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The Confessions Of Saint Augustine

    

 

 

   O my God, let me, with thanksgiving, remember, and confess unto Thee

   Thy mercies on me. Let my bones be bedewed with Thy love, and let them

   say unto Thee, Who is like unto Thee, O Lord? Thou hast broken my bonds

   in sunder, I will offer unto Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving. And

   how Thou hast broken them, I will declare; and all who worship Thee,

   when they hear this, shall say, "Blessed be the Lord, in heaven and in

   earth, great and wonderful is his name. " Thy words had stuck fast in

   my heart, and I was hedged round about on all sides by Thee. Of Thy

   eternal life I was now certain, though I saw it in a figure and as

   through a glass. Yet I had ceased to doubt that there was an

   incorruptible substance, whence was all other substance; nor did I now

   desire to be more certain of Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. But for

   my temporal life, all was wavering, and my heart had to be purged from

   the old leaven. The Way, the Saviour Himself, well pleased me, but as

   yet I shrunk from going through its straitness. And Thou didst put into

   my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go to Simplicianus, who

   seemed to me a good servant of Thine; and Thy grace shone in him. I had

   heard also that from his very youth he had lived most devoted unto

   Thee. Now he was grown into years; and by reason of so great age spent

   in such zealous following of Thy ways, he seemed to me likely to have

   learned much experience; and so he had. Out of which store I wished

   that he would tell me (setting before him my anxieties) which were the

   fittest way for one in my case to walk in Thy paths.

 

   For, I saw the church full; and one went this way, and another that

   way. But I was displeased that I led a secular life; yea now that my

   desires no longer inflamed me, as of old, with hopes of honour and

   profit, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so heavy a bondage.

   For, in comparison of Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house which

   I loved, those things delighted me no longer. But still I was

   enthralled with the love of woman; nor did the Apostle forbid me to

   marry, although he advised me to something better, chiefly wishing that

   all men were as himself was. But I being weak, chose the more indulgent

   place; and because of this alone, was tossed up and down in all beside,

   faint and wasted with withering cares, because in other matters I was

   constrained against my will to conform myself to a married life, to

   which I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of the

   Truth, that there were some eunuchs which had made themselves eunuchs

   for the kingdom of heaven's sake: but, saith He, let him who can

   receive it, receive it. Surely vain are all men who are ignorant of

   God, and 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 common witness of all Thy creatures had found Thee our

   Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee one God,

   by whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another kind of

   ungodly, who knowing God, glorified Him not as God, neither were

   thankful. Into this also had I fallen, but Thy right hand upheld me,

   and took me thence, and Thou placedst me where I might recover. For

   Thou hast said unto man, Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and,

   Desire not to seem wise; because they who affirmed themselves to be

   wise, became fools. But I had now found the goodly pearl, which,

   selling all that I had, I ought to have bought, and I hesitated.

    

 

 

   To Simplicianus then I went, the father of Ambrose (a Bishop now) in

   receiving Thy grace, and whom Ambrose truly loved as a father. To him I

   related the mazes of my wanderings. But when I mentioned that I had

   read certain books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, sometime

   Rhetoric Professor of Rome (who had died a Christian, as I had heard),

   had translated into Latin, he testified his joy that I had not fallen

   upon the writings of other philosophers, full of fallacies and deceits,

   after the rudiments of this world, whereas the Platonists 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 while at Rome he had most intimately known:

   and of him he related what I will not conceal. For it contains great

   praise of Thy grace, to be confessed unto Thee, how that aged man, most

   learned and skilled in the liberal sciences, and who had read, and

   weighed so many works of the philosophers; the instructor of so many

   noble Senators, who also, as a monument of his excellent discharge of

   his office, had (which men of this world esteem a high honour) both

   deserved and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum; he, to that age a

   worshipper of idols, and a partaker of the sacrilegious rites, to which

   almost all the nobility of Rome were given up, and had inspired the

   people with the love of

 

 

   Anubis, barking Deity, and all

 

   The monster Gods of every kind, who fought

 

   Gainst Neptune, Venus, and Minerva:

 

   whom Rome once conquered, now adored, all which the aged Victorinus had

   with thundering eloquence so many years defended;--he now blushed not

   to be the child of Thy Christ, and the new-born babe of Thy fountain;

   submitting his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead

   to the reproach of the Cross.

