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

The confessions of Augustine online

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gether in the same juncture of time, and all being
equally desired, which cannot at one time be acted,
do rend the mind amid four, or even (amid the vast
variety of things desired) more conflicting wills ; but
who will say that there are so many divers sub-
stances? So also in wills which are good. For I
ask them, b it good to take pleasure ia reading the
Apostle ? or good to take pleasure in a sober Psalm ?
or good to discourse on the Gospel? They will
answer to each, *'It is good." What then if all give
equal pleasure, and all at once ? Do not divers wills
distract the mind, while he deliberates which be
should rather choose ? yet are they all good, and are
at variance till one be chosen, whither the one entire
will may be home, which before was divided into
many. Thus also, when eternity above delights ns,
and the pleasure of temporal good holds us down b^
low,^ it is the same soul which willeth neither way
.with an entire will ; and therefore is it rent asunder
with grievous perplexities, because its love of truth
sets this first, while its habit sets the other one first.

XI. 25. Thus soul-dck was I, and tormented, ac-
cusing myself much more severely than my wont,
rolling and turning me in my chain, till that were
wholly broken, whereby I now was but just, but still
was, held. And Thou, Lord, didst press upon me
inwardly by a severe mercy, redoubling the lashes of
fear and shame, lest I should again give way, and, not
bursting that slight remaining tie, it should recover
strength, and bind me the &ster. For I said within
myself, "Be it done now, be it done now;*» and

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do not imply two souls.


as I spake, I all bat performed i^ ; I all bat did it,
ahd did it not ; jet sunk not back to my former state,
but kept my stand hard by, and took breath. And 1
essayed ngdn, and wanted somewhat less of it, and
domewhat less, and all but touched, and laid hold of
it; and yet came not to it, nor touched nor liud hold
of it ; hesitating to die to death and to live to life ;
and the worse, whereto I was inured, prevailed more
with me than the better whereto I was unused; and
as the moment approached wherein I was to becohie
other than I was, the greater horror did it strike into
me ; yet did it not strike me back, nor turned hie
away, but held me in suspense.

26. The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities,
my ancient mistresses, still held me; they plucked
my fleshly gatment, and whispered softly, '* Dost thou
cast us off? and from that moment shall we no more
be with thee for ever ? and from that moment shall
not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?'* And
what was it which they suggested in that t sdd,
**this or that," O niy Qod ? Let Thy mercy turn it
away from the soul of Thy servant. What defile*
iHents did they suggest I what shame I But now 1
much less than half heard them, not openly showing
ihomselvoR and contradicting me, but muttering as it
were bcliind my back, and privily plucking me^ Os t
was departing, but to look back on them. T^t they
did retard me. So that I hesitated to burst and sliak<$
myself free from them, and to spring ovei* whither t
was called ; a violent habit saying t6 me, '^Thitikest
ihou, thou oatist live without them ^"

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202 IHnds rriiijf in a flood of tears.

I I I II ■ .11 I Ill

27.. But now it spako Vorjr fiiintljr. For on tUat
ride whither I had set my face, and whithor I trem-
bled to go, there appeared unto me tlie chaste
dignity of Continency, serene, not dissolutely gay,
honestly allnring me to come and doubt not; and
stretching forth to receive and embrace mc, her hoiy
hands full of multitudes of good examples: there
were so many young men and maidens here, a multi«>
tude of youth and every age, grave widows and aged
virgins; and Continence herself in all, not barren^
but a fruit/hU mother of children of joys, by Thee
her Husband, Lord. And she smiled on me with a
persuarive mockery, as if she would say; ^ Canst not
thou do what these youths, what th^ maidens can ?
or do they do it of tliemselves, and not rather by tlie
Lord their God ? The Lord their God gave me unto
them. Why standest thou in thyself, and so standest
not? cast thyself Upon Him, fear not, He will not
withdraw Himself that thou shouldest fiill ; cast thy-
self fearlessly upon Him, He will receive, and will
heal thee." And I blushed exceedingly, for that I
yet heard tfie murmuring of those toys, and hung in
suspense. And she again seemed to say, *' Stop thine
ears against i?u>se thy unclean members on the earthy
that they may be mortified. They tell thee of
delights^ but not cut doth the law of the Lord thy
Ood,^^^ This controversy in my heart was self
against self only. But Alypius sitting close by my
ride, in silence waited the issue of my unwonted

il^«tlx.86. OMVw.

