Authors/Augustine/confessions/L3

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AUGUSTINE'S CONFESSIONS, BOOK III

Translated by J.G. Pilkington. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff.

  • Chapter 1 Deluded by an Insane Love, He, Though Foul and Dishonourable, Desires to Be Thought Elegant and Urbane.
  • Chapter 2 In Public Spectacles He is Moved by an Empty Compassion. He is Attacked by a Troublesome Spiritual Disease.
  • Chapter 3 Not Even When at Church Does He Suppress His Desires. In the School of Rhetoric He Abhors the Acts of the Subverters.
  • Chapter 4 In the Nineteenth Year of His Age (His Father Having Died Two Years Before) He is Led by the Hortensius Of Cicero to Philosophy, To God, and a Better Mode of Thinking.
  • Chapter 5 He Rejects the Sacred Scriptures as Too Simple, and as Not to Be Compared with the Dignity of Tully.
  • Chapter 6 Deceived by His Own Fault, He Falls into the Errors of the Manichæans, Who Gloried in the True Knowledge of God and in a Thorough Examination of Things.
  • Chapter 7 He Attacks the Doctrine of the Manichæans Concerning Evil, God, and the Righteousness of the Patriarchs.
  • Chapter 8 He Argues Against the Same as to the Reason of Offences.
  • Chapter 9 That the Judgment of God and Men as to Human Acts of Violence, is Different.
  • Chapter 10 He Reproves the Triflings of the Manichæans as to the Fruits of the Earth.
  • Chapter 11 He Refers to the Tears, and the Memorable Dream Concerning Her Son, Granted by God to His Mother.
  • Chapter 12 The Excellent Answer of the Bishop When Referred to by His Mother as to the Conversion of Her Son.


Latin English
The Confessions (Book III) Of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth years of his age, passed at Carthage, when, having completed his course of studies, he is caught in the snares of a licentious passion, and falls into the errors of the Manichæans.
3.1.1 Veni Carthaginem, et circumstrepebat me undique sartago flagitiosorum amorum. Nondum amabam, et amare amabam, et secretiore indigentia oderam me minus indigentem. Quaerebam quid amarem, amans amare, et oderam securitatem et viam sine muscipulis, quoniam fames mihi erat intus ab interiore cibo, te ipso, Deus meus, et ea fame non esuriebam, sed eram sine desiderio alimentorum incorruptibilium, non quia plenus eis eram, sed quo inanior, fastidiosior. Et ideo non bene valebat anima mea et ulcerosa proiciebat se foras, miserabiliter scalpi avida contactu sensibilium. Sed si non haberent animam, non utique amarentur. Amare et amari dulce mihi erat, magis si et amantis corpore fruerer. Venam igitur amicitiae coinquinabam sordibus concupiscentiae candoremque eius obnubilabam de tartaro libidinis, et tamen foedus atque inhonestus, elegans et urbanus esse gestiebam abundanti uanitate. Rui etiam in amorem, quo cupiebam capi. Deus meus, misericordia mea, quanto felle mihi suavitatem illam et quam bonus aspersisti, quia et amatus sum, et perveni occulte ad vinculum fruendi, et colligabar laetus aerumnosis nexibus, ut caederer virgis ferreis ardentibus zeli et suspicionum et timorum et irarum atque rixarum. 1. To Carthage I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves bubbled up all around me. I loved not as yet, yet I loved to love; and with a hidden want, I abhorred myself that I wanted not. I searched about for something to love, in love with loving, and hating security, and a way not beset with snares. For within me I had a dearth of that inward food, Yourself, my God, though that dearth caused me no hunger; but I remained without all desire for incorruptible food, not because I was already filled thereby, but the more empty I was the more I loathed it. For this reason my soul was far from well, and, full of ulcers, it miserably cast itself forth, craving to be excited by contact with objects of sense. Yet, had these no soul, they would not surely inspire love. To love and to be loved was sweet to me, and all the more when I succeeded in enjoying the person I loved. I befouled, therefore, the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and I dimmed its lustre with the hell of lustfulness; and yet, foul and dishonourable as I was, I craved, through an excess of vanity, to be thought elegant and urbane. I fell precipitately, then, into the love in which I longed to be ensnared. My God, my mercy, with how much bitterness did Thou, out of Your infinite goodness, besprinkle for me that sweetness! For I was both beloved, and secretly arrived at the bond of enjoying; and was joyfully bound with troublesome ties, that I might be scourged with the burning iron rods of jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger, and strife.
3.2.2 Rapiebant me spectacula theatrica, plena imaginibus miseriarum mearum et fomitibus ignis mei. Quid est quod ibi homo uult dolere cum spectat luctuosa et tragica, quae tamen pati ipse nollet? Et tamen pati uult ex eis dolorem spectator et dolor ipse est voluptas eius. Quid est nisi mirabilis insania? Nam eo magis eis movetur quisque, quo minus a talibus affectibus sanus est, quamquam, cum ipse patitur, miseria, cum aliis compatitur, misericordia dici solet. Sed qualis tandem misericordia in rebus fictis et scenicis? Non enim ad subveniendum prouocatur auditor sed tantum ad dolendum inuitatur, et actori earum imaginum amplius favet cum amplius dolet. Et si calamitates illae hominum, vel antiquae vel falsae, sic agantur ut qui spectat non doleat, abscedit inde fastidiens et reprehendens; si autem doleat, manet intentus et gaudens lacrimat. 2. Stage-plays also drew me away, full of representations of my miseries and of fuel to my fire. Why does man like to be made sad when viewing doleful and tragical scenes, which yet he himself would by no means suffer? And yet he wishes, as a spectator, to experience from them a sense of grief, and in this very grief his pleasure consists. What is this but wretched insanity? For a man is more affected with these actions, the less free he is from such affections. Howsoever, when he suffers in his own person, it is the custom to style it misery but when he compassionates others, then it is styled mercy. But what kind of mercy is it that arises from fictitious and scenic passions? The hearer is not expected to relieve, but merely invited to grieve; and the more he grieves, the more he applauds the actor of these fictions. And if the misfortunes of the characters (whether of olden times or merely imaginary) be so represented as not to touch the feelings of the spectator, he goes away disgusted and censorious; but if his feelings be touched, he sits it out attentively, and sheds tears of joy.
