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The Confessions of Saint Augustine by Saint Augustine

Part 2 out of 5

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not; for by the voices of mine own errors, I was hurried abroad, and
through the weight of my own pride, I was sinking into the lowest pit.
For Thou didst not make me to hear joy and gladness, nor did the bones
exult which were not yet humbled.

And what did it profit me, that scarce twenty years old, a book of
Aristotle, which they call the often Predicaments, falling into my
hands (on whose very name I hung, as on something great and divine, so
often as my rhetoric master of Carthage, and others, accounted
learned, mouthed it with cheeks bursting with pride), I read and
understood it unaided? And on my conferring with others, who said that
they scarcely understood it with very able tutors, not only orally
explaining it, but drawing many things in sand, they could tell me
no more of it than I had learned, reading it by myself. And the book
appeared to me to speak very clearly of substances, such as "man," and
of their qualities, as the figure of a man, of what sort it is; and
stature, how many feet high; and his relationship, whose brother he
is; or where placed; or when born; or whether he stands or sits; or be
shod or armed; or does, or suffers anything; and all the innumerable
things which might be ranged under these nine Predicaments, of which I
have given some specimens, or under that chief Predicament of

What did all this further me, seeing it even hindered me? when,
imagining whatever was, was comprehended under those often
Predicaments, I essayed in such wise to understand, O my God, Thy
wonderful and unchangeable Unity also, as if Thou also hadst been
subjected to Thine own greatness or beauty; so that (as in bodies)
they should exist in Thee, as their subject: whereas Thou Thyself
art Thy greatness and beauty; but a body is not great or fair in
that it is a body, seeing that, though it were less great or fair,
it should notwithstanding be a body. But it was falsehood which of
Thee I conceived, not truth, fictions of my misery, not the
realities of Thy blessedness. For Thou hadst commanded, and it was
done in me, that the earth should bring forth briars and thorns to me,
and that in the sweat of my brows I should eat my bread.

And what did it profit me, that all the books I could procure of the
so-called liberal arts, I, the vile slave of vile affections, read
by myself, and understood? And I delighted in them, but knew not
whence came all, that therein was true or certain. For I had my back
to the light, and my face to the things enlightened; whence my face,
with which I discerned the things enlightened, itself was not
enlightened. Whatever was written, either on rhetoric, or logic,
geometry, music, and arithmetic, by myself without much difficulty
or any instructor, I understood, Thou knowest, O Lord my God;
because both quickness of understanding, and acuteness in
discerning, is Thy gift: yet did I not thence sacrifice to Thee. So
then it served not to my use, but rather to my perdition, since I went
about to get so good a portion of my substance into my own keeping;
and I kept not my strength for Thee, but wandered from Thee into a far
country, to spend it upon harlotries. For what profited me good
abilities, not employed to good uses? For I felt not that those arts
were attained with great difficulty, even by the studious and
talented, until I attempted to explain them to such; when he most
excelled in them who followed me not altogether slowly.

But what did this further me, imagining that Thou, O Lord God, the
Truth, wert a vast and bright body, and I a fragment of that body?
Perverseness too great! But such was I. Nor do I blush, O my God, to
confess to Thee Thy mercies towards me, and to call upon Thee, who
blushed not then to profess to men my blasphemies, and to bark against
Thee. What profited me then my nimble wit in those sciences and all
those most knotty volumes, unravelied by me, without aid from human
instruction; seeing I erred so foully, and with such sacrilegious
shamefulness, in the doctrine of piety? Or what hindrance was a far
slower wit to Thy little ones, since they departed not far from
Thee, that in the nest of Thy Church they might securely be fledged,
and nourish the wings of charity, by the food of a sound faith. O Lord
our God, under the shadow of Thy wings let us hope; protect us, and
carry us. Thou wilt carry us both when little, and even to hoar
hairs wilt Thou carry us; for our firmness, when it is Thou, then is
it firmness; but when our own, it is infirmity. Our good ever lives
with Thee; from which when we turn away, we are turned aside. Let us
now, O Lord, return, that we may not be overturned, because with
Thee our good lives without any decay, which good art Thou; nor need
we fear, lest there be no place whither to return, because we fell
from it: for through our absence, our mansion fell not- Thy eternity.


Accept the sacrifice of my confessions from the ministry of my
tongue, which Thou hast formed and stirred up to confess unto Thy
name. Heal Thou all my bones, and let them say, O Lord, who is like
unto Thee? For he who confesses to Thee doth not teach Thee what takes
place within him; seeing a closed heart closes not out Thy eye, nor
can man's hard-heartedness thrust back Thy hand: for Thou dissolvest
it at Thy will in pity or in vengeance, and nothing can hide itself
from Thy heat. But let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee; and
let it confess Thy own mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. Thy
whole creation ceaseth not, nor is silent in Thy praises; neither
the spirit of man with voice directed unto Thee, nor creation
animate or inanimate, by the voice of those who meditate thereon: that
so our souls may from their weariness arise towards Thee, leaning on
those things which Thou hast created, and passing on to Thyself, who
madest them wonderfully; and there is refreshment and true strength.

Let the restless, the godless, depart and flee from Thee; yet Thou
seest them, and dividest the darkness. And behold, the universe with
them is fair, though they are foul. And how have they injured Thee? or
how have they disgraced Thy government, which, from the heaven to this
lowest earth, is just and perfect? For whither fled they, when they
fled from Thy presence? or where dost not Thou find them? But they
fled, that they might not see Thee seeing them, and, blinded, might
stumble against Thee (because Thou forsakest nothing Thou hast
made); that the unjust, I say, might stumble upon Thee, and justly
be hurt; withdrawing themselves from thy gentleness, and stumbling
at Thy uprightness, and falling upon their own ruggedness. Ignorant,
in truth, that Thou art every where, Whom no place encompasseth! and
Thou alone art near, even to those that remove far from Thee. Let them
then be turned, and seek Thee; because not as they have forsaken their
Creator, hast Thou forsaken Thy creation. Let them be turned and
seek Thee; and behold, Thou art there in their heart, in the heart
of those that confess to Thee, and cast themselves upon Thee, and weep
in Thy bosom, after all their rugged ways. Then dost Thou gently
wipe away their tears, and they weep the more, and joy in weeping;
even for that Thou, Lord, -not man of flesh and blood, but -Thou,
Lord, who madest them, re-makest and comfortest them. But where was I,
when I was seeking Thee? And Thou wert before me, but I had gone
away from Thee; nor did I find myself, how much less Thee!

I would lay open before my God that nine-and-twentieth year of
mine age. There had then come to Carthage a certain Bishop of the
Manichees, Faustus by name, a great snare of the Devil, and many
were entangled by him through that lure of his smooth language:
which though I did commend, yet could I separate from the truth of the
things which I was earnest to learn: nor did I so much regard the
service of oratory as the science which this Faustus, so praised among
them, set before me to feed upon. Fame had before bespoken him most
knowing in all valuable learning, and exquisitely skilled in the
liberal sciences. And since I had read and well remembered much of the
philosophers, I compared some things of theirs with those long
fables of the Manichees, and found the former the more probable;
even although they could only prevail so far as to make judgment of
this lower world, the Lord of it they could by no means find out.
For Thou art great, O Lord, and hast respect unto the humble, but
the proud Thou beholdest afar off. Nor dost Thou draw near, but to the
contrite in heart, nor art found by the proud, no, not though by
curious skill they could number the stars and the sand, and measure
the starry heavens, and track the courses of the planets.

For with their understanding and wit, which Thou bestowedst on them,
they search out these things; and much have they found out; and
foretold, many years before, eclipses of those luminaries, the sun and
moon, -what day and hour, and how many digits, -nor did their
calculation fail; and it came to pass as they foretold; and they wrote
down the rules they had found out, and these are read at this day, and
out of them do others foretell in what year and month of the year, and
what day of the month, and what hour of the day, and what part of
its light, moon or sun is to be eclipsed, and so it shall be, as it is
foreshowed. At these things men, that know not this art, marvel and
are astonished, and they that know it, exult, and are puffed up; and
by an ungodly pride departing from Thee, and failing of Thy light,
they foresee a failure of the sun's light, which shall be, so long
before, but see not their own, which is. For they search not
religiously whence they have the wit, wherewith they search out
this. And finding that Thou madest them, they give not themselves up
to Thee, to preserve what Thou madest, nor sacrifice to Thee what they
have made themselves; nor slay their own soaring imaginations, as
fowls of the air, nor their own diving curiosities (wherewith, like
the fishes of the seal they wander over the unknown paths of the
abyss), nor their own luxuriousness, as beasts of the field, that
Thou, Lord, a consuming fire, mayest burn up those dead cares of
theirs, and re-create themselves immortally.

But they knew not the way, Thy Word, by Whom Thou madest these
things which they number, and themselves who number, and the sense
whereby they perceive what they number, and the understanding, out
of which they number; or that of Thy wisdom there is no number. But
the Only Begotten is Himself made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,
and sanctification, and was numbered among us, and paid tribute unto
Caesar. They knew not this way whereby to descend to Him from
themselves, and by Him ascend unto Him. They knew not this way, and
deemed themselves exalted amongst the stars and shining; and behold,
they fell upon the earth, and their foolish heart was darkened. They
discourse many things truly concerning the creature; but Truth,
Artificer of the creature, they seek not piously, and therefore find
Him not; or if they find Him, knowing Him to be God, they glorify
Him not as God, neither are thankful, but become vain in their
imaginations, and profess themselves to be wise, attributing to
themselves what is Thine; and thereby with most perverse blindness,
study to impute to Thee what is their own, forging lies of Thee who
art the Truth, and changing the glory of uncorruptible God into an
image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts,
and creeping things, changing Thy truth into a lie, and worshipping
and serving the creature more than the Creator.

Yet many truths concerning the creature retained I from these men,
and saw the reason thereof from calculations, the succession of times,
and the visible testimonies of the stars; and compared them with the
saying of Manichaeus, which in his frenzy he had written most
largely on these subjects; but discovered not any account of the
solstices, or equinoxes, or the eclipses of the greater lights, nor
whatever of this sort I had learned in the books of secular
philosophy. But I was commanded to believe; and yet it corresponded
not with what had been established by calculations and my own sight,
but was quite contrary.

Doth then, O Lord God of truth, whoso knoweth these things,
therefore please Thee? Surely unhappy is he who knoweth all these, and
knoweth not Thee: but happy whoso knoweth Thee, though he know not
these. And whoso knoweth both Thee and them is not the happier for
them, but for Thee only, if, knowing Thee, he glorifies Thee as God,
and is thankful, and becomes not vain in his imaginations. For as he
is better off who knows how to possess a tree, and return thanks to
Thee for the use thereof, although he know not how many cubits high it
is, or how wide it spreads, than he that can measure it, and count all
its boughs, and neither owns it, nor knows or loves its Creator: so
a believer, whose all this world of wealth is, and who having nothing,
yet possesseth all things, by cleaving unto Thee, whom all things
serve, though he know not even the circles of the Great Bear, yet is
it folly to doubt but he is in a better state than one who can measure
the heavens, and number the stars, and poise the elements, yet
neglecteth Thee who hast made all things in number, weight, and

But yet who bade that Manichaeus write on these things also, skill
in which was no element of piety? For Thou hast said to man, Behold
piety and wisdom; of which he might be ignorant, though he had perfect
knowledge of these things; but these things, since, knowing not, he
most impudently dared to teach, he plainly could have no knowledge
of piety. For it is vanity to make profession of these worldly
things even when known; but confession to Thee is piety. Wherefore
this wanderer to this end spake much of these things, that convicted
by those who had truly learned them, it might be manifest what
understanding he had in the other abstruser things. For he would not
have himself meanly thought of, but went about to persuade men,
"That the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and Enricher of Thy faithful ones,
was with plenary authority personally within him." When then he was
found out to have taught falsely of the heaven and stars, and of the
motions of the sun and moon (although these things pertain not to
the doctrine of religion), yet his sacrilegious presumption would
become evident enough, seeing he delivered things which not only he
knew not, but which were falsified, with so mad a vanity of pride,
that he sought to ascribe them to himself, as to a divine person.

