Catholic Encyclopedia
Church Fathers
Classics Library
Church Documents
Prayer Requests
Ray of Hope
Social Doctrine

The Confessions Of Saint Augustine




   Let me know Thee, O Lord, who knowest me: let me know Thee, as I am

   known. Power of my soul, enter into it, and fit it for Thee, that Thou

   mayest have and hold it without spot or wrinkle. This is my hope,

   therefore do I speak; and in this hope do I rejoice, when I rejoice

   healthfully. Other things of this life are the less to be sorrowed for,

   the more they are sorrowed for; and the more to be sorrowed for, the

   less men sorrow for them. For behold, Thou lovest the truth, and he

   that doth it, cometh to the light. This would I do in my heart before

   Thee in confession: and in my writing, before many witnesses.




   And from Thee, O Lord, unto whose eyes the abyss of man's conscience is

   naked, what could be hidden in me though I would not confess it? For I

   should hide Thee from me, not me from Thee. But now, for that my

   groaning is witness, that I am displeased with myself, Thou shinest

   out, and art pleasing, and beloved, and longed for; that I may be

   ashamed of myself, and renounce myself, and choose Thee, and neither

   please Thee nor myself, but in Thee. To Thee therefore, O Lord, am I

   open, whatever I am; and with what fruit I confess unto Thee, I have

   said. Nor do I it with words and sounds of the flesh, but with the

   words of my soul, and the cry of the thought which Thy ear knoweth. For

   when I am evil, then to confess to Thee is nothing else than to be

   displeased with myself; but when holy, nothing else than not to ascribe

   it to myself: because Thou, O Lord, blessest the godly, but first Thou

   justifieth him when ungodly. My confession then, O my God, in Thy

   sight, is made silently, and not silently. For in sound, it is silent;

   in affection, it cries aloud. For neither do I utter any thing right

   unto men, which Thou hast not before heard from me; nor dost Thou hear

   any such thing from me, which Thou hast not first said unto me.




   What then have I to do with men, that they should hear my

   confessions--as if they could heal all my infirmities--a race, curious

   to know the lives of others, slothful to amend their own? Why seek they

   to hear from me what I am; who will not hear from Thee what themselves

   are? And how know they, when from myself they hear of myself, whether I

   say true; seeing no man knows what is in man, but the spirit of man

   which is in him? But if they hear from Thee of themselves, they cannot

   say, "The Lord lieth." For what is it to hear from Thee of themselves,

   but to know themselves? and who knoweth and saith, "It is false,"

   unless himself lieth? But because charity believeth all things (that

   is, among those whom knitting unto itself it maketh one), I also, O

   Lord, will in such wise confess unto Thee, that men may hear, to whom I

   cannot demonstrate whether I confess truly; yet they believe me, whose

   ears charity openeth unto me.


   But do Thou, my inmost Physician, make plain unto me what fruit I may

   reap by doing it. For the confessions of my past sins, which Thou hast

   forgiven and covered, that Thou mightest bless me in Thee, changing my

   soul by Faith and Thy Sacrament, when read and heard, stir up the

   heart, that it sleep not in despair and say "I cannot," but awake in

   the love of Thy mercy and the sweetness of Thy grace, whereby whoso is

   weak, is strong, when by it he became conscious of his own weakness.

   And the good delight to hear of the past evils of such as are now freed

   from them, not because they are evils, but because they have been and

   are not. With what fruit then, O Lord my God, to Whom my conscience

   daily confesseth, trusting more in the hope of Thy mercy than in her

   own innocency, with what fruit, I pray, do I by this book confess to

   men also in Thy presence what I now am, not what I have been? For that

   other fruit I have seen and spoken of. But what I now am, at the very

   time of making these confessions, divers desire to know, who have or

   have not known me, who have heard from me or of me; but their ear is

   not at my heart where I am, whatever I am. They wish then to hear me

   confess what I am within; whither neither their eye, nor ear, nor

   understanding can reach; they wish it, as ready to believe--but will

   they know? For charity, whereby they are good, telleth them that in my

   confessions I lie not; and she in them, believeth me.




   But for what fruit would they hear this? Do they desire to joy with me,

   when they hear how near, by Thy gift, I approach unto Thee? and to pray

   for me, when they shall hear how much I am held back by my own weight?

   To such will I discover myself For it is no mean fruit, O Lord my God,

   that by many thanks should be given to Thee on our behalf, and Thou be

   by many entreated for us. Let the brotherly mind love in me what Thou

   teachest is to be loved, and lament in me what Thou teachest is to be

   lamented. Let a brotherly, not a stranger, mind, not that of the

   strange children, whose mouth talketh of vanity, and their right hand

   is a right hand of iniquity, but that brotherly mind which when it

   approveth, rejoiceth for me, and when it disapproveth me, is sorry for

   me; because whether it approveth or disapproveth, it loveth me. To such

   will I discover myself: they will breathe freely at my good deeds, sigh

   for my ill. My good deeds are Thine appointments, and Thy gifts; my

   evil ones are my offences, and Thy judgments. Let them breathe freely

   at the one, sigh at the other; and let hymns and weeping go up into Thy

   sight, out of the hearts of my brethren, Thy censers. And do Thou, O

   Lord, he pleased with the incense of Thy holy temple, have mercy upon

   me according to Thy great mercy for Thine own name's sake; and no ways

   forsaking what Thou hast begun, perfect my imperfections.


   This is the fruit of my confessions of what I am, not of what I have

   been, to confess this, not before Thee only, in a secret exultation

   with trembling, and a secret sorrow with hope; but in the ears also of

   the believing sons of men, sharers of my joy, and partners in my

   mortality, my fellow-citizens, and fellow-pilgrims, who are gone

   before, or are to follow on, companions of my way. These are Thy

   servants, my brethren, whom Thou willest to be Thy sons; my masters,

   whom Thou commandest me to serve, if I would live with Thee, of Thee.

   But this Thy Word were little did it only command by speaking, and not

   go before in performing. This then I do in deed and word, this I do

   under Thy wings; in over great peril, were not my soul subdued unto

   Thee under Thy wings, and my infirmity known unto Thee. I am a little

   one, but my Father ever liveth, and my Guardian is sufficient for me.

   For He is the same who begat me, and defends me: and Thou Thyself art

   all my good; Thou, Almighty, Who are with me, yea, before I am with

   Thee. To such then whom Thou commandest me to serve will I discover,

   not what I have been, but what I now am and what I yet am. But neither

   do I judge myself. Thus therefore I would be heard.





   For Thou, Lord, dost judge me: because, although no man knoweth the

   things of a man, but the spirit of a man which is in him, yet is there

   something of man, which neither the spirit of man that is in him,

   itself knoweth. But Thou, Lord, knowest all of him, Who hast made him.

   Yet I, though in Thy sight I despise myself, and account myself dust

   and ashes; yet know I something of Thee, which I know not of myself.

   And truly, now we see through a glass darkly, not face to face as yet.

   So long therefore as I be absent from Thee, I am more present with

   myself than with Thee; and yet know I Thee that Thou art in no ways

   passible; but I, what temptations I can resist, what I cannot, I know

   not. And there is hope, because Thou art faithful, Who wilt not suffer

   us to be tempted above that we are able; but wilt with the temptation

   also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. I will

   confess then what I know of myself, I will confess also what I know not

   of myself. And that because what I do know of myself, I know by Thy

   shining upon me; and what I know not of myself, so long know I not it,

   until my darkness be made as the noon-day in Thy countenance.




   Not with doubting, but with assured consciousness, do I love Thee,

   Lord. Thou hast stricken my heart with Thy word, and I loved Thee. Yea

   also heaven, and earth, and all that therein is, behold, on every side

   they bid me love Thee; nor cease to say so unto all, that they may be

   without excuse. But more deeply wilt Thou have mercy on whom Thou wilt

   have mercy, and wilt have compassion on whom Thou hast had compassion:

   else in deaf ears do the heaven and the earth speak Thy praises. But

   what do I love, when I love Thee? not beauty of bodies, nor the fair

   harmony of time, nor the brightness of the light, so gladsome to our

   eyes, nor sweet melodies of varied songs, nor the fragrant smell of

   flowers, and ointments, and spices, not manna and honey, not limbs

   acceptable to embracements of flesh. None of these I love, when I love

   my God; and yet I love a kind of light, and melody, and fragrance, and

   meat, and embracement when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance,

   meat, embracement of my inner man: where there shineth unto my soul

   what space cannot contain, and there soundeth what time beareth not

   away, and there smelleth what breathing disperseth not, and there

   tasteth what eating diminisheth not, and there clingeth what satiety

   divorceth not. This is it which I love when I love my God.


   And what is this? I asked the earth, and it answered me, "I am not He";

   and whatsoever are in it confessed the same. I asked the sea and the

   deeps, and the living creeping things, and they answered, "We are not

   thy God, seek above us." I asked the moving air; and the whole air with

   his inhabitants answered, "Anaximenes was deceived, I am not God. " I

   asked the heavens, sun, moon, stars, "Nor (say they) are we the God

   whom thou seekest." And I replied unto all the things which encompass

   the door of my flesh: "Ye have told me of my God, that ye are not He;

   tell me something of Him." And they cried out with a loud voice, "He

   made us. " My questioning them, was my thoughts on them: and their form

   of beauty gave the answer. And I turned myself unto myself, and said to

   myself, "Who art thou?" And I answered, "A man." And behold, in me

   there present themselves to me soul, and body, one without, the other

   within. By which of these ought I to seek my God? I had sought Him in

   the body from earth to heaven, so far as I could send messengers, the

   beams of mine eyes. But the better is the inner, for to it as presiding

   and judging, all the bodily messengers reported the answers of heaven

   and earth, and all things therein, who said, "We are not God, but He

   made us." These things did my inner man know by the ministry of the

   outer: I the inner knew them; I, the mind, through the senses of my

   body. I asked the whole frame of the world about my God; and it

   answered me, "I am not He, but He made me.