3.2.3 Ergo amantur et dolores. Certe omnis homo gaudere uult. An cum miserum esse neminem libeat, libet tamen esse misericordem, quod quia non sine dolore est, hac una causa amantur dolores? Et hoc de illa vena amicitiae est. Sed quo uadit? Quo fluit? Ut quid decurrit in torrentem picis bullientis, aestus immanes taetrarum libidinum, in quos ipsa mutatur et vertitur per nutum proprium de caelesti serenitate detorta atque deiecta? Repudietur ergo misericordia? Nequaquam. Ergo amentur dolores aliquando, sed cave immunditiam, anima mea, sub tutore Deo meo, Deo patrum nostrorum et laudabili et superexaltato in omnia saecula, cave immunditiam. Neque enim nunc non misereor, sed tunc in theatris congaud eb am amantibu s cum se se frueb antur per flagitia, quamvis haec imaginarie gererent in ludo spectaculi. Cum autem se se amitteb ant, quasi misericors co ntri stabar, et utrumq u e delectabat tamen. Nunc vero magis misereor gaudentem in flagitio quam velut dura perpessum detrimento perniciosae voluptatis et amissione miserae felicitatis. Haec certe verior misericordia, sed non in ea delectat dolor. Nam etsi approbatur officio caritatis qui dolet miserum, mallet tamen utique non esse quod doleret qui germanitus misericors est. Si enim est malivola benivolentia, quod fieri non potest, potest et ille qui veraciter sinceriterque miseretur cupere esse miseros, ut misereatur. Nonnullus itaque dolor approbandus, nullus amandus est. Hoc enim tu, Domine Deus, qui animas amas, longe alteque purius quam nos et incorruptibilius misereris, quod nullo dolore sauciaris. Et ad haec quis idoneus? 3. Are sorrows, then, also loved? Surely all men desire to rejoice? Or, as man wishes to be miserable, is he, nevertheless, glad to be merciful, which, because it cannot exist without passion, for this cause alone are passions loved? This also is from that vein of friendship. But whither does it go? Whither does it flow? Wherefore runs it into that torrent of pitch, seething forth those huge tides of loathsome lusts into which it is changed and transformed, being of its own will cast away and corrupted from its celestial clearness? Shall, then, mercy be repudiated? By no means. Let us, therefore, love sorrows sometimes. But beware of uncleanness, O my soul, under the protection of my God, the God of our fathers, who is to be praised and exalted above all for ever, beware of uncleanness. For I have not now ceased to have compassion; but then in the theatres I sympathized with lovers when they sinfully enjoyed one another, although this was done fictitiously in the play. And when they lost one another, I grieved with them, as if pitying them, and yet had delight in both. But now-a-days I feel much more pity for him that delights in his wickedness, than for him who is counted as enduring hardships by failing to obtain some pernicious pleasure, and the loss of some miserable felicity. This, surely, is the truer mercy, but grief has no delight in it. For though he that condoles with the unhappy be approved for his office of charity, yet would he who had real compassion rather there were nothing for him to grieve about. For if goodwill be ill-willed (which it cannot), then can he who is truly and sincerely commiserating wish that there should be some unhappy ones, that he might commiserate them. Some grief may then be justified, none loved. For thus do You, O Lord God, who lovest souls far more purely than do we, and art more incorruptibly compassionate, although You are wounded by no sorrow. And who is sufficient for these things? 2 Corinthians 2:16
3.2.4 At ego tunc miser dolere amabam, et quaerebam ut esset quod dolerem, quando mihi in aerumna aliena et falsa et saltatoria ea magis placebat actio histrionis meque alliciebat uehementius qua mihi lacrimae excutiebantur. Quid autem mirum, cum infelix pecus aberrans a grege tuo et impatiens custodiae tuae turpi scabie foedarer? Et inde erant dolorum amores, non quibus altius penetrarer (non enim amabam talia perpeti qualia spectare), sed quibus auditis et fictis tamquam in superficie raderer. Quos tamen quasi ungues scalpentium feruidus tumor et tabes et sanies horrida consequebatur. Talis vita mea numquid vita erat, Deus meus? 4. But I, wretched one, then loved to grieve, and sought out what to grieve at, as when, in another man's misery, though reigned and counterfeited, that delivery of the actor best pleased me, and attracted me the most powerfully, which moved me to tears. What marvel was it that an unhappy sheep, straying from Your flock, and impatient of Your care, I became infected with a foul disease? And hence came my love of griefs— not such as should probe me too deeply, for I loved not to suffer such things as I loved to look upon, but such as, when hearing their fictions, should lightly affect the surface; upon which, like as with empoisoned nails, followed burning, swelling, putrefaction, and horrible corruption. Such was my life! But was it life, O my God?
3.3.5 Et circumuolabat super me fidelis a longe misericordia tua. In quantas iniquitates distabui et sacrilega curiositate secutus sum, ut deserentem te deduceret me ad ima infida et circumuentoria obsequia daemoniorum, quibus immolabam facta mea mala! Et in omnibus flagellabas me. Ausus sum etiam in celebritate sollemnitatum tuarum, intra parietes ecclesiae tuae, concupiscere et agere negotium procurandi fructus mortis. Unde me verberasti gravibus poenis, sed nihil ad culpam meam, o tu praegrandis misericordia mea, Deus meus, refugium meum a terribilibus nocentibus, in quibus uagatus sum praefidenti collo ad longe recedendum a te, amans vias meas et non tuas, amans fugitivam libertatem. 5. And Your faithful mercy hovered over me afar. Upon what unseemly iniquities did I wear myself out, following a sacrilegious curiosity, that, having deserted You, it might drag me into the treacherous abyss, and to the beguiling obedience of devils, unto whom I immolated my wicked deeds, and in all which You scourged me! I dared, even while Your solemn rites were being celebrated within the walls of Your church, to desire, and to plan a business sufficient to procure me the fruits of death; for which You chastised me with grievous punishments, but nothing in comparison with my fault, O Thou my greatest mercy, my God, my refuge from those terrible hurts, among which I wandered with presumptuous neck, receding farther from You, loving my own ways, and not Yours— loving a vagrant liberty.
