Confessions of the greatness and unsearchableness of God, of God’s mercies in infancy and boyhood, and human wilfulness; of his own sins of idleness, abuse of his duties, and of God’s gifts up to his fifteenth year.


Object of these Confessions. Further ills of idleness developed in his sixteenth year. Evils of ill society, which betrayed him into theft.


His residence at Carthage from his seventeenth to his nineteenth year. Source of his disorders. Love of shows. Advance in studies, and love of wisdom. Distaste for Scripture. Led astray to the Manicheans. Refutation of some of their tenets. Grief of his mother Monnica at his heresy, and prayers for his conversion. Her vision from God, and answer through a Bishop.


Augustine’s life from nineteen to eight and twenty; himself a Manichean, and seducing others to the same heresy; partial obedience amidst vanity and sin; consulting astrologers, only partially shaken herein: loss of an early friend, who is converted by being baptised when in a swoon; reflections on grief, on real and unreal friendship, and love of fame; writes on the fair and fit,” yet cannot rightly, since he entertained wrong notions of God.          


St. Augustine’s twenty-ninth year. Faustus, a snare of Satan to many, made an instrument of deliverance to St. Augustine, by showing the ignorance of the Manichees on those things, wherein they professed to have divine knowledge. Augustine gives up all thought of going further among the Manichees: is guided to Rome and Milan, where he hears St. Ambrose, leaves the Manichees, and becomes again a Catechumen in the Church Catholic.        


Arrival of Monnica at Milan; her obedience to St. Ambrose, and his value for her; St. Ambrose’s habits; Augustine’s gradual abandonment of error; finds that he has blamed the Church Catholic wrongly; desire of absolute certainty; how shaken in his worldly pursuits; God’s guidance of his friend Alypius; Augustine debates with himself and his friends about their mode of life; his inveterate sins, and dread of judgment.


Augustine’s thirty-first year, gradually extricated from his errors, but still with material conceptions of God; much aided by an argument of Nebridius; sees that the cause of sin lies in free-will, rejects the Manichean heresy; recovered from the belief in Astrology, but perplexed about the origin of evil; is led to find in the Platonists the seeds of the doctrine of the divinity of the WORD, but not of His humiliation; but, not knowing Christ to be the Mediator, remains estranged from Him; all his doubts removed by the study of Holy Scripture, especially St. Paul.


Augustine’s thirty-second year. He consults Simplicianus; from him hears the history of the conversion of Victorinus, and longs to devote himself entirely to God, but is mastered by his old habits; is still further roused by the history of St. Antony, and of the conversion of two courtiers; during a severe struggle, hears a voice from heaven, opens Scripture, and is converted.


Augustine determines to devote his life to God, and to abandon his profession of Rhetoric, quietly however; retires to the country to prepare himself to receive the grace of Baptism, and is baptized with Alypius, and his son Adeodatus. At Ostia, in his way to Africa, his mother Monica dies. Her life and character.


Having in the former books spoken of himself before his receiving the grace of Baptism, in this Augustine confesses what he then was. But first, he enquires by what faculty we can know God at all; whence he enlarges on the mysterious character of the memory. Then he examines his own trials under the triple division of temptation; what Christian continency prescribes as to each. On Christ the Only Mediator, who heals all infirmities. 


Augustine breaks off the history of the mode whereby God led him to holy Orders, in order to “confess” God’s mercies in opening to him the Scripture. Moses is not to be understood, but in Christ, not even the first words In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Answer to cavillers who asked, “what did God before He created the heaven and the earth?” Inquiry into the nature of Time.


Augustine proceeds to comment on Genesis 1, i, and explains the “heaven” to mean that spiritual and incorporeal creation, which cleaves to God unintermittingly; “earth,” the formless matter whereof the corporeal creation was afterwards formed. He does not reject, however, other interpretations, but rather confesses that manifold senses may and ought to be extracted from it.


Continuation of the exposition of Genesis 1; it contains the mystery of the Trinity, and a type of the formation, extension, and support of the Church




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