   Is not this corporeal figure apparent to all whose senses are perfect?

   why then speaks it not the same to all? Animals small and great see it,

   but they cannot ask it: because no reason is set over their senses to

   judge on what they report. But men can ask, so that the invisible

   things of God are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are

   made; but by love of them, they are made subject unto them: and

   subjects cannot judge. Nor yet do the creatures answer such as ask,

   unless they can judge; nor yet do they change their voice (i.e., their

   appearance), if one man only sees, another seeing asks, so as to appear

   one way to this man, another way to that, but appearing the same way to

   both, it is dumb to this, speaks to that; yea rather it speaks to all;

   but they only understand, who compare its voice received from without,

   with the truth within. For truth saith unto me, "Neither heaven, nor

   earth, nor any other body is thy God." This, their very nature saith to

   him that seeth them: "They are a mass; a mass is less in a part thereof

   than in the whole." Now to thee I speak, O my soul, thou art my better

   part: for thou quickenest the mass of my body, giving it life, which no

   body can give to a body: but thy God is even unto thee the Life of thy





   What then do I love, when I love my God? who is He above the head of my

   soul? By my very soul will I ascend to Him. I will pass beyond that

   power whereby I am united to my body, and fill its whole frame with

   life. Nor can I by that power find my God; for so horse and mule that

   have no understanding might find Him; seeing it is the same power,

   whereby even their bodies live. But another power there is, not that

   only whereby I animate, but that too whereby I imbue with sense my

   flesh, which the Lord hath framed for me: commanding the eye not to

   hear, and the ear not to see; but the eye, that through it I should

   see, and the ear, that through it I should hear; and to the other

   senses severally, what is to each their own peculiar seats and offices;

   which, being divers, I the one mind, do through them enact. I will pass

   beyond this power of mine also; for this also have the horse, and mule,

   for they also perceive through the body.




   I will pass then beyond this power of my nature also, rising by degrees

   unto Him Who made me. And I come to the fields and spacious palaces of

   my memory, where are the treasures of innumerable images, brought into

   it from things of all sorts perceived by the senses. There is stored

   up, whatsoever besides we think, either by enlarging or diminishing, or

   any other way varying those things which the sense hath come to; and

   whatever else hath been committed and laid up, which forgetfulness hath

   not yet swallowed up and buried. When I enter there, I require what I

   will to be brought forth, and something instantly comes; others must be

   longer sought after, which are fetched, as it were, out of some inner

   receptacle; others rush out in troops, and while one thing is desired

   and required, they start forth, as who should say, "Is it perchance I?"

   These I drive away with the hand of my heart, from the face of my

   remembrance; until what I wish for be unveiled, and appear in sight,

   out of its secret place. Other things come up readily, in unbroken

   order, as they are called for; those in front making way for the

   following; and as they make way, they are hidden from sight, ready to

   come when I will. All which takes place when I repeat a thing by heart.


   There are all things preserved distinctly and under general heads, each

   having entered by its own avenue: as light, and all colours and forms

   of bodies by the eyes; by the ears all sorts of sounds; all smells by

   the avenue of the nostrils; all tastes by the mouth; and by the

   sensation of the whole body, what is hard or soft; hot or cold; or

   rugged; heavy or light; either outwardly or inwardly to the body. All

   these doth that great harbour of the memory receive in her numberless

   secret and inexpressible windings, to be forthcoming, and brought out

   at need; each entering in by his own gate, and there laid up. Nor yet

   do the things themselves enter in; only the images of the things

   perceived are there in readiness, for thought to recall. Which images,

   how they are formed, who can tell, though it doth plainly appear by

   which sense each hath been brought in and stored up? For even while I

   dwell in darkness and silence, in my memory I can produce colours, if I

   will, and discern betwixt black and white, and what others I will: nor

   yet do sounds break in and disturb the image drawn in by my eyes, which

   I am reviewing, though they also are there, lying dormant, and laid up,

   as it were, apart. For these too I call for, and forthwith they appear.

   And though my tongue be still, and my throat mute, so can I sing as

   much as I will; nor do those images of colours, which notwithstanding

   be there, intrude themselves and interrupt, when another store is

   called for, which flowed in by the ears. So the other things, piled in

   and up by the other senses, I recall at my pleasure. Yea, I discern the

   breath of lilies from violets, though smelling nothing; and I prefer

   honey to sweet wine, smooth before rugged, at the time neither tasting

   nor handling, but remembering only.


   These things do I within, in that vast court of my memory. For there

   are present with me, heaven, earth, sea, and whatever I could think on

   therein, besides what I have forgotten. There also meet I with myself,

   and recall myself, and when, where, and what I have done, and under

   what feelings. There be all which I remember, either on my own

   experience, or other's credit. Out of the same store do I myself with

   the past continually combine fresh and fresh likenesses of things which

   I have experienced, or, from what I have experienced, have believed:

   and thence again infer future actions, events and hopes, and all these

   again I reflect on, as present. "I will do this or that," say I to

   myself, in that great receptacle of my mind, stored with the images of

   things so many and so great, "and this or that will follow." "O that

   this or that might be!" "God avert this or that!" So speak I to myself:

   and when I speak, the images of all I speak of are present, out of the

   same treasury of memory; nor would I speak of any thereof, were the

   images wanting.


   Great is this force of memory, excessive great, O my God; a large and

   boundless chamber! who ever sounded the bottom thereof? yet is this a

   power of mine, and belongs unto my nature; nor do I myself comprehend

   all that I am. Therefore is the mind too strait to contain itself. And

   where should that be, which it containeth not of itself? Is it without

   it, and not within? how then doth it not comprehend itself? A wonderful

   admiration surprises me, amazement seizes me upon this. And men go

   abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty billows of the

   sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the

   circuits of the stars, and pass themselves by; nor wonder that when I

   spake of all these things, I did not see them with mine eyes, yet could

   not have spoken of them, unless I then actually saw the mountains,

   billows, rivers, stars which I had seen, and that ocean which I believe

   to be, inwardly in my memory, and that, with the same vast spaces

   between, as if I saw them abroad. Yet did not I by seeing draw them

   into myself, when with mine eyes I beheld them; nor are they themselves

   with me, but their images only. And I know by what sense of the body

   each was impressed upon me.




   Yet not these alone does the unmeasurable capacity of my memory retain.

   Here also is all, learnt of the liberal sciences and as yet

   unforgotten; removed as it were to some inner place, which is yet no

   place: nor are they the images thereof, but the things themselves. For,

   what is literature, what the art of disputing, how many kinds of

   questions there be, whatsoever of these I know, in such manner exists

   in my memory, as that I have not taken in the image, and left out the

   thing, or that it should have sounded and passed away like a voice

   fixed on the ear by that impress, whereby it might be recalled, as if

   it sounded, when it no longer sounded; or as a smell while it passes

   and evaporates into air affects the sense of smell, whence it conveys

   into the memory an image of itself, which remembering, we renew, or as

   meat, which verily in the belly hath now no taste, and yet in the

   memory still in a manner tasteth; or as any thing which the body by

   touch perceiveth, and which when removed from us, the memory still

   conceives. For those things are not transmitted into the memory, but

   their images only are with an admirable swiftness caught up, and stored

   as it were in wondrous cabinets, and thence wonderfully by the act of

   remembering, brought forth.




   But now when I hear that there be three kinds of questions, "Whether

   the thing be? what it is? of what kind it is? I do indeed hold the

   images of the sounds of which those words be composed, and that those

   sounds, with a noise passed through the air, and now are not. But the

   things themselves which are signified by those sounds, I never reached

   with any sense of my body, nor ever discerned them otherwise than in my

   mind; yet in my memory have I laid up not their images, but themselves.

   Which how they entered into me, let them say if they can; for I have

   gone over all the avenues of my flesh, but cannot find by which they

   entered. For the eyes say, "If those images were coloured, we reported

   of them." The ears say, "If they sound, we gave knowledge of them." The

   nostrils say, "If they smell, they passed by us." The taste says,

   "Unless they have a savour, ask me not." The touch says, "If it have

   not size, I handled it not; if I handled it not, I gave no notice of

   it." Whence and how entered these things into my memory? I know not

   how. For when I learned them, I gave not credit to another man's mind,

   but recognised them in mine; and approving them for true, I commended

   them to it, laying them up as it were, whence I might bring them forth

   when I willed. In my heart then they were, even before I learned them,

   but in my memory they were not. Where then? or wherefore, when they

   were spoken, did I acknowledge them, and said, "So is it, it is true,"

   unless that they were already in the memory, but so thrown back and

   buried as it were in deeper recesses, that had not the suggestion of

   another drawn them forth I had perchance been unable to conceive of





   Wherefore we find, that to learn these things whereof we imbibe nor the

   images by our senses, but perceive within by themselves, without

   images, as they are, is nothing else, but by conception, to receive,

   and by marking to take heed that those things which the memory did

   before contain at random and unarranged, be laid up at hand as it were

   in that same memory where before they lay unknown, scattered and

   neglected, and so readily occur to the mind familiarised to them. And

   how many things of this kind does my memory bear which have been

   already found out, and as I said, placed as it were at hand, which we

   are said to have learned and come to know which were I for some short

   space of time to cease to call to mind, they are again so buried, and

   glide back, as it were, into the deeper recesses, that they must again,

   as if new, he thought out thence, for other abode they have none: but

   they must be drawn together again, that they may be known; that is to

   say, they must as it were be collected together from their dispersion:

   whence the word "cogitation" is derived. For cogo (collect) and cogito

   (re-collect) have the same relation to each other as ago and agito,

   facio and factito. But the mind hath appropriated to itself this word

   (cogitation), so that, not what is "collected" any how, but what is

   "recollected," i.e., brought together, in the mind, is properly said to

   be cogitated, or thought upon.




