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The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Saint Augustine

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*Portions of this header are copyright (C) 2001 by Michael Hart*

This etext was produced by Dudley P. Duck.

This etext was prepared by Robert S. Munday, e-mail rmunday@att.net
from the 1921 Chatto & Windus edition.

AD 401

Translated by Edward Bouverie Pusey


Great art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy
power, and Thy wisdom infinite. And Thee would man praise; man, but
a particle of Thy creation; man, that bears about him his mortality,
the witness of his sin, the witness that Thou resistest the proud: yet
would man praise Thee; he, but a particle of Thy creation. Thou
awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself,
and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee. Grant me, Lord, to
know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee?
and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee,
not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as
other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we
may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not
believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they
that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find
Him, and they that find shall praise Him. I will seek Thee, Lord, by
calling on Thee; and will call on Thee, believing in Thee; for to us
hast Thou been preached. My faith, Lord, shall call on Thee, which
Thou hast given me, wherewith Thou hast inspired me, through the
Incarnation of Thy Son, through the ministry of the Preacher.

And how shall I call upon my God, my God and Lord, since, when I
call for Him, I shall be calling Him to myself? and what room is there
within me, whither my God can come into me? whither can God come
into me, God who made heaven and earth? is there, indeed, O Lord my
God, aught in me that can contain Thee? do then heaven and earth,
which Thou hast made, and wherein Thou hast made me, contain Thee? or,
because nothing which exists could exist without Thee, doth
therefore whatever exists contain Thee? Since, then, I too exist,
why do I seek that Thou shouldest enter into me, who were not, wert
Thou not in me? Why? because I am not gone down in hell, and yet
Thou art there also. For if I go down into hell, Thou art there. I
could not be then, O my God, could not be at all, wert Thou not in me;
or, rather, unless I were in Thee, of whom are all things, by whom are
all things, in whom are all things? Even so, Lord, even so. Whither do
I call Thee, since I am in Thee? or whence canst Thou enter into me?
for whither can I go beyond heaven and earth, that thence my God
should come into me, who hath said, I fill the heaven and the earth.

Do the heaven and earth then contain Thee, since Thou fillest
them? or dost Thou fill them and yet overflow, since they do not
contain Thee? And whither, when the heaven and the earth are filled,
pourest Thou forth the remainder of Thyself? or hast Thou no need that
aught contain Thee, who containest all things, since what Thou fillest
Thou fillest by containing it? for the vessels which Thou fillest
uphold Thee not, since, though they were broken, Thou wert not
poured out. And when Thou art poured out on us, Thou art not cast
down, but Thou upliftest us; Thou art not dissipated, but Thou
gatherest us. But Thou who fillest all things, fillest Thou them
with Thy whole self? or, since all things cannot contain Thee
wholly, do they contain part of Thee? and all at once the same part?
or each its own part, the greater more, the smaller less? And is, then
one part of Thee greater, another less? or, art Thou wholly every
where, while nothing contains Thee wholly?

What art Thou then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is
Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most
good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most
hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong, stable, yet
incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never
old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it
not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking;
supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and
maturing; seeking, yet having all things. Thou lovest, without
passion; art jealous, without anxiety; repentest, yet grievest not;
art angry, yet serene; changest Thy works, Thy purpose unchanged;
receivest again what Thou findest, yet didst never lose; never in
need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. Thou
receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe; and who hath aught
that is not Thine? Thou payest debts, owing nothing; remittest
debts, losing nothing. And what had I now said, my God, my life, my
holy joy? or what saith any man when he speaks of Thee? Yet woe to him
that speaketh not, since mute are even the most eloquent.

Oh! that I might repose on Thee! Oh! that Thou wouldest enter into
my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace
Thee, my sole good! What art Thou to me? In Thy pity, teach me to
utter it. Or what am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and, if
I give it not, art wroth with me, and threatenest me with grievous
woes? Is it then a slight woe to love Thee not? Oh! for Thy mercies'
sake, tell me, O Lord my God, what Thou art unto me. Say unto my soul,
I am thy salvation. So speak, that I may hear. Behold, Lord, my
heart is before Thee; open Thou the ears thereof, and say unto my
soul, I am thy salvation. After this voice let me haste, and take hold
on Thee. Hide not Thy face from me. Let me die- lest I die- only let
me see Thy face.

Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou
mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within
which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it. But who shall
cleanse it? or to whom should I cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me
from my secret faults, and spare Thy servant from the power of the
enemy. I believe, and therefore do I speak. Lord, Thou knowest. Have I
not confessed against myself my transgressions unto Thee, and Thou, my
God, hast forgiven the iniquity of my heart? I contend not in judgment
with Thee, who art the truth; I fear to deceive myself; lest mine
iniquity lie unto itself. Therefore I contend not in judgment with
Thee; for if Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who
shall abide it?

Yet suffer me to speak unto Thy mercy, me, dust and ashes. Yet
suffer me to speak, since I speak to Thy mercy, and not to scornful
man. Thou too, perhaps, despisest me, yet wilt Thou return and have
compassion upon me. For what would I say, O Lord my God, but that I
know not whence I came into this dying life (shall I call it?) or
living death. Then immediately did the comforts of Thy compassion take
me up, as I heard (for I remember it not) from the parents of my
flesh, out of whose substance Thou didst sometime fashion me. Thus
there received me the comforts of woman's milk. For neither my
mother nor my nurses stored their own breasts for me; but Thou didst
bestow the food of my infancy through them, according to Thine
ordinance, whereby Thou distributest Thy riches through the hidden
springs of all things. Thou also gavest me to desire no more than Thou
gavest; and to my nurses willingly to give me what Thou gavest them.
For they, with a heaven-taught affection, willingly gave me what
they abounded with from Thee. For this my good from them, was good for
them. Nor, indeed, from them was it, but through them; for from
Thee, O God, are all good things, and from my God is all my health.
This I since learned, Thou, through these Thy gifts, within me and
without, proclaiming Thyself unto me. For then I knew but to suck;
to repose in what pleased, and cry at what offended my flesh;
nothing more.

Afterwards I began to smile; first in sleep, then waking: for so
it was told me of myself, and I believed it; for we see the like in
other infants, though of myself I remember it not. Thus, little by
little, I became conscious where I was; and to have a wish to
express my wishes to those who could content them, and I could not;
for the wishes were within me, and they without; nor could they by any
sense of theirs enter within my spirit. So I flung about at random
limbs and voice, making the few signs I could, and such as I could,
like, though in truth very little like, what I wished. And when I
was not presently obeyed (my wishes being hurtful or
unintelligible), then I was indignant with my elders for not
submitting to me, with those owing me no service, for not serving
me; and avenged myself on them by tears. Such have I learnt infants to
be from observing them; and that I was myself such, they, all
unconscious, have shown me better than my nurses who knew it.

And, lo! my infancy died long since, and I live. But Thou, Lord, who
for ever livest, and in whom nothing dies: for before the foundation
of the worlds, and before all that can be called "before," Thou art,
and art God and Lord of all which Thou hast created: in Thee abide,
fixed for ever, the first causes of all things unabiding; and of all
things changeable, the springs abide in Thee unchangeable: and in Thee
live the eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and temporal.
Say, Lord, to me, Thy suppliant; say, all-pitying, to me, Thy pitiable
one; say, did my infancy succeed another age of mine that died
before it? was it that which I spent within my mother's womb? for of
that I have heard somewhat, and have myself seen women with child? and
what before that life again, O God my joy, was I any where or any
body? For this have I none to tell me, neither father nor mother,
nor experience of others, nor mine own memory. Dost Thou mock me for
asking this, and bid me praise Thee and acknowledge Thee, for that I
do know?

I acknowledge Thee, Lord of heaven and earth, and praise Thee for my
first rudiments of being, and my infancy, whereof I remember
nothing; for Thou hast appointed that man should from others guess
much as to himself; and believe much on the strength of weak
females. Even then I had being and life, and (at my infancy's close) I
could seek for signs whereby to make known to others my sensations.
Whence could such a being be, save from Thee, Lord? Shall any be his
own artificer? or can there elsewhere be derived any vein, which may
stream essence and life into us, save from thee, O Lord, in whom
essence and life are one? for Thou Thyself art supremely Essence and
Life. For Thou art most high, and art not changed, neither in Thee
doth to-day come to a close; yet in Thee doth it come to a close;
because all such things also are in Thee. For they had no way to
pass away, unless Thou upheldest them. And since Thy years fail not,
Thy years are one to-day. How many of ours and our fathers' years have
flowed away through Thy "to-day," and from it received the measure and
the mould of such being as they had; and still others shall flow away,
and so receive the mould of their degree of being. But Thou art
still the same, and all things of tomorrow, and all beyond, and all of
yesterday, and all behind it, Thou hast done to-day. What is it to me,
though any comprehend not this? Let him also rejoice and say, What
thing is this? Let him rejoice even thus! and be content rather by not
discovering to discover Thee, than by discovering not to discover

Hear, O God. Alas, for man's sin! So saith man, and Thou pitiest
him; for Thou madest him, but sin in him Thou madest not. Who
remindeth me of the sins of my infancy? for in Thy sight none is
pure from sin, not even the infant whose life is but a day upon the
earth. Who remindeth me? doth not each little infant, in whom I see
what of myself I remember not? What then was my sin? was it that I
hung upon the breast and cried? for should I now so do for food
suitable to my age, justly should I be laughed at and reproved. What I
then did was worthy reproof; but since I could not understand reproof,
custom and reason forbade me to be reproved. For those habits, when
grown, we root out and cast away. Now no man, though he prunes,
wittingly casts away what is good. Or was it then good, even for a
while, to cry for what, if given, would hurt? bitterly to resent, that
persons free, and its own elders, yea, the very authors of its
birth, served it not? that many besides, wiser than it, obeyed not the
nod of its good pleasure? to do its best to strike and hurt, because
commands were not obeyed, which had been obeyed to its hurt? The
weakness then of infant limbs, not its will, is its innocence.
Myself have seen and known even a baby envious; it could not speak,
yet it turned pale and looked bitterly on its foster-brother. Who
knows not this? Mothers and nurses tell you that they allay these
things by I know not what remedies. Is that too innocence, when the
fountain of milk is flowing in rich abundance, not to endure one to
share it, though in extremest need, and whose very life as yet depends
thereon? We bear gently with all this, not as being no or slight
evils, but because they will disappear as years increase; for,
though tolerated now, the very same tempers are utterly intolerable
when found in riper years.