For when I hear any Christian brother ignorant of these things,
and mistaken on them, I can patiently behold such a man holding his
opinion; nor do I see that any ignorance as to the position or
character of the corporeal creation can injure him, so long as he doth
not believe any thing unworthy of Thee, O Lord, the Creator of all.
But it doth injure him, if he imagine it to pertain to the form of the
doctrine of piety, and will yet affirm that too stiffly whereof he
is ignorant. And yet is even such an infirmity, in the infancy of
faith, borne by our mother Charity, till the new-born may grow up unto
a perfect man, so as not to be carried about with every wind of
doctrine. But in him who in such wise presumed to be the teacher,
source, guide, chief of all whom he could so persuade, that whoso
followed him thought that he followed, not a mere man, but Thy Holy
Spirit; who would not judge that so great madness, when once convicted
of having taught any thing false, were to be detested and utterly
rejected? But I had not as yet clearly ascertained whether the
vicissitudes of longer and shorter days and nights, and of day and
night itself, with the eclipses of the greater lights, and whatever
else of the kind I had read of in other books, might be explained
consistently with his sayings; so that, if they by any means might, it
should still remain a question to me whether it were so or no; but I
might, on account of his reputed sanctity, rest my credence upon his

And for almost all those nine years, wherein with unsettled mind I
had been their disciple, I had longed but too intensely for the coming
of this Faustus. For the rest of the sect, whom by chance I had
lighted upon, when unable to solve my objections about these things,
still held out to me the coming of this Faustus, by conference with
whom these and greater difficulties, if I had them, were to be most
readily and abundantly cleared. When then he came, I found him a man
of pleasing discourse, and who could speak fluently and in better
terms, yet still but the self-same things which they were wont to say.
But what availed the utmost neatness of the cup-bearer to my thirst
for a more precious draught? Mine ears were already cloyed with the
like, nor did they seem to me therefore better, because better said;
nor therefore true, because eloquent; nor the soul therefore wise,
because the face was comely, and the language graceful. But they who
held him out to me were no good judges of things; and therefore to
them he appeared understanding and wise, because in words pleasing.
I felt however that another sort of people were suspicious even of
truth, and refused to assent to it, if delivered in a smooth and
copious discourse. But Thou, O my God, hadst already taught me by
wonderful and secret ways, and therefore I believe that Thou taughtest
me, because it is truth, nor is there besides Thee any teacher of
truth, where or whencesoever it may shine upon us. Of Thyself
therefore had I now learned, that neither ought any thing to seem to
be spoken truly, because eloquently; nor therefore falsely, because
the utterance of the lips is inharmonious; nor, again, therefore true,
because rudely delivered; nor therefore false, because the language is
rich; but that wisdom and folly are as wholesome and unwholesome food;
and adorned or unadorned phrases as courtly or country vessels; either
kind of meats may be served up in either kind of dishes.

That greediness then, wherewith I had of so long time expected
that man, was delighted verily with his action and feeling when
disputing, and his choice and readiness of words to clothe his
ideas. I was then delighted, and, with many others and more than they,
did I praise and extol him. It troubled me, however, that in the
assembly of his auditors, I was not allowed to put in and
communicate those questions that troubled me, in familiar converse
with him. Which when I might, and with my friends began to engage
his ears at such times as it was not unbecoming for him to discuss
with me, and had brought forward such things as moved me; I found
him first utterly ignorant of liberal sciences, save grammar, and that
but in an ordinary way. But because he had read some of Tully's
Orations, a very few books of Seneca, some things of the poets, and
such few volumes of his own sect as were written in Latin and
neatly, and was daily practised in speaking, he acquired a certain
eloquence, which proved the more pleasing and seductive because
under the guidance of a good wit, and with a kind of natural
gracefulness. Is it not thus, as I recall it, O Lord my God, Thou
judge of my conscience? before Thee is my heart, and my remembrance,
Who didst at that time direct me by the hidden mystery of Thy
providence, and didst set those shameful errors of mine before my
face, that I might see and hate them.

For after it was clear that he was ignorant of those arts in which I
thought he excelled, I began to despair of his opening and solving the
difficulties which perplexed me (of which indeed however ignorant,
he might have held the truths of piety, had he not been a Manichee).
For their books are fraught with prolix fables, of the heaven, and
stars, sun, and moon, and I now no longer thought him able
satisfactorily to decide what I much desired, whether, on comparison
of these things with the calculations I had elsewhere read, the
account given in the books of Manichaeus were preferable, or at
least as good. Which when I proposed to he considered and discussed,
he, so far modestly, shrunk from the burthen. For he knew that he knew
not these things, and was not ashamed to confess it. For he was not
one of those talking persons, many of whom I had endured, who
undertook to teach me these things, and said nothing. But this man had
a heart, though not right towards Thee, yet neither altogether
treacherous to himself. For he was not altogether ignorant of his
own ignorance, nor would he rashly be entangled in a dispute, whence
he could neither retreat nor extricate himself fairly. Even for this I
liked him the better. For fairer is the modesty of a candid mind, than
the knowledge of those things which I desired; and such I found him,
in all the more difficult and subtile questions.

My zeal for the writings of Manichaeus being thus blunted, and
despairing yet more of their other teachers, seeing that in divers
things which perplexed me, he, so renowned among them, had so turned
out; I began to engage with him in the study of that literature, on
which he also was much set (and which as rhetoric-reader I was at that
time teaching young students at Carthage), and to read with him,
either what himself desired to hear, or such as I judged fit for his
genius. But all my efforts whereby I had purposed to advance in that
sect, upon knowledge of that man, came utterly to an end; not that I
detached myself from them altogether, but as one finding nothing
better, I had settled to be content meanwhile with what I had in
whatever way fallen upon, unless by chance something more eligible
should dawn upon me. Thus, that Faustus, to so many a snare of
death, had now neither willing nor witting it, begun to loosen that
wherein I was taken. For Thy hands, O my God, in the secret purpose of
Thy providence, did not forsake my soul; and out of my mother's
heart's blood, through her tears night and day poured out, was a
sacrifice offered for me unto Thee; and Thou didst deal with me by
wondrous ways. Thou didst it, O my God: for the steps of a man are
ordered by the Lord, and He shall dispose his way. Or how shall we
obtain salvation, but from Thy hand, re-making what it made?

Thou didst deal with me, that I should be persuaded to go to Rome,
and to teach there rather, what I was teaching at Carthage. And how
I was persuaded to this, I will not neglect to confess to Thee;
because herein also the deepest recesses of Thy wisdom, and Thy most
present mercy to us, must be considered and confessed. I did not
wish therefore to go to Rome, because higher gains and higher
dignities were warranted me by my friends who persuaded me to this
(though even these things had at that time an influence over my mind),
but my chief and almost only reason was, that I heard that young men
studied there more peacefully, and were kept quiet under a restraint
of more regular discipline; so that they did not, at their
pleasures, petulantly rush into the school of one whose pupils they
were not, nor were even admitted without his permission. Whereas at
Carthage there reigns among the scholars a most disgraceful and unruly
licence. They burst in audaciously, and with gestures almost
frantic, disturb all order which any one hath established for the good
of his scholars. Divers outrages they commit, with a wonderful
stolidity, punishable by law, did not custom uphold them; that
custom evincing them to be the more miserable, in that they now do
as lawful what by Thy eternal law shall never be lawful; and they
think they do it unpunished, whereas they are punished with the very
blindness whereby they do it, and suffer incomparably worse than
what they do. The manners then which, when a student, I would not make
my own, I was fain as a teacher to endure in others: and so I was well
pleased to go where, all that knew it, assured me that the like was
not done. But Thou, my refuge and my portion in the land of the
living; that I might change my earthly dwelling for the salvation of
my soul, at Carthage didst goad me, that I might thereby be torn
from it; and at Rome didst proffer me allurements, whereby I might
be drawn thither, by men in love with a dying life, the one doing
frantic, the other promising vain, things; and, to correct my steps,
didst secretly use their and my own perverseness. For both they who
disturbed my quiet were blinded with a disgraceful frenzy, and they
who invited me elsewhere savoured of earth. And I, who here detested
real misery, was there seeking unreal happiness.

But why I went hence, and went thither, Thou knewest, O God, yet
showedst it neither to me, nor to my mother, who grievously bewailed
my journey, and followed me as far as the sea. But I deceived her,
holding me by force, that either she might keep me back or go with me,
and I feigned that I had a friend whom I could not leave, till he
had a fair wind to sail. And I lied to my mother, and such a mother,
and escaped: for this also hast Thou mercifully forgiven me,
preserving me, thus full of execrable defilements, from the waters
of the sea, for the water of Thy Grace; whereby when I was cleansed,
the streams of my mother's eyes should be dried, with which for me she
daily watered the ground under her face. And yet refusing to return
without me, I scarcely persuaded her to stay that night in a place
hard by our ship, where was an Oratory in memory of the blessed
Cyprian. That night I privily departed, but she was not behind in
weeping and prayer. And what, O Lord, was she with so many tears
asking of Thee, but that Thou wouldest not suffer me to sail? But
Thou, in the depth of Thy counsels and hearing the main point of her
desire, regardest not what she then asked, that Thou mightest make
me what she ever asked. The wind blew and swelled our sails, and
withdrew the shore from our sight; and she on the morrow was there,
frantic with sorrow, and with complaints and groans filled Thine ears,
Who didst then disregard them; whilst through my desires, Thou wert
hurrying me to end all desire, and the earthly part of her affection
to me was chastened by the allotted scourge of sorrows. For she
loved my being with her, as mothers do, but much more than many; and
she knew not how great joy Thou wert about to work for her out of my
absence. She knew not; therefore did she weep and wail, and by this
agony there appeared in her the inheritance of Eve, with sorrow
seeking what in sorrow she had brought forth. And yet, after
accusing my treachery and hardheartedness, she betook herself again to
intercede to Thee for me, went to her wonted place, and I to Rome.

And lo, there was I received by the scourge of bodily sickness,
and I was going down to hell, carrying all the sins which I had
committed, both against Thee, and myself, and others, many and
grievous, over and above that bond of original sin, whereby we all die
in Adam. For Thou hadst not forgiven me any of these things in Christ,
nor had He abolished by His Cross the enmity which by my sins I had
incurred with Thee. For how should He, by the crucifixion of a
phantasm, which I believed Him to be? So true, then, was the death
of my soul, as that of His flesh seemed to me false; and how true
the death of His body, so false was the life of my soul, which did not
believe it. And now the fever heightening, I was parting and departing
for ever. For had I then parted hence, whither had I departed, but
into fire and torments, such as my misdeeds deserved in the truth of
Thy appointment? And this she knew not, yet in absence prayed for
me. But Thou, everywhere present, heardest her where she was, and,
where I was, hadst compassion upon me; that I should recover the
health of my body, though frenzied as yet in my sacrilegious heart.
For I did not in all that danger desire Thy baptism; and I was
better as a boy, when I begged it of my mother's piety, as I have
before recited and confessed. But I had grown up to my own shame,
and I madly scoffed at the prescripts of Thy medicine, who wouldest
not suffer me, being such, to die a double death. With which wound had
my mother's heart been pierced, it could never be healed. For I cannot
express the affection she bore to me, and with how much more
vehement anguish she was now in labour of me in the spirit, than at
her childbearing in the flesh.

I see not then how she should have been healed, had such a death
of mine stricken through the bowels of her love. And where would
have been those her so strong and unceasing prayers, unintermitting to
Thee alone? But wouldest Thou, God of mercies, despise the contrite
and humbled heart of that chaste and sober widow, so frequent in
almsdeeds, so full of duty and service to Thy saints, no day
intermitting the oblation at Thine altar, twice a day, morning and
evening, without any intermission, coming to Thy church, not for
idle tattlings and old wives' fables; but that she might hear Thee
in Thy discourses, and Thou her in her prayers. Couldest Thou
despise and reject from Thy aid the tears of such an one, wherewith
she begged of Thee not gold or silver, nor any mutable or passing
good, but the salvation of her son's soul? Thou, by whose gift she was
such? Never, Lord. Yea, Thou wert at hand, and wert hearing and doing,
in that order wherein Thou hadst determined before that it should be
done. Far be it that Thou shouldest deceive her in Thy visions and
answers, some whereof I have, some I have not mentioned, which she
laid up in her faithful heart, and ever praying, urged upon Thee, as
Thine own handwriting. For Thou, because Thy mercy endureth for
ever, vouchsafest to those to whom Thou forgivest all of their
debts, to become also a debtor by Thy promises.

Thou recoveredst me then of that sickness, and healedst the son of
Thy handmaid, for the time in body, that he might live, for Thee to
bestow upon him a better and more abiding health. And even then, at
Rome, I joined myself to those deceiving and deceived "holy ones"; not
with their disciples only (of which number was he, in whose house I
had fallen sick and recovered); but also with those whom they call
"The Elect." For I still thought "that it was not we that sin, but
that I know not what other nature sinned in us"; and it delighted my
pride, to be free from blame; and when I had done any evil, not to
confess I had done any, that Thou mightest heal my soul because it had
sinned against Thee: but I loved to excuse it, and to accuse I know
not what other thing, which was with me, but which I was not. But in
truth it was wholly I, and mine impiety had divided me against myself:
and that sin was the more incurable, whereby I did not judge myself
a sinner; and execrable iniquity it was, that I had rather have
Thee, Thee, O God Almighty, to be overcome in me to my destruction,
than myself of Thee to salvation. Not as yet then hadst Thou set a
watch before my mouth, and a door of safe keeping around my lips, that
my heart might not turn aside to wicked speeches, to make excuses of
sins, with men that work iniquity; and, therefore, was I still
united with their Elect.