 

   O Lord, Lord, Which hast bowed the heavens and come down, touched the

   mountains and they did smoke, by what means didst Thou convey Thyself

   into that breast? He used to read (as Simplicianus said) the holy

   Scripture, most studiously sought and searched into all the Christian

   writings, and said to Simplicianus (not openly, but privately and as a

   friend), "Understand that I am already a Christian." Whereto he

   answered, "I will not believe it, nor will I rank you among Christians,

   unless I see you in the Church of Christ." The other, in banter,

   replied, "Do walls then make Christians?" And this he often said, that

   he was already a Christian; and Simplicianus as often made the same

   answer, and the conceit of the "walls" was by the other as often

   renewed. For he feared to offend his friends, proud daemon-worshippers,

   from the height of whose Babylonian dignity, as from cedars of Libanus,

   which the Lord had not yet broken down, he supposed the weight of

   enmity would fall upon him. But after that by reading and earnest

   thought he had gathered firmness, and feared to be denied by Christ

   before the holy angels, should he now be afraid to confess Him before

   men, and appeared to himself guilty of a heavy offence, in being

   ashamed of the Sacraments of the humility of Thy Word, and not being

   ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud daemons, whose pride

   he had imitated and their rites adopted, he became bold-faced against

   vanity, and shame-faced towards the truth, and suddenly and

   unexpectedly said to Simplicianus (as himself told me), "Go we to the

   Church; I wish to be made a Christian." But he, not containing himself

   for joy, went with him. And having been admitted to the first Sacrament

   and become a Catechumen, not long after he further gave in his name,

   that he might be regenerated by baptism, Rome wondering, the Church

   rejoicing. The proud saw, and were wroth; 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.

 

   To conclude, when the hour was come for making profession of his faith

   (which at Rome they, who are about to approach to Thy grace, deliver,

   from an elevated place, in the sight of all the faithful, in a set form

   of words committed to memory), the presbyters, he said, offered

   Victorinus (as was done to such as seemed likely through bashfulness to

   be alarmed) to make his profession more privately: but he chose rather

   to profess his salvation in the presence of the holy multitude. "For it

   was not salvation that he taught in rhetoric, and yet that he had

   publicly professed: how much less then ought he, when pronouncing Thy

   word, to dread Thy meek flock, who, when delivering his own words, had

   not feared a mad multitude!" When, then, he went up to make his

   profession, all, as they knew him, whispered his name one to another

   with the voice of congratulation. And who there knew him not? and there

   ran a low murmur through all the mouths of the rejoicing multitude,

   Victorinus! Victorinus! Sudden was the burst of rapture, that they saw

   him; suddenly were they hushed that they might hear him. He pronounced

   the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all wished to draw him

   into their very heart; yea by their love and joy they drew him thither,

   such were the hands wherewith they drew him.

    

 

 

   Good God! what takes place in man, that he should more rejoice at the

   salvation of a soul despaired of, and freed from greater peril, than if

   there had always been hope of him, or the danger had been less? For so

   Thou also, merciful Father, dost more rejoice over one penitent than

   over ninety-nine just persons that need no repentance. And with much

   joyfulness do we hear, so often as we hear with what joy the sheep

   which had strayed is brought back upon the shepherd's shoulder, and the

   groat is restored to Thy treasury, the neighbours rejoicing with the

   woman who found it; and the joy of the solemn service of Thy house

   forceth to tears, when in Thy house it is read of Thy younger son, that

   he was dead, and liveth again; had been lost, and is found. For Thou

   rejoicest in us, and in Thy holy angels, holy through holy charity. For

   Thou art ever the same; for all things which abide not the same nor for

   ever, Thou for ever knowest in the same way.

 

   What then takes place in the soul, when it is more delighted at finding

   or recovering the things it loves, than if it had ever had them? yea,

   and other things witness hereunto; and all things are full of

   witnesses, crying out, "So is it." The conquering commander triumpheth;

   yet had he not conquered unless he had fought; and the more peril there

   was in the battle, so much the more joy is there in the triumph. The

   storm tosses the sailors, threatens shipwreck; all wax pale at

   approaching death; sky and sea are calmed, and they are exceeding

   joyed, as having been exceeding afraid. A friend is sick, and his pulse

   threatens danger; all who long for his recovery are sick in mind with

   him. He is restored, though as yet he walks not with his former

   strength; yet there is such joy, as was not, when before he walked

   sound and strong. Yea, the very pleasures of human life men acquire by

   difficulties, not those only which fall upon us unlooked for, and

   against our wills, but even by self-chosen, and pleasure-seeking

   trouble. Eating and drinking have no pleasure, unless there precede the

   pinching of hunger and thirst. Men, given to drink, eat certain salt

   meats, to procure a troublesome heat, which the drink allaying, causes

   pleasure. It is also ordered that the affianced bride should not at

   once be given, lest as a husband he should hold cheap whom, as

   betrothed, he sighed not after.