3.3.6 Habebant et illa studia quae honesta vocabantur ductum suum intuentem fora litigiosa, ut excellerem in eis, hoc laudabilior, quo fraudulentior. Tanta est caecitas hominum de caecitate etiam gloriantium. Et maior etiam eram in schola rhetoris, et gaudebam superbe et tumebam typho, quamquam longe sedatior, Domine, tu scis, et remotus omnino ab euersionibus quas faciebant euersores (hoc enim nomen scaeuum et diabolicum velut insigne urbanitatis est), inter quos vivebam pudore impudenti, quia talis non eram. Et cum eis eram et amicitiis eorum delectabar aliquando, a quorum semper factis abhorrebam, hoc est ab euersionibus quibus proterue insectabantur ignotorum verecundiam, quam proturbarent gratis illudendo atque inde pascendo malivolas laetitias suas. Nihil est illo actu similius actibus daemoniorum. Quid itaque verius quam euersores vocarentur, euersi plane prius ipsi atque peruersi, deridentibus eos et seducentibus fallacibus occulte spiritibus in eo ipso quod alios inridere amant et fallere. 6. Those studies, also, which were accounted honourable, were directed towards the courts of law; to excel in which, the more crafty I was, the more I should be praised. Such is the blindness of men, that they even glory in their blindness. And now I was head in the School of Rhetoric, whereat I rejoiced proudly, and became inflated with arrogance, though more sedate, O Lord, as You know, and altogether removed from the subvertings of those subverters (for this stupid and diabolical name was held to be the very brand of gallantry) among whom I lived, with an impudent shamefacedness that I was not even as they were. And with them I was, and at times I was delighted with their friendship whose acts I ever abhorred, that is, their subverting, wherewith they insolently attacked the modesty of strangers, which they disturbed by uncalled for jeers, gratifying thereby their mischievous mirth. Nothing can more nearly resemble the actions of devils than these. By what name, therefore, could they be more truly called than subverters?— being themselves subverted first, and altogether perverted— being secretly mocked at and seduced by the deceiving spirits, in what they themselves delight to jeer at and deceive others.
3.4.7 Inter hos ego imbecilla tunc aetate discebam libros eloquentiae, in qua eminere cupiebam fine damnabili et ventoso per gaudia uanitatis humanae. Et usitato iam discendi ordine perueneram in librum cuiusdam Ciceronis, cuius linguam fere omnes mirantur, pectus non ita. Sed liber ille ipsius exhortationem continet ad philosophiam et vocatur 'Hortensius'. Ille vero liber mutavit affectum meum, et ad te ipsum, Domine, mutavit preces meas, et vota ac desideria mea fecit alia. Viluit mihi repente omnis uana spes, et immortalitatem sapientiae concupiscebam aestu cordis incredibili, et surgere coeperam ut ad te redirem. Non enim ad acuendam linguam, quod videbar emere maternis mercedibus, cum agerem annum aetatis undevicensimum iam defuncto patre ante biennium, non ergo ad acuendam linguam referebam illum librum, neque mihi locutio sed quod loquebatur persuaserat. 7. Among such as these, at that unstable period of my life, I studied books of eloquence, wherein I was eager to be eminent from a damnable and inflated purpose, even a delight in human vanity. In the ordinary course of study, I lighted upon a certain book of Cicero, whose language, though not his heart, almost all admire. This book of his contains an exhortation to philosophy, and is called Hortensius. This book, in truth, changed my affections, and turned my prayers to Yourself, O Lord, and made me have other hopes and desires. Worthless suddenly became every vain hope to me; and, with an incredible warmth of heart, I yearned for an immortality of wisdom, and began now to arise Luke 15:18 that I might return to You. Not, then, to improve my language— which I appeared to be purchasing with my mother's means, in that my nineteenth year, my father having died two years before— not to improve my language did I have recourse to that book; nor did it persuade me by its style, but its matter.
3.4.8 Quomodo ardebam, Deus meus, quomodo ardebam reuolare a terrenis ad te, et nesciebam quid ageres mecum! Apud te est enim sapientia. Amor autem sapientiae nomen graecum habet philosophiam, quo me accendeb ant illae litterae . Sunt qui s ed uc ant per philosophiam magno et blando et honesto nomine colorantes et fucantes errores suos, et prope omnes qui ex illis et supra temporibus tales erant notantur in eo libro et demonstrantur, et manifestatur ibi salutifera illa admonitio spiritus tui per seruum tuum bonum et pium: 'uidete, ne quis vos decipiat per philosophiam et inanem seductionem, secundum traditionem hominum, secundum elementa huius mundi, et non secundum Christum, quia in ipso inhabitat omnis plenitudo divinitatis corporaliter.' Et ego illo tempore, scis tu, lumen cordis mei, quoniam nondum mihi haec apostolica nota erant, hoc tamen solo delectabar in illa exhortatione, quod non illam aut illam sectam, sed ipsam quaecumque esset sapientiam ut diligerem et quaererem et adsequerer et tenerem atque amplexarer fortiter, excitabar sermone illo et accendebar et ardebam, et hoc solum me in tanta flagrantia refrangebat, quod nomen Christi non erat ibi, quoniam hoc nomen secundum misericordiam tuam, Domine, hoc nomen saluatoris mei, filii tui, in ipso adhuc lacte matris tenerum cor meum pie biberat et alte retinebat, et quidquid sine hoc nomine fuisset, quamvis litteratum et expolitum et veridicum, non me totum rapiebat. 8. How ardent was I then, my God, how ardent to fly from earthly things to You! Nor did I know how You would deal with me. For with You is wisdom. In Greek the love of wisdom is called philosophy, with which that book inflamed me. There be some who seduce through philosophy, under a great, and alluring, and honourable name colouring and adorning their own errors. And almost all who in that and former times were such, are in that book censured and pointed out. There is also disclosed that most salutary admonition of Your Spirit, by Your good and pious servant: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ: for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:8-9 And since at that time (as Thou, O Light of my heart, know) the words of the apostle were unknown to me, I was delighted with that exhortation, in so far only as I was thereby stimulated, and enkindled, and inflamed to love, seek, obtain, hold, and embrace, not this or that sect, but wisdom itself, whatever it were; and this alone checked me thus ardent, that the name of Christ was not in it. For this name, according to Your mercy, O Lord, this name of my Saviour Your Son, had my tender heart piously drunk in, deeply treasured even with my mother's milk; and whatsoever was without that name, though never so erudite, polished, and truthful, took not complete hold of me.
3.5.9 Itaque institui animum intendere in scripturas sanctas et videre quales essent. Et ecce video rem non compertam superbis neque nudatam pueris, sed incessu humilem, successu excelsam et velatam mysteriis. Et non eram ego talis ut intrare in eam possem aut inclinare ceruicem ad eius gressus. Non enim sicut modo loquor, ita sensi, cum attendi ad illam scripturam, sed visa est mihi indigna quam tullianae dignitati compararem. Tumor enim meus refugiebat modum eius et acies mea non penetrabat interiora eius. Verum autem illa erat quae cresceret cum paruulis, sed ego dedignabar esse paruulus et turgidus fastu mihi grandis videbar. 9. I resolved, therefore, to direct my mind to the Holy Scriptures, that I might see what they were. And behold, I perceive something not comprehended by the proud, not disclosed to children, but lowly as you approach, sublime as you advance, and veiled in mysteries; and I was not of the number of those who could enter into it, or bend my neck to follow its steps. For not as when now I speak did I feel when I tuned towards those Scriptures, but they appeared to me to be unworthy to be compared with the dignity of Tully; for my inflated pride shunned their style, nor could the sharpness of my wit pierce their inner meaning. Yet, truly, were they such as would develope in little ones; but I scorned to be a little one, and, swollen with pride, I looked upon myself as a great one.