But now despairing to make proficiency in that false doctrine,
even those things (with which if I should find no better, I had
resolved to rest contented) I now held more laxly and carelessly.
For there half arose a thought in me that those philosophers, whom
they call Academics, were wiser than the rest, for that they held
men ought to doubt everything, and laid down that no truth can be
comprehended by man: for so, not then understanding even their
meaning, I also was clearly convinced that they thought, as they are
commonly reported. Yet did I freely and openly discourage that host of
mine from that over-confidence which I perceived him to have in
those fables, which the books of Manichaeus are full of. Yet I lived
in more familiar friendship with them, than with others who were not
of this heresy. Nor did I maintain it with my ancient eagerness; still
my intimacy with that sect (Rome secretly harbouring many of them)
made me slower to seek any other way: especially since I despaired
of finding the truth, from which they had turned me aside, in Thy
Church, O Lord of heaven and earth, Creator of all things visible
and invisible: and it seemed to me very unseemly to believe Thee to
have the shape of human flesh, and to be bounded by the bodily
lineaments of our members. And because, when I wished to think on my
God, I knew not what to think of, but a mass of bodies (for what was
not such did not seem to me to be anything), this was the greatest,
and almost only cause of my inevitable error.

For hence I believed Evil also to be some such kind of substance,
and to have its own foul and hideous bulk; whether gross, which they
called earth, or thin and subtile (like the body of the air), which
they imagine to be some malignant mind, creeping through that earth.
And because a piety, such as it was, constrained me to believe that
the good God never created any evil nature, I conceived two masses,
contrary to one another, both unbounded, but the evil narrower, the
good more expansive. And from this pestilent beginning, the other
sacrilegious conceits followed on me. For when my mind endeavoured
to recur to the Catholic faith, I was driven back, since that was
not the Catholic faith which I thought to be so. And I seemed to
myself more reverential, if I believed of Thee, my God (to whom Thy
mercies confess out of my mouth), as unbounded, at least on other
sides, although on that one where the mass of evil was opposed to
Thee, I was constrained to confess Thee bounded; than if on all
sides I should imagine Thee to be bounded by the form of a human body.
And it seemed to me better to believe Thee to have created no evil
(which to me ignorant seemed not some only, but a bodily substance,
because I could not conceive of mind unless as a subtile body, and
that diffused in definite spaces), than to believe the nature of evil,
such as I conceived it, could come from Thee. Yea, and our Saviour
Himself, Thy Only Begotten, I believed to have been reached forth
(as it were) for our salvation, out of the mass of Thy most lucid
substance, so as to believe nothing of Him, but what I could imagine
in my vanity. His Nature then, being such, I thought could not be born
of the Virgin Mary, without being mingled with the flesh: and how that
which I had so figured to myself could be mingled, and not defiled,
I saw not. I feared therefore to believe Him born in the flesh, lest I
should be forced to believe Him defiled by the flesh. Now will Thy
spiritual ones mildly and lovingly smile upon me, if they shall read
these my confessions. Yet such was I.

Furthermore, what the Manichees had criticised in Thy Scriptures,
I thought could not be defended; yet at times verily I had a wish to
confer upon these several points with some one very well skilled in
those books, and to make trial what he thought thereon; for the
words of one Helpidius, as he spoke and disputed face to face
against the said Manichees, had begun to stir me even at Carthage:
in that he had produced things out of the Scriptures, not easily
withstood, the Manichees' answer whereto seemed to me weak. And this
answer they liked not to give publicly, but only to us in private.
It was, that the Scriptures of the New Testament had been corrupted by
I know not whom, who wished to engraff the law of the Jews upon the
Christian faith: yet themselves produced not any uncorrupted copies.
But I, conceiving of things corporeal only, was mainly held down,
vehemently oppressed and in a manner suffocated by those "masses";
panting under which after the breath of Thy truth, I could not breathe
it pure and untainted.

I began then diligently to practise that for which I came to Rome,
to teach rhetoric; and first, to gather some to my house, to whom, and
through whom, I had begun to be known; when to, I found other offences
committed in Rome, to which I was not exposed in Africa. True, those
"subvertings" by profligate young men were not here practised, as
was told me: but on a sudden, said they, to avoid paying their
master's stipend, a number of youths plot together, and remove to
another; -breakers of faith, who for love of money hold justice cheap.
These also my heart hated, though not with a perfect hatred: for
perchance I hated them more because I was to suffer by them, than
because they did things utterly unlawful. Of a truth such are base
persons, and they go a whoring from Thee, loving these fleeting
mockeries of things temporal, and filthy lucre, which fouls the hand
that grasps it; hugging the fleeting world, and despising Thee, Who
abidest, and recallest, and forgivest the adulteress soul of man, when
she returns to Thee. And now I hate such depraved and crooked persons,
though I love them if corrigible, so as to prefer to money the
learning which they acquire, and to learning, Thee, O God, the truth
and fulness of assured good, and most pure peace. But then I rather
for my own sake misliked them evil, than liked and wished them good
for Thine.

When therefore they of Milan had sent to Rome to the prefect of
the city, to furnish them with a rhetoric reader for their city, and
sent him at the public expense, I made application (through those very
persons, intoxicated with Manichaean vanities, to be freed wherefrom I
was to go, neither of us however knowing it) that Symmachus, then
prefect of the city, would try me by setting me some subject, and so
send me. To Milan I came, to Ambrose the Bishop, known to the whole
world as among the best of men, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent
discourse did then plentifully dispense unto Thy people the flour of
Thy wheat, the gladness of Thy oil, and the sober inebriation of Thy
wine. To him was I unknowing led by Thee, that by him I might
knowingly be led to Thee. That man of God received me as a father, and
showed me an Episcopal kindness on my coming. Thenceforth I began to
love him, at first indeed not as a teacher of the truth (which I
utterly despaired of in Thy Church), but as a person kind towards
myself. And I listened diligently to him preaching to the people,
not with that intent I ought, but, as it were, trying his eloquence,
whether it answered the fame thereof, or flowed fuller or lower than
was reported; and I hung on his words attentively; but of the matter I
was as a careless and scornful looker-on; and I was delighted with the
sweetness of his discourse, more recondite, yet in manner less winning
and harmonious, than that of Faustus. Of the matter, however, there
was no comparison; for the one was wandering amid Manichaean
delusions, the other teaching salvation most soundly. But salvation is
far from sinners, such as I then stood before him; and yet was I
drawing nearer by little and little, and unconsciously.

For though I took no pains to learn what he spake, but only to
hear how he spake (for that empty care alone was left me, despairing
of a way, open for man, to Thee), yet together with the words which
I would choose, came also into my mind the things which I would
refuse; for I could not separate them. And while I opened my heart
to admit "how eloquently he spake," there also entered "how truly he
spake"; but this by degrees. For first, these things also had now
begun to appear to me capable of defence; and the Catholic faith,
for which I had thought nothing could be said against the Manichees'
objections, I now thought might be maintained without shamelessness;
especially after I had heard one or two places of the Old Testament
resolved, and ofttimes "in a figure," which when I understood
literally, I was slain spiritually. Very many places then of those
books having been explained, I now blamed my despair, in believing
that no answer could be given to such as hated and scoffed at the
Law and the Prophets. Yet did I not therefore then see that the
Catholic way was to be held, because it also could find learned
maintainers, who could at large and with some show of reason answer
objections; nor that what I held was therefore to be condemned,
because both sides could be maintained. For the Catholic cause
seemed to me in such sort not vanquished, as still not as yet to be

Hereupon I earnestly bent my mind, to see if in any way I could by
any certain proof convict the Manichees of falsehood. Could I once
have conceived a spiritual substance, all their strongholds had been
beaten down, and cast utterly out of my mind; but I could not.
Notwithstanding, concerning the frame of this world, and the whole
of nature, which the senses of the flesh can reach to, as I more and
more considered and compared things, I judged the tenets of most of
the philosophers to have been much more probable. So then after the
manner of the Academics (as they are supposed) doubting of every
thing, and wavering between all, I settled so far, that the
Manichees were to be abandoned; judging that, even while doubting, I
might not continue in that sect, to which I already preferred some
of the philosophers; to which philosophers notwithstanding, for that
they were without the saving Name of Christ, I utterly refused to
commit the cure of my sick soul. I determined therefore so long to
be a Catechumen in the Catholic Church, to which I had been
commended by my parents, till something certain should dawn upon me,
whither I might steer my course.


O Thou, my hope from my youth, where wert Thou to me, and whither
wert Thou gone? Hadst not Thou created me, and separated me from the
beasts of the field, and fowls of the air? Thou hadst made me wiser,
yet did I walk in darkness, and in slippery places, and sought Thee
abroad out of myself, and found not the God of my heart; and had
come into the depths of the sea, and distrusted and despaired of
ever finding truth. My mother had now come to me, resolute through
piety, following me over sea and land, in all perils confiding in
Thee. For in perils of the sea, she comforted the very mariners (by
whom passengers unacquainted with the deep, use rather to be comforted
when troubled), assuring them of a safe arrival, because Thou hadst by
a vision assured her thereof. She found me in grievous peril,
through despair of ever finding truth. But when I had discovered to
her that I was now no longer a Manichee, though not yet a Catholic
Christian, she was not overjoyed, as at something unexpected; although
she was now assured concerning that part of my misery, for which she
bewailed me as one dead, though to be reawakened by Thee, carrying
me forth upon the bier of her thoughts, that Thou mightest say to
the son of the widow, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; and he should
revive, and begin to speak, and Thou shouldest deliver him to his
mother. Her heart then was shaken with no tumultuous exultation,
when she heard that what she daily with tears desired of Thee was
already in so great part realised; in that, though I had not yet
attained the truth, I was rescued from falsehood; but, as being
assured, that Thou, Who hadst promised the whole, wouldest one day
give the rest, most calmly, and with a heart full of confidence, she
replied to me, "She believed in Christ, that before she departed
this life, she should see me a Catholic believer." Thus much to me.
But to Thee, Fountain of mercies, poured she forth more copious
prayers and tears, that Thou wouldest hasten Thy help, and enlighten
my darkness; and she hastened the more eagerly to the Church, and hung
upon the lips of Ambrose, praying for the fountain of that water,
which springeth up unto life everlasting. But that man she loved as an
angel of God, because she knew that by him I had been brought for
the present to that doubtful state of faith I now was in, through
which she anticipated most confidently that I should pass from
sickness unto health, after the access, as it were, of a sharper
fit, which physicians call "the crisis."

When then my mother had once, as she was wont in Afric, brought to
the Churches built in memory of the Saints, certain cakes, and bread
and wine, and was forbidden by the door-keeper; so soon as she knew
that the Bishop had forbidden this, she so piously and obediently
embraced his wishes, that I myself wondered how readily she censured
her own practice, rather than discuss his prohibition. For
wine-bibbing did not lay siege to her spirit, nor did love of wine
provoke her to hatred of the truth, as it doth too many (both men
and women), who revolt at a lesson of sobriety, as men well-drunk at a
draught mingled with water. But she, when she had brought her basket
with the accustomed festival-food, to be but tasted by herself, and
then given away, never joined therewith more than one small cup of
wine, diluted according to her own abstemious habits, which for
courtesy she would taste. And if there were many churches of the
departed saints that were to be honoured in that manner, she still
carried round that same one cup, to be used every where; and this,
though not only made very watery, but unpleasantly heated with
carrying about, she would distribute to those about her by small sips;
for she sought there devotion, not pleasure. So soon, then, as she
found this custom to be forbidden by that famous preacher and most
pious prelate, even to those that would use it soberly, lest so an
occasion of excess might be given to the drunken; and for these, as it
were, anniversary funeral solemnities did much resemble the
superstition of the Gentiles, she most willingly forbare it: and for a
basket filled with fruits of the earth, she had learned to bring to
the Churches of the martyrs a breast filled with more purified
petitions, and to give what she could to the poor; that so the
communication of the Lord's Body might be there rightly celebrated,
where, after the example of His Passion, the martyrs had been
sacrificed and crowned. But yet it seems to me, O Lord my God, and
thus thinks my heart of it in Thy sight, that perhaps she would not so
readily have yielded to the cutting off of this custom, had it been
forbidden by another, whom she loved not as Ambrose, whom, for my
salvation, she loved most entirely; and he her again, for her most
religious conversation, whereby in good works, so fervent in spirit,
she was constant at church; so that, when he saw me, he often burst
forth into her praises; congratulating me that I had such a mother;
not knowing what a son she had in me, who doubted of all these things,
and imagined the way to life could not be found out.

