Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK VIII.: HE FINALLY DESCRIBES THE THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF HIS AGE, THE MOST MEMORABLE OF HIS WHOLE LIFE, IN WHICH, BEING INSTRUCTED BY SIMPLICIANUS CONCERNING THE CONVERSION OF OTHERS, AND THE MANNER OF ACTING, HE IS, AFTER A SEVERE STRUGGLE, RENEWED IN - A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 1 (The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine)
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BOOK VIII.: HE FINALLY DESCRIBES THE THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF HIS AGE, THE MOST MEMORABLE OF HIS WHOLE LIFE, IN WHICH, BEING INSTRUCTED BY SIMPLICIANUS CONCERNING THE CONVERSION OF OTHERS, AND THE MANNER OF ACTING, HE IS, AFTER A SEVERE STRUGGLE, RENEWED IN - Philip Schaff, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. 1 (The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine) 
A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, ed. Philip Schaff, LL.D. (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Co., 1886). Vol. 1 The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustin, with a Sketch of his Life and Work.
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HE FINALLY DESCRIBES THE THIRTY-SECOND YEAR OF HIS AGE, THE MOST MEMORABLE OF HIS WHOLE LIFE, IN WHICH, BEING INSTRUCTED BY SIMPLICIANUS CONCERNING THE CONVERSION OF OTHERS, AND THE MANNER OF ACTING, HE IS, AFTER A SEVERE STRUGGLE, RENEWED IN HIS WHOLE MIND, AND IS CONVERTED UNTO GOD.
HE, NOW GIVEN TO DIVINE THINGS, AND YET ENTANGLED BY THE LUSTS OF LOVE, CONSULTS SIMPLICIANUS IN REFERENCE TO THE RENEWING OF HIS MIND.
1. O my God, let me with gratitude remember and confess unto Thee Thy mercies bestowed upon me. Let my bones be steeped in Thy love, and let them say, Who is like unto Thee, O Lord?1 “Thou hast loosed my bonds, I will offer unto Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.”2 And how Thou hast loosed them I will declare; and all who worship Thee when they hear these things shall say: “Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is His name.” Thy words had stuck fast into my breast, and I was hedged round about by Thee on every side.3 Of Thy eternal life I was now certain, although I had seen it “through a glass darkly.”4 Yet I no longer doubted that there was an incorruptible substance, from which was derived all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more certain of Thee, but more stedfast in Thee. As for my temporal life, all things were uncertain, and my heart had to be purged from the old leaven.5 The “Way,”6 the Saviour Himself, was pleasant unto me, but as yet I disliked to pass through its straightness. And Thou didst put into my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go unto Simplicianus,7 who appeared to me a faithful servant of Thine, and Thy grace shone in him. I had also heard that from his very youth he had lived most devoted to Thee. Now he had grown into years, and by reason of so great age, passed in such zealous following of Thy ways, he appeared to me likely to have gained much experience; and so in truth he had. Out of which experience I desired him to tell me (setting before him my griefs) which would be the most fitting way for one afflicted as I was to walk in Thy way.
2. For the Church I saw to be full, and one went this way, and another that. But it was displeasing to me that I led a secular life; yea, now that my passions had ceased to excite me as of old with hopes of honour and wealth, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so great a servitude. For, compared with Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house, which I loved,8 those things delighted me no longer. But still very tenaciously was I held by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry, although he exhorted me to something better, especially wishing that all men were as he himself was.9 But I, being weak, made choice of the more agreeable place, and because of this alone was tossed up and down in all beside, faint and languishing with withering cares, because in other matters I was compelled, though unwilling, to agree to a married life, to which I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of truth that “there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake;” but, saith He, “he that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”10 Vain, assuredly, are all men in whom the knowledge of God is not, and who could not, out of the good things which are seen, find out Him who is good.11 But I was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted it, and by the united testimony of Thy whole creation had found Thee, our Creator,12 and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee and the Holy Ghost1 one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another kind of impious men, who “when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful.”2 Into this also had I fallen; but Thy right hand held me up,3 and bore me away, and Thou placedst me where I might recover. For Thou hast said unto man, “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;”4 and desire not to seem wise,5 because, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”6 But I had now found the goodly pearl,7 which, selling all that I had,8 I ought to have bought; and I hesitated.
THE PIOUS OLD MAN REJOICES THAT HE READ PLATO AND THE SCRIPTURES, AND TELLS HIM OF THE RHETORICIAN VICTORINUS HAVING BEEN CONVERTED TO THE FAITH THROUGH THE READING OF THE SACRED BOOKS.
3. To Simplicianus then I went,—the father of Ambrose9 (at that time a bishop) in receiving Thy grace, and whom he truly loved as a father. To him I narrated the windings of my error. But when I mentioned to him that I had read certain books of the Platonists, which Victorinus, sometime Professor of Rhetoric at Rome (who died a Christian, as I had been told), had translated into Latin, he congratulated me that I had not fallen upon the writings of other philosophers, which were full of fallacies and deceit, “after the rudiments of the world,”10 whereas they,11 in many ways, led to the belief in God and His word.12 Then, to exhort me to the humility of Christ,13 hidden from the wise, and revealed to little ones,14 he spoke of Victorinus himself,15 whom, whilst he was at Rome, he had known very intimately; and of him he related that about which I will not be silent. For it contains great praise of Thy grace, which ought to be confessed unto Thee, how that most learned old man, highly skilled in all the liberal sciences, who had read, criticised, and explained so many works of the philosophers; the teacher of so many noble senators; who also, as a mark of his excellent discharge of his duties, had (which men of this world esteem a great honour) both merited and obtained a statue in the Roman Forum, he,—even to that age a worshipper of idols, and a participator in the sacrilegious rites to which almost all the nobility of Rome were wedded, and had inspired the people with the love of
whom Rome once conquered, now worshipped, all which old Victorinus had with thundering eloquence defended so many years,—he now blushed not to be the child of Thy Christ, and an infant at Thy fountain, submitting his neck to the yoke of humility, and subduing his forehead to the reproach of the Cross.
4. O Lord, Lord, who hast bowed the heavens and come down, touched the mountains and they did smoke,17 by what means didst Thou convey Thyself into that bosom? He used to read, as Simplicianus said, the Holy Scripture, most studiously sought after and searched into all the Christian writings, and said to Simplicianus,—not openly, but secretly, and as a friend,—“Know thou that I am a Christian.” To which he replied, “I will not believe it, nor will I rank you among the Christians unless I see you in the Church of Christ.” Whereupon he replied derisively, “Is it then the walls that make Christians?” And this he often said, that he already was a Christian; and Simplicianus making the same answer, the conceit of the “walls” was by the other as often renewed. For he was fearful of offending his friends, proud demon-worshippers, from the height of whose Babylonian dignity, as from cedars of Lebanon which had not yet been broken by the Lord,1 he thought a storm of enmity would descend upon him. But after that, from reading and inquiry, he had derived strength, and feared lest he should be denied by Christ before the holy angels if he now was afraid to confess Him before men,2 and appeared to himself guilty of a great fault in being ashamed of the sacraments3 of the humility of Thy word, and not being ashamed of the sacrilegious rites of those proud demons, whose pride he had imitated and their rites adopted, he became bold-faced against vanity, and shame-faced toward the truth, and suddenly and unexpectedly said to Simplicianus,—as he himself informed me,—“Let us go to the church; I wish to be made a Christian.” But he, not containing himself for joy, accompanied him. And having been admitted to the first sacraments of instruction,4 he not long after gave in his name, that he might be regenerated by baptism,—Rome marvelling, and the Church rejoicing. The proud saw, and were enraged; they gnashed with their teeth, and melted away!5 But the Lord God was the hope of Thy servant, and He regarded not vanities and lying madness.6
5. Finally, when the hour arrived for him to make profession of his faith (which at Rome they who are about to approach Thy grace are wont to deliver7 from an elevated place, in view of the faithful people, in a set form of words learnt by heart),8 the presbyters, he said, offered Victorinus to make his profession more privately, as the custom was to do to those who were likely, through bashfulness, to be afraid; but he chose rather to profess his salvation in the presence of the holy assembly. For it was not salvation that he taught in rhetoric, and yet he had publicly professed that. How much less, therefore, ought he, when pronouncing Thy word, to dread Thy meek flock, who, in the delivery of his own words, had not feared the mad multitudes! So, then, when he ascended to make his profession, all, as they recognised him, whispered his name one to the other, with a voice of congratulation. And who was there amongst them that did not know him? And there ran a low murmur through the mouths of all the rejoicing multitude, “Victorinus! Victorinus!” Sudden was the burst of exultation at the sight of him; and suddenly were they hushed, that they might hear him. He pronounced the true faith with an excellent boldness, and all desired to take him to their very heart—yea, by their love and joy they took him thither; such were the hands with which they took him.
