men, out of a deeper hell of blindness than that of Victorinus, return unto Thee, and approach, and are enlightened, receiving that light, which they that receive, receive power from Thee to become Thy sons? But if they be less known among the people, even they that know them joy less for them. For when many rejoice together, the joy of each one is the fuller in that they are incited and inflamed by one another. Again, because those that are known to many influence many towards salvation, and take the lead with many to follow them. And, therefore, do they also who preceded them much rejoice in regard to them, because they rejoice not in them alone. May it be averted that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; since rather "Thou hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty i and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hast Thou chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are." And yet, even that "least of the apostles," by whose tongue Thou soundest out these words, when Paulus the proconsul—his pride overcome by the apostle's warfare—was made to pass under the easy yoke of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the great King,—he also, instead of Saul, his former name, desired to be called Paul, in testimony of so great a victory. For the enemy is more overcome in one of whom he hath more hold, and by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud hath he more hold of by reason of their nobility; and by them of more, by reason of their authority. By how much the more welcome, then, was the heart of Victorinus esteemed, which the devil had held as an unassailable retreat, and the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and cutting weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly should Thy sons rejoice, seeing that our King hath bound the strong man, and they saw his vessels taken from him and cleansed, and made meet for Thy honour, and become serviceable for the Lord unto every good work.
Chap. V.—Of the causes which alienate us from God.
10. But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related this to me about Victorinus, I burned to imitate him; and it was for this end he had related it. But when he had added this also, that in the time of the Emperor Julian, there was a law made by which Christians were forbidden to teach grammar and oratory, and he, in obedience to this law, chose rather to abandon the wordy school than Thy word, by which Thou makest eloquent the tongues of the dumb,—he appeared to me not more brave than happy, in having thus .discovered an opportunity of waiting on Thee only, which thing I was sighing for, thus bound, not with the irons of another, but my own iron will. My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a "chain"), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled. But that new will which had begun to develope in me, freely to worship Thee, and to wish to enjoy Thee, O God, the only sure enjoyment, was not able as yet to overcome my former wilfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus did my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me; and by their discord they unstrung my soul.
11. Thus came I to understand, from my own experience, what I had read, how that "the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." I verily lusted both ways; yet more in that which I approved in myself, than in that which I disapproved in myself. For in this last it was now rather not "I," because in much I rather suffered against my will than did it willingly. And yet it was through me that custom became more combative against me, because I had come willingly whither I willed not. And who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows the sinner? Nor had I now any longer my wonted excuse, that as yet I hesitated to be above the world and serve Thee, because my perception of the truth was uncertain; for now it was certain. But I, still bound to the earth, refused to be Thy soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all embarrassments, as we ought to fear to be embarrassed.
12. Thus with the baggage of the world was I! sweetly burdened, as when in slumber; and the thoughts wherein I meditated upon Thee were like unto the efforts of those desiring to awake, who, still overpowered with a heavy drowsiness, are again steeped therein. And as no one desires to sleep always, and in the sober judgment of all waking is better, yet does a man generally defer to shake off drowsiness, when there is a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, and, though displeased, yet even after it is time to rise with pleasure yields to it, so was I assured that it were much better for me to give up myself to Thy charity, than to yield myself to my own cupidity; but the former course satisfied and vanquished me, the latter pleased me and fettered me. Nor had I aught to answer Thee calling to me, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." And to Thee showing me on every side, that what Thou saidst was true, I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at all to reply, but the drawling and drowsy words: "Presently, lo, presently;" "Leave me a little while." But "presently, presently," had no present; and my "leave me a little while" went on for a long while. In vain did I "delight in Thy law after the inner man," when "another law in my members warred against the law of my mind, and brought me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." For the law of sin is the violence of custom, whereby the mind is drawn and held, even against its will; deserving to be so held in that it so willingly falls into it. "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death" but Thy grace only, through Jesus Christ our Lord?
Chap. VI.—Pontitianus' account of Antony, the founder of Monachism, and of some who imitated him.