Thou, then, O Lord my God, who gavest life to this my infancy,
furnishing thus with senses (as we see) the frame Thou gavest,
compacting its limbs, ornamenting its proportions, and, for its
general good and safety, implanting in it all vital functions, Thou
commandest me to praise Thee in these things, to confess unto Thee,
and sing unto Thy name, Thou most Highest. For Thou art God,
Almighty and Good, even hadst Thou done nought but only this, which
none could do but Thou: whose Unity is the mould of all things; who
out of Thy own fairness makest all things fair; and orderest all
things by Thy law. This age then, Lord, whereof I have no remembrance,
which I take on others' word, and guess from other infants that I have
passed, true though the guess be, I am yet loth to count in this
life of mine which I live in this world. For no less than that which I
spent in my mother's womb, is it hid from me in the shadows of
forgetfulness. But if I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my
mother conceive me, where, I beseech Thee, O my God, where, Lord, or
when, was I Thy servant guiltless? But, lo! that period I pass by; and
what have I now to do with that, of which I can recall no vestige?

Passing hence from infancy, I came to boyhood, or rather it came
to me, displacing infancy. Nor did that depart,- (for whither went
it?)- and yet it was no more. For I was no longer a speechless infant,
but a speaking boy. This I remember; and have since observed how I
learned to speak. It was not that my elders taught me words (as,
soon after, other learning) in any set method; but I, longing by cries
and broken accents and various motions of my limbs to express my
thoughts, that so I might have my will, and yet unable to express
all I willed, or to whom I willed, did myself, by the understanding
which Thou, my God, gavest me, practise the sounds in my memory.
When they named any thing, and as they spoke turned towards it, I
saw and remembered that they called what they would point out by the
name they uttered. And that they meant this thing and no other was
plain from the motion of their body, the natural language, as it were,
of all nations, expressed by the countenance, glances of the eye,
gestures of the limbs, and tones of the voice, indicating the
affections of the mind, as it pursues, possesses, rejects, or shuns.
And thus by constantly hearing words, as they occurred in various
sentences, I collected gradually for what they stood; and having
broken in my mouth to these signs, I thereby gave utterance to my
will. Thus I exchanged with those about me these current signs of
our wills, and so launched deeper into the stormy intercourse of human
life, yet depending on parental authority and the beck of elders.

O God my God, what miseries and mockeries did I now experience, when
obedience to my teachers was proposed to me, as proper in a boy, in
order that in this world I might prosper, and excel in tongue-science,
which should serve to the "praise of men," and to deceitful riches.
Next I was put to school to get learning, in which I (poor wretch)
knew not what use there was; and yet, if idle in learning, I was
beaten. For this was judged right by our forefathers; and many,
passing the same course before us, framed for us weary paths,
through which we were fain to pass; multiplying toil and grief upon
the sons of Adam. But, Lord, we found that men called upon Thee, and
we learnt from them to think of Thee (according to our powers) as of
some great One, who, though hidden from our senses, couldest hear
and help us. For so I began, as a boy, to pray to Thee, my aid and
refuge; and broke the fetters of my tongue to call on Thee, praying
Thee, though small, yet with no small earnestness, that I might not be
beaten at school. And when Thou heardest me not (not thereby giving me
over to folly), my elders, yea my very parents, who yet wished me no
ill, mocked my stripes, my then great and grievous ill.

Is there, Lord, any of soul so great, and cleaving to Thee with so
intense affection (for a sort of stupidity will in a way do it); but
is there any one who, from cleaving devoutly to Thee, is endued with
so great a spirit, that he can think as lightly of the racks and hooks
and other torments (against which, throughout all lands, men call on
Thee with extreme dread), mocking at those by whom they are feared
most bitterly, as our parents mocked the torments which we suffered in
boyhood from our masters? For we feared not our torments less; nor
prayed we less to Thee to escape them. And yet we sinned, in writing
or reading or studying less than was exacted of us. For we wanted not,
O Lord, memory or capacity, whereof Thy will gave enough for our
age; but our sole delight was play; and for this we were punished by
those who yet themselves were doing the like. But elder folks'
idleness is called "business"; that of boys, being really the same, is
punished by those elders; and none commiserates either boys or men.
For will any of sound discretion approve of my being beaten as a
boy, because, by playing a ball, I made less progress in studies which
I was to learn, only that, as a man, I might play more
unbeseemingly? and what else did he who beat me? who, if worsted in
some trifling discussion with his fellow-tutor, was more embittered
and jealous than I when beaten at ball by a play-fellow?

And yet, I sinned herein, O Lord God, the Creator and Disposer of
all things in nature, of sin the Disposer only, O Lord my God, I
sinned in transgressing the commands of my parents and those of my
masters. For what they, with whatever motive, would have me learn, I
might afterwards have put to good use. For I disobeyed, not from a
better choice, but from love of play, loving the pride of victory in
my contests, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables, that
they might itch the more; the same curiosity flashing from my eyes
more and more, for the shows and games of my elders. Yet those who
give these shows are in such esteem, that almost all wish the same for
their children, and yet are very willing that they should be beaten,
if those very games detain them from the studies, whereby they would
have them attain to be the givers of them. Look with pity, Lord, on
these things, and deliver us who call upon Thee now; deliver those too
who call not on Thee yet, that they may call on Thee, and Thou
mayest deliver them.

As a boy, then, I had already heard of an eternal life, promised
us through the humility of the Lord our God stooping to our pride; and
even from the womb of my mother, who greatly hoped in Thee, I was
sealed with the mark of His cross and salted with His salt. Thou
sawest, Lord, how while yet a boy, being seized on a time with
sudden oppression of the stomach, and like near to death- Thou sawest,
my God (for Thou wert my keeper), with what eagerness and what faith I
sought, from the pious care of my mother and Thy Church, the mother of
us all, the baptism of Thy Christ, my God and Lord. Whereupon the
mother my flesh, being much troubled (since, with a heart pure in
Thy faith, she even more lovingly travailed in birth of my salvation),
would in eager haste have provided for my consecration and cleansing
by the health-giving sacraments, confessing Thee, Lord Jesus, for
the remission of sins, unless I had suddenly recovered. And so, as
if I must needs be again polluted should I live, my cleansing was
deferred, because the defilements of sin would, after that washing,
bring greater and more perilous guilt. I then already believed: and my
mother, and the whole household, except my father: yet did not he
prevail over the power of my mother's piety in me, that as he did
not yet believe, so neither should I. For it was her earnest care that
Thou my God, rather than he, shouldest be my father; and in this
Thou didst aid her to prevail over her husband, whom she, the
better, obeyed, therein also obeying Thee, who hast so commanded.

I beseech Thee, my God, I would fain know, if so Thou willest, for
what purpose my baptism was then deferred? was it for my good that the
rein was laid loose, as it were, upon me, for me to sin? or was it not
laid loose? If not, why does it still echo in our ears on all sides,
"Let him alone, let him do as he will, for he is not yet baptised?"
but as to bodily health, no one says, "Let him be worse wounded, for
he is not yet healed." How much better then, had I been at once
healed; and then, by my friends' and my own, my soul's recovered
health had been kept safe in Thy keeping who gavest it. Better
truly. But how many and great waves of temptation seemed to hang
over me after my boyhood! These my mother foresaw; and preferred to
expose to them the clay whence I might afterwards be moulded, than the
very cast, when made.

In boyhood itself, however (so much less dreaded for me than youth),
I loved not study, and hated to be forced to it. Yet I was forced; and
this was well done towards me, but I did not well; for, unless forced,
I had not learnt. But no one doth well against his will, even though
what he doth, be well. Yet neither did they well who forced me, but
what was well came to me from Thee, my God. For they were regardless
how I should employ what they forced me to learn, except to satiate
the insatiate desires of a wealthy beggary, and a shameful glory.
But Thou, by whom the very hairs of our head are numbered, didst use
for my good the error of all who urged me to learn; and my own, who
would not learn, Thou didst use for my punishment- a fit penalty for
one, so small a boy and so great a sinner. So by those who did not
well, Thou didst well for me; and by my own sin Thou didst justly
punish me. For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.

But why did I so much hate the Greek, which I studied as a boy? I do
not yet fully know. For the Latin I loved; not what my first
masters, but what the so-called grammarians taught me. For those first
lessons, reading, writing and arithmetic, I thought as great a
burden and penalty as any Greek. And yet whence was this too, but from
the sin and vanity of this life, because I was flesh, and a breath
that passeth away and cometh not again? For those first lessons were
better certainly, because more certain; by them I obtained, and
still retain, the power of reading what I find written, and myself
writing what I will; whereas in the others, I was forced to learn
the wanderings of one Aeneas, forgetful of my own, and to weep for
dead Dido, because she killed herself for love; the while, with dry
eyes, I endured my miserable self dying among these things, far from
Thee, O God my life.

