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The Confessions Of Saint Augustine




   To Carthage I came, where there sang all around me in my ears a

   cauldron of unholy loves. I loved not yet, yet I loved to love, and out

   of a deep-seated want, I hated myself for wanting not. I sought what I

   might love, in love with loving, and safety I hated, and a way without

   snares. For within me was a famine of that inward food, Thyself, my

   God; yet, through that famine I was not hungered; but was without all

   longing for incorruptible sustenance, not because filled therewith, but

   the more empty, the more I loathed it. For this cause my soul was

   sickly and full of sores, it miserably cast itself forth, desiring to

   be scraped by the touch of objects of sense. Yet if these had not a

   soul, they would not be objects of love. To love then, and to be

   beloved, was sweet to me; but more, when I obtained to enjoy the person

   I loved, I defiled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth

   of concupiscence, and I beclouded its brightness with the hell of

   lustfulness; and thus foul and unseemly, I would fain, through

   exceeding vanity, be fine and courtly. I fell headlong then into the

   love wherein I longed to be ensnared. My God, my Mercy, with how much

   gall didst Thou out of Thy great goodness besprinkle for me that

   sweetness? For I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of

   enjoying; and was with joy fettered with sorrow-bringing bonds, that I

   might be scourged with the iron burning rods of jealousy, and

   suspicions, and fears, and angers, and quarrels.




   Stage-plays also carried me away, full of images of my miseries, and of

   fuel to my fire. Why is it, that man desires to be made sad, beholding

   doleful and tragical things, which yet himself would no means suffer?

   yet he desires as a spectator to feel sorrow at them, this very sorrow

   is his pleasure. What is this but a miserable madness? for a man is the

   more affected with these actions, the less free he is from such

   affections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his own person, it uses to be

   styled misery: when he compassionates others, then it is mercy. But

   what sort of compassion is this for feigned and scenical passions? for

   the auditor is not called on to relieve, but only to grieve: and he

   applauds the actor of these fictions the more, the more he grieves. And

   if the calamities of those persons (whether of old times, or mere

   fiction) be so acted, that the spectator is not moved to tears, he goes

   away disgusted and criticising; but if he be moved to passion, he stays

   intent, and weeps for joy.


   Are griefs then too loved? Verily all desire joy. Or whereas no man

   likes to be miserable, is he yet pleased to be merciful? which because

   it cannot be without passion, for this reason alone are passions loved?

   This also springs from that vein of friendship. But whither goes that

   vein? whither flows it? wherefore runs it into that torrent of pitch

   bubbling forth those monstrous tides of foul lustfulness, into which it

   is wilfully changed and transformed, being of its own will precipitated

   and corrupted from its heavenly clearness? Shall compassion then be put

   away? by no means. Be griefs then sometimes loved. But beware of

   uncleanness, O my soul, under the guardianship of my God, the God of

   our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted above all for ever,

   beware of uncleanness. For I have not now ceased to pity; but then in

   the theatres I rejoiced with lovers when they wickedly enjoyed one

   another, although this was imaginary only in the play. And when they

   lost one another, as if very compassionate, I sorrowed with them, yet

   had my delight in both. But now I much more pity him that rejoiceth in

   his wickedness, than him who is thought to suffer hardship, by missing

   some pernicious pleasure, and the loss of some miserable felicity. This

   certainly is the truer mercy, but in it grief delights not. For though

   he that grieves for the miserable, be commended for his office of

   charity; yet had he, who is genuinely compassionate, rather there were

   nothing for him to grieve for. For if good will be ill willed (which

   can never be), then may he, who truly and sincerely commiserates, wish

   there might be some miserable, that he might commiserate. Some sorrow

   may then be allowed, none loved. For thus dost Thou, O Lord God, who

   lovest souls far more purely than we, and hast more incorruptibly pity

   on them, yet are wounded with no sorrowfulness. And who is sufficient

   for these things?


   But I, miserable, then loved to grieve, and sought out what to grieve

   at, when in another's and that feigned and personated misery, that

   acting best pleased me, and attracted me the most vehemently, which

   drew tears from me. What marvel that an unhappy sheep, straying from

   Thy flock, and impatient of Thy keeping, I became infected with a foul

   disease? And hence the love of griefs; not such as should sink deep

   into me; for I loved not to suffer, what I loved to look on; but such

   as upon hearing their fictions should lightly scratch the surface; upon

   which, as on envenomed nails, followed inflamed swelling, impostumes,

   and a putrefied sore. My life being such, was it life, O my God?