13. And how, then, Thou didst deliver me out of the bonds of carnal desire, wherewith I was most firmly lettered, and out of the drudgery of worldly business, will I now declare and confess unto Thy name, "O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer." Amid increasing anxiety, I was transacting my usual affairs, and daily sighing unto Thee. I resorted as frequently to Thy church as the business, under the burden of which I groaned, left me free to do. Alypius was with me, being after the third sitting disengaged from his legal occupation, and awaiting further opportunity of selling his counsel, as I was wont to sell the power of speaking, if it can be supplied by teaching. But Nebridius had, on account of our friendship, consented to teach under Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a very intimate friend of us all; who vehemently desired, and by the right of friendship demanded from our company, the faithful aid he greatly stood in need of. Nebridius, then, was not drawn to this by any desire of gain (for he could have made much more of his learning had he been so inclined), but, as a most sweet and kindly friend, he would not be wanting in an office of friendliness, and slight our request. But in this he acted very discreetly, taking care not to become known to those personages whom the world esteems great; thus avoiding distraction of mind, which he desired to have free and at leisure as many hours as possible, to search, or read, or hear something concerning wisdom.
14. Upon a certain day, then, Nebridius being away (why, I do not remember), lo, there came to the house to see Alypius and me, Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, in so far as he was an African, who held high office in the emperor's court. What he wanted with us I' know not, but we sat down to talk together, and it fell out that upon a table before us, used for games, he noticed a book; he took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the Apostle Paul,—for he imagined it to be one of those books which I was wearing myself out in teaching. At this he looked up at me smilingly, and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book, and this only, before my eyes. For he was both a Christian and baptized, and often prostrated himself before Thee our God in the church, in constant and daily prayers. When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony, the Egyptian I monk, whose name was in high repute among Thy servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marvelling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Thy wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered—we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.
15. From this his conversation turned to the companies in the monasteries, and their manners so fragrant unto Thee, and of the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan full of good brethren, without the walls of the city, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his relation, and we listened intently and in silence. He then related to us how on a certain afternoon, at Triers, when the emperor was taken up with seeing the Circensian games, he and three others, his comrades, went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls, and there, as they chanced to walk two and two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went by themselves; and these, in their rambling, came upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Thy servants, "poor in spirit," of whom "is the kingdom of heaven,'' where they found a book in which was written the life. of Antony. This one of them began to read, marvel at, and be inflamed by it; and in the reading, to meditate on embracing such a life, and giving up his worldly employments to serve Thee. And these were of the body called "Agents for Public Affairs." Then, suddenly being overwhelmed with a holy love and a sober sense of shame, in anger with himself, he cast his eyes upon his friend, exclaiming, "Tell me, I entreat thee, what end we are striving for by all these labours of ours. What is our aim? What is our motive in doing service? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to be ministers of the emperor? And in such a position, what is there not brittle, and fraught with danger, and by how many dangers arrive we at greater danger? And when arrive we thither? But if I desire to become a friend of God, behold, I am even now made it." Thus spake he, and in the pangs of the travail of the new life, he turned his eyes again upon the page and continued reading, and was inwardly changed where Thou sawest, and his mind was divested of the world, as soon became evident; for as he read, and the surging of his heart rolled along, he raged awhile, discerned and resolved on a better course, and now, having become Thine, he said to his friend, "Now have I broken loose from those hopes of ours, and am determined to serve God; and this, from this hour, in this place, I enter upon. If thou art reluctant to imitate me, hinder me not." The other replied that he would cleave to him, to share in so great a reward and so great a service. Thus both of them, being now Thine, were building a tower at the necessary cost,—of forsaking all that they had and following Thee. Then Pontitianus, and he that had walked with him through other parts of the garden, came in search of them to the same place, and having found them, reminded them to return as the day had declined. But they, making known to him their resolution and purpose, and how such a resolve had sprung up and become confirmed in them, entreated them not to molest them, if they refused to join themselves unto them. But the others, no whir changed from their former selves, did yet (as he said) bewail themselves, and piously congratulated them, recommending themselves to their prayers; and with their hearts inclining towards earthly things, returned to the palace. But the other two, setting their affections upon heavenly things, remained in the cottage. And both of them had affianced brides, who, when they heard of this, dedicated also their virginity unto God.
Chap. VII.—He deplores his wretchedness, that having been born thirty-two years, he had not yet found out the truth.
