21. Furthermore, whatever they had censured 420 in Thy Scriptures I thought impossible to be defended; and yet sometimes, indeed, I desired to confer on these several points with some one well learned in those books, and to try what he thought of them. For at this time the words of one Helpidius, speaking and disputing face to face against the said Manichæans, had begun to move me even at Carthage, in that he brought forth things from the Scriptures not easily withstood, to which their answer appeared to me feeble. And this answer they did not give forth publicly, but only to us in private,—when they said that the writings of the New Testament had been tampered with by I know not whom, who were desirous of ingrafting the Jewish law upon the Christian faith; 421 but they themselves did not bring forward any uncorrupted copies. 422 But I, thinking of corporeal things, very much ensnared and in a measure stifled, was oppressed by those masses; 423 panting under which for the breath of Thy Truth, I was not able to breathe it pure and undefiled.
They might well not like to give the answer in public, for, as Augustin remarks (De Mor. Eccles. Cath. sec. 14), every one could see “that this is all that is left for men to say when it is proved that they are wrong. The astonishment that he experienced now, that they did “not bring forward any uncorrupted copies,” had fast hold of him, and after his conversion he confronted them on this very ground. “You ought to bring forward,” he says (ibid. sec. 61), “another manuscript with the same contents, but incorrupt and more correct, with only the passage wanting which you charge with being spurious.…You say you will not, lest you be suspected of corrupting it. This is your usual reply, and a true one.” See also De Mor. Manich. sec. 55; and Con. Faust. xi. 2, xiii. 5, xviii. 7, xxii. 15, xxxii. 16.87:423