   And Thy faithful mercy hovered over me afar. Upon how grievous

   iniquities consumed I myself, pursuing a sacrilegious curiosity, that

   having forsaken Thee, it might bring me to the treacherous abyss, and

   the beguiling service of devils, to whom I sacrificed my evil actions,

   and in all these things Thou didst scourge me! I dared even, while Thy

   solemnities were celebrated within the walls of Thy Church, to desire,

   and to compass a business deserving death for its fruits, for which

   Thou scourgedst me with grievous punishments, though nothing to my

   fault, O Thou my exceeding mercy, my God, my refuge from those terrible

   destroyers, among whom I wandered with a stiff neck, withdrawing

   further from Thee, loving mine own ways, and not Thine; loving a

   vagrant liberty.


   Those studies also, which were accounted commendable, had a view to

   excelling in the courts of litigation; the more bepraised, the

   craftier. Such is men's blindness, glorying even in their blindness.

   And now I was chief in the rhetoric school, whereat I joyed proudly,

   and I swelled with arrogancy, though (Lord, Thou knowest) far quieter

   and altogether removed from the subvertings of those "Subverters" (for

   this ill-omened and devilish name was the very badge of gallantry)

   among whom I lived, with a shameless shame that I was not even as they.

   With them I lived, and was sometimes delighted with their friendship,

   whose doings I ever did abhor--i.e., their "subvertings," wherewith

   they wantonly persecuted the modesty of strangers, which they disturbed

   by a gratuitous jeering, feeding thereon their malicious mirth. Nothing

   can be liker the very actions of devils than these. What then could

   they be more truly called than "Subverters"? themselves subverted and

   altogether perverted first, the deceiving spirits secretly deriding and

   seducing them, wherein themselves delight to jeer at and deceive





   Among such as these, in that unsettled age of mine, learned I books of

   eloquence, wherein I desired to be eminent, out of a damnable and

   vainglorious end, a joy in human vanity. In the ordinary course of

   study, I fell upon a certain book of Cicero, whose speech almost all

   admire, not so his heart. This book of his contains an exhortation to

   philosophy, and is called "Hortensius." But this book altered my

   affections, and turned my prayers to Thyself O Lord; and made me have

   other purposes and desires. Every vain hope at once became worthless to

   me; and I longed with an incredibly burning desire for an immortality

   of wisdom, and began now to arise, that I might return to Thee. For not

   to sharpen my tongue (which thing I seemed to be purchasing with my

   mother's allowances, in that my nineteenth year, my father being dead

   two years before), not to sharpen my tongue did I employ that book; nor

   did it infuse into me its style, but its matter.


   How did I burn then, my God, how did I burn to re-mount from earthly

   things to Thee, nor knew I what Thou wouldest do with me? For with Thee

   is wisdom. But the love of wisdom is in Greek called "philosophy," with

   which that book inflamed me. Some there be that seduce through

   philosophy, under a great, and smooth, and honourable name colouring

   and disguising their own errors: and almost all who in that and former

   ages were such, are in that book censured and set forth: there also is

   made plain that wholesome advice of Thy Spirit, by Thy good and devout

   servant: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain

   deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world,

   and not after Christ. For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the

   Godhead bodily. And since at that time (Thou, O light of my heart,

   knowest) Apostolic Scripture was not known to me, I was delighted with

   that exhortation, so far only, that I was thereby strongly roused, and

   kindled, and inflamed to love, and seek, and obtain, and hold, and

   embrace not this or that sect, but wisdom itself whatever it were; and

   this alone checked me thus unkindled, that the name of Christ was not

   in it. For this name, according to Thy mercy, O Lord, this name of my

   Saviour Thy Son, had my tender heart, even with my mother's milk,

   devoutly drunk in and deeply treasured; and whatsoever was without that

   name, though never so learned, polished, or true, took not entire hold

   of me.




   I resolved then to bend my mind to the holy Scriptures, that I might

   see what they were. But behold, I see a thing not understood by the

   proud, nor laid open to children, lowly in access, in its recesses

   lofty, and veiled with mysteries; and I was not such as could enter

   into it, or stoop my neck to follow its steps. For not as I now speak,

   did I feel when I turned to those Scriptures; but they seemed to me

   unworthy to he compared to the stateliness of Tully: for my swelling

   pride shrunk from their lowliness, nor could my sharp wit pierce the

   interior thereof. Yet were they such as would grow up in a little one.