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JPiftda rditfin a flood oftearL

^^ 28. And when a deep consideration hftd
fix>m tbo secret bottom of my soul drawn together
inA heaped up all my misery in the sight of my
hearti there arose H mighty storm, bringing a mighty
shower of tears. Which that I might pbur forth
wholly, in its natural expressions, I rose from Aly*-
piud: solitude seemed to me fitter for tiid business
of weepbg \ so I retired so fiir that eveti his pres>
ence could not be a burden to me. Thus w^ it with
me, fUid he perceived something Of it ; for I suppose
1 had siiokcn something, wherein the tones of my
• voice appeared dioked with weeping, as I had riseki
up. He remained where we were sitting, mo^
extremely astonished. I cast myself down I kno\^
not bow, under a certain fig-tree, giving full vent to
my tears ; and the floodr of mine eyes gushed out ail
adceptalth eacrifice to ITie^ And, not indeed in thesi)
words, yet to this purpose, spake I much unto Thee t
and I7ioti^ Zord^ how long t hoto long^ Lord^ toiU
l%ou be angry for ever /* Hemember not our /ot^
tner iniquities^* for I felt that I was held by them, t
sent up these sorrowful words; How long? hoW
lotg? "to-morrow, and to-morrow?" Why tiot
n6w? why this hour is there not an end to my Un-
deannCRs ?

29. So wad I speaking, and weeping, in the most
bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo ! t heard from
li neighboring house a voice, as of boy or girl, I
know not, chanting, and Oft repeating, ^Take up
Mid read ; Take up and reiicl/* Instantly, my cotm*

1 iMm Tl. 4. H JPiihtt Ixtix. ^ 8»

ii Mfc^ >w< i^ i .«T • r -i' •''■ ' ." * ■ " I . " ■ J ' """. ■■

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204 Determined <U length

tenanco altered, I began to think most intently,
whether children were wont in any kind of play to
dng such words : nor could I remember ever to have
heard the like. So checking the torrent of my tears,
I arose ; mterpreting it to be no other than a com-
mand from God to open the book and read the firnt
chapter! should find. For I had heard of Antony,
that coming in during the reading of the Gospel, he
received the admonition, as if what was being read
Was spoken to him : Oo^ $eU aU that thou /tasty and
give to the poor^ and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven^ and come and follow me :^ and by such
prsicle he was forthwith converted unto Thee. —
£agerly then I returned to the place where Alypitis
«1va8 sitting; for there had I laid the volume of the
Apostle, when I arose thence. I seized, opened, and
in silence read that passage, on which my eyes
first fell : Not in rioting and drunkenness^ not in
thdmbering and wantonness^ not in strife and envy-
ing : but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christy and make
not provision for the Jleshj* in concupiscence. No
forther would I read ; nor needed I : for instantly at
ihe 6nd of this sentence, by a light as it were of
serenity infused into my hearty all thd darkness 6f
doubt vanished away«

80. Then putting tnf finger Wv^e^li, or sottie
other tnark, I shut the volum^ and with a calmed
countenance made it known to Alyi)ius. And ^hat
wto wrought b him, which I knew Dot, he thus
Bhowed me. He asked to see what I had rea^ : I