3.6.10 Itaque incidi in homines superbe delirantes, carnales nimis et loquaces, in quorum ore laquei diaboli et viscum confectum commixtione syllabarum nominis tui et Domini Iesu Christi et paracleti consolatoris nostri spiritus sancti. Haec nomina non recedebant de ore eorum, sed tenus sono et strepitu linguae; caeterum cor inane veri. Et dicebant, 'ueritas et veritas', et multum eam dicebant mihi, et nusquam erat in eis, sed falsa loquebantur, non de te tantum, qui vere veritas es, sed etiam de istis elementis huius mundi, creatura tua, de quibus etiam vera dicentes philosophos transgredi debui prae amore tuo, mi pater summe bone, pulchritudo pulchrorum omnium. O veritas, veritas, quam intime etiam tum medullae animi mei suspirabant tibi, cum te illi sonarent mihi frequenter et multipliciter voce sola et libris multis et ingentibus! Et illa erant fercula in quibus mihi esurienti te inferebatur pro te sol et luna, pulchra opera tua, sed tamen opera tua, non tu, nec ipsa prima. Priora enim spiritalia opera tua quam ista corporea, quamvis lucida et caelestia. At ego nec priora illa, sed te ipsam, te ventas, in qua non est commutatio nec momenti obumbratio, esuriebam et sitiebam. Et apponebantur adhuc mihi in illis ferculis phantasmata splendida, quibus iam melius erat amare istum solem saltem istis oculis verum quam illa falsa animo decepto per oculos. Et tamen, quia te putabam, manducabam, non avide quidem, quia nec sapiebas in ore meo sicuti es (neque enim tu eras illa figmenta inania) nec nutriebar eis, sed exhauriebar magis. Cibus in somnis simillimus est cibis vigilantium, quo tamen dormientes non aluntur; dormiunt enim. At illa nec similia erant ullo modo tibi, sicut nunc mihi locuta es, quia illa erant corporalia phantasmata, falsa corpora, quibus certiora sunt vera corpora ista quae videmus visu carneo, sive caelestia sive terrestria, cum pecudibus et volatilibus. Videmus haec, et certiora sunt quam cum imaginamur ea. Et rursus certius imaginamur ea quam ex eis suspicamur alia grandiora et infinita, quae omnino nulla sunt. Qualibus ego tunc pascebar inanibus, et non pascebar. At tu, amor meus, in quem deficio ut fortis sim, nec ista corpora es quae videmus quamquam in caelo, nec ea quae non videmus ibi, quia tu ista condidisti nec in summis tuis conditionibus habes. Quanto ergo longe es a phantasmatis illis meis, phantasmatis corporum quae omnino non sunt! Quibus certiores sunt phantasiae corporum eorum quae sunt, et eis certiora corpora, quae tamen non es. Sed nec anima es, quae vita est corporum (ideo melior vita corporum certiorque quam corpora), sed tu vita es animarum, vita vitarum, vivens te ipsa, et non mutaris, vita animae meae. 10. Therefore I fell among men proudly raving, very carnal, and voluble, in whose mouths were the snares of the devil— the birdlime being composed of a mixture of the syllables of Your name, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. These names departed not out of their mouths, but so far forth as the sound only and the clatter of the tongue, for the heart was empty of truth. Still they cried, Truth, Truth, and spoke much about it to me, yet was it not in them; 1 John 2:4 but they spoke falsely not of You only— who, verily, art the Truth— but also of these elements of this world, Your creatures. And I, in truth, should have passed by philosophers, even when speaking truth concerning them, for love of You, my Father, supremely good, beauty of all things beautiful. O Truth, Truth! How inwardly even then did the marrow of my soul pant after You, when they frequently, and in a multiplicity of ways, and in numerous and huge books, sounded out Your name to me, though it was but a voice! And these were the dishes in which to me, hungering for You, they, instead of You, served up the sun and moon, Your beauteous works— but yet Your works, not Yourself, nay, nor Your first works. For before these corporeal works are Your spiritual ones, celestial and shining though they be. But I hungered and thirsted not even after those first works of Yours, but after You Yourself, the Truth, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; James 1:17 yet they still served up to me in those dishes glowing phantasies, than which better were it to love this very sun (which, at least, is true to our sight), than those illusions which deceive the mind through the eye. And yet, because I supposed them to be You, I fed upon them; not with avidity, for You did not taste to my mouth as You are, for You were not these empty fictions; neither was I nourished by them, but the rather exhausted. Food in our sleep appears like our food awake; yet the sleepers are not nourished by it, for they are asleep. But those things were not in any way like You as You have now spoken unto me, in that those were corporeal phantasies, false bodies, than which these true bodies, whether celestial or terrestrial, which we perceive with our fleshly sight, are much more certain. These things the very beasts and birds perceive as well as we, and they are more certain than when we imagine them. And again, we do with more certainty imagine them, than by them conceive of other greater and infinite bodies which have no existence. With such empty husks was I then fed, and was not fed. But You, my Love, in looking for whom I fail that I may be strong, art neither those bodies that we see, although in heaven, nor are You those which we see not there; for You have created them, nor do You reckon them among Your greatest works. How far, then, are You from those phantasies of mine, phantasies of bodies which are not at all, than which the images of those bodies which are, are more certain, and still more certain the bodies themselves, which yet You are not; nay, nor yet the soul, which is the life of the bodies. Better, then, and more certain is the life of bodies than the bodies themselves. But You are the life of souls, the life of lives, having life in Yourself; and You change not, O Life of my soul.