   The memory containeth also reasons and laws innumerable of numbers and

   dimensions, none of which hath any bodily sense impressed; seeing they

   have neither colour, nor sound, nor taste, nor smell, nor touch. I have

   heard the sound of the words whereby when discussed they are denoted:

   but the sounds are other than the things. For the sounds are other in

   Greek than in Latin; but the things are neither Greek, nor Latin, nor

   any other language. I have seen the lines of architects, the very

   finest, like a spider's thread; but those are still different, they are

   not the images of those lines which the eye of flesh showed me: he

   knoweth them, whosoever without any conception whatsoever of a body,

   recognises them within himself. I have perceived also the numbers of

   the things with which we number all the senses of my body; but those

   numbers wherewith we number are different, nor are they the images of

   these, and therefore they indeed are. Let him who seeth them not,

   deride me for saying these things, and I will pity him, while he

   derides me.




   All these things I remember, and how I learnt them I remember. Many

   things also most falsely objected against them have I heard, and

   remember; which though they be false, yet is it not false that I

   remember them; and I remember also that I have discerned betwixt those

   truths and these falsehoods objected to them. And I perceive that the

   present discerning of these things is different from remembering that I

   oftentimes discerned them, when I often thought upon them. I both

   remember then to have often understood these things; and what I now

   discern and understand, I lay up in my memory, that hereafter I may

   remember that I understand it now. So then I remember also to have

   remembered; as if hereafter I shall call to remembrance, that I have

   now been able to remember these things, by the force of memory shall I

   call it to remembrance.




   The same memory contains also the affections of my mind, not in the

   same manner that my mind itself contains them, when it feels them; but

   far otherwise, according to a power of its own. For without rejoicing I

   remember myself to have joyed; and without sorrow do I recollect my

   past sorrow. And that I once feared, I review without fear; and without

   desire call to mind a past desire. Sometimes, on the contrary, with joy

   do I remember my fore-past sorrow, and with sorrow, joy. Which is not

   wonderful, as to the body; for mind is one thing, body another. If I

   therefore with joy remember some past pain of body, it is not so

   wonderful. But now seeing this very memory itself is mind (for when we

   give a thing in charge, to be kept in memory, we say, "See that you

   keep it in mind"; and when we forget, we say, "It did not come to my

   mind," and, "It slipped out of my mind," calling the memory itself the

   mind); this being so, how is it that when with joy I remember my past

   sorrow, the mind hath joy, the memory hath sorrow; the mind upon the

   joyfulness which is in it, is joyful, yet the memory upon the sadness

   which is in it, is not sad? Does the memory perchance not belong to the

   mind? Who will say so? The memory then is, as it were, the belly of the

   mind, and joy and sadness, like sweet and bitter food; which, when

   committed to the memory, are as it were passed into the belly, where

   they may be stowed, but cannot taste. Ridiculous it is to imagine these

   to be alike; and yet are they not utterly unlike.


   But, behold, out of my memory I bring it, when I say there be four

   perturbations of the mind, desire, joy, fear, sorrow; and whatsoever I

   can dispute thereon, by dividing each into its subordinate species, and

   by defining it, in my memory find I what to say, and thence do I bring

   it: yet am I not disturbed by any of these perturbations, when by

   calling them to mind, I remember them; yea, and before I recalled and

   brought them back, they were there; and therefore could they, by

   recollection, thence be brought. Perchance, then, as meat is by chewing

   the cud brought up out of the belly, so by recollection these out of

   the memory. Why then does not the disputer, thus recollecting, taste in

   the mouth of his musing the sweetness of joy, or the bitterness of

   sorrow? Is the comparison unlike in this, because not in all respects

   like? For who would willingly speak thereof, if so oft as we name grief

   or fear, we should be compelled to be sad or fearful? And yet could we

   not speak of them, did we not find in our memory, not only the sounds

   of the names according to the images impressed by the senses of the

   body, but notions of the very things themselves which we never received

   by any avenue of the body, but which the mind itself perceiving by the

   experience of its own passions, committed to the memory, or the memory

   of itself retained, without being committed unto it.




   But whether by images or no, who can readily say? Thus, I name a stone,

   I name the sun, the things themselves not being present to my senses,

   but their images to my memory. I name a bodily pain, yet it is not

   present with me, when nothing aches: yet unless its image were present

   to my memory, I should not know what to say thereof, nor in discoursing

   discern pain from pleasure. I name bodily health; being sound in body,

   the thing itself is present with me; yet, unless its image also were

   present in my memory, I could by no means recall what the sound of this

   name should signify. Nor would the sick, when health were named,

   recognise what were spoken, unless the same image were by the force of

   memory retained, although the thing itself were absent from the body. I

   name numbers whereby we number; and not their images, but themselves

   are present in my memory. I name the image of the sun, and that image

   is present in my memory. For I recall not the image of its image, but

   the image itself is present to me, calling it to mind. I name memory,

   and I recognise what I name. And where do I recognise it, but in the

   memory itself? Is it also present to itself by its image, and not by





   What, when I name forgetfulness, and withal recognise what I name?

   whence should I recognise it, did I not remember it? I speak not of the

   sound of the name, but of the thing which it signifies: which if I had

   forgotten, I could not recognise what that sound signifies. When then I

   remember memory, memory itself is, through itself, present with itself:

   but when I remember forgetfulness, there are present both memory and

   forgetfulness; memory whereby I remember, forgetfulness which I

   remember. But what is forgetfulness, but the privation of memory? How

   then is it present that I remember it, since when present I cannot

   remember? But if what we remember we hold it in memory, yet, unless we

   did remember forgetfulness, we could never at the hearing of the name

   recognise the thing thereby signified, then forgetfulness is retained

   by memory. Present then it is, that we forget not, and being so, we

   forget. It is to be understood from this that forgetfulness when we

   remember it, is not present to the memory by itself but by its image:

   because if it were present by itself, it would not cause us to

   remember, but to forget. Who now shall search out this? who shall

   comprehend how it is?


   Lord, I, truly, toil therein, yea and toil in myself; I am become a

   heavy soil requiring over much sweat of the brow. For we are not now

   searching out the regions of heaven, or measuring the distances of the

   stars, or enquiring the balancings of the earth. It is I myself who

   remember, I the mind. It is not so wonderful, if what I myself am not,

   be far from me. But what is nearer to me than myself? And to, the force

   of mine own memory is not understood by me; though I cannot so much as

   name myself without it. For what shall I say, when it is clear to me

   that I remember forgetfulness? Shall I say that that is not in my

   memory, which I remember? or shall I say that forgetfulness is for this

   purpose in my memory, that I might not forget? Both were most absurd.

   What third way is there? How can I say that the image of forgetfulness

   is retained by my memory, not forgetfulness itself, when I remember it?

   How could I say this either, seeing that when the image of any thing is

   impressed on the memory, the thing itself must needs be first present,

   whence that image may be impressed? For thus do I remember Carthage,

   thus all places where I have been, thus men's faces whom I have seen,

   and things reported by the other senses; thus the health or sickness of

   the body. For when these things were present, my memory received from

   them images, which being present with me, I might look on and bring

   back in my mind, when I remembered them in their absence. If then this

   forgetfulness is retained in the memory through its image, not through

   itself, then plainly itself was once present, that its image might be

   taken. But when it was present, how did it write its image in the

   memory, seeing that forgetfulness by its presence effaces even what it

   finds already noted? And yet, in whatever way, although that way be

   past conceiving and explaining, yet certain am I that I remember

   forgetfulness itself also, whereby what we remember is effaced.