For what more miserable than a miserable being who commiserates
not himself; weeping the death of Dido for love to Aeneas, but weeping
not his own death for want of love to Thee, O God. Thou light of my
heart, Thou bread of my inmost soul, Thou Power who givest vigour to
my mind, who quickenest my thoughts, I loved Thee not. I committed
fornication against Thee, and all around me thus fornicating there
echoed "Well done! well done!" for the friendship of this world is
fornication against Thee; and "Well done! well done!" echoes on till
one is ashamed not to he thus a man. And for all this I wept not, I
who wept for Dido slain, and "seeking by the sword a stroke and
wound extreme," myself seeking the while a worse extreme, the
extremest and lowest of Thy creatures, having forsaken Thee, earth
passing into the earth. And if forbid to read all this, I was
grieved that I might not read what grieved me. Madness like this is
thought a higher and a richer learning, than that by which I learned
to read and write.

But now, my God, cry Thou aloud in my soul; and let Thy truth tell
me, "Not so, not so. Far better was that first study." For, lo, I
would readily forget the wanderings of Aeneas and all the rest, rather
than how to read and write. But over the entrance of the Grammar
School is a vail drawn! true; yet is this not so much an emblem of
aught recondite, as a cloak of error. Let not those, whom I no
longer fear, cry out against me, while I confess to Thee, my God,
whatever my soul will, and acquiesce in the condemnation of my evil
ways, that I may love Thy good ways. Let not either buyers or
sellers of grammar-learning cry out against me. For if I question them
whether it be true that Aeneas came on a time to Carthage, as the poet
tells, the less learned will reply that they know not, the more
learned that he never did. But should I ask with what letters the name
"Aeneas" is written, every one who has learnt this will answer me
aright, as to the signs which men have conventionally settled. If,
again, I should ask which might be forgotten with least detriment to
the concerns of life, reading and writing or these poetic fictions?
who does not foresee what all must answer who have not wholly
forgotten themselves? I sinned, then, when as a boy I preferred
those empty to those more profitable studies, or rather loved the
one and hated the other. "One and one, two"; "two and two, four"; this
was to me a hateful singsong: "the wooden horse lined with armed men,"
and "the burning of Troy," and "Creusa's shade and sad similitude,"
were the choice spectacle of my vanity.

Why then did I hate the Greek classics, which have the like tales?
For Homer also curiously wove the like fictions, and is most
sweetlyvain, yet was he bitter to my boyish taste. And so I suppose
would Virgil be to Grecian children, when forced to learn him as I was
Homer. Difficulty, in truth, the difficulty of a foreign tongue,
dashed, as it were, with gall all the sweetness of Grecian fable.
For not one word of it did I understand, and to make me understand I
was urged vehemently with cruel threats and punishments. Time was also
(as an infant) I knew no Latin; but this I learned without fear or
suffering, by mere observation, amid the caresses of my nursery and
jests of friends, smiling and sportively encouraging me. This I
learned without any pressure of punishment to urge me on, for my heart
urged me to give birth to its conceptions, which I could only do by
learning words not of those who taught, but of those who talked with
me; in whose ears also I gave birth to the thoughts, whatever I
conceived. No doubt, then, that a free curiosity has more force in our
learning these things, than a frightful enforcement. Only this
enforcement restrains the rovings of that freedom, through Thy laws, O
my God, Thy laws, from the master's cane to the martyr's trials, being
able to temper for us a wholesome bitter, recalling us to Thyself from
that deadly pleasure which lures us from Thee.

Hear, Lord, my prayer; let not my soul faint under Thy discipline,
nor let me faint in confessing unto Thee all Thy mercies, whereby Thou
hast drawn me out of all my most evil ways, that Thou mightest
become a delight to me above all the allurements which I once pursued;
that I may most entirely love Thee, and clasp Thy hand with all my
affections, and Thou mayest yet rescue me from every temptation,
even unto the end. For lo, O Lord, my King and my God, for Thy service
be whatever useful thing my childhood learned; for Thy service, that I
speak, write, read, reckon. For Thou didst grant me Thy discipline,
while I was learning vanities; and my sin of delighting in those
vanities Thou hast forgiven. In them, indeed, I learnt many a useful
word, but these may as well be learned in things not vain; and that is
the safe path for the steps of youth.

But woe is thee, thou torrent of human custom! Who shall stand
against thee? how long shalt thou not be dried up? how long roll the
sons of Eve into that huge and hideous ocean, which even they scarcely
overpass who climb the cross? Did not I read in thee of Jove the
thunderer and the adulterer? both, doubtless, he could not be; but
so the feigned thunder might countenance and pander to real
adultery. And now which of our gowned masters lends a sober ear to one
who from their own school cries out, "These were Homer's fictions,
transferring things human to the gods; would he had brought down
things divine to us!" Yet more truly had he said, "These are indeed
his fictions; but attributing a divine nature to wicked men, that
crimes might be no longer crimes, and whoso commits them might seem to
imitate not abandoned men, but the celestial gods."

And yet, thou hellish torrent, into thee are cast the sons of men
with rich rewards, for compassing such learning; and a great solemnity
is made of it, when this is going on in the forum, within sight of
laws appointing a salary beside the scholar's payments; and thou
lashest thy rocks and roarest, "Hence words are learnt; hence
eloquence; most necessary to gain your ends, or maintain opinions." As
if we should have never known such words as "golden shower," "lap,"
"beguile," "temples of the heavens," or others in that passage, unless
Terence had brought a lewd youth upon the stage, setting up Jupiter as
his example of seduction.

"Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn,
Of Jove's descending in a golden shower
To Danae's lap a woman to beguile."

And then mark how he excites himself to lust as by celestial

"And what God? Great Jove,
Who shakes heaven's highest temples with his thunder,

And I, poor mortal man, not do the same!
I did it, and with all my heart I did it."

Not one whit more easily are the words learnt for all this vileness;
but by their means the vileness is committed with less shame. Not that
I blame the words, being, as it were, choice and precious vessels; but
that wine of error which is drunk to us in them by intoxicated
teachers; and if we, too, drink not, we are beaten, and have no
sober judge to whom we may appeal. Yet, O my God (in whose presence
I now without hurt may remember this), all this unhappily I learnt
willingly with great delight, and for this was pronounced a hopeful

Bear with me, my God, while I say somewhat of my wit, Thy gift,
and on what dotages I wasted it. For a task was set me, troublesome
enough to my soul, upon terms of praise or shame, and fear of stripes,
to speak the words of Juno, as she raged and mourned that she could

"This Trojan prince from Latinum turn."

Which words I had heard that Juno never uttered; but we were forced to
go astray in the footsteps of these poetic fictions, and to say in
prose much what he expressed in verse. And his speaking was most
applauded, in whom the passions of rage and grief were most
preeminent, and clothed in the most fitting language, maintaining
the dignity of the character. What is it to me, O my true life, my
God, that my declamation was applauded above so many of my own age and
class? is not all this smoke and wind? and was there nothing else
whereon to exercise my wit and tongue? Thy praises, Lord, Thy
praises might have stayed the yet tender shoot of my heart by the prop
of Thy Scriptures; so had it not trailed away amid these empty
trifles, a defiled prey for the fowls of the air. For in more ways
than one do men sacrifice to the rebellious angels.

But what marvel that I was thus carried away to vanities, and went
out from Thy presence, O my God, when men were set before me as
models, who, if in relating some action of theirs, in itself not
ill, they committed some barbarism or solecism, being censured, were
abashed; but when in rich and adomed and well-ordered discourse they
related their own disordered life, being bepraised, they gloried?
These things Thou seest, Lord, and holdest Thy peace;
long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Wilt Thou hold Thy
peace for ever? and even now Thou drawest out of this horrible gulf
the soul that seeketh Thee, that thirsteth for Thy pleasures, whose
heart saith unto Thee, I have sought Thy face; Thy face, Lord, will
I seek. For darkened affections is removal from Thee. For it is not by
our feet, or change of place, that men leave Thee, or return unto
Thee. Or did that Thy younger son look out for horses or chariots,
or ships, fly with visible wings, or journey by the motion of his
limbs, that he might in a far country waste in riotous living all Thou
gavest at his departure? a loving Father, when Thou gavest, and more
loving unto him, when he returned empty. So then in lustful, that
is, in darkened affections, is the true distance from Thy face.

Behold, O Lord God, yea, behold patiently as Thou art wont how
carefully the sons of men observe the covenanted rules of letters
and syllables received from those who spake before them, neglecting
the eternal covenant of everlasting salvation received from Thee.
Insomuch, that a teacher or learner of the hereditary laws of
pronunciation will more offend men by speaking without the aspirate,
of a "uman being," in despite of the laws of grammar, than if he, a
"human being," hate a "human being" in despite of Thine. As if any
enemy could be more hurtful than the hatred with which he is
incensed against him; or could wound more deeply him whom he
persecutes, than he wounds his own soul by his enmity. Assuredly no
science of letters can be so innate as the record of conscience, "that
he is doing to another what from another he would be loth to
suffer." How deep are Thy ways, O God, Thou only great, that sittest
silent on high and by an unwearied law dispensing penal blindness to
lawless desires. In quest of the fame of eloquence, a man standing
before a human judge, surrounded by a human throng, declaiming against
his enemy with fiercest hatred, will take heed most watchfully,
lest, by an error of the tongue, he murder the word "human being"; but
takes no heed, lest, through the fury of his spirit, he murder the
real human being.

