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27. With great eagerness, then, I fastened upon the venerable writings of thy
Spirit and principally upon the apostle Paul. I had thought that he sometimes
contradicted himself and that the text of his teaching did not agree with the
testimonies of the Law and the Prophets; but now all these doubts vanished away.
And I saw that those pure words had but one face, and I learned to rejoice with
trembling. So I began, and I found that whatever truth I had read [in the Platonists]
was here combined with the exaltation of thy grace. Thus, he who sees must not
glory as if he had not received, not only the things that he sees, but the very
power of sight--for what does he have that he has not received as a gift? By
this he is not only exhorted to see, but also to be cleansed, that he may grasp
thee, who art ever the same; and thus he who cannot see thee afar off may yet
enter upon the road that leads to reaching, seeing, and possessing thee. For
although a man may "delight in the law of God after the inward man," what shall
he do with that other "law in his members which wars against the law of his
mind, and brings him into captivity under the law of sin, which is in his members"?
Thou art righteous, O Lord; but we have sinned and committed iniquities, and
have done wickedly. Thy hand has grown heavy upon us, and we are justly delivered
over to that ancient sinner, the lord of death. For he persuaded our wills to
become like his will, by which he remained not in thy truth. What shall "wretched
man" do? "Who shall deliver him from the body of this death,"
except thy grace through Jesus Christ our Lord; whom thou hast begotten, coeternal
with thyself, and didst create in the beginning of thy ways--in whom the
prince of this world found nothing worthy of death, yet he killed him--and so
the handwriting which was all against us was blotted out?
The books of the Platonists tell nothing of this. Their pages do not contain
the expression of this kind of godliness--the tears of confession, thy sacrifice,
a troubled spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, the salvation of thy people,
the espoused City, the earnest of the Holy Spirit, the cup of our redemption.
In them, no man sings: "Shall not my soul be subject unto God, for from him
comes my salvation? He is my God and my salvation, my defender; I shall no more
In them, no one hears him calling, "Come unto me all you who labor." They scorn
to learn of him because he is "meek and lowly of heart"; for "thou hast hidden
those things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
For it is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded mountaintop: and
fail to find the way thither--to attempt impassable ways in vain, opposed and
waylaid by fugitives and deserters under their captain, the "lion" and "dragon"; but it is
quite another thing to keep to the highway that leads thither, guarded by the
hosts of the heavenly Emperor, on which there are no deserters from the heavenly
army to rob the passers-by, for they shun it as a torment.
These thoughts sank wondrously into my heart, when I read that "least of thy
apostles" and when I
had considered all thy works and trembled.