   Great is the power of memory, a fearful thing, O my God, a deep and

   boundless manifoldness; and this thing is the mind, and this am I

   myself. What am I then, O my God? What nature am I? A life various and

   manifold, and exceeding immense. Behold in the plains, and caves, and

   caverns of my memory, innumerable and innumerably full of innumerable

   kinds of things, either through images, as all bodies; or by actual

   presence, as the arts; or by certain notions or impressions, as the

   affections of the mind, which, even when the mind doth not feel, the

   memory retaineth, while yet whatsoever is in the memory is also in the

   mind--over all these do I run, I fly; I dive on this side and on that,

   as far as I can, and there is no end. So great is the force of memory,

   so great the force of life, even in the mortal life of man. What shall

   I do then, O Thou my true life, my God? I will pass even beyond this

   power of mine which is called memory: yea, I will pass beyond it, that

   I may approach unto Thee, O sweet Light. What sayest Thou to me? See, I

   am mounting up through my mind towards Thee who abidest above me. Yea,

   I now will pass beyond this power of mine which is called memory,

   desirous to arrive at Thee, whence Thou mayest be arrived at; and to

   cleave unto Thee, whence one may cleave unto Thee. For even beasts and

   birds have memory; else could they not return to their dens and nests,

   nor many other things they are used unto: nor indeed could they be used

   to any thing, but by memory. I will pass then beyond memory also, that

   I may arrive at Him who hath separated me from the four-footed beasts

   and made me wiser than the fowls of the air, I will pass beyond memory

   also, and where shall I find Thee, Thou truly good and certain

   sweetness? And where shall I find Thee? If I find Thee without my

   memory, then do I not retain Thee in my memory. And how shall I find

   Thee, if I remember Thee not?




   For the woman that had lost her groat, and sought it with a light;

   unless she had remembered it, she had never found it. For when it was

   found, whence should she know whether it were the same, unless she

   remembered it? I remember to have sought and found many a thing; and

   this I thereby know, that when I was seeking any of them, and was

   asked, "Is this it?" "Is that it?" so long said I "No," until that were

   offered me which I sought. Which had I not remembered (whatever it

   were) though it were offered me, yet should I not find it, because I

   could not recognise it. And so it ever is, when we seek and find any

   lost thing. Notwithstanding, when any thing is by chance lost from the

   sight, not from the memory (as any visible body), yet its image is

   still retained within, and it is sought until it be restored to sight;

   and when it is found, it is recognised by the image which is within:

   nor do we say that we have found what was lost, unless we recognise it;

   nor can we recognise it, unless we remember it. But this was lost to

   the eyes, but retained in the memory.




   But what when the memory itself loses any thing, as falls out when we

   forget and seek that we may recollect? Where in the end do we search,

   but in the memory itself? and there, if one thing be perchance offered

   instead of another, we reject it, until what we seek meets us; and when

   it doth, we say, "This is it"; which we should not unless we recognised

   it, nor recognise it unless we remembered it. Certainly then we had

   forgotten it. Or, had not the whole escaped us, but by the part whereof

   we had hold, was the lost part sought for; in that the memory felt that

   it did not carry on together all which it was wont, and maimed, as it

   were, by the curtailment of its ancient habit, demanded the restoration

   of what it missed? For instance, if we see or think of some one known

   to us, and having forgotten his name, try to recover it; whatever else

   occurs, connects itself not therewith; because it was not wont to be

   thought upon together with him, and therefore is rejected, until that

   present itself, whereon the knowledge reposes equably as its wonted

   object. And whence does that present itself, but out of the memory

   itself? for even when we recognise it, on being reminded by another, it

   is thence it comes. For we do not believe it as something new, but,

   upon recollection, allow what was named to be right. But were it

   utterly blotted out of the mind, we should not remember it, even when

   reminded. For we have not as yet utterly forgotten that, which we

   remember ourselves to have forgotten. What then we have utterly

   forgotten, though lost, we cannot even seek after.




   How then do I seek Thee, O Lord? For when I seek Thee, my God, I seek a

   happy life. I will seek Thee, that my soul may live. For my body liveth

   by my soul; and my soul by Thee. How then do I seek a happy life,

   seeing I have it not, until I can say, where I ought to say it, "It is

   enough"? How seek I it? By remembrance, as though I had forgotten it,

   remembering that I had forgotten it? Or, desiring to learn it as a

   thing unknown, either never having known, or so forgotten it, as not

   even to remember that I had forgotten it? is not a happy life what all

   will, and no one altogether wills it not? where have they known it,

   that they so will it? where seen it, that they so love it? Truly we

   have it, how, I know not. Yea, there is another way, wherein when one

   hath it, then is he happy; and there are, who are blessed, in hope.

   These have it in a lower kind, than they who have it in very deed; yet

   are they better off than such as are happy neither in deed nor in hope.

   Yet even these, had they it not in some sort, would not so will to be

   happy, which that they do will, is most certain. They have known it

   then, I know not how, and so have it by some sort of knowledge, what, I

   know not, and am perplexed whether it be in the memory, which if it be,

   then we have been happy once; whether all severally, or in that man who

   first sinned, in whom also we all died, and from whom we are all born

   with misery, I now enquire not; but only, whether the happy life be in

   the memory? For neither should we love it, did we not know it. We hear

   the name, and we all confess that we desire the thing; for we are not

   delighted with the mere sound. For when a Greek hears it in Latin, he

   is not delighted, not knowing what is spoken; but we Latins are

   delighted, as would he too, if he heard it in Greek; because the thing

   itself is neither Greek nor Latin, which Greeks and Latins, and men of

   all other tongues, long for so earnestly. Known therefore it is to all,

   for they with one voice be asked, "would they be happy?" they would

   answer without doubt, "they would." And this could not be, unless the

   thing itself whereof it is the name were retained in their memory.



Chapter XXI  -How a happy life may be retained in the memory.


   But is it so, as one remembers Carthage who hath seen it? No. For a

   happy life is not seen with the eye, because it is not a body. As we

   remember numbers then? No. For these, he that hath in his knowledge,

   seeks not further to attain unto; but a happy life we have in our

   knowledge, and therefore love it, and yet still desire to attain it,

   that we may be happy. As we remember eloquence then? No. For although

   upon hearing this name also, some call to mind the thing, who still are

   not yet eloquent, and many who desire to be so, whence it appears that

   it is in their knowledge; yet these have by their bodily senses

   observed others to be eloquent, and been delighted, and desire to be

   the like (though indeed they would not be delighted but for some inward

   knowledge thereof, nor wish to be the like, unless they were thus

   delighted); whereas a happy life, we do by no bodily sense experience

   in others. As then we remember joy? Perchance; for my joy I remember,

   even when sad, as a happy life, when unhappy; nor did I ever with

   bodily sense see, hear, smell, taste, or touch my joy; but I

   experienced it in my mind, when I rejoiced; and the knowledge of it

   clave to my memory, so that I can recall it with disgust sometimes, at

   others with longing, according to the nature of the things, wherein I

   remember myself to have joyed. For even from foul things have I been

   immersed in a sort of joy; which now recalling, I detest and execrate;

   otherwhiles in good and honest things, which I recall with longing,

   although perchance no longer present; and therefore with sadness I

   recall former joy.


   Where then and when did I experience my happy life, that I should

   remember, and love, and long for it? Nor is it I alone, or some few

   besides, but we all would fain be happy; which, unless by some certain

   knowledge we knew, we should not with so certain a will desire. But how

   is this, that if two men be asked whether they would go to the wars,

   one, perchance, would answer that he would, the other, that he would

   not; but if they were asked whether they would be happy, both would

   instantly without any doubting say they would; and for no other reason

   would the one go to the wars, and the other not, but to be happy. Is it

   perchance that as one looks for his joy in this thing, another in that,

   all agree in their desire of being happy, as they would (if they were

   asked) that they wished to have joy, and this joy they call a happy

   life? Although then one obtains this joy by one means, another by

   another, all have one end, which they strive to attain, namely, joy.

   Which being a thing which all must say they have experienced, it is

   therefore found in the memory, and recognised whenever the name of a

   happy life is mentioned.




   Far be it, Lord, far be it from the heart of Thy servant who here

   confesseth unto Thee, far be it, that, be the joy what it may, I should

   therefore think myself happy. For there is a joy which is not given to

   the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy

   Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of

   Thee, for Thee; this is it, and there is no other. For they who think

   there is another, pursue some other and not the true joy. Yet is not

   their will turned away from some semblance of joy.




   It is not certain then that all wish to be happy, inasmuch as they who

   wish not to joy in Thee, which is the only happy life, do not truly

   desire the happy life. Or do all men desire this, but because the flesh

   lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, that they

   cannot do what they would, they fall upon that which they can, and are

   content therewith; because, what they are not able to do, they do not

   will so strongly as would suffice to make them able? For I ask any one,

   had he rather joy in truth, or in falsehood? They will as little

   hesitate to say "in the truth," as to say "that they desire to be

   happy," for a happy life is joy in the truth: for this is a joying in

   Thee, Who art the Truth, O God my light, health of my countenance, my

   God. This is the happy life which all desire; this life which alone is

   happy, all desire; to joy in the truth all desire. I have met with many

   that would deceive; who would be deceived, no one. Where then did they

   know this happy life, save where they know the truth also? For they

   love it also, since they would not be deceived. And when they love a

   happy life, which is no other than joying in the truth, then also do

   they love the truth; which yet they would not love, were there not some

   notice of it in their memory. Why then joy they not in it? why are they

   not happy? because they are more strongly taken up with other things

   which have more power to make them miserable, than that which they so

   faintly remember to make them happy. For there is yet a little light in

   men; let them walk, let them walk, that the darkness overtake them not.