This was the world at whose gate unhappy I lay in my boyhood; this
the stage where I had feared more to commit a barbarism, than having
committed one, to envy those who had not. These things I speak and
confess to Thee, my God; for which I had praise from them, whom I then
thought it all virtue to please. For I saw not the abyss of
vileness, wherein I was cast away from Thine eyes. Before them what
more foul than I was already, displeasing even such as myself? with
innumerable lies deceiving my tutor, my masters, my parents, from love
of play, eagerness to see vain shows and restlessness to imitate them!
Thefts also I committed, from my parents' cellar and table, enslaved
by greediness, or that I might have to give to boys, who sold me their
play, which all the while they liked no less than I. In this play,
too, I often sought unfair conquests, conquered myself meanwhile by
vain desire of preeminence. And what could I so ill endure, or, when I
detected it, upbraided I so fiercely, as that I was doing to others?
and for which if, detected, I was upbraided, I chose rather to quarrel
than to yield. And is this the innocence of boyhood? Not so, Lord, not
so; I cry Thy mercy, my God. For these very sins, as riper years
succeed, these very sins are transferred from tutors and masters, from
nuts and balls and sparrows, to magistrates and kings, to gold and
manors and slaves, just as severer punishments displace the cane. It
was the low stature then of childhood which Thou our King didst
commend as an emblem of lowliness, when Thou saidst, Of such is the
kingdom of heaven.

Yet, Lord, to Thee, the Creator and Governor of the universe, most
excellent and most good, thanks were due to Thee our God, even hadst
Thou destined for me boyhood only. For even then I was, I lived, and
felt; and had an implanted providence over my well-being- a trace of
that mysterious Unity whence I was derived; I guarded by the inward
sense the entireness of my senses, and in these minute pursuits, and
in my thoughts on things minute, I learnt to delight in truth, I hated
to be deceived, had a vigorous memory, was gifted with speech, was
soothed by friendship, avoided pain, baseness, ignorance. In so
small a creature, what was not wonderful, not admirable? But all are
gifts of my God: it was not I who gave them me; and good these are,
and these together are myself. Good, then, is He that made me, and
He is my good; and before Him will I exult for every good which of a
boy I had. For it was my sin, that not in Him, but in His creatures-
myself and others- I sought for pleasures, sublimities, truths, and so
fell headlong into sorrows, confusions, errors. Thanks be to Thee,
my joy and my glory and my confidence, my God, thanks be to Thee for
Thy gifts; but do Thou preserve them to me. For so wilt Thou
preserve me, and those things shall be enlarged and perfected which
Thou hast given me, and I myself shall be with Thee, since even to
be Thou hast given me.


I will now call to mind my past foulness, and the carnal corruptions
of my soul; not because I love them, but that I may love Thee, O my
God. For love of Thy love I do it; reviewing my most wicked ways in
the very bitterness of my remembrance, that Thou mayest grow sweet
unto me (Thou sweetness never failing, Thou blissful and assured
sweetness); and gathering me again out of that my dissipation, wherein
I was torn piecemeal, while turned from Thee, the One Good, I lost
myself among a multiplicity of things. For I even burnt in my youth
heretofore, to be satiated in things below; and I dared to grow wild
again, with these various and shadowy loves: my beauty consumed
away, and I stank in Thine eyes; pleasing myself, and desirous to
please in the eyes of men.

And what was it that I delighted in, but to love, and be loved?
but I kept not the measure of love, of mind to mind, friendship's
bright boundary: but out of the muddy concupiscence of the flesh,
and the bubblings of youth, mists fumed up which beclouded and
overcast my heart, that I could not discern the clear brightness of
love from the fog of lustfulness. Both did confusedly boil in me,
and hurried my unstayed youth over the precipice of unholy desires,
and sunk me in a gulf of flagitiousnesses. Thy wrath had gathered over
me, and I knew it not. I was grown deaf by the clanking of the chain
of my mortality, the punishment of the pride of my soul, and I strayed
further from Thee, and Thou lettest me alone, and I was tossed
about, and wasted, and dissipated, and I boiled over in my
fornications, and Thou heldest Thy peace, O Thou my tardy joy! Thou
then heldest Thy peace, and I wandered further and further from
Thee, into more and more fruitless seed-plots of sorrows, with a proud
dejectedness, and a restless weariness.

Oh! that some one had then attempered my disorder, and turned to
account the fleeting beauties of these, the extreme points of Thy
creation! had put a bound to their pleasureableness, that so the tides
of my youth might have cast themselves upon the marriage shore, if
they could not be calmed, and kept within the object of a family, as
Thy law prescribes, O Lord: who this way formest the offspring of this
our death, being able with a gentle hand to blunt the thorns which
were excluded from Thy paradise? For Thy omnipotency is not far from
us, even when we be far from Thee. Else ought I more watchfully to
have heeded the voice from the clouds: Nevertheless such shall have
trouble in the flesh, but I spare you. And it is good for a man not to
touch a woman. And, he that is unmarried thinketh of the things of the
Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is married careth for
the things of this world, how he may please his wife.

To these words I should have listened more attentively, and being
severed for the kingdom of heaven's sake, had more happily awaited Thy
embraces; but I, poor wretch, foamed like a troubled sea, following
the rushing of my own tide, forsaking Thee, and exceeded all Thy
limits; yet I escaped not Thy scourges. For what mortal can? For
Thou wert ever with me mercifully rigorous, and besprinkling with most
bitter alloy all my unlawful pleasures: that I might seek pleasures
without alloy. But where to find such, I could not discover, save in
Thee, O Lord, who teachest by sorrow, and woundest us, to heal; and
killest us, lest we die from Thee. Where was I, and how far was I
exiled from the delights of Thy house, in that sixteenth year of the
age of my flesh, when the madness of lust (to which human
shamelessness giveth free licence, though unlicensed by Thy laws) took
the rule over me, and I resigned myself wholly to it? My friends
meanwhile took no care by marriage to save my fall; their only care
was that I should learn to speak excellently, and be a persuasive

For that year were my studies intermitted: whilst after my return
from Madaura (a neighbour city, whither I had journeyed to learn
grammar and rhetoric), the expenses for a further journey to
Carthage were being provided for me; and that rather by the resolution
than the means of my father, who was but a poor freeman of Thagaste.
To whom tell I this? not to Thee, my God; but before Thee to mine
own kind, even to that small portion of mankind as may light upon
these writings of mine. And to what purpose? that whosoever reads
this, may think out of what depths we are to cry unto Thee. For what
is nearer to Thine ears than a confessing heart, and a life of
faith? Who did not extol my father, for that beyond the ability of his
means, he would furnish his son with all necessaries for a far journey
for his studies' sake? For many far abler citizens did no such thing
for their children. But yet this same father had no concern how I grew
towards Thee, or how chaste I were; so that I were but copious in
speech, however barren I were to Thy culture, O God, who art the
only true and good Lord of Thy field, my heart.

But while in that my sixteenth year I lived with my parents, leaving
all school for a while (a season of idleness being interposed
through the narrowness of my parents' fortunes), the briers of unclean
desires grew rank over my head, and there was no hand to root them
out. When that my father saw me at the baths, now growing towards
manhood, and endued with a restless youthfulness, he, as already hence
anticipating his descendants, gladly told it to my mother; rejoicing
in that tumult of the senses wherein the world forgetteth Thee its
Creator, and becometh enamoured of Thy creature, instead of Thyself,
through the fumes of that invisible wine of its self-will, turning
aside and bowing down to the very basest things. But in my mother's
breast Thou hadst already begun Thy temple, and the foundation of
Thy holy habitation, whereas my father was as yet but a Catechumen,
and that but recently. She then was startled with a holy fear and
trembling; and though I was not as yet baptised, feared for me those
crooked ways in which they walk who turn their back to Thee, and not
their face.

Woe is me! and dare I say that Thou heldest Thy peace, O my God,
while I wandered further from Thee? Didst Thou then indeed hold Thy
peace to me? And whose but Thine were these words which by my
mother, Thy faithful one, Thou sangest in my ears? Nothing whereof
sunk into my heart, so as to do it. For she wished, and I remember
in private with great anxiety warned me, "not to commit fornication;
but especially never to defile another man's wife." These seemed to me
womanish advices, which I should blush to obey. But they were Thine,
and I knew it not: and I thought Thou wert silent and that it was
she who spake; by whom Thou wert not silent unto me; and in her wast
despised by me, her son, the son of Thy handmaid, Thy servant. But I
knew it not; and ran headlong with such blindness, that amongst my
equals I was ashamed of a less shamelessness, when I heard them
boast of their flagitiousness, yea, and the more boasting, the more
they were degraded: and I took pleasure, not only in the pleasure of
the deed, but in the praise. What is worthy of dispraise but vice? But
I made myself worse than I was, that I might not be dispraised; and
when in any thing I had not sinned as the abandoned ones, I would
say that I had done what I had not done, that I might not seem
contemptible in proportion as I was innocent; or of less account,
the more chaste.