Nor did I yet groan in my prayers, that Thou wouldest help me; but
my spirit was wholly intent on learning, and restless to dispute.
And Ambrose himself, as the world counts happy, I esteemed a happy
man, whom personages so great held in such honour; only his celibacy
seemed to me a painful course. But what hope he bore within him,
what struggles he had against the temptations which beset his very
excellencies, or what comfort in adversities, and what sweet joys
Thy Bread had for the hidden mouth of his spirit, when chewing the cud
thereof, I neither could conjecture, nor had experienced. Nor did he
know the tides of my feelings, or the abyss of my danger. For I
could not ask of him, what I would as I would, being shut out both
from his ear and speech by multitudes of busy people, whose weaknesses
he served. With whom when he was not taken up (which was but a
little time), he was either refreshing his body with the sustenance
absolutely necessary, or his mind with reading. But when he was
reading, his eye glided over the pages, and his heart searched out the
sense, but his voice and tongue were at rest. Ofttimes when we had
come (for no man was forbidden to enter, nor was it his wont that
any who came should be announced to him), we saw him thus reading to
himself, and never otherwise; and having long sat silent (for who
durst intrude on one so intent?) we were fain to depart,
conjecturing that in the small interval which he obtained, free from
the din of others' business, for the recruiting of his mind, he was
loth to be taken off; and perchance he dreaded lest if the author he
read should deliver any thing obscurely, some attentive or perplexed
hearer should desire him to expound it, or to discuss some of the
harder questions; so that his time being thus spent, he could not turn
over so many volumes as he desired; although the preserving of his
voice (which a very little speaking would weaken) might be the truer
reason for his reading to himself. But with what intent soever he
did it, certainly in such a man it was good.

I however certainly had no opportunity of enquiring what I wished of
that so holy oracle of Thine, his breast, unless the thing might be
answered briefly. But those tides in me, to be poured out to him,
required his full leisure, and never found it. I heard him indeed
every Lord's day, rightly expounding the Word of truth among the
people; and I was more and more convinced that all the knots of
those crafty calumnies, which those our deceivers had knit against the
Divine Books, could be unravelled. But when I understood withal,
that "man created by Thee, after Thine own image," was not so
understood by Thy spiritual sons, whom of the Catholic Mother Thou
hast born again through grace, as though they believed and conceived
of Thee as bounded by human shape (although what a spiritual substance
should be I had not even a faint or shadowy notion); yet, with joy I
blushed at having so many years barked not against the Catholic faith,
but against the fictions of carnal imaginations. For so rash and
impious had I been, that what I ought by enquiring to have learned,
I had pronounced on, condemning. For Thou, Most High, and most near;
most secret, and most present; Who hast not limbs some larger, some
smaller, but art wholly every where, and no where in space, art not of
such corporeal shape, yet hast Thou made man after Thine own image;
and behold, from head to foot is he contained in space.

Ignorant then how this Thy image should subsist, I should have
knocked and proposed the doubt, how it was to be believed, not
insultingly opposed it, as if believed. Doubt, then, what to hold
for certain, the more sharply gnawed my heart, the more ashamed I was,
that so long deluded and deceived by the promise of certainties, I had
with childish error and vehemence, prated of so many uncertainties.
For that they were falsehoods became clear to me later. However I
was certain that they were uncertain, and that I had formerly
accounted them certain, when with a blind contentiousness, I accused
Thy Catholic Church, whom I now discovered, not indeed as yet to teach
truly, but at least not to teach that for which I had grievously
censured her. So I was confounded, and converted: and I joyed, O my
God, that the One Only Church, the body of Thine Only Son (wherein the
name of Christ had been put upon me as an infant), had no taste for
infantine conceits; nor in her sound doctrine maintained any tenet
which should confine Thee, the Creator of all, in space, however great
and large, yet bounded every where by the limits of a human form.

I joyed also that the old Scriptures of the law and the Prophets
were laid before me, not now to be perused with that eye to which
before they seemed absurd, when I reviled Thy holy ones for so
thinking, whereas indeed they thought not so: and with joy I heard
Ambrose in his sermons to the people, oftentimes most diligently
recommend this text for a rule, The letter killeth, but the Spirit
giveth life; whilst he drew aside the mystic veil, laying open
spiritually what, according to the letter, seemed to teach something
unsound; teaching herein nothing that offended me, though he taught
what I knew not as yet, whether it were true. For I kept my heart from
assenting to any thing, fearing to fall headlong; but by hanging in
suspense I was the worse killed. For I wished to be as assured of
the things I saw not, as I was that seven and three are ten. For I was
not so mad as to think that even this could not be comprehended; but I
desired to have other things as clear as this, whether things
corporeal, which were not present to my senses, or spiritual,
whereof I knew not how to conceive, except corporeally. And by
believing might I have been cured, that so the eyesight of my soul
being cleared, might in some way be directed to Thy truth, which
abideth always, and in no part faileth. But as it happens that one who
has tried a bad physician, fears to trust himself with a good one,
so was it with the health of my soul, which could not be healed but by
believing, and lest it should believe falsehoods, refused to be cured;
resisting Thy hands, Who hast prepared the medicines of faith, and
hast applied them to the diseases of the whole world, and given unto
them so great authority.

Being led, however, from this to prefer the Catholic doctrine, I
felt that her proceeding was more unassuming and honest, in that she
required to be believed things not demonstrated (whether it was that
they could in themselves be demonstrated but not to certain persons,
or could not at all be), whereas among the Manichees our credulity was
mocked by a promise of certain knowledge, and then so many most
fabulous and absurd things were imposed to be believed, because they
could not be demonstrated. Then Thou, O Lord, little by little with
most tender and most merciful hand, touching and composing my heart,
didst persuade me- considering what innumerable things I believed,
which I saw not, nor was present while they were done, as so many
things in secular history, so many reports of places and of cities,
which I had not seen; so many of friends, so many of physicians, so
many continually of other men, which unless we should believe, we
should do nothing at all in this life; lastly, with how unshaken an
assurance I believed of what parents I was born, which I could not
know, had I not believed upon hearsay -considering all this, Thou
didst persuade me, that not they who believed Thy Books (which Thou
hast established in so great authority among almost all nations),
but they who believed them not, were to be blamed; and that they
were not to be heard, who should say to me, "How knowest thou those
Scriptures to have been imparted unto mankind by the Spirit of the one
true and most true God?" For this very thing was of all most to be
believed, since no contentiousness of blasphemous questionings, of all
that multitude which I had read in the self-contradicting
philosophers, could wring this belief from me, "That Thou art"
whatsoever Thou wert (what I knew not), and "That the government of
human things belongs to Thee."

This I believed, sometimes more strongly, more weakly otherwhiles;
yet I ever believed both that Thou wert, and hadst a care of us;
though I was ignorant, both what was to be thought of Thy substance,
and what way led or led back to Thee. Since then we were too weak by
abstract reasonings to find out truth: and for this very cause
needed the authority of Holy Writ; I had now begun to believe that
Thou wouldest never have given such excellency of authority to that
Writ in all lands, hadst Thou not willed thereby to be believed in,
thereby sought. For now what things, sounding strangely in the
Scripture, were wont to offend me, having heard divers of them
expounded satisfactorily, I referred to the depth of the mysteries,
and its authority appeared to me the more venerable, and more worthy
of religious credence, in that, while it lay open to all to read, it
reserved the majesty of its mysteries within its profounder meaning,
stooping to all in the great plainness of its words and lowliness of
its style, yet calling forth the intensest application of such as
are not light of heart; that so it might receive all in its open
bosom, and through narrow passages waft over towards Thee some few,
yet many more than if it stood not aloft on such a height of
authority, nor drew multitudes within its bosom by its holy lowliness.
These things I thought on, and Thou wert with me; I sighed, and Thou
heardest me; I wavered, and Thou didst guide me; I wandered through
the broad way of the world, and Thou didst not forsake me.

I panted after honours, gains, marriage; and thou deridedst me. In
these desires I underwent most bitter crosses, Thou being the more
gracious, the less Thou sufferedst aught to grow sweet to me, which
was not Thou. Behold my heart, O Lord, who wouldest I should
remember all this, and confess to Thee. Let my soul cleave unto
Thee, now that Thou hast freed it from that fast-holding birdlime of
death. How wretched was it! and Thou didst irritate the feeling of its
wound, that forsaking all else, it might be converted unto Thee, who
art above all, and without whom all things would be nothing; be
converted, and be healed. How miserable was I then, and how didst Thou
deal with me, to make me feel my misery on that day, when I was
preparing to recite a panegyric of the Emperor, wherein I was to utter
many a lie, and lying, was to be applauded by those who knew I lied,
and my heart was panting with these anxieties, and boiling with the
feverishness of consuming thoughts. For, passing through one of the
streets of Milan, I observed a poor beggar, then, I suppose, with a
full belly, joking and joyous: and I sighed, and spoke to the
friends around me, of the many sorrows of our frenzies; for that by
all such efforts of ours, as those wherein I then toiled dragging
along, under the goading of desire, the burthen of my own
wretchedness, and, by dragging, augmenting it, we yet looked to arrive
only at that very joyousness whither that beggar-man had arrived
before us, who should never perchance attain it. For what he had
obtained by means of a few begged pence, the same was I plotting for
by many a toilsome turning and winding; the joy of a temporary
felicity. For he verily had not the true joy; but yet I with those
my ambitious designs was seeking one much less true. And certainly
he was joyous, I anxious; he void of care, I full of fears. But should
any ask me, had I rather be merry or fearful? I would answer merry.
Again, if he asked had I rather be such as he was, or what I then was?
I should choose to be myself, though worn with cares and fears; but
out of wrong judgment; for, was it the truth? For I ought not to
prefer myself to him, because more learned than he, seeing I had no
joy therein, but sought to please men by it; and that not to instruct,
but simply to please. Wherefore also Thou didst break my bones with
the staff of Thy correction.

Away with those then from my soul who say to her, "It makes a
difference whence a man's joy is. That beggar-man joyed in
drunkenness; Thou desiredst to joy in glory." What glory, Lord? That
which is not in Thee. For even as his was no true joy, so was that
no true glory: and it overthrew my soul more. He that very night
should digest his drunkenness; but I had slept and risen again with
mine, and was to sleep again, and again to rise with it, how many
days, Thou, God, knowest. But "it doth make a difference whence a
man's joy is." I know it, and the joy of a faithful hope lieth
incomparably beyond such vanity. Yea, and so was he then beyond me:
for he verily was the happier; not only for that he was thoroughly
drenched in mirth, I disembowelled with cares: but he, by fair wishes,
had gotten wine; I, by lying, was seeking for empty, swelling
praise. Much to this purpose said I then to my friends: and I often
marked in them how it fared with me; and I found it went ill with
me, and grieved, and doubled that very ill; and if any prosperity
smiled on me, I was loth to catch at it, for almost before I could
grasp it, it flew away.

These things we, who were living as friends together, bemoaned
together, but chiefly and most familiarly did I speak thereof with
Alypius and Nebridius, of whom Alypius was born in the same town
with me, of persons of chief rank there, but younger than I. For he
had studied under me, both when I first lectured in our town, and
afterwards at Carthage, and he loved me much, because I seemed to
him kind, and learned; and I him, for his great towardliness to
virtue, which was eminent enough in one of no greater years. Yet the
whirlpool of Carthaginian habits (amongst whom those idle spectacles
are hotly followed) had drawn him into the madness of the Circus.
But while he was miserably tossed therein, and I, professing
rhetoric there, had a public school, as yet he used not my teaching,
by reason of some unkindness risen betwixt his father and me. I had
found then how deadly he doted upon the Circus, and was deeply grieved
that he seemed likely, nay, or had thrown away so great promise: yet
had I no means of advising or with a sort of constraint reclaiming
him, either by the kindness of a friend, or the authority of a master.
For I supposed that he thought of me as did his father; but he was not
such; laying aside then his father's mind in that matter, he began
to greet me, come sometimes into my lecture room, hear a little, and
be gone.

I however had forgotten to deal with him, that he should not,
through a blind and headlong desire of vain pastimes, undo so good a
wit. But Thou, O Lord, who guidest the course of all Thou hast
created, hadst not forgotten him, who was one day to be among Thy
children, Priest and Dispenser of Thy Sacrament; and that his
amendment might plainly be attributed to Thyself, Thou effectedst it
through me, unknowingly. For as one day I sat in my accustomed
place, with my scholars before me, he entered, greeted me, sat down,
and applied his mind to what I then handled. I had by chance a passage
in hand, which while I was explaining, a likeness from the
Circensian races occurred to me, as likely to make what I would convey
pleasanter and plainer, seasoned with biting mockery of those whom
that madness had enthralled; God, Thou knowest that I then thought not
of curing Alypius of that infection. But he took it wholly to himself,
and thought that I said it simply for his sake. And whence another
would have taken occasion of offence with me, that right-minded
youth took as a ground of being offended at himself, and loving me
more fervently. For Thou hadst said it long ago, and put it into Thy
book, Rebuke a wise man and he will love Thee. But I had not rebuked
him, but Thou, who employest all, knowing or not knowing, in that
order which Thyself knowest (and that order is just), didst of my
heart and tongue make burning coals, by which to set on fire the
hopeful mind, thus languishing, and so cure it. Let him be silent in
Thy praises, who considers not Thy mercies, which confess unto Thee
out of my inmost soul. For he upon that speech burst out of that pit
so deep, wherein he was wilfully plunged, and was blinded with its
wretched pastimes; and he shook his mind with a strong self-command;
whereupon all the filths of the Circensian pastimes flew off from him,
nor came he again thither. Upon this, he prevailed with his
unwilling father that he might be my scholar. He gave way, and gave
in. And Alypius beginning to be my hearer again, was involved in the
same superstition with me, loving in the Manichees that show of
continency which he supposed true and unfeigned. Whereas it was a
senseless and seducing continency, ensnaring precious souls, unable as
yet to reach the depth of virtue, yet readily beguiled with the
surface of what was but a shadowy and counterfeit virtue.

