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WILFULNESS IN INFANCY
to find out Thee, rather than by finding them out not to find Thee.
3] nfancy also is prone to sin.
EAR me, O God. Alas! for man's sins. And
man speaks thus, and Thou hast mercy upon him ; since Thou hast made him, but hast not made sin in him. Who reminds me of the sin of my infancy? “For no one in Thy sight is pure from sin," not even the infant who is but a day old. Who reminds me? Does not each little infant in whom I see what I do not remember of myself? What then was my sin at that time? Was it that crying, with open mouth I sought the breast ? For if now I should in the same greedy manner catch at, not the breasts, but the food suitable to my present age, I should most justly be laughed at and rebuked. Therefore I did things then which were blameworthy, but as I could not understand those who blamed me, neither custom nor reason suffered me to be reproved; for such things as were then blameworthy, when we grow older, we ourselves uproot and cast away. Now no one in his right senses, when he purges anything, throws away what is good. Or was it at that time good, to cry for that which would have been injurious to me; to be indignant and resentful with those who were not under me, free persons, my elders, and parents, and many besides, who were wiser than myself, because they would not let me have my own way; and to try as much as I could to strike and do harm to those who Job xxv. 4.
John xv. 2.
TENDENCY TO SIN
would not obey my commands, when they knew that, had they obeyed them, it would have been to my hurt? Thus in the weakness of infant limbs, and not in the disposition of infants, is their harmlessness. I myself have seen and noticed envy in a baby; it could not speak, yet it turned a pale and bitter look upon its foster-brother. Who does not know this? Mothers and nurses tell you, that they appease these things in such cases with I know not what remedies. This then is your innocence, when the fountain of milk flows richly and plentifully, not to let another who is in extreme need, and whose life depends on this one source, share it with you. But such tempers are blandly borne, not because they are of little or no consequence, but because they will disappear as the child grows older; for, although you may tolerate them in a child, you would not be able to endure them in a grown person.
Thou, therefore, O Lord my God, who gavest life to me in infancy, and a body, which, as we see, Thou hast furnished with senses, fitted with limbs, made comely in form, and for its completeness and safety has imbued with all vital energies,—Thou commandest me to praise Thee for these things, and “to confess unto Thee, and sing unto Thy Name, O most High :”I because Thou art God, Almighty and Good, even if this were all that Thou hadst done, which no one else could have done but Thyself, O Thou the Only One Who givest to all things their mode of being, O Thou most Beautiful, Who givest all things their beauty, and orderest all things by Thy law. This age then, O Lord, of which I have no remembrance,
Ps. xc. I.
which I believe from what others say, and which from the sight of other infants I conjecture that I myself have passed through, although the conjecture may be very reliable, I am loath to include as one period of this life of mine which I live in this world. For it is as much lost in the darkness of oblivion as the time which I passed in my mother's womb. But if also “I was conceived in iniquity,'
," and in sin my mother then nourished me, where, I beseech Thee, O my God, where, O Lord, or when was I, Thy servant, innocent? But, lo, I pass over that time; for why should I linger upon that which has left no footprints upon my memory?
Whence when a Boy he learned to speak. ASSING then out of infancy I arrived at child
hood; or rather it came to me, and followed upon infancy. Nor did infancy depart; (for whither did it go ?) and yet it ceased to be. For I was now not a speechless infant, but a talking boy. And this I do remember; and have since observed how I learned to speak. For my elders did not teach me my words in a systematic order, as soon afterwards they taught me my letters : but I myself with the mind which Thou gavest me, my God, tried to make known the desires of my heart, by means of cries and various sounds, and by various movements of my limbs, so that I might get my own will; and when I could not express all my desires, or not to all to whom I would have done so, I went over the sounds in my memory;
Ps. li. 7.
HE LEARNS TO SPEAK
when they named anything, and, as they spoke, moved towards it, I saw and retained the name of the thing, which they had uttered when they wanted to point it out. And that, indeed, they meant the thing in question, was manifest by the bodily movement, as it were by that natural language which belongs to mankind at large, which consists of expressions of the face, glances of the eyes, gestures of the body, and tones of voice indicating the affections of the mind, when it either seeks, possesses, rejects, or shuns things. Thus by frequently hearing words in various sentences, which were put in their proper order, I gradually collected for what they stood, and thereby began to express my desires, my mouth having gradually brought itself to utter them.
Thus with those amongst whom I lived, I exchanged these signs of our desires which we made known to one another, and launched deeper and deeper into the stormy society of human life, depending on parental authority and the bidding of my elders.
The hatred of Lessons, Yove of play, and the fear
of being whipped, which is in Boys.
GOD, my God, what misery did I then experi
ence, and what deception ! when I was told that it was as a boy my right course of life to obey my teachers, in order that I might get on in this world, and excel in those rhetorical arts which lead to human honours and false riches. Then I was put to school to learn things of which I, poor boy, did not know the
FLOGGED AT SCHOOL
use; and yet, if I was slow in learning them I was flogged: for this course was held in high repute by my elders, many of whom before us had trodden the same road, and had marked out a wearisome path, along which we were forced to go ; thus multiplying the toil and pain of the sons of Adam.
But we found, O Lord, men who called upon Thee; and we learned from them to do the same, thinking of Thee, as well as we could, as some Great One, Who could, although we were unable to see Thee, hear us and help us. For as a boy I began to pray to Thee, my Help and my Refuge, and broke the fetters of my tongue to frame a prayer to Thee; and I used to ask Thee, though but a little boy yet with no little earnestness, that I might not be whipped at school. And when Thou didst not hear me, which was not “for no purpose, my stripes, at that time a great and heavy trouble to me, were made a subject of laughter by my elders, and even by my parents, who yet wished me
Is there any one who possesses such courage, and cleaves to Thee with such devotion ?-is there, I say, any one (putting aside cases of mere stolidity) who entertains for Thee so great and vehement an attachment, as to disregard racks, hooks, and other tortures—from which the whole world in terror prays to be delivered—and to laugh at those who have the greatest dread of them, as our parents laughed at the tortures which we boys suffered at the hands of our masters ? For we had as great a dread of our sufferings as they of theirs, and prayed as earnestly that we might escape them : and yet we incurred them, by not
Ps. xxii. 2.