 

   This law holds in foul and accursed joy; this in permitted and lawful

   joy; this in the very purest perfection of friendship; this, in him who

   was dead, and lived again; had been lost and was found. Every where the

   greater joy is ushered in by the greater pain. What means this, O Lord

   my God, whereas Thou art everlastingly joy to Thyself, and some things

   around Thee evermore rejoice in Thee? What means this, that this

   portion of things thus ebbs and flows alternately displeased and

   reconciled? Is this their allotted measure? Is this all Thou hast

   assigned to them, whereas from the highest heavens to the lowest earth,

   from the beginning of the world to the end of ages, from the angel to

   the worm, from the first motion to the last, Thou settest each in its

   place, and realisest each in their season, every thing good after its

   kind? Woe is me! how high art Thou in the highest, and how deep in the

   deepest! and Thou never departest, and we scarcely return to Thee.

    

 

   Up, Lord, and do; stir us up, and recall us; kindle and draw us;

   inflame, grow sweet unto us, let us now love, let us run. Do not many,

   out of a deeper hell of blindness than Victorinus, return to Thee,

   approach, and are enlightened, receiving that Light, which they who

   receive, receive power from Thee to become Thy sons? But if they be

   less known to the nations, even they that know them, joy less for them.

   For when many joy together, each also has more exuberant joy for that

   they are kindled and inflamed one by the other. Again, because those

   known to many, influence the more towards salvation, and lead the way

   with many to follow. And therefore do they also who preceded them much

   rejoice in them, because they rejoice not in them alone. For far be it,

   that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted

   before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; seeing rather Thou

   hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the strong; and

   the base things of this world, and the things despised hast Thou

   chosen, and those things which are not, that Thou mightest bring to

   nought things that are. And yet even that least of Thy apostles, by

   whose tongue Thou soundedst forth these words, when through his

   warfare, Paulus the Proconsul, his pride conquered, was made to pass

   under the easy yoke of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the great

   King; he also for his former name Saul, was pleased 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; by whom he hath hold of more. But the

   proud he hath more hold of, through their nobility; and by them, of

   more through their authority. By how much the more welcome then the

   heart of Victorinus was esteemed, which the devil had held as an

   impregnable possession, the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and

   keen weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly ought Thy

   sons to rejoice, for 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.

    

 

 

   But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related to me this of

   Victorinus, I was on fire to imitate him; for for this very end had he

   related it. But when he had subjoined also, how in the days of the

   Emperor Julian a law was made, whereby Christians were forbidden to

   teach the liberal sciences or oratory; and how he, obeying this law,

   chose rather to give over the wordy school than Thy Word, by which Thou

   makest eloquent the tongues of the dumb; he seemed to me not more

   resolute than blessed, in having thus found opportunity to wait on Thee

   only. Which thing I was sighing for, bound as I was, not with another's

   irons, but by my own iron will. My will the enemy held, and thence had

   made a chain for me, and bound me. For of a forward will, was a lust

   made; and a lust served, became custom; and custom not resisted, became

   necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I called

   it a chain) a hard bondage held me enthralled. But that new will which

   had begun to be in me, freely to serve Thee, and to wish to enjoy Thee,

   O God, the only assured pleasantness, was not yet able to overcome my

   former wilfulness, strengthened by age. Thus did my two wills, one new,

   and the other old, one carnal, the other spiritual, struggle within me;

   and by their discord, undid my soul.

 

   Thus, I understood, by my own experience, what I had read, how the

   flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh.

   Myself verily either way; yet more myself, in that which I approved in

   myself, than in that which in myself I disapproved. For in this last,

   it was now for the more part not myself, because in much I rather

   endured against my will, than acted willingly. And yet it was through

   me that custom had obtained this power of warring against me, because I

   had come willingly, whither I willed not. And who has any right to

   speak against it, if just punishment follow the sinner? Nor had I now

   any longer my former plea, that I therefore as yet hesitated to be

   above the world and serve Thee, for that the truth was not altogether

   ascertained to me; for now it too was. But I still under service to the

   earth, refused to fight under Thy banner, and feared as much to be

   freed of all incumbrances, as we should fear to be encumbered with it.