16. Such was the story of Pontitianus. But Thou, O Lord, whilst he was speaking, didst turn me towards myself, taking me from behind my back, where I had placed myself while unwilling to exercise self-scrutiny; and Thou didst set me face to face with myself, that I might behold how foul I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld and loathed myself; and whither to fly from myself I discovered not. And if I sought to turn my gaze away from myself, he continued his narrative, and Thou again opposedst me unto myself, and thrustedst me before my own eyes, that I might discover my iniquity, and hate it. I had known it, but acted as though I knew it not,—winked at it, and forgot it.
17. But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I heard tell of, that they had given up themselves wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself when compared with them. For man), of my years (perhaps twelve) had passed away since my nineteenth, when, on the reading of Cicero's "Hortensius," I was roused to a desire for wisdom; and still I was delaying to reject mere worldly happiness, and to devote myself to search out that whereof not the finding alone, but the bare search, ought to have been preferred before the treasures and kingdoms of this world, though already found, and before the pleasures of the body, though encompassing me at my will. But I, miserable young man, supremely miserable even in the very outset of my youth, had entreated chastity of Thee, and said, "Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet." For I was afraid lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon deliver me from the disease of concupiscence, which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through perverse ways in a sacrilegious superstition; not indeed assured thereof, but preferring that to the others, which I did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously.
18. And I had thought that I delayed from day to day to reject worldly hopes and follow Thee only, because there did not appear anything certain whereunto to direct my course. And now had the day arrived in which I was to be laid bare to myself, and my conscience was to chide me. "Where art thou, O my tongue? Thou saidst, verily, that for an uncertain truth thou wert not willing to cast off the baggage of vanity. Behold, now it is certain, and yet doth that burden still oppress thee; whereas they who neither have so worn themselves out with searching after it, nor yet have spent ten years and more in thinking thereon, have had their shoulders unburdened, and gotten wings to fly away." Thus was I inwardly consumed and mightily confounded with an horrible shame, while Pontitianus was relating these things. And he, having finished his story, and the business he came for, went his way. And unto myself, what said I not within myself? With what scourges of rebuke lashed I not my soul to make it follow me, struggling to go after Thee! Yet it drew back; it refused, and exercised not itself. All its arguments were exhausted and confuted. There remained a silent trembling; and it feared, as it would death, to be restrained from the flow of that custom whereby it was [wasting away even to death.
Chap. VIII.—The conversation with Alypius being ended, he retires to the garden, whither his friend follows him.
19. In the midst, then, of this great strife of my inner dwelling, which I had strongly raised up against my soul in the chamber of my heart, troubled both in mind and countenance, I seized upon Alypius, and exclaimed: "What is wrong with us? What is this? What heardest thou? The unlearned start up and ' take ' heaven, and we, with our learning, but wanting heart, see where we wallow in flesh and blood! Because others have preceded us, are we ashamed to follow, and not rather ashamed at not following ?" Some such words I gave utterance to, and in my excitement flung myself from him, while he gazed upon me in silent astonishment. For I spoke not in my wonted tone, and my brow, cheeks, eyes, colour, tone of voice, all expressed my emotion more than the words. There was a little garden belonging to our lodging, of which we had the use, as of the whole house; for the master, our landlord, did not live there. Thither had the tempest within my breast hurried me, where no one might impede the fiery struggle in which I was engaged with myself, until it came to the issue that Thou knewest, though I did not. But I was mad that I might be whole, and dying that I might have life, knowing what evil thing I was, but not knowing what good thing I was shortly to become. Into the garden, then, I retired, Alypius following my steps. For his presence was no bar to my solitude; or how could he desert me so troubled? We sat down at as great a distance from the house as we could. I was disquieted in spirit, being most impatient with myself that I entered not into Thy will and covenant, O my God, which all my bones cried out unto me to enter, extolling it to the skies. And we enter not therein by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, nor by going so far as I had come from the house to that place where we were sitting. For not to go only, but to enter there, was naught else but to will to go, but to will it resolutely and thoroughly; not to stagger and sway about this way and that, a changeable and half-wounded will, wrestling, with one part falling as another rose.
