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The Confessions of Saint Augustine

Book VIII
O my God, let me, with thanksgiving, remember, and confess unto Thee Thy mercies on
me. Let my bones be bedewed with Thy love, and let them say unto Thee, Who is like
unto Thee, O Lord? Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder, I will offer unto Thee the
sacrifice of thanksgiving. And how Thou hast broken them, I will declare; and all who
worship Thee, when they hear this, shall say, "Blessed be the Lord, in heaven and in
earth, great and wonderful is his name. " Thy words had stuck fast in my heart, and I was
hedged round about on all sides by Thee. Of Thy eternal life I was now certain, though I
saw it in a figure and as through a glass. Yet I had ceased to doubt that there was an
incorruptible substance, whence was all other substance; nor did I now desire to be more
certain of Thee, but more steadfast in Thee. But for my temporal life, all was wavering,
and my heart had to be purged from the old leaven. The Way, the Saviour Himself, well
pleased me, but as yet I shrunk from going through its straitness. And Thou didst put into
my mind, and it seemed good in my eyes, to go to Simplicianus, who seemed to me a
good servant of Thine; and Thy grace shone in him. I had heard also that from his very
youth he had lived most devoted unto Thee. Now he was grown into years; and by reason
of so great age spent in such zealous following of Thy ways, he seemed to me likely to
have learned much experience; and so he had. Out of which store I wished that he would
tell me (setting before him my anxieties) which were the fittest way for one in my case to
walk in Thy paths.
For, I saw the church full; and one went this way, and another that way. But I was
displeased that I led a secular life; yea now that my desires no longer inflamed me, as of
old, with hopes of honour and profit, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so heavy a
bondage. For, in comparison of Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house which I
loved, those things delighted me no longer. But still I was enthralled with the love of
woman; nor did the Apostle forbid me to marry, although he advised me to something
better, chiefly wishing that all men were as himself was. But I being weak, chose the
more indulgent place; and because of this alone, was tossed up and down in all beside,
faint and wasted with withering cares, because in other matters I was constrained against
my will to conform myself to a married life, to which I was given up and enthralled. I had
heard from the mouth of the Truth, that there were some eunuchs which had made
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake: but, saith He, let him who can
receive it, receive it. Surely vain are all men who are ignorant of God, and could not out
of the good things which are seen, find out Him who is good. But I was no longer in that
vanity; I had surmounted it; and by the common witness of all Thy creatures had found
Thee our Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee one God, by
whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another kind of ungodly, who knowing God,
glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful. Into this also had I fallen, but Thy right
hand upheld me, and took me thence, and Thou placedst me where I might recover. For
Thou hast said unto man, Behold, the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and, Desire not to seem
wise; because they who affirmed themselves to be wise, became fools. But I had now
found the goodly pearl, which, selling all that I had, I ought to have bought, and I
hesitated.
 
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