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NPNF1-01. The Confessions and Letters of St. Augustine, with a Sketch of his Life and Work
Book information

Table of Contents

Title Page

Preface

Contents

Prolegomena: St. Augustin’s Life and Work

Chief Events in the Life of St. Augustin

The Confessions

Translator’s Preface

The Opinion of St. Augustin Concerning His Confessions

Commencing with the invocation of God, Augustin relates in detail the beginning of his life, his infancy and boyhood, up to his fifteenth year; at which age he acknowledges that he was more inclined to all youthful pleasures and vices than to the study of letters.

He Proclaims the Greatness of God, Whom He Desires to Seek and Invoke, Being Awakened by Him.

That the God Whom We Invoke is in Us, and We in Him.

Everywhere God Wholly Filleth All Things, But Neither Heaven Nor Earth Containeth Him.

The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable.

He Seeks Rest in God, and Pardon of His Sins.

He Describes His Infancy, and Lauds the Protection and Eternal Providence of God.

He Shows by Example that Even Infancy is Prone to Sin.

That When a Boy He Learned to Speak, Not by Any Set Method, But from the Acts and Words of His Parents.

Concerning the Hatred of Learning, the Love of Play, and the Fear of Being Whipped Noticeable in Boys: and of the Folly of Our Elders and Masters.

Through a Love of Ball-Playing and Shows, He Neglects His Studies and the Injunctions of His Parents.

Seized by Disease, His Mother Being Troubled, He Earnestly Demands Baptism, Which on Recovery is Postponed—His Father Not as Yet Believing in Christ.

Being Compelled, He Gave His Attention to Learning; But Fully Acknowledges that This Was the Work of God.

He Delighted in Latin Studies and the Empty Fables of the Poets, But Hated the Elements of Literature and the Greek Language.

Why He Despised Greek Literature, and Easily Learned Latin.

He Entreats God, that Whatever Useful Things He Learned as a Boy May Be Dedicated to Him.

He Disapproves of the Mode of Educating Youth, and He Points Out Why Wickedness is Attributed to the Gods by the Poets.

He Continues on the Unhappy Method of Training Youth in Literary Subjects.

Men Desire to Observe the Rules of Learning, But Neglect the Eternal Rules of Everlasting Safety.

He advances to puberty, and indeed to the early part of the sixteenth year of his age, in which, having abandoned his studies, he indulged in lustful pleasures, and, with his companions, committed theft.

Of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth years of his age, passed at Carthage, when, having completed his course of studies, he is caught in the snares of a licentious passion, and falls into the errors of the Manichæans.

Then follows a period of nine years from the nineteenth year of his age, during which having lost a friend, he followed the Manichæans—and wrote books on the fair and fit, and published a work on the liberal arts, and the categories of Aristotle.

He describes the twenty-ninth year of his age, in which, having discovered the fallacies of the Manichæans, he professed rhetoric at Rome and Milan. Having heard Ambrose, he begins to come to himself.

Attaining his thirtieth year, he, under the admonition of the discourses of Ambrose, discovered more and more the truth of the Catholic doctrine, and deliberates as to the better regulation of his life.

His Mother Having Followed Him to Milan, Declares that She Will Not Die Before Her Son Shall Have Embraced the Catholic Faith.

She, on the Prohibition of Ambrose, Abstains from Honouring the Memory of the Martyrs.

As Ambrose Was Occupied with Business and Study, Augustin Could Seldom Consult Him Concerning the Holy Scriptures.

He Recognises the Falsity of His Own Opinions, and Commits to Memory the Saying of Ambrose.

Faith is the Basis of Human Life; Man Cannot Discover that Truth Which Holy Scripture Has Disclosed.

On the Source and Cause of True Joy,—The Example of the Joyous Beggar Being Adduced.

He Leads to Reformation His Friend Alypius, Seized with Madness for the Circensian Games.

The Same When at Rome, Being Led by Others into the Amphitheatre, is Delighted with the Gladiatorial Games.

Innocent Alypius, Being Apprehended as a Thief, is Set at Liberty by the Cleverness of an Architect.

The Wonderful Integrity of Alypius in Judgment. The Lasting Friendship of Nebridius with Augustin.

Being Troubled by His Grievous Errors, He Meditates Entering on a New Life.

Discussion with Alypius Concerning a Life of Celibacy.

Being Urged by His Mother to Take a Wife, He Sought a Maiden that Was Pleasing Unto Him.

The Design of Establishing a Common Household with His Friends is Speedily Hindered.