THAT GOD AND THE ANGELS REJOICE MORE ON THE RETURN OF ONE SINNER THAN OF MANY JUST PERSONS.
6. Good God, what passed in man to make him rejoice more at the salvation of a soul despaired of, and delivered from greater danger, than if there had always been hope of him, or the danger had been less? For so Thou also, O merciful Father, dost “joy over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.” And with much joyfulness do we hear, whenever we hear, how the lost sheep is brought home again on the Shepherd’s shoulders, while the angels rejoice, and the drachma is restored to Thy treasury, the neighbours rejoicing with the woman who found it;1 and the joy of the solemn service of Thy house constraineth to tears, when in Thy house it is read of Thy younger son that he “was dead, and is alive again, and was lost, and is found.”2 For Thou rejoicest both in us and in Thy angels, holy through holy charity. For Thou art ever the same; for all things which abide neither the same nor for ever, Thou ever knowest after the same manner.
7. What, then, passes in the soul when it more delights at finding or having restored to it the thing it loves than if it had always possessed them? Yea, and other things bear witness hereunto; and all things are full of witnesses, crying out, “So it is.” The victorious commander triumpheth; yet he would not have conquered had he not fought, and the greater the peril of the battle, the more the rejoicing of the triumph. The storm tosses the voyagers, threatens shipwreck, and every one waxes pale at the approach of death; but sky and sea grow calm, and they rejoice much, as they feared much. A loved one is sick, and his pulse indicates danger; all who desire his safety are at once sick at heart: he recovers, though not able as yet to walk with his former strength, and there is such joy as was not before when he walked sound and strong. Yea, the very pleasures of human life—not those only which rush upon us unexpectedly, and against our wills, but those that are voluntary and designed—do men obtain by difficulties. There is no pleasure at all in eating and drinking unless the pains of hunger and thirst go before. And drunkards eat certain salt meats with the view of creating a troublesome heat, which the drink allaying causes pleasure. It is also the custom that the affianced bride should not immediately be given up, that the husband may not less esteem her whom, as betrothed, he longed not for.3
8. This law obtains in base and accursed joy; in that joy also which is permitted and lawful; in the sincerity of honest friendship; and in Him who was dead, and lived again, had been lost, and was found.4 The greater joy is everywhere preceded by the greater pain. What meaneth this, O Lord my God, when Thou art an everlasting joy unto Thine own self, and some things about Thee are ever rejoicing in Thee?5 What meaneth this, that this portion of things thus ebbs and flows, alternately offended and reconciled? Is this the fashion of them, and is this all Thou hast allotted to them, whereas from the highest heaven to the lowest earth, from the beginning of the world to its end, from the angel to the worm, from the first movement unto the last, Thou settedst each in its right place, and appointedst each its proper seasons, everything good after its kind? Woe is me! How high art Thou in the highest, and how deep in the deepest! Thou withdrawest no whither, and scarcely do we return to Thee.
HE SHOWS BY THE EXAMPLE OF VICTORINUS THAT THERE IS MORE JOY IN THE CONVERSION OF NOBLES.
9. Haste, Lord, and act; stir us up, and call us back; inflame us, and draw us to Thee; stir us up, and grow sweet unto us; let us now love Thee, let us “run after Thee.”1 Do not many men, out of a deeper hell of blindness than that of Victorinus, return unto Thee, and approach, and are enlightened, receiving that light, which they that receive, receive power from Thee to become Thy sons?2 But if they be less known among the people, even they that know them joy less for them. For when many rejoice together, the joy of each one is the fuller, in that they are incited and inflamed by one another. Again, because those that are known to many influence many towards salvation, and take the lead with many to follow them. And, therefore, do they also who preceded them much rejoice in regard to them, because they rejoice not in them alone. May it be averted that in Thy tabernacle the persons of the rich should be accepted before the poor, or the noble before the ignoble; since rather “Thou hast chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hast Thou chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.”3 And yet, even that “least of the apostles,”4 by whose tongue Thou soundest out these words, when Paulus the proconsul5 —his pride overcome by the apostle’s warfare—was made to pass under the easy yoke6 of Thy Christ, and became a provincial of the great King,—he also, instead of Saul, his former name, desired to be called Paul,7 in testimony of so great a victory. For the enemy is more overcome in one of whom he hath more hold, and by whom he hath hold of more. But the proud hath he more hold of by reason of their nobility; and by them of more, by reason of their authority.8 By how much the more welcome, then, was the heart of Victorinus esteemed, which the devil had held as an unassailable retreat, and the tongue of Victorinus, with which mighty and cutting weapon he had slain many; so much the more abundantly should Thy sons rejoice, seeing that our King hath bound the strong man,9 and they saw his vessels taken from him and cleansed,10 and made meet for Thy honour, and become serviceable for the Lord unto every good work.11
OF THE CAUSES WHICH ALIENATE US FROM GOD.
10. But when that man of Thine, Simplicianus, related this to me about Victorinus, I burned to imitate him; and it was for this end he had related it. But when he had added this also, that in the time of the Emperor Julian, there was a law made by which Christians were forbidden to teach grammar and oratory,12 and he, in obedience to this law, chose rather to abandon the wordy school than Thy word, by which Thou makest eloquent the tongues of the dumb13 ,—he appeared to me not more brave than happy, in having thus discovered an opportunity of waiting on Thee only, which thing I was sighing for, thus bound, not with the irons of another, but my own iron will. My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a “chain”), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled.14 But that new will which had begun to develope in me, freely to worship Thee, and to wish to enjoy Thee, O God, the only sure enjoyment, was not able as yet to overcome my former wilfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus did my two wills, one old and the other new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contend within me; and by their discord they unstrung my soul.
11. Thus came I to understand, from my own experience, what I had read, how that “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”1 I verily lusted both ways;2 yet more in that which I approved in myself, than in that which I disapproved in myself. For in this last it was now rather not “I,”3 because in much I rather suffered against my will than did it willingly. And yet it was through me that custom became more combative against me, because I had come willingly wither I willed not. And who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows the sinner?4 Nor had I now any longer my wonted excuse, that as yet I hesitated to be above the world and serve Thee, because my perception of the truth was uncertain; for now it was certain. But I, still bound to the earth, refused to be Thy soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all embarrassments, as we ought to fear to be embarrassed.
12. Thus with the baggage of the world was I sweetly burdened, as when in slumber; and the thoughts wherein I meditated upon Thee were like unto the efforts of those desiring to awake, who, still overpowered with a heavy drowsiness, are again steeped therein. And as no one desires to sleep always, and in the sober judgment of all waking is better, yet does a man generally defer to shake off drowsiness, when there is a heavy lethargy in all his limbs, and, though displeased, yet even after it is time to rise with pleasure yields to it, so was I assured that it were much better for me to give up myself to Thy charity, than to yield myself to my own cupidity; but the former course satisfied and vanquished me, the latter pleased me and fettered me.5 Nor had I aught to answer Thee calling to me, “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”6 And to Thee showing me on every side, that what Thou saidst was true, I, convicted by the truth, had nothing at all to reply, but the drawling and drowsy words: “Presently, lo, presently;” “Leave me a little while.” But “presently, presently,” had no present; and my “leave me a little while” went on for a long while.7 In vain did I “delight in Thy law after the inner man,” when “another law in my members warred against the law of my mind, and brought me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” For the law of sin is the violence of custom, whereby the mind is drawn and held, even against its will; deserving to be so held in that it so willingly falls into it. “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death” but Thy grace only, through Jesus Christ our Lord?8
PONTITIANUS’ ACCOUNT OF ANTONY, THE FOUNDER OF MONACHISM, AND OF SOME WHO IMITATED HIM.