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by a passage of Holy Scripture. 20<J

showed him ; and he looked even further (han I had
read) and I knew not what followed. This followed :
him that is toeak in the faiihy receive ;^ which he ap-
plied to himself and disclosed to me. And by this
admonition was he strengthened; and by a good
resolution and purpose, and according to bis natural
character, in which he was far different from me, and
far better, without any turbulent delay he joined me.
Thenco we go in to my mother ; we tell her ; she re-
joices; we relate in order how it took place; sh^
leaps for joy, and triumphs, and blesses Thee, Who
art able to do above that which toe ask or think/*
for she perceived that Thou hadst given her more for
me, than she was wont to beg by her pitiful add most
sorrowful groanings. For Thou convertedst me unto
Thyself, so that I sought neither wife, nor any hope
of this world, standing in that rule of faiths 'where
Thou hadst showed me unto her in a vision, so many
years before. • And Thou didst convert her mourn-
ing into Joy J* much more plentiful than she had
desired, and in a much more precious and purer way
than she erst required, when she asked grandchildrea
of my body.

1 Rom. xlt. 1. s Comptro Book IIL xL

flEpli.m.90. ' 4Fteliiixxz.ll.


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I, 1. Zoi*dy I am Thy servant ; lam Thy eer-
varUj and the son of Thy handmaid; Thou hast
broken my bonds in sunder. Itoill offer to Thee the
sacrifice of praise,^ Let my heart and my tongue
pr^se Thee ; yea, let aU my bonss say^ O Lord^ who
iis like unto Thee t Let them say, and answer Thou,
and say unto my soul^ lam thy salvation.* Who
am I, and what man am I ? Rather what evil have X
not been, either in my deeds, or if not in my deeds,
in my words, or if not in my words, in my will?
Bat Thou, O Lord, art good and merciful, and Thy
right hand, had respect unto the depth of my death,
and from the bottom of my heart emptied tlmt abjrss
9f corruption. And this Thy whole gifk wsia, to nill
what I willed, and to will what Thou willedst. But
where, through all those years, was my free will, and

1 Ftalm ozTl. 16, 17. t Tmlm bbbt. 10.

> ! ■ > j i|^ m <|i>- > k'M I I , , .1 I I . j . „ ;, 'h , i'

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JResolves tQ give up hUprofe^sion. 807

Out of what low and deep reoess was it called forth
in a moment, bo that I submitted my neck to Thjr
easy yokcy^ and my shoulders unto Thy light burden,
Christ Jesus, my Helper and my JRedeemerf*
How sweet did it at once become to me, to give up
the sweetnesses of those toys I and what I feared to
be pai-tcd from, was now a joy to part with. For
Thou didst cast them forth from me, Thou ti*ue and
highest sweetness. Thou castedst them forth, and in
place of them enteredst in Thyself sweeter than all
pleasure, though not to flesh and blood; brighiiBr
than all light, but more hidden than all depths;
higher than all honor, but not to the high in their
own conceits. Now was my soul free from the biting
cares of canvassing and getting, and weltering in
filth, and scratching off the itch of lust. And my in«
fbnt toiif^uo spake freely to Thee, my brightness, and
my riches, and my health, the Lord my God«

n. 2. And I resolved in Thy sight, not tumultu«
Ously to tear, but gently to withdraw, the service of
my tongue from the marts of lip-labor: that the
young, who studied not Thy law, nor Thy peace, but
lying dotages and law-skiimishes, should no longer
buy at my mouth arms for their madness. And very
seasonjihly, it now wanted but very few days unto
the Vacation of the Vintage, and I resolved to
endure them, then in a regular way to take my leave^
and having been purchased by Thee, to sell myself
no more. Our purpose then was known to Thee;
but to men, other than our own friends, was it not

1 Molt xl. 80. t Fiftlm xix. 4.

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208 Augustine readvea

• W I t ■ ■ ■ ■ ■»

known. For we had agreed among ourselves not to
disclose it to any: although to us, now ascending
from the valkf/ of tearsy and lunging that song of d^
gree$y Thou hadst given sliarp arrotos^ and destroying
coalSy against whatever subUe tongue^ that on pre-
tence of advising would thwart us, and would out of
love devour us, as it doth its meat.