   But I disdained to be a little one; and, swollen with pride, took

   myself to be a great one.




   Therefore I fell among men proudly doting, exceeding carnal and

   prating, in whose mouths were the snares of the Devil, limed with the

   mixture of the syllables of Thy name, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and

   of the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, our Comforter. These names departed

   not out of their mouth, but so far forth as the sound only and the

   noise of the tongue, for the heart was void of truth. Yet they cried

   out "Truth, Truth," and spake much thereof to me, yet it was not in

   them: but they spake falsehood, not of Thee only (who truly art Truth),

   but even of those elements of this world, Thy creatures. And I indeed

   ought to have passed by even philosophers who spake truth concerning

   them, for love of Thee, my Father, supremely good, Beauty of all things

   beautiful. O Truth, Truth, how inwardly did even then the marrow of my

   soul pant after Thee, when they often and diversely, and in many and

   huge books, echoed of Thee to me, though it was but an echo? And these

   were the dishes wherein to me, hungering after Thee, they, instead of

   Thee, served up the Sun and Moon, beautiful works of Thine, but yet Thy

   works, not Thyself, no nor Thy first works. For Thy spiritual works are

   before these corporeal works, celestial though they be, and shining.

   But I hungered and thirsted not even after those first works of Thine,

   but after Thee Thyself, the Truth, in whom is no variableness, neither

   shadow of turning: yet they still set before me in those dishes,

   glittering fantasies, than which better were it to love this very sun

   (which is real to our sight at least), than those fantasies which by

   our eyes deceive our mind. Yet because I thought them to be Thee, I fed

   thereon; not eagerly, for Thou didst not in them taste to me as Thou

   art; for Thou wast not these emptinesses, nor was I nourished by them,

   but exhausted rather. Food in sleep shows very like our food awake; yet

   are not those asleep nourished by it, for they are asleep. But those

   were not even any way like to Thee, as Thou hast now spoken to me; for

   those were corporeal fantasies, false bodies, than which these true

   bodies, celestial or terrestrial, which with our fleshly sight we

   behold, are far more certain: these things the beasts and birds discern

   as well as we, and they are more certain than when we fancy them. And

   again, we do with more certainty fancy them, than by them conjecture

   other vaster and infinite bodies which have no being. Such empty husks

   was I then fed on; and was not fed. But Thou, my soul's Love, in

   looking for whom I fail, that I may become strong, art neither those

   bodies which we see, though in heaven; nor those which we see not

   there; for Thou hast created them, nor dost Thou account them among the

   chiefest of Thy works. How far then art Thou from those fantasies of

   mine, fantasies of bodies which altogether are not, than which the

   images of those bodies, which are, are far more certain, and more

   certain still the bodies themselves, which yet Thou art not; no, nor

   yet the soul, which is the life of the bodies. So then, better and more

   certain is the life of the bodies than the bodies. But Thou art the

   life of souls, the life of lives, having life in Thyself; and changest

   not, life of my soul.


   Where then wert Thou then to me, and how far from me? Far verily was I

   straying from Thee, barred from the very husks of the swine, whom with

   husks I fed. For how much better are the fables of poets and

   grammarians than these snares? For verses, and poems, and "Medea

   flying," are more profitable truly than these men's five elements,

   variously disguised, answering to five dens of darkness, which have no

   being, yet slay the believer. For verses and poems I can turn to true

   food, and "Medea flying," though I did sing, I maintained not; though I

   heard it sung, I believed not: but those things I did believe. Woe,

   woe, by what steps was I brought down to the depths of hell! toiling

   and turmoiling through want of Truth, since I sought after Thee, my God

   (to Thee I confess it, who hadst mercy on me, not as yet confessing),

   not according to the understanding of the mind, wherein Thou willedst

   that I should excel the beasts, but according to the sense of the

   flesh. But Thou wert more inward to me than my most inward part; and

   higher than my highest. I lighted upon that bold woman, simple and

   knoweth nothing, shadowed out in Solomon, sitting at the door, and

   saying, Eat ye bread of secrecies willingly, and drink ye stolen waters

   which are sweet: she seduced me, because she found my soul dwelling

   abroad in the eye of my flesh, and ruminating on such food as through

   it I had devoured.