20. Finally, in the very fever of my irresolution, I made many of those motions with my body which men sometimes desire to do, but cannot, if either they have not the limbs, or if their limbs be bound with fetters, weakened by disease, or hindered in any other way. Thus, if I tore my hair, struck my forehead, or if, entwining my fingers, I clasped my knee, this I did because I willed it. But I might have willed and not done it, if the power of motion in my limbs had not responded. So many things, then, I did, when to have the will was not to have the power, and I did not that which both with an unequalled desire I longed more to do, and which shortly when I should will I should have the power to do; because shortly when I should will, I should will thoroughly. For in such things the power was one with the will, and to will was to do, and yet was it not done; and more readily did the body obey the slightest wish of the soul in the moving its limbs at the order of the mind, than the soul obeyed itself to accomplish in the will alone this its great will.
Chap. IX.—That the mind commandeth the mind, but it willeth not entirely.
21. Whence is this monstrous thing? And why is it? Let Thy mercy shine on me, that I may inquire, if so be the hiding-places of man's punishment, and the darkest contritions of the sons of Adam, may perhaps answer me. Whence is this monstrous thing? and why is it? The mind commands the body, and it obeys forthwith; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The mind commands the hand to be moved, and such readiness is there that the command is scarce to be distinguished from the obedience. Yet the mind is mind, and the hand is body. The mind commands the mind to will, and yet, though it be itself, it obeyeth not. Whence this monstrous thing? and why is it? I repeat, it commands itself to will, and would not give the command unless it willed; yet is not that done which it commandeth. But it willeth not entirely; therefore it commandeth not entirely. For so far forth it commandeth, as it willeth; and so far forth is the thing commanded not done, as it willeth not. For the will commandeth that there be a will;— not another, but itself. But it doth not command entirely, therefore that is not which it commandeth. For were it entire, it would not even command it to be, because it would already be. It is, therefore, no monstrous thing partly to will, partly to be unwilling, but an infirmity of the mind, that it doth not wholly rise, sustained by truth, pressed down by custom. And so there are two wills, because one of them is not entire; and the one is supplied with what the other needs.
Chap. X.—He refutes the opinion of the Manichaeans as to two kinds of minds,—one good and the other evil.
22. Let them perish from Thy presence, O God, as "vain talkers and deceivers" of the soul do perish, who, observing that there were two wills in deliberating, affirm that there are two kinds of minds in us,— one good, the other evil. They themselves verily are evil when they hold these evil opinions; and they shall become good when they hold the truth, and shall consent unto the truth, that Thy apostle may say unto them, "Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." But, they, desiring to be light, not "in the Lord," but in themselves, conceiving the nature of the soul to be the same as that which God is, are made more gross darkness; for that through a shocking arrogancy they went farther from Thee, "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Take heed what you say, and blush for shame; draw near unto Him and be "lightened," and your faces shall not be "ashamed." I, when I was deliberating upon serving the Lord my God now, as I had long purposed,—I it was who willed, I who was unwilling. It was I, even I myself. I neither willed entirely, nor was entirely unwilling. Therefore was I at war with myself, and destroyed by myself. And this destruction overtook me against my will, and yet showed not the presence of another mind, but the punishment of mine own. "Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me,"—the punishment of a more unconfined sin, in that I was a son of Adam.
23. For if there be as many contrary natures as there are conflicting wills, there will not now be two natures only, but many. If any one deliberate whether he should go to their conventicle, or to the theatre, those men at once cry out, "Behold, here are two natures,—one good, drawing this way, another bad, drawing back that way; for whence else is this indecision between conflicting wills?" But I reply that both are bad - - that which draws to them, and that which draws back to the theatre. But they believe not that will to be other than good which draws to them. Supposing, then, one of us should deliberate, and through the conflict of his two wills should waver whether he should go to the theatre or to our church, would not these also waver what to answer? For either they must confess, which they are not willing to do, that the will which leads to our church is good, as well as that of those who have received and are held by the mysteries of theirs, or they must imagine that there are two evil natures and two evil minds in one man, at war one with the other; and that will not be true which they say, that there is one good and another bad; or they must be converted to the truth, and no longer deny that where any one deliberates, there is one soul fluctuating between conflicting wills.