8. For Thou hadst pierced our hearts with Thy
love, and we carried Thy words as it were fixed in
our bowels: and the examples of Thy servants,
whom for black Thou hadst made bright, and for
dead) alive, being piled together in the recepUtcle of
our thoughts, kindled and burned up our heavy tor-
por, that we should not mnk down to the abyns ; and
they fired us so vehemently, that all the blasts of
subtle tongues from gainsayers might only inflame as
the more fiercely, not extinguish us. Nevertheless,
because for Thy Name^s sake which Thou hast hal-
lowed throughout the earth, this our vow and pur-
pose might also find some to commend it, it seemed
like ostentation not to wait for the vacation now
so near, but to quit beforehand a public profession,
which was before the eyes of all ; so that all looking
on this act of mine, and observing how near was the
time of vintage which I wished to anticipate, would
talk much of me, as if I had desired to appear some
great one. And what end had it served nic, that
people should repute and dispute upon my purpose,
and that our good should be evU spoken oft^

4. Moreover, it had at first troubled me, that in

1 Rom. xIt. 16.

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to give up his profession. 209

■ ■ ■ I ■ I I H I ^ ikd

this very Bummer my longs began to, give way, amid
too great literary labor, and to breathe deeply with
difficulty, and by the pain in my chest to show that
they were injured, and to refuse any full or length*
ened speaking; this had troubled me, for it almost
constrained me of necessity, ^to lay down that burden
of teaching; ot, if I could be cured and recover,
at least to intermit it. But when the ftdl wish for
leisure, that I might see how that I%ou art the
Lord^ arose, and was fixed, in me, my God, Thou
knowest, I began even to rejoice that I had this itoc-
bndary, and no feigned, excuse, which might some-
what moderate the offence taken by those, who fot
their sons' sake wished me never to have the freedom
of Thy sons. Full then of such joy, I endured till
that interval of time were run ; it may have been
some twenty days, yet they were endured manfully ;
endured, for the covetousness which aforetime bore a
part of this heavy business, had left me, and I re«
miuncd alone, and had been overwhelmed, had not
patience taken its place. Perchance, some of Thy
servants, my brethren, may say, that I sinned itl thti^
that with a heart ftilly set on Thy service, I Suffered
myself to alt even one hour in the ch&ir of lies. Kor
would I be contentious. But hast not Thou^ most
merciful Lord, pardoned and remitted this din ItlsO,
with my other most horrible and deadly sins^ in the
holy waters of baptism ?

in. 5. Verecnndus was wom down with ciird
about this 6ut^ blessedness, for that being held back


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210 Conversion of Verecundus

by bonds, whereby he was most straitly bound, he
saw that he sliould be severed from as. For liimself
was not yet a Christian, his wife one of the faithful ;
and yet hereby, more rigidly than by any other chdn,
was he let and hindered from the journey which
we had now essayed* .For he would not, he said,
be a Christbn on any other terms than on those he
oould not. However, he offered us courteously to
remidn at his country house, so long as I should stay
there. Thou, O Lord, shalt reward him in the res-
Urreotion of thejust^^ seeing Thou hast already given
him the lot of the righteous.' For, in my absence at
Rome, he was seized with bodily sickness, and therein
being made a Christian, and one of the faithful, he
departed this life; thus hadat Thou mercy not on
him onlt/j but on me also :* lest remembering the ex-
ceeding kindness of my friend towards me, yet un*
able to number him among Thy flock, I should be
agonized with intolerable sorrow. Thanks unto Thee,
my God, I am Thme : Thy suggestions and conso-
lations tell me. Faithful in promises, that Thou now
requitest Yerecundus for his country house of Cassia-
cum, where from the fever of the world I reposed in
Thee, with the eternal freshness of Thy Paradise : for
that Thou hast forgiven him his sins upon earth, in
that rich mountain, that mountain which yieldeth
milk. Thine own mountain.

