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The Confessions Of Saint Augustine

    

 

 

   O Lord, I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thy

   handmaid: Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder. I will offer to Thee the

   sacrifice of Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee; yea, let all my

   bones say, O Lord, who is like unto Thee? Let them say, and answer Thou

   me, and say unto my soul, I am thy salvation. Who am I, and what am I?

   What evil have not been either my deeds, or if not my deeds, my words,

   or if not my words, my will? But Thou, O Lord, are good and merciful,

   and Thy right hand had respect unto the depth of my death, and from the

   bottom of my heart emptied that abyss of corruption. And this Thy whole

   gift was, to nill what I willed, and to will what Thou willedst. But

   where through all those years, and out of what low and deep recess was

   my free-will called forth in a moment, whereby to submit my neck to Thy

   easy yoke, and my shoulders unto Thy light burden, O Christ Jesus, my

   Helper and my Redeemer? How sweet did it at once become to me, to want

   the sweetnesses of those toys! and what I feared to be parted from, was

   now a joy to part with. For Thou didst cast them forth from me, Thou

   true and highest sweetness. Thou castest them forth, and for them

   enteredst in Thyself, sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh

   and blood; brighter than all light, but more hidden than all depths,

   higher than all honour, but not to the high in their own conceits. Now

   was my soul free from the biting cares of canvassing and getting, and

   weltering in filth, and scratching off the itch of lust. And my infant

   tongue spake freely to Thee, my brightness, and my riches, and my

   health, the Lord my God.

    

 

 

   And I resolved in Thy sight, not tumultuously to tear, but gently to

   withdraw, the service of my tongue from the marts of lip-labour: that

   the young, no students in Thy law, nor in Thy peace, but in lying

   dotages and law-skirmishes, should no longer buy at my mouth arms for

   their madness. And very seasonably, it now wanted but very few days

   unto the Vacation of the Vintage, and I resolved to endure them, then

   in a regular way to take my leave, and having been purchased by Thee,

   no more to return for sale. Our purpose then was known to Thee; but to

   men, other than our own friends, was it not known. For we had agreed

   among ourselves not to let it out abroad to any: although to us, now

   ascending from the valley of tears, and singing that song of degrees,

   Thou hadst given sharp arrows, and destroying coals against the subtle

   tongue, which as though advising for us, would thwart, and would out of

   love devour us, as it doth its meat.

 

   Thou hadst pierced our hearts with Thy charity, and we carried Thy

   words as it were fixed in our entrails: and the examples of Thy

   servants, whom for black Thou hadst made bright, and for dead, alive,

   being piled together in the receptacle of our thoughts, kindled and

   burned up that our heavy torpor, that we should not sink down to the

   abyss; and they fired us so vehemently, that all the blasts of subtle

   tongues from gainsayers might only inflame us the more fiercely, not

   extinguish us. Nevertheless, because for Thy Name's sake which Thou

   hast hallowed throughout the earth, this our vow and purpose might also

   find some to commend it, it seemed like ostentation not to wait for the

   vacation now so near, but to quit beforehand a public profession, which

   was before the eyes of all; so that all looking on this act of mine,

   and observing how near was the time of vintage which I wished to

   anticipate, would talk much of me, as if I had desired to appear some

   great one. And what end had it served me, that people should repute and

   dispute upon my purpose, and that our good should be evil spoken of.

 

   Moreover, it had at first troubled me that in this very summer my lungs

   began to give way, amid too great literary labour, and to breathe

   deeply with difficulty, and by the pain in my chest to show that they

   were injured, and to refuse any full or lengthened speaking; this had

   troubled me, for it almost constrained me of necessity to lay down that

   burden of teaching, or, if I could be cured and recover, at least to

   intermit it. But when the full wish for leisure, that I might see how

   that Thou art the Lord, arose, and was fixed, in me; my God, Thou

   knowest, I began even to rejoice that I had this secondary, and that no

   feigned, excuse, which might something moderate the offence taken by

   those who, for their sons' sake, wished me never to have the freedom of

   Thy sons. Full then of such joy, I endured till that interval of time

   were run; it may have been some twenty days, yet they were endured

   manfully; endured, for the covetousness which aforetime bore a part of

   this heavy business, had left me, and I remained alone, and had been

   overwhelmed, had not patience taken its place. Perchance, some of Thy

   servants, my brethren, may say that I sinned in this, that with a heart

   fully set on Thy service, I suffered myself to sit even one hour in the

   chair of lies. Nor would I be contentious. But hast not Thou, O most

   merciful Lord, pardoned and remitted this sin also, with my other most

   horrible and deadly sins, in the holy water?

