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

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Chapter V.—That Man Knoweth Not Himself Wholly.

7. For it is Thou, Lord, that judgest me;[1] for although no “man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him,”[2] yet is there something of man which “the spirit of man which is in him” itself knoweth not. But Thou, Lord, who hast made him, knowest him wholly. I indeed, though in Thy sight I despise myself, and reckon “myself but dust and ashes,”[3] yet know something concerning Thee, which I know not concerning myself. And assuredly “now we see through a glass darkly,” not yet “face to face.”[4] So long, therefore, as I be “absent” from Thee, I am more “present” with myself than with Thee;[5] and yet know I that Thou canst not suffer violence;[6] but for myself I know not what temptations I am able to resist, and what I am not able.[7] But there is hope, because Thou art faithful, who wilt not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but wilt with the temptation also make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it.[8] I would therefore confess what I know concerning myself; I will confess also what I know not concerning myself. And because what I do know of myself, I know by Thee enlightening me; and what I know not of myself, so long I know not until the time when my “darkness be as the noonday”[9] in Thy sight.


  1. 1 Cor. iv. 4.
  2. 1 Cor. ii. 11.
  3. Gen. xviii. 27.
  4. 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
  5. 2 Cor. v. 6.
  6. See Nebridius’ argument against the Manichæans, as to God’s not being violable, in vii. sec. 3, above, and the note thereon.
  7. See his Enarr. in Ps. lv. 8 and xciii. 19, where he beautifully describes how the winds and waves of temptation will be stilled if Christ be present in the ship. See also Serm. lxiii.; and Eps. cxxx. 22, and clxxvii. 4.
  8. 1 Cor. x. 13.
  9. Isa. lviii. 10.