- St. Augustine Confessions - Book Eight
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- AUTHORIZATION OF MESSRS. T. & T. CLARK.
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St. Augustine Confessions - Book Eight
Confessions from a Health Farm Confessions, Book 8. Timothy Lea. Not Enabled.
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- Petit livre de - Recettes de grands-mères (LE PETIT LIVRE) (French Edition).
- Lifting the Veil;
- St. Augustine Confessions - Book Eight?
- The Girl in the Boots.
Without these cookies, we won't know if you have any performance-related issues that we may be able to address. These cookies help us understand user behavior within our services. For example, they let us know which features and sections are most popular. And yet it was through me that habit had become an armed enemy against me, because I had willingly come to be what I unwillingly found myself to be. Who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows the sinner? I had now no longer my accustomed excuse that, as yet, I hesitated to forsake the world and serve thee because my perception of the truth was uncertain.
For now it was certain. But, still bound to the earth, I refused to be thy soldier; and was as much afraid of being freed from all entanglements as we ought to fear to be entangled. Thus with the baggage of the world I was sweetly burdened, as one in slumber, and my musings on thee were like the efforts of those who desire to awake, but who are still overpowered with drowsiness and fall back into deep slumber.
And as no one wishes to sleep forever for all men rightly count waking better -- yet a man will usually defer shaking off his drowsiness when there is a heavy lethargy in his limbs; and he is glad to sleep on even when his reason disapproves, and the hour for rising has struck -- so was I assured that it was much better for me to give myself up to thy love than to go on yielding myself to my own lust.
Thy love satisfied and vanquished me; my lust pleased and fettered me. Leave me alone a little while. In vain did I "delight in thy law in the inner man" while "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.
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Yet it deserves to be so held because it so willingly falls into the habit. Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" but thy grace alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord? And now I will tell and confess unto thy name, O Lord, my helper and my redeemer, how thou didst deliver me from the chain of sexual desire by which I was so tightly held, and from the slavery of worldly business. I attended thy church as frequently as my business, under the burden of which I groaned, left me free to do so. Alypius was with me, disengaged at last from his legal post, after a third term as assessor, and now waiting for private clients to whom he might sell his legal advice as I sold the power of speaking as if it could be supplied by teaching.
But Nebridius had consented, for the sake of our friendship, to teach under Verecundus -- a citizen of Milan and professor of grammar, and a very intimate friend of us all -- who ardently desired, and by right of friendship demanded from us, the faithful aid he greatly needed. Nebridius was not drawn to this by any desire of gain -- for he could have made much more out of his learning had he been so inclined -- but as he was a most sweet and kindly friend, he was unwilling, out of respect for the duties of friendship, to slight our request.
But in this he acted very discreetly, taking care not to become known to those persons who had great reputations in the world. Thus he avoided all distractions of mind, and reserved as many hours as possible to pursue or read or listen to discussions about wisdom. On a certain day, then, when Nebridius was away -- for some reason I cannot remember -- there came to visit Alypius and me at our house one Ponticianus, a fellow countryman of ours from Africa, who held high office in the emperor's court.
What he wanted with us I do not know; but we sat down to talk together, and it chanced that he noticed a book on a game table before us. He took it up, opened it, and, contrary to his expectation, found it to be the apostle Paul, for he imagined that it was one of my wearisome rhetoric textbooks. At this, he looked up at me with a smile and expressed his delight and wonder that he had so unexpectedly found this book and only this one, lying before my eyes; for he was indeed a Christian and a faithful one at that, and often he prostrated himself before thee, our God, in the church in constant daily prayer.
When I had told him that I had given much attention to these writings, a conversation followed in which he spoke of Anthony, the Egyptian monk, whose name was in high repute among thy servants, although up to that time not familiar to me. When he learned this, he lingered on the topic, giving us an account of this eminent man, and marveling at our ignorance. We in turn were amazed to hear of thy wonderful works so fully manifested in recent times -- almost in our own -- occurring in the true faith and the Catholic Church. We all wondered -- we, that these things were so great, and he, that we had never heard of them.