13. And how, then, Thou didst deliver me out of the bonds of carnal desire, wherewith I was most firmly fettered, and out of the drudgery of worldly business, will I now declare and confess unto Thy name, “O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”9 Amid increasing anxiety, I was transacting my usual affairs, and daily sighing unto Thee. I resorted as frequently to Thy church as the business, under the burden of which I groaned, left me free to do. Alypius was with me, being after the third sitting disengaged from his legal occupation, and awaiting further opportunity of selling his counsel, as I was wont to sell the power of speaking, if it can be supplied by teaching. But Nebridius had, on account of our friendship, consented to teach under Verecundus, a citizen and a grammarian of Milan, and a very intimate friend of us all; who vehemently desired, and by the right of friendship demanded from our company, the faithful aid he greatly stood in need of. Nebridius, then, was not drawn to this by any desire of gain (for he could have made much more of his learning had he been so inclined), but, as a most sweet and kindly friend, he would not be wanting in an office of friendliness, and slight our request. But in this he acted very discreetly, taking care not to become known to those personages whom the world esteems great; thus avoiding distraction of mind, which he desired to have free and at leisure as many hours as possible, to search, or read, or hear something concerning wisdom.
14. Upon a certain day, then, Nebridius being away (why, I do not remember), lo, there came to the house to see Alypius and me, Pontitianus, a countryman of ours, in so far as he was an African, who held high office in the emperor’s court. What he wanted with us I know not, but we sat down to talk together, and it fell out that upon a table before us, used for games, he noticed a book; he took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the Apostle Paul,—for he imagined it to be one of those books which I was wearing myself out in teaching. At this he looked up at me smilingly, and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book, and this only, before my eyes. For he was both a Christian and baptized, and often prostrated himself before Thee our God in the church, in constant and daily prayers. When, then, I had told him that I bestowed much pains upon these writings, a conversation ensued on his speaking of Antony,1 the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among Thy servants, though up to that time not familiar to us. When he came to know this, he lingered on that topic, imparting to us a knowledge of this man so eminent, and marvelling at our ignorance. But we were amazed, hearing Thy wonderful works most fully manifested in times so recent, and almost in our own, wrought in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered—we, that they were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.
15. From this his conversation turned to the companies in the monasteries, and their manners so fragrant unto Thee, and of the fruitful deserts of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing. And there was a monastery at Milan2 full of good brethren, without the walls of the city, under the fostering care of Ambrose, and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his relation, and we listened intently and in silence. He then related to us how on a certain afternoon, at Triers, when the emperor was taken up with seeing the Circensian games,3 he and three others, his comrades, went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls, and there, as they chanced to walk two and two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went by themselves; and these, in their rambling, came upon a certain cottage inhabited by some of Thy servants, “poor in spirit,” of whom “is the kingdom of heaven,”1 where they found a book in which was written the life of Antony. This one of them began to read, marvel at, and be inflamed by it; and in the reading, to meditate on embracing such a life, and giving up his worldly employments to serve Thee. And these were of the body called “Agents for Public Affairs.”2 Then, suddenly being overwhelmed with a holy love and a sober sense of shame, in anger with himself, he cast his eyes upon his friend, exclaiming, “Tell me, I entreat thee, what end we are striving for by all these labours of ours. What is our aim? What is our motive in doing service? Can our hopes in court rise higher than to be ministers of the emperor? And in such a position, what is there not brittle, and fraught with danger, and by how many dangers arrive we at greater danger? And when arrive we thither? But if I desire to become a friend of God, behold, I am even now made it.” Thus spake he, and in the pangs of the travail of the new life, he turned his eyes again upon the page and continued reading, and was inwardly changed where Thou sawest, and his mind was divested of the world, as soon became evident; for as he read, and the surging of his heart rolled along, he raged awhile, discerned and resolved on a better course, and now, having become Thine, he said to his friend, “Now have I broken loose from those hopes of ours, and am determined to serve God; and this, from this hour, in this place, I enter upon. If thou art reluctant to imitate me, hinder me not.” The other replied that he would cleave to him, to share in so great a reward and so great a service. Thus both of them, being now Thine, were building a tower at the necessary cost,3 —of forsaking all that they had and following Thee. Then Pontitianus, and he that had walked with him through other parts of the garden, came in search of them to the same place, and having found them, reminded them to return as the day had declined. But they, making known to him their resolution and purpose, and how such a resolve had sprung up and become confirmed in them, entreated them not to molest them, if they refused to join themselves unto them. But the others, no whit changed from their former selves, did yet (as he said) bewail themselves, and piously congratulated them, recommending themselves to their prayers; and with their hearts inclining towards earthly things, returned to the palace. But the other two, setting their affections upon heavenly things, remained in the cottage. And both of them had affianced brides, who, when they heard of this, dedicated also their virginity unto God.
HE DEPLORES HIS WRETCHEDNESS, THAT HAVING BEEN BORN THIRTY-TWO YEARS, HE HAD NOT YET FOUND OUT THE TRUTH.
16. Such was the story of Pontitianus. But Thou, O Lord, whilst he was speaking, didst turn me towards myself, taking me from behind my back, where I had placed myself while unwilling to exercise self-scrutiny; and Thou didst set me face to face with myself, that I might behold how foul I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld and loathed myself; and whither to fly from myself I discovered not. And if I sought to turn my gaze away from myself, he continued his narrative, and Thou again opposedst me unto myself, and thrustedst me before my own eyes, that I might discover my iniquity, and hate it.4 I had known it, but acted as though I knew it not,—winked at it, and forgot it.
17. But now, the more ardently I loved those whose healthful affections I heard tell of, that they had given up themselves wholly to Thee to be cured, the more did I abhor myself when compared with them. For many of my years (perhaps twelve) had passed away since my nineteenth, when, on the reading of Cicero’s Hortensius,5 I was roused to a desire for wisdom; and still I was delaying to reject mere worldly happiness, and to devote myself to search out that whereof not the finding alone, but the bare search,6 ought to have been preferred before the treasures and kingdoms of this world, though already found, and before the pleasures of the body, though encompassing me at my will. But I, miserable young man, supremely miserable even in the very outset of my youth, had entreated chastity of Thee, and said, “Grant me chastity and continency, but not yet.” For I was afraid lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon deliver me from the disease of concupiscence, which I desired to have satisfied rather than extinguished. And I had wandered through perverse ways in a sacrilegious superstition; not indeed assured thereof, but preferring that to the others, which I did not seek religiously, but opposed maliciously.
18. And I had thought that I delayed from day to day to reject worldly hopes and follow Thee only, because there did not appear anything certain whereunto to direct my course. And now had the day arrived in which I was to be laid bare to myself, and my conscience was to chide me. “Where art thou, O my tongue? Thou saidst, verily, that for an uncertain truth thou wert not willing to cast off the baggage of vanity. Behold, now it is certain, and yet doth that burden still oppress thee; whereas they who neither have so worn themselves out with searching after it, nor yet have spent ten years and more in thinking thereon, have had their shoulders unburdened, and gotten wings to fly away.” Thus was I inwardly consumed and mightily confounded with an horrible shame, while Pontitianus was relating these things. And he, having finished his story, and the business he came for, went his way. And unto myself, what said I not within myself? With what scourges of rebuke lashed I not my soul to make it follow me, struggling to go after Thee! Yet it drew back; it refused, and exercised not itself. All its arguments were exhausted and confuted. There remained a silent trembling; and it feared, as it would death, to be restrained from the flow of that custom whereby it was wasting away even to death.
THE CONVERSATION WITH ALYPIUS BEING ENDED, HE RETIRES TO THE GARDEN, WHITHER HIS FRIEND FOLLOWS HIM.
19. In the midst, then, of this great strife of my inner dwelling, which I had strongly raised up against my soul in the chamber of my heart,1 troubled both in mind and countenance, I seized upon Alypius, and exclaimed: “What is wrong with us? What is this? What heardest thou? The unlearned start up and ‘take’ heaven,2 and we, with our learning, but wanting heart, see where we wallow in flesh and blood! Because others have preceded us, are we ashamed to follow, and not rather ashamed at not following?” Some such words I gave utterance to, and in my excitement flung myself from him, while he gazed upon me in silent astonishment. For I spoke not in my wonted tone, and my brow, cheeks, eyes, colour, tone of voice, all expressed my emotion more than the words. There was a little garden belonging to our lodging, of which we had the use, as of the whole house; for the master, our landlord, did not live there. Thither had the tempest within my breast hurried me, where no one might impede the fiery struggle in which I was engaged with myself, until it came to the issue that Thou knewest, though I did not. But I was mad that I might be whole, and dying that I might have life, knowing what evil thing I was, but not knowing what good thing I was shortly to become. Into the garden, then, I retired, Alypius following my steps. For his presence was no bar to my solitude; or how could he desert me so troubled? We sat down at as great a distance from the house as we could. I was disquieted in spirit, being most impatient with myself that I entered not into Thy will and covenant, O my God, which all my bones cried out unto me to enter, extolling it to the skies. And we enter not therein by ships, or chariots, or feet, no, nor by going so far as I had come from the house to that place where we were sitting. For not to go only, but to enter there, was naught else but to will to go, but to will it resolutely and thoroughly; not to stagger and sway about this way and that, a changeable and half-wounded will, wrestling, with one part falling as another rose.
