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The Confessions of Saint Augustine
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I will now call to mind my past foulness, and the carnal corruptions of my soul; not
because I love them, but that I may love Thee, O my God. For love of Thy love I do it;
reviewing my most wicked ways in the very bitterness of my remembrance, that Thou
mayest grow sweet unto me (Thou sweetness never failing, Thou blissful and assured
sweetness); and gathering me again out of that my dissipation, wherein I was torn
piecemeal, while turned from Thee, the One Good, I lost myself among a multiplicity of
things. For I even burnt in my youth heretofore, to be satiated in things below; and I
dared to grow wild again, with these various and shadowy loves: my beauty consumed
away, and I stank in Thine eyes; pleasing myself, and desirous to please in the eyes of
And what was it that I delighted in, but to love, and be loved? but I kept not the measure
of love, of mind to mind, friendship's bright boundary: but out of the muddy
concupiscence of the flesh, and the bubblings of youth, mists fumed up which beclouded
and overcast my heart, that I could not discern the clear brightness of love from the fog of
lustfulness. Both did confusedly boil in me, and hurried my unstayed youth over the
precipice of unholy desires, and sunk me in a gulf of flagitiousnesses. Thy wrath had
gathered over me, and I knew it not. I was grown deaf by the clanking of the chain of my
mortality, the punishment of the pride of my soul, and I strayed further from Thee, and
Thou lettest me alone, and I was tossed about, and wasted, and dissipated, and I boiled
over in my fornications, and Thou heldest Thy peace, O Thou my tardy joy! Thou then
heldest Thy peace, and I wandered further and further from Thee, into more and more
fruitless seed-plots of sorrows, with a proud dejectedness, and a restless weariness.
Oh! that some one had then attempered my disorder, and turned to account the fleeting
beauties of these, the extreme points of Thy creation! had put a bound to their
pleasureableness, that so the tides of my youth might have cast themselves upon the
marriage shore, if they could not be calmed, and kept within the object of a family, as
Thy law prescribes, O Lord: who this way formest the offspring of this our death, being
able with a gentle hand to blunt the thorns which were excluded from Thy paradise? For
Thy omnipotency is not far from us, even when we be far from Thee. Else ought I more
watchfully to have heeded the voice from the clouds: Nevertheless such shall have
trouble in the flesh, but I spare you. And it is good for a man not to touch a woman. And,
he that is unmarried thinketh of the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but
he that is married careth for the things of this world, how he may please his wife.
To these words I should have listened more attentively, and being severed for the
kingdom of heaven's sake, had more happily awaited Thy embraces; but I, poor wretch,
foamed like a troubled sea, following the rushing of my own tide, forsaking Thee, and
exceeded all Thy limits; yet I escaped not Thy scourges. For what mortal can? For Thou
wert ever with me mercifully rigorous, and besprinkling with most bitter alloy all my
unlawful pleasures: that I might seek pleasures without alloy. But where to find such, I
could not discover, save in Thee, O Lord, who teachest by sorrow, and woundest us, to