He Dismisses One Mistress, and Chooses Another.

The Fear of Death and Judgment Called Him, Believing in the Immortality of the Soul, Back from His Wickedness, Him Who Aforetime Believed in the Opinions of Epicurus.

He recalls the beginning of his youth, i.e. the thirty-first year of his age, in which very grave errors as to the nature of God and the origin of evil being distinguished, and the Sacred Books more accurately known, he at length arrives at a clear knowledge of God, not yet rightly apprehending Jesus Christ.

He Regarded Not God Indeed Under the Form of a Human Body, But as a Corporeal Substance Diffused Through Space.

The Disputation of Nebridius Against the Manichæans, on the Question ‘Whether God Be Corruptible or Incorruptible.’

That the Cause of Evil is the Free Judgment of the Will.

That God is Not Corruptible, Who, If He Were, Would Not Be God at All.

Questions Concerning the Origin of Evil in Regard to God, Who, Since He is the Chief Good, Cannot Be the Cause of Evil.

He Refutes the Divinations of the Astrologers, Deduced from the Constellations.

He is Severely Exercised as to the Origin of Evil.

By God’s Assistance He by Degrees Arrives at the Truth.

He Compares the Doctrine of the Platonists Concerning the Λόγος With the Much More Excellent Doctrine of Christianity.

Divine Things are the More Clearly Manifested to Him Who Withdraws into the Recesses of His Heart.

That Creatures are Mutable and God Alone Immutable.

Whatever Things the Good God Has Created are Very Good.

It is Meet to Praise the Creator for the Good Things Which are Made in Heaven and Earth.

Being Displeased with Some Part Of God’s Creation, He Conceives of Two Original Substances.

Whatever Is, Owes Its Being to God.

Evil Arises Not from a Substance, But from the Perversion of the Will.

Above His Changeable Mind, He Discovers the Unchangeable Author of Truth.

Jesus Christ, the Mediator, is the Only Way of Safety.

He Does Not Yet Fully Understand the Saying of John, that ‘The Word Was Made Flesh.’

He Rejoices that He Proceeded from Plato to the Holy Scriptures, and Not the Reverse.

What He Found in the Sacred Books Which are Not to Be Found in Plato.

He finally describes the thirty-second year of his age, the most memorable of his whole life, in which, being instructed by Simplicianus concerning the conversion of others, and the manner of acting, he is, after a severe struggle, renewed in his whole mind, and is converted unto God.

He speaks of his design of forsaking the profession of rhetoric; of the death of his friends, Nebridius and Verecundus; of having received baptism in the thirty-third year of his age; and of the virtues and death of his mother, Monica.

Having manifested what he was and what he is, he shows the great fruit of his confession; and being about to examine by what method God and the happy life may be found, he enlarges on the nature and power of memory. Then he examines his own acts, thoughts and affections, viewed under the threefold division of temptation; and commemorates the Lord, the one mediator of God and men.

In God Alone is the Hope and Joy of Man.

That All Things are Manifest to God. That Confession Unto Him is Not Made by the Words of the Flesh, But of the Soul, and the Cry of Reflection.

He Who Confesseth Rightly Unto God Best Knoweth Himself.

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

That Man Knoweth Not Himself Wholly.

The Love of God, in His Nature Superior to All Creatures, is Acquired by the Knowledge of the Senses and the Exercise of Reason.

That God is to Be Found Neither from the Powers of the Body Nor of the Soul.

Of the Nature and the Amazing Power of Memory.

Not Only Things, But Also Literature and Images, are Taken from the Memory, and are Brought Forth by the Act of Remembering.

Literature is Not Introduced to the Memory Through the Senses, But is Brought Forth from Its More Secret Places.

What It is to Learn and to Think.

On the Recollection of Things Mathematical.

Memory Retains All Things.

Concerning the Manner in Which Joy and Sadness May Be Brought Back to the Mind and Memory.

In Memory There are Also Images of Things Which are Absent.

The Privation of Memory is Forgetfulness.

God Cannot Be Attained Unto by the Power of Memory, Which Beasts and Birds Possess.

A Thing When Lost Could Not Be Found Unless It Were Retained in the Memory.

What It is to Remember.

We Should Not Seek for God and the Happy Life Unless We Had Known It.

How a Happy Life May Be Retained in the Memory.

A Happy Life is to Rejoice in God, and for God.

All Wish to Rejoice in the Truth.

He Who Finds Truth, Finds God.

He is Glad that God Dwells in His Memory.