20. Finally, in the very fever of my irresolution, I made many of those motions with my body which men sometimes desire to do, but cannot, if either they have not the limbs, or if their limbs be bound with fetters, weakened by disease, or hindered in any other way. Thus, if I tore my hair, struck my forehead, or if, entwining my fingers, I clasped my knee, this I did because I willed it. But I might have willed and not done it, if the power of motion in my limbs had not responded. So many things, then, I did, when to have the will was not to have the power, and I did not that which both with an unequalled desire I longed more to do, and which shortly when I should will I should have the power to do; because shortly when I should will, I should will thoroughly. For in such things the power was one with the will, and to will was to do, and yet was it not done; and more readily did the body obey the slightest wish of the soul in the moving its limbs at the order of the mind, than the soul obeyed itself to accomplish in the will alone this its great will.
THAT THE MIND COMMANDETH THE MIND, BUT IT WILLETH NOT ENTIRELY.
21. Whence is this monstrous thing? And why is it? Let Thy mercy shine on me, that I may inquire, if so be the hiding-places of man’s punishment, and the darkest contritions of the sons of Adam, may perhaps answer me. Whence is this monstrous thing? and why is it? The mind commands the body, and it obeys forthwith; the mind commands itself, and is resisted. The mind commands the hand to be moved, and such readiness is there that the command is scarce to be distinguished from the obedience. Yet the mind is mind, and the hand is body. The mind commands the mind to will, and yet, though it be itself, it obeyeth not. Whence this monstrous thing? and why is it? I repeat, it commands itself to will, and would not give the command unless it willed; yet is not that done which it commandeth. But it willeth not entirely; therefore it commandeth not entirely. For so far forth it commandeth, as it willeth; and so far forth is the thing commanded not done, as it willeth not. For the will commandeth that there be a will;—not another, but itself. But it doth not command entirely, therefore that is not which it commandeth. For were it entire, it would not even command it to be, because it would already be. It is, therefore, no monstrous thing partly to will, partly to be unwilling, but an infirmity of the mind, that it doth not wholly rise, sustained by truth, pressed down by custom. And so there are two wills, because one of them is not entire; and the one is supplied with what the other needs.
HE REFUTES THE OPINION OF THE MANICHÆANS AS TO TWO KINDS OF MINDS,—ONE GOOD AND THE OTHER EVIL.
22. Let them perish from Thy presence,1 O God, as “vain talkers and deceivers”2 of the soul do perish, who, observing that there were two wills in deliberating, affirm that there are two kinds of minds in us,—one good, the other evil.3 They themselves verily are evil when they hold these evil opinions; and they shall become good when they hold the truth, and shall consent unto the truth, that Thy apostle may say unto them, “Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.”4 But they, desiring to be light, not “in the Lord,” but in themselves, conceiving the nature of the soul to be the same as that which God is,5 are made more gross darkness; for that through a shocking arrogancy they went farther from Thee, “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”6 Take heed what you say, and blush for shame; draw near unto Him and be “lightened,” and your faces shall not be “ashamed.”7 I, when I was deliberating upon serving the Lord my God now, as I had long purposed,—I it was who willed, I who was unwilling. It was I, even I myself. I neither willed entirely, nor was entirely unwilling. Therefore was I at war with myself, and destroyed by myself. And this destruction overtook me against my will, and yet showed not the presence of another mind, but the punishment of mine own.8 “Now, then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me,”9 —the punishment of a more unconfined sin, in that I was a son of Adam.
23. For if there be as many contrary natures as there are conflicting wills, there will not now be two natures only, but many. If any one deliberate whether he should go to their conventicle, or to the theatre, those men10 at once cry out, “Behold, here are two natures,—one good, drawing this way, another bad, drawing back that way; for whence else is this indecision between conflicting wills?” But I reply that both are bad—that which draws to them, and that which draws back to the theatre. But they believe not that will to be other than good which draws to them. Supposing, then, one of us should deliberate, and through the conflict of his two wills should waver whether he should go to the theatre or to our church, would not these also waver what to answer? For either they must confess, which they are not willing to do, that the will which leads to our church is good, as well as that of those who have received and are held by the mysteries of theirs, or they must imagine that there are two evil natures and two evil minds in one man, at war one with the other; and that will not be true which they say, that there is one good and another bad; or they must be converted to the truth, and no longer deny that where any one deliberates, there is one soul fluctuating between conflicting wills.
24. Let them no more say, then, when they perceive two wills to be antagonistic to each other in the same man, that the contest is between two opposing minds, of two opposing substances, from two opposing principles, the one good and the other bad. For Thou, O true God, dost disprove, check, and convince them; like as when both wills are bad, one deliberates whether he should kill a man by poison, or by the sword; whether he should take possession of this or that estate of another’s, when he cannot both; whether he should purchase pleasure by prodigality, or retain his money by covetousness; whether he should go to the circus or the theatre, if both are open on the same day; or, thirdly, whether he should rob another man’s house, if he have the opportunity; or, fourthly, whether he should commit adultery, if at the same time he have the means of doing so,—all these things concurring in the same point of time, and all being equally longed for, although impossible to be enacted at one time. For they rend the mind amid four, or even (among the vast variety of things men desire) more antagonistic wills, nor do they yet affirm that there are so many different substances. Thus also is it in wills which are good. For I ask them, is it a good thing to have delight in reading the apostle, or good to have delight in a sober psalm, or good to discourse on the gospel? To each of these they will answer, “It is good.” What, then, if all equally delight us, and all at the same time? Do not different wills distract the mind, when a man is deliberating which he should rather choose? Yet are they all good, and are at variance until one be fixed upon, whither the whole united will may be borne, which before was divided into many. Thus, also, when above eternity delights us, and the pleasure of temporal good holds us down below, it is the same soul which willeth not that or this with an entire will, and is therefore torn asunder with grievous perplexities, while out of truth it prefers that, but out of custom forbears not this.
IN WHAT MANNER THE SPIRIT STRUGGLED WITH THE FLESH, THAT IT MIGHT BE FREED FROM THE BONDAGE OF VANITY.
25. Thus was I sick and tormented, accusing myself far more severely than was my wont, tossing and turning me in my chain till that was utterly broken, whereby I now was but slightly, but still was held. And Thou, O Lord, pressedst upon me in my inward parts by a severe mercy, redoubling the lashes of fear and shame, lest I should again give way, and that same slender remaining tie not being broken off, it should recover strength, and enchain me the faster. For I said mentally, “Lo, let it be done now, let it be done now.” And as I spoke, I all but came to a resolve. I all but did it, yet I did it not. Yet fell I not back to my old condition, but took up my position hard by, and drew breath. And I tried again, and wanted but very little of reaching it, and somewhat less, and then all but touched and grasped it; and yet came not at it, nor touched, nor grasped it, hesitating to die unto death, and to live unto life; and the worse, whereto I had been habituated, prevailed more with me than the better, which I had not tried. And the very moment in which I was to become another man, the nearer it approached me, the greater horror did it strike into me; but it did not strike me back, nor turn me aside, but kept me in suspense.
26. The very toys of toys, and vanities of vanities, my old mistresses, still enthralled me; they shook my fleshly garment, and whispered softly, “Dost thou part with us? And from that moment shall we no more be with thee for ever? And from that moment shall not this or that be lawful for thee for ever?” And what did they suggest to me in the words “this or that?” What is it that they suggested, O my God? Let Thy mercy avert it from the soul of Thy servant. What impurities did they suggest! What shame! And now I far less than half heard them, not openly showing themselves and contradicting me, but muttering, as it were, behind my back, and furtively plucking me as I was departing, to make me look back upon them. Yet they did delay me, so that I hesitated to burst and shake myself free from them, and to leap over whither I was called,—an unruly habit saying to me, “Dost thou think thou canst live without them?”