24. Let them no more say, then, when they perceive two wills to be antagonistic to each other in the same man, that the contest is between two opposing minds, of two opposing substances, from two opposing principles, the one good and the other bad. For Thou, O true God, dost disprove, check, and convince them; like as when both wills are bad, one deliberates whether he should kill a man by poison, or by the sword; whether he should take possession of this or that estate of another's, when he cannot both; whether he should purchase pleasure by prodigality, or retain his money by covetousness; whether he should go to the circus or the theatre, if both are open on the same day; or, thirdly, whether he should rob another man's house, if he have the opportunity; or, fourthly, whether he should commit adultery, if at the same time he have the means of doing so,—all these things concurring in the same point of time, and all being equally longed for, although impossible to be enacted at one time. For they rend the mind amid four, or even (among the vast variety of things men desire) more antagonistic wills, nor do they yet affirm that there are so many different substances. Thus also is it in wills which are good. For I ask them, is it a good thing to have delight in reading the apostle, or good to have delight in a sober psalm, or good to discourse on the gospel? To each of these they will answer, "It is good." What, then, if all equally delight us, and all at the same time? Do not different wills distract the mind, when a man is deliberating which he should rather choose? Yet are they all good, and are at variance until one be fixed upon, whither the whole united will may be borne, which before was divided into many. Thus, also, when above eternity delights us, and the pleasure of temporal good holds us down below, it is the same soul which willeth not that or this with an entire will, and is therefore torn asunder with grievous perplexities, while out of truth it prefers that, but out of custom forbears not this.
Chap. XI.—In what manner the spirit struggled with the flesh, that it might be freed from the bondage of vanity.
25. Thus was I sick and tormented, accusing myself far more severely than was my wont, tossing and turning me in my chain till that was utterly broken, whereby I now was but slightly, but still was held. And Thou, O Lord, pressedst upon me in my inward parts by a severe mercy, redoubling the lashes of fear and shame, lest I should again give way, and that same slender remaining tie not being broken off, it should recover strength, and enchain me the faster. For I said mentally, "Lo, let it be done now, let it be done now." And as ,I spoke, I all but came to a resolve. I all but did it, yet I did it not. Yet fell I not back to my old condition, but took up my position hard by, and drew breath. And I tried again, and wanted but very little of reaching it, and somewhat less, and then all but touched and grasped it; and yet came not at it, nor touched, nor grasped it, hesitating to die unto death, and to live unto life; and the worse, whereto I had been habituated, prevailed more with me than the better, which I had not tried. And the very moment in which I was to become another man, the nearer it approached me, the greater horror did it strike into me; but it did not strike me back, nor turn me aside, but kept me in suspense.
26. The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, still enthralled me; they shook my fleshly garment, and whispered softly, "Dost thou part with us? And from that moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? And from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?" And what did they suggest to me in the words "this or that?" What is it that they suggested, O my God? Let Thy mercy avert it from the soul of Thy servant. What impurities did they suggest! What shame! And now I far less than half heard them, not openly showing themselves and contradicting me, but muttering, as it were, behind my back, and furtively plucking me as I was departing, to make me look back upon them. Yet they did delay me, so that I hesitated to burst and shake myself free from them, and to leap over whither I was called,—an unruly habit saying to me, "Dost thou think thou canst live without them?"
27. But now it said this very faintly; for on that side towards which I had set my face, and whither I trembled to go, did the chaste dignity of Continence appear unto me, cheerful, but not dissolutely gay, honestly alluring me to come and doubt nothing, and extending her holy hands, full of a multiplicity of good examples, to receive and embrace me. There were there so many young men and maidens, a multitude of youth and every age, grave widows and ancient virgins, and Continence herself in all, not barren, but a fruitful mother of children of joys, by Thee, O Lord, her Husband. And she smiled on me with an encouraging mockery, as if to say, "Canst not thou do what these youths and maidens can? Or can one or other do it of themselves, and not rather in the Lord their God? The Lord their God gave me unto them. Why standest thou in thine own strength, and so standest not? Cast thyself upon Him; fear not, He will not withdraw that thou shouldest fall; cast thyself upon Him without fear, He will receive thee, and heal thee." And I blushed beyond measure, for I still heard the muttering of those toys, and hung in suspense. And she again seemed to say, "Shut up thine ears against those unclean members of thine upon the earth, that they may be mortified. They tell thee of delights, but not as doth the law of the Lord thy God." This controversy in my heart was naught but self against self. But Alypius, sitting close by my side, awaited in silence the result of my unwonted emotion.
