Augustine: Rhetorician, Sinner, and Saint

His Salvation (long but worth it):

“And You (God) did set me face to face with myself, that I might see how ugly I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous.  and I looked and I loathed myself; but where to fly from myself I could not discover.  ”

[through a message, this happened]

“Then, as this vehement quarrel, which I waged with my soul in the chamber of my heart, was raging inside my inner dwelling, agitated both in mind and countenance, I seized upon Alypius [his friend]and exclaimed: ‘What is the matter with us?  What is this?  What did you hear?  The uninstructed start up and take heaven, and we–with all our learning but so little heart–see where we wallow in flesh and blood!  Because others have gone before us, are we ashamed to follow, and not rather ashamed at our not following?’  I scarcely knew what I said, and in my excitement I flung away from him, while he gazed at me in silent astonishment.  For i did not sound like myself:  my face, eyes, color, tone expressed my meaning more clearly than my words.”

“I kept saying to myself, ‘See, let it be done now; let it be done now.’  And as I said this I all but came to a firm decision.  I all but did it–yet I did not quite…  It was, in fact, my old mistresses, trifles of trifles and vanities of vanities, who still enthralled me.  “They tugged at my fleshly garments and softly whispered:  ‘Are you going to part with us?  And from that moment will we never be with you any more?  And from that moment will not this and that be forbidden you forever?’ …  Still they delayed me, so that I hesitated to break loose and shake myself free of them and leap over to the place to which I was being called–for unruly habit kept saying to me, ‘Do you think you can live without them?’ ”

” I flung myself down under a fig tree–how I know not–and gave free course to my tears.  The streams of my eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to you.  And, not indeed in these words, but to this effect, I cried to you: ‘And you, O Lord, how long?  How long, O Lord?  Will you be angry forever?  Oh, remember not against us our former iniquities.’  For I felt that I was still enthralled by them.  I sent up these sorrowful cries: ‘ How long, how long?  Tomorrow and tomorrow?  Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?’ ”

“I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which–coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, “Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.’ …  So, damning the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon…  So I quickly returned  to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there.  I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell:  ‘Not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Romans 13:13-14) I wanted to read no further, nor did i need to.  For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.”

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One comment on “Augustine: Rhetorician, Sinner, and Saint

  1. ZDENNY says:

    Very emotional! The struggle some have as they move towards salvation can be great

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