    

 

 

   Verecundus was worn down with care about this our blessedness, for that

   being held back by bonds, whereby he was most straitly bound, he saw

   that he should be severed from us. For himself was not yet a Christian,

   his wife one of the faithful; and yet hereby, more rigidly than by any

   other chain, was he let and hindered from the journey which we had now

   essayed. For he would not, he said, be a Christian on any other terms

   than on those he could not. However, he offered us courteously to

   remain at his country-house so long as we should stay there. Thou, O

   Lord, shalt reward him in the resurrection of the just, seeing Thou

   hast already given him the lot of the righteous. For although, in our

   absence, being now at Rome, he was seized with bodily sickness, and

   therein being made a Christian, and one of the faithful, he departed

   this life; yet hadst Thou mercy not on him only, but on us also: lest

   remembering the exceeding kindness of our friend towards us, yet unable

   to number him among Thy flock, we should be agonised with intolerable

   sorrow. Thanks unto Thee, our God, we are Thine: Thy suggestions and

   consolations tell us, Faithful in promises, Thou now requitest

   Verecundus for his country-house of Cassiacum, where from the fever of

   the world we reposed in Thee, with the eternal freshness of Thy

   Paradise: for that Thou hast forgiven him his sins upon earth, in that

   rich mountain, that mountain which yieldeth milk, Thine own mountain.

 

   He then had at that time sorrow, but Nebridius joy. For although he

   also, not being yet a Christian, had fallen into the pit of that most

   pernicious error, believing the flesh of Thy Son to be a phantom: yet

   emerging thence, he believed as we did; not as yet endued with any

   Sacraments of Thy Church, but a most ardent searcher out of truth.

   Whom, not long after our conversion and regeneration by Thy Baptism,

   being also a faithful member of the Church Catholic, and serving Thee

   in perfect chastity and continence amongst his people in Africa, his

   whole house having through him first been made Christian, didst Thou

   release from the flesh; and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. Whatever

   that be, which is signified by that bosom, there lives my Nebridius, my

   sweet friend, and Thy child, O Lord, adopted of a freed man: there he

   liveth. For what other place is there for such a soul? There he liveth,

   whereof he asked much of me, a poor inexperienced man. Now lays he not

   his ear to my mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto Thy fountain, and

   drinketh as much as he can receive, wisdom in proportion to his thirst,

   endlessly happy. Nor do I think that he is so inebriated therewith, as

   to forget me; seeing Thou, Lord, Whom he drinketh, art mindful of us.

   So were we then, comforting Verecundus, who sorrowed, as far as

   friendship permitted, that our conversion was of such sort; and

   exhorting him to become faithful, according to his measure, namely, of

   a married estate; and awaiting Nebridius to follow us, which, being so

   near, he was all but doing: and so, lo! those days rolled by at length;

   for long and many they seemed, for the love I bare to the easeful

   liberty, that I might sing to Thee, from my inmost marrow, My heart

   hath said unto Thee, I have sought Thy face: Thy face, Lord, will I

   seek.

    

 

 

   Now was the day come wherein I was in deed to be freed of my Rhetoric

   Professorship, whereof in thought I was already freed. And it was done.

   Thou didst rescue my tongue, whence Thou hadst before rescued my heart.

   And I blessed Thee, rejoicing; retiring with all mine to the villa.

   What I there did in writing, which was now enlisted in Thy service,

   though still, in this breathing-time as it were, panting from the

   school of pride, my books may witness, as well what I debated with

   others, as what with myself alone, before Thee: what with Nebridius,

   who was absent, my Epistles bear witness. And when shall I have time to

   rehearse all Thy great benefits towards us at that time, especially

   when hasting on to yet greater mercies? For my remembrance recalls me,

   and pleasant is it to me, O Lord, to confess to Thee, by what inward

   goads Thou tamedst me; and how Thou hast evened me, lowering the

   mountains and hills of my high imaginations, straightening my

   crookedness, and smoothing my rough ways; and how Thou also subduedst

   the brother of my heart, Alypius, unto the name of Thy Only Begotten,

   our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which he would not at first

   vouchsafe to have inserted in our writings. For rather would he have

   them savour of the lofty cedars of the Schools, which the Lord hath now

   broken down, than of the wholesome herbs of the Church, the antidote

   against serpents.

 

   Oh, in what accents spake I unto Thee, my God, when I read the Psalms

   of David, those faithful songs, and sounds of devotion, which allow of

   no swelling spirit, as yet a Catechumen, and a novice in Thy real love,

   resting in that villa, with Alypius a Catechumen, my mother cleaving to

   us, in female garb with masculine faith, with the tranquillity of age,

   motherly love, Christian piety! Oh, what accents did I utter unto Thee

   in those Psalms, and how was I by them kindled towards Thee, and on

   fire to rehearse them, if possible, through the whole world, against

   the pride of mankind! And yet they are sung through the whole world,

   nor can any hide himself from Thy heat. With what vehement and bitter

   sorrow was I angered at the Manichees! and again I pitied them, for

   they knew not those Sacraments, those medicines, and were mad against

   the antidote which might have recovered them of their madness. How I

   would they had then been somewhere near me, and without my knowing that

   they were there, could have beheld my countenance, and heard my words,

   when I read the fourth Psalm in that time of my rest, and how that

   Psalm wrought upon me: When I called, the God of my righteousness heard

   me; in tribulation Thou enlargedst me. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, and

   hear my prayer. Would that what I uttered on these words, they could

   hear, without my knowing whether they heard, lest they should think I

   spake it for their sakes! Because in truth neither should I speak the

   same things, nor in the same way, if I perceived that they heard and

   saw me; nor if I spake them would they so receive them, as when I spake

   by and for myself before Thee, out of the natural feelings of my soul.