3.6.11 Ubi ergo mihi tunc eras et quam longe? Et longe peregrinabar abs te, exclusus et a siliquis porcorum quos de siliquis pascebam. Quanto enim meliores grammaticorum et poetarum fabellae quam illa decipula! Nam versus et carmen et Medea volans utiliores certe quam quinque elementa varie fucata propter quinque antra tenebrarum, quae omnino nulla sunt et occidunt credentem. Nam versum et carmen etiam ad vera pulmenta transfero; volantem autem Medeam etsi cantabam, non adserebam, etsi cantari audiebam, non credebam. Illa autem credidi -- uae, uae! Quibus gradibus deductus in profunda inferi, quippe laborans et aestuans inopia veri, cum te, Deus meus (tibi enim confiteor, qui me miseratus es et nondum confidentem), cum te non secundum intellectum mentis, quo me praestare voluisti beluis, sed secundum sensum carnis quaererem. Tu autem eras interior intimo meo et superior summo meo. Offendi illam mulierem audacem, inopem prudentiae, aenigma Salomonis, sedentem super sellam in foribus et dicentem, 'panes occultos libenter edite, et aquam dulcem furtivam bibite.' Quae me seduxit, quia invenit foris habitantem in oculo carnis meae et talia ruminantem apud me qualia per illum vorassem. 11. Where, then, were You then to me, and how far from me? Far, indeed, was I wandering away from You, being even shut out from the very husks of the swine, whom with husks I fed. For how much better, then, are the fables of the grammarians and poets than these snares! For verses, and poems, and Medea flying, are more profitable truly than these men's five elements, variously painted, to answer to the five caves of darkness, none of which exist, and which slay the believer. For verses and poems I can turn into true food, but the Medea flying, though I sang, I maintained it not; though I heard it sung, I believed it not; but those things I did believe. Woe, woe, by what steps was I dragged down to the depths of hell! Proverbs 9:18 — toiling and turmoiling through want of Truth, when I sought after You, my God—to You I confess it, who had mercy on me when I had not yet confessed,— sought after You not according to the understanding of the mind, in which You desired that I should excel the beasts, but according to the sense of the flesh! You were more inward to me than my most inward part; and higher than my highest. I came upon that bold woman, who is simple, and knows nothing, Proverbs 9:13 the enigma of Solomon, sitting at the door of the house on a seat, and saying, Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. This woman seduced me, because she found my soul beyond its portals, dwelling in the eye of my flesh, and thinking on such food as through it I had devoured.
3.7.12 Nesciebam enim aliud vere quod est, et quasi acutule movebar ut suffragarer stultis deceptoribus, cum a me quaererent unde malum, et utrum forma corporea Deus finiretur et haberet capillos et ungues, et utrum iusti existimandi essent qui haberent uxores multas simul et occiderent homines et sacrificarent de animalibus. Quibus rerum ignarus pe rturb abar, et reced ens a veritate ire in e am mihi videbar, qui a non noveram malum non esse nisi privationem boni usque ad quod omnino non est. (Quod unde viderem, cuius videre usque ad corpus erat oculis, et animo usque ad phantasma?) Et non noveram Deum esse spiritum, non cui membra essent per longum et latum nec cui esse moles esset, quia moles in parte minor est quam in toto suo, et si infinita sit, minor est in aliqua parte certo spatio definita quam per infinitum, et non est tota ubique sicut spiritus, sicut Deus. Et quid in nobis esset secundum quod essemus et recte in scriptura diceremur ad imaginem Dei, prorsus ignorabam. 12. For I was ignorant as to that which really is, and was, as it were, violently moved to give my support to foolish deceivers, when they asked me, Whence is evil? — and, Is God limited by a bodily shape, and has He hairs and nails?— and, Are they to be esteemed righteous who had many wives at once and did kill men, and sacrificed living creatures? 1 Kings 18:40 At which things I, in my ignorance, was much disturbed, and, retreating from the truth, I appeared to myself to be going towards it; because as yet I knew not that evil was naught but a privation of good, until in the end it ceases altogether to be; which how should I see, the sight of whose eyes saw no further than bodies, and of my mind no further than a phantasm? And I knew not God to be a Spirit, John 4:24 not one who has parts extended in length and breadth, nor whose being was bulk; for every bulk is less in a part than in the whole, and, if it be infinite, it must be less in such part as is limited by a certain space than in its infinity; and cannot be wholly everywhere, as Spirit, as God is. And what that should be in us, by which we were like God, and might rightly in Scripture be said to be after the image of God, I was entirely ignorant.
3.7.13 Et non noveram iustitiam veram interiorem, non ex consuetudine iudicantem sed ex lege rectissima Dei omnipotentis, qua formarentur mores regionum et dierum pro regionibus et diebus, cum ipsa ubique ac semper esset, non alibi alia nec alias aliter, secundum quam iusti essent Abraham et Isaac et Iacob et Moyses et David et illi omnes laudati ore Dei. Sed eos ab imperitis iudicari iniquos, iudicantibus ex humano die et universos mores humani generis ex parte moris sui metientibus, tamquam si quis nescius in armamentis quid cui membro adcommodatum sit ocrea velit caput contegi et galea calciari et murmuret, quod non apte conveniat; aut in uno die indicto a promeridianis horis iustitio quisquam stomachetur non sibi concedi quid venale proponere, quia mane concessum est; aut in una domo videat aliquid tractari manibus a quoquam seruo quod facere non sinatur qui pocula ministrat, aut aliquid post praesepia fieri quod ante mensam prohibeatur, et indignetur, cum sit unum habitaculum et una familia, non ubique atque omnibus idem tribui. Sic sunt isti qui indignantur, cum audierint illo saeculo licuisse iustis aliquid quod isto non licet iustis, et quia illis aliud praecepit Deus, istis aliud pro temporalibus causis, cum eidem iustitiae utrique seruierint, cum in uno homine et in uno die et in unis aedibus videant aliud alii membro congruere, et aliud iam dudum licuisse, post horam non licere, quiddam in illo angulo permitti aut iuberi, quod in isto iuxta uetetur et vindicetur. Numquid iustitia varia est et mutabilis? Sed tempora, quibus praesidet, non pariter eunt; tempora enim sunt. Homines autem, quorum vita super terram brevis est, quia sensu non valent causas conexere saeculorum priorum aliarumque gentium, quas experti non sunt, cum his quas experti sunt, in uno autem corpore vel die vel domo facile possunt videre quid cui membro, quibus momentis, quibus partibus personisue congruat, in illis offenduntur, hic seruiunt. 13. Nor had I knowledge of that true inner righteousness, which does not judge according to custom, but out of the most perfect law of God Almighty, by which the manners of places and times were adapted to those places and times— being itself the while the same always and everywhere, not one thing in one place, and another in another; according to which Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses, and David, and all those commended by the mouth of God were righteous, Hebrews 11:8-40 but were judged unrighteous by foolish men, judging out of man's judgment, 1 Corinthians 4:3 and gauging by the petty standard of their own manners the manners of the whole human race. Like as if in an armoury, one knowing not what were adapted to the several members should put greaves on his head, or boot himself with a helmet, and then complain because they would not fit. Or as if, on some day when in the afternoon business was forbidden, one were to fume at not being allowed to sell as it was lawful to him in the forenoon. Or when in some house he sees a servant take something in his hand which the butler is not permitted to touch, or something done behind a stable which would be prohibited in the dining-room, and should be indignant that in one house, and one family, the same thing is not distributed everywhere to all. Such are they who cannot endure to hear something to have been lawful for righteous men in former times which is not so now; or that God, for certain temporal reasons, commanded them one thing, and these another, but both obeying the same righteousness; though they see, in one man, one day, and one house, different things to be fit for different members, and a thing which was formerly lawful after a time unlawful— that permitted or commanded in one corner, which done in another is justly prohibited and punished. Is justice, then, various and changeable? Nay, but the times over which she presides are not all alike, because they are times. But men, whose days upon the earth are few, Job 14:1 because by their own perception they cannot harmonize the causes of former ages and other nations, of which they had no experience, with these of which they have experience, though in one and the same body, day, or family, they can readily see what is suitable for each member, season, part, and person— to the one they take exception, to the other they submit.