   Thus with the baggage of this present world was I held down pleasantly,

   as in sleep: and the thoughts wherein I meditated on Thee were like the

   efforts of such as would awake, who yet overcome with a heavy

   drowsiness, are again drenched therein. And as no one would sleep for

   ever, and in all men's sober judgment waking is better, yet a man for

   the most part, feeling a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, defers to

   shake off sleep, and though half displeased, yet, even after it is time

   to rise, with pleasure yields to it, so was I assured that much better

   were it for me to give myself up to Thy charity, than to give myself

   over to mine own cupidity; but though the former course satisfied me

   and gained the mastery, the latter pleased me and held me mastered. Nor

   had I any thing to answer Thee calling to me, Awake, thou that

   sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

   And when Thou didst on all sides show me that what Thou saidst was

   true, I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at all to answer, but only

   those dull and drowsy words, "Anon, anon," "presently," "leave me but a

   little." But "presently, presently," had no present, and my "little

   while" went on for a long while; in vain I delighted in Thy law

   according to the inner man, when another law in my members rebelled

   against the law of my mind, and led me captive under the law of sin

   which was in my members. For the law of sin is the violence of custom,

   whereby the mind is drawn and holden, even against its will; but

   deservedly, for that it willingly fell into it. Who then should deliver

   me thus wretched from the body of this death, but Thy grace only,

   through Jesus Christ our Lord?

    

 

 

   And how Thou didst deliver me out of the bonds of desire, wherewith I

   was bound most straitly to carnal concupiscence, and out of the

   drudgery of worldly things, I will now declare, and confess unto Thy

   name, O Lord, my helper and my redeemer. Amid increasing anxiety, I was

   doing my wonted business, and daily sighing unto Thee. I attended Thy

   Church, whenever free from the business under the burden of which I

   groaned. Alypius was with me, now after the third sitting released from

   his law business, and awaiting to whom to sell his counsel, as I sold

   the skill of speaking, if indeed teaching can impart it. Nebridius had

   now, in consideration of our friendship, consented to teach under

   Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a very intimate

   friend of us all; who urgently desired, and by the right of friendship

   challenged from our company, such faithful aid as he greatly needed.

   Nebridius then was not drawn to this by any desire of advantage (for he

   might have made much more of his learning had he so willed), but as a

   most kind and gentle friend, he would not be wanting to a good office,

   and slight our request. But he acted herein very discreetly, shunning

   to become known to personages great according to this world, avoiding

   the distraction of mind thence ensuing, and desiring to have it free

   and at leisure, as many hours as might be, to seek, or read, or hear

   something concerning wisdom.

 

   Upon a day then, Nebridius being absent (I recollect not why), to,

   there came to see me and Alypius, one Pontitianus, our countryman so

   far as being an African, in high office in the Emperor's court. What he

   would with us, I know not, but we sat down to converse, and it happened

   that upon a table for some game, before us, he observed a book, took,

   opened it, and contrary to his expectation, found it the Apostle Paul;

   for he thought it some of those books which I was wearing myself in

   teaching. Whereat smiling, and looking at me, he expressed his joy and

   wonder that he had on a sudden found this book, and this only before my

   eyes. For he was a Christian, and baptised, and often bowed himself

   before Thee our God in the Church, in frequent and continued prayers.

   When then I had told him that I bestowed very great pains upon those

   Scriptures, a conversation arose (suggested by his account) on Antony

   the Egyptian monk: whose name was in high reputation among Thy

   servants, though to that hour unknown to us. Which when he discovered,

   he dwelt the more upon that subject, informing and wondering at our

   ignorance of one so eminent. But we stood amazed, hearing Thy wonderful

   works most fully attested, in times so recent, and almost in our own,

   wrought in the true Faith and Church Catholic. We all wondered; we,

   that they were so great, and he, that they had not reached us.