   But why doth "truth generate hatred," and the man of Thine, preaching

   the truth, become an enemy to them? whereas a happy life is loved,

   which is nothing else but joying in the truth; unless that truth is in

   that kind loved, that they who love anything else would gladly have

   that which they love to be the truth: and because they would not be

   deceived, would not be convinced that they are so? Therefore do they

   hate the truth for that thing's sake which they loved instead of the

   truth. They love truth when she enlightens, they hate her when she

   reproves. For since they would not be deceived, and would deceive, they

   love her when she discovers herself unto them, and hate her when she

   discovers them. Whence she shall so repay them, that they who would not

   be made manifest by her, she both against their will makes manifest,

   and herself becometh not manifest unto them. Thus, thus, yea thus doth

   the mind of man, thus blind and sick, foul and ill-favoured, wish to be

   hidden, but that aught should be hidden from it, it wills not. But the

   contrary is requited it, that itself should not be hidden from the

   Truth; but the Truth is hid from it. Yet even thus miserable, it had

   rather joy in truths than in falsehoods. Happy then will it be, when,

   no distraction interposing, it shall joy in that only Truth, by Whom

   all things are true.




   See what a space I have gone over in my memory seeking Thee, O Lord;

   and I have not found Thee, without it. Nor have I found any thing

   concerning Thee, but what I have kept in memory, ever since I learnt

   Thee. For since I learnt Thee, I have not forgotten Thee. For where I

   found Truth, there found I my God, the Truth itself; which since I

   learnt, I have not forgotten. Since then I learnt Thee, Thou residest

   in my memory; and there do I find Thee, when I call Thee to

   remembrance, and delight in Thee. These be my holy delights, which Thou

   hast given me in Thy mercy, having regard to my poverty.




   But where in my memory residest Thou, O Lord, where residest Thou

   there? what manner of lodging hast Thou framed for Thee? what manner of

   sanctuary hast Thou builded for Thee? Thou hast given this honour to my

   memory, to reside in it; but in what quarter of it Thou residest, that

   am I considering. For in thinking on Thee, I passed beyond such parts

   of it as the beasts also have, for I found Thee not there among the

   images of corporeal things: and I came to those parts to which I

   committed the affections of my mind, nor found Thee there. And I

   entered into the very seat of my mind (which it hath in my memory,

   inasmuch as the mind remembers itself also), neither wert Thou there:

   for as Thou art not a corporeal image, nor the affection of a living

   being (as when we rejoice, condole, desire, fear, remember, forget, or

   the like); so neither art Thou the mind itself; because Thou art the

   Lord God of the mind; and all these are changed, but Thou remainest

   unchangeable over all, and yet hast vouchsafed to dwell in my memory,

   since I learnt Thee. And why seek I now in what place thereof Thou

   dwellest, as if there were places therein? Sure I am, that in it Thou

   dwellest, since I have remembered Thee ever since I learnt Thee, and

   there I find Thee, when I call Thee to remembrance.




   Where then did I find Thee, that I might learn Thee? For in my memory

   Thou wert not, before I learned Thee. Where then did I find Thee, that

   I might learn Thee, but in Thee above me? Place there is none; we go

   backward and forward, and there is no place. Every where, O Truth, dost

   Thou give audience to all who ask counsel of Thee, and at once

   answerest all, though on manifold matters they ask Thy counsel. Clearly

   dost Thou answer, though all do not clearly hear. All consult Thee on

   what they will, though they hear not always what they will. He is Thy

   best servant who looks not so much to hear that from Thee which himself

   willeth, as rather to will that, which from Thee he heareth.




   Too late loved I Thee, O Thou Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! too

   late I loved Thee! And behold, Thou wert within, and I abroad, and

   there I searched for Thee; deformed I, plunging amid those fair forms

   which Thou hadst made. Thou wert with me, but I was not with Thee.

   Things held me far from Thee, which, unless they were in Thee, were not

   at all. Thou calledst, and shoutedst, and burstest my deafness. Thou

   flashedst, shonest, and scatteredst my blindness. Thou breathedst

   odours, and I drew in breath and panted for Thee. I tasted, and hunger

   and thirst. Thou touchedst me, and I burned for Thy peace.




   When I shall with my whole self cleave to Thee, I shall no where have

   sorrow or labour; and my life shall wholly live, as wholly full of

   Thee. But now since whom Thou fillest, Thou liftest up, because I am

   not full of Thee I am a burden to myself. Lamentable joys strive with

   joyous sorrows: and on which side is the victory, I know not. Woe is

   me! Lord, have pity on me. My evil sorrows strive with my good joys;

   and on which side is the victory, I know not. Woe is me! Lord, have

   pity on me. Woe is me! lo! I hide not my wounds; Thou art the

   Physician, I the sick; Thou merciful, I miserable. Is not the life of

   man upon earth all trial? Who wishes for troubles and difficulties?

   Thou commandest them to be endured, not to be loved. No man loves what

   he endures, though he love to endure. For though he rejoices that he

   endures, he had rather there were nothing for him to endure. In

   adversity I long for prosperity, in prosperity I fear adversity. What

   middle place is there betwixt these two, where the life of man is not

   all trial? Woe to the prosperities of the world, once and again,

   through fear of adversity, and corruption of joy! Woe to the

   adversities of the world, once and again, and the third time, from the

   longing for prosperity, and because adversity itself is a hard thing,

   and lest it shatter endurance. Is not the life of man upon earth all

   trial: without any interval?




   And all my hope is no where but in Thy exceeding great mercy. Give what

   Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what Thou wilt. Thou enjoinest us

   continency; and when I knew, saith one, that no man can be continent,

   unless God give it, this also was a part of wisdom to know whose gift

   she is. By continency verily are we bound up and brought back into One,

   whence we were dissipated into many. For too little doth he love Thee,

   who loves any thing with Thee, which he loveth not for Thee. O love,

   who ever burnest and never consumest! O charity, my God, kindle me.

   Thou enjoinest continency: give me what Thou enjoinest, and enjoin what

   Thou wilt.




   Verily Thou enjoinest me continency from the lust of the flesh, the

   lust of the eyes, and the ambition of the world. Thou enjoinest

   continency from concubinage; and for wedlock itself, Thou hast

   counselled something better than what Thou hast permitted. And since

   Thou gavest it, it was done, even before I became a dispenser of Thy

   Sacrament. But there yet live in my memory (whereof I have much spoken)

   the images of such things as my ill custom there fixed; which haunt me,

   strengthless when I am awake: but in sleep, not only so as to give

   pleasure, but even to obtain assent, and what is very like reality.

   Yea, so far prevails the illusion of the image, in my soul and in my

   flesh, that, when asleep, false visions persuade to that which when

   waking, the true cannot. Am I not then myself, O Lord my God? And yet

   there is so much difference betwixt myself and myself, within that

   moment wherein I pass from waking to sleeping, or return from sleeping

   to waking! Where is reason then, which, awake, resisteth such

   suggestions? And should the things themselves be urged on it, it

   remaineth unshaken. Is it clasped up with the eyes? is it lulled asleep

   with the senses of the body? And whence is it that often even in sleep

   we resist, and mindful of our purpose, and abiding most chastely in it,

   yield no assent to such enticements? And yet so much difference there

   is, that when it happeneth otherwise, upon waking we return to peace of

   conscience: and by this very difference discover that we did not, what

   yet we be sorry that in some way it was done in us.


   Art Thou not mighty, God Almighty, so as to heal all the diseases of my

   soul, and by Thy more abundant grace to quench even the impure motions

   of my sleep! Thou wilt increase, Lord, Thy gifts more and more in me,

   that my soul may follow me to Thee, disentangled from the birdlime of

   concupiscence; that it rebel not against itself, and even in dreams not

   only not, through images of sense, commit those debasing corruptions,

   even to pollution of the flesh, but not even to consent unto them. For

   that nothing of this sort should have, over the pure affections even of

   a sleeper, the very least influence, not even such as a thought would

   restrain,--to work this, not only during life, but even at my present

   age, is not hard for the Almighty, Who art able to do above all that we

   ask or think. But what I yet am in this kind of my evil, have I

   confessed unto my good Lord; rejoicing with trembling, in that which

   Thou hast given me, and bemoaning that wherein I am still imperfect;

   hoping that Thou wilt perfect Thy mercies in me, even to perfect peace,

   which my outward and inward man shall have with Thee, when death shall

   be swallowed up in victory.




   There is another evil of the day, which I would were sufficient for it.

   For by eating and drinking we repair the daily decays of our body,

   until Thou destroy both belly and meat, when Thou shalt slay my

   emptiness with a wonderful fulness, and clothe this incorruptible with

   an eternal incorruption. But now the necessity is sweet unto me,

   against which sweetness I fight, that I be not taken captive; and carry

   on a daily war by fastings; often bringing my body into subjection; and

   my pains are removed by pleasure. For hunger and thirst are in a manner

   pains; they burn and kill like a fever, unless the medicine of

   nourishments come to our aid. Which since it is at hand through the

   consolations of Thy gifts, with which land, and water, and air serve

   our weakness, our calamity is termed gratification.


   This hast Thou taught me, that I should set myself to take food as

   physic. But while I am passing from the discomfort of emptiness to the

   content of replenishing, in the very passage the snare of concupiscence

   besets me. For that passing, is pleasure, nor is there any other way to

   pass thither, whither we needs must pass. And health being the cause of

   eating and drinking, there joineth itself as an attendant a dangerous

   pleasure, which mostly endeavours to go before it, so that I may for

   her sake do what I say I do, or wish to do, for health's sake. Nor have

   each the same measure; for what is enough for health, is too little for

   pleasure. And oft it is uncertain, whether it be the necessary care of

   the body which is yet asking for sustenance, or whether a voluptuous

   deceivableness of greediness is proffering its services. In this

   uncertainty the unhappy soul rejoiceth, and therein prepares an excuse

   to shield itself, glad that it appeareth not what sufficeth for the

   moderation of health, that under the cloak of health, it may disguise

   the matter of gratification. These temptations I daily endeavour to

   resist, and I call on Thy right hand, and to Thee do I refer my

   perplexities; because I have as yet no settled counsel herein.