Behold with what companions I walked the streets of Babylon, and
wallowed in the mire thereof, as if in a bed of spices and precious
ointments. And that I might cleave the faster to its very centre,
the invisible enemy trod me down, and seduced me, for that I was
easy to be seduced. Neither did the mother of my flesh (who had now
fled out of the centre of Babylon, yet went more slowly in the
skirts thereof as she advised me to chastity, so heed what she had
heard of me from her husband, as to restrain within the bounds of
conjugal affection (if it could not be pared away to the quick) what
she felt to be pestilent at present and for the future dangerous.
She heeded not this, for she feared lest a wife should prove a clog
and hindrance to my hopes. Not those hopes of the world to come, which
my mother reposed in Thee; but the hope of learning, which both my
parents were too desirous I should attain; my father, because he had
next to no thought of Thee, and of me but vain conceits; my mother,
because she accounted that those usual courses of learning would not
only be no hindrance, but even some furtherance towards attaining
Thee. For thus I conjecture, recalling, as well as I may, the
disposition of my parents. The reins, meantime, were slackened to
me, beyond all temper of due severity, to spend my time in sport, yea,
even unto dissoluteness in whatsoever I affected. And in all was a
mist, intercepting from me, O my God, the brightness of Thy truth; and
mine iniquity burst out as from very fatness.

Theft is punished by Thy law, O Lord, and the law written in the
hearts of men, which iniquity itself effaces not. For what thief
will abide a thief? not even a rich thief, one stealing through
want. Yet I lusted to thieve, and did it, compelled by no hunger,
nor poverty, but through a cloyedness of well-doing, and a
pamperedness of iniquity. For I stole that, of which I had enough, and
much better. Nor cared I to enjoy what I stole, but joyed in the theft
and sin itself. A pear tree there was near our vineyard, laden with
fruit, tempting neither for colour nor taste. To shake and rob this,
some lewd young fellows of us went, late one night (having according
to our pestilent custom prolonged our sports in the streets till
then), and took huge loads, not for our eating, but to fling to the
very hogs, having only tasted them. And this, but to do what we
liked only, because it was misliked. Behold my heart, O God, behold my
heart, which Thou hadst pity upon in the bottom of the bottomless pit.
Now, behold, let my heart tell Thee what it sought there, that I
should be gratuitously evil, having no temptation to ill, but the
ill itself. It was foul, and I loved it; I loved to perish, I loved
mine own fault, not that for which I was faulty, but my fault
itself. Foul soul, falling from Thy firmament to utter destruction;
not seeking aught through the shame, but the shame itself!

For there is an attractiveness in beautiful bodies, in gold and
silver, and all things; and in bodily touch, sympathy hath much
influence, and each other sense hath his proper object answerably
tempered. Wordly honour hath also its grace, and the power of
overcoming, and of mastery; whence springs also the thirst of revenge.
But yet, to obtain all these, we may not depart from Thee, O Lord, nor
decline from Thy law. The life also which here we live hath its own
enchantment, through a certain proportion of its own, and a
correspondence with all things beautiful here below. Human
friendship also is endeared with a sweet tie, by reason of the unity
formed of many souls. Upon occasion of all these, and the like, is sin
committed, while through an immoderate inclination towards these goods
of the lowest order, the better and higher are forsaken,- Thou, our
Lord God, Thy truth, and Thy law. For these lower things have their
delights, but not like my God, who made all things; for in Him doth
the righteous delight, and He is the joy of the upright in heart.

When, then, we ask why a crime was done, we believe it not, unless
it appear that there might have been some desire of obtaining some
of those which we called lower goods, or a fear of losing them. For
they are beautiful and comely; although compared with those higher and
beatific goods, they be abject and low. A man hath murdered another;
why? he loved his wife or his estate; or would rob for his own
livelihood; or feared to lose some such things by him; or, wronged,
was on fire to be revenged. Would any commit murder upon no cause,
delighted simply in murdering? who would believe it? for as for that
furious and savage man, of whom it is said that he was gratuitously
evil and cruel, yet is the cause assigned; "lest" (saith he)
"through idleness hand or heart should grow inactive." And to what
end? that, through that practice of guilt, he might, having taken
the city, attain to honours, empire, riches, and be freed from fear of
the laws, and his embarrassments from domestic needs, and
consciousness of villainies. So then, not even Catiline himself
loved his own villainies, but something else, for whose sake he did

What then did wretched I so love in thee, thou theft of mine, thou
deed of darkness, in that sixteenth year of my age? Lovely thou wert
not, because thou wert theft. But art thou any thing, that thus I
speak to thee? Fair were the pears we stole, because they were Thy
creation, Thou fairest of all, Creator of all, Thou good God; God, the
sovereign good and my true good. Fair were those pears, but not them
did my wretched soul desire; for I had store of better, and those I
gathered, only that I might steal. For, when gathered, I flung them
away, my only feast therein being my own sin, which I was pleased to
enjoy. For if aught of those pears came within my mouth, what
sweetened it was the sin. And now, O Lord my God, I enquire what in
that theft delighted me; and behold it hath no loveliness; I mean
not such loveliness as in justice and wisdom; nor such as is in the
mind and memory, and senses, and animal life of man; nor yet as the
stars are glorious and beautiful in their orbs; or the earth, or
sea, full of embryo-life, replacing by its birth that which
decayeth; nay, nor even that false and shadowy beauty which
belongeth to deceiving vices.

For so doth pride imitate exaltedness; whereas Thou alone art God
exalted over all. Ambition, what seeks it, but honours and glory?
whereas Thou alone art to be honoured above all, and glorious for
evermore. The cruelty of the great would fain be feared; but who is to
be feared but God alone, out of whose power what can be wrested or
withdrawn? when, or where, or whither, or by whom? The tendernesses of
the wanton would fain be counted love: yet is nothing more tender than
Thy charity; nor is aught loved more healthfully than that Thy
truth, bright and beautiful above all. Curiosity makes semblance of
a desire of knowledge; whereas Thou supremely knowest all. Yea,
ignorance and foolishness itself is cloaked under the name of
simplicity and uninjuriousness; because nothing is found more single
than Thee: and what less injurious, since they are his own works which
injure the sinner? Yea, sloth would fain be at rest; but what stable
rest besides the Lord? Luxury affects to be called plenty and
abundance; but Thou art the fulness and never-failing plenteousness of
incorruptible pleasures. Prodigality presents a shadow of
liberality: but Thou art the most overflowing Giver of all good.
Covetousness would possess many things; and Thou possessest all
things. Envy disputes for excellency: what more excellent than Thou?
Anger seeks revenge: who revenges more justly than Thou? Fear startles
at things unwonted and sudden, which endangers things beloved, and
takes forethought for their safety; but to Thee what unwonted or
sudden, or who separateth from Thee what Thou lovest? Or where but
with Thee is unshaken safety? Grief pines away for things lost, the
delight of its desires; because it would have nothing taken from it,
as nothing can from Thee.

Thus doth the soul commit fornication, when she turns from Thee,
seeking without Thee, what she findeth not pure and untainted, till
she returns to Thee. Thus all pervertedly imitate Thee, who remove far
from Thee, and lift themselves up against Thee. But even by thus
imitating Thee, they imply Thee to be the Creator of all nature;
whence there is no place whither altogether to retire from Thee.
What then did I love in that theft? and wherein did I even corruptly
and pervertedly imitate my Lord? Did I wish even by stealth to do
contrary to Thy law, because by power I could not, so that being a
prisoner, I might mimic a maimed liberty by doing with impunity things
unpermitted me, a darkened likeness of Thy Omnipotency? Behold, Thy
servant, fleeing from his Lord, and obtaining a shadow. O
rottenness, O monstrousness of life, and depth of death! could I
like what I might not, only because I might not?

What shall I render unto the Lord, that, whilst my memory recalls
these things, my soul is not affrighted at them? I will love Thee, O
Lord, and thank Thee, and confess unto Thy name; because Thou hast
forgiven me these so great and heinous deeds of mine. To Thy grace I
ascribe it, and to Thy mercy, that Thou hast melted away my sins as it
were ice. To Thy grace I ascribe also whatsoever I have not done of
evil; for what might I not have done, who even loved a sin for its own
sake? Yea, all I confess to have been forgiven me; both what evils I
committed by my own wilfulness, and what by Thy guidance I committed
not. What man is he, who, weighing his own infirmity, dares to ascribe
his purity and innocency to his own strength; that so he should love
Thee the less, as if he had less needed Thy mercy, whereby Thou
remittest sins to those that turn to Thee? For whosoever, called by
Thee, followed Thy voice, and avoided those things which he reads me
recalling and confessing of myself, let him not scorn me, who being
sick, was cured by that Physician, through whose aid it was that he
was not, or rather was less, sick: and for this let him love Thee as
much, yea and more; since by whom he sees me to have been recovered
from such deep consumption of sin, by Him he sees himself to have been
from the like consumption of sin preserved.

What fruit had I then (wretched man!) in those things, of the
remembrance whereof I am now ashamed? Especially, in that theft
which I loved for the theft's sake; and it too was nothing, and
therefore the more miserable I, who loved it. Yet alone I had not done
it: such was I then, I remember, alone I had never done it. I loved
then in it also the company of the accomplices, with whom I did it?
I did not then love nothing else but the theft, yea rather I did
love nothing else; for that circumstance of the company was also
nothing. What is, in truth? who can teach me, save He that
enlighteneth my heart, and discovereth its dark corners? What is it
which hath come into my mind to enquire, and discuss, and consider?
For had I then loved the pears I stole, and wished to enjoy them, I
might have done it alone, had the bare commission of the theft
sufficed to attain my pleasure; nor needed I have inflamed the itching
of my desires by the excitement of accomplices. But since my
pleasure was not in those pears, it was in the offence itself, which
the company of fellow-sinners occasioned.