6. lie, however, was at that time troubled, but N^
bridius rejoiced. For although he too, not being yet
a Christian, had fidlen into the pit of that most pev-

iLvk«xlT.14. t PMlm ozxT.'S. •FbSL.n.V.

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tktJAtUv II ■

and Ifebridiui* Sll

nicioQfl drror, believing the flesh of Thy Son to be a
phantom t yet emerging thence, he believed as I did )
not as yet indued with any Sacraments of Thy
Charch, bnt a most ardent soarchor-ont of truth*
Whom, not long after my conversion and regone^
ation by Thy Baptism, becoming also a &ithful meoi^
bef of the Church Catholic, and serving Thee in pei^
feet chastity and continence amongst his people tii
Africa, his whole house having through him first been
made Christian, didst Thou release from the flesh ;
and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. ^ Whatever
that be, which is signified by that bosom, there lives
my Nebridins, my sweet fHend, and Thy child,
Lord, adopted of a freed man : there he liveth. Foi^
what other place is there for such a soul ? There he
liveih, whereof ho asked much of me, a poor ihek^
pdrionccd man* Now lays ho not his car to my
mouth, but his spiritual mouth unto Thy fountain^
atid drinketh as much as he can receive, wisdom in
proportion t6 his thirst, endlessly happy* Nor d6 )
think that he ts so inebriated therewith, as to forget
hi6 \ seeing Thou, Lord, Whom he drinketh, art mind*
fhl of me. But now I tried to comfort YerecunduSi
Ivho sorrow^, ad far as friendship permitted, that my
o6nvorHion was of such sort ; exhorting him to bo*
06me faithful, according to his state of married life i
akid expecting Nebridius to follow me, which he was
all but doing* And so those days rolled by at length ;
for long and many they seemed, for the love I bare to
the easeful liberty, in which I could sing to Thee ttoixi

1 OmuiMM AtigQitiDi Dl AnhnA I V^ U, 16i «^ Bt>.

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212 BetircB to the country

I I I I I I 1. ■ I I I tm

my inmost marrow, My heart hath said unto Theey
I have sought Thy fo/ce : Thy facsj Lordy will I

!¥• 7. Now was the day oome, wherein I was ih
deed to be freed of my Rhetoric Professorsliip,
whereof in thought I was already freed. And it was
done. Thoa didst rescue my tongue, whence Tliou
hadst before rescued my heart. And I blessed Thee,
rejoicing; retiring with all my friends to the villa.
What I there did in writing, which was now enlisted
in Thy service, though still, in this breathing-time as
it were, panting from the school of pride, my Treat-
ises may witness, as well what I debated with others,
as what with myself alone, before Tliee:' what with
iTebridius, who was absent, my EpisUes bear witness.
And when shall I have time to rehearse all Tliy great
benefits towards me at that time, especially when
hasting on to yet greater mercies ? For my remem«
branoe recalls me, and pleasant b it to me, O Lord, to
confess to Thee, by what inward goads Thou tamedst
me; and how Thou hast evened me, lowering the
mountains and hiUs of my high imaginations^
straightening my crookedness^ and smoot/iing my
rough ways,' and how Thou also subduedst the
brother of my heart, Alypius, unto the Name of Thy
Only Begotten, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
which be would not at first vouchsafe to have in-
serted id my writings* For rather would he have

1 FMini zsnrli. 8.

1 Their snttfeoUi ^^ or^^t n^ ^ ^omd Itt AagaSOnti^ BatraetaiiloMt

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with A}ypi%A9 and his mother.


them savor of the lofty cedars of the Schools, whioh
the Lord hath now broken down^ than of the whole-
some herbs of the Church, the antidote agabst ser-

