William Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.).

The confessions of Augustine online

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all doubting, it cried oat, *^That the unchangeable
was to bo proforrod to the diangonblo;" whence
also it knew That Unchangeable, which, unless it
had in some way known, it had had no sure ground
to prefer it to the changeable. And thus with the
flash of one trembling glance it arrived at TflAT
Wmon Is. And then I saw Thy invisible things
understood by the things which are made} But I
Could not fix my gaze thereon; and my infirmity
being strack back, I was thrown again on my wonted
habits, carrying along with me only a loying mem-
ory thereof, and a longing for what I had, as it were,
perceived the odor o^ but was not yet able to feed

XVTIL 24. Then I sought a way of obtaining
strength, sufiicient to enjoy Thee; and found it not, .
until I embraced iha;t Mediator betwiaU God (md
fnen^ tlie Man CJirist Jesus^ who is over aU^ Ood
Uessed for evermore^ calling unto me, and saying, 1
ion the wayy the truths and the l\fef and tnmgling
that food which I was unable to receive, with ouf
flesh. For^ the Word was made jkshf that Thy
Wisdom, whereby Thou oreatedst all things, might
provide milk for our infant state. For not being
humbled, I did not understand the humiliatioii of
my Lord Jesus Christ ; nor knew I yet whereto His
infirmity would guide us. For Thy Word, the Eter-

1 Rom. L 20. 8 Rom. Iz. 5. < lb. 1. 14.

s 1 Tim. U. ft. 4 John sir. 6.

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170 Zeama to umhratand

nal Truth, being fur above Thy highest creatures,
raises up the subdued unto Itself: but in tliis lower
world It built for Itself a lowly habitation of our
clay, whereby to abase from themselves such as
would be subdued, and bring them over to Itself;
allaying their swelling pride, and fomenting their
love ; that they might go on no further in H(;lf-con-
fidence, but rather consent to become weak, on see-
ing at their feet the Divinity infirm by having taken
on our coats ofskin;^ and wearied, might cast them-
selves down upon It, and It rising, might lift them

XIX. 25. But I diought otherwise; conceiving
only of my Lord Christ as of a man of (excellent
wisdom, whom no one could bo equalled unto ; espe-
cially, for that being wonderfully born of a Virgin,
He seemed, in conformity therewith, through the
Divine care for us, to have attained that great emi*
nence of authority, for an ensample of dcspbing
things temporal for the obtaining of immortality.
But what mystery there lay in, ^The Word toas
made JUtih^ I could not even imagine. Only I had
learnt out of what is delivered to us in Scripture
of Him, that He did eat, and drink, sleep, walk,
rejoiced in spirit, was sorrowful, discoursetl ; that,
flesh did not cleave by itself unto Thy Word, but
with the human soul and mind. All know this,
who know the unchangoabloness of Thy Word,
which I now knew, as far as I could, nor did I at all
doubt thereof. For, now to move the limbs of the
body by will, now not, now to be moved by some af-

1 Gen. ill 21.

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the Person of Christ.


fectioD, now not, now to deliver wise sayings through
human signs, now to keep silence, belong to soul and
tnind subject to variation. And should these things
prove to bo falsely written of Him, all the rest of
Scripture also would be put in jeopardy, nor would
there remain in those books any saving faith fof
hiankind. Since then they were written truly, I
acknowledged a perfect man to be in Christ; not
the body of a man only, nor, with the body, a sensi-
tive soul without a rational, but very man ; whom,
not only as being a form of Truth, but for a certain
great excellency of human nature and more perfect
participation of wisdom, I judged to be preferred
before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics
to believe God to be so clothed with flesh, that be-
sides God and flesh, there was no soul at all in
Clirist^ and did not think that a Imman mind was
ascribed to Ilim. And because he Avas well per-
suaded, that the actions recorded of Ilim, could
only be performed by a vital and a rational crea-
ture, he moved the more slowly towards the Chris-
tian Faith. But understanding afterwards, that this
was the error of the Apollinarian heretics, he joyed
in and was conformed to the Catholic Faith. But
somewhat later, I confess, did I learn, how in that
saying, T/ie Word was made Jleshy the Catholic
truth is distinguished from the falsehood of Pho-
tinus.^ For the rejection of heretics makes the te-
nets of Thy Church, and sound doctrines, to stand
out more clearly. JFbr there must also be /leresies^

I Quariok*^ Church lUatorjr, ) 84.

