Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book I/Chapter 5

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Chapter V.—He Seeks Rest in God, and Pardon of His Sins.

5. Oh! how shall I find rest in Thee? Who will send Thee into my heart to inebriate it, so that I may forget my woes, and embrace Thee my only good? What art Thou to me? Have compassion on me, that I may speak. What am I to Thee that Thou demandest my love, and unless I give it Thee art angry, and threatenest me with great sorrows? Is it, then, a light sorrow not to love Thee? Alas! alas! tell me of Thy compassion, O Lord my God, what Thou art to me. “Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”[1] So speak that I may hear. Behold, Lord, the ears of my heart are before Thee; open Thou them, and “say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” When I hear, may I run and lay hold on Thee. Hide not Thy face from me. Let me die, lest I die, if only I may see Thy face.[2]

6. Cramped is the dwelling of my soul; do Thou expand it, that Thou mayest enter in. It is in ruins, restore Thou it. There is that about it which must offend Thine eyes; I confess and know it, but who will cleanse it? or to whom shall I cry but to Thee? Cleanse me from my secret sins,[3] O Lord, and keep Thy servant from those of other men. I believe, and therefore do I speak;[4] Lord, Thou knowest. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto Thee, O my God; and Thou hast put away the iniquity of my heart?[5] I do not contend in judgment with Thee,[6] who art the Truth; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie against itself.[7] I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with Thee, for “if Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?”[8]


  1. Ps. xxxv. 3.
  2. Moriar ne moriar, ut eam videam. See Ex. xxxiii. 20.
  3. Ps. xix. 12, 13. “Be it that sin may never see the light, that it may be like a child born and buried in the womb; yet as that child is a man, a true man, there closeted in that hidden frame of nature, so sin is truly sin, though it never gets out beyond the womb which did conceive and enliven it.”—Sedgwick
  4. Ps. cxvi. 10.
  5. Ps. xxxii. 5.
  6. Job ix. 3.
  7. Ps xxvi. 12, Vulg. “The danger of ignorance is not less than its guilt. For of all evils a secret evil is most to be deprecated, of all enemies a concealed enemy is the worst. Better the precipice than the pitfall; better the tortures of curable disease than the painlessness of mortification; and so, whatever your soul’s guilt and danger, better to be aware of it. However alarming, however distressing self-knowledge may be, better that than the tremendous evils of self-ignorance.”—Caird.
  8. Ps. cxxx. 3.