He, not forsaking that secular course which his parents had
charmed him to pursue, had gone before me to Rome, to study law, and
there he was carried away incredibly with an incredible eagerness
after the shows of gladiators. For being utterly averse to and
detesting spectacles, he was one day by chance met by divers of his
acquaintance and fellow-students coming from dinner, and they with a
familiar violence haled him, vehemently refusing and resisting, into
the Amphitheatre, during these cruel and deadly shows, he thus
protesting: "Though you hale my body to that place, and there set
me, can you force me also to turn my mind or my eyes to those shows? I
shall then be absent while present, and so shall overcome both you and
them." They, hearing this, led him on nevertheless, desirous perchance
to try that very thing, whether he could do as he said. When they were
come thither, and had taken their places as they could, the whole
place kindled with that savage pastime. But he, closing the passage of
his eyes, forbade his mind to range abroad after such evil; and
would he had stopped his ears also! For in the fight, when one fell, a
mighty cry of the whole people striking him strongly, overcome by
curiosity, and as if prepared to despise and be superior to it
whatsoever it were, even when seen, he opened his eyes, and was
stricken with a deeper wound in his soul than the other, whom he
desired to behold, was in his body; and he fell more miserably than he
upon whose fall that mighty noise was raised, which entered through
his ears, and unlocked his eyes, to make way for the striking and
beating down of a soul, bold rather than resolute, and the weaker,
in that it had presumed on itself, which ought to have relied on Thee.
For so soon as he saw that blood, he therewith drunk down
savageness; nor turned away, but fixed his eye, drinking in frenzy,
unawares, and was delighted with that guilty fight, and intoxicated
with the bloody pastime. Nor was he now the man he came, but one of
the throng he came unto, yea, a true associate of theirs that
brought him thither. Why say more? He beheld, shouted, kindled,
carried thence with him the madness which should goad him to return
not only with them who first drew him thither, but also before them,
yea and to draw in others. Yet thence didst Thou with a most strong
and most merciful hand pluck him, and taughtest him to have confidence
not in himself, but in Thee. But this was after.

But this was already being laid up in his memory to be a medicine
hereafter. So was that also, that when he was yet studying under me at
Carthage, and was thinking over at mid-day in the market-place what he
was to say by heart (as scholars use to practise), Thou sufferedst him
to be apprehended by the officers of the market-place for a thief. For
no other cause, I deem, didst Thou, our God, suffer it, but that he
who was hereafter to prove so great a man, should already begin to
learn that in judging of causes, man was not readily to be condemned
by man out of a rash credulity. For as he was walking up and down by
himself before the judgment-seat, with his note-book and pen, lo, a
young man, a lawyer, the real thief, privily bringing a hatchet, got
in, unperceived by Alypius, as far as the leaden gratings which
fence in the silversmiths' shops, and began to cut away the lead.
But the noise of the hatchet being heard, the silversmiths beneath
began to make a stir, and sent to apprehend whomever they should find.
But he, hearing their voices, ran away, leaving his hatchet, fearing
to be taken with it. Alypius now, who had not seen him enter, was
aware of his going, and saw with what speed he made away. And being
desirous to know the matter, entered the place; where finding the
hatchet, he was standing, wondering and considering it, when behold,
those that had been sent, find him alone with the hatchet in his hand,
the noise whereof had startled and brought them thither. They seize
him, hale him away, and gathering the dwellers in the market-place
together, boast of having taken a notorious thief, and so he was being
led away to be taken before the judge.

But thus far was Alypius to be instructed. For forthwith, O Lord,
Thou succouredst his innocency, whereof Thou alone wert witness. For
as he was being led either to prison or to punishment, a certain
architect met them, who had the chief charge of the public
buildings. Glad they were to meet him especially, by whom they were
wont to be suspected of stealing the goods lost out of the
marketplace, as though to show him at last by whom these thefts were
committed. He, however, had divers times seen Alypius at a certain
senator's house, to whom he often went to pay his respects; and
recognising him immediately, took him aside by the hand, and enquiring
the occasion of so great a calamity, heard the whole matter, and
bade all present, amid much uproar and threats, to go with him. So
they came to the house of the young man who had done the deed.
There, before the door, was a boy so young as to be likely, not
apprehending any harm to his master, to disclose the whole. For he had
attended his master to the market-place. Whom so soon as Alypius
remembered, he told the architect: and he showing the hatchet to the
boy, asked him "Whose that was?" "Ours," quoth he presently: and being
further questioned, he discovered every thing. Thus the crime being
transferred to that house, and the multitude ashamed, which had
begun to insult over Alypius, he who was to be a dispenser of Thy
Word, and an examiner of many causes in Thy Church, went away better
experienced and instructed.

Him then I had found at Rome, and he clave to me by a most strong
tie, and went with me to Milan, both that he might not leave me, and
might practise something of the law he had studied, more to please his
parents than himself. There he had thrice sat as Assessor, with an
uncorruptness much wondered at by others, he wondering at others
rather who could prefer gold to honesty. His character was tried
besides, not only with the bait of covetousness, but with the goad
of fear. At Rome he was Assessor to the count of the Italian Treasury.
There was at that time a very powerful senator, to whose favours
many stood indebted, many much feared. He would needs, by his usual
power, have a thing allowed him which by the laws was unallowed.
Alypius resisted it: a bribe was promised; with all his heart he
scorned it: threats were held out; he trampled upon them: all
wondering at so unwonted a spirit, which neither desired the
friendship, nor feared the enmity of one so great and so mightily
renowned for innumerable means of doing good or evil. And the very
judge, whose councillor Alypius was, although also unwilling it should
be, yet did not openly refuse, but put the matter off upon Alypius,
alleging that he would not allow him to do it: for in truth had the
judge done it, Alypius would have decided otherwise. With this one
thing in the way of learning was he well-nigh seduced, that he might
have books copied for him at Praetorian prices, but consulting
justice, he altered his deliberation for the better; esteeming
equity whereby he was hindered more gainful than the power whereby
he were allowed. These are slight things, but he that is faithful in
little, is faithful also in much. Nor can that any how be void,
which proceeded out of the mouth of Thy Truth: If ye have not been
faithful in the unrighteous Mammon, who will commit to your trust true
riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another
man's, who shall give you that which is your own? He being such, did
at that time cleave to me, and with me wavered in purpose, what course
of life was to be taken.

Nebridius also, who having left his native country near Carthage,
yea and Carthage itself, where he had much lived, leaving his
excellent family-estate and house, and a mother behind, who was not to
follow him, had come to Milan, for no other reason but that with me he
might live in a most ardent search after truth and wisdom. Like me
he sighed, like me he wavered, an ardent searcher after true life, and
a most acute examiner of the most difficult questions. Thus were there
the mouths of three indigent persons, sighing out their wants one to
another, and waiting upon Thee that Thou mightest give them their meat
in due season. And in all the bitterness which by Thy mercy followed
our worldly affairs, as we looked towards the end, why we should
suffer all this, darkness met us; and we turned away groaning, and
saying, How long shall these things be? This too we often said; and so
saying forsook them not, for as yet there dawned nothing certain,
which these forsaken, we might embrace.

And I, viewing and reviewing things, most wondered at the length
of time from that my nineteenth year, wherein I had begun to kindle
with the desire of wisdom, settling when I had found her, to abandon
all the empty hopes and lying frenzies of vain desires. And lo, I
was now in my thirtieth year, sticking in the same mire, greedy of
enjoying things present, which passed away and wasted my soul; while I
said to myself, "Tomorrow I shall find it; it will appear manifestly
and I shall grasp it; to, Faustus the Manichee will come, and clear
every thing! O you great men, ye Academicians, it is true then, that
no certainty can be attained for the ordering of life! Nay, let us
search the more diligently, and despair not. Lo, things in the
ecclesiastical books are not absurd to us now, which sometimes
seemed absurd, and may be otherwise taken, and in a good sense. I will
take my stand, where, as a child, my parents placed me, until the
clear truth be found out. But where shall it be sought or when?
Ambrose has no leisure; we have no leisure to read; where shall we
find even the books? Whence, or when procure them? from whom borrow
them? Let set times be appointed, and certain hours be ordered for the
health of our soul. Great hope has dawned; the Catholic Faith
teaches not what we thought, and vainly accused it of; her
instructed members hold it profane to believe God to be bounded by the
figure of a human body: and do we doubt to 'knock,' that the rest 'may
be opened'? The forenoons our scholars take up; what do we during
the rest? Why not this? But when then pay we court to our great
friends, whose favour we need? When compose what we may sell to
scholars? When refresh ourselves, unbending our minds from this
intenseness of care?

"Perish every thing, dismiss we these empty vanities, and betake
ourselves to the one search for truth! Life is vain, death
uncertain; if it steals upon us on a sudden, in what state shall we
depart hence? and where shall we learn what here we have neglected?
and shall we not rather suffer the punishment of this negligence?
What, if death itself cut off and end all care and feeling? Then
must this be ascertained. But God forbid this! It is no vain and empty
thing, that the excellent dignity of the authority of the Christian
Faith hath overspread the whole world. Never would such and so great
things be by God wrought for us, if with the death of the body the
life of the soul came to an end. Wherefore delay then to abandon
worldly hopes, and give ourselves wholly to seek after God and the
blessed life? But wait! Even those things are pleasant; they have
some, and no small sweetness. We must not lightly abandon them, for it
were a shame to return again to them. See, it is no great matter now
to obtain some station, and then what should we more wish for? We have
store of powerful friends; if nothing else offer, and we be in much
haste, at least a presidentship may be given us: and a wife with
some money, that she increase not our charges: and this shall be the
bound of desire. Many great men, and most worthy of imitation, have
given themselves to the study of wisdom in the state of marriage.

While I went over these things, and these winds shifted and drove my
heart this way and that, time passed on, but I delayed to turn to
the Lord; and from day to day deferred to live in Thee, and deferred
not daily to die in myself. Loving a happy life, I feared it in its
own abode, and sought it, by fleeing from it. I thought I should be
too miserable, unless folded in female arms; and of the medicine of
Thy mercy to cure that infirmity I thought not, not having tried it.
As for continency, I supposed it to be in our own power (though in
myself I did not find that power), being so foolish as not to know
what is written, None can be continent unless Thou give it; and that
Thou wouldest give it, if with inward groanings I did knock at Thine
ears, and with a settled faith did cast my care on Thee.

Alypius indeed kept me from marrying; alleging that so could we by
no means with undistracted leisure live together in the love of
wisdom, as we had long desired. For himself was even then most pure in
this point, so that it was wonderful; and that the more, since in
the outset of his youth he had entered into that course, but had not
stuck fast therein; rather had he felt remorse and revolting at it,
living thenceforth until now most continently. But I opposed him
with the examples of those who as married men had cherished wisdom,
and served God acceptably, and retained their friends, and loved
them faithfully. Of whose greatness of spirit I was far short; and
bound with the disease of the flesh, and its deadly sweetness, drew
along my chain, dreading to be loosed, and as if my wound had been
fretted, put back his good persuasions, as it were the hand of one
that would unchain me. Moreover, by me did the serpent speak unto
Alypius himself, by my tongue weaving and laying in his path
pleasurable snares, wherein his virtuous and free feet might be

For when he wondered that I, whom he esteemed not slightly, should
stick so fast in the birdlime of that pleasure, as to protest (so
oft as we discussed it) that I could never lead a single life; and
urged in my defence when I saw him wonder, that there was great
difference between his momentary and scarce-remembered knowledge of
that life, which so he might easily despise, and my continued
acquaintance whereto if the honourable name of marriage were added, he
ought not to wonder why I could not contemn that course; he began also
to desire to be married; not as overcome with desire of such pleasure,
but out of curiosity. For he would fain know, he said, what that
should be, without which my life, to him so pleasing, would to me seem
not life but a punishment. For his mind, free from that chain, was
amazed at my thraldom; and through that amazement was going on to a
desire of trying it, thence to the trial itself, and thence perhaps to
sink into that bondage whereat he wondered, seeing he was willing to
make a covenant with death; and he that loves danger, shall fall
into it. For whatever honour there be in the office of well-ordering a
married life, and a family, moved us but slightly. But me for the most
part the habit of satisfying an insatiable appetite tormented, while
it held me captive; him, an admiring wonder was leading captive. So
were we, until Thou, O Most High, not forsaking our dust,
commiserating us miserable, didst come to our help, by wondrous and
secret ways.