 

   I trembled for fear, and again kindled with hope, and with rejoicing in

   Thy mercy, O Father; and all issued forth both by mine eyes and voice,

   when Thy good Spirit turning unto us, said, O ye sons of men, how long

   slow of heart? why do 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

   Comforter, 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 Spirit was

   not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. And the prophet

   cries out, How long, slow of heart? why do 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, not

   knowing, loved vanity, and sought after leasing: and therefore I heard

   and trembled, because it was spoken unto such as I remembered myself to

   have been. For in those phantoms which I had held for truths, was there

   vanity and leasing; and I spake aloud many things earnestly and

   forcibly, in the bitterness of my remembrance. Which would they had

   heard, who yet love vanity and seek after leasing! They would perchance

   have been troubled, and have vomited it up; and Thou wouldest hear them

   when they cried unto Thee; for by a true death in the flesh did He die

   for us, who now intercedeth unto Thee for us.

 

   I further read, Be angry, and sin not. And how was I moved, O my God,

   who had now learned to be angry at myself for things past, that I might

   not sin in time to come! Yea, to be justly angry; for that it was not

   another nature of a people of darkness which sinned for me, as they say

   who are not angry at themselves, and treasure up wrath against the day

   of wrath, and of the revelation of Thy just judgment. Nor were my good

   things now without, nor sought with the eyes of flesh in that earthly

   sun; for they that would have joy from without soon become vain, and

   waste themselves on the things seen and temporal, and in their famished

   thoughts do lick their very shadows. Oh that they were wearied out with

   their famine, and said, Who will show us good things? And we would say,

   and they hear, The light of Thy countenance is sealed upon us. For we

   are not that light which enlighteneth every man, but we are enlightened

   by Thee; that having been sometimes darkness, we may be light in Thee.

   Oh that they could see the eternal Internal, which having tasted, I was

   grieved that I could not show It them, so long as they brought me their

   heart in their eyes roving abroad from Thee, while they said, Who will

   show us good things? For there, where I was angry within myself in my

   chamber, where I was inwardly pricked, where I had sacrificed, slaying

   my old man and commencing the purpose of a new life, putting my trust

   in Thee,--there hadst Thou begun to grow sweet unto me, and hadst put

   gladness in my heart. And I cried out, as I read this outwardly,

   finding it inwardly. Nor would I be multiplied with worldly goods;

   wasting away time, and wasted by time; whereas I had in Thy eternal

   Simple Essence other corn, and wine, and oil.

 

   And with a loud cry of my heart I cried out in the next verse, O in

   peace, O for The Self-same! O what said he, I will lay me down and

   sleep, for who shall hinder us, when cometh to pass that saying which

   is written, Death is swallowed up in victory? And Thou surpassingly art

   the Self-same, Who art not changed; and in Thee is rest which

   forgetteth all toil, for there is none other with Thee, nor are we to

   seek those many other things, which are not what Thou art: but Thou,

   Lord, alone hast made me dwell in hope. I read, and kindled; nor found

   I what to do to those deaf and dead, of whom myself had been, a

   pestilent person, a bitter and a blind bawler against those writings,

   which are honied with the honey of heaven, and lightsome with Thine own

   light: and I was consumed with zeal at the enemies of this Scripture.

 

   When shall I recall all which passed in those holy-days? Yet neither

   have I forgotten, nor will I pass over the severity of Thy scourge, and

   the wonderful swiftness of Thy mercy. Thou didst then torment me with

   pain in my teeth; which when it had come to such height that I could

   not speak, it came into my heart to desire all my friends present to

   pray for me to Thee, the God of all manner of health. And this I wrote

   on wax, and gave it them to read. Presently so soon as with humble

   devotion we had bowed our knees, that pain went away. But what pain? or

   how went it away? I was affrighted, O my Lord, my God; for from infancy

   I had never experienced the like. And the power of Thy Nod was deeply

   conveyed to me, and rejoicing in faith, I praised Thy Name. And that

   faith suffered me not to be at ease about my past sins, which were not

   yet forgiven me by Thy baptism.

    

 

 

   The vintage-vacation ended, I gave notice to the Milanese to provide

   their scholars with another master to sell words to them; for that I

   had both made choice to serve Thee, and through my difficulty of

   breathing and pain in my chest was not equal to the Professorship. And

   by letters I signified to Thy Prelate, the holy man Ambrose, my former

   errors and present desires, begging his advice what of Thy Scriptures I

   had best read, to become readier and fitter for receiving so great

   grace. He recommended Isaiah the Prophet: I believe, because he above

   the rest is a more clear foreshower of the Gospel and of the calling of

   the Gentiles. But I, not understanding the first lesson in him, and

   imagining the whole to be like it, laid it by, to be resumed when

   better practised in our Lord's own words.

