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Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:
The Confessions: Chapter IV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter IV.—That in His Confessions He May Do Good, He Considers Others.

5. But for what fruit do they desire this? Do they wish me happiness when they learn how near, by Thy gift, I come unto Thee; and to pray for me, when they learn how much I am kept back by my own weight? To such will I declare myself. For it is no small fruit, O Lord my God, that by many thanks should be given to Thee on our behalf, 826 and that by many Thou shouldest be entreated for us. Let the fraternal soul love that in me which Thou teachest should be loved, and lament that in me which Thou teachest should be lamented. Let a fraternal and not an alien soul do this, nor that “of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood,” 827 but that fraternal one which, when it approves me, rejoices for me, but when it disapproves me, is sorry for me; because whether it approves or disapproves it loves me. To such will I declare myself; let them breathe freely at my good deeds, and sigh over my evil ones. My good deeds are Thy institutions and Thy gifts, my evil ones are my delinquencies and Thy judgments. 828 Let them breathe freely at the one, and sigh over the other; and let hymns and tears ascend into Thy sight out of the fraternal hearts—Thy censers. 829 And do Thou, O Lord, who takest delight in the incense of Thy holy temple, have mercy upon me according to Thy great mercy, 830 “for Thy name’s sake;” 831 and on no account leaving what Thou hast begun in me, do Thou complete what is imperfect in me.

6. This is the fruit of my confessions, not of what I was, but of what I am, that I may confess this not before Thee only, in a secret exultation with trembling, 832 and a secret sorrow with hope, but in the ears also of the believing sons of men,—partakers of my joy, and sharers of my mortality, my fellow-citizens and the companions of my pilgrimage, those who are gone before, and those that are to follow after, and the comrades of my way. These are Thy servants, my brethren, those whom Thou wishest to be Thy sons; my masters, whom Thou hast commanded me to serve, if I desire to live with and of Thee. But this Thy word were little to me did it command in speaking, without going before in acting. This then do I both in deed and word, this I do under Thy wings, in too great danger, were it not that my soul, under Thy wings, is subject unto Thee, and my weakness known unto Thee. I am a little one, but my Father liveth for ever, and my Defender is “sufficient” 833 for me. For He is the same who begat me and who defends me; and Thou Thyself art all my good; even Thou, the Omnipotent, who art with me, and that before I am with Thee. To such, therefore, whom Thou commandest me to serve will I declare, not what I was, but what I now am, and what I still am. But neither do I judge myself. 834 Thus then I would be heard.



2 Cor. 1.11.


Ps. 144.11.


In note 9, p. 79, we have seen how God makes man’s sin its own punishment. Reference may also be made to Augustin’s Con. Advers. Leg. et Proph. i. 14, where he argues that “the punishment of a man’s disobedience is found in himself, when he in his turn cannot get obedience even from himself.” And again, in his De Lib. Arb. v. 18, he says, God punishes by taking from him that which he does not use well, “et qui recte facere cum possit noluit amittat posse cum velit.” See also Serm. clxxi. 4, and Ep. cliii.


Rev. 8.3.


Ps. 51.1.


Ps. 25.11.


Ps. 2.11.


2 Cor. 12.9.


1 Cor. 4.3.

Next: Chapter V

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