Continual effort was made to have me married. I wooed, I was
promised, chiefly through my mother's pains, that so once married, the
health-giving baptism might cleanse me, towards which she rejoiced
that I was being daily fitted, and observed that her prayers, and
Thy promises, were being fulfilled in my faith. At which time
verily, both at my request and her own longing, with strong cries of
heart she daily begged of Thee, that Thou wouldest by a vision
discover unto her something concerning my future marriage; Thou
never wouldest. She saw indeed certain vain and fantastic things, such
as the energy of the human spirit, busied thereon, brought together;
and these she told me of, not with that confidence she was wont,
when Thou showedst her any thing, but slighting them. For she could,
she said, through a certain feeling, which in words she could not
express, discern betwixt Thy revelations, and the dreams of her own
soul. Yet the matter was pressed on, and a maiden asked in marriage,
two years under the fit age; and, as pleasing, was waited for.

And many of us friends conferring about, and detesting the turbulent
turmoils of human life, had debated and now almost resolved on
living apart from business and the bustle of men; and this was to be
thus obtained; we were to bring whatever we might severally procure,
and make one household of all; so that through the truth of our
friendship nothing should belong especially to any; but the whole thus
derived from all, should as a whole belong to each, and all to all. We
thought there might be some often persons in this society; some of
whom were very rich, especially Romanianus our townsman, from
childhood a very familiar friend of mine, whom the grievous
perplexities of his affairs had brought up to court; who was the
most earnest for this project; and therein was his voice of great
weight, because his ample estate far exceeded any of the rest. We
had settled also that two annual officers, as it were, should
provide all things necessary, the rest being undisturbed. But when
we began to consider whether the wives, which some of us already
had, others hoped to have, would allow this, all that plan, which
was being so well moulded, fell to pieces in our hands, was utterly
dashed and cast aside. Thence we betook us to sighs, and groans, and
our steps to follow the broad and beaten ways of the world; for many
thoughts were in our heart, but Thy counsel standeth for ever. Out
of which counsel Thou didst deride ours, and preparedst Thine own;
purposing to give us meat in due season, and to fill our souls with

Meanwhile my sins were being multiplied, and my concubine being torn
from my side as a hindrance to my marriage, my heart which clave
unto her was torn and wounded and bleeding. And she returned to Afric,
vowing unto Thee never to know any other man, leaving with me my son
by her. But unhappy I, who could not imitate a very woman, impatient
of delay, inasmuch as not till after two years was I to obtain her I
sought not being so much a lover of marriage as a slave to lust,
procured another, though no wife, that so by the servitude of an
enduring custom, the disease of my soul might be kept up and carried
on in its vigour, or even augmented, into the dominion of marriage.
Nor was that my wound cured, which had been made by the cutting away
of the former, but after inflammation and most acute pain, it
mortified, and my pains became less acute, but more desperate.

To Thee be praise, glory to Thee, Fountain of mercies. I was
becoming more miserable, and Thou nearer. Thy right hand was
continually ready to pluck me out of the mire, and to wash me
thoroughly, and I knew it not; nor did anything call me back from a
yet deeper gulf of carnal pleasures, but the fear of death, and of Thy
judgment to come; which amid all my changes, never departed from my
breast. And in my disputes with my friends Alypius and Nebridius of
the nature of good and evil, I held that Epicurus had in my mind won
the palm, had I not believed that after death there remained a life
for the soul, and places of requital according to men's deserts, which
Epicurus would not believe. And I asked, "were we immortal, and to
live in perpetual bodily pleasure, without fear of losing it, why
should we not be happy, or what else should we seek?" not knowing that
great misery was involved in this very thing, that, being thus sunk
and blinded, I could not discern that light of excellence and
beauty, to be embraced for its own sake, which the eye of flesh cannot
see, and is seen by the inner man. Nor did I, unhappy, consider from
what source it sprung, that even on these things, foul as they were, I
with pleasure discoursed with my friends, nor could I, even
according to the notions I then had of happiness, be happy without
friends, amid what abundance soever of carnal pleasures. And yet these
friends I loved for themselves only, and I felt that I was beloved
of them again for myself only.

O crooked paths! Woe to the audacious soul, which hoped, by
forsaking Thee, to gain some better thing! Turned it hath, and
turned again, upon back, sides, and belly, yet all was painful; and
Thou alone rest. And behold, Thou art at hand, and deliverest us
from our wretched wanderings, and placest us in Thy way, and dost
comfort us, and say, "Run; I will carry you; yea I will bring you
through; there also will I carry you."


Deceased was now that my evil and abominable youth, and I was
passing into early manhood; the more defiled by vain things as I
grew in years, who could not imagine any substance, but such as is
wont to be seen with these eyes. I thought not of Thee, O God, under
the figure of a human body; since I began to hear aught of wisdom, I
always avoided this; and rejoiced to have found the same in the
faith of our spiritual mother, Thy Catholic Church. But what else to
conceive of Thee I knew not. And I, a man, and such a man, sought to
conceive of Thee the sovereign, only, true God; and I did in my inmost
soul believe that Thou wert incorruptible, and uninjurable, and
unchangeable; because though not knowing whence or how, yet I saw
plainly, and was sure, that that which may be corrupted must be
inferior to that which cannot; what could not be injured I preferred
unhesitatingly to what could receive injury; the unchangeable to
things subject to change. My heart passionately cried out against
all my phantoms, and with this one blow I sought to beat away from the
eye of my mind all that unclean troop which buzzed around it. And
to, being scarce put off, in the twinkling of an eye they gathered
again thick about me, flew against my face, and beclouded it; so
that though not under the form of the human body, yet was I
constrained to conceive of Thee (that incorruptible, uninjurable,
and unchangeable, which I preferred before the corruptible, and
injurable, and changeable) as being in space, whether infused into the
world, or diffused infinitely without it. Because whatsoever I
conceived, deprived of this space, seemed to me nothing, yea
altogether nothing, not even a void, as if a body were taken out of
its place, and the place should remain empty of any body at all, of
earth and water, air and heaven, yet would it remain a void place,
as it were a spacious nothing.

I then being thus gross-hearted, nor clear even to myself,
whatsoever was not extended over certain spaces, nor diffused, nor
condensed, nor swelled out, or did not or could not receive some of
these dimensions, I thought to be altogether nothing. For over such
forms as my eyes are wont to range, did my heart then range: nor yet
did I see that this same notion of the mind, whereby I formed those
very images, was not of this sort, and yet it could not have formed
them, had not itself been some great thing. So also did I endeavour to
conceive of Thee, Life of my life, as vast, through infinite spaces on
every side penetrating the whole mass of the universe, and beyond
it, every way, through unmeasurable boundless spaces; so that the
earth should have Thee, the heaven have Thee, all things have Thee,
and they be bounded in Thee, and Thou bounded nowhere. For that as the
body of this air which is above the earth, hindereth not the light
of the sun from passing through it, penetrating it, not by bursting or
by cutting, but by filling it wholly: so I thought the body not of
heaven, air, and sea only, but of the earth too, pervious to Thee,
so that in all its parts, the greatest as the smallest, it should
admit Thy presence, by a secret inspiration, within and without,
directing all things which Thou hast created. So I guessed, only as
unable to conceive aught else, for it was false. For thus should a
greater part of the earth contain a greater portion of Thee, and a
less, a lesser: and all things should in such sort be full of Thee,
that the body of an elephant should contain more of Thee, than that of
a sparrow, by how much larger it is, and takes up more room; and
thus shouldest Thou make the several portions of Thyself present
unto the several portions of the world, in fragments, large to the
large, petty to the petty. But such art not Thou. But not as yet hadst
Thou enlightened my darkness.

It was enough for me, Lord, to oppose to those deceived deceivers,
and dumb praters, since Thy word sounded not out of them; -that was
enough which long ago, while we were yet at Carthage, Nebridius used
to propound, at which all we that heard it were staggered: "That
said nation of darkness, which the Manichees are wont to set as an
opposing mass over against Thee, what could it have done unto Thee,
hadst Thou refused to fight with it? For, if they answered, 'it
would have done Thee some hurt,' then shouldest Thou be subject to
injury and corruption: but if could do Thee no hurt,' then was no
reason brought for Thy fighting with it; and fighting in such wise, as
that a certain portion or member of Thee, or offspring of Thy very
Substance, should he mingled with opposed powers, and natures not
created by Thee, and be by them so far corrupted and changed to the
worse, as to be turned from happiness into misery, and need
assistance, whereby it might be extricated and purified; and that this
offspring of Thy Substance was the soul, which being enthralled,
defiled, corrupted, Thy Word, free, pure, and whole, might relieve;
that Word itself being still corruptible because it was of one and the
same Substance. So then, should they affirm Thee, whatsoever Thou art,
that is, Thy Substance whereby Thou art, to be incorruptible, then
were all these sayings false and execrable; but if corruptible, the
very statement showed it to be false and revolting." This argument
then of Nebridius sufficed against those who deserved wholly to be
vomited out of the overcharged stomach; for they had no escape,
without horrible blasphemy of heart and tongue, thus thinking and
speaking of Thee.

But I also as yet, although I held and was firmly persuaded that
Thou our Lord the true God, who madest not only our souls, but our
bodies, and not only our souls and bodies, but all beings, and all
things, wert undefilable and unalterable, and in no degree mutable;
yet understood I not, clearly and without difficulty, the cause of
evil. And yet whatever it were, I perceived it was in such wise to
be sought out, as should not constrain me to believe the immutable God
to be mutable, lest I should become that evil I was seeking out. I
sought it out then, thus far free from anxiety, certain of the untruth
of what these held, from whom I shrunk with my whole heart: for I saw,
that through enquiring the origin of evil, they were filled with evil,
in that they preferred to think that Thy substance did suffer ill than
their own did commit it.

And I strained to perceive what I now heard, that free-will was
the cause of our doing ill, and Thy just judgment of our suffering
ill. But I was not able clearly to discern it. So then endeavouring to
draw my soul's vision out of that deep pit, I was again plunged
therein, and endeavouring often, I was plunged back as often. But this
raised me a little into Thy light, that I knew as well that I had a
will, as that I lived: when then I did will or nill any thing, I was
most sure that no other than myself did will and nill: and I all but
saw that there was the cause of my sin. But what I did against my
will, I saw that I suffered rather than did, and I judged not to be my
fault, but my punishment; whereby, however, holding Thee to be just, I
speedily confessed myself to be not unjustly punished. But again I
said, Who made me? Did not my God, Who is not only good, but
goodness itself? Whence then came I to will evil and nill good, so
that I am thus justly punished? who set this in me, and ingrated
into me this plant of bitterness, seeing I was wholly formed by my
most sweet God? If the devil were the author, whence is that same
devil? And if he also by his own perverse will, of a good angel became
a devil, whence, again, came in him that evil will whereby he became a
devil, seeing the whole nature of angels was made by that most good
Creator? By these thoughts I was again sunk down and choked; yet not
brought down to that hell of error (where no man confesseth unto
Thee), to think rather that Thou dost suffer ill, than that man doth

For I was in such wise striving to find out the rest, as one who had
already found that the incorruptible must needs be better than the
corruptible: and Thee therefore, whatsoever Thou wert, I confessed
to be incorruptible. For never soul was, nor shall be, able to
conceive any thing which may be better than Thou, who art the
sovereign and the best good. But since most truly and certainly, the
incorruptible is preferable to the corruptible (as I did now prefer
it), then, wert Thou not incorruptible, I could in thought have
arrived at something better than my God. Where then I saw the
incorruptible to be preferable to the corruptible, there ought I to
seek for Thee, and there observe "wherein evil itself was"; that is,
whence corruption comes, by which Thy substance can by no means be
impaired. For corruption does no ways impair our God; by no will, by
no necessity, by no unlooked-for chance: because He is God, and what
He wills is good, and Himself is that good; but to be corrupted is not
good. Nor art Thou against Thy will constrained to any thing, since
Thy will is not greater than Thy power. But greater should it be, were
Thyself greater than Thyself. For the will and power of God is God
Himself. And what can be unlooked-for by Thee, Who knowest all things?
Nor is there any nature in things, but Thou knowest it. And what
should we more say, "why that substance which God is should not be
corruptible," seeing if it were so, it should not be God?