    

 

 

   Thence, when the time was come wherein I was to give in my name, we

   left the country and returned to Milan. It pleased Alypius also to be

   with me born again in Thee, being already clothed with the humility

   befitting Thy Sacraments; and a most valiant tamer of the body, so as,

   with unwonted venture, to wear the frozen ground of Italy with his bare

   feet. We joined with us the boy Adeodatus, born after the flesh, of my

   sin. Excellently hadst Thou made him. He was not quite fifteen, and in

   wit surpassed many grave and learned men. I confess unto Thee Thy

   gifts, O Lord my God, Creator of all, and abundantly able to reform our

   deformities: for I had no part in that boy, but the sin. For that we

   brought him up in Thy discipline, it was Thou, none else, had inspired

   us with it. I confess unto Thee Thy gifts. There is a book of ours

   entitled The Master; it is a dialogue between him and me. Thou knowest

   that all there ascribed to the person conversing with me were his

   ideas, in his sixteenth year. Much besides, and yet more admirable, I

   found in him. That talent struck awe into me. And who but Thou could be

   the workmaster of such wonders? Soon didst Thou take his life from the

   earth: and I now remember him without anxiety, fearing nothing for his

   childhood or youth, or his whole self. Him we joined with us, our

   contemporary in grace, to he brought up in Thy discipline: and we were

   baptised, and anxiety for our past life vanished from us. Nor was I

   sated in those days with the wondrous sweetness of considering the

   depth of Thy counsels concerning the salvation of mankind. How did I

   weep, in Thy Hymns and Canticles, touched to the quick by the voices of

   Thy sweet-attuned Church! The voices flowed into mine ears, and the

   Truth distilled into my heart, whence the affections of my devotion

   overflowed, and tears ran down, and happy was I therein.

    

 

 

   Not long had the Church of Milan begun to use this kind of consolation

   and exhortation, the brethren zealously joining with harmony of voice

   and hearts. For it was a year, or not much more, that Justina, mother

   to the Emperor Valentinian, a child, persecuted Thy servant Ambrose, in

   favour of her heresy, to which she was seduced by the Arians. The

   devout people kept watch in the Church, ready to die with their Bishop

   Thy servant. There my mother Thy handmaid, bearing a chief part of

   those anxieties and watchings, lived for prayer. We, yet unwarmed by

   the heat of Thy Spirit, still were stirred up by the sight of the

   amazed and disquieted city. Then it was first instituted that after the

   manner of the Eastern Churches, Hymns and Psalms should be sung, lest

   the people should wax faint through the tediousness of sorrow: and from

   that day to this the custom is retained, divers (yea, almost all) Thy

   congregations, throughout other parts of the world following herein.

 

   Then didst Thou by a vision discover to Thy forenamed Bishop where the

   bodies of Gervasius and Protasius the martyrs lay hid (whom Thou hadst

   in Thy secret treasury stored uncorrupted so many years), whence Thou

   mightest seasonably produce them to repress the fury of a woman, but an

   Empress. For when they were discovered and dug up, and with due honour

   translated to the Ambrosian Basilica, not only they who were vexed with

   unclean spirits (the devils confessing themselves) were cured, but a

   certain man who had for many years been blind, a citizen, and well

   known to the city, asking and hearing the reason of the people's

   confused joy, sprang forth desiring his guide to lead him thither. Led

   thither, he begged to be allowed to touch with his handkerchief the

   bier of Thy saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight. Which when he

   had done, and put to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. Thence did

   the fame spread, thence Thy praises glowed, shone; thence the mind of

   that enemy, though not turned to the soundness of believing, was yet

   turned back from her fury of persecuting. Thanks to Thee, O my God.

   Whence and whither hast Thou thus led my remembrance, that I should

   confess these things also unto Thee? which great though they be, I had

   passed by in forgetfulness. And yet then, when the odour of Thy

   ointments was so fragrant, did we not run after Thee. Therefore did I

   more weep among the singing of Thy Hymns, formerly sighing after Thee,

   and at length breathing in Thee, as far as the breath may enter into

   this our house of grass.

    

 

 

   Thou that makest men to dwell of one mind in one house, didst join with

   us Euodius also, a young man of our own city. Who being an officer of

   Court, was before us converted to Thee and baptised: and quitting his

   secular warfare, girded himself to Thine. We were together, about to

   dwell together in our devout purpose. We sought where we might serve

   Thee most usefully, and were together returning to Africa: whitherward

   being as far as Ostia, my mother departed this life. Much I omit, as

   hastening much. Receive my confessions and thanksgivings, O my God, for

   innumerable things whereof I am silent. But I will not omit whatsoever

   my soul would bring forth concerning that Thy handmaid, who brought me

   forth, both in the flesh, that I might be born to this temporal light,

   and in heart, that I might be born to Light eternal. Not her gifts, but

   Thine in her, would I speak of; for neither did she make nor educate

   herself. Thou createdst her; nor did her father and mother know what a

   one should come from them. And the sceptre of Thy Christ, the

   discipline of Thine only Son, in a Christian house, a good member of

   Thy Church, educated her in Thy fear. Yet for her good discipline was

   she wont to commend not so much her mother's diligence, as that of a

   certain decrepit maid-servant, who had carried her father when a child,

   as little ones used to be carried at the backs of elder girls. For

   which reason, and for her great age, and excellent conversation, was

   she, in that Christian family, well respected by its heads. Whence also

   the charge of her master's daughters was entrusted to her, to which she

   gave diligent heed, restraining them earnestly, when necessary, with a

   holy severity, and teaching them with a grave discretion. For, except

   at those hours wherein they were most temporately fed at their parents'

   table, she would not suffer them, though parched with thirst, to drink

   even water; preventing an evil custom, and adding this wholesome

   advice: "Ye drink water now, because you have not wine in your power;

   but when you come to be married, and be made mistresses of cellars and

   cupboards, you will scorn water, but the custom of drinking will

   abide." By this method of instruction, and the authority she had, she

   refrained the greediness of childhood, and moulded their very thirst to

   such an excellent moderation that what they should not, that they would

   not.

