In his own day the dominant personality of the Western Church, Augustine of Hippo today stands as perhaps the greatest thinker of Christian antiquity, and his Confessions is one of the great works of Western literature. In this intensely personal narrative, Augustine relates his rare ascent... read more
Augustine's Confessions is a diverse blend of autobiography, philosophy, theology, and critical exegesis of the Christian Bible. The first nine Books (or chapters) of the work trace the story of Augustine's life, from his birth (354 A.D.) up to the events that took place just after his... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Augustine's Confessions is a diverse blend of autobiography, philosophy, theology, and critical exegesis of the Christian Bible. The first nine Books (or chapters) of the work trace the story of Augustine's life, from his birth (354 A.D.) up to the events that took place just after his conversion to Catholicism (386 A.D.). Augustine treats this autobiography as much more than an opportunity to recount his life, however, and there is hardly an event mentioned that does not have an accompanying religious or philosophical explication. In fact, the events that Augustine chooses to recount are selected mainly with a view to these larger issues.
Born and raised in Thagaste, in eastern Algeria (then part of the Roman empire), Augustine enters a social world that he now sees as sinful to the point of utter folly. Grade school teaches questionable pursuits with misguided aims, and everywhere boys like Augustine are trained to devote themselves to transient, material pursuits rather than to the pursuit of God. As a student in Thagaste and then Carthage, Augustine runs amok in sexual adventures and false philosophies (most notably Manicheism). He sees this period of his life primarily as a lesson in how immersion in the material world is its own punishment of disorder, confusion, and grief.
The young Augustine does, however, catch a passion for the pursuit of Philosophical truth, learning the doctrines of Manicheism, skepticism, and Neoplatonism. This last philosophy will have a profound influence on him-- the Confessions are perhaps the most masterful expression of his intricate fusion of Catholic theology with Neoplatonic ideas.
Moving back to Thagaste, then back to Carthage again, and on to Rome and Milan, Augustine continues to wrestle with his doubts about what he has learned and with his budding interest in Catholicism, the faith of his mother, Monica. He also continues to pursue his career as a teacher of rhetoric (an occupation he later frowns upon as the salesmanship of empty words) and his habits of indulgence in sex and other pleasures of the sensual world. Things change in Milan, where Augustine finally decides that Catholicism holds the only real truth. Convinced of this but lacking the will to make the leap into a fully devoted life (including baptism and sexual abstinence), Augustine has a famous conversion experience in his Milan garden and becomes a devoted and chaste Catholic.
The last four Books of the Confessions depart from autobiography altogether, focusing directly on religious and philosophical issues of memory (Book X), time and eternity (Book XI), and the interpretation of the Book of Genesis (Books XII and XIII). Despite this apparent sudden shift in content, however, the Confessions are remarkably coherent as a whole; in making his autobiography a profoundly reflective one, Augustine has already introduced many of the same ideas and themes that receive a direct treatment in the last four Books. The unifying theme that emerges over the course of the entire work is that of redemption: Augustine sees his own painful process of returning to God as an instance of the return of the entire creation to God.
The form of the work corresponds closely to its aim and its content; the work is about the return of creation to God, it aims to inspire others to actively seek this return, and it takes the highly original form of a direct address to God from one being in his creation. In this context, it is also noteworthy that, for Augustine, "confession" carried the dual meanings of an admission of guilt and an act of praise.
“In Him then be they beloved; and carry unto Him along with thee what souls thou canst, and say to them, "Him let us love, Him let us love": He made these, nor is He far off. For He did not make them, and so depart, but they are of Him, and in Him.”
“For whosoever, called by Thee, followed Thy voice, and avoided those things which he reads me recalling and confessing of myself, let him not scorn me, who being sick, was cured by that Physician, through Whose aid it was that he was not, or rather was less, sick: and for this let him love Thee as much, yea and more; since by Whom he sees me to have been recovered from such deep consumption of sin, by Him he sees himself to have been from the like consumption of sin preserved.”
Thou awakest us to delight in Thy praise; for Thou madest us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it repose in Thee.Highlighted by 148 Kindle customers
Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong, stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things.Highlighted by 110 Kindle customers
Oh! that Thou wouldest enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace Thee, my sole good!Highlighted by 100 Kindle customers
Narrow is the mansion of my soul; enlarge Thou it, that Thou mayest enter in. It is ruinous; repair Thou it. It has that within which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it. But who shall cleanse it? or to whom should I cry, save Thee? Lord, cleanse me from my secret faults, and spare Thy servant from the power of the enemy.Highlighted by 81 Kindle customers
Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art.Highlighted by 70 Kindle customers
For what is nearer to Thine ears than a confessing heart, and a life of faith?Highlighted by 58 Kindle customers
Hear, Lord, my prayer; let not my soul faint under Thy discipline, nor let me faint in confessing unto Thee all Thy mercies, whereby Thou hast drawn me out of all my most evil ways, that Thou mightest become a delight to me above all the allurements which I once pursued; that I may most entirely love Thee, and clasp Thy hand with all my affections, and Thou mayest yet rescue me from every temptation, even unto the end.Highlighted by 54 Kindle customers
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every inordinate affection should be its own punishment.Highlighted by 45 Kindle customers
What man is he, who, weighing his own infirmity, dares to ascribe his purity and innocency to his own strength; that so he should love Thee the less, as if he had less needed Thy mercy, whereby Thou remittest sins to those that turn to Thee?Highlighted by 32 Kindle customers
For what more miserable than a miserable being who commiserates not himself; weeping the death of Dido for love to Aeneas, but weeping not his own death for want of love to Thee, O God.Highlighted by 32 Kindle customers
Book I - Childhood
Book II - The Ills of Idleness
Book III - Residence at Carthage
Book IV - Augustine and the Manichaeans
Book V - In Rome and Milan
Book VI - Perplexities and Vacillations
Book VII - The Divinity of the Word
Book VIII - The Struggle of Conversion
Book IX - The Grace of Baptism
Book X - The Mysterious Force of Memory
Book XI - Of God and the Nature of Time
Book XII - The Depth of Holy Scripture
Book XIII - The Harmony of Creation
We’re hiding the errata, movie connections, books that influenced this book, books influenced by this book and books cited by this book sections. If you would like to add content to them, you must first make them visible.