8. Oh, in what accents spake I nnto Thee, mjr
God, when I read the Psalms of David, those faith-
ful songs, and sounds of devotion, which allow of no
swelling spirit, as yet a Catechumen, and a novice in
Thy real love, resting in that villa, with Alypius a
Catechumen, my mother cleaving to me, in female
garb, with masculine fidth, with the tranquillity of
age, motherly love. Christian piety. Oh, what ac-
cents did I utter unto Thee in those Psalms, and
how was I by them kindled towards Thee, and on
fire to rehearse them, if possible, through the whole
world, against the pride of mankind. And they are
sung tlirough the whole world, nor can any hide
himself J^om Thy heat.* With what vehement
tod bitter dorroi^ was I angered at thd Manichees !
kai agnin I pitied them,* for that they knew not
thode Sacraments, those medicines^ and were mad
Against the antidote, which might have recovered
them of their madness. How I would they had
then been somewhere near me, and without my
knowing that they were there, could have beheld my
countenance, and heard my words, when I read the
fourth Psalm in that time of my rest, and seen how
that Psalm wrought upon me. When I caUed^ the
Chd of my rigfUeotisness heard me ; in tribulation
Thou enlargest me. JETave mercy vpon me^ O Lord^



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iU Afplicaticn of the fourth jP$abn.

and hear my prayer.^ Woold that what I ntt^ed
on theee words, thej could hear, withoot my know-
ing whether thej heard, leat they ahonld thmk I
spake it for their sakes. For, in troth, neither should
I speak the same things, nor in the same way, if I
perceived that they heard and saw me; nor if I
spake them, would they so rooeive them, as when I
spake by and for myself before Thee, out of the nat-
mral feelings of my sonL

9. I trembled for fear, and again kindled with
hope, and with rejoicing in Thy mercy, O Father;
and all tny soul issued forth both by mine eyes and
voice, when Thy good Spirit taming nnto us, said,
pe 9CM of menj how long $low of heart f xohydoye
love tfanity^ and seek<0er lea&ingf* For I had
loved vanity, and sought after leasing. And ITum^
Zard% hadst already magnified Thy Holy On$y
taieing Btm from the dead, and setHng IRm at
Thy tight haniy^ whence from on high He should
•end Hia promise, the Comforter, the Spirit of
iruth.* And He had already sent Him, but I knew
it not ; He had sent Him, because He was now mag-
nified, rising again from the dead, and ascending into
heaven.' For till then, the Spirit u>a$ not yet given,
because Jesus teas not yet gloried* And the
prophet cries out, JBbto long, dote of heart f why do
ye love vanity, and seek after leasing f Know ihik,
that the Zord hath magnified Ms Holy One. H«

iFk.lf.1. OldVer. 4]Aik«zxir.49; Jolmsly.l6,n.

t Epb. i 90. . « John tU. 89.

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AppHccUian of the fourth JPsalm. 215:

criea out, Ifow long f He cries out, Knoto this : and
I 80 long, not knowing, loved vanity^ and sought
after leasing : and therefore I heard and trembled,
booauBO it was spoken unto such as I remombei-ed
myself to have been. For in those phantoms which
I had hold for truths, was there vanity and leering;
and I spake aloud many things earnestly and forci-
bly, in the bitterness of my remembmnce. Which
would they had heard, who yet love vanity and seek
afUft hosing! They would perchance have been
troubled, and have vomited it up ; and Thou wotdd-
est hear tliem when they cried unto T/iee ; for by a
true death in the flesh did He die for us, who now
inter cedeth unto Thee for us.^

10. I further read, J^e angry ^ and sin not.* And
how was I moved, O my God, who had now learned
to be angry at myself for things past, that I might
not sin in time to come I Yea, to be justly angry;
for it was not another nature of dark spirits which

Online LibraryWilliam Greenough Thayer Shedd Saint Augustine (Bishop of Hippo.)The confessions of Augustine → online text (page 16 of 31)