   For other than this, that which really is I knew not; and was, as it

   were through sharpness of wit, persuaded to assent to foolish

   deceivers, when they asked me, "whence is evil?" "is God bounded by a

   bodily shape, and has hairs and nails?" "are they to be esteemed

   righteous who had many wives at once, and did kill men, and sacrifice

   living creatures?" At which I, in my ignorance, was much troubled, and

   departing from the truth, seemed to myself to be making towards it;

   because as yet I knew not that evil was nothing but a privation of

   good, until at last a thing ceases altogether to be; which how should I

   see, the sight of whose eyes reached only to bodies, and of my mind to

   a phantasm? And I knew not God to be a Spirit, not one who hath parts

   extended in length and breadth, or whose being was bulk; for every bulk

   is less in a part than in the whole: and if it be infinite, it must be

   less in such part as is defined by a certain space, than in its

   infinitude; and so is not wholly every where, as Spirit, as God. And

   what that should be in us, by which we were like to God, and might be

   rightly said to be after the image of God, I was altogether ignorant.


   Nor knew I that true inward righteousness which judgeth not according

   to custom, but out of the most rightful law of God Almighty, whereby

   the ways of places and times were disposed according to those times and

   places; itself meantime being the same always and every where, not one

   thing in one place, and another in another; according to which Abraham,

   and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, were righteous, and all

   those commended by the mouth of God; but were judged unrighteous by

   silly men, judging out of man's judgment, and measuring by their own

   petty habits, the moral habits of the whole human race. As if in an

   armory, one ignorant of what were adapted to each part should cover his

   head with greaves, or seek to be shod with a helmet, and complain that

   they fitted not: or as if on a day when business is publicly stopped in

   the afternoon, one were angered at not being allowed to keep open shop,

   because he had been in the forenoon; or when in one house he observeth

   some servant take a thing in his hand, which the butler is not suffered

   to meddle with; or something permitted out of doors, which is forbidden

   in the dining-room; and should be angry, that in one house, and one

   family, the same thing is not allotted every where, and to all. Even

   such are they who are fretted to hear something to have been lawful for

   righteous men formerly, which now is not; or that God, for certain

   temporal respects, commanded them one thing, and these another, obeying

   both the same righteousness: whereas they see, in one man, and one day,

   and one house, different things to be fit for different members, and a

   thing formerly lawful, after a certain time not so; in one corner

   permitted or commanded, but in another rightly forbidden and punished.

   Is justice therefore various or mutable? No, but the times, over which

   it presides, flow not evenly, because they are times. But men whose

   days are few upon the earth, for that by their senses they cannot

   harmonise the causes of things in former ages and other nations, which

   they had not experience of, with these which they have experience of,

   whereas in one and the same body, day, or family, they easily see what

   is fitting for each member, and season, part, and person; to the one

   they take exceptions, to the other they submit.


   These things I then knew not, nor observed; they struck my sight on all

   sides, and I saw them not. I indited verses, in which I might not place

   every foot every where, but differently in different metres; nor even

   in any one metre the self-same foot in all places. Yet the art itself,

   by which I indited, had not different principles for these different

   cases, but comprised all in one. Still I saw not how that

   righteousness, which good and holy men obeyed, did far more excellently

   and sublimely contain in one all those things which God commanded, and

   in no part varied; although in varying times it prescribed not every

   thing at once, but apportioned and enjoined what was fit for each. And

   I in my blindness, censured the holy Fathers, not only wherein they

   made use of things present as God commanded and inspired them, but also

   wherein they were foretelling things to come, as God was revealing in





   Can it at any time or place be unjust to love God with all his heart,

   with all his soul, and with all his mind; and his neighbour as himself?