   I hear the voice of my God commanding, Let not your hearts be

   overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness. Drunkenness is far from

   me; Thou wilt have mercy, that it come not near me. But full feeding

   sometimes creepeth upon Thy servant; Thou wilt have mercy, that it may

   be far from me. For no one can be continent unless Thou give it. Many

   things Thou givest us, praying for them; and what good soever we have

   received before we prayed, from Thee we received it; yea to the end we

   might afterwards know this, did we before receive it. Drunkard was I

   never, but drunkards have I known made sober by Thee. From Thee then it

   was, that they who never were such, should not so be, as from Thee it

   was, that they who have been, should not ever so be; and from Thee it

   was, that both might know from Whom it was. I heard another voice of

   Thine, Go not after thy lusts, and from thy pleasure turn away. Yea by

   Thy favour have I heard that which I have much loved; neither if we

   eat, shall we abound; neither if we eat not, shall we lack; which is to

   say, neither shall the one make me plenteous, nor the other miserable.

   I heard also another, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am,

   therewith to be content; I know how to abound, and how to suffer need.

   I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me. Behold a

   soldier of the heavenly camp, not the dust which we are. But remember,

   Lord, that we are dust, and that of dust Thou hast made man; and he was

   lost and is found. Nor could he of himself do this, because he whom I

   so loved, saying this through the in-breathing of Thy inspiration, was

   of the same dust. I can do all things (saith he) through Him that

   strengtheneth me. Strengthen me, that I can. Give what Thou enjoinest,

   and enjoin what Thou wilt. He confesses to have received, and when he

   glorieth, in the Lord he glorieth. Another have I heard begging that he

   might receive. Take from me (saith he) the desires of the belly; whence

   it appeareth, O my holy God, that Thou givest, when that is done which

   Thou commandest to be done.


   Thou hast taught me, good Father, that to the pure, all things are

   pure; but that it is evil unto the man that eateth with offence; and,

   that every creature of Thine is good, and nothing to be refused, which

   is received with thanksgiving; and that meat commendeth us not to God;

   and, that no man should judge us in meat or drink; and, that he which

   eateth, let him not despise him that eateth not; and let not him that

   eateth not, judge him that eateth. These things have I learned, thanks

   be to Thee, praise to Thee, my God, my Master, knocking at my ears,

   enlightening my heart; deliver me out of all temptation. I fear not

   uncleanness of meat, but the uncleanness of lusting. I know; that Noah

   was permitted to eat all kind of flesh that was good for food; that

   Elijah was fed with flesh; that endued with an admirable abstinence,

   was not polluted by feeding on living creatures, locusts. I know also

   that Esau was deceived by lusting for lentiles; and that David blamed

   himself for desiring a draught of water; and that our King was tempted,

   not concerning flesh, but bread. And therefore the people in the

   wilderness also deserved to be reproved, not for desiring flesh, but

   because, in the desire of food, they murmured against the Lord.


   Placed then amid these temptations, I strive daily against

   concupiscence in eating and drinking. For it is not of such nature that

   I can settle on cutting it off once for all, and never touching it

   afterward, as I could of concubinage. The bridle of the throat then is

   to be held attempered between slackness and stiffness. And who is he, O

   Lord, who is not some whit transported beyond the limits of necessity?

   whoever he is, he is a great one; let him make Thy Name great. But I am

   not such, for I am a sinful man. Yet do I too magnify Thy name; and He

   maketh intercession to Thee for my sins who hath overcome the world;

   numbering me among the weak members of His body; because Thine eyes

   have seen that of Him which is imperfect, and in Thy book shall all be





   With the allurements of smells, I am not much concerned. When absent, I

   do not miss them; when present, I do not refuse them; yet ever ready to

   be without them. So I seem to myself; perchance I am deceived. For that

   also is a mournful darkness whereby my abilities within me are hidden

   from me; so that my mind making enquiry into herself of her own powers,

   ventures not readily to believe herself; because even what is in it is

   mostly hidden, unless experience reveal it. And no one ought to be

   secure in that life, the whole whereof is called a trial, that he who

   hath been capable of worse to be made better, may not likewise of

   better be made worse. Our only hope, only confidence, only assured

   promise is Thy mercy.




   The delights of the ear had more firmly entangled and subdued me; but

   Thou didst loosen and free me. Now, in those melodies which Thy words

   breathe soul into, when sung with a sweet and attuned voice, I do a

   little repose; yet not so as to be held thereby, but that I can

   disengage myself when I will. But with the words which are their life

   and whereby they find admission into me, themselves seek in my

   affections a place of some estimation, and I can scarcely assign them

   one suitable. For at one time I seem to myself to give them more honour

   than is seemly, feeling our minds to be more holily and fervently

   raised unto a flame of devotion, by the holy words themselves when thus

   sung, than when not; and that the several affections of our spirit, by

   a sweet variety, have their own proper measures in the voice and

   singing, by some hidden correspondence wherewith they are stirred up.

   But this contentment of the flesh, to which the soul must not be given

   over to be enervated, doth oft beguile me, the sense not so waiting

   upon reason as patiently to follow her; but having been admitted merely

   for her sake, it strives even to run before her, and lead her. Thus in

   these things I unawares sin, but afterwards am aware of it.


   At other times, shunning over-anxiously this very deception, I err in

   too great strictness; and sometimes to that degree, as to wish the

   whole melody of sweet music which is used to David's Psalter, banished

   from my ears, and the Church's too; and that mode seems to me safer,

   which I remember to have been often told me of Athanasius, Bishop of

   Alexandria, who made the reader of the psalm utter it with so slight

   inflection of voice, that it was nearer speaking than singing. Yet

   again, when I remember the tears I shed at the Psalmody of Thy Church,

   in the beginning of my recovered faith; and how at this time I am

   moved, not with the singing, but with the things sung, when they are

   sung with a clear voice and modulation most suitable, I acknowledge the

   great use of this institution. Thus I fluctuate between peril of

   pleasure and approved wholesomeness; inclined the rather (though not as

   pronouncing an irrevocable opinion) to approve of the usage of singing

   in the church; that so by the delight of the ears the weaker minds may

   rise to the feeling of devotion. Yet when it befalls me to be more

   moved with the voice than the words sung, I confess to have sinned

   penally, and then had rather not hear music. See now my state; weep

   with me, and weep for me, ye, whoso regulate your feelings within, as

   that good action ensues. For you who do not act, these things touch not

   you. But Thou, O Lord my God, hearken; behold, and see, and have mercy

   and heal me, Thou, in whose presence I have become a problem to myself;

   and that is my infirmity.





   There remains the pleasure of these eyes of my flesh, on which to make

   my confessions in the hearing of the ears of Thy temple, those

   brotherly and devout ears; and so to conclude the temptations of the

   lust of the flesh, which yet assail me, groaning earnestly, and

   desiring to be clothed upon with my house from heaven. The eyes love

   fair and varied forms, and bright and soft colours. Let not these

   occupy my soul; let God rather occupy it, who made these things, very

   good indeed, yet is He my good, not they. And these affect me, waking,

   the whole day, nor is any rest given me from them, as there is from

   musical, sometimes in silence, from all voices. For this queen of

   colours, the light, bathing all which we behold, wherever I am through

   the day, gliding by me in varied forms, soothes me when engaged on

   other things, and not observing it. And so strongly doth it entwine

   itself, that if it be suddenly withdrawn, it is with longing sought

   for, and if absent long, saddeneth the mind.


   O Thou Light, which Tobias saw, when, these eyes closed, he taught his

   son the way of life; and himself went before with the feet of charity,

   never swerving. Or which Isaac saw, when his fleshly eyes being heavy

   and closed by old age, it was vouchsafed him, not knowingly, to bless

   his sons, but by blessing to know them. Or which Jacob saw, when he

   also, blind through great age, with illumined heart, in the persons of

   his sons shed light on the different races of the future people, in

   them foresignified; and laid his hands, mystically crossed, upon his

   grandchildren by Joseph, not as their father by his outward eye

   corrected them, but as himself inwardly discerned. This is the light,

   it is one, and all are one, who see and love it. But that corporeal

   light whereof I spake, it seasoneth the life of this world for her

   blind lovers, with an enticing and dangerous sweetness. But they who

   know how to praise Thee for it, "O all-creating Lord," take it up in

   Thy hymns, and are not taken up with it in their sleep. Such would I

   be. These seductions of the eyes I resist, lest my feet wherewith I

   walk upon Thy way be ensnared; and I lift up mine invisible eyes to

   Thee, that Thou wouldest pluck my feet out of the snare. Thou dost ever

   and anon pluck them out, for they are ensnared. Thou ceasest not to

   pluck them out, while I often entangle myself in the snares on all

   sides laid; because Thou that keepest Israel shalt neither slumber nor



   What innumerable toys, made by divers arts and manufactures, in our

   apparel, shoes, utensils and all sorts of works, in pictures also and

   divers images, and these far exceeding all necessary and moderate use

   and all pious meaning, have men added to tempt their own eyes withal;

   outwardly following what themselves make, inwardly forsaking Him by

   whom themselves were made, and destroying that which themselves have

   been made! But I, my God and my Glory, do hence also sing a hymn to

   Thee, and do consecrate praise to Him who consecrateth me, because

   those beautiful patterns which through men's souls are conveyed into

   their cunning hands, come from that Beauty, which is above our souls,

   which my soul day and night sigheth after. But the framers and

   followers of the outward beauties derive thence the rule of judging of

   them, but not of using them. And He is there, though they perceive Him

   not, that so they might not wander, but keep their strength for Thee,

   and not scatter it abroad upon pleasurable weariness. And I, though I

   speak and see this, entangle my steps with these outward beauties; but

   Thou pluckest me out, O Lord, Thou pluckest me out; because Thy

   loving-kindness is before my eyes. For I am taken miserably, and Thou

   pluckest me out mercifully; sometimes not perceiving it, when I had but

   lightly lighted upon them; otherwhiles with pain, because I had stuck

   fast in them.