3.7.14 Haec ergo tunc nesciebam et non advertebam, et feriebant undique ista oculos meos, et non videbam. Et cantabam carmina et non mihi licebat ponere pedem quemlibet ubilibet, sed in alio atque alio metro aliter atque aliter et in uno aliquo versu non omnibus locis eundem pedem. Et ars ipsa qua canebam non habebat aliud alibi, sed omnia simul. Et non intuebar iustitiam, cui seruirent boni et sancti homines, longe excellentius atque sublimius habere simul omnia quae praecipit et nulla ex parte variari et tamen variis temporibus non omnia simul, sed propria distribuentem ac praecipientem. Et reprehendebam caecus pios patres non solum, sicut Deus iuberet atque inspiraret, utentes praesentibus verum quoque, sicut Deus reuelaret, futura praenuntiantes. 14. These things I then knew not, nor observed. They met my eyes on every side, and I saw them not. I composed poems, in which it was not permitted me to place every foot everywhere, but in one metre one way, and in another, nor even in any one verse the same foot in all places. Yet the art itself by which I composed had not different principles for these different cases, but comprised all in one. Still I saw not how that righteousness, which good and holy men submitted to, far more excellently and sublimely comprehended in one all those things which God commanded, and in no part varied, though in varying times it did not prescribe all things at once, but distributed and enjoined what was proper for each. And I, being blind, blamed those pious fathers, not only for making use of present things as God commanded and inspired them to do, but also for foreshowing things to come as God was revealing them.
3.8.15 Numquid aliquando aut alicubi iniustum est diligere Deum ex toto corde et ex tota anima et ex tota mente, et diligere proximum tamquam te ipsum? Itaque flagitia quae sunt contra naturam ubique ac semper detestanda atque punienda sunt, qualia Sodomitarum fuerunt. Quae si omnes gentes facerent, eodem criminis reatu divina lege tenerentur, quae non sic fecit homines ut se illo uterentur modo. Violatur quippe ipsa societas quae cum Deo nobis esse debet cum eadem natura cuius ille auctor est libidinis peruersitate polluitur. Quae autem contra mores hominum sunt flagitia pro morum diversitate vitanda sunt, ut pactum inter se civitatis aut gentis consuetudine vel lege firmatum nulla civis aut peregnni libidine violetur. Turpis enim omnis pars universo suo non congruens. Cum autem Deus aliquid contra morem aut pactum quorumlibet iubet, etsi numquam ibi factum est, faciendum est, et si omissum, instaurandum, et si institutum non erat, instituendum est. Si enim regi licet in civitate cui regnat iubere aliquid quod neque ante illum quisquam nec ipse umquam iusserat, et non contra societatem civitatis eius obtemperatur, immo contra societatem non obtemperatur (generale quippe pactum est societatis humanae oboedire regibus suis), quanto magis Deo regnatori universae creaturae suae ad ea quae iusserit sine dubitatione seruiendum est. Sicut enim in potestatibus societatis humanae maior potestas minori ad oboediendum praeponitur, ita Deus omnibus. 15. Can it at any time or place be an unrighteous thing for a man to love God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind, and his neighbour as himself? Therefore those offenses which be contrary to nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and punished; such were those of the Sodomites, which should all nations commit, they should all be held guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which has not so made men that they should in that way abuse one another. For even that fellowship which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature of which He is author is polluted by the perversity of lust. But those offenses which are contrary to the customs of men are to be avoided according to the customs severally prevailing; so that an agreement made, and confirmed by custom or law of any city or nation, may not be violated at the lawless pleasure of any, whether citizen or stranger. For any part which is not consistent with its whole is unseemly. But when God commands anything contrary to the customs or compacts of any nation to be done, though it were never done by them before, it is to be done; and if intermitted it is to be restored, and, if never established, to be established. For if it be lawful for a king, in the state over which he reigns, to command that which neither he himself nor any one before him had commanded, and to obey him cannot be held to be inimical to the public interest,— nay, it were so if he were not obeyed (for obedience to princes is a general compact of human society),— how much more, then, ought we unhesitatingly to obey God, the Governor of all His creatures! For as among the authorities of human society the greater authority is obeyed before the lesser, so must God above all.
3.8.16 Item in facinoribus, ubi libido est nocendi sive per contumeliam sive per iniuriam et utrumque vel ulciscendi causa, sicut inimico inimicus, vel adipiscendi alicuius extra commodi, sicut latro viatori, vel evitandi mali, sicut ei qui timetur, vel inuidendo, sicut feliciori miserior aut in aliquo prosperatus ei quem sibi aequari timet aut aequalem dolet, vel sola voluptate alieni mali, sicut spectatores gladiatorum aut inrisores aut illusores quorumlibet. Haec sunt capita iniquitatis quae pullulant principandi et spectandi et sentiendi libidine aut una aut duabus earum aut simul omnibus, et vivitur male adversus tria et septem, psalterium decem chordarum, decalogum tuum, Deus altissime et dulcissime. Sed quae flagitia in te, qui non corrumperis? Aut quae adversus te facinora, cui noceri non potest? Sed hoc vindicas quod in se homines perpetrant, quia etiam cum in te peccant, impie faciunt in animas suas, et mentitur iniquitas sibi sive corrumpendo ac peruertendo naturam suam, quam tu fecisti et ordinasti, vel immoderate utendo concessis rebus, vel in non concessa flagrando in eum usum qui est contra naturam. Aut rei tenentur animo et verbis saevientes adversus te et adversus stimulum calcitrantes, aut cum diruptis limitibus humanae societatis laetantur audaces privatis conciliationibus aut diremptionibus, prout quidque delectaverit aut offenderit. Et ea fiunt cum tu derelinqueris, fons vitae, qui es unus et verus creator et rector universitatis, et privata superbia diligitur in parte unum falsum. Itaque pietate humili reditur in te, et purgas nos a consuetudine mala, et propitius es peccatis confitentium, et exaudis gemitus compeditorum, et solvis a vinculis quae nobis fecimus, si iam non erigamus adversus te cornua falsae libertatis, auaritia plus habendi et damno totum amittendi, amplius amando proprium nostrum quam te, omnium bonum. 16. So also in deeds of violence, where there is a desire to harm, whether by contumely or injury; and both of these either by reason of revenge, as one enemy against another; or to obtain some advantage over another, as the highwayman to the traveller; or for the avoiding of some evil, as with him who is in fear of another; or through envy, as the unfortunate man to one who is happy; or as he that is prosperous in anything to him who he fears will become equal to himself, or whose equality he grieves at; or for the mere pleasure in another's pains, as the spectators of gladiators, or the deriders and mockers of others. These be the chief iniquities which spring forth from the lust of the flesh, of the eye, and of power, whether singly, or two together, or all at once. And so do men live in opposition to the three and seven, that psaltery of ten strings, Your ten commandments, O God most high and most sweet. But what foul offenses can there be against You who canst not be defiled? Or what deeds of violence against you who canst not be harmed? But You avenge that which men perpetrate against themselves, seeing also that when they sin against You, they do wickedly against their own souls; and iniquity gives itself the lie, either by corrupting or perverting their nature, which You have made and ordained, or by an immoderate use of things permitted, or in burning in things forbidden to that use which is against nature; Romans 1:24-29 or when convicted, raging with heart and voice against You, kicking against the pricks; Acts 9:5 or when, breaking through the pale of human society, they audaciously rejoice in private combinations or divisions, according as they have been pleased or offended. And these things are done whenever You are forsaken, O Fountain of Life, who art the only and true Creator and Ruler of the universe, and by a self-willed pride any one false thing is selected therefrom and loved. So, then, by a humble piety we return to You; and you purge us from our evil customs, and art merciful unto the sins of those who confess unto You, and hears the groaning of the prisoner, and loosens us from those fetters which we have forged for ourselves, if we lift not up against You the horns of a false liberty—losing all through craving more, by loving more our own private good than You, the good of all.
