Nicene and Post Nicene-Fathers, Vol. I:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Confessions: Chapter VII
Chapter VII.—Troubled by Restlessness and Grief, He Leaves His Country a Second Time for Carthage.
12. O madness, which knowest not how to love men as men should be loved! O foolish man that I then was, enduring with so much impatience the lot of man! So I fretted, sighed, wept, tormented myself, and took neither rest nor advice. For I bore about with me a rent and polluted soul, impatient of being borne by me, and where to repose it I found not. Not p. 72 in pleasant groves, not in sport or song, not in fragrant spots, nor in magnificent banquetings, nor in the pleasures of the bed and the couch, nor, finally, in books and songs did it find repose. All things looked terrible, even the very light itself; and whatsoever was not what he was, was repulsive and hateful, except groans and tears, for in those alone found I a little repose. But when my soul was withdrawn from them, a heavy burden of misery weighed me down. To Thee, O Lord, should it have been raised, for Thee to lighten and avert it. 297 This I knew, but was neither willing nor able; all the more since, in my thoughts of Thee, Thou wert not any solid or substantial thing to me. For Thou wert not Thyself, but an empty phantasm, 298 and my error was my god. If I attempted to discharge my burden thereon, that it might find rest, it sank into emptiness, and came rushing down again upon me, and I remained to myself an unhappy spot, where I could neither stay nor depart from. For whither could my heart fly from my heart? Whither could I fly from mine own self? Whither not follow myself? And yet fled I from my country; for so should my eyes look less for him where they were not accustomed to see him. And thus I left the town of Thagaste, and came to Carthage.
“The great and merciful Architect of His Church, whom not only the philosophers have styled, but the Scripture itself calls τεχνίτης (an artist or artificer), employs not on us the hammer and chisel with an intent to wound or mangle us, but only to square and fashion our hard and stubborn hearts into such lively stones as may both grace and strengthen His heavenly structure.”—Boyle.72:298
See iii. 9; iv. 3, 12, 31; v. 19.
Next: Chapter VIII
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