God Everywhere Answers Those Who Take Counsel of Him.

He Grieves that He Was So Long Without God.

On the Misery of Human Life.

All Hope is in the Mercy of God.

Of the Perverse Images of Dreams, Which He Wishes to Have Taken Away.

About to Speak of the Temptations of the Lust of the Flesh, He First Complains of the Lust of Eating and Drinking.

Of the Charms of Perfumes Which are More Easily Overcome.

He Overcame the Pleasures of the Ear, Although in the Church He Frequently Delighted in the Song, Not in the Thing Sung.

Of the Very Dangerous Allurements of the Eyes; On Account of Beauty of Form, God, the Creator, is to Be Praised.

Another Kind of Temptation is Curiosity, Which is Stimulated by the Lust of the Eyes.

A Third Kind is ‘Pride’ Which is Pleasing to Man, Not to God.

He is Forcibly Goaded on by the Love of Praise.

Vain-Glory is the Highest Danger.

Of the Vice of Those Who, While Pleasing Themselves, Displease God.

The Only Safe Resting-Place for the Soul is to Be Found in God.

Having Conquered His Triple Desire, He Arrives at Salvation.

In What Manner Many Sought the Mediator.

That Jesus Christ, at the Same Time God and Man, is the True and Most Efficacious Mediator.

The design of his confessions being declared, he seeks from God the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, and begins to expound the words of Genesis I. I, concerning the creation of the world. The questions of rash disputers being refuted, ‘What did God before he created the world?’ That he might the better overcome his opponents, he adds a copious disquisition concerning time.

By Confession He Desires to Stimulate Towards God His Own Love and That of His Readers.

He Begs of God that Through the Holy Scriptures He May Be Led to Truth.

He Begins from the Creation of the World—Not Understanding the Hebrew Text.

Heaven and Earth Cry Out that They Have Been Created by God.

God Created the World Not from Any Certain Matter, But in His Own Word.

He Did Not, However, Create It by a Sounding and Passing Word.

By His Co-Eternal Word He Speaks, and All Things are Done.

That Word Itself is the Beginning of All Things, in the Which We are Instructed as to Evangelical Truth.

Wisdom and the Beginning.

The Rashness of Those Who Inquire What God Did Before He Created Heaven and Earth.

They Who Ask This Have Not as Yet Known the Eternity of God, Which is Exempt from the Relation of Time.

What God Did Before the Creation of the World.

Before the Times Created by God, Times Were Not.

Neither Time Past Nor Future, But the Present Only, Really is.

There is Only a Moment of Present Time.

Time Can Only Be Perceived or Measured While It is Passing.

Nevertheless There is Time Past and Future.

Past and Future Times Cannot Be Thought of But as Present.

We are Ignorant in What Manner God Teaches Future Things.

In What Manner Time May Properly Be Designated.

How Time May Be Measured.

He Prays God that He Would Explain This Most Entangled Enigma.

That Time is a Certain Extension.

That Time is Not a Motion of a Body Which We Measure by Time.

He Calls on God to Enlighten His Mind.

We Measure Longer Events by Shorter in Time.

Times are Measured in Proportion as They Pass by.

Time in the Human Mind, Which Expects, Considers, and Remembers.

That Human Life is a Distraction But that Through the Mercy of God He Was Intent on the Prize of His Heavenly Calling.

Again He Refutes the Empty Question, ‘What Did God Before the Creation of the World?’

How the Knowledge of God Differs from that of Man.

He continues his explanation of the first Chapter of Genesis according to the Septuagint, and by its assistance he argues, especially, concerning the double heaven, and the formless matter out of which the whole world may have been created; afterwards of the interpretations of others not disallowed, and sets forth at great length the sense of the Holy Scripture.

The Discovery of Truth is Difficult, But God Has Promised that He Who Seeks Shall Find.

Of the Double Heaven,—The Visible, and the Heaven of Heavens.

Of the Darkness Upon the Deep, and of the Invisible and Formless Earth.

From the Formlessness of Matter, the Beautiful World Has Arisen.

What May Have Been the Form of Matter.

He Confesses that at One Time He Himself Thought Erroneously of Matter.

Out of Nothing God Made Heaven and Earth.

Heaven and Earth Were Made ‘In the Beginning;’ Afterwards the World, During Six Days, from Shapeless Matter.

That the Heaven of Heavens Was an Intellectual Creature, But that the Earth Was Invisible and Formless Before the Days that It Was Made.

