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

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—That Man Knoweth Not Himself Wholly.

7. For it is Thou, Lord, that judgest me; 835 for although no “man knoweth the things of a p. 144 man, save the spirit of man which is in him,” 836 yet is there something of man which “the spirit of man which is in him” itself knoweth not. But Thou, Lord, who hast made him, knowest him wholly. I indeed, though in Thy sight I despise myself, and reckon “myself but dust and ashes,” 837 yet know something concerning Thee, which I know not concerning myself. And assuredly “now we see through a glass darkly,” not yet “face to face.” 838 So long, therefore, as I be “absent” from Thee, I am more “present” with myself than with Thee; 839 and yet know I that Thou canst not suffer violence; 840 but for myself I know not what temptations I am able to resist, and what I am not able. 841 But there is hope, because Thou art faithful, who wilt not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but wilt with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it. 842 I would therefore confess what I know concerning myself; I will confess also what I know not concerning myself. And because what I do know of myself, I know by Thee enlightening me; and what I know not of myself, so long I know not until the time when my “darkness be as the noonday” 843 in Thy sight.



1 Cor. 4.4.


1 Cor. 2.11.


Gen. 18.27.


1 Cor. 13.12.


2 Cor. 5.6.


See Nebridius’ argument against the Manichæans, as to God’s not being violable, in vii. sec. 3, above, and the note thereon.


See his Enarr. in Ps. lv. 8 and xciii. 19, where he beautifully describes how the winds and waves of temptation will be stilled if Christ be present in the ship. See also Serm. lxiii.; and Eps. cxxx. 22, and clxxvii. 4.


1 Cor. 10.13.


Isa. 58.10.

Next: Chapter VI