 

   And yet (as Thy handmaid told me her son) there had crept upon her a

   love of wine. For when (as the manner was) she, as though a sober

   maiden, was bidden by her parents to draw wine out of the hogshed,

   holding the vessel under the opening, before she poured the wine into

   the flagon, she sipped a little with the tip of her lips; for more her

   instinctive feelings refused. For this she did, not out of any desire

   of drink, but out of the exuberance of youth, whereby it boils over in

   mirthful freaks, which in youthful spirits are wont to be kept under by

   the gravity of their elders. And thus by adding to that little, daily

   littles (for whoso despiseth little things shall fall by little and

   little), she had fallen into such a habit as greedily to drink off her

   little cup brim-full almost of wine. Where was then that discreet old

   woman, and that her earnest countermanding? Would aught avail against a

   secret disease, if Thy healing hand, O Lord, watched not over us?

   Father, mother, and governors absent, Thou present, who createdst, who

   callest, who also by those set over us, workest something towards the

   salvation of our souls, what didst Thou then, O my God? how didst Thou

   cure her? how heal her? didst Thou not out of another soul bring forth

   a hard and a sharp taunt, like a lancet out of Thy secret store, and

   with one touch remove all that foul stuff? For a maid-servant with whom

   she used to go to the cellar, falling to words (as it happens) with her

   little mistress, when alone with her, taunted her with this fault, with

   most bitter insult, calling her wine-bibber. With which taunt she,

   stung to the quick, saw the foulness of her fault, and instantly

   condemned and forsook it. As flattering friends pervert, so reproachful

   enemies mostly correct. Yet not what by them Thou doest, but what

   themselves purposed, dost Thou repay them. For she in her anger sought

   to vex her young mistress, not to amend her; and did it in private,

   either for that the time and place of the quarrel so found them; or

   lest herself also should have anger, for discovering it thus late. But

   Thou, Lord, Governor of all in heaven and earth, who turnest to Thy

   purposes the deepest currents, and the ruled turbulence of the tide of

   times, didst by the very unhealthiness of one soul heal another; lest

   any, when he observes this, should ascribe it to his own power, even

   when another, whom he wished to be reformed, is reformed through words

   of his.

    

 

 

   Brought up thus modestly and soberly, and made subject rather by Thee

   to her parents, than by her parents to Thee, so soon as she was of

   marriageable age, being bestowed upon a husband, she served him as her

   lord; and did her diligence to win him unto Thee, preaching Thee unto

   him by her conversation; by which Thou ornamentedst her, making her

   reverently amiable, and admirable unto her husband. And she so endured

   the wronging of her bed as never to have any quarrel with her husband

   thereon. For she looked for Thy mercy upon him, that believing in Thee,

   he might be made chaste. But besides this, he was fervid, as in his

   affections, so in anger: but she had learnt not to resist an angry

   husband, not in deed only, but not even in word. Only when he was

   smoothed and tranquil, and in a temper to receive it, she would give an

   account of her actions, if haply he had overhastily taken offence. In a

   word, while many matrons, who had milder husbands, yet bore even in

   their faces marks of shame, would in familiar talk blame their

   husbands' lives, she would blame their tongues, giving them, as in

   jest, earnest advice: "That from the time they heard the marriage

   writings read to them, they should account them as indentures, whereby

   they were made servants; and so, remembering their condition, ought not

   to set themselves up against their lords." And when they, knowing what

   a choleric husband she endured, marvelled that it had never been heard,

   nor by any token perceived, that Patricius had beaten his wife, or that

   there had been any domestic difference between them, even for one day,

   and confidentially asking the reason, she taught them her practice

   above mentioned. Those wives who observed it found the good, and

   returned thanks; those who observed it not, found no relief, and

   suffered.

 

   Her mother-in-law also, at first by whisperings of evil servants

   incensed against her, she so overcame by observance and persevering

   endurance and meekness, that she of her own accord discovered to her

   son the meddling tongues whereby the domestic peace betwixt her and her

   daughter-in-law had been disturbed, asking him to correct them. Then,

   when in compliance with his mother, and for the well-ordering of the

   family, he had with stripes corrected those discovered, at her will who

   had discovered them, she promised the like reward to any who, to please

   her, should speak ill of her daughter-in-law to her: and none now

   venturing, they lived together with a remarkable sweetness of mutual

   kindness.

 

   This great gift also thou bestowedst, O my God, my mercy, upon that

   good handmaid of Thine, in whose womb Thou createdst me, that between

   any disagreeing and discordant parties where she was able, she showed

   herself such a peacemaker, that hearing on both sides most bitter

   things, such as swelling and indigested choler uses to break out into,

   when the crudities of enmities are breathed out in sour discourses to a

   present friend against an absent enemy, she never would disclose aught

   of the one unto the other, but what might tend to their reconcilement.

   A small good this might appear to me, did I not to my grief know

   numberless persons, who through some horrible and wide-spreading

   contagion of sin, not only disclose to persons mutually angered things

   said in anger, but add withal things never spoken, whereas to humane

   humanity, it ought to seem a light thing not to toment or increase ill

   will by ill words, unless one study withal by good words to quench it.