He Begs of God that He May Live in the True Light, and May Be Instructed as to the Mysteries of the Sacred Books.

What May Be Discovered to Him by God.

From the Formless Earth God Created Another Heaven and a Visible and Formed Earth.

Of the Intellectual Heaven and Formless Earth, Out of Which, on Another Day, the Firmament Was Formed.

Of the Depth of the Sacred Scripture, and Its Enemies.

He Argues Against Adversaries Concerning the Heaven of Heavens.

He Wishes to Have No Intercourse with Those Who Deny Divine Truth.

He Mentions Five Explanations of the Words of Genesis I. I.

What Error is Harmless in Sacred Scripture.

He Enumerates the Things Concerning Which All Agree.

Of the Words, ‘In the Beginning,’ Variously Understood.

Of the Explanation of the Words, ‘The Earth Was Invisible.’

He Discusses Whether Matter Was from Eternity, or Was Made by God.

Two Kinds of Disagreements in the Books to Be Explained.

Out of the Many True Things, It is Not Asserted Confidently that Moses Understood This or That.

It Behoves Interpreters, When Disagreeing Concerning Obscure Places, to Regard God the Author of Truth, and the Rule of Charity.

What He Might Have Asked of God Had He Been Enjoined to Write the Book of Genesis.

The Style of Speaking in the Book of Genesis is Simple and Clear.

The Words, ‘In the Beginning,’ And, ‘The Heaven and the Earth,’ Are Differently Understood.

Concerning the Opinion of Those Who Explain It ‘At First He Made.’

In the Great Diversity of Opinions, It Becomes All to Unite Charity and Divine Truth.

Moses is Supposed to Have Perceived Whatever of Truth Can Be Discovered in His Words.

First, the Sense of the Writer is to Be Discovered, Then that is to Be Brought Out Which Divine Truth Intended.

Of the goodness of God explained in the creation of things, and of the Trinity as found in the first words of Genesis. The story concerning the origin of the world (Gen. I.) is allegorically explained, and he applies it to those things which God works for sanctified and blessed man. Finally, he makes an end of this work, having implored eternal rest from God.

He Calls Upon God, and Proposes to Himself to Worship Him.

All Creatures Subsist from the Plenitude of Divine Goodness.

Genesis I. 3,—Of ‘Light,’—He Understands as It is Seen in the Spiritual Creature

All Things Have Been Created by the Grace of God, and are Not of Him as Standing in Need of Created Things.

He Recognises the Trinity in the First Two Verses of Genesis.

Why the Holy Ghost Should Have Been Mentioned After the Mention of Heaven and Earth.

That the Holy Spirit Brings Us to God.

That Nothing Whatever, Short of God, Can Yield to the Rational Creature a Happy Rest.

Why the Holy Spirit Was Only ‘Borne Over’ The Waters.

That Nothing Arose Save by the Gift of God.

That the Symbols of the Trinity in Man, to Be, to Know, and to Will, are Never Thoroughly Examined.

Allegorical Explanation of Genesis, Chap. I., Concerning the Origin of the Church and Its Worship.

That the Renewal of Man is Not Completed in This World.

That Out of the Children of the Night and of the Darkness, Children of the Light and of the Day are Made.

Allegorical Explanation of the Firmament and Upper Works, Ver. 6.

That No One But the Unchangeable Light Knows Himself.

Allegorical Explanation of the Sea and the Fruit-Bearing Earth—Verses 9 and 11.

Of the Lights and Stars of Heaven—Of Day and Night, Ver. 14.

All Men Should Become Lights in the Firmament of Heaven.

Concerning Reptiles and Flying Creatures (Ver. 20),—The Sacrament of Baptism Being Regarded.

Concerning the Living Soul, Birds, and Fishes (Ver. 24)—The Sacrament of the Eucharist Being Regarded.

He Explains the Divine Image (Ver. 26) of the Renewal of the Mind.

That to Have Power Over All Things (Ver. 26) is to Judge Spiritually of All.

Why God Has Blessed Men, Fishes, Flying Creatures, and Not Herbs and the Other Animals (Ver. 28).

He Explains the Fruits of the Earth (Ver. 29) of Works of Mercy.

In the Confessing of Benefits, Computation is Made Not as to The ‘Gift,’ But as to the ‘Fruit,’—That Is, the Good and Right Will of the Giver.

Many are Ignorant as to This, and Ask for Miracles, Which are Signified Under the Names Of ‘Fishes’ And ‘Whales.’

He Proceeds to the Last Verse, ‘All Things are Very Good,’—That Is, the Work Being Altogether Good.