What then was this feeling? For of a truth it was too foul: and
woe was me, who had it. But yet what was it? Who can understand his
errors? It was the sport, which as it were tickled our hearts, that we
beguiled those who little thought what we were doing, and much
disliked it. Why then was my delight of such sort that I did it not
alone? Because none doth ordinarily laugh alone? ordinarily no one;
yet laughter sometimes masters men alone and singly when on one
whatever is with them, if anything very ludicrous presents itself to
their senses or mind. Yet I had not done this alone; alone I had never
done it. Behold my God, before Thee, the vivid remembrance of my soul;
alone, I had never committed that theft wherein what I stole pleased
me not, but that I stole; nor had it alone liked me to do it, nor
had I done it. O friendship too unfriendly! thou incomprehensible
inveigler of the soul, thou greediness to do mischief out of mirth and
wantonness, thou thirst of others' loss, without lust of my own gain
or revenge: but when it is said, "Let's go, let's do it," we are
ashamed not to be shameless.

Who can disentangle that twisted and intricate knottiness? Foul is
it: I hate to think on it, to look on it. But Thee I long for, O
Righteousness and Innocency, beautiful and comely to all pure eyes,
and of a satisfaction unsating. With Thee is rest entire, and life
imperturbable. Whoso enters into Thee, enters into the joy of his
Lord: and shall not fear, and shall do excellently in the
All-Excellent. I sank away from Thee, and I wandered, O my God, too
much astray from Thee my stay, in these days of my youth, and I became
to myself a barren land.


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

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 birth. 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 others.

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

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 them.

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

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.


For this space of nine years (from my nineteenth year to my
eight-and-twentieth) we lived seduced and seducing, deceived and
deceiving, in divers lusts; openly, by sciences which they call
liberal; secretly, with a false-named religion; here proud, there
superstitious, every where vain. Here, hunting after the emptiness
of popular praise, down even to theatrical applauses, and poetic
prizes, and strifes for grassy garlands, and the follies of shows, and
the intemperance of desires. There, desiring to be cleansed from these
defilements, by carrying food to those who were called "elect" and
"holy," out of which, in the workhouse of their stomachs, they
should forge for us Angels and Gods, by whom we might be cleansed.
These things did I follow, and practise with my friends, deceived by
me, and with me. Let the arrogant mock me, and such as have not
been, to their soul's health, stricken and cast down by Thee, O my
God; but I would still confess to Thee mine own shame in Thy praise.
Suffer me, I beseech Thee, and give me grace to go over in my
present remembrance the wanderings of my forepassed time, and to offer
unto Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving. For what am I to myself
without Thee, but a guide to mine own downfall? or what am I even at
the best, but an infant sucking the milk Thou givest, and feeding upon
Thee, the food that perisheth not? But what sort of man is any man,
seeing he is but a man? Let now the strong and the mighty laugh at us,
but let us poor and needy confess unto Thee.

In those years I taught rhetoric, and, overcome by cupidity, made
sale of a loquacity to overcome by. Yet I preferred (Lord, Thou
knowest) honest scholars (as they are accounted), and these I, without
artifice, taught artifices, not to be practised against the life of
the guiltless, though sometimes for the life of the guilty. And
Thou, O God, from afar perceivedst me stumbling in that slippery
course, and amid much smoke sending out some sparks of faithfulness,
which I showed in that my guidance of such as loved vanity, and sought
after leasing, myself their companion. In those years I had one,
-not in that which is called lawful marriage, but whom I had found out
in a wayward passion, void of understanding; yet but one, remaining
faithful even to her; in whom I in my own case experienced what
difference there is betwixt the self-restraint of the
marriage-covenant, for the sake of issue, and the bargain of a lustful
love, where children are born against their parents' will, although,
once born, they constrain love.

I remember also, that when I had settled to enter the lists for a
theatrical prize, some wizard asked me what I would give him to win;
but I, detesting and abhorring such foul mysteries, answered,
"Though the garland were of imperishable gold, I would not suffer a
fly to be killed to gain me it. " For he was to kill some living
creatures in his sacrifices, and by those honours to invite the devils
to favour me. But this ill also I rejected, not out of a pure love for
Thee, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to love Thee, who knew not
how to conceive aught beyond a material brightness. And doth not a
soul, sighing after such fictions, commit fornication against Thee,
trust in things unreal, and feed the wind? Still I would not
forsooth have sacrifices offered to devils for me, to whom I was
sacrificing myself by that superstition. For what else is it to feed
the wind, but to feed them, that is by going astray to become their
pleasure and derision?

Those impostors then, whom they style Mathematicians, I consulted
without scruple; because they seemed to use no sacrifice, nor to
pray to any spirit for their divinations: which art, however,
Christian and true piety consistently rejects and condemns. For, it is
a good thing to confess unto Thee, and to say, Have mercy upon me,
heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee; and not to abuse Thy
mercy for a licence to sin, but to remember the Lord's words,
Behold, thou art made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto
thee. All which wholesome advice they labour to destroy, saying,
"The cause of thy sin is inevitably determined in heaven"; and "This
did Venus, or Saturn, or Mars": that man, forsooth, flesh and blood,
and proud corruption, might be blameless; while the Creator and
Ordainer of heaven and the stars is to bear the blame. And who is He
but our God? the very sweetness and well-spring of righteousness,
who renderest to every man according to his works: and a broken and
contrite heart wilt Thou not despise.

There was in those days a wise man, very skilful in physic, and
renowned therein, who had with his own proconsular hand put the
Agonistic garland upon my distempered head, but not as a physician:
for this disease Thou only curest, who resistest the proud, and givest
grace to the humble. But didst Thou fail me even by that old man, or
forbear to heal my soul? For having become more acquainted with him,
and hanging assiduously and fixedly on his speech (for though in
simple terms, it was vivid, lively, and earnest), when he had gathered
by my discourse that I was given to the books of nativity-casters,
he kindly and fatherly advised me to cast them away, and not
fruitlessly bestow a care and diligence, necessary for useful
things, upon these vanities; saying, that he had in his earliest years
studied that art, so as to make it the profession whereby he should
live, and that, understanding Hippocrates, he could soon have
understood such a study as this; and yet he had given it over, and
taken to physic, for no other reason but that he found it utterly
false; and he, a grave man, would not get his living by deluding
people. "But thou," saith he, "hast rhetoric to maintain thyself by,
so that thou followest this of free choice, not of necessity: the more
then oughtest thou to give me credit herein, who laboured to acquire
it so perfectly as to get my living by it alone." Of whom when I had
demanded, how then could many true things be foretold by it, he
answered me (as he could) "that the force of chance, diffused
throughout the whole order of things, brought this about. For if
when a man by haphazard opens the pages of some poet, who sang and
thought of something wholly different, a verse oftentimes fell out,
wondrously agreeable to the present business: it were not to be
wondered at, if out of the soul of man, unconscious what takes place
in it, by some higher instinct an answer should be given, by hap,
not by art, corresponding to the business and actions of the

And thus much, either from or through him, Thou conveyedst to me,
and tracedst in my memory, what I might hereafter examine for
myself. But at that time neither he, nor my dearest Nebridius, a youth
singularly good and of a holy fear, who derided the whole body of
divination, could persuade me to cast it aside, the authority of the
authors swaying me yet more, and as yet I had found no certain proof
(such as I sought) whereby it might without all doubt appear, that
what had been truly foretold by those consulted was the result of
haphazard, not of the art of the star-gazers.

In those years when I first began to teach rhetoric in my native
town, I had made one my friend, but too dear to me, from a community
of pursuits, of mine own age, and, as myself, in the first opening
flower of youth. He had grown up of a child with me, and we had been
both school-fellows and play-fellows. But he was not yet my friend
as afterwards, nor even then, as true friendship is; for true it
cannot be, unless in such as Thou cementest together, cleaving unto
Thee, by that love which is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Ghost, which is given unto us. Yet was it but too sweet, ripened by
the warmth of kindred studies: for, from the true faith (which he as a
youth had not soundly and thoroughly imbibed), I had warped him also
to those superstitious and pernicious fables, for which my mother
bewailed me. With me he now erred in mind, nor could my soul be
without him. But behold Thou wert close on the steps of Thy fugitives,
at once God of vengeance, and Fountain of mercies, turning us to
Thyself by wonderful means; Thou tookest that man out of this life,
when he had scarce filled up one whole year of my friendship, sweet to
me above all sweetness of that my life.

Who can recount all Thy praises, which he hath felt in his one self?
What diddest Thou then, my God, and how unsearchable is the abyss of
Thy judgments? For long, sore sick of a fever, he lay senseless in a
death-sweat; and his recovery being despaired of, he was baptised,
unknowing; myself meanwhile little regarding, and presuming that his
soul would retain rather what it had received of me, not what was
wrought on his unconscious body. But it proved far otherwise: for he
was refreshed, and restored. Forthwith, as soon as I could speak
with him (and I could, so soon as he was able, for I never left him,
and we hung but too much upon each other), I essayed to jest with him,
as though he would jest with me at that baptism which he had received,
when utterly absent in mind and feeling, but had now understood that
he had received. But he so shrunk from me, as from an enemy; and
with a wonderful and sudden freedom bade me, as I would continue his
friend, forbear such language to him. I, all astonished and amazed,
suppressed all my emotions till he should grow well, and his health
were strong enough for me to deal with him as I would. But he was
taken away from my frenzy, that with Thee he might be preserved for my
comfort; a few days after in my absence, he was attacked again by
the fever, and so departed.