 

   Thence his discourse turned to the flocks in the monasteries, and their

   holy ways, a sweet-smelling savour unto Thee, and the fruitful deserts

   of the wilderness, whereof we knew nothing. And there was a monastery

   at Milan, full of good brethren, without the city walls, under the

   fostering care of Ambrose, and we knew it not. He went on with his

   discourse, and we listened in intent silence. He told us then how one

   afternoon at Triers, when the Emperor was taken up with the Circensian

   games, he and three others, his companions, went out to walk in gardens

   near the city walls, and there as they happened to walk in pairs, one

   went apart with him, and the other two wandered by themselves; and

   these, in their wanderings, lighted upon a certain cottage, inhabited

   by certain of Thy servants, poor in spirit, of whom is the kingdom of

   heaven, and there they found a little book containing the life of

   Antony. This one of them began to read, admire, and kindle at it; and

   as he read, to meditate on taking up such a life, and giving over his

   secular service to serve Thee. And these two were of those whom they

   style agents for the public affairs. Then suddenly, filled with a holy

   love, and a sober shame, in anger with himself cast his eyes upon his

   friend, saying, "Tell me, I pray thee, what would we attain by all

   these labours of ours? what aim we at? what serve we for? Can our hopes

   in court rise higher than to be the Emperor's favourites? and in this,

   what is there not brittle, and full of perils? and by how many perils

   arrive we at a greater peril? and when arrive we thither? But a friend

   of God, if I wish it, I become now at once." So spake he. And in pain

   with the travail of a new life, he turned his eyes again upon the book,

   and read on, and was changed inwardly, where Thou sawest, and his mind

   was stripped of the world, as soon appeared. For as he read, and rolled

   up and down the waves of his heart, he stormed at himself a while, then

   discerned, and determined on a better course; and now being Thine, said

   to his friend, "Now have I broken loose from those our hopes, and am

   resolved to serve God; and this, from this hour, in this place, I begin

   upon. If thou likest not to imitate me, oppose not." The other

   answered, he would cleave to him, to partake so glorious a reward, so

   glorious a service. Thus both being now Thine, were building the tower

   at the necessary cost, the forsaking all that they had, and following

   Thee. Then Pontitianus and the other with him, that had walked in other

   parts of the garden, came in search of them to the same place; and

   finding them, reminded them to return, for the day was now far spent.

   But they relating their resolution and purpose, and how that will was

   begun and settled in them, begged them, if they would not join, not to

   molest them. But the others, though nothing altered from their former

   selves, did yet bewail themselves (as he affirmed), and piously

   congratulated them, recommending themselves to their prayers; and so,

   with hearts lingering on the earth, went away to the palace. But the

   other two, fixing their heart on heaven, remained in the cottage. And

   both had affianced brides, who when they heard hereof, also dedicated

   their virginity unto God.

    

 

 

   Such was the story of Pontitianus; but Thou, O Lord, while he was

   speaking, didst turn me round towards myself, taking me from behind my

   back where I had placed me, unwilling to observe myself; and setting me

   before my face, that I might see how foul I was, how crooked and

   defiled, bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld and stood aghast; and

   whither to flee from myself I found not. And if I sought to turn mine

   eye from off myself, he went on with his relation, and Thou again didst

   set me over against myself, and thrustedst me before my eyes, that I

   might find out mine iniquity, and hate it. I had known it, but made as

   though I saw it not, winked at it, and forgot it.

 

   But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I

   heard of, that they had resigned themselves wholly to Thee to be cured,

   the more did I abhor myself, when compared with them. For many of my

   years (some twelve) had now run out with me since my nineteenth, when,

   upon the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, I was stirred to an earnest

   love of wisdom; and still I was deferring to reject mere earthly

   felicity, and give myself to search out that, whereof not the finding

   only, but the very search, was to be preferred to the treasures and

   kingdoms of the world, though already found, and to the pleasures of

   the body, though spread around me at my will. But I wretched, most

   wretched, in the very commencement of my early youth, had begged

   chastity of Thee, and said, "Give me chastity and continency, only not

   yet." For I feared lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon cure me

   of the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to have satisfied,

   rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through crooked ways in a

   sacrilegious superstition, not indeed assured thereof, but as

   preferring it to the others which I did not seek religiously, but

   opposed maliciously.

 

   And I had thought that I therefore deferred from day to day to reject

   the hopes of this world, and follow Thee only, because there did not

   appear aught certain, whither to direct my course. And now was the day

   come wherein I was to be laid bare to myself, and my conscience was to

   upbraid me. "Where art thou now, my tongue? Thou saidst that for an

   uncertain truth thou likedst not to cast off the baggage of vanity;

   now, it is certain, and yet that burden still oppresseth thee, while

   they who neither have so worn themselves out with seeking it, nor for

   often years and more have been thinking thereon, have had their

   shoulders lightened, and received wings to fly away." Thus was I gnawed

   within, and exceedingly confounded with a horrible shame, while

   Pontitianus was so speaking. And he having brought to a close his tale

   and the business he came for, went his way; and I into myself. What

   said I not against myself? with what scourges of condemnation lashed I

   not my soul, that it might follow me, striving to go after Thee! Yet it

   drew back; refused, but excused not itself. All arguments were spent

   and confuted; there remained a mute shrinking; and she feared, as she

   would death, to be restrained from the flux of that custom, whereby she

   was wasting to death.