And I sought "whence is evil," and sought in an evil way; and saw
not the evil in my very search. I set now before the sight of my
spirit the whole creation, whatsoever we can see therein (as sea,
earth, air, stars, trees, mortal creatures); yea, and whatever in it
we do not see, as the firmament of heaven, all angels moreover, and
all the spiritual inhabitants thereof. But these very beings, as
though they were bodies, did my fancy dispose in place, and I made one
great mass of Thy creation, distinguished as to the kinds of bodies;
some, real bodies, some, what myself had feigned for spirits. And this
mass I made huge, not as it was (which I could not know), but as I
thought convenient, yet every way finite. But Thee, O Lord, I imagined
on every part environing and penetrating it, though every way
infinite: as if there were a sea, every where, and on every side,
through unmeasured space, one only boundless sea, and it contained
within it some sponge, huge, but bounded; that sponge must needs, in
all its parts, be filled from that unmeasurable sea: so conceived I
Thy creation, itself finite, full of Thee, the Infinite; and I said,
Behold God, and behold what God hath created; and God is good, yea,
most mightily and incomparably better than all these: but yet He,
the Good, created them good; and see how He environeth and fulfils
them. Where is evil then, and whence, and how crept it in hither? What
is its root, and what its seed? Or hath it no being? Why then fear
we and avoid what is not? Or if we fear it idly, then is that very
fear evil, whereby the soul is thus idly goaded and racked. Yea, and
so much a greater evil, as we have nothing to fear, and yet do fear.
Therefore either is that evil which we fear, or else evil is, that
we fear. Whence is it then? seeing God, the Good, hath created all
these things good. He indeed, the greater and chiefest Good, hath
created these lesser goods; still both Creator and created, all are
good. Whence is evil? Or, was there some evil matter of which He made,
and formed, and ordered it, yet left something in it which He did
not convert into good? Why so then? Had He no might to turn and change
the whole, so that no evil should remain in it, seeing He is
All-mighty? Lastly, why would He make any thing at all of it, and
not rather by the same All-mightiness cause it not to be at all? Or,
could it then be against His will? Or if it were from eternity, why
suffered He it so to be for infinite spaces of times past, and was
pleased so long after to make something out of it? Or if He were
suddenly pleased now to effect somewhat, this rather should the
All-mighty have effected, that this evil matter should not be, and
He alone be, the whole, true, sovereign, and infinite Good. Or if it
was not good that He who was good should not also frame and create
something that were good, then, that evil matter being taken away
and brought to nothing, He might form good matter, whereof to create
all things. For He should not be All-mighty, if He might not create
something good without the aid of that matter which Himself had not
created. These thoughts I revolved in my miserable heart,
overcharged with most gnawing cares, lest I should die ere I had found
the truth; yet was the faith of Thy Christ, our Lord and Saviour,
professed in the Church Catholic, firmly fixed in my heart, in many
points, indeed, as yet unformed, and fluctuating from the rule of
doctrine; yet did not my mind utterly leave it, but rather daily
took in more and more of it.

But this time also had I rejected the lying divinations and
impious dotages of the astrologers. Let Thine own mercies, out of my
very inmost soul, confess unto Thee for this also, O my God. For Thou,
Thou altogether (for who else calls us back from the death of all
errors, save the Life which cannot die, and the Wisdom which needing
no light enlightens the minds that need it, whereby the universe is
directed, down to the whirling leaves of trees?) -Thou madest
provision for my obstinacy wherewith I struggled against
Vindicianus, an acute old man, and Nebridius, a young man of admirable
talents; the first vehemently affirming, and the latter often
(though with some doubtfulness) saying, "That there was no such art
whereby to foresee things to come, but that men's conjectures were a
sort of lottery, and that out of many things which they said should
come to pass, some actually did, unawares to them who spake it, who
stumbled upon it, through their oft speaking." Thou providedst then
a friend for me, no negligent consulter of the astrologers; nor yet
well skilled in those arts, but (as I said) a curious consulter with
them, and yet knowing something, which he said he had heard of his
father, which how far it went to overthrow the estimation of that art,
he knew not. This man then, Firminus by name, having had a liberal
education, and well taught in Rhetoric, consulted me, as one very dear
to him, what, according to his socalled constellations, I thought on
certain affairs of his, wherein his worldly hopes had risen, and I,
who had herein now begun to incline towards Nebridius' opinion, did
not altogether refuse to conjecture, and tell him what came into my
unresolved mind; but added, that I was now almost persuaded that these
were but empty and ridiculous follies. Thereupon he told me that his
father had been very curious in such books, and had a friend as
earnest in them as himself, who with joint study and conference fanned
the flame of their affections to these toys, so that they would
observe the moments whereat the very dumb animals, which bred about
their houses, gave birth, and then observed the relative position of
the heavens, thereby to make fresh experiments in this so-called
art. He said then that he had heard of his father, that what time
his mother was about to give birth to him, Firminus, a woman-servant
of that friend of his father's was also with child, which could not
escape her master, who took care with most exact diligence to know the
births of his very puppies. And so it was that (the one for his
wife, and the other for his servant, with the most careful
observation, reckoning days, hours, nay, the lesser divisions of the
hours) both were delivered at the same instant; so that both were
constrained to allow the same constellations, even to the minutest
points, the one for his son, the other for his new-born slave. For
so soon as the women began to be in labour, they each gave notice to
the other what was fallen out in their houses, and had messengers
ready to send to one another so soon as they had notice of the
actual birth, of which they had easily provided, each in his own
province, to give instant intelligence. Thus then the messengers of
the respective parties met, he averred, at such an equal distance from
either house that neither of them could make out any difference in the
position of the stars, or any other minutest points; and yet Firminus,
born in a high estate in his parents' house, ran his course through
the gilded paths of life, was increased in riches, raised to
honours; whereas that slave continued to serve his masters, without
any relaxation of his yoke, as Firminus, who knew him, told me.

Upon hearing and believing these things, told by one of such
credibility, all that my resistance gave way; and first I
endeavoured to reclaim Firminus himself from that curiosity, by
telling him that upon inspecting his constellations, I ought if I were
to predict truly, to have seen in them parents eminent among their
neighbours, a noble family in its own city, high birth, good
education, liberal learning. But if that servant had consulted me upon
the same constellations, since they were his also, I ought again (to
tell him too truly) to see in them a lineage the most abject, a
slavish condition, and every thing else utterly at variance with the
former. Whence then, if I spake the truth, I should, from the same
constellations, speak diversely, or if I spake the same, speak
falsely: thence it followed most certainly that whatever, upon
consideration of the constellations, was spoken truly, was spoken
not out of art, but chance; and whatever spoken falsely, was not out
of ignorance in the art, but the failure of the chance.

An opening thus made, ruminating with myself on the like things,
that no one of those dotards (who lived by such a trade, and whom I
longed to attack, and with derision to confute) might urge against
me that Firminus had informed me falsely, or his father him; I bent my
thoughts on those that are born twins, who for the most part come
out of the womb so near one to other, that the small interval (how
much force soever in the nature of things folk may pretend it to have)
cannot be noted by human observation, or be at all expressed in
those figures which the astrologer is to inspect, that he may
pronounce truly. Yet they cannot be true: for looking into the same
figures, he must have predicted the same of Esau and Jacob, whereas
the same happened not to them. Therefore he must speak falsely; or
if truly, then, looking into the same figures, he must not give the
same answer. Not by art, then, but by chance, would he speak truly.
For Thou, O Lord, most righteous Ruler of the Universe, while
consulters and consulted know it not, dost by Thy hidden inspiration
effect that the consulter should hear what, according to the hidden
deservings of souls, he ought to hear, out of the unsearchable depth
of Thy just judgment, to Whom let no man say, What is this? Why
that? Let him not so say, for he is man.

Now then, O my Helper, hadst Thou loosed me from those fetters:
and I sought "whence is evil," and found no way. But Thou sufferedst
me not by any fluctuations of thought to be carried away from the
Faith whereby I believed Thee both to be, and Thy substance to be
unchangeable, and that Thou hast a care of, and wouldest judge men,
and that in Christ, Thy Son, Our Lord, and the holy Scriptures,
which the authority of Thy Catholic Church pressed upon me, Thou hadst
set the way of man's salvation, to that life which is to be after this
death. These things being safe and immovably settled in my mind, I
sought anxiously "whence was evil?" What were the pangs of my
teeming heart, what groans, O my God! yet even there were Thine ears
open, and I knew it not; and when in silence I vehemently sought,
those silent contritions of my soul were strong cries unto Thy
mercy. Thou knewest what I suffered, and no man. For, what was that
which was thence through my tongue distilled into the ears of my
most familiar friends? Did the whole tumult of my soul, for which
neither time nor utterance sufficed, reach them? Yet went up the whole
to Thy hearing, all which I roared out from the groanings of my heart;
and my desire was before Thee, and the light of mine eyes was not with
me: for that was within, I without: nor was that confined to place,
but I was intent on things contained in place, but there found I no
resting-place, nor did they so receive me, that I could say, "It is
enough," "it is well": nor did they yet suffer me to turn back,
where it might be well enough with me. For to these things was I
superior, but inferior to Thee; and Thou art my true joy when
subjected to Thee, and Thou hadst subjected to me what Thou
createdst below me. And this was the true temperament, and middle
region of my safety, to remain in Thy Image, and by serving Thee, rule
the body. But when I rose proudly against Thee, and ran against the
Lord with my neck, with the thick bosses of my buckler, even these
inferior things were set above me, and pressed me down, and no where
was there respite or space of breathing. They met my sight on all
sides by heaps and troops, and in thought the images thereof presented
themselves unsought, as I would return to Thee, as if they would say
unto me, "Whither goest thou, unworthy and defiled?" And these
things had grown out of my wound; for Thou "humbledst the proud like
one that is wounded," and through my own swelling was I separated from
Thee; yea, my pride-swollen face closed up mine eyes.

But Thou, Lord, abidest for ever, yet not for ever art Thou angry
with us; because Thou pitiest our dust and ashes, and it was
pleasing in Thy sight to reform my deformities; and by inward goads
didst Thou rouse me, that I should be ill at ease, until Thou wert
manifested to my inward sight. Thus, by the secret hand of Thy
medicining was my swelling abated, and the troubled and bedimmed
eyesight of my mind, by the smarting anointings of healthful
sorrows, was from day to day healed.

And Thou, willing first to show me how Thou resistest the proud, but
givest grace unto the humble, and by how great an act of Thy mercy
Thou hadst traced out to men the way of humility, in that Thy Word was
made flesh, and dwelt among men:- Thou procuredst for me, by means
of one puffed up with most unnatural pride, certain books of the
Platonists, translated from Greek into Latin. And therein I read,
not indeed in the very words, but to the very same purpose, enforced
by many and divers reasons, that In the beginning was the Word, and
the Word was with God, and the Word was God: the Same was in the
beginning with God: all things were made by Him, and without Him was
nothing made: that which was made by Him is life, and the life was the
light of men, and the light shineth in the darkness, and the
darkness comprehended it not. And that the soul of man, though it
bears witness to the light, yet itself is not that light; but the Word
of God, being God, is that true light that lighteth every man that
cometh into the world. And that He was in the world, and the world was
made by Him, and the world knew Him not. But, that He came unto His
own, and His own received Him not; but as many as received Him, to
them gave He power to become the sons of God, as many as believed in
His name; this I read not there.

Again I read there, that God the Word was born not of flesh nor of
blood, nor of the will of man, nor of the will of the flesh, but of
God. But that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, I read
not there. For I traced in those books that it was many and divers
ways said, that the Son was in the form of the Father, and thought
it not robbery to be equal with God, for that naturally He was the
Same Substance. But that He emptied Himself, taking the form of a
servant, being made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as
a man, humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, and that the
death of the cross: wherefore God exalted Him from the dead, and
gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee
should how, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under
the earth; and that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus
Christ is in the glory of God the Father; those books have not. For
that before all times and above all times Thy Only-Begotten Son
remaineth unchangeable, co-eternal with Thee, and that of His
fulness souls receive, that they may be blessed; and that by
participation of wisdom abiding in them, they are renewed, so as to be
wise, is there. But that in due time He died for the ungodly; and that
Thou sparedst not Thine Only Son, but deliveredst Him for us all, is
not there. For Thou hiddest these things from the wise, and revealedst
them to babes; that they that labour and are heavy laden might come
unto Him, and He refresh them, because He is meek and lowly in
heart; and the meek He directeth in judgment, and the gentle He
teacheth His ways, beholding our lowliness and trouble, and
forgiving all our sins. But such as are lifted up in the lofty walk of
some would-be sublimer learning, hear not Him, saying, Learn of Me,
for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest to your
souls. Although they knew God, yet they glorify Him not as God, nor
are thankful, but wax vain in their thoughts; and their foolish
heart is darkened; professing that they were wise, they became fools.

