Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book X/Chapter 39

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Chapter XXXIX.—Of the Vice of Those Who, While Pleasing Themselves, Displease God.

64. Within also, within is another evil, arising out of the same kind of temptation; whereby they become empty who please themselves in themselves, although they please not, or displease, or aim at pleasing others. But in pleasing themselves, they much displease Thee, not merely taking pleasure in things not good as if they were good, but in Thy good things as though they were their own; or even as if in Thine, yet as though of their own merits; or even as if though of Thy grace, yet not with friendly rejoicings, but as envying that grace to others.[1] In all these and similar perils and labours Thou perceivest the trembling of my heart, and I rather feel my wounds to be cured by Thee than not inflicted by me.


  1. See his De Civ. Dei, v. 20, where he compares the truly pious man, who attributes all his good to God’s mercy, “giving thanks for what in him is healed, and pouring out prayers for the healing of that which is yet unhealed,” with the philosophers who make their chief end pleasure or human glory.