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172 Jieceives grecU assiatance

that the cgpprwed may be made manifest among the

XX. 26. Bat havbg then read those books of the
Platonists, md thepce been taught to search for in-
corporeal truth, I saw Thy invieiNe things^ imder*
stood by those things which are made;* and though
cast back, I perceived what that was, which, through
the darkness of my mind, I was hindered from con-*
templating, being assured *^ that Thou art, and art
infinite, and yet not diffused in space, finite or infi-
nite; and that Thou truly art who art the same
ever, in no part nor motion varying; and that all
other things are from Thee, on this most sure ground
ftlone, that they are.'' Of these things I was assured,
yet too unsure to enjoy Thee. I prated as one well
skilled ; but had I not sought Thy way in Clirist our
Saviour, I had proved to be, not skilled, but killed.
For now I had begun to wish to seem wise, being
filled with mine own punishment, yet I did not
mourn, but rather scorn, pufiTed up with knowl-
edge.* For where was that charity building upon
the foundation of humility, which is Christ Jesus f*
or when should these Platonic books teach me it?
Upon these, I believe. Thou therefore willedst that
I should fall, before I studied Thy Scriptures, that
it might be imprinted on my memory how I was
affected by them ; and that afterwards, when my
spirits wore tamed through Thy books, and my
wounds touched by Thy healing fingers, I might

llCor.xll9. ilOor.TliLl.

tBom.1.99. 4lCor.IU.ll.

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f^om the writings of St. Paul 178

discern and distingaish betweeix presumption and
confession; between those who saw whither they
Wei^ to go, yet saw not the way, — a way that lead-
eth not merely to behold the beatific country, but to
dwell in it For, had I first been formed in H^y
fioly Scriptures, and hadst Thou in the &miliar use
of them groWn sweet unto me, and had 1 then
fallen upon those other volumes, they might per-
haps have withdrawn ine firom the solid ground of
piety; or, had I continued in that healthful frame
which I had thence imbibed, I might have thought
that it might have been obtained by the study of
the Platonic books alone.

TKI. 27. Most eagerly, theA, did I beize that
Venerable writing of Thy Spirit, H^tid chiefly the
Apostle Paul ; whereupon those difficulties vanished
AWay wherein ho once sooniod to mo to contradict
himself, and the text of his discourse not to agree
with the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets.
Alid the filce of that pure word appeared to me one
aiid the same; and I learned to r^oict toith trem-
tfiiriff} So I began; and whatsoever truth I had
fead in those other books, I found here amid (he
praises of Thy grace ; that whoso sees, may not so
glory as ^ he had not received^* not only what he
dees, but also that he seed (for what hath he^ which
he hath not received f)^ and that he may be liot only
admonished to behold Thee, Who art ever the same^
but also, being healed, to hold Thee ; and that he
who cannot see afar off^ tnay yet walk on the way,

I rs. II. U. S 1 Cor. It. 7.


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/ 174 FhUQ'8 tmtinffs and

' wherebj ho mnj arriyo, and behold, and hold Tlieo.