   Such was she, Thyself, her most inward Instructor, teaching her in the

   school of the heart.

 

   Finally, her own husband, towards the very end of his earthly life, did

   she gain unto Thee; nor had she to complain of that in him as a

   believer, which before he was a believer she had borne from him. She

   was also the servant of Thy servants; whosoever of them knew her, did

   in her much praise and honour and love Thee; for that through the

   witness of the fruits of a holy conversation they perceived Thy

   presence in her heart. For she had been the wife of one man, had

   requited her parents, had govemed her house piously, was well reported

   of for good works, had brought up children, so often travailing in

   birth of them, as she saw them swerving from Thee. Lastly, of all of us

   Thy servants, O Lord (whom on occasion of Thy own gift Thou sufferest

   to speak), us, who before her sleeping in Thee lived united together,

   having received the grace of Thy baptism, did she so take care of, as

   though she had been mother of us all; so served us, as though she had

   been child to us all.

    

 

 

   The day now approaching whereon she was to depart this life (which day

   Thou well knewest, we knew not), it came to pass, Thyself, as I

   believe, by Thy secret ways so ordering it, that she and I stood alone,

   leaning in a certain window, which looked into the garden of the house

   where we now lay, at Ostia; where removed from the din of men, we were

   recruiting from the fatigues of a long journey, for the voyage. We were

   discoursing then together, alone, very sweetly; and forgetting those

   things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are

   before, we were enquiring between ourselves in the presence of the

   Truth, which Thou art, of what sort the eternal life of the saints was

   to be, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into

   the heart of man. But yet we gasped with the mouth of our heart, after

   those heavenly streams of Thy fountain, the fountain of life, which is

   with Thee; that being bedewed thence according to our capacity, we

   might in some sort meditate upon so high a mystery.

 

   And when our discourse was brought to that point, that the very highest

   delight of the earthly senses, in the very purest material light, was,

   in respect of the sweetness of that life, not only not worthy of

   comparison, but not even of mention; we raising up ourselves with a

   more glowing affection towards the "Self-same," did by degrees pass

   through all things bodily, even the very heaven whence sun and moon and

   stars shine upon the earth; yea, we were soaring higher yet, by inward

   musing, and discourse, and admiring of Thy works; and we came to our

   own minds, and went beyond them, that we might arrive at that region of

   never-failing plenty, where Thou feedest Israel for ever with the food

   of truth, and where life is the Wisdom by whom all these things are

   made, and what have been, and what shall be, and she is not made, but

   is, as she hath been, and so shall she be ever; yea rather, to "have

   been," and "hereafter to be," 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 discoursing and panting after her, we

   slightly touched on her with the whole effort of our heart; and we

   sighed, and there we leave bound the first fruits of the Spirit; and

   returned to vocal expressions of our mouth, where the word spoken has

   beginning and end. And what is like unto Thy Word, our Lord, who

   endureth in Himself without becoming old, and maketh all things new?

 

   We were saying then: If to any the tumult of the flesh were hushed,

   hushed the images of earth, and waters, and air, hushed also the pole

   of heaven, yea the very soul be hushed to herself, and by not thinking

   on self surmount self, hushed all dreams and imaginary revelations,

   every tongue and every sign, and whatsoever exists only in transition,

   since if any could hear, all these say, We made not ourselves, but He

   made us that abideth for ever--If then having uttered this, they too

   should be hushed, having roused only our ears to Him who made them, and

   He alone speak, not by them but by Himself, that we may hear His Word,

   not through any tongue of flesh, nor Angel's voice, nor sound of

   thunder, nor in the dark riddle of a similitude, but might hear Whom in

   these things we love, might hear His Very Self without these (as we two

   now strained ourselves, and in swift thought touched on that Eternal

   Wisdom which abideth over all);--could this be continued on, and other

   visions of kind far unlike be withdrawn, and this one ravish, and

   absorb, and wrap up its beholder amid these inward joys, so that life

   might be for ever like that one moment of understanding which now we

   sighed after; were not this, Enter into thy Master's joy? And when

   shall that be? When we shall all rise again, though we shall not all be

   changed?

 

   Such things was I speaking, and even if not in this very manner, and

   these same words, yet, Lord, Thou knowest that in that day when we were

   speaking of these things, and this world with all its delights became,

   as we spake, contemptible to us, my mother said, "Son, for mine own

   part I have no further delight in any thing in this life. What I do

   here any longer, and to what I am here, I know not, now that my hopes

   in this world are accomplished. One thing there was for which I desired

   to linger for a while in this life, that I might see thee a Catholic

   Christian before I died. My God hath done this for me more abundantly,

   that I should now see thee withal, despising earthly happiness, become

   His servant: what do I here?"

