1. During this space of nine years, then, from my nineteenth to my eight and twentieth year, we went on seduced and seducing, deceived and deceiving, in divers lusts; publicly, by sciences which they style “liberal”—secretly, with a falsity called religion. Here proud, there superstitious, everywhere vain! Here, striving after the emptiness of popular fame, even to theatrical applauses, and poetic contests, and strifes for grassy garlands, and the follies of shows and the intemperance of desire. There, seeking to be purged from these our corruptions by carrying food to those who were called “elect” and “holy,” out of which, in the laboratory of their stomachs, they should make for us angels and gods, by whom we might be delivered. 266 These things did I follow eagerly, and practise with my friends—by me and with me deceived. Let the arrogant, and such as have not been yet savingly cast down and stricken by Thee, O my God, laugh at me; but notwithstanding I would confess to Thee mine own shame in Thy praise. Bear with me, I beseech Thee, and give me grace to retrace in my present remembrance the circlings of my past errors, and to “offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” 267 For what am I to myself without Thee, but a guide to mine own downfall? Or what am I even at the best, but one sucking Thy milk, 268 and feeding upon Thee, the meat that perisheth not? 269 But what kind of man is any man, seeing that he is but a man? Let, then, the strong and the mighty laugh at us, but let us who are “poor and needy” 270 confess unto Thee.
Augustin tells us that he went not beyond the rank of a “hearer,” because he found the Manichæan teachers readier in refuting others than in establishing their own views, and seems only to have looked for some esoteric doctrine to have been disclosed to him under their materialistic teaching as to God—viz. that He was an unmeasured Light that extended all ways but one, infinitely (Serm. iv. sec 5.)—rather than to have really accepted it.—De Util. Cred. Præf. See also iii. sec. 18, notes 1 and 2, above.68:267 68:268 68:269 68:270