: Fof, though a man be ddigJUed with the law of Ood

' after the inner man} what shall he do with that
other law in his members which warreth against the
law of his mindj and bringeth him into captimty to
the law of sin which is in his members f^ For Thau
art righteous^ Lord; but we Jiave sinned^ and com"
mitted iniquity^ and have done wickedly f and Thy
hand is grown heavy npon ub, and we are justly de-

' livered over unto that ancient sinner^ the king of
death ; because he persnaded oar will to be like his
will, whereby ?ie abode not in Thy truth. WT^at
shall wretcfied man dof who shaU deliver him from
the body of t/tis deaths but only Thy grace^ through
Jesus Christ our Lord} whom Thou hast begotten
co6ternal, and formedst in the beginning of Thy
ways} in whom the prince of this world found noth-
ing worthy of deathy^ yet killed he Him ; and the
handwriting^ which was contrary to tw, was blot-
ted outf^ This the Platonic writings contain not
Those pages present not the image of this piety, the
tears of confession. Thy sacrifice^ a troubled spirit^ a
broken and a contrite heart} the salvation of the
people, the bridal City} the earnest of t/ie Bdy
Ohost}^ the Cup of pur JRedemptionP- No map
sings there, SJiaU not my soul be submitted unto
Qodtfor of IRm cometh my salvation. Firr Be is

1 Bom. tU. 22. i Pror. tUI. 32. SPft. Ii.l7.

t Bom. tU. 28. 6 John sir. 80. • Bev. xxi. %

8 Song of the ThrM Cbfldivn, 4 tqq. M 2 Cor. ▼. 6.

4Bom.TiL24. 7Col.U.14. UPt.oxT|.ia

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the Scriptures.


my Ood and my scUvcUioiij my guardian^ lehaU no
mare be moved} No one hears Him eall in those
books. Come unto Me all ye that labor? They scorn
to learn of JUm^ because He is meek and lowly in
heart/ for these things hast Tfiou hid from the wise
a/nd prudent^ and hast revealed them unto babes?
For it is one thing, from the mountain's shaggy top
to see the land of peace, and to find no way thither^^
and in vain to strive towards it through patlis im-
passable, opposed and beset by fngitives and desert-
ers led by their captain the lion and the dragon; and
quite another thing to keep on the way that leads
thither, guarded by the hosts of the heavenly Gen-
eral, where those who have deserted the heavenly
army spoil and rob not, for they avoid that army
as very torment itself These things did wonder-
fully sink into my heait, when I read that least of
Thy A}H>stles^^ and meditated upon Tliy works, and
trembled exceedingly.



i Matt zl. 39.
4 Deut zzziL 48.


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▲uaiTtTnn*i nnBTT-tsooMD tsab— b« oonui/ff ■ncruoiAinTt—


. L O my God ! let me, with thanksgiving, remem-
ber, and confess nnto Thee Thy meroies to mo. Ze(
my bone$ be bedewed with Thy love, and let them
iap unto Thee, Who is like unto IJiee^ O LardV
Thou h(Mt broken my bonds in sunder^ I mil offer
unto Thee the sacrf/ice of thanksgiving.^ And how
Thou hast broken them, I will declare ; and all who
worship Thee, when they hear this, shall say, ^Bles-
sed be the Lord, in heayeh and in earth, great and
wonderfol Is his nakne." Thy words had stnok fast
in my heart, and I was hedged round about on all
sides by Thee.* Of Thy eternal life I was now cer-
tain, thongh I saw it in a figure and as through a
gla^s} Tet I had ceased to doubt that there was
an incorruptible substance, whence was all other sub-
stance \ nor did I now desire to be more certain of
Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. As for my tem-

1 Pi. bxzt. 10. t Job. i. 10.

t Fb. ezTl. 16, 17. 4 1 Cor. ziU. 12.