3.9.17 Sed inter flagitia et facinora et tam multas iniquitates sunt peccata proficientium, quae a bene iudicantibus et vituperantur ex regula perfectionis et laudantur spe frugis sicut herba segetis. Et sunt quaedam similia vel flagitio vel facinori et non sunt peccata, quia nec te offendunt, Dominum Deum nostrum, nec sociale consortium, cum conciliantur aliqua in usum vitae, congrua et tempori, et incertum est an libidine habendi, aut puniuntur corrigendi studio potestate ordinata, et incertum est an libidine nocendi. Multa itaque facta quae hominibus improbanda viderentur testimonio tuo approbata sunt, et multa laudata ab hominibus te teste damnantur, cum saepe se aliter habet species facti et aliter facientis animus atque articulus occulti temporis. Cum vero aliquid tu repente inusitatum et improvisum imperas, etiamsi hoc aliquando uetuisti, quamvis causam imperii tui pro tempore occultes et quamvis contra pactum sit aliquorum hominum societatis, quis dubitet esse faciendum, quando ea iusta est societas hominum quae seruit tibi? Sed beati qui te imperasse sciunt. Fiunt enim omnia a seruientibus tibi, vel ad exhibendum quod ad praesens opus est, vel ad futura praenuntianda. 17. But amidst these offenses of infamy and violence, and so many iniquities, are the sins of men who are, on the whole, making progress; which, by those who judge rightly, and after the rule of perfection, are censured, yet commended withal, upon the hope of bearing fruit, like as in the green blade of the growing grain. And there are some which resemble offenses of infamy or violence, and yet are not sins, because they neither offend You, our Lord God, nor social custom: when, for example, things suitable for the times are provided for the use of life, and we are uncertain whether it be out of a lust of having; or when acts are punished by constituted authority for the sake of correction, and we are uncertain whether it be out of a lust of hurting. Many a deed, then, which in the sight of men is disapproved, is approved by Your testimony; and many a one who is praised by men is, Thou being witness, condemned; because frequently the view of the deed, and the mind of the doer, and the hidden exigency of the period, severally vary. But when Thou unexpectedly commandest an unusual and unthought-of thing— yea, even if You have formerly forbidden it, and still for the time keepest secret the reason of Your command, and it even be contrary to the ordinance of some society of men, who doubts but it is to be done, inasmuch as that society is righteous which serves You? But blessed are they who know Your commands! For all things were done by them who served You either to exhibit something necessary at the time, or to foreshow things to come.
3.10.18 Haec ego nesciens inridebam illos sanctos seruos et prophetas tuos. Et quid agebam cum inridebam eos, nisi ut inriderer abs te sensim atque paulatim perductus ad eas nugas ut crederem ficum plorare cum decerpitur et matrem eius arborem lacrimis lacteis? Quam tamen ficum si comedisset aliquis sanctus, alieno sane non suo scelere decerptam, misceret visceribus et anhelaret de illa angelos, immo vero particulas Dei gemendo in oratione atque ructando. Quae particulae summi et veri Dei ligatae fuissent in illo pomo, nisi electi sancti dente ac ventre soluerentur. Et credidi miser magis esse misericordiam praestandam fructibus terrae quam hominibus propter quos nascerentur. Si quis enim esuriens peteret qui manichaeus non esset, quasi capitali supplicio damnanda buccella videretur si ei daretur. 18. These things being ignorant of, I derided those holy servants and prophets of Yours. And what did I gain by deriding them but to be derided by You, being insensibly, and little by little, led on to those follies, as to credit that a fig-tree wept when it was plucked, and that the mother-tree shed milky tears? Which fig notwithstanding, plucked not by his own but another's wickedness, had some saint eaten and mingled with his entrails, he should breathe out of it angels; yea, in his prayers he shall assuredly groan and sigh forth particles of God, which particles of the most high and true God should have remained bound in that fig unless they had been set free by the teeth and belly of some elect saint! And I, miserable one, believed that more mercy was to be shown to the fruits of the earth than unto men, for whom they were created; for if a hungry man— who was not a Manichæan— should beg for any, that morsel which should be given him would appear, as it were, condemned to capital punishment.