At this grief my heart was utterly darkened; and whatever I beheld
was death. My native country was a torment to me, and my father's
house a strange unhappiness; and whatever I had shared with him,
wanting him, became a distracting torture. Mine eyes sought him
every where, but he was not granted them; and I hated all places,
for that they had not him; nor could they now tell me, "he is coming,"
as when he was alive and absent. I became a great riddle to myself,
and I asked my soul, why she was so sad, and why she disquieted me
sorely: but she knew not what to answer me. And if I said, Trust in
God, she very rightly obeyed me not; because that most dear friend,
whom she had lost, was, being man, both truer and better than that
phantasm she was bid to trust in. Only tears were sweet to me, for
they succeeded my friend, in the dearest of my affections.

And now, Lord, these things are passed by, and time hath assuaged my
wound. May I learn from Thee, who art Truth, and approach the ear of
my heart unto Thy mouth, that Thou mayest tell me why weeping is sweet
to the miserable? Hast Thou, although present every where, cast away
our misery far from Thee? And Thou abidest in Thyself, but we are
tossed about in divers trials. And yet unless we mourned in Thine
ears, we should have no hope left. Whence then is sweet fruit gathered
from the bitterness of life, from groaning, tears, sighs, and
complaints? Doth this sweeten it, that we hope Thou hearest? This is
true of prayer, for therein is a longing to approach unto Thee. But is
it also in grief for a thing lost, and the sorrow wherewith I was then
overwhelmed? For I neither hoped he should return to life nor did I
desire this with my tears; but I wept only and grieved. For I was
miserable, and had lost my joy. Or is weeping indeed a bitter thing,
and for very loathing of the things which we before enjoyed, does it
then, when we shrink from them, please us?

But what speak I of these things? for now is no time to question,
but to confess unto Thee. Wretched I was; and wretched is every soul
bound by the friendship of perishable things; he is torn asunder
when he loses them, and then he feels the wretchedness which he had
ere yet he lost them. So was it then with me; I wept most bitterly,
and found my repose in bitterness. Thus was I wretched, and that
wretched life I held dearer than my friend. For though I would
willingly have changed it, yet was I more unwilling to part with it
than with him; yea, I know not whether I would have parted with it
even for him, as is related (if not feigned) of Pylades and Orestes,
that they would gladly have died for each other or together, not to
live together being to them worse than death. But in me there had
arisen some unexplained feeling, too contrary to this, for at once I
loathed exceedingly to live and feared to die. I suppose, the more I
loved him, the more did I hate, and fear (as a most cruel enemy)
death, which had bereaved me of him: and I imagined it would
speedily make an end of all men, since it had power over him. Thus was
it with me, I remember. Behold my heart, O my God, behold and see into
me; for well I remember it, O my Hope, who cleansest me from the
impurity of such affections, directing mine eyes towards Thee, and
plucking my feet out of the snare. For I wondered that others, subject
to death, did live, since he whom I loved, as if he should never
die, was dead; and I wondered yet more that myself, who was to him a
second self, could live, he being dead. Well said one of his friend,
"Thou half of my soul"; for I felt that my soul and his soul were "one
soul in two bodies": and therefore was my life a horror to me, because
I would not live halved. And therefore perchance I feared to die, lest
he whom I had much loved should die wholly.

O madness, which knowest not how to love men, like men! O foolish
man that I then was, enduring impatiently the lot of man! I fretted
then, sighed, wept, was distracted; had neither rest nor counsel.
For I bore about a shattered and bleeding soul, impatient of being
borne by me, yet where to repose it, I found not. Not in calm
groves, not in games and music, nor in fragrant spots, nor in
curious banquetings, nor in the pleasures of the bed and the couch;
nor (finally) in books or poesy, found it repose. All things looked
ghastly, yea, the very light; whatsoever was not what he was, was
revolting and hateful, except groaning and tears. For in those alone
found I a little refreshment. But when my soul was withdrawn from them
a huge load of misery weighed me down. To Thee, O Lord, it ought to
have been raised, for Thee to lighten; I knew it; but neither could
nor would; the more, since, when I thought of Thee, Thou wert not to
me any solid or substantial thing. For Thou wert not Thyself, but a
mere phantom, and my error was my God. If I offered to discharge my
load thereon, that it might rest, it glided through the void, and came
rushing down again on me; and I had remained to myself a hapless spot,
where I could neither be, nor be from thence. For whither should my
heart flee from my heart? Whither should I flee from myself? Whither
not follow myself? And yet I fled out of my country; for so should
mine eyes less look for him, where they were not wont to see him.
And thus from Thagaste, I came to Carthage.

Times lose no time; nor do they roll idly by; through our senses
they work strange operations on the mind. Behold, they went and came
day by day, and by coming and going, introduced into my mind other
imaginations and other remembrances; and little by little patched me
up again with my old kind of delights, unto which that my sorrow
gave way. And yet there succeeded, not indeed other griefs, yet the
causes of other griefs. For whence had that former grief so easily
reached my very inmost soul, but that I had poured out my soul upon
the dust, in loving one that must die, as if he would never die? For
what restored and refreshed me chiefly was the solaces of other
friends, with whom I did love, what instead of Thee I loved; and
this was a great fable, and protracted lie, by whose adulterous
stimulus, our soul, which lay itching in our ears, was being
defiled. But that fable would not die to me, so oft as any of my
friends died. There were other things which in them did more take my
mind; to talk and jest together, to do kind offices by turns; to
read together honied books; to play the fool or be earnest together;
to dissent at times without discontent, as a man might with his own
self; and even with the seldomness of these dissentings, to season our
more frequent consentings; sometimes to teach, and sometimes learn;
long for the absent with impatience; and welcome the coming with
joy. These and the like expressions, proceeding out of the hearts of
those that loved and were loved again, by the countenance, the tongue,
the eyes, and a thousand pleasing gestures, were so much fuel to
melt our souls together, and out of many make but one.

This is it that is loved in friends; and so loved, that a man's
conscience condemns itself, if he love not him that loves him again,
or love not again him that loves him, looking for nothing from his
person but indications of his love. Hence that mourning, if one die,
and darkenings of sorrows, that steeping of the heart in tears, all
sweetness turned to bitterness; and upon the loss of life of the
dying, the death of the living. Blessed whoso loveth Thee, and his
friend in Thee, and his enemy for Thee. For he alone loses none dear
to him, to whom all are dear in Him who cannot be lost. And who is
this but our God, the God that made heaven and earth, and filleth
them, because by filling them He created them? Thee none loseth, but
who leaveth. And who leaveth Thee, whither goeth or whither teeth
he, but from Thee well-pleased, to Thee displeased? For where doth
he not find Thy law in his own punishment? And Thy law is truth, and
truth Thou.

Turn us, O God of Hosts, show us Thy countenance, and we shall be
whole. For whithersoever the soul of man turns itself, unless toward
Thee, it is riveted upon sorrows, yea though it is riveted on things
beautiful. And yet they, out of Thee, and out of the soul, were not,
unless they were from Thee. They rise, and set; and by rising, they
begin as it were to be; they grow, that they may be perfected; and
perfected, they wax old and wither; and all grow not old, but all
wither. So then when they rise and tend to be, the more quickly they
grow that they may be, so much the more they haste not to be. This
is the law of them. Thus much has Thou allotted them, because they are
portions of things, which exist not all at once, but by passing away
and succeeding, they together complete that universe, whereof they are
portions. And even thus is our speech completed by signs giving
forth a sound: but this again is not perfected unless one word pass
away when it hath sounded its part, that another may succeed. Out of
all these things let my soul praise Thee, O God, Creator of all; yet
let not my soul be riveted unto these things with the glue of love,
through the senses of the body. For they go whither they were to go,
that they might not be; and they rend her with pestilent longings,
because she longs to be, yet loves to repose in what she loves. But in
these things is no place of repose; they abide not, they flee; and who
can follow them with the senses of the flesh? yea, who can grasp them,
when they are hard by? For the sense of the flesh is slow, because
it is the sense of the flesh; and thereby is it bounded. It
sufficeth for that it was made for; but it sufficeth not to stay
things running their course from their appointed starting-place to the
end appointed. For in Thy Word, by which they are created, they hear
their decree, "hence and hitherto."

Be not foolish, O my soul, nor become deaf in the ear of thine heart
with the tumult of thy folly. Hearken thou too.

The Word itself calleth thee to return: and there is the place of
rest imperturbable, where love is not forsaken, if itself forsaketh
not. Behold, these things pass away, that others may replace them, and
so this lower universe be completed by all his parts. But do I
depart any whither? saith the Word of God. There fix thy dwelling,
trust there whatsoever thou hast thence, O my soul, at least now
thou art tired out with vanities. Entrust Truth, whatsoever thou
hast from the Truth, and thou shalt lose nothing; and thy decay
shall bloom again, and all thy diseases be healed, and thy mortal
parts be reformed and renewed, and bound around thee: nor shall they
lay thee whither themselves descend; but they shall stand fast with
thee, and abide for ever before God, Who abideth and standeth fast for

Why then be perverted and follow thy flesh? Be it converted and
follow thee. Whatever by her thou hast sense of, is in part; and the
whole, whereof these are parts, thou knowest not; and yet they delight
thee. But had the sense of thy flesh a capacity for comprehending
the whole, and not itself also, for thy punishment, been justly
restricted to a part of the whole, thou wouldest, that whatsoever
existeth at this present, should pass away, that so the whole might
better please thee. For what we speak also, by the same sense of the
flesh thou hearest; yet wouldest not thou have the syllables stay, but
fly away, that others may come, and thou hear the whole. And so
ever, when any one thing is made up of many, all of which do not exist
together, all collectively would please more than they do severally,
could all be perceived collectively. But far better than these is He
who made all; and He is our God, nor doth He pass away, for neither
doth aught succeed Him.