    

 

 

   Then in this great contention of my inward dwelling, which I had

   strongly raised against my soul, in the chamber of my heart, troubled

   in mind and countenance, I turned upon Alypius. "What ails us?" I

   exclaim: "what is it? what heardest thou? The unlearned start up and

   take heaven by force, and we with our learning, and without heart, to,

   where we wallow in flesh and blood! Are we ashamed to follow, because

   others are gone before, and not ashamed not even to follow?" Some such

   words I uttered, and my fever of mind tore me away from him, while he,

   gazing on me in astonishment, kept silence. For it was not my wonted

   tone; and my forehead, cheeks, eyes, colour, tone of voice, spake my

   mind more than the words I uttered. A little garden there was to our

   lodging, which we had the use of, as of the whole house; for the master

   of the house, our host, was not living there. Thither had the tumult of

   my breast hurried me, where no man might hinder the hot contention

   wherein I had engaged with myself, until it should end as Thou knewest,

   I knew not. Only I was healthfully distracted and dying, to live;

   knowing what evil thing I was, and not knowing what good thing I was

   shortly to become. I retired then into the garden, and Alypius, on my

   steps. For his presence did not lessen my privacy; or how could he

   forsake me so disturbed? We sate down as far removed as might be from

   the house. I was troubled in spirit, most vehemently indignant that I

   entered not into Thy will and covenant, O my God, which all my bones

   cried out unto me to enter, and praised it to the skies. And therein we

   enter not by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, move not so far as I had

   come from the house to that place where we were sitting. For, not to go

   only, but to go in thither was nothing else but to will to go, but to

   will resolutely and thoroughly; not to turn and toss, this way and

   that, a maimed and half-divided will, struggling, with one part sinking

   as another rose.

 

   Lastly, in the very fever of my irresoluteness, I made with my body

   many such motions as men sometimes would, but cannot, if either they

   have not the limbs, or these be bound with bands, weakened with

   infirmity, or any other way hindered. Thus, if I tore my hair, beat my

   forehead, if locking my fingers I clasped my knee; I willed, I did it.

   But I might have willed, and not done it; if the power of motion in my

   limbs had not obeyed. So many things then I did, when "to will" was not

   in itself "to be able"; and I did not what both I longed incomparably

   more to do, and which soon after, when I should will, I should be able

   to do; because soon after, when I should will, I should will

   thoroughly. For in these things the ability was one with the will, and

   to will was to do; and yet was it not done: and more easily did my body

   obey the weakest willing of my soul, in moving its limbs at its nod,

   than the soul obeyed itself to accomplish in the will alone this its

   momentous will.

    

 

 

   Whence is this monstrousness? and to what end? Let Thy mercy gleam that

   I may ask, if so be the secret penalties of men, and those darkest

   pangs of the sons of Adam, may perhaps answer me. Whence is this

   monstrousness? and to what end? The mind commands the body, and it

   obeys instantly; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The mind

   commands the hand to be moved; and such readiness is there, that

   command is scarce distinct from obedience. Yet the mind is mind, the

   hand is body. The mind commands the mind, its own self, to will, and

   yet it doth not. Whence this monstrousness? and to what end? It

   commands itself, I say, to will, and would not command, unless it

   willed, and what it commands is not done. But it willeth not entirely:

   therefore doth it not command 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 what

   it commandeth, is not. For were the will entire, it would not even

   command it to be, because it would already be. It is therefore no

   monstrousness partly to will, partly to nill, but a disease of the

   mind, that it doth not wholly rise, by truth upborne, borne down by

   custom. And therefore are there two wills, for that one of them is not

   entire: and what the one lacketh, the other hath.