    

 

 

   What answer I made her unto these things, I remember not. For scarce

   five days after, or not much more, she fell sick of a fever; and in

   that sickness one day she fell into a swoon, and was for a while

   withdrawn from these visible things. We hastened round her; but she was

   soon brought back to her senses; and looking on me and my brother

   standing by her, said to us enquiringly, "Where was I?" And then

   looking fixedly on us, with grief amazed: "Here," saith she, "shall you

   bury your mother." I held my peace and refrained weeping; but my

   brother spake something, wishing for her, as the happier lot, that she

   might die, not in a strange place, but in her own land. Whereat, she

   with anxious look, checking him with her eyes, for that he still

   savoured such things, and then looking upon me: "Behold," saith she,

   "what he saith": and soon after to us both, "Lay," she saith, "this

   body any where; let not the care for that any way disquiet you: this

   only I request, that you would remember me at the Lord's altar,

   wherever you be." And having delivered this sentiment in what words she

   could, she held her peace, being exercised by her growing sickness.

 

   But I, considering Thy gifts, Thou unseen God, which Thou instillest

   into the hearts of Thy faithful ones, whence wondrous fruits do spring,

   did rejoice and give thanks to Thee, recalling what I before knew, how

   careful and anxious she had ever been as to her place of burial, which

   she had provided and prepared for herself by the body of her husband.

   For because they had lived in great harmony together, she also wished

   (so little can the human mind embrace things divine) to have this

   addition to that happiness, and to have it remembered among men, that

   after her pilgrimage beyond the seas, what was earthly of this united

   pair had been permitted to be united beneath the same earth. But when

   this emptiness had through the fulness of Thy goodness begun to cease

   in her heart, I knew not, and rejoiced admiring what she had so

   disclosed to me; though indeed in that our discourse also in the

   window, when she said, "What do I here any longer?" there appeared no

   desire of dying in her own country. I heard afterwards also, that when

   we were now at Ostia, she with a mother's confidence, when I was

   absent, one day discoursed with certain of my friends about the

   contempt of this life, and the blessing of death: and when they were

   amazed at such courage which Thou hadst given to a woman, and asked,

   "Whether she were not afraid to leave her body so far from her own

   city?" she replied, "Nothing is far to God; nor was it to be feared

   lest at the end of the world, He should not recognise whence He were to

   raise me up." On the ninth day then of her sickness, and the

   fifty-sixth year of her age, and the three-and-thirtieth of mine, was

   that religious and holy soul freed from the body.

    

 

 

   I closed her eyes; and there flowed withal a mighty sorrow into my

   heart, which was overflowing into tears; mine eyes at the same time, by

   the violent command of my mind, drank up their fountain wholly dry; and

   woe was me in such a strife! But when she breathed her last, the boy

   Adeodatus burst out into a loud lament; then, checked by us all, held

   his peace. In like manner also a childish feeling in me, which was,

   through my heart's youthful voice, finding its vent in weeping, was

   checked and silenced. For we thought it not fitting to solemnise that

   funeral with tearful lament, and groanings; for thereby do they for the

   most part express grief for the departed, as though unhappy, or

   altogether dead; whereas she was neither unhappy in her death, nor

   altogether dead. Of this we were assured on good grounds, the testimony

   of her good conversation and her faith unfeigned.

 

   What then was it which did grievously pain me within, but a fresh wound

   wrought through the sudden wrench of that most sweet and dear custom of

   living together? I joyed indeed in her testimony, when, in that her

   last sickness, mingling her endearments with my acts of duty, she

   called me "dutiful," and mentioned, with great affection of love, that

   she never had heard any harsh or reproachful sound uttered by my mouth

   against her. But yet, O my God, Who madest us, what comparison is there

   betwixt that honour that I paid to her, and her slavery for me? Being

   then forsaken of so great comfort in her, my soul was wounded, and that

   life rent asunder as it were, which, of hers and mine together, had

   been made but one.

 

   The boy then being stilled from weeping, Euodius took up the Psalter,

   and began to sing, our whole house answering him, the Psalm, I will

   sing of mercy and judgments to Thee, O Lord. But hearing what we were

   doing, many brethren and religious women came together; and whilst they

   (whose office it was) made ready for the burial, as the manner is, I

   (in a part of the house, where I might properly), together with those

   who thought not fit to leave me, discoursed upon something fitting the

   time; and by this balm of truth assuaged that torment, known to Thee,

   they unknowing and listening intently, and conceiving me to be without

   all sense of sorrow. But in Thy ears, where none of them heard, I

   blamed the weakness of my feelings, and refrained my flood of grief,

   which gave way a little unto me; but again came, as with a tide, yet

   not so as to burst out into tears, nor to change of countenance; still

   I knew what I was keeping down in my heart. And being very much

   displeased that these human things had such power over me, which in the

   due order and appointment of our natural condition must needs come to

   pass, with a new grief I grieved for my grief, and was thus worn by a

   double sorrow.

 

   And behold, the corpse was carried to the burial; we went and returned

   without tears. For neither in those prayers which we poured forth unto

   Thee, when the Sacrifice of our ransom was offered for her, when now

   the corpse was by the grave's side, as the manner there is, previous to

   its being laid therein, did I weep even during those prayers; yet was I

   the whole day in secret heavily sad, and with troubled mind prayed

   Thee, as I could, to heal my sorrow, yet Thou didst not; impressing, I

   believe, upon my memory by this one instance, how strong is the bond of

   all habit, even upon a soul, which now feeds upon no deceiving Word. It

   seemed also good to me to go and bathe, having heard that the bath had

   its name (balneum) from the Greek Balaneion for that it drives sadness

   from the mind. And this also I confess unto Thy mercy, Father of the

   fatherless, that I bathed, and was the same as before I bathed. For the

   bitterness of sorrow could not exude out of my heart. Then I slept, and

   woke up again, and found my grief not a little softened; and as I was

   alone in my bed, I remembered those true verses of Thy Ambrose. For

   Thou art the

 

 

   "Maker of all, the Lord,

 

      And Ruler of the height,

 

   Who, robing day in light, hast poured

 

      Soft slumbers o'er the night,

 

   That to our limbs the power

 

      Of toil may be renew'd,

 

   And hearts be rais'd that sink and cower,

 

      And sorrows be subdu'd."