If bodies please thee, praise God on occasion of them, and turn back
thy love upon their Maker; lest in these things which please thee,
thou displease. If souls please thee, be they loved in God: for they
too are mutable, but in Him are they firmly stablished; else would
they pass, and pass away. In Him then be they beloved; and carry
unto Him along with thee what souls thou canst, and say to them,
"Him let us love, Him let us love: He made these, nor is He far off.
For He did not make them, and so depart, but they are of Him, and in
Him. See there He is, where truth is loved. He is within the very
heart, yet hath the heart strayed from Him. Go back into your heart,
ye transgressors, and cleave fast to Him that made you. Stand with
Him, and ye shall stand fast. Rest in Him, and ye shall be at rest.
Whither go ye in rough ways? Whither go ye? The good that you love
is from Him; but it is good and pleasant through reference to Him, and
justly shall it be embittered, because unjustly is any thing loved
which is from Him, if He be forsaken for it. To what end then would ye
still and still walk these difficult and toilsome ways? There is no
rest, where ye seek it. Seek what ye seek; but it is not there where
ye seek. Ye seek a blessed life in the land of death; it is not there.
For how should there be a blessed life where life itself is not?

"But our true Life came down hither, and bore our death, and slew
him, out of the abundance of His own life: and He thundered, calling
aloud to us to return hence to Him into that secret place, whence He
came forth to us, first into the Virgin's womb, wherein He espoused
the human creation, our mortal flesh, that it might not be for ever
mortal, and thence like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
rejoicing as a giant to run his course. For He lingered not, but
ran, calling aloud by words, deeds, death, life, descent, ascension;
crying aloud to us to return unto Him. And He departed from our
eyes, that we might return into our heart, and there find Him. For
He departed, and to, He is here. He would not be long with us, yet
left us not; for He departed thither, whence He never parted,
because the world was made by Him. And in this world He was, and
into this world He came to save sinners, unto whom my soul confesseth,
and He healeth it, for it hath sinned against Him. O ye sons of men,
how long so slow of heart? Even now, after the descent of Life to you,
will ye not ascend and live? But whither ascend ye, when ye are on
high, and set your mouth against the heavens? Descend, that ye may
ascend, and ascend to God. For ye have fallen, by ascending against
Him." Tell them this, that they may weep in the valley of tears, and
so carry them up with thee unto God; because out of His spirit thou
speakest thus unto them, if thou speakest, burning with the fire of

These things I then knew not, and I loved these lower beauties,
and I was sinking to the very depths, and to my friends I said, "Do we
love any thing but the beautiful? What then is the beautiful? and what
is beauty? What is it that attracts and wins us to the things we love?
for unless there were in them a grace and beauty, they could by no
means draw us unto them." And I marked and perceived that in bodies
themselves, there was a beauty, from their forming a sort of whole,
and again, another from apt and mutual correspondence, as of a part of
the body with its whole, or a shoe with a foot, and the like. And this
consideration sprang up in my mind, out of my inmost heart, and I
wrote "on the fair and fit," I think, two or three books. Thou
knowest, O Lord, for it is gone from me; for I have them not, but they
are strayed from me, I know not how.

But what moved me, O Lord my God, to dedicate these books unto
Hierius, an orator of Rome, whom I knew not by face, but loved for the
fame of his learning which was eminent in him, and some words of his I
had heard, which pleased me? But more did he please me, for that he
pleased others, who highly extolled him, amazed that out of a
Syrian, first instructed in Greek eloquence, should afterwards be
formed a wonderful Latin orator, and one most learned in things
pertaining unto philosophy. One is commended, and, unseen, he is
loved: doth this love enter the heart of the hearer from the mouth
of the commender? Not so. But by one who loveth is another kindled.
For hence he is loved who is commended, when the commender is believed
to extol him with an unfeigned heart; that is, when one that loves
him, praises him.

For so did I then love men, upon the judgment of men, not Thine, O
my God, in Whom no man is deceived. But yet why not for qualities,
like those of a famous charioteer, or fighter with beasts in the
theatre, known far and wide by a vulgar popularity, but far otherwise,
and earnestly, and so as I would be myself commended? For I would
not be commended or loved, as actors are (though I myself did
commend and love them), but had rather be unknown, than so known;
and even hated, than so loved. Where now are the impulses to such
various and divers kinds of loves laid up in one soul? Why, since we
are equally men, do I love in another what, if I did not hate, I
should not spurn and cast from myself? For it holds not, that as a
good horse is loved by him, who would not, though he might, be that
horse, therefore the same may be said of an actor, who shares our
nature. Do I then love in a man, what I hate to be, who am a man?
Man himself is a great deep, whose very hairs Thou numberest, O
Lord, and they fall not to the ground without Thee. And yet are the
hairs of his head easier to be numbered than his feelings, and the
beatings of his heart.

But that orator was of that sort whom I loved, as wishing to be
myself such; and I erred through a swelling pride, and was tossed
about with every wind, but yet was steered by Thee, though very
secretly. And whence do I know, and whence do I confidently confess
unto Thee, that I had loved him more for the love of his commenders,
than for the very things for which he was commended? Because, had he
been unpraised, and these self-same men had dispraised him, and with
dispraise and contempt told the very same things of him, I had never
been so kindled and excited to love him. And yet the things had not
been other, nor he himself other; but only the feelings of the
relators. See where the impotent soul lies along, that is not yet
stayed up by the solidity of truth! Just as the gales of tongues
blow from the breast of the opinionative, so is it carried this way
and that, driven forward and backward, and the light is overclouded to
it, and the truth unseen. And to, it is before us. And it was to me
a great matter, that my discourse and labours should be known to
that man: which should he approve, I were the more kindled; but if
he disapproved, my empty heart, void of Thy solidity, had been
wounded. And yet the "fair and fit," whereon I wrote to him, I dwelt
on with pleasure, and surveyed it, and admired it, though none
joined therein.

But I saw not yet, whereon this weighty matter turned in Thy wisdom,
O Thou Omnipotent, who only doest wonders; and my mind ranged
through corporeal forms; and "fair," I defined and distinguished
what is so in itself, and "fit," whose beauty is in correspondence
to some other thing: and this I supported by corporeal examples. And I
turned to the nature of the mind, but the false notion which I had
of spiritual things, let me not see the truth. Yet the force of
truth did of itself flash into mine eyes, and I turned away my panting
soul from incorporeal substance to lineaments, and colours, and
bulky magnitudes. And not being able to see these in the mind, I
thought I could not see my mind. And whereas in virtue I loved
peace, and in viciousness I abhorred discord; in the first I
observed a unity, but in the other, a sort of division. And in that
unity I conceived the rational soul, and the nature of truth and of
the chief good to consist; but in this division I miserably imagined
there to be some unknown substance of irrational life, and the
nature of the chief evil, which should not only be a substance, but
real life also, and yet not derived from Thee, O my God, of whom are
all things. And yet that first I called a Monad, as it had been a soul
without sex; but the latter a Duad; -anger, in deeds of violence,
and in flagitiousness, lust; not knowing whereof I spake. For I had
not known or learned that neither was evil a substance, nor our soul
that chief and unchangeable good.

For as deeds of violence arise, if that emotion of the soul be
corrupted, whence vehement action springs, stirring itself
insolently and unrulily; and lusts, when that affection of the soul is
ungoverned, whereby carnal pleasures are drunk in, so do errors and
false opinions defile the conversation, if the reasonable soul
itself be corrupted; as it was then in me, who knew not that it must
be enlightened by another light, that it may be partaker of truth,
seeing itself is not that nature of truth. For Thou shalt light my
candle, O Lord my God, Thou shalt enlighten my darkness: and of Thy
fulness have we all received, for Thou art the true light that
lighteth every man that cometh into the world; for in Thee there is no
variableness, neither shadow of change.

But I pressed towards Thee, and was thrust from Thee, that I might
taste of death: for thou resistest the proud. But what prouder, than
for me with a strange madness to maintain myself to be that by
nature which Thou art? For whereas I was subject to change (so much
being manifest to me, my very desire to become wise, being the wish,
of worse to become better), yet chose I rather to imagine Thee subject
to change, and myself not to be that which Thou art. Therefore I was
repelled by Thee, and Thou resistedst my vain stiffneckedness, and I
imagined corporeal forms, and, myself flesh, I accused flesh; and, a
wind that passeth away, I returned not to Thee, but I passed on and on
to things which have no being, neither in Thee, nor in me, nor in
the body. Neither were they created for me by Thy truth, but by my
vanity devised out of things corporeal. And I was wont to ask Thy
faithful little ones, my fellow-citizens (from whom, unknown to
myself, I stood exiled), I was wont, prating and foolishly, to ask
them, "Why then doth the soul err which God created?" But I would
not be asked, "Why then doth God err?" And I maintained that Thy
unchangeable substance did err upon constraint, rather than confess
that my changeable substance had gone astray voluntarily, and now,
in punishment, lay in error.

I was then some six or seven and twenty years old when I wrote those
volumes; revolving within me corporeal fictions, buzzing in the ears
of my heart, which I turned, O sweet truth, to thy inward melody,
meditating on the "fair and fit," and longing to stand and hearken
to Thee, and to rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom's voice, but could

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