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HE PRAYS FOR PARDON FROM GOD
mayest be indebted, and yet—who has anything which is not already Thine own? Thou payest debts, owing nothing ; Thou forgivest debts, losing nothing. And what is all that has been said, my God, my life, my sweet and holy joy? or what can any say, when one speaks of Thee? And woe to those who are silent about Thee; since but dumb are even those who speak much.
He seeks the Love of God, and Pardon for his
H! that I might find rest in Thee. Oh ! that
Thou wouldest come into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my troubles and embrace Thee, my only good. What art Thou to me? Let Thy Mercy suffer me to speak. What am I to Thee that Thou commandest me to love Thee, and art angry with me unless I do love Thee, and dost threaten me with great miseries? Is it then a slight one not to love Thee? Ah me! tell me, for Thy Mercies' sake, O Lord my God, what Thou art to me. Say unto my soul, I am thy Salvation." Ι
So speak, that I may hear. Behold, the ears of my heart, O Lord, are before Thee;
say unto my soul, I am thy Salvation." Let me run after this voice, and lay hold on Thee. Hide not Thou Thy Face from me.
Let me die, that I may see Thy Face, lest I die.
Narrow is the house of my soul for Thee to enter into it; let it be expanded by Thee. It is ruinous; rebuild it. There is in it that which is
open them, and “
* Ps. XXXV. 3.
offensive in Thy sight, I know and confess; but who shall cleanse it? or, to whom else should I cry but to Thee—“ Lord, cleanse Thou me from my secret faults, and from those of others spare Thy servant.”: “I believe, and therefore do I speak ;" 2 Lord, Thou knowest. “Have I not confessed against myself my offences unto Thee, my God; and Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my heart ?”3 I do not contend in judgment with Thee,4 Who art the Truth; I do not wish to deceive myself; “lest mine iniquity lie to itself."5 Therefore I do not contend in judgment with Thee; “for if Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall abide it?"6
He describes his Infancy; he praises the Providence
of God and His Eternity. UT suffer me, nevertheless, to address Thy Mercy
-me, “dust and ashes."? Yet suffer me to speak, since it is Thy Mercy I address, not scornful man. And Thou, perhaps, mayest scorn me, but then,
Thou wilt return and have compassion on me.”8 And what is it I want to say, O Lord my God, save that I know not whence I came into this, I cannot tell whether to call it dying life or living death? And the consolations of Thy Mercies awaited me, as I have been told by the parents of my flesh-by my father and by her who bore me ; for I have no remembrance 1 Ps. xix. 12, 13.
2 Ps. cxvi. io.
3 Ps. xxxii. 5. Job ix. 2, 3.
5 Ps. xxvii. 12. 7 Gen. xviii. 27.
8 Jer. xii, 15.
6 Ps. cxxx. 3.
of it. Then was I soothed at my mother's breasts ; but neither did my mother nor my nurses distend them with milk, but Thou through them didst supply me with the food of infancy, according to Thy appointment and Thy liberality, which extend even to the very root of things. Thou also didst give me the desire only for what Thou gavest; and didst give my nurses the desire to give me what Thou gavest them. For they, through the affection which Thou didst implant in them, were desirous to give me out of the abundance with which Thou hadst supplied them. For it was good for them that my good came from them, of which, however, they were not the source but only the channel ;—from Thee, indeed, O God, are all good things, and “from my God is all my salvation." This I have learned since, through inward and outward gifts by which Thou calledst to me; for then I knew only how to suck, and to rest in that which brought me bodily delight, and to cry at that which was irksome to me-nothing more.
After this I began to laugh, first in my sleep, then when I was awake. This I was told about myself, and I believed it, since we see other infants do the same ; for I do not remember anything about it. And behold, by degrees I began to perceive where I was, and I wanted to make known my desires to those who could gratify them, and I could not; for my desires were within me, and they were without me, nor could they by any sense of theirs enter into my thoughts. Therefore I tossed about my limbs and uttered sounds, making the few signs I could to express my desires, though they were but a very poor
Sam. xxiii. 5.
8 HE REFLECTS ON THE BEGINNING OF HIS BEING,
index of them. And when, either from not understanding me, or because my wishes were hurtful, they did not grant them, I became indignant with my elders who would not give me my own way, and with those upon whom I had no claim, for not serving me, and I avenged myself upon them by crying. I have learned from observation that this is the way of infants; and they have unconsciously taught me what I then did, better than those who knew me and nursed me.
And behold, my infancy is dead and a thing of the past, and I live. But Thou, O Lord, art ever living, and nothing dies in Thee, since before the first beginning of ages, and before everything which can be said to be “before,” Thou art, and Thou art God, and Lord of all which Thou hast created : and with Thee abide the causes of all unstable things; and with Thee remain the unchangeable sources of all changeable things; and the eternal reasons of all things unreasoning and temporal, live in Thee. Tell me, Thy suppliant, O God, and be merciful to Thy miserable creature-tell me, whether my infancy followed a stage of life which had died before it; was it that which I passed in my mother's womb? For of that I have had some information, and have myself seen women who are about to become mothers. But what was I, my God, my sweet Joy, before that? was I anywhere, or had I any being? And here all sources of knowledge fail me; neither father nor mother, neither experience of others, nor my own memory can help me. Dost Thou laugh me to scorn for asking such things, and bid me praise Thee and acknowledge Thee for that which I do know?
I confess unto Thee, O Lord of heaven and
THE UNCHANGEABLENESS OF GOD
earth, giving Thee praise for the earliest stages of my life and infancy, which I do not remember; for Thou hast left man to guess about himself from what he sees in others, and to believe many things on the authority of feeble women. Even then I existed, and had my being, and as I grew older I sought for signs, whereby to make known to others my ideas. From whence could such a living being come but from Thee, O Lord ? or can any one form himself? or can any vein be derived from some other source through which being and life may flow into us, save from Thyself, for “ Thou hast made us,” O Lord ; and to Thee being and living are all one, for Thou Thyself art highest Essence, and highest Life. For Thou art most High, and “Thou changest not,”? neither does to-day pass away in Thee, and yet it does pass away in Thee, because all such things are in Thee; for they would have no way of passing away, unless Thou holdest them. And since “Thy years fail not,”3 Thy years are one to-day: and how many of our days and of the days of our fathers have passed away through Thy “to-day," and have received from it the measure and manner of their existence, and others still shall pass away, and shall receive in like manner their degree of being ! But “Thou Thyself art the same ;"4 and all the things of to-morrow and beyond it, and all the things of yesterday and behind it, Thou shalt do, and hast done“ to-day.” What is it to me, if any one does not understand this ? Let him also rejoice, saying: “What is this?”5 yea, let him so rejoice, as to prefer by not finding out these things, Ps. c. 2. ? Mal. iii. 6.
3 Ps. cii. 27 5 Exod. xvi. 15.
4 Ps. cii. 27.