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Visita SimplicianuB.


pottd life, all was waTering, and my heart had td he
pUu^ged from the old leaven.^ The Wayf the Savionf
Himself well pleased me, but as yet I shrunk frotn
going through its straitness. And Thon didst put
into my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to gb
to Simplicianos, who seemed to me a good servant
of Thine; and Thy grace shone in Him. I had
heard also, that from his very youth he had livdd
most devoted unto Thee. Now he was grown )nt6
years ; and by reason of so great age spent in such
zealous following of Thy ways, he seemed to me
likely to have learned much experience ; and so h^
had. Out of which store, I wished that he would
tell me (setting before him my anxieties) which
were the fittest way for one in my case to walk in
Thy paths.

i. For I saw the church full; and one went this
way, and another tliat way. But I was displeased,
ttiat I led a secular life \ yea, now that my desires no
longer inflamed me, as of old, with hopes of honor
and profit, a very grievous burden it was to undergo
so heavy a bondage. For^ tti comparison of Thy
sweetness, and the beauty of iThy house tohich I
loved? those things delighted ibie no longer. But
litill I was enthralled with the lovd of woman ; nor
did the Apostle forbid me to marry, although he
advised me to something better, chiefly wishing that
all nwi were oi himse^ was.* But I, being weak,
chose thd more indulgent place ; and because of this

1 1 Cor. wi 7.
• John xlt. 6.


«1 Cor. Til. 8.

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178 Auguatbu^a diatractiotis.

alono, tro8 tossod up and down in all beside, faint
and waited with withering cares, because in other
matters I was constrained against my will to con-
form myself to a married life, to which I was given
up and enthralled. I had heard from the month of
the Truth, that there were same eunucfiSy whic/i had
made themselves eunuchs for tJie kingdom of liea-
ven^s sake: buty soith He, let him who can receive
it receive it} Surdy vain are aU men who are ig-
norant of Oody and could not out of the good things
which are seen^ find oiU Him who is good? But I
was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it;
and by the common witness of all Thy creatures
had found Thee our Creator, and Thy Word, God
with Thee, and together with Thee one God, by
whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet
another kind of ungodly, who knowing Ood glori-
fied Him not as Ood^ neither were thankful? Into
this also had I &llen, but Thy right hand upheld
me} and took me thence, and Thou placcdst me
where I might recover. For Thou hast s:iid unto
man, Hehold, the fear of the Lord is wisdornf and
Desire not to seem wise;^ because they wJio affirmed
themselves to be wise^ became fools? But I had now
found the goodly pearly whichy selling aU that IJiodf
I ought to have bought^ and I hesitated.

n. 3. To SimplicianuB then I went, the spiritual
father of Ambrose (a Bishop now), and whom Am-
brose truly loved as a father. To him I related the

lHAkzix.12. 4Pft.zvlU.85. rRotai.i.22.

SWlftd.zUl.]. « Job zxriii. 28. 8 Matt. ziU. 48.

8 Root i. 21. 6 ProT. Ui. 7.

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-t ■'■■

. . \

27i€ conversion of VictoHnuB. 179 V

mazes of mj wanderings. But when I mentioned
that I had read certain books of the PlatonistSy
which Yictorinus, sometime Rhetoric Professor of
tlome (who had died a Christian, as I had heard))
had translated into Latin, he testified his joy that
I had not fiillen upon the Writings of other philoso-
))hers, full oi faUaciea and deceits^ after the rudu
nunta of this tjoorld^ whereas the Platonists many
Irays led to the belief in God and His Word. Then
to exhort me to the humility of Christ, hidden from
the wiscj and revealed to little ones? he spoke of Vic-
torinns himself whom, while at Rome, he had most
intimately known: and of him he related what I
will not conceal. For it contains great praise of
Thy grace^ to be confessed nnto Thee, how that
aged man, most learned and skilled in the liberal
scicncoB, and who had read and weighed so many
workd of the philosophers; the instructor of so
faiany noble Senators; who alscT, as a monument of
his excellent discharge of his office, had (which men
of this world esteem a high honor) both deserved
and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum ; he, to
that time of life a worshipper of idols, and a par-
taker of the sacrilegious rites, to which almost all
the nobility of Rome wore given tip, and which had
inspired the people with the love of

Antibif, balking deity, and all

The monster gods of erery Und, who fought

'Gainst Neptune, Venus, and Minerva:

whom Rome had once conquered, and now adored,

ICOI.U.8. iHatt.zi.a6.

