Posted by Jim_Daly Jul 29, 2011
Conversion: The Life-Changing Power of the Word
(from Augustine’s Confessions, Book VIII, Chs. 8-12)
There was a garden attached to our lodging, and we had the use of this as of the whole house; for our landlord, the owner of the house, did not live there. To this garden the tumult in my heart had driven me, as to a place where no one could intervene in this passionate suit which I had brought against myself until it could be settled—though how it would be settled You knew, not I. As to me, I was mad and dying; but there was sanity in my madness, life in my death; I knew how evil I was; I did not know how well I would be soon …
… I kept saying to You, not perhaps in these words, but with this sense: “And Thou, O Lord, how long? How long, Lord; wilt Thou be angry forever? Remember not our former iniquities.” For I felt that it was these which were holding me fast …
So I spoke, weeping in the bitter contrition of my heart. Suddenly a voice reaches my ears from a nearby house. It is the voice of a boy or a girl (I don’t know which) and in a kind of singsong the words are constantly repeated: “Take it and read it. Take it and read it.” At once my face changed … I checked the force of my tears and rose to my feet, being quite certain that I must interpret this as a divine command to me to open the book and read the first passage which I should come upon …
So I went eagerly back to the place where Alypius was sitting, since it was there that I had left the book of the Apostle when I rose to my feet. I snatched up the book, opened, and read in silence the passage upon which my eyes first fell: Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying: but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in concupiscence. I had no wish to read further; there was no need to. For immediately I had reached the end of the sentence it was as though my heart was filled with a light of confidence and all the shadows of my doubt were swept away.
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