Chapter I.—He Praises God, the Author of Safety, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, Acknowledging His Own Wickedness.
1. “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid: Thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” 688 Let my heart and my tongue praise Thee, and let all my bones say, “Lord, who is like unto Thee?” 689 Let them so say, and answer Thou me, and “say unto my soul, I am Thy salvation.” 690 Who am I, and what is my nature? How evil have not my deeds been; or if not my deeds, my words; or if not my words, my will? But Thou, O Lord, art good and merciful, and Thy right hand had respect unto the profoundness of my death, and removed from the bottom of my heart that abyss of corruption. And this was the result, that I willed not to do what I willed, and willed to do what thou willedst. 691 But where, during all those years, and out of what deep and secret retreat was my free will summoned forth in a moment, whereby I gave my neck to Thy “easy yoke,” and my shoulders to Thy “light burden,” 692 O Christ Jesus, “my strength and my Redeemer”? 693 How sweet did it suddenly become to me to be without the delights of trifles! And what at one time I feared to lose, it was now a joy to me to put away. 694 For Thou didst cast them away from me, Thou true and highest sweetness. Thou didst cast them away, and instead of them didst enter in Thyself, 695 —sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood; brighter than all light, but more veiled than all mysteries; more exalted than all honour, but not to the exalted in their own conceits. Now was my soul free from the gnawing cares of seeking and getting, and of wallowing and exciting the itch of lust. And I babbled unto Thee my brightness, my riches, and my health, the Lord my God.
Ps. 116:16, 17.129:689
Volebas, though a few mss. have nolebas; and Watts accordingly renders “nilledst.”129:692
Archbishop Trench, in his exposition of the parable of the Hid Treasure, which the man who found sold all that he had to buy, remarks on this passage of the Confessions: “Augustin excellently illustrates from his own experience this part of the parable. Describing the crisis of his own conversion, and how easy he found it, through this joy, to give up all those pleasures of sin that he had long dreaded to be obliged to renounce, which had long held him fast bound in the chains of evil custom, and which if he renounced, it had seemed to him as though life itself would not be worth the living, he exclaims, How sweet did it suddenly become to me,” etc.129:695
His love of earthly things was expelled by the indwelling love of God, “for,” as he says in his De Musica, vi. 52, “the love of the things of time could only be expelled by some sweetness of things eternal.” Compare also Dr. Chalmers sermon on The Expulsive Power of a New Affection (the ninth of his “Commercial Discourses”), where this idea is expanded.