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80 Th^ conversion

$31 whioh the aged Yictoriqus had with thatlde^
iti^ eloquence so manjr years defended; — he now
blushed not to be the child of Thy Christ, and the
new-born babe of Thy foonttdn ; sabmitting his neck
to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead
to the reproach of the Cross.

4. liOrd, Lord, Which ?wt howd tl^e /t4avmi
(md come doum^ touched the mountains and tliey did
smoke} by what means didst Thou convey Thyself
into that breast? He used to read (as Simplicianus
told) the holy Scripture, most studiously sought and
[Searched into all the Christian writingSi and said to
Simplicianus (not opeply, but privately,, and as H
friend), *^ Understand that I am already a Chria**
tiau," Whereto Simplicianus answered, *^I will not
believe it^ nor will I rank you among Christians, un-
less I see you in the Church of Christ.'* The othet,
in banter, replied, ^ Do walls then make ChristiansF''
And this he often said, that he Was already a Chris-
tian; and Simplicianus as often made the same an-
swer, and the conceit of the << walls ^ Was by the
other as often reneWe^4 Vot he feared to offend his
fhends, proud daBmbn-^worsbippers ; from the height
pf whose Babylonian dignity, as from ceda/rs of lAha^
nue} which the Lord had not yei broken <fou^ he
supposed the weight of enmity would M upon hinu
But after that by reading and earnest thought he
had gathered firmness, and feared to bo dcmied by
dhHst b^ore the JyptffaaigdSi should he now be c^/i'^
to confess Bini tb^^i menf and appeared to him*

1 Fl. odlT. S. t Pi. kslx« 5. • Lnln is. iS.

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of Vickmnus. 181

self guilty of a heavy offence, in being ashamed
of the Sacraments of Thy lowly Word and not
ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud dad-
pionSy whose pride he had imitated and their rites
adopted, ho became bold-faced against vanity, and
shiime-faced toWards the truth, and suddenly and
unexpectedly siud to Simplicianus (as himself told
me), ^Oo we to the church; I wish to be made a
Christian.** But he, not containing himself for joy,
went with him. And having been admitted to the
first j^rament and become a Catechumen, not long
after he further gave in his name, that he might
]be regenerated by baptism, — Rome wondering, the
church rejoicmg. The proud sawy and were wroth;
they gnashed toUh their teethj and melted away}
But the Zord God was the hope of Thy servant^
and he regarded not canities and lying madness.'

6. To conclude : when the hour was come for mak-
ing profession of his &ith (wliich profession at Rome
they who are about to approach to Thy gtace de-
liver, from an elevated place, in the sight Of all the
faithful, in a set form of words committed to mem-
ory), the presbyters, he said, offered Yictorinus (as
was done to such as seemed likely through bashful-
noss to be alarmed) to make his profession more
privately; but he chose rather to profess his salva-
tion in the presence of the holy multitude. ^For it
was not salvation that he taught in rhetoric, Imd
yet that he had publicly professed : how much less
theti ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to

ifa.cxU.10. SF».zni.6,«),efto

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182 Ooct 8 goodness

fear Thy meok flock, who, wlion doHvcring liis owfi
words, had ndt feared a mad muUitade I ^ Whed,
then, he went up to make his profession, all, as they
knew him, whispered his name one to another with
the voice of congratulation. ♦ And who thei-e knew
him not? And there ran a low knurmur through all
the mouths of the rejoicing multitude, Yicaorinus I
Viotorinus I Sudden was the burst of rapture, that
they saw him ; suddenly were they hushed that they
might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with
an excellent boldness, and all wished to draw him
into their very heart : yea, by their love and joy
they drew him thither; such were the hands where-
with they drew him.