   Therefore are those foul offences which be against nature, to be every

   where and at all times detested and punished; such as were those of the

   men of Sodom: which should all nations commit, they should all stand

   guilty of the same crime, by the law of God, which hath not so made men

   that they should so abuse one another. For even that intercourse which

   should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature, of

   which He is Author, is polluted by perversity of lust. But those

   actions which are offences against the customs of men, are to be

   avoided according to the customs severally prevailing; so that a thing

   agreed upon, and confirmed, by custom or law of any city or nation, may

   not be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, whether native or

   foreigner. For any part which harmoniseth not with its whole, is

   offensive. But when God commands a thing to be done, against the

   customs or compact of any people, though it were never by them done

   heretofore, it is to be done; and if intermitted, it is to be restored;

   and if never ordained, is now to be ordained. For lawful if it he for a

   king, in the state which he reigns over, to command that which no one

   before him, nor he himself heretofore, had commanded, and to obey him

   cannot be against the common weal of the state (nay, it were against it

   if he were not obeyed, for to obey princes is a general compact of

   human society); how much more unhesitatingly ought we to obey God, in

   all which He commands, the Ruler of all His creatures! For as among the

   powers in man's society, the greater authority is obeyed in preference

   to the lesser, so must God above all.


   So in acts of violence, where there is a wish to hurt, whether by

   reproach or injury; and these either for revenge, as one enemy against

   another; or for some profit belonging to another, as the robber to the

   traveller; or to avoid some evil, as towards one who is feared; or

   through envy, as one less fortunate to one more so, or one well thriven

   in any thing, to him whose being on a par with himself he fears, or

   grieves at, or for the mere pleasure at another's pain, as spectators

   of gladiators, or deriders and mockers of others. These be the heads of

   iniquity which spring from the lust of the flesh, of the eye, or of

   rule, either singly, or two combined, or all together; and so do men

   live ill against the three, and seven, that psaltery of often strings,

   Thy Ten Commandments, O God, most high, and most sweet. But what foul

   offences can there be against Thee, who canst not be defiled? or what

   acts of violence against Thee, who canst not be harmed? But Thou

   avengest what men commit against themselves, seeing also when they sin

   against Thee, they do wickedly against their own souls, and iniquity

   gives itself the lie, by corrupting and perverting their nature, which

   Thou hast created and ordained, or by an immoderate use of things

   allowed, or in burning in things unallowed, to that use which is

   against nature; or are found guilty, raging with heart and tongue

   against Thee, kicking against the pricks; or when, bursting the pale of

   human society, they boldly joy in self-willed combinations or

   divisions, according as they have any object to gain or subject of

   offence. And these things are done when Thou art forsaken, O Fountain

   of Life, who art the only and true Creator and Governor of the

   Universe, and by a self-willed pride, any one false thing is selected

   therefrom and loved. So then by a humble devoutness we return to Thee;

   and Thou cleansest us from our evil habits, and art merciful to their

   sins who confess, and hearest the groaning of the prisoner, and loosest

   us from the chains which we made for ourselves, if we lift not up

   against Thee the horns of an unreal liberty, suffering the loss of all,

   through covetousness of more, by loving more our own private good than

   Thee, the Good of all.




   Amidst these offences of foulness and violence, and so many iniquities,

   are sins of men, who are on the whole making proficiency; which by

   those that judge rightly, are, after the rule of perfection,

   discommended, yet the persons commended, upon hope of future fruit, as

   in the green blade of growing corn. And there are some, resembling

   offences of foulness or violence, which yet are no sins; because they

   offend neither Thee, our Lord God, nor human society; when, namely,

   things fitting for a given period are obtained for the service of life,

   and we know not whether out of a lust of having; or when things are,

   for the sake of correction, by constituted authority punished, and we

   know not whether out of a lust of hurting. Many an action then which in

   men's sight is disapproved, is by Thy testimony approved; and many, by

   men praised, are (Thou being witness) condemned: because the show of

   the action, and the mind of the doer, and the unknown exigency of the

   period, severally vary. But when Thou on a sudden commandest an

   unwonted and unthought of thing, yea, although Thou hast sometime

   forbidden it, and still for the time hidest the reason of Thy command,

   and it be against the ordinance of some society of men, who doubts but

   it is to be done, seeing that society of men is just which serves Thee?

   But blessed are they who know Thy commands! For all things were done by

   Thy servants; either to show forth something needful for the present,

   or to foreshow things to come.