And therefore did I read there also, that they had changed the glory
of Thy incorruptible nature into idols and divers shapes, into the
likeness of the image of corruptible man, and birds, and beasts, and
creeping things; namely, into that Egyptian food for which Esau lost
his birthright, for that Thy first-born people worshipped the head
of a four-footed beast instead of Thee; turning in heart back
towards Egypt; and bowing Thy image, their own soul, before the
image of a calf that eateth hay. These things found I here, but I
fed not on them. For it pleased Thee, O Lord, to take away the
reproach of diminution from Jacob, that the elder should serve the
younger: and Thou calledst the Gentiles into Thine inheritance. And
I had come to Thee from among the Gentiles; and I set my mind upon the
gold which Thou willedst Thy people to take from Egypt, seeing Thine
it was, wheresoever it were. And to the Athenians Thou saidst by Thy
Apostle, that in Thee we live, move, and have our being, as one of
their own poets had said. And verily these books came from thence. But
I set not my mind on the idols of Egypt, whom they served with Thy
gold, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and
served the creature more than the Creator.

And being thence admonished to return to myself, I entered even into
my inward self, Thou being my Guide: and able I was, for Thou wert
become my Helper. And I entered and beheld with the eye of my soul
(such as it was), above the same eye of my soul, above my mind, the
Light Unchangeable. Not this ordinary light, which all flesh may
look upon, nor as it were a greater of the same kind, as though the
brightness of this should be manifold brighter, and with its greatness
take up all space. Not such was this light, but other, yea, far
other from these. Nor was it above my soul, as oil is above water, nor
yet as heaven above earth: but above to my soul, because It made me;
and I below It, because I was made by It. He that knows the Truth,
knows what that Light is; and he that knows It, knows eternity. Love
knoweth it. O Truth Who art Eternity! and Love Who art Truth! and
Eternity Who art Love! Thou art my God, to Thee do I sigh night and
day. Thee when I first knew, Thou liftedst me up, that I might see
there was what I might see, and that I was not yet such as to see. And
Thou didst beat back the weakness of my sight, streaming forth Thy
beams of light upon me most strongly, and I trembled with love and
awe: and I perceived myself to be far off from Thee, in the region
of unlikeness, as if I heard this Thy voice from on high: "I am the
food of grown men, grow, and thou shalt feed upon Me; nor shalt thou
convert Me, like the food of thy flesh into thee, but thou shalt be
converted into Me." And I learned, that Thou for iniquity chastenest
man, and Thou madest my soul to consume away like a spider. And I
said, "Is Truth therefore nothing because it is not diffused through
space finite or infinite?" And Thou criedst to me from afar: "Yet
verily, I AM that I AM." And I heard, as the heart heareth, nor had
I room to doubt, and I should sooner doubt that I live than that Truth
is not, which is clearly seen, being understood by those things
which are made. And I beheld the other things below Thee, and I
perceived that they neither altogether are, nor altogether are not,
for they are, since they are from Thee, but are not, because they
are not what Thou art. For that truly is which remains unchangeably.
It is good then for me to hold fast unto God; for if I remain not in
Him, I cannot in myself; but He remaining in Himself, reneweth all
things. And Thou art the Lord my God, since Thou standest not in
need of my goodness.

And it was manifested unto me, that those things be good which yet
are corrupted; which neither were they sovereignly good, nor unless
they were good could he corrupted: for if sovereignly good, they
were incorruptible, if not good at all, there were nothing in them
to be corrupted. For corruption injures, but unless it diminished
goodness, it could not injure. Either then corruption injures not,
which cannot be; or which is most certain, all which is corrupted is
deprived of good. But if they he deprived of all good, they shall
cease to be. For if they shall be, and can now no longer he corrupted,
they shall be better than before, because they shall abide
incorruptibly. And what more monstrous than to affirm things to become
better by losing all their good? Therefore, if they shall be
deprived of all good, they shall no longer be. So long therefore as
they are, they are good: therefore whatsoever is, is good. That evil
then which I sought, whence it is, is not any substance: for were it a
substance, it should be good. For either it should be an incorruptible
substance, and so a chief good: or a corruptible substance; which
unless it were good, could not be corrupted. I perceived therefore,
and it was manifested to me that Thou madest all things good, nor is
there any substance at all, which Thou madest not; and for that Thou
madest not all things equal, therefore are all things; because each is
good, and altogether very good, because our God made all things very

And to Thee is nothing whatsoever evil: yea, not only to Thee, but
also to Thy creation as a whole, because there is nothing without,
which may break in, and corrupt that order which Thou hast appointed
it. But in the parts thereof some things, because unharmonising with
other some, are accounted evil: whereas those very things harmonise
with others, and are good; and in themselves are good. And all these
things which harmonise not together, do yet with the inferior part,
which we call Earth, having its own cloudy and windy sky harmonising
with it. Far be it then that I should say, "These things should not
be": for should I see nought but these, I should indeed long for the
better; but still must even for these alone praise Thee; for that Thou
art to be praised, do show from the earth, dragons, and all deeps,
fire, hail, snow, ice, and stormy wind, which fulfil Thy word;
mountains, and all hills, fruitful trees, and all cedars; beasts,
and all cattle, creeping things, and flying fowls; kings of the earth,
and all people, princes, and all judges of the earth; young men and
maidens, old men and young, praise Thy Name. But when, from heaven,
these praise Thee, praise Thee, our God, in the heights all Thy
angels, all Thy hosts, sun and moon, all the stars and light, the
Heaven of heavens, and the waters that be above the heavens, praise
Thy Name; I did not now long for things better, because I conceived of
all: and with a sounder judgment I apprehended that the things above
were better than these below, but altogether better than those above
by themselves.

There is no soundness in them, whom aught of Thy creation
displeaseth: as neither in me, when much which Thou hast made,
displeased me. And because my soul durst not be displeased at my
God, it would fain not account that Thine, which displeased it.
Hence it had gone into the opinion of two substances, and had no rest,
but talked idly. And returning thence, it had made to itself a God,
through infinite measures of all space; and thought it to be Thee, and
placed it in its heart; and had again become the temple of its own
idol, to Thee abominable. But after Thou hadst soothed my head,
unknown to me, and closed mine eyes that they should not behold
vanity, I ceased somewhat of my former self, and my frenzy was
lulled to sleep; and I awoke in Thee, and saw Thee infinite, but in
another way, and this sight was not derived from the flesh.

And I looked back on other things; and I saw that they owed their
being to Thee; and were all bounded in Thee: but in a different way;
not as being in space; but because Thou containest all things in Thine
hand in Thy Truth; and all things are true so far as they nor is there
any falsehood, unless when that is thought to be, which is not. And
I saw that all things did harmonise, not with their places only, but
with their seasons. And that Thou, who only art Eternal, didst not
begin to work after innumerable spaces of times spent; for that all
spaces of times, both which have passed, and which shall pass, neither
go nor come, but through Thee, working and abiding.

And I perceived and found it nothing strange, that bread which is
pleasant to a healthy palate is loathsome to one distempered: and to
sore eyes light is offensive, which to the sound is delightful. And
Thy righteousness displeaseth the wicked; much more the viper and
reptiles, which Thou hast created good, fitting in with the inferior
portions of Thy Creation, with which the very wicked also fit in;
and that the more, by how much they be unlike Thee; but with the
superior creatures, by how much they become more like to Thee. And I
enquired what iniquity was, and found it to be substance, but the
perversion of the will, turned aside from Thee, O God, the Supreme,
towards these lower things, and casting out its bowels, and puffed
up outwardly.

And I wondered that I now loved Thee, and no phantasm for Thee.
And yet did I not press on to enjoy my God; but was borne up to Thee
by Thy beauty, and soon borne down from Thee by mine own weight,
sinking with sorrow into these inferior things. This weight was carnal
custom. Yet dwelt there with me a remembrance of Thee; nor did I any
way doubt that there was One to whom I might cleave, but that I was
not yet such as to cleave to Thee: for that the body which is
corrupted presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle
weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things. And most
certain I was, that Thy invisible works from the creation of the world
are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even
Thy eternal power and Godhead. For examining whence it was that I
admired the beauty of bodies celestial or terrestrial; and what
aided me in judging soundly on things mutable, and pronouncing,
"This ought to be thus, this not"; examining, I say, whence it was
that I so judged, seeing I did so judge, I had found the
unchangeable and true Eternity of Truth above my changeable mind.
And thus by degrees I passed from bodies to the soul, which through
the bodily senses perceives; and thence to its inward faculty, to
which the bodily senses represent things external, whitherto reach the
faculties of beasts; and thence again to the reasoning faculty, to
which what is received from the senses of the body is referred to be
judged. Which finding itself also to be in me a thing variable, raised
itself up to its own understanding, and drew away my thoughts from the
power of habit, withdrawing itself from those troops of
contradictory phantasms; that so it might find what that light was
whereby it was bedewed, when, without all doubting, it cried out,
"That the unchangeable was to be preferred to the changeable";
whence also it knew That Unchangeable, which, unless it had in some
way known, it had had no sure ground to prefer it to the changeable.
And thus with the flash of one trembling glance it arrived at THAT
WHICH IS. And then I saw Thy invisible things understood by the things
which are made. But I could not fix my gaze thereon; and my
infirmity being struck back, I was thrown again on my wonted habits,
carrying along with me only a loving memory thereof, and a longing for
what I had, as it were, perceived the odour of, but was not yet able
to feed on.

Then I sought a way of obtaining strength sufficient to enjoy
Thee; and found it not, until I embraced that Mediator betwixt God and
men, the Man Christ Jesus, who is over all, God blessed for
evermore, calling unto me, and saying, I am the way, the truth, and
the life, and mingling that food which I was unable to receive, with
our flesh. For, the Word was made flesh, that Thy wisdom, whereby Thou
createdst all things, might provide milk for our infant state. For I
did not hold to my Lord Jesus Christ, I, humbled, to the Humble; nor
knew I yet whereto His infirmity would guide us. For Thy Word, the
Eternal Truth, far above the higher parts of Thy Creation, raises up
the subdued unto Itself: but in this lower world built for Itself a
lowly habitation of our clay, whereby to abase from themselves such as
would be subdued, and bring them over to Himself; allaying their
swelling, and tomenting their love; to the end they might go on no
further in self-confidence, but rather consent to become weak,
seeing before their feet the Divinity weak by taking our coats of
skin; and wearied, might cast themselves down upon It, and It
rising, might lift them up.

But I thought otherwise; conceiving only of my Lord Christ as of a
man of excellent wisdom, whom no one could be equalled unto;
especially, for that being wonderfully born of a Virgin, He seemed, in
conformity therewith, through the Divine care for us, to have attained
that great eminence of authority, for an ensample of despising
things temporal for the obtaining of immortality. But what mystery
there lay in "The Word was made flesh," I could not even imagine. Only
I had learnt out of what is delivered to us in writing of Him that
He did eat, and drink, sleep, walk, rejoiced in spirit, was sorrowful,
discoursed; that flesh did not cleave by itself unto Thy Word, but
with the human soul and mind. All know this who know the
unchangeableness of Thy Word, which I now knew, as far as I could, nor
did I at all doubt thereof. For, now to move the limbs of the body
by will, now not, now to be moved by some affection, now not, now to
deliver wise sayings through human signs, now to keep silence,
belong to soul and mind subject to variation. And should these
things be falsely written of Him, all the rest also would risk the
charge, nor would there remain in those books any saving faith for
mankind. Since then they were written truly, I acknowledged a
perfect man to be in Christ; not the body of a man only, nor, with the
body, a sensitive soul without a rational, but very man; whom, not
only as being a form of Truth, but for a certain great excellence of
human nature and a more perfect participation of wisdom, I judged to
be preferred before others. But Alypius imagined the Catholics to
believe God to be so clothed with flesh, that besides God and flesh,
there was no soul at all in Christ, and did not think that a human
mind was ascribed to Him. And because he was well persuaded that the
actions recorded of Him could only be performed by a vital and a
rational creature, he moved the more slowly towards the Christian
Faith. But understanding afterwards that this was the error of the
Apollinarian heretics, he joyed in and was conformed to the Catholic
Faith. But somewhat later, I confess, did I learn how in that
saying, The Word was made flesh, the Catholic truth is distinguished
from the falsehood of Photinus. For the rejection of heretics makes
the tenets of Thy Church and sound doctrine to stand out more clearly.
For there must also be heresies, that the approved may be made
manifest among the weak.

But having then read those books of the Platonists, and thence
been taught to search for incorporeal truth, I saw Thy invisible
things, understood by those things which are made; and though cast
back, I perceived what that was which through the darkness of my
mind I was hindered from contemplating, being assured "That Thou wert,
and wert infinite, and yet not diffused in space, finite or
infinite; and that Thou truly art Who art the same ever, in no part
nor motion varying; and that all other things are from Thee, on this
most sure ground alone, that they are." Of these things I was assured,
yet too unsure to enjoy Thee. I prated as one well skilled; but had

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