From this, his conversation turned to the multitudes in the monasteries and their manners so fragrant to thee, and to the teeming solitudes of the wilderness, of which we knew nothing at all. There was even a monastery at Milan, outside the city's walls, full of good brothers under the fostering care of Ambrose -- and we were ignorant of it. He went on with his story, and we listened intently and in silence.
He then told us how, on a certain afternoon, at Trier, when the emperor was occupied watching the gladiatorial games, he and three comrades went out for a walk in the gardens close to the city walls. There, as they chanced to walk two by two, one strolled away with him, while the other two went on by themselves. As they rambled, these first two came upon a certain cottage where lived some of thy servants, some of the "poor in spirit" "of such is the Kingdom of Heaven" , where they found the book in which was written the life of Anthony!
One of them began to read it, to marvel and to be inflamed by it. While reading, he meditated on embracing just such a life, giving up his worldly employment to seek thee alone. These two belonged to the group of officials called "secret service agents. What is it that we desire?
What is our motive in public service? Can our hopes in the court rise higher than to be 'friends of the emperor'? But how frail, how beset with peril, is that pride! Through what dangers must we climb to a greater danger? And when shall we succeed? But if I chose to become a friend of God, see, I can become one now.
For as he read with a heart like a stormy sea, more than once he groaned. Finally he saw the better course, and resolved on it. Then, having become thy servant, he said to his friend: "Now I have broken loose from those hopes we had, and I am determined to serve God; and I enter into that service from this hour in this place.
AUTHORIZATION OF MESSRS. T. & T. CLARK.
If you are reluctant to imitate me, do not oppose me. So both became thine, and began to "build a tower", counting the cost -- namely, of forsaking all that they had and following thee. But the first two, making known to Ponticianus their resolution and purpose, and how a resolve had sprung up and become confirmed in them, entreated them not to take it ill if they refused to join themselves with them. But Ponticianus and his friend, although not changed from their former course, did nevertheless as he told us bewail themselves and congratulated their friends on their godliness, recommending themselves to their prayers.
And with hearts inclining again toward earthly things, they returned to the palace. But the other two, setting their affections on heavenly things, remained in the cottage. Both of them had affianced brides who, when they heard of this, likewise dedicated their virginity to thee. Such was the story Ponticianus told. But while he was speaking, thou, O Lord, turned me toward myself, taking me from behind my back, where I had put myself while unwilling to exercise self-scrutiny.
And now thou didst set me face to face with myself, that I might see how ugly I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous. And I looked and I loathed myself; but whither to fly from myself I could not discover. And if I sought to turn my gaze away from myself, he would continue his narrative, and thou wouldst oppose me to myself and thrust me before my own eyes that I might discover my iniquity and hate it. I had known it, but acted as though I knew it not -- I winked at it and forgot it.
But now, the more ardently I loved those whose wholesome affections I heard reported -- that they had given themselves up 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, upon the reading of Cicero's Hortensius, I was roused to a desire for wisdom.
And here I was, still postponing the abandonment of this world's happiness to devote myself to the search. For not just the finding alone, but also the bare search for it, ought to have been preferred above the treasures and kingdoms of this world; better than all bodily pleasures, though they were to be had for the taking.
But, wretched youth that I was -- supremely wretched even in the very outset of my youth -- I had entreated chastity of thee and had prayed, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet. And I had wandered through perverse ways of godless superstition -- not really sure of it, either, but preferring it to the other, which I did not seek in piety, but opposed in malice. And I had thought that I delayed from day to day in rejecting those worldly hopes and following thee alone because there did not appear anything certain by which I could direct my course.
And now the day had arrived in which I was laid bare to myself and my conscience was to chide me: "Where are you, O my tongue? You said indeed that you were not willing to cast off the baggage of vanity for uncertain truth. But behold now it is certain, and still that burden oppresses you. At the same time those who have not worn themselves out with searching for it as you have, nor spent ten years and more in thinking about it, have had their shoulders unburdened and have received wings to fly away.
And when he had finished his story and the business he came for, he went his way. And then what did I not say to myself, within myself? With what scourges of rebuke did I not lash my soul to make it follow me, as I was struggling to go after thee? Yet it drew back.
It refused. It would not make an effort.