   To this is added another form of temptation more manifoldly dangerous.

   For besides that concupiscence of the flesh which consisteth in the

   delight of all senses and pleasures, wherein its slaves, who go far

   from Thee, waste and perish, the soul hath, through the same senses of

   the body, a certain vain and curious desire, veiled under the title of

   knowledge and learning, not of delighting in the flesh, but of making

   experiments through the flesh. The seat whereof being in the appetite

   of knowledge, and sight being the sense chiefly used for attaining

   knowledge, it is in Divine language called The lust of the eyes. For,

   to see, belongeth properly to the eyes; yet we use this word of the

   other senses also, when we employ them in seeking knowledge. For we do

   not say, hark how it flashes, or smell how it glows, or taste how it

   shines, or feel how it gleams; for all these are said to be seen. And

   yet we say not only, see how it shineth, which the eyes alone can

   perceive; but also, see how it soundeth, see how it smelleth, see how

   it tasteth, see how hard it is. And so the general experience of the

   senses, as was said, is called The lust of the eyes, because the office

   of seeing, wherein the eyes hold the prerogative, the other senses by

   way of similitude take to themselves, when they make search after any



   But by this may more evidently be discerned, wherein pleasure and

   wherein curiosity is the object of the senses; for pleasure seeketh

   objects beautiful, melodious, fragrant, savoury, soft; but curiosity,

   for trial's sake, the contrary as well, not for the sake of suffering

   annoyance, but out of the lust of making trial and knowing them. For

   what pleasure hath it, to see in a mangled carcase what will make you

   shudder? and yet if it be lying near, they flock thither, to be made

   sad, and to turn pale. Even in sleep they are afraid to see it. As if

   when awake, any one forced them to see it, or any report of its beauty

   drew them thither! Thus also in the other senses, which it were long to

   go through. From this disease of curiosity are all those strange sights

   exhibited in the theatre. Hence men go on to search out the hidden

   powers of nature (which is besides our end), which to know profits not,

   and wherein men desire nothing but to know. Hence also, if with that

   same end of perverted knowledge magical arts be enquired by. Hence also

   in religion itself, is God tempted, when signs and wonders are demanded

   of Him, not desired for any good end, but merely to make trial of.


   In this so vast wilderness, full of snares and dangers, behold many of

   them I have cut off, and thrust out of my heart, as Thou hast given me,

   O God of my salvation. And yet when dare I say, since so many things of

   this kind buzz on all sides about our daily life--when dare I say that

   nothing of this sort engages my attention, or causes in me an idle

   interest? True, the theatres do not now carry me away, nor care I to

   know the courses of the stars, nor did my soul ever consult ghosts

   departed; all sacrilegious mysteries I detest. From Thee, O Lord my

   God, to whom I owe humble and single-hearted service, by what artifices

   and suggestions doth the enemy deal with me to desire some sign! But I

   beseech Thee by our King, and by our pure and holy country, Jerusalem,

   that as any consenting thereto is far from me, so may it ever be

   further and further. But when I pray Thee for the salvation of any, my

   end and intention is far different. Thou givest and wilt give me to

   follow Thee willingly, doing what Thou wilt.


   Notwithstanding, in how many most petty and contemptible things is our

   curiosity daily tempted, and how often we give way, who can recount?

   How often do we begin as if we were tolerating people telling vain

   stories, lest we offend the weak; then by degrees we take interest

   therein! I go not now to the circus to see a dog coursing a hare; but

   in the field, if passing, that coursing peradventure will distract me

   even from some weighty thought, and draw me after it: not that I turn

   aside the body of my beast, yet still incline my mind thither. And

   unless Thou, having made me see my infirmity didst speedily admonish me

   either through the sight itself by some contemplation to rise towards

   Thee, or altogether to despise and pass it by, I dully stand fixed

   therein. What, when sitting at home, a lizard catching flies, or a

   spider entangling them rushing into her nets, oft-times takes my

   attention? Is the thing different, because they are but small

   creatures? I go on from them to praise Thee the wonderful Creator and

   Orderer of all, but this does not first draw my attention. It is one

   thing to rise quickly, another not to fall. And of such things is my

   life full; and my one hope is Thy wonderful great mercy. For when our

   heart becomes the receptacle of such things, and is overcharged with

   throngs of this abundant vanity, then are our prayers also thereby

   often interrupted and distracted, and whilst in Thy presence we direct

   the voice of our heart to Thine ears, this so great concern is broken

   off by the rushing in of I know not what idle thoughts. Shall we then

   account this also among things of slight concernment, or shall aught

   bring us back to hope, save Thy complete mercy, since Thou hast begun

   to change us?




   And Thou knowest how far Thou hast already changed me, who first

   healedst me of the lust of vindicating myself, that so Thou mightest

   forgive all the rest of my iniquities, and heal all my infirmities, and

   redeem life from corruption, and crown me with mercy and pity, and

   satisfy my desire with good things: who didst curb my pride with Thy

   fear, and tame my neck to Thy yoke. And now I bear it and it is light

   unto me, because so hast Thou promised, and hast made it; and verily so

   it was, and I knew it not, when I feared to take it.


   But, O Lord, Thou alone Lord without pride, because Thou art the only

   true Lord, who hast no lord; hath this third kind of temptation also

   ceased from me, or can it cease through this whole life? To wish,

   namely, to be feared and loved of men, for no other end, but that we

   may have a joy therein which is no joy? A miserable life this and a

   foul boastfulness! Hence especially it comes that men do neither purely

   love nor fear Thee. And therefore dost Thou resist the proud, and

   givest grace to the humble: yea, Thou thunderest down upon the

   ambitions of the world, and the foundations of the mountains tremble.

   Because now certain offices of human society make it necessary to be

   loved and feared of men, the adversary of our true blessedness layeth

   hard at us, every where spreading his snares of "well-done, well-done";

   that greedily catching at them, we may be taken unawares, and sever our

   joy from Thy truth, and set it in the deceivingness of men; and be

   pleased at being loved and feared, not for Thy sake, but in Thy stead:

   and thus having been made like him, he may have them for his own, not

   in the bands of charity, but in the bonds of punishment: who purposed

   to set his throne in the north, that dark and chilled they might serve

   him, pervertedly and crookedly imitating Thee. But we, O Lord, behold

   we are Thy little flock; possess us as Thine, stretch Thy wings over

   us, and let us fly under them. Be Thou our glory; let us be loved for

   Thee, and Thy word feared in us. Who would be praised of men when Thou

   blamest, will not be defended of men when Thou judgest; nor delivered

   when Thou condemnest. But when--not the sinner is praised in the

   desires of his soul, nor he blessed who doth ungodlily, but--a man is

   praised for some gift which Thou hast given him, and he rejoices more

   at the praise for himself than that he hath the gift for which he is

   praised, he also is praised, while Thou dispraisest; better is he who

   praised than he who is praised. For the one took pleasure in the gift

   of God in man; the other was better pleased with the gift of man, than

   of God.




   By these temptations we are assailed daily, O Lord; without ceasing are

   we assailed. Our daily furnace is the tongue of men. And in this way

   also Thou commandest us continence. Give what Thou enjoinest, and

   enjoin what Thou wilt. Thou knowest on this matter the groans of my

   heart, and the floods of mine eyes. For I cannot learn how far I am

   more cleansed from this plague, and I much fear my secret sins, which

   Thine eyes know, mine do not. For in other kinds of temptations I have

   some sort of means of examining myself; in this, scarce any. For, in

   refraining my mind from the pleasures of the flesh and idle curiosity,

   I see how much I have attained to, when I do without them; foregoing,

   or not having them. For then I ask myself how much more or less

   troublesome it is to me not to have them? Then, riches, which are

   desired, that they may serve to some one or two or all of the three

   concupiscences, if the soul cannot discern whether, when it hath them,

   it despiseth them, they may be cast aside, that so it may prove itself.

   But to be without praise, and therein essay our powers, must we live

   ill, yea so abandonedly and atrociously, that no one should know

   without detesting us? What greater madness can be said or thought of?

   But if praise useth and ought to accompany a good life and good works,

   we ought as little to forego its company, as good life itself. Yet I

   know not whether I can well or ill be without anything, unless it be



   What then do I confess unto Thee in this kind of temptation, O Lord?