Chap. XII.—Having prayed to God, he pours forth a shower of tears, and, admonished by a voice, he opens the book and reads the words in Rom. XIII.; by which, being changed in his whole soul, he discloses the divine favour to his friend and his mother.
28. But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. Which, that I might pour forth fully, with its natural expressions, I stole away from Alypius; for it suggested itself to me that solitude was fitter for the business of weeping. So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus was it with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and in that state had I risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, most completely astonished. I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee. And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee,—"But Thou, O Lord, how long?" "How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry for ever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities;" for I felt that I was enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries,—"How long, how long? Tomorrow, and tomorrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness ?"
29. I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony, that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me." And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell,—"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended,—by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart,—all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
30. Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrought in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This it was, verily, "Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye;" which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother. We make it known to her,—she rejoiceth. We relate how it came to pass,—she leapeth for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, who art "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think; for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other of this world's hopes,—standing in that rule of faith in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her in a vision. And thou didst turn her grief into a gladness, much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my body.
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.
Chap. 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." Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee, and let all my bones say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee ?" Let them so say, and answer Thou me, and "say unto my soul, I am Thy salvation." 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. 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," O Christ Jesus, "my strength. and my Redeemer"? 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. For Thou didst cast them away from me, Thou true and highest sweetness. Thou didst cast them away, and instead of thorn didst enter in Thyself,—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.
Chap. 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; 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, and singing the song of degrees, "sharp arrows," and destroying coals, against the "deceitful tongue," 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?
4. Furthermore, this very summer, from too great literary labour, my lungs 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, 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?
Chap. 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; 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," seeing that Thou hast already given him "the lot of the righteous." 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; 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, 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, 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. 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, 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, 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."
Chap. 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. 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,— those in which I disputed with my friends, and those with myself alone before Thee; and what with the absent Nebridius, my letters 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; 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, 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, 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. With what vehement and bitter sorrow was I indignant at the Manichaeans; 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. 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?" 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, whence from on high He should send His promise, the Paraclete, "the Spirit of Truth." And He had already sent Him, 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." 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; for by a true death in the flesh He died for us, who now maketh intercession for us with Thee.
10. I read further, "Be ye angry, and sin not." 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 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. Nor were my good things now without, nor were they sought after with eyes of flesh in that sun; 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?" And we would answer, and they hear, O Lord. The light of Thy countenance is lifted up upon us. For we are not that Light, which lighteth every man, but we are enlightened by Thee, that we, who were sometimes darkness, may be light in Thee. Oh that they could behold the internal Eternal, 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,— there hadst Thou begun to grow sweet unto me, and to "put gladness in my heart." And I cried out as I read this outwardly, and felt it inwardly. Nor would I be increased with worldly goods, wasting time and being wasted by time; whereas I possessed in Thy eternal simplicity other corn, and wine, and oil.
11. And with a loud cry from my heart, I called out in the following verse, "Oh, in peace!" and "the self-same!" Oh, what said he, "I will lay me down and sleep!" For who shall hinder us, when "shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory?" 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. 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. Thou didst at that time torture me with toothache; 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, 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.
Chap. 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 he 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, 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; 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.
Chap. 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, 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 carnal]y, of my sin. Well hadst Thou made him. He was barely fifteen years, yet in wit excelled many grave and learned men. 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. 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, 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.
Chap. 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 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 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 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. 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." 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.
Chap. 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, didst associate with us Evodius also, a young man of our city, who, when serving as an agent for Public Affairs, was converted unto Thee and baptized prior to us; and relinquishing his secular service, prepared himself for Thine. We were together, 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. 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, I 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"), 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? 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, 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.
Chap. 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 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," as often travailing in birth of them 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, 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.
Chap. 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," 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. 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; " that being sprinkled with it according to our i capacity, we might in some measure weigh so high a mystery.
54. 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,'' 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 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; " 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" ?
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"? And when shall that be? When we shall all rise again; but all shall not be changed.
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. My God has exceeded this abundantly, so that I see thee despising all earthly felicity, made His servant,—what do I here?"
Chap. 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.