    

 

 

   Let them perish from Thy presence, O God, as perish vain talkers and

   seducers of the soul: who observing that in deliberating there were two

   wills, affirm that there are two minds in us of two kinds, one good,

   the other evil. Themselves are truly evil, when they hold these evil

   things; and themselves shall become good when they hold the truth and

   assent unto the truth, that Thy Apostle may say to them, Ye were

   sometimes darkness, but now light in the Lord. But they, wishing to be

   light, not in the Lord, but in themselves, imagining the nature of the

   soul to be that which God is, are made more gross darkness through a

   dreadful arrogancy; for that they went back farther from Thee, the true

   Light that enlightened every man that cometh into the world. Take heed

   what you say, and blush for shame: draw near unto Him and be

   enlightened, and your faces shall not be ashamed. Myself when I was

   deliberating upon serving the Lord my God now, as I had long purposed,

   it was I who willed, I who nilled, I, I myself. I neither willed

   entirely, nor nilled entirely. Therefore was I at strife with myself,

   and rent asunder by myself. And this rent befell me against my will,

   and yet indicated, not the presence of another mind, but the punishment

   of my own. Therefore it was no more I that wrought it, but sin that

   dwelt in me; the punishment of a sin more freely committed, in that I

   was a son of Adam.

 

   For if there be so many contrary natures as there be conflicting wills,

   there shall now be not two only, but many. If a man deliberate whether

   he should go to their conventicle or to the theatre, these Manichees

   cry out, Behold, here are two natures: one good, draws this way;

   another bad, draws back that way. For whence else is this hesitation

   between conflicting wills? But I say that both be bad: that which draws

   to them, as that which draws back to the theatre. But they believe not

   that will to be other than good, which draws to them. What then if one

   of us should deliberate, and amid the strife of his two wills be in a

   strait, whether he should go to the theatre or to our church? would not

   these Manichees also be in a strait what to answer? For either they

   must confess (which they fain would not) that the will which leads to

   our church is good, as well as theirs, who have received and are held

   by the mysteries of theirs: or they must suppose two evil natures, and

   two evil souls conflicting in one man, and it 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 more deny that where one deliberates,

   one soul fluctuates between contrary wills.

 

   Let them no more say then, when they perceive two conflicting wills in

   one man, that the conflict is between two contrary souls, of two

   contrary substances, from two contrary principles, one good, and the

   other bad. For Thou, O true God, dost disprove, check, and convict

   them; as when, both wills being bad, one deliberates whether he should

   kill a man by poison or by the sword; whether he should seize this or

   that estate of another's, when he cannot both; whether he should

   purchase pleasure by luxury, or keep his money by covetousness; whether

   he go to the circus or the theatre, if both be open on one day; or

   thirdly, to rob another's house, if he have the opportunity; or,

   fourthly, to commit adultery, if at the same time he have the means

   thereof also; all these meeting together in the same juncture of time,

   and all being equally desired, which cannot at one time be acted: for

   they rend the mind amid four, or even (amid the vast variety of things

   desired) more, conflicting wills, nor do they yet allege that there are

   so many divers substances. So also in wills which are good. For I ask

   them, is it good to take pleasure in reading the Apostle? or good to

   take pleasure in a sober Psalm? or good to discourse on the Gospel?

   They will answer to each, "it is good." What then if all give equal

   pleasure, and all at once? Do not divers wills distract the mind, while

   he deliberates which he should rather choose? yet are they all good,

   and are at variance till one be chosen, whither the one entire 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 this or that with an

   entire will; and therefore is rent asunder with grievous perplexities,

   while out of truth it sets this first, but out of habit sets not that

   aside.

    

 

 

   Thus soul-sick was I, and tormented, accusing myself much more severely

   than my wont, rolling and turning me in my chain, till that were wholly

   broken, whereby I now was but just, 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 not bursting that same slight remaining tie, it should recover

   strength, and bind me the faster. For I said with myself, "Be it done

   now, be it done now." And as I spake, I all but enacted it: I all but

   did it, and did it not: yet sunk not back to my former state, but kept

   my stand hard by, and took breath. And I essayed again, and wanted

   somewhat less of it, and somewhat less, and all but touched, and laid

   hold of it; and yet came not at it, nor touched nor laid hold of it;

   hesitating to die to death and to live to life: and the worse whereto I

   was inured, prevailed more with me than the better whereto I was

   unused: and the very moment wherein I was to become other than I was,

   the nearer it approached me, the greater horror did it strike into me;

   yet did it not strike me back, nor turned me away, but held me in

   suspense.

 

   The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my ancient mistresses,

   still held me; they plucked my fleshy garment, and whispered softly,

   "Dost thou cast us off? 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 was it which they suggested in that I

   said, "this or that," what did they suggest, O my God? Let Thy mercy

   turn it away from the soul of Thy servant. What defilements did they

   suggest! what shame! And now I much less than half heard them, and not

   openly showing themselves and contradicting me, but muttering as it

   were behind my back, and privily plucking me, as I was departing, but

   to look back on them. Yet they did retard me, so that I hesitated to

   burst and shake myself free from them, and to spring over whither I was

   called; a violent habit saying to me, "Thinkest thou, thou canst live

   without them?"