   What, but that I am delighted with praise, but with truth itself, more

   than with praise? For were it proposed to me, whether I would, being

   frenzied in error on all things, be praised by all men, or being

   consistent and most settled in the truth be blamed by all, I see which

   I should choose. Yet fain would I that the approbation of another

   should not even increase my joy for any good in me. Yet I own, it doth

   increase it, and not so only, but dispraise doth diminish it. And when

   I am troubled at this my misery, an excuse occurs to me, which of what

   value it is, Thou God knowest, for it leaves me uncertain. For since

   Thou hast commanded us not continency alone, that is, from what things

   to refrain our love, but righteousness also, that is, whereon to bestow

   it, and hast willed us to love not Thee only, but our neighbour also;

   often, when pleased with intelligent praise, I seem to myself to be

   pleased with the proficiency or towardliness of my neighbour, or to be

   grieved for evil in him, when I hear him dispraise either what he

   understands not, or is good. For sometimes I am grieved at my own

   praise, either when those things be praised in me, in which I mislike

   myself, or even lesser and slight goods are more esteemed than they

   ought. But again how know I whether I am therefore thus affected,

   because I would not have him who praiseth me differ from me about

   myself; not as being influenced by concern for him, but because those

   same good things which please me in myself, please me more when they

   please another also? For some how I am not praised when my judgment of

   myself is not praised; forasmuch as either those things are praised,

   which displease me; or those more, which please me less. Am I then

   doubtful of myself in this matter?


   Behold, in Thee, O Truth, I see that I ought not to be moved at my own

   praises, for my own sake, but for the good of my neighbour. And whether

   it be so with me, I know not. For herein I know less of myself than of

   Thee. I beseech now, O my God, discover to me myself also, that I may

   confess unto my brethren, who are to pray for me, wherein I find myself

   maimed. Let me examine myself again more diligently. If in my praise I

   am moved with the good of my neighbour, why am I less moved if another

   be unjustly dispraised than if it be myself? Why am I more stung by

   reproach cast upon myself, than at that cast upon another, with the

   same injustice, before me? Know I not this also? or is it at last that

   I deceive myself, and do not the truth before Thee in my heart and

   tongue? This madness put far from me, O Lord, lest mine own mouth be to

   me the sinner's oil to make fat my head. I am poor and needy; yet best,

   while in hidden groanings I displease myself, and seek Thy mercy, until

   what is lacking in my defective state be renewed and perfected, on to

   that peace which the eye of the proud knoweth not.




   Yet the word which cometh out of the mouth, and deeds known to men,

   bring with them a most dangerous temptation through the love of praise:

   which, to establish a certain excellency of our own, solicits and

   collects men's suffrages. It tempts, even when it is reproved by myself

   in myself, on the very ground that it is reproved; and often glories

   more vainly of the very contempt of vain-glory; and so it is no longer

   contempt of vain-glory, whereof it glories; for it doth not contemn

   when it glorieth.




   Within also, within is another evil, arising out of a like temptation;

   whereby men become vain, pleasing themselves in themselves, though they

   please not, or displease or care not to please others. But pleasing

   themselves, they much displease Thee, not only taking pleasure in

   things not good, as if good, but in Thy good things, as though their

   own; or even if as Thine, yet as though for their own merits; or even

   if as though from Thy grace, yet not with brotherly rejoicing, but

   envying that grace to others. In all these and the like perils and

   travails, Thou seest the trembling of my heart; and I rather feel my

   wounds to be cured by Thee, than not inflicted by me.




   Where hast Thou not walked with me, O Truth, teaching me what to

   beware, and what to desire; when I referred to Thee what I could

   discover here below, and consulted Thee? With my outward senses, as I

   might, I surveyed the world, and observed the life, which my body hath

   from me, and these my senses. Thence entered I the recesses of my

   memory, those manifold and spacious chambers, wonderfully furnished

   with innumerable stores; and I considered, and stood aghast; being able

   to discern nothing of these things without Thee, and finding none of

   them to be Thee. Nor was I myself, who found out these things, who went

   over them all, and laboured to distinguish and to value every thing

   according to its dignity, taking some things upon the report of my

   senses, questioning about others which I felt to be mingled with

   myself, numbering and distinguishing the reporters themselves, and in

   the large treasure-house of my memory revolving some things, storing up

   others, drawing out others. Nor yet was I myself when I did this, i.e.,

   that my power whereby I did it, neither was it Thou, for Thou art the

   abiding light, which I consulted concerning all these, whether they

   were, what they were, and how to be valued; and I heard Thee directing

   and commanding me; and this I often do, this delights me, and as far as

   I may be freed from necessary duties, unto this pleasure have I

   recourse. Nor in all these which I run over consulting Thee can I find

   any safe place for my soul, but in Thee; whither my scattered members

   may be gathered, and nothing of me depart from Thee. And sometimes Thou

   admittest me to an affection, very unusual, in my inmost soul; rising

   to a strange sweetness, which if it were perfected in me, I know not

   what in it would not belong to the life to come. But through my

   miserable encumbrances I sink down again into these lower things, and

   am swept back by former custom, and am held, and greatly weep, but am

   greatly held. So much doth the burden of a bad custom weigh us down.

   Here I can stay, but would not; there I would, but cannot; both ways,





   Thus then have I considered the sicknesses of my sins in that threefold

   concupiscence, and have called Thy right hand to my help. For with a

   wounded heart have I beheld Thy brightness, and stricken back I said,

   "Who can attain thither? I am cast away from the sight of Thine eyes."

   Thou art the Truth who presidest over all, but I through my

   covetousness would not indeed forego Thee, but would with Thee possess

   a lie; as no man would in such wise speak falsely, as himself to be

   ignorant of the truth. So then I lost Thee, because Thou vouchsafest

   not to be possessed with a lie.




   Whom could I find to reconcile me to Thee? was I to have recourse to

   Angels? by what prayers? by what sacraments? Many endeavouring to

   return unto Thee, and of themselves unable, have, as I hear, tried

   this, and fallen into the desire of curious visions, and been accounted

   worthy to be deluded. For they, being high minded, sought Thee by the

   pride of learning, swelling out rather than smiting upon their breasts,

   and so by the agreement of their heart, drew unto themselves the

   princes of the air, the fellow-conspirators of their pride, by whom,

   through magical influences, they were deceived, seeking a mediator, by

   whom they might be purged, and there was none. For the devil it was,

   transforming himself into an Angel of light. And it much enticed proud

   flesh, that he had no body of flesh. For they were mortal, and sinners;

   but thou, Lord, to whom they proudly sought to be reconciled, art

   immortal, and without sin. But a mediator between God and man must have

   something like to God, something like to men; lest being in both like

   to man, he should he far from God: or if in both like God, too unlike

   man: and so not be a mediator. That deceitful mediator then, by whom in

   Thy secret judgments pride deserved to be deluded, hath one thing in

   common with man, that is sin; another he would seem to have in common

   with God; and not being clothed with the mortality of flesh, would

   vaunt himself to be immortal. But since the wages of sin is death, this

   hath he in common with men, that with them he should be condemned to





   But the true Mediator, Whom in Thy secret mercy Thou hast showed to the

   humble, and sentest, that by His example also they might learn that

   same humility, that Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus,

   appeared betwixt mortal sinners and the immortal just One; mortal with

   men, just with God: that because the wages of righteousness is life and

   peace, He might by a righteousness conjoined with God make void that

   death of sinners, now made righteous, which He willed to have in common

   with them. Hence He was showed forth to holy men of old; that so they,

   through faith in His Passion to come, as we through faith of it passed,

   might be saved. For as Man, He was a Mediator; but as the Word, not in

   the middle between God and man, because equal to God, and God with God,

   and together one God.


   How hast Thou loved us, good Father, who sparedst not Thine only Son,

   but deliveredst Him up for us ungodly! How hast Thou loved us, for whom

   He that thought it no robbery to be equal with Thee, was made subject

   even to the death of the cross, He alone, free among the dead, having

   power to lay down His life, and power to take it again: for us to Thee

   both Victor and Victim, and therefore Victor, because the Victim; for

   us to Thee Priest and Sacrifice, and therefore Priest because the

   Sacrifice; making us to Thee, of servants, sons by being born of Thee,

   and serving us. Well then is my hope strong in Him, that Thou wilt heal

   all my infirmities, by Him Who sitteth at Thy right hand and maketh

   intercession for us; else should I despair. For many and great are my

   infirmities, many they are, and great; but Thy medicine is mightier. We

   might imagine that Thy Word was far from any union with man, and

   despair of ourselves, unless He had been made flesh and dwelt among us.


   Affrighted with my sins and the burden of my misery, I had cast in my

   heart, and had purposed to flee to the wilderness: but Thou forbadest

   me, and strengthenedst me, saying, Therefore Christ died for all, that

   they which live may now no longer live unto themselves, but unto Him

   that died for them. See, Lord, I cast my care upon Thee, that I may

   live, and consider wondrous things out of Thy law. Thou knowest my

   unskilfulness, and my infirmities; teach me, and heal me. He, Thine

   only Son, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,

   hath redeemed me with His blood. Let not the proud speak evil of me;

   because I meditate on my ransom, and eat and drink, and communicate it;

   and poor, desired to be satisfied from Him, amongst those that eat and

   are satisfied, and they shall praise the Lord who seek Him.



<--Table Of Contents

Copyright ©1999-2016 e-Catholic2000.com