Chap. 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; 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," 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." 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, 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 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 balanei^on, because it drives trouble from the mind. Lo, this also I confess unto Thy mercy, "Father of the fatherless,'' 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, Pollque rector, vestiens Diem decora lumine, Noctem sopora gratia; Artus solutos ut quies Reddat laboris usui, Mentesque fessas allevet, Luctusque solvat anxios."
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.
Chap. 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 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 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 that from the time Thou didst regenerate her by baptism, no word went forth from her mouth against Thy precepts. 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.'' 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 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!"
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.'' I know that she acted mercifully, and from the heart forgave her debtors their debts; do Thou also forgive her debts, whatever she contracted during so many ears since the water of salvation. Forgive her, O Lord, forgive her, I beseech Thee; "enter not into judgment" with her. Let Thy mercy be exalted above Thy justice, because Thy words are true, and Thou hast promised mercy unto "the merciful;" 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.
36. And I believe Thou hast already done that which I ask Thee; but "accept the free-will offerings of my mouth, O Lord." 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; whence she knew that the holy sacrifice was dispensed, by which the handwriting that was against us is blotted out; by which the enemy was triumphed over, who, summing up our offences, and searching for something to bring against us, found nothing in Him 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" 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" 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 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.
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.
Chap. 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. 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." This is my hope, "therefore have I spoken;" 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," seeing that he who does it "cometh to the light." This wish I to do in confession in my heart before Thee, and in my writing before many witnesses.
Chap. 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, 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;" but first Thou justifiest him "ungodly." My confession, therefore, O my God, in Thy sight, is made unto Thee silently, and yet not silently. For m 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.
Chap. 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? 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"? 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" (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," 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, 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.
Chap.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, 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," 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. 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. And do Thou, O Lord, who takest delight in the incense of Thy holy temple, have mercy upon me according to Thy great mercy, "for Thy name's sake ;" 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, 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" 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. Thus then I would be heard.
Chap. V.—That man knoweth not himself wholly.
7. For it is Thou, Lord, that judgest me; for although no "man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him," 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," 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." So long, therefore, as I be "absent" from Thee, I am more "present" with myself than with Thee;' and yet know I that Thou canst not suffer violence; but for myself I know not what temptations I am able to resist, and what I am not able. 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. 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'' in Thy sight.
Chap. 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." But more profoundly wilt Thou have mercy on whom Thou wilt have mercy, and compassion on whom Thou wilt have compassion, 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 flagrant 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 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 question-mg was my observing of them; and their beauty was their reply. 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;" 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), 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 i 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.
Chap. 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," 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.
Chap. 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 formed, notwithstanding that it is evident which of the senses each has been fetched 'm 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 l 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.
Chap. 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 am 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 m 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.
Chap. 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?
Chap. 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 axe 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 [calligenda], as it were, from their dispersion; whence we have the word cagitare. For cogo lit collect] and cogira [I re-collect] have the same relation to each other as ago and agito, lucia and factira. But the mind has appropriated to itself this word [cogitation], so that not that which is collected anywhere, but what is collected, that is marshalled, in the mind, is properly said to be "cogitated."
Chap. 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.
Chap. 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 I 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.
Chap. 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.
Chap. 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?
Chap. 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 i 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 my-self—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.
Chap. 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 i 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?
Chap. 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, 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.
Chap. 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 the 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.
Chap. 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. I will seek Thee, that my soul may live. 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, 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, 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.
Chap. 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 e a few others who wish to be happy, but truly l 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.
Chap. 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," 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. 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.
Chap. 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," 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? 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," O God, "my light," "the health of my countenance, and my God." 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. 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.
34. Why, then, doth truth beget hatred, and that man of thine, 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.
Chap. 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, 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.
Chap. 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 far 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, 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.
Chap. 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 weft 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," 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.
Chap. 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. 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.
Chap. 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? 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. 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?
Chap. 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, "nevertheless, I 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." 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, O love, who ever burnest, and art never quenched! O charity, my God, kindle me I Thou commandest continency; give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.
Chap. 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.'' 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. 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 them 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, 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," 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 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 shall have with Thee, when death is swallowed up in victory.