   These things I being ignorant of, scoffed at those Thy holy servants

   and prophets. And what gained I by scoffing at them, but to be scoffed

   at by Thee, being insensibly and step by step drawn on to those

   follies, as to believe that a fig-tree wept when it was plucked, and

   the tree, its mother, shed milky tears? Which fig notwithstanding

   (plucked by some other's, not his own, guilt) had some Manichaean saint

   eaten, and mingled with his bowels, he should breathe out of it angels,

   yea, there shall burst forth particles of divinity, at every moan or

   groan in his prayer, which particles of the most high and true God had

   remained bound in that fig, unless they had been set at liberty by the

   teeth or belly of some "Elect" saint! And I, miserable, believed that

   more mercy was to be shown to the fruits of the earth than men, for

   whom they were created. For if any one an hungered, not a Manichaean,

   should ask for any, that morsel would seem as it were condemned to

   capital punishment, which should be given him.




   And Thou sentest Thine hand from above, and drewest my soul out of that

   profound darkness, my mother, Thy faithful one, weeping to Thee for me,

   more than mothers weep the bodily deaths of their children. For she, by

   that faith and spirit which she had from Thee, discerned the death

   wherein I lay, and Thou heardest her, O Lord; Thou heardest her, and

   despisedst not her tears, when streaming down, they watered the ground

   under her eyes in every place where she prayed; yea Thou heardest her.

   For whence was that dream whereby Thou comfortedst her; so that she

   allowed me to live with her, and to eat at the same table in the house,

   which she had begun to shrink from, abhorring and detesting the

   blasphemies of my error? For she saw herself standing on a certain

   wooden rule, and a shining youth coming towards her, cheerful and

   smiling upon her, herself grieving, and overwhelmed with grief. But he

   having (in order to instruct, as is their wont not to be instructed)

   enquired of her the causes of her grief and daily tears, and she

   answering that she was bewailing my perdition, he bade her rest

   contented, and told her to look and observe, "That where she was, there

   was I also." And when she looked, she saw me standing by her in the

   same rule. Whence was this, but that Thine ears were towards her heart?

   O Thou Good omnipotent, who so carest for every one of us, as if Thou

   caredst for him only; and so for all, as if they were but one!


   Whence was this also, that when she had told me this vision, and I

   would fain bend it to mean, "That she rather should not despair of

   being one day what I was"; she presently, without any hesitation,

   replies: "No; for it was not told me that, where he, there thou also';

   but where thou, there he also'?" I confess to Thee, O Lord, that to the

   best of my remembrance (and I have oft spoken of this), that Thy

   answer, through my waking mother,--that she was not perplexed by the

   plausibility of my false interpretation, and so quickly saw what was to

   be seen, and which I certainly had not perceived before she

   spake,--even then moved me more than the dream itself, by which a joy

   to the holy woman, to be fulfilled so long after, was, for the

   consolation of her present anguish, so long before foresignified. For

   almost nine years passed, in which I wallowed in the mire of that deep

   pit, and the darkness of falsehood, often assaying to rise, but dashed

   down the more grievously. All which time that chaste, godly, and sober

   widow (such as Thou lovest), now more cheered with hope, yet no whit

   relaxing in her weeping and mourning, ceased not at all hours of her

   devotions to bewail my case unto Thee. And her prayers entered into Thy

   presence; and yet Thou sufferedst me to be yet involved and reinvolved

   in that darkness.




   Thou gavest her meantime another answer, which I call to mind; for much

   I pass by, hasting to those things which more press me to confess unto

   Thee, and much I do not remember. Thou gavest her then another answer,

   by a Priest of Thine, a certain Bishop brought up in Thy Church, and

   well studied in Thy books. Whom when this woman had entreated to

   vouchsafe to converse with me, refute my errors, unteach me ill things,

   and teach me good things (for this he was wont to do, when he found

   persons fitted to receive it), he refused, wisely, as I afterwards

   perceived. For he answered, that I was yet unteachable, being puffed up

   with the novelty of that heresy, and had already perplexed divers

   unskilful persons with captious questions, as she had told him: "but

   let him alone a while" (saith he), "only pray God for him, he will of

   himself by reading find what that error is, and how great its impiety."

   At the same time he told her, how himself, when a little one, had by

   his seduced mother been consigned over to the Manichees, and had not

   only read, but frequently copied out almost all, their books, and had

   (without any argument or proof from any one) seen how much that sect

   was to be avoided; and had avoided it. Which when he had said, and she

   would not be satisfied, but urged him more, with entreaties and many

   tears, that he would see me and discourse with me; he, a little

   displeased at her importunity, saith, "Go thy ways and God bless thee,

   for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish."

   Which answer she took (as she often mentioned in her conversations with

   me) as if it had sounded from heaven.



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