m. 6^Gk>od God 1 what takes place in man, that
be should more rejoice at the salvation of a soul
despaired o^ and freed from greater peril, than if
there had always been hope of him, or the danger
had been less? For so Thou also, merciful Father,
dost more r^oice over one penitent^ than over ninety*
nine just persons^ that need no repentance} And
with much joyfulness do we hear, so often as we
hear with what joy the sheep which has strayed is
brought back upon the shepherd*s sh^oulder^ and the
groat is restored to Thy treasury^ the neigJibors re-
joicing with the woman whofotmd it;^ and the joy
of the solemn service of Thy house forceth to tears,
when in .Thy house it is road of Thy younger son^
that he was dead and liveth again; had been lost^
and is found. For Thou rejoicest in us, and in Thy
holy angels, holy through holy charity. For Thoti

ILukeXT.T »Luk6XT6~0

I '", ■■ , f ■ ' ■ ' ■ ===

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towartb penitents.


art ever the same; for all things which abide not
the same nor for ever. Thou for ever knowest in
the same way.

7. What then takes place in the soul, when it is
more delighted at finding or recovering the things
ii loves, than if it had ever had thcni? yea, and
other things witness hereunto; and all things are
full of witnesses, crying out, ** So is it." The con-
quering commander triumpheth; yet had ho not
conquered unless he had fought; and the more
peril there was in the battle, so much the more joy
is there in the triumph. The storm tosses the isail-
ors, threatens shipwreck ; all wax pale at approachr
ing death ; sky and sea are calmed, and they are
exceeding joyed, as having been exceeding f^raid.
A friend is sick, and his pulse threatens danger ; all
who long for his recovery are dck in mind with him.
He is restored, though as yet he walks not with his
former ^strength ; yet there is such joy as was not
when before he walked sound and strong. Yea, the
very pleasures of human life men acquire by difficul-
ties, not those only which &11 upon us. unlocked for,
and against our wills, but even by self-chosen, and
pleasure-seeking trouble. Eating and drinking have
no plen^ure, unless there precede the pinching of
hunger and Ifcirst. Men, given to drink, eat certain
salt meats to procure a troublesome heat, which, the
drink allaying, causes pleasure. It is also ordered
that the s^anced bride should not at once be given,
lest as a husband he should hold cheap her whom, ad
betrothed, he sighed not after.

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18i Ood^s goodness towards penitents,

8. This law liolds in fonl and accursod joy ; in per-
mitted and lawful joy ; in the very purest perfection
of friendship ; in him who was dead^ and lived again,
had been lost and was found Everywhere the
greater joy is ushered in by the greater pain. What
means this, O Lord my God, whereas Thou art ever-
lastingly joy to Thyself, and some things around Thee
evermore rejoice in Thee? What means this, that
this portion of things thus ebbs and flows alternately
displeased and reconciled ? Is this their allotted
measure ? Is this all Thou hast assigned to them,
whereas from the highest heavens to the lowest earth,
from the beginning of the if orld to the end of ages,
from the angel to the worm, from the first motion to
the last. Thou settest each in its place, and realizest
each in their season, every thing good after its kind?
Woe is me ! how high art Thou in the highest, and
how deep in the deepest I and Thou never departest
from us, and we scarcely return to Thee.

rV, 9. Up, Lord, and do; stir us up, and recall
US ; kindle and draw us ; inflame, grow sweet unto
tis ; let us now love, let us run} Do not many, out
of a deeper hell of blindness than Yictorinus, return
to Thee, approach, and are enlightened, receiving
that lAghty which they who receive, receive power
from Tfue to become Thy sonst^ I3^t if they hap-
pen to be less known to the people, even those that
do know them rejoice less for them in conversion.
For when many rejoice together, each also has

Online LibraryWilliam Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.)The confessions of Augustine → online text (page 14 of 31)