27. But now it said this very faintly; for on that side towards which I had set my face, and whither I trembled to go, did the chaste dignity of Continence appear unto me, cheerful, but not dissolutely gay, honestly alluring me to come and doubt nothing, and extending her holy hands, full of a multiplicity of good examples, to receive and embrace me. There were there so many young men and maidens, a multitude of youth and every age, grave widows and ancient virgins, and Continence herself in all, not barren, but a fruitful mother of children of joys, by Thee, O Lord, her Husband. And she smiled on me with an encouraging mockery, as if to say, “Canst not thou do what these youths and maidens can? Or can one or other do it of themselves, and not rather in the Lord their God? The Lord their God gave me unto them. Why standest thou in thine own strength, and so standest not? Cast thyself upon Him; fear not, He will not withdraw that thou shouldest fall; cast thyself upon Him without fear, He will receive thee, and heal thee.” And I blushed beyond measure, for I still heard the muttering of those toys, and hung in suspense. And she again seemed to say, “Shut up thine ears against those unclean members of thine upon the earth, that they may be mortified.1 They tell thee of delights, but not as doth the law of the Lord thy God.”2 This controversy in my heart was naught but self against self. But Alypius, sitting close by my side, awaited in silence3 the result of my unwonted emotion.
HAVING PRAYED TO GOD, HE POURS FORTH A SHOWER OF TEARS, AND, ADMONISHED BY A VOICE, HE OPENS THE BOOK AND READS THE WORDS IN ROM. XIII. 13; BY WHICH, BEING CHANGED IN HIS WHOLE SOUL, HE DISCLOSES THE DIVINE FAVOUR TO HIS FRIEND AND HIS MOTHER.
28. But when a profound reflection had, from the secret depths of my soul, drawn together and heaped up all my misery before the sight of my heart, there arose a mighty storm, accompanied by as mighty a shower of tears. Which, that I might pour forth fully, with its natural expressions, I stole away from Alypius; for it suggested itself to me that solitude was fitter for the business of weeping.4 So I retired to such a distance that even his presence could not be oppressive to me. Thus was it with me at that time, and he perceived it; for something, I believe, I had spoken, wherein the sound of my voice appeared choked with weeping, and in that state had I risen up. He then remained where we had been sitting, most completely astonished. I flung myself down, how, I know not, under a certain fig-tree, giving free course to my tears, and the streams of mine eyes gushed out, an acceptable sacrifice unto Thee.5 And, not indeed in these words, yet to this effect, spake I much unto Thee,—“But Thou, O Lord, how long?”6 “How long, Lord? Wilt Thou be angry for ever? Oh, remember not against us former iniquities;”7 for I felt that I was enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries,—“How long, how long? To-morrow, and to-morrow? Why not now? Why is there not this hour an end to my uncleanness?”
29. I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when, lo, I heard the voice as of a boy or girl, I know not which, coming from a neighbouring house, chanting, and oft repeating, “Take up and read; take up and read.” Immediately my countenance was changed, and I began most earnestly to consider whether it was usual for children in any kind of game to sing such words; nor could I remember ever to have heard the like. So, restraining the torrent of my tears, I rose up, interpreting it no other way than as a command to me from Heaven to open the book, and to read the first chapter I should light upon. For I had heard of Antony,8 that, accidentally coming in whilst the gospel was being read, he received the admonition as if what was read were addressed to him, “Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.”9 And by such oracle was he forthwith converted unto Thee. So quickly I returned to the place where Alypius was sitting; for there had I put down the volume of the apostles, when I rose thence. I grasped, opened, and in silence read that paragraph on which my eyes first fell,—“Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”10 No further would I read, nor did I need; for instantly, as the sentence ended,—by a light, as it were, of security infused into my heart,—all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
30. Closing the book, then, and putting either my finger between, or some other mark, I now with a tranquil countenance made it known to Alypius. And he thus disclosed to me what was wrought in him, which I knew not. He asked to look at what I had read. I showed him; and he looked even further than I had read, and I knew not what followed. This it was, verily, “Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye;”1 which he applied to himself, and discovered to me. By this admonition was he strengthened; and by a good resolution and purpose, very much in accord with his character (wherein, for the better, he was always far different from me), without any restless delay he joined me. Thence we go in to my mother. We make it known to her,—she rejoiceth. We relate how it came to pass,—she leapeth for joy, and triumpheth, and blesseth Thee, who art “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think;2 for she perceived Thee to have given her more for me than she used to ask by her pitiful and most doleful groanings. For Thou didst so convert me unto Thyself, that I sought neither a wife, nor any other of this world’s hopes,—standing in that rule of faith3 in which Thou, so many years before, had showed me unto her in a vision. And thou didst turn her grief into a gladness,4 much more plentiful than she had desired, and much dearer and chaster than she used to crave, by having grandchildren of my body.
[1 ]Ps. xxxv. 10.
[2 ]Ps. cxvi. 16, 17.
[3 ]Job. i. 10.
[4 ]1 Cor. xiii. 12.
[5 ]1 Cor. v. 7.
[6 ]John xiv. 6.
[7 ]“Simplicianus ‘became a successor of the most blessed Ambrose, Bishop of the Church of Milan’ (Aug. Retract. ii. 1). To him St. Augustin wrote two books, De Diversis Quæstionibus (Op. t. vi. p. 82 sq.), and calls him ‘father’ (ibid.), speaks of his ‘fatherly affections from his most benevolent heart, not recent or sudden, but tried and known’ (Ep. 37), requests his ‘remarks and corrections of any books of his which might chance to fall into his holy hands’ (ibid.). St. Ambrose mentions his ‘having traversed the whole world, for the sake of the faith, and of acquiring divine knowledge, and having given the whole period of this life to holy reading, night and day; that he had an acute mind, whereby he took in intellectual studies, and was in the habit of proving how far the books of philosophy were gone astray from the truth,’ Ep. 65, sec. 5, p. 1052, ed. Ben. See also Tillemont, H. E. t. 10, Art. ‘S. Simplicien.’ ”—E. B. P.
[8 ]Ps. xxvi. 8.
[9 ]1 Cor. vii. 7.
[10 ]Matt. xix. 12.
[11 ]Wisd. xiii. 1.
[12 ]See iv. sec. 18, and note, above.
[1 ]“And the Holy Ghost.” These words, though in the text of the Benedictine edition are not, as the editors point out, found in the majority of the best mss.
[2 ]Rom. i. 21.
[3 ]Ps. xviii. 35.
[4 ]Job xxviii. 28.
[5 ]Prov. iii. 7.
[6 ]Rom. i. 22.
[7 ]In his Quæst ex Matt. 13, likewise, Augustin compares Christ to the pearl of great price, who is in every way able to satisfy the cravings of man.
[8 ]Matt. xiii. 46.
[9 ]Simplicianus succeeded Ambrose, 397 He has already been referred to, in the extract from De Civ. Dei, in note 1, p. 113, above, as “the old saint Simplicianus, afterwards Bishop of Milan.” In Ep. 37, Augustin addresses him as “his father, most worthy of being cherished with respect and sincere affection.” When Simplicianus is spoken of above as “the father of Ambrose in receiving Thy grace,” reference is doubtless made to his having been instrumental in his conversion—he having “begotten” him “through the gospel” (1 Cor. iv. 15). Ambrose, when writing to him (Ep. 65), concludes, “Vale, et nos parentis affectu dilige, ut facis.”
[10 ]Col. ii. 8.
[11 ]i. e. the Platonists.
[12 ]In like manner Augustin, in his De Civ. Dei (viii. 5), says: “No philosophers come nearer to us than the Platonists;” and elsewhere, in the same book, he speaks, in exalted terms, of their superiority to other philosophers. When he speaks of the Platonists, he means the Neo-Platonists, from whom he conceived that he could best derive a knowledge of Plato, who had, by pursuing the Socratic method in concealing his opinions, rendered it difficult “to discover clearly what he himself thought on various matters, any more than it is to discover what were the real opinions of Socrates” (ibid. sec. 4). Whether Plato himself had or not knowledge of the revelation contained in the Old Testament Scriptures, as Augustin supposed (De Civ. Dei, viii. 11, 12), it is clear that the later Platonists were considerably affected by Judaic ideas, even as the philosophizing Jews were indebted to Platonism. This view has been embodied in the proverb frequently found in the Fathers, Latin as well as Greek, Ἠ Πλάτων ϕιλονίζει [Editor: illegible character] Φιλων πλατωνιζει. Archer Butler, in the fourth of his Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, treats of the vitality of Plato’s teaching and the causes of its influence, and shows how in certain points there is a harmony between his ideas and the precepts of the gospel. On the difficulty of unravelling the subtleties of the Platonic philosophy, see Burton’s Bampton Lectures (lect. 3).