Chap. 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. 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. 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, oftentimes "bringing my body into subjection," 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." "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. 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." 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 ;" 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." Lo! a soldier of the celestial camp -not dust as we are. But remember, O Lord, "that we are dust," and that of dust Thou hast created man; and he "was lost, and is found." 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." Strengthen me, that I may be able. Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. He confesses to have received, and when he glorieth, he glorieth in the Lord. Another have I heard entreating that he might receive,—" Take from me," saith he, "the greediness of the belly;" 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;" but "it is evil for that man who eateth with offence; " "and that every creature of Thine is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with, thanksgiving;" and that "meat commendeth us not to God;" and that no man should "judge us in meat or in drink;" and that he that eateth, let him not despise him that eateth not; and let not him that eateth not judge him that eateth. 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 that was good for food; that Elias was fed with flesh; that John, endued with a wonderful abstinence, was not polluted by the living creatures (that is, the locusts which he fed on. I know, too, that Esau was deceived by a longing for lentiles, and that David took blame to himself for desiring water, and that our King was tempted not by flesh but bread. 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.
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. 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." Yet do I also magnify Thy name; and He who hath "overcome the world" maketh intercession to Thee for my sins, accounting me among the "feeble members" of His body, because Thine eyes saw that of him which was imperfect; and in Thy book all shall be written.
Chap. 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 in this life, the whole of which is called a temptation, 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.
Chap. 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, O 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,—Thou, in whose sight I am become a puzzle to myself; and "this is my infirmity."
Chap. 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" which still assail me, groaning and desiring to be clothed upon with my house from heaven. 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" 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, 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" 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. 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," take it up in Thy hymn, and are not taken up with it 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." 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."
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, because those beautiful patterns, which through the medium of men's souls are conveyed into their artistic hands, 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. And though they see Him not, yet is He there, that they might not go astray, but keep their strength for Thee, 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." 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.
Chap. 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," 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." 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, 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.
57. Nevertheless, in how many most minute and contemptible things is our curiosity daily tempted, and who can number how o/ten 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; 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.
Chap. 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;" who didst restrain my pride with Thy fear, and subdue my neck to Thy "yoke." And now I bear it, and it is "light" 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; and Thou thunderest upon the ambitious designs of the world, and "the foundations of the hills" tremble. 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, 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; " 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, 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.
Chap. XXXVII.—He is forcibly goaded on by the love of praise.
60. By these temptations, O Lord, are we daily tried; yea, unceasing]y are we tried. Our daily "furnace" 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 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,'' 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; 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," 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,—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 t 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. 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, and do not the "truth" 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.
Chap. XXXVIII.—Vain-glory is the highest danger.
63. "I am poor and needy," 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.
Chap. 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. 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.
Chap. XL.—The only safe resting-place for the soul is to be found in God.
65. Where hast Thou not accompanied me, O Truth, 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. 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 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.
Chap. 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," 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." 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 t truth. So then I lost Thee, became Thou deignest not to be enjoyed with a lie.
Chap. 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, 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, the conspirators and companions in pride, by whom, through the power of magic, 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. 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. But since "the wages of sin is death," this hath he in common with men, that together with them he should be condemned to death.
Chap. 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 also they might learn the same humility—that "Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,'' 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. Hence He was pointed out to holy men of old; to the intent that they, through faith in His Passion to come, 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, because equal to God, and God with God, and together with the Holy Spirit one God.
69. How hast Thou loved us, O good Father, who sparedst not Thine only Son, but deliveredst Him up for us wicked ones! 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;" He alone "free among the dead," that had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again; 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 by Him who sitteth at Thy right hand and maketh intercession for us; else should I utterly despair. 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."
70. Terrified by my sins and the load of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; 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." Behold, O Lord, I cast my care upon Thee, that I may live, and "behold wondrous things out of Thy law.'' 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"—hath redeemed me with His blood. Let not the proud speak evil of me, because I consider my ransom, and eat and drink, and distribute; arid poor, desire to be satisfied from Him, together with those who eat and are satisfied, and they praise the Lord that seek him.
[Translated by J. G. Pilkington, M.A., Vicar of St. Mark's, West Hackney; and sometime clerical secretary of the Bishop of London's Fund.]
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF I/I, Schaff). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.
Footnotes were not included in the transcription. Return
(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors.)