Although It is Said Eight Times that ‘God Saw that It Was Good,’ Yet Time Has No Relation to God and His Word.

He Refutes the Opinions of the Manichæans and the Gnostics Concerning the Origin of the World.

We Do Not See ‘That It Was Good’ But Through the Spirit of God Which is in Us.

Of the Particular Works of God, More Especially of Man.

The World Was Created by God Out of Nothing.

He Briefly Repeats the Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis (Ch. I.), and Confesses that We See It by the Divine Spirit.

He Prays God for that Peace of Rest Which Hath No Evening.

The Seventh Day, Without Evening and Setting, the Image of Eternal Life and Rest in God.

Of Rest in God Who Ever Worketh, and Yet is Ever at Rest.

Of the Difference Between the Knowledge of God and of Men, and of the Repose Which is to Be Sought from God Only.

Letters of St. Augustin

Preface

Letters of St. Augustin

To Hermogenianus

To Zenobius

To Nebridius

To Nebridius

Nebridius to Augustin

Nebridius to Augustin

To Nebridius

Nebridius to Augustin

To Nebridius

To Nebridius

To Nebridius

Omitted

To Nebridius

To Nebridius

To Romanianus

Maximus to Augustin

To Maximus

To Cœlestinus

To Gaius

To Antoninus

To Bishop Valerius

To Bishop Aurelius

To Maximin

to Alypius by Paulinus

from Paulinus and Therasia

To Licentius

To Paulinus

To Jerome

to Alypius

From Paulinus and Therasia

To Paulinus and Therasia

From Paulinus to Romanianus and Licentius

To Proculeianus

To Eusebius

To Eusebius

To Casulanus

To Simplicianus

To Profuturus

From Jerome

To Jerome

To Aurelius

To Paulinus and Therasia

To Glorius, Eleusius, etc.

To Eleusius, Glorius, and the Two Felixes

to Paulinus and Therasia

From Publicola

To Publicola

To Eudoxius

To Honoratus

To the Magistrates of Suffectum

To Crispinus

To Severinus

To Generosus

To Januarius

To Januarius

to Celer

To Pammachius

To Victorinus

To Aurelius

To Theodorus

to Severus

To Severus

To Quintianus

To Xantippus

to Crispinus

To Jerome

From Jerome

To Castorius

To Naucelio

To Jerome

From Jerome

To Jerome

To Præsidius

From Jerome

To the Donatists

To Felix and Hilarinus

To the Clergy, etc., of the Church of Hippo

A Challenge to a Manichæan Teacher

To Paulinus

From Jerome

To Jerome

To Alypius

To Novatus

To Paulus

To Cæcilianus

To Emeritus

To Januarius

To Festus

From Nectarius

To Nectarius

To Lady Italica

To Vincentius

From Paulinus and Therasia

To Paulinus and Therasia

To Olympius

To Olympius

To Boniface

To the Very Devout Italica

To Donatus

To Memor

To Deogratias

From Nectarius

To Nectarius

To Victorianus

To Fortunatus

To Generosus

From Dioscorus

To Dioscorus

To His Well-Beloved Brethren the Clergy, etc.

From Jerome

To Albina, Pinianus, and Melania

To Alypius

To Albina

To Proba

To Proba

To Volusianus

To Marcellinus

From Volusianus

From Marcellinus

To Volusianus

To Marcellinus

To Marcellinus

To Marcellinus

To the Inhabitants of Cirta

To Anastasius

To Pelagius

To Fortunatianus

To Proba and Juliana

To Cæcilianus

From Evodius

To Evodius

From Evodius

To Evodius

To Marcellinus and Anapsychia

To Jerome

To Jerome

To Evodius

From Jerome

To Donatus

To Oceanus

To Juliana

To Boniface

To Sixtus

To Cælestine

From Jerome

Honorius Augustus and Theodosius Augustus to Bishop Aurelius

Jerome to Alypius and Augustin

To Largus

To Felicia

To Cælestine

To Felicitas, Rusticus, etc.

To the Nuns

To Quintilianus

Augustin Designates his Successor

To Palatinus

To Proculus and Cylinus

To Boniface

To Alypius

To Honoratus

To Darius

To Darius

To the People of Madaura

To Ceretius

To Possidius

To Lampadius

To Auxilius

To Benenatus

To Sapida

To Nobilius

The Confessions of St. Augustin: Index of Subjects

Letters of St. Augustin: Index of Subjects

Indexes


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