 

   And then by little and little I recovered my former thoughts of Thy

   handmaid, her holy conversation towards Thee, her holy tenderness and

   observance towards us, whereof I was suddenly deprived: and I was

   minded to weep in Thy sight, for her and for myself, in her behalf and

   in my own. And I gave way to the tears which I before restrained, to

   overflow as much as they desired; reposing my heart upon them; and it

   found rest in them, for it was in Thy ears, not in those of man, who

   would have scornfully interpreted my weeping. And now, Lord, in writing

   I confess it unto Thee. Read it, who will, and interpret it, how he

   will: and if he finds sin therein, that I wept my mother for a small

   portion of an hour (the mother who for the time was dead to mine eyes,

   who had for many years wept for me that I might live in Thine eyes),

   let him not deride me; but rather, if he be one of large charity, let

   him weep himself for my sins unto Thee, the Father of all the brethren

   of Thy Christ.

    

 

 

   But now, with a heart cured of that wound, wherein it might seem

   blameworthy for an earthly feeling, I pour out unto Thee, our God, in

   behalf of that Thy handmaid, a far different kind of tears, flowing

   from a spirit shaken by the thoughts of the dangers of every soul that

   dieth in Adam. And although she having been quickened in Christ, even

   before her release from the flesh, had lived to the praise of Thy name

   for her faith and conversation; yet dare I not say that from what time

   Thou regeneratedst her by baptism, no word issued from her mouth

   against Thy Commandment. Thy Son, the Truth, hath said, Whosoever shall

   say unto his brother, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. And

   woe be even unto the commendable life of men, if, laying aside mercy,

   Thou shouldest examine it. But because Thou art not extreme in

   enquiring after sins, we confidently hope to find some place with Thee.

   But whosoever reckons up his real merits to Thee, what reckons he up to

   Thee but Thine own gifts? O that men would know themselves to be men;

   and that he that glorieth would glory in the Lord.

 

   I therefore, O my Praise and my Life, God of my heart, laying aside for

   a while her good deeds, for which I give thanks to Thee with joy, do

   now beseech Thee for the sins of my mother. Hearken unto me, I entreat

   Thee, by the Medicine of our wounds, Who hung upon the tree, and now

   sitting at Thy right hand maketh intercession to Thee for us. I know

   that she dealt mercifully, and from her heart forgave her debtors their

   debts; do Thou also forgive her debts, whatever she may have contracted

   in so many years, since the water of salvation. Forgive her, Lord,

   forgive, I beseech Thee; enter not into judgment with her. Let Thy

   mercy be exalted above Thy justice, since 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.

 

   And, I believe, Thou hast already done what I ask; but accept, O Lord,

   the free-will offerings of my mouth. For she, the day of her

   dissolution now at hand, took no thought to have her body sumptuously

   wound up, or embalmed with spices; nor desired she a choice monument,

   or to be buried in her own land. These things she enjoined us not; but

   desired only to have her name commemorated at Thy Altar, which she had

   served without intermission of one day: whence she knew the holy

   Sacrifice to be dispensed, by which the hand-writing that was against

   us is blotted out; through which the enemy was triumphed over, who

   summing up our offences, and seeking what to lay to our charge, found

   nothing in Him, in Whom we conquer. Who shall restore to Him the

   innocent blood? Who repay Him the price wherewith He bought us, and so

   take us from Him? Unto the Sacrament of which our ransom, Thy handmaid

   bound her soul by the bond of faith. Let none sever her from Thy

   protection: let neither the lion nor the dragon interpose himself by

   force or fraud. For she will not answer that she owes nothing, lest she

   be convicted and seized by the crafty accuser: but she will answer that

   her sins are forgiven her by Him, to Whom none can repay that price

   which He, Who owed nothing, paid for us.

 

   May she rest then in peace with the husband before and after whom she

   had never any; whom she obeyed, with patience bringing forth fruit unto

   Thee, that she might win him also unto Thee. And inspire, O Lord my

   God, inspire Thy servants my brethren, Thy sons my masters, whom with

   voice, and heart, and pen I serve, that so many as shall read these

   Confessions, may at Thy Altar remember Monnica Thy handmaid, with

   Patricius, her sometimes husband, by whose bodies Thou broughtest me

   into this life, how I know not. May they with devout affection remember

   my parents in this transitory light, my brethren under Thee our Father

   in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in that eternal

   Jerusalem which Thy pilgrim people sigheth after from their Exodus,

   even unto their return thither. That so my mother's last request of me,

   may through my confessions, more than through my prayers, be, through

   the prayers of many, more abundantly fulfilled to her.

    

 

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