3.11.19 Et misisti manum tuam ex alto et de hac profunda caligine eruisti animam meam, cum pro me fleret ad te mea mater, fidelis tua, amplius quam flent matres corporea funera. Videbat enim illa mortem meam ex fide et spiritu quem habebat ex te, et exaudisti eam, Domine. Exaudisti eam nec despexisti lacrimas eius; cum profluentes rigarent terram sub oculis eius in omni loco orationis eius, exaudisti eam. Nam unde illud somnium quo eam consolatus es, ut vivere mecum cederet et habere mecum eandem mensam in domo? (Quod nolle coeperat aversans et detestans blasphemias erroris mei.) Vidit enim se stantem in quadam regula lignea et advenientem ad se ivuenem splendidum hilarem atque arridentem sibi, cum illa esset maerens et maerore confecta. Qui cum causas ab ea quaesisset maestitiae suae cotidianarumque lacrimarum, docendi, ut adsolet, non discendi gratia, atque illa respondisset perditionem meam se plangere, iussisse illum (quo secura esset) atque admonuisse, ut attenderet et videret, ubi esset illa, ibi esse et me. Quod illa ubi attendit, vidit me iuxta se in eadem regula stantem. Unde hoc, nisi quia erant aures tuae ad cor eius, o tu bone omnipotens, qui sic curas unumquemque nostrum tamquam solum cures, et sic omnes tamquam singulos? 19. And You sent Your hand from above, and drew my soul out of that profound darkness, when my mother, Your faithful one, wept to you on my behalf more than mothers are wont to weep the bodily death of their children. For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from You, and You heard her, O Lord. You heard her, and despised not her tears, when, pouring down, they watered the earth under her eyes in every place where she prayed; yea, You heard her. For whence was that dream with which You consoled her, so that she permitted me to live with her, and to have my meals at the same table in the house, which she had begun to avoid, hating and detesting the blasphemies of my error? For she saw herself standing on a certain wooden rule, and a bright youth advancing towards her, joyous and smiling upon her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But he having inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (he wishing to teach, as is their wont, and not to be taught), and she answering that it was my perdition she was lamenting, he bade her rest contented, and told her to behold and see that where she was, there was I also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule. Whence was this, unless that Your ears were inclined towards her heart? O Thou Good Omnipotent, who so carest for every one of us as if You cared for him only, and so for all as if they were but one!
3.11.20 Unde illud etiam, quod cum mihi narrasset ipsum visum, et ego ad id trahere conarer ut illa se potius non desperaret futuram esse quod eram, continuo sine aliqua haesitatione: 'non,' inquit, 'non enim mihi dictum est, "ubi ille, ibi et tu", sed "ubi tu, ibi et ille."' confiteor tibi, Domine, recordationem meam, quantum recolo, quod saepe non tacui, amplius me isto per matrem vigilantem responso tuo, quod tam vicina interpretationis falsitate turbata non est et tam cito vidit quod videndum fuit (quod ego certe, antequam dixisset, non videram), etiam tum fuisse commotum quam ipso somnio quo feminae piae gaudium tanto post futurum ad consolationem tunc praesentis sollicitudinis tanto ante praedictum est. Nam novem ferme anni secuti sunt quibus ego in illo limo profundi ac tenebris falsitatis, cum saepe surgere conarer et gravius alliderer, volutatus sum, cum tamen illa vidua casta, pia et sobria, quales amas, iam quidem spe alacrior, sed fletu et gemitu non segnior, non desineret horis omnibus orationum suarum de me plangere ad te, et intrabant in conspectum tuum preces eius, et me tamen dimittebas adhuc volui et inuolui illa caligine. 20. Whence was this, also, that when she had narrated this vision to me, and I tried to put this construction on it, That she rather should not despair of being some day what I was, she immediately, without hesitation, replied, No; for it was not told me that 'where he is, there shall you be,' but 'where you are, there shall he be'? I confess to You, O Lord, that, to the best of my remembrance (and I have oft spoken of this), Your answer through my watchful mother— that she was not disquieted by the speciousness of my false interpretation, and saw in a moment what was to be seen, and which I myself had not in truth perceived before she spoke— even then moved me more than the dream itself, by which the happiness to that pious woman, to be realized so long after, was, for the alleviation of her present anxiety, so long before predicted. For nearly nine years passed in which I wallowed in the slime of that deep pit and the darkness of falsehood, striving often to rise, but being all the more heavily dashed down. But yet that chaste, pious, and sober widow (such as You love), now more buoyed up with hope, though no whit less zealous in her weeping and mourning, desisted not, at all the hours of her supplications, to bewail my case unto You. And her prayers entered into Your presence, and yet You still allowed me to be involved and re-involved in that darkness.
3.12.21 Et dedisti alterum responsum interim quod recolo. Nam et multa praetereo, propter quod propero ad ea quae me magis urguent confiteri tibi, et multa non memini. Dedisti ergo alterum per sacerdotem tuum, quendam episcopum nutritum in ecclesia et exercitatum in libris tuis. Quem cum illa femina rogasset ut dignaretur mecum colloqui et refellere errores meos et dedocere me mala ac docere bona (faciebat enim hoc, quos forte idoneos invenisset), noluit ille, prudenter sane, quantum sensi postea. Respondit enim me adhuc esse indocilem, eo quod inflatus essem novitate haeresis illius et nonnullis quaestiunculis iam multos imperitos exagitassem, sicut illa indicaverat ei. 'sed', inquit, 'sine illum ibi. Tantum roga pro eo Dominum. Ipse legendo reperiet quis ille sit error et quanta impietas.' Simul etiam narravit se quoque paruulum a seducta matre sua datum fuisse manichaeis, et omnes paene non legisse tantum verum etiam scriptitasse libros eorum, sibique apparuisse nullo contra disputante et conuincente quam esset illa secta fugienda: itaque fugisse. Quae cum ille dixisset atque illa nollet adquiescere, sed instaret magis deprecando et ubertim flendo, ut me videret et mecum dissereret, ille iam substomachans taedio, 'uade', inquit, 'a me. Ita vivas: fieri non potest, ut filius istarum lacrimarum pereat.' Quod illa ita se accepisse inter colloquia sua mecum saepe recordabatur, ac si de caelo sonuisset. 21. And meanwhile You granted her another answer, which I recall; for much I pass over, hastening on to those things which the more strongly impel me to confess unto You, and much I do not remember. You granted her then another answer, by a priest of Yours, a certain bishop, reared in Your Church and well versed in Your books. He, when this woman had entreated that he would vouchsafe to have some talk with me, refute my errors, unteach me evil things, and teach me good (for this he was in the habit of doing when he found people fitted to receive it), refused, very prudently, as I afterwards came to see. For he answered that I was still unteachable, being inflated with the novelty of that heresy, and that I had already perplexed various inexperienced persons with vexatious questions, as she had informed him. But leave him alone for a time, says he, only pray God for him; he will of himself, by reading, discover what that error is, and how great its impiety. He disclosed to her at the same time how he himself, when a little one, had, by his misguided mother, been given over to the Manichæans, and had not only read, but even written out almost all their books, and had come to see (without argument or proof from any one) how much that sect was to be shunned, and had shunned it. Which when he had said, and she would not be satisfied, but repeated more earnestly her entreaties, shedding copious tears, that he would see and discourse with me, he, a little vexed at her importunity, exclaimed, Go your way, and God bless you, for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish. Which answer (as she often mentioned in her conversations with me) she accepted as though it were a voice from heaven.

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