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10. Now when this man of thine, Simplicianus, told me the story of Victorinus,
I was eager to imitate him. Indeed, this was Simplicianus' purpose in telling
it to me. But when he went on to tell how, in the reign of the Emperor Julian,
there was a law passed by which Christians were forbidden to teach literature
and rhetoric; and how Victorinus, in ready obedience to the law, chose to abandon
his "school of words" rather than thy Word, by which thou makest eloquent the
tongues of the dumb--he appeared to me not so much brave as happy, because he
had found a reason for giving his time wholly to thee. For this was what I was
longing to do; but as yet I was bound by the iron chain of my own will. The
enemy held fast my will, and had made of it a chain, and had bound me tight
with it. For out of the perverse will came lust, and the service of lust ended
in habit, and habit, not resisted, became necessity. By these links, as it were,
forged together--which is why I called it "a chain"--a hard bondage held me
in slavery. But that new will which had begun to spring up in me freely to worship
thee and to enjoy thee, O my God, the only certain Joy, was not able as yet
to overcome my former willfulness, made strong by long indulgence. Thus my two
wills--the old and the new, the carnal and the spiritual--were in conflict within
me; and by their discord they tore my soul apart.
11. Thus I came to understand from my own experience what I had read, how "the
flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." I truly lusