The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, , at sacred-texts.com
The transition from orthodoxy to Gnosticism, in its last and most elaborate phase is well pointed out by the following reminiscences of St. Augustine, describing his own experiences. In his eighteenth or nineteenth year he had begun to study the Scriptures, to satisfy himself as to the truth of the religion in which he had been brought up. "Consequently I set to work to study the Holy Scriptures, in order that I might discover what was their true character. And to! I behold a thing not discovered unto the proud, nor revealed unto babes; but humble in gait, lofty in issue, and veiled in mysteries; and I was not such a one as could enter therein, neither to bow down my neck unto the steps thereof. For I did not think then, as I speak now, when I was studying Scripture, but it seemed to me unworthy to be compared with the sublimity of Cicero's eloquence. Nevertheless that Scripture was such as should grow up together with babes, but I disdained to be a babe, and being puffed up with pride I fancied myself a grown-up man. So it came to pass that I fell in with men full of pride, dotards, too carnal, and great talkers, in whose mouth is a snare of the Devil, and bird-lime made up with a mixture of the syllables of Thy Name, and of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Paraclete's, our Comforter the Holy Ghost. All these names did not proceed out of their mouth except as far as the sound and echo of the tongue go, but their heart was utterly void of truth. And they used to repeat 'Truth and Truth,' and so did they repeat her name to me, but she was nowhere amongst them, but they spoke false things, not only concerning thee who art the Truth in truth, but even concerning the elements of this world of ours, thy creation; concerning which even the philosophers, who declared what is true, I ought to have slighted for the love of Thee, O my Father, the Supreme Good, the Beauty of all things beautiful. O Truth! Truth! how inwardly did the marrow of my soul sigh after thee even then, whilst they were
perpetually dinning thy name into my ears, and after various fashions with the mere voice, and with many and huge books of theirs. And these were the dishes upon which were served up to me who was hungering after thee, nothing but the Sun and the Moon, thy fair works indeed, but not thyself, and not even the first amongst thy works. For thy spiritual works are before those corporeal works, however splendid and heavenly they may be. But even for those, thy higher works, I hungered and thirsted not, but for thee only, O Truth! wherein there is no change, neither shadow of turning. And again there were set before me, in those same dishes, splendid phantoms, than which it were even better to love the Sun himself, for he was true as far as regards one's eyes, rather than to love those fictions whereby the soul was deceived through the eyes. And yet because I believed them to be Thee, I ate thereof though not greedily, because Thou didst not taste in my mouth as thou really art, for thou wert not those empty fictions; neither was I nourished thereby, but rather weakened. Food in dreams is like to the food of one awake, yet the sleepers are not fed by the same, for they sleep on: but those dishes were not in any wise like unto Thee as thou now hast spoken to me, &c."