Imágenes de página



riches, which are sought on account of this, that they may minister to some one of the three lusts, or to two, or to all of them, if the mind cannot discern, whilst they are possessed, whether it despises them, by parting with them it can make that discovery. But that we may be without praise, and test ourselves as to what we should do then, we must live a bad life, and that in so abandoned and dreadful a manner, as that no one should know us without detesting us !

What greater madness could be said or thought of? But if the accompaniment of a good life and of good works is necessarily and rightly praise, we must not forego a good life itself, in order to be free from its accompaniment. Yet I cannot test myself, whether I should get on well or ill without anything, unless it be absent.

What, then, do I confess to Thee, O Lord, in this kind of temptation ? What, but that I am delighted with praises ; but with truth itself more than with praises ? For if it were proposed to me, whether I would rather, being mad and entertaining false notions about everything, be praised by all men, or, being consistent, and holding the truth most firmly, be blamed by all, I see which I should choose. Nay, I would go so far, as to be unwilling that the approbation of another's mouth should even increase my joy for any good in me. Yet it does increase it, I own; and not so only, but blame diminishes it. And when I am disturbed at this misery of mine, an excuse suggests itself to me, which what it is worth, Thou God knowest, for I am uncertain about it. For since Thou hast not only given us the precept of continency, that is, from what things we are to keep back our love, but also of righteousness, that is, on what we should



bestow it, and hast not willed that we should love Thee only, but also our neighbour, I ofttimes seem to myself, when gratified by intelligent praise, to be gratified with the improvement of my neighbour or with the hope of his good : and, on the other hand, to be grieved for the evil in him, when I hear him blame either what he does not understand, or what is evidently good. Moreover, I am sometimes grieved at my own praises, either when those things are praised in me in which I am displeasing to myself, or when goods lesser and inconsiderable, are accounted of more value than they ought. But again, how do I know whether I do not feel thus, because I dislike the one who praises me to differ from me in opinion about myself; not that I am at all concerned for his sake, but because the same goods which please me in myself have an additional charm when they please another also ? For, in a certain manner, I am not praised when my judgment of myself is not praised, since either those things are praised which displease me, or those things are praised more which please me less. Do I not therefore stand in doubt of myself about this thing?

Behold, in Thee, O Truth, do I see, that I ought not to be moved at my praises for my own sake, but for the benefit of my neighbour. And whether it be so in my case I know not. Herein I know less of myself

· In many places S. Augustine dwells upon the vice of vainglory. Thus in “The City of God" he says, “So is this vice an enemy to pious faith, if the lesire for praise be greater in the heart than the fear or love of God, that the Lord said, 'How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?'”



than Thou dost. I beseech Thee, my God, to reveal myself to myself also, that I may confess to my brethren who will pray for me what in me I shall find diseased. Again, let me examine myself more diligently. If I am moved by the consideration of my neighbour's good when I am praised, why am I less moved if some other man be unjustly blamed, than if I am myself? Why am I wounded by that reproach which is cast upon myself, more than by that cast at another with the same injustice, in my presence ? Can I say that I am ignorant of this also ? or is it that in the end “ I deceive myself,”and do not act truly in Thy Presence in my heart and with my tongue ? Such madness, O Lord, do Thou put far from me, “that my own mouth may not be to me the oil of the sinner to anoint my head.”2 “I am poor and needy,"3 and better, while with secret groanings I am dissatisfied with myself, and seek Thy Mercy, until my defect be supplied and I be perfected, even unto that peace of which the eye of the proud has no experience.


Chat Danger there is to Birtue from Hain-glory.



and the deeds that are manifest to men, have a most dangerous temptation through the love of praise ; which, for a certain self-exaltation, strives to procure the applause of others. It tempts, even when I condemn it in myself, and from the very fact that it is condemned ; and often glories more vainly in the very i Gal. vi. 3. ? Ps. cxli. 5.

3 Ps. cix. 22.

[ocr errors]




contempt of vain-glory; and therefore it ceases to be contempt of vain-glory, whereof it glories ; for it does not really contemn it when it so glories.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

WITHIN, yea within, there is another evil in the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

very same kind of temptation, whereby they become vain who are self-complacent, and are indifferent as to whether they please or do not please others, so long as they are pleased with themselves. But by this self-complacency they greatly displease Thee, not merely when they delight in things not good as if goods, but also in goods which are Thine, as if they were their own; or even if in Thine, yet as attributing them to their own merits; or again admitting that they are from Thy Grace, yet not rejoicing in them in fellowship with others, but envying that grace to others. In all these, and similar dangers and distresses, Thou seest the trembling of my heart; and I am more sensible that my wounds are healed by Thee than that they are not inflicted on me.

[ocr errors]


How he sought after God in himself and in other


THEN hast Thou not walked with me, 0 Truth,

teaching me what to avoid and what to desire, when I referred to Thee all that I could see in this lower


world, and consulted Thee thereon ? I have examined this outer world, as far as my senses could reach, and observed the life which my body has from me, and these my senses.

Then I entered within into the recesses of my memory, its manifold halls, filled in wondrous ways with countless stores ; and I considered, and was awed, and could discern none of them without Thee, and yet found 1 none of them to be Thee. No, nor I myself the discoverer, who went over them all, and attempted to estimate and distinguish everything according to its dignity, accepting some things from the messages of the senses, and questioning about others which were mixed up with my inward consciousness, distinguishing and numbering the messengers themselves, and in the vast resources of my memory examining some things, laying up others, drawing out others. No, nor was I myself when I did this, that is, that power of mine whereby I did it, neither was it Thou, for Thou art that abiding Light, Which I consulted about all these things, what they were, and what their value ; and I heard Thee instructing and directing me. And often I do this ; this delights me, and as often as I can get relaxation from necessary duties, I repair to this plea

Nor in all these, which I run over consulting Thee, do I find any refuge for my soul but in Thee, in Whom my scattered powers are united ; nor does aught of my being recede from Thee. And sometimes dost Thou admit me to an affection, most rare and deep, to an ineffable sweetness, which if it were perfected in me, I know not what could hereafter be which this life would not be now. But I sink back through the weight of my misery into things below,


« AnteriorContinuar »