 

   But now it spake very faintly. For on that side whither I had set my

   face, and whither I trembled to go, there appeared unto me the chaste

   dignity of Continency, serene, yet not relaxedly, gay, honestly

   alluring me to come and doubt not; and stretching forth to receive and

   embrace me, her holy hands full of multitudes of good examples: there

   were so many young men and maidens here, a multitude of youth and every

   age, grave widows and aged virgins; and Continence herself in all, not

   barren, but a fruitful mother of children of joys, by Thee her Husband,

   O Lord. And she smiled on me with a persuasive mockery, as would she

   say, "Canst not thou what these youths, what these maidens can? or can

   they either in themselves, and not rather in the Lord their God? The

   Lord their God gave me unto them. Why standest thou in thyself, and so

   standest not? cast thyself upon Him, fear not He will not withdraw

   Himself that thou shouldest fall; cast thyself fearlessly upon Him, He

   will receive, and will heal thee." And I blushed exceedingly, for that

   I yet heard the muttering of those toys, and hung in suspense. And she

   again seemed to say, "Stop thine ears against those thy unclean members

   on 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 self against self only. But Alypius sitting close by my side,

   in silence waited the issue of my unwonted emotion.

    

 

 

   But when a deep consideration had from the secret bottom of my soul

   drawn together and heaped up all my misery in the sight of my heart;

   there arose a mighty storm, bringing a mighty shower of tears. Which

   that I might pour forth wholly, in its natural expressions, I rose from

   Alypius: solitude was suggested to me as fitter for the business of

   weeping; so I retired so far that even his presence could not be a

   burden to me. Thus was it then with me, and he perceived something of

   it; for something I suppose I had spoken, wherein the tones of my voice

   appeared choked with weeping, and so had risen up. He then remained

   where we were sitting, most extremely astonished. I cast myself down I

   know not how, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to my tears;

   and the floods of mine eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to Thee.

   And, not indeed in these words, yet to this purpose, spake I much unto

   Thee: and Thou, O Lord, how long? how long, Lord, wilt Thou be angry

   for ever? Remember not our former iniquities, for I felt that I was

   held by them. I sent up these sorrowful words: How long, how long,

   "to-morrow, and tomorrow?" Why not now? why not is there this hour an

   end to my uncleanness?

 

   So was I speaking and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my

   heart, when, lo! I heard from a neighbouring house a voice, as of boy

   or girl, I know not, chanting, and oft repeating, "Take up and read;

   Take up and read. " Instantly, my countenance altered, I began to think

   most intently whether children were wont in any kind of play to sing

   such words: nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So

   checking the torrent of my tears, I arose; interpreting it to be no

   other than a command from God to open the book, and read the first

   chapter I should find. For I had heard of Antony, that coming in during

   the reading of the Gospel, he received the admonition, as if what was

   being read was spoken to him: Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to

   the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow

   me: and by such oracle he was forthwith converted unto Thee. Eagerly

   then I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I

   laid the volume of the Apostle when I arose thence. I seized, opened,

   and in silence read that section 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, in concupiscence. No further would I read; nor

   needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it

   were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt

   vanished away.

 

   Then putting my finger between, or some other mark, I shut the volume,

   and with a calmed countenance made it known to Alypius. And what was

   wrought in him, which I knew not, he thus showed me. He asked to see

   what I had read: I showed him; and he looked even further than I had

   read, and I knew not what followed. This followed, him that is weak in

   the faith, receive; which he applied to himself, and disclosed to me.

   And by this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution

   and purpose, and most corresponding to his character, wherein he did

   always very far differ from me, for the better, without any turbulent

   delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother; we tell her; she

   rejoiceth: we relate in order how it took place; she leaps for joy, and

   triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, Who are able to do above that which we

   ask or think; for she perceived that Thou hadst given her more for me,

   than she was wont to beg by her pitiful and most sorrowful groanings.

   For thou convertedst me unto Thyself, so that I sought neither wife,

   nor any hope of this world, standing in that rule of faith, where Thou

   hadst showed me unto her in a vision, so many years before. And Thou

   didst convert her mourning into joy, much more plentiful than she had

   desired, and in a much more precious and purer way than she erst

   required, by having grandchildren of my body.

    

 

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