[13 ]See iv. sec. 19, above.
[14 ]Matt. xi. 25.
[15 ]“Victorinus, by birth an African, taught rhetoric as Rome under Constantius, and in extreme old age, giving himself up to the faith of Christ, wrote some books against Arius, dialectically [and so] very obscure, which are not understood but by the learned, and a commentary on the Apostle” [Paul] (Jerome, De Viris Ill. c. 101). It is of the same, probably, that Gennadius speaks (De Viris Ill. c. 60), “that he commented in a Christian and pious strain, but masmuch as he was a man taken up with secular literature, and not trained in the Divine Scriptures by any teacher, he produced what was comparatively of little weight.” Comp. Jerome, Praef. in Comm. in Gal., and sea Tillemont, l. c. p. 179, sq. Some of his works are extant—E. B. P.
[16 ]Æneid, viii. 736-8. The Kennedys.
[17 ]Ps. cxliv. 5.
[1 ]Ps. xxix. 5.
[2 ]Luke ix. 26.
[3 ]“The Fathers gave the name of sacrament, or mystery, to everything which conveyed one signification or property to unassisted reason, and another to faith. Hence Cyprian speaks of the ‘sacraments’ of the Lord’s Prayer, meaning the hidden meaning conveyed therein, which could only be appreciated by a Christian. The Fathers sometimes speak of confirmation as a sacrament, became the chrism signified the grace of the Holy Ghost; and the imposition of hands was not merely a bare sign, but the form by which it was conveyed. See Bingham, book xii. c. 1, sec. 4. Yet at the same time they continually speak of two great sacraments of the Christian Church” (Palmer’s Origines Liturgicæ, vol. ii. c. 6, sec. 1, p. 201).
[4 ]That is, he became a catechumen. In addition to the information on this subject, already given in the note to book vi. sec. 2, above, the following references to it may prove instructive: (1) Justin Martyr, describing the manner of receiving converts into the Church in his day, says (Apol. i. 61). “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray, and to entreat God with fasting for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understanding.” And again (ibid. 65): “We, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers, in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place. . . . Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread, and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he, taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. . . . And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present, to partake of, the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion.” And once more (ibid. 66): “This food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.” (2) In Watts’ translation, we have the following note on this episode in our text: “Here be divers particulars of the primitive fashion, in this story of Victormus. First, being converted, he was to take some well-known Christian (who was to be his godfather) to go with him to the bishop, who, upon notice of it, admitted him a catechumenus, and gave him those six points of catechistical doctrine mentioned Heb. vi. 1, 2. When the time of baptism drew near, the young Christian came to give in his heathen name, which was presently registered, submitting himself to examination. On the eve, was he, in a set form, first, to renounce the devil, and to pronounce, I confess to Thee, O Christ, repeating the Creed with it, in the form here recorded. The time for giving in their names must be within the two first weeks in Lent, and the solemn day to renounce upon was Maundy Thursday. So bids the Council of Laodicea (Can. 45 and 46).” The renunciation adverted to by Watts in the above passage may be traced to an early period in the writings of the Fathers. It is mentioned by Tertullian, Ambrose, and Jerome; and “in the fourth century,” says Palmer (Origines Liturgicæ, c. 5, sec. 2, where the authorities will be found), “the renunciation was made with great solemnity. Cyril of Jerusalem, speaking to those who had been recently baptized, said, ‘First, you have entered into the vestibule of the baptistry, and, standing towards the west, you have heard, and been commanded, and stretch forth your hands, and renounce Satan as if he were present.’ This rite of turning to the west at the renunciation of Satan is also spoken of by Jerome, Gregory, Nazianzen, and Ambrose; and it was sometimes performed with exsufflations and other external signs of enmity to Satan, and rejection of him and his works. To the present day these customs remain in the patriarchate of Constantinople, where the candidates for baptism turn to the west to renounce Satan, stretching forth their hands, and using an exsufflation as a sign of enmity against him. And the Monophysites of Antioch and Jerusalem, Alexandria and Armenia, also retain the custom of renouncing Satan with faces turned to the west.”
[5 ]Ps. cxii. 10.
[6 ]Ps. xxxi. 6, 14, 18.
[7 ]Literally, “give back,” reddere.
[8 ]Anciently, as Palmer has noted in the introduction to his Origines Liturgicæ, the liturgies of the various churches were learnt by heart. They probably began to be committed to writing about Augustin’s day. The reference, however, in this place, is to the Apostles’ Creed, which, Dr. Pusty in a note remarks, was delivered orally to the catechumens to commit to memory, and by them delivered back, i. e. publicly repeated before they were baptized. “The symbol [creed] bearing hallowed testimony, which ye have together received, and are this day severally to give back [reddidistis], are the words in which the faith of our mother the Church is solidly constructed on a stable foundation, which is Christ the Lord. ‘For other foundation can no man lay,’ etc. Ye have received them, and given back [reddidistis] what ye ought to retain in heart and mind, what ye should repeat in your beds, think on in the streets, and forget not in your meals, and while sleeping in body, in heart watch therein. For this is the faith, and the rule of salvation, that ‘We believe in God, the Father Almighty,’ ” etc. (Aug. Serm. 215, in Redditione Symboli). “On the Sabbath day [Saturday], when we shall keep a vigil through the mercy of God, ye will give back [reddituri] not the [Lord’s] Prayer, but the Creed” (Serm. 58, sec. ult.). “What ye have briefly heard, ye ought not only to believe, but to commit to memory in so many words, and utter with your mouth” (Serm. 214, in Tradit Symb. 3, sec. 2). “Nor, in order to retain the very words of the Creed, ought ye any wise to write it, but to learn it thoroughly by hearing, nor, when ye have learnt it, ought ye to write it, but always to keep and refresh it in your memories.—‘This is my covenant, which I will make with them after those days,’ saith the Lord: ‘I will place my law in their minds, and in their hearts will I write it.’ To convey this, the Creed is learnt by hearing, and not written on tables or any other substance, but on the heart” (Serm. 212, sec. 2). See the Roman Liturgy (Assem. Cod. Liturg. t. i. p. 11 sq., 16), and the Gothic and Gallican (pp. 30 sq., 38 sq., 40 sq., etc.). “The renunciation of Satan,” to quote once more from Palmer’s Origines (c. 5, sec. 3), “was always followed by a profession of faith in Christ, as it is now in the English ritual. . . . The promise of obedience and faith in Christ was made by the catechumens and sponsors, with their faces turned towards the east, as we learn from Cyril of Jerusalem and many other writers. Tertullian speaks of the profession of faith made at baptism, in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and in the Church. Cyprian mentions the interrogation, ‘Dost thou believe in eternal life, and remission of sins through the Holy Church?’ Eusebius and many other Fathers also speak of the profession of faith made at this time; and it is especially noted in the Apostolical Constitutions, which were written in the East at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth century. The profession of faith in the Eastern churches has generally been made by the sponsor, or the person to be baptized, not in the form of answers to questions, but by repeating the Creed after the priest. In the Western churches, the immemorial custom has been, for the priest to interrogate the candidate for baptism, or his sponsor, on the principal articles of the Christian faith.”
[1 ]Luke xv. 4-10.
[2 ]Luke xv. 32.
[3 ]See ix. sec. 19, note.
[4 ]Luke xv. 32.
[5 ]See xii. sec. 12, and xiii. sec. 11, below.
[1 ]Cant. i. 4.
[2 ]John i. 12.
[3 ]1 Cor. i. 27, 28.
[4 ]1 Cor. xv. 9.
[5 ]Acts. xiii. 12.
[6 ]Matt. xi. 30.
[7 ]“ ‘As Scipio, after the conquest of Africa, took the name of Africanus, so Saul also, being sent to preach to the Gentiles, brought back his trophy out of the first spoils won by the Church, the proconsul Sergius Paulus, and set up his banner, in that for Saul he was called Paul’ (Jerome, Comm. in Ep. ad Philem. init.). Origen mentions the same opinion (which is indeed suggested by the relation in the Acts), but thinks that the apostle had originally two names (Præf. in Comm. in Ep. ad Rom.), which, as a Roman, may very well have been, and yet that he made use of his Roman name Paul first in connection with the conversion of the proconsul; Chrysostom says that it was doubtless changed at the command of God, which is to be supposed, but still may have been at this time.”—E. B. P.
[8 ]“Satan makes choice of persons of place and power. These are either in the commonwealth or church. If he can, he will secure the throne and the pulpit, as the two forts that command the whole line. . . . A prince or a ruler may stand for a thousand; therefore saith Paul to Elymas, when he would have turned the deputy from the faith, ‘O full of all subtilty, thou child of the devil!’ (Acts xiii. 10). As if he had said, ‘You have learned this of your father the devil,—to haunt the courts of princes, wind into the favour of great ones. There is a double policy Satan hath in gaining such to his side.—(a) None have such advantage to draw others to their way, Corrupt the captain, and it is hard if he bring not off his troop with him. When the princes—men of renown in their tribes—stood up with Korah, presently a multitude are drawn into the conspiracy (Num. xvi. 2, 19). Let Jeroboam set up idolatry, and Israel is soon in a snare. It is said [that] the people willingly walked after his commandment (Hos. v. 11). (b) Should the sin stay at court, and the intection go no further, yet the sin of such a one, though a good man, may cost a whole kingdom dear. ‘Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel’ (1 Chron. xxi. 1). He owed Israel a spite, and he pays them home in their king’s sin, which dropped in a fearful plague upon their heads.”—Gurnall,The Christian in Complete Armour, vol. i. part 2.
[9 ]Matt. xii. 29.
[10 ]Luke xi. 22, 25.
[11 ]2 Tim. ii. 21.
[12 ]During the reign of Constantius, laws of a persecuting character were enacted against Paganism, which led multitudes nominally to adopt the Christian faith. When Julian the Apostate came to the throne, he took steps immediately to reinstate Paganism in all its ancient splendour. His court was filled with Platonic philosophers and diviners, and he sacrificed daily to the gods. But, instead of imitating the example of his predecessor, and enacting laws against the Christians, he endeavoured by subtlety to destroy their faith. In addition to the measures mentioned by Augustin above, he endeavoured to foment divisions in the Church by recalling the banished Donatists, and stimulating them to disseminate their doctrines, and he himself wrote treatises against it. In order, if possible, to counteract the influence of Christianity, he instructed his priests to imitate the Christians in their relief of the poor and care for the sick. But while in every way enacting measures of disability against the Christians, he showed great favour to the Jews, and with the view of confuting the predictions of Christ, went so far as to encourage them to rebuild the Temple.
[13 ]Wisd. x. 21.
[14 ]There would appear to be a law at work in the moral and spiritual worlds similar to that of gravitation in the natural, which “acts inversely as the square of the distance.” As we are more affected, for example, by events that have taken place near us either in time or place, than by those which are more remote, so in spiritual things, the monitions of conscience would seem to become feeble with far greater rapidity than the continuance of our resistance would lead us to expect, while the power of sin, in like proportion, becomes strong. When tempted, men see not the end from the beginning. The allurement, however, which at first is but as a gossamer thread, is soon felt to have the strength of a cable. “Evil men and seducers wax worse and worse” (2 Tim. iii. 13), and when it is too late they learn that the embrace of the siren is but the prelude to destruction. “Thus,” as Gurnall has it (The Christian in Complete Armour, voi. i. part 2), “Satan leads poor creatures down into the depths of sin by winding stairs, that let them not see the bottom whither they are going. . . . Many who at this day lie in open profaneness, never thought they should have rolled so far from their modest beginnings. O Christians, give not place to Satan, no, not an inch, in his first motions. He that is a beggar and a modest one without doors, will command the house if let in. Yield at first, and thou givest away thy strength to resist him in the rest; when the hem is worn, the whole garment will ravel out, if it be not mended by timely repentance.” See Müller, Lehre von der Sünde, book v., where the beginnings and alarming progress of evil in the soul are graphically described. See ix. sec. 18, note, below.
[1 ]Gal. v. 17.
[2 ]See iv. sec. 26, note, and v. sec. 18, above.
[3 ]Rom. vii. 20.
[4 ]See v. sec. 2, note 6, above.
[5 ]Illud placebat et vincebat; hoc libebat et vinciebat. Watts renders freely, “But notwithstanding that former course pleased and overcame my reason, yet did this latter tickle and enthrall my senses.”
[6 ]Eph. v. 14.
[7 ]As Bishop Wilberforce, eloquently describing this condition of mind, says, in his sermon on The Almost Christian, “New, strange wishes were rising in his heart. The Mighty One was brooding over its currents, was stirring up its tides, was fain to overrule their troubled flow—to arise in open splendour on his eyes; to glorify his life with His own blessed presence. And he himself was evidently conscious of the struggle; he was almost won, he was drawn towards that mysterious birth, and he well-nigh yielded. He even knew what was passing within his soul; he could appreciate something of its importance, of the living value of that moment. If that conflict was indeed visible to higher powers around him; if they who longed to keep him in the kingdom of darkness, and they who were ready to rejoice at his repentance—if they could see the inner waters of that troubled heart, as they surged and eddied underneath these mighty influences, how must they have waited for the doubtful choice! how would they strain their observation to see if that almost should turn into an altogether, or die away again, and leave his heart harder than it had been before!”
[8 ]Rom. vii. 22-24. This difficilis et periculosus locus (Serm. cliv. 1) he interprets differently at different periods of his life. In this place, as elsewhere in his writings, he makes the passage refer (according to thegeneral interpretation in the Church up to that time) to man convinced of sin under the influence of the law, but not under grace. In his Retractations, however (i. 23, sec. 1), he points out that he had found reason to interpret the passage not of man convinced of sin, but of man renewed and regenerated in Christ Jesus. This is the view constantly taken in his anti-Pelagian writings, which were published subsequently to the date of his Confessions; and indeed this change in interpretation probably arose from the pressure of the Pelagian controversy (see Con. Duas. Ep. Pel. i. 10, secs. 18 and 22), and the fear lest the old view should too much favour the heretics, and their exaltation of the powers of the natural man to the disparagement of the influence of the grace of God.
[9 ]Ps. xix. 14.
[1 ]It may be well here to say a few words in regard to Monachism and Antony’s relation to it.—(1) There is much in the later Platonism, with its austerities and bodily mortifications (see vii. sec. 13, note 2, above), which is in common with the asceticism of the early Church. The Therapeutæ of Philo, indeed, of whom there were numbers in the neighbourhood of Alexandria in the first century, may be considered as the natural forerunners of the Egyptian monks. (2) Monachism, according to Sozomen (i. 12), had its origin in a desire to escape persecution by retirement into the wilderness. It is probable, however, that, as in the case of Paul the hermit of Thebais, the desire for freedom from the cares of life, so that by contemplation and mortification of the body, the λόγος or inner-reason (which was held to be an emanation of God) might be purified, had as much to do with the hermit life as a fear of persecution. Mosheim, indeed (Ecc. Hist. i. part 2, c. 3), supposes Paul to have been influenced entirely by these Platonic notions. (3) Antony was born in the district of Thebes, 251, and visited Paul in the Egyptian desert a little before his death. To Antony is the world indebted for establishing communities of monks, as distinguished from the solitary asceticism of Paul; he therefore is rightly viewed as the founder of Monachism. He appears to have known little more than how to speak his native Coptic, yet during his long life (said to have been 100 years) he by his fervent enthusiasm madefor himself a name little inferior to that of the “king of men,” Athanasius, whom in the time of the Arian troubles he stedfastly supported, and by whom his life has been handed down to us. Augustin, in his De Doctr. Christ. (Prol. sec. 4), speaks of him as “a just and holy man, who, not being able to read himself, is said to have committed the Scriptures to memory through hearing them read by others, and by dint of wise meditation to have arrived at a thorough understanding of them.” (4) According to Sozomen (iii. 14), monasteries had not been established in Europe 340. They were, Baronius tells us, introduced into Rome about that date by Athanasius, during a visit to that city. Athanasius mentions “ascetics” as dwelling at Rome 355. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Martin, Bishop of Tours, and Jerome were enthusiastic supporters of the system. (5) Monachism in Europe presented more of its practical and less of its contemplative side, than in its cradle in the East. An example of how the monks of the Fast did work for the good of others is seen in the instance of the monks of Pachomius; still in this respect, as in matters of doctrine, the West has generally shown itself more practical than the East. Probably climate and the style of living consequent thereon have much to do with this. Sulpicius Severus (dial 1, 2, De Vita Martini.) may be taken to give a quaint illustration of this, when he makes one of his characters say, as he hears of the mode of living of the Eastern monks, that their diet was only suited to angels. However mistaken we may think the monkish systems to be, it cannot be concealed that in the days of anarchy and semi-barbarism they were oftentimes centres of civilisation. Certainly in its originating idea of meditative seclusion, there is much that is worthy of commendation; for, as Farindon has it (Works, iv. 130), “This has been the practice not only of holy men, but of heathen men. Thus did Tully, and Antony, and Crassus make way to that honour and renown which they afterwards purchased in eloquence (Cicero, De Officiis, ii. 13, viii. 7), thus did they pass a solitudine in scholas, a scholis in forum,—‘from their secret retirement into the schools, and from the schools into the pleading-place.’ ”
[2 ]Augustin, when comparing Christian with Manichæan asceticism, says in his De Mor. Eccl. Cath. (sec. 70), “I saw at Milan a lodging-house of saints, in number not a few, presided over by one presbyter, a man of great excellence and learning.” In the previous note we have given the generally received opinion, that the first monastery in Europe was established at Rome. It may be mentioned here that Muratori maintains that the institution was transplanted from the East first to Milan; others contend that the first European society was at Aquileia.
[3 ]See vi. sec. 12, note 1, above.
[1 ]Matt. v. 3. Roman commentators are ever ready to use this text of Scripture as an argument in favour of monastic poverty, and some may feel disposed from its context to imagine such an interpretation to be implied in this place. This, however, can hardly be so. Augustin constantly points out in his sermons, etc. in what the poverty that is pleasing to God consists. “Pauper Dei,” he says (in Ps. cxxxi. 15), “in animo est, non in sacculo;” and his interpretation of this passage in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (i. 3) is entirely opposed to the Roman view. We there read: “The poor in spirit are rightly understood here as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i. e. those who have not a spirit which puffeth up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to reach the highest wisdom. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Ps. cxi. 10); whereas, on the other hand also, ‘pride’ is entitled ‘the beginning of all sin’ (Ecclus. x. 13). Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth; but ‘blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ ”
[2 ]“Agentes in rebus. There was a society of them still about the court. Their militia or employments were to gather in the emperor’s tributes; to fetch in offenders; to do Palatini obsequia, offices of court provide corn, etc., ride on errands like messengers of the chamber, lie abroad as spies and intelligencers. They were often preferred to places of magistracy in the provinces; such were called Principes or Magistriant. St. Hierome upon Abdias, c. 1, calls them messengers. They succeeded the Frumentarii, between which two and the Curiosi and the Speculatores there was not much difference.”—W. W.
[3 ]Luke xiv. 26-35.
[4 ]Ps. xxxvi. 2.
[5 ]See iii. sec. 7, above.
[6 ]It is interesting to compare with this passage the views contained in Augustin’s three books, Con. Academicos,—the earliest of his extant works, and written about this time. Licentius there maintains that the “bare search” for truth renders a man happy, while Trygetius contends that the “finding alone” can produce happiness. Augustin does not agree with the doctrine of the former, and points out that while the Academics held the probable to be attainable, it could not be so without the true, by which the probable is measured and known. And, in his De Vita Beata, he contends that he who seeks truth and finds it not, has not attained happiness, and that though the grace of God be indeed guiding him, he must not expect complete happiness (Retractations, i. 2) till after death. Perhaps no sounder philosophy can be found than that evidenced in the life of Victor Hugo’s good Bishop Myriel, who rested in the practice of love, and was content to look for perfect happiness, and a full unfolding of God’s mysteries, to the future life:—“Aimez-vous les uns les autres, il declarait cela complet, ne souhaitait rien de plus et c’était là toute sa doctrine. Un jour, cet homme qui se croyait ‘philosophe,’ ce senateur, déjà nommé, dit à l’évêque: ‘Mais voyez donc le spectacle du monde; guerre de tous contre tous; le plus fort a le plus d’esprit. Votre aimez-vous les uns les autres est une bêtise.’—‘Eh bien,’ répondit Monseigneur Bienvenu, sans disputer, ‘si c’est une bêtise, l’âme doit s’y enfermer comme la perle dans l’huître.’ Il s’y enfermait donc, il y vivait, il s’en satisfaisait absolument, laissant de côté les questions prodigieuses qui attirent et qui épouvantent, les perspectives insoudables de l’abstraction, les précipices de la métaphysique, toutes ces profondeurs convergentes, pour l’ôtre, à Dieu, pour l’athée, au néant: la destinée, le bien et le mal, la guerre de l’être contre l’être, la conscience de l’homme, le somnambulisme pensif de l’animal, la transformation par la mort, la récapitulation d’existences qui contient le tombeau, la greffe incompréhensible des amours successifs sur le moi persistant, l’essence, la substance, le Nil et l’Ens, l’âme, la nature, la liberté, la nécessité; problèmes à pic, épaisseurs sinistres, où se penchent les gigantesques archanges de l’ésprit humain: formidables abimes que Lucrèce, Manon, Saint Paul, et Dante contemplent avec cet œil fulgurant qui semble, en regardant fixement l’infini, y faire eclore les étoiles. Monseigneur Bienvenu était simplement un homme qui constatait du dehors les questions mystérieuses sans les scruter, sans les agiter, et sans en troubler son propre ésprit; et qui avait dans l’âme le grave respect de l’ombre.”—Les Misérables, c. xiv.
[1 ]Isa. xxvi. 20, and Matt. vi. 6.
[2 ]Matt. xi. 12.
[1 ]Ps. lxviii. 2.
[2 ]Titus i. 10.
[3 ]And that therefore they were not responsible for their evil deeds, it not being they that sinned, but the nature of evil in them. See iv. sec. 26, and note, above, where the Manichæan doctrines in this matter are fully treated.
[4 ]Eph. v. 8.
[5 ]See iv. sec. 26, note, above.
[6 ]John i. 9.
[7 ]Ps. xxxiv. 5.
[8 ]See v. sec. 2, note 6, above, and x. sec. 5, note, below.
[9 ]Rom. vii. 17.
[10 ]The Manichæans.
[1 ]Col. iii. 5.
[2 ]Ps. cxix. 85, Old ver.
[3 ]As in nature, the men of science tell us, no two atoms touch, but that, while an inner magnetism draws them together, a secret repulsion keeps them apart, so it is with human souls. Into our deepest feelings our dearest friends cannot enter. In the throes of conversion, for example, God’s ministering servants may assist, but He alone can bring the soul to the birth. So it was here in the case of Augustin. He felt that now even the presence of his dear friend would be a burden,—God alone could come near, so as to heal the sore wound of his spirit,—and Alypius was a friend who knew how to keep silence, and to await the issue of his friend’s profound emotion. How comfortable a thing to find in those who would give consolation the spirit that animated the friends of Job, when “they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job ii. 13). Well has Rousseau said: “Les consolations indiscrètes ne font qu’aigrir les violentes afflictions. L’indifférence et la froideur trouvent aisément des paroles, mais la tristesse et le silence sont alors le vrai langage de l’amitié.” A beautiful exemplification of this is found in Victor Hugo’s portrait of Bishop Myriel, in Les Misérables (c. iv.), from which we have quoted a few pages back:—“Il savait s’asseoir et se taire de longues heures auprès de l’homme qui avait perdu la femme qu’il aimait, de la mère qui avait perdu son enfant. Comme il savait le moment de se taire, il savait aussi le moment de parler. O admirable consolateur! il ne cherchait pas à effacer la douleur par l’oubli, mais à l’agrandir et à la dignifier par l’espérance.”
[4 ]See note 3, page 71.
[5 ]1 Pet. ii. 5.
[6 ]Ps. vi. 3.
[7 ]Ps. lxxix. 5, 8.
[8 ]See his Life by St. Athanasius, secs. 2, 3.
[9 ]Matt. xix. 21.
[10 ]Rom. xiii. 13, 14.
[1 ]Rom. xiv. 1.
[2 ]Eph. iii. 20.
[3 ]See book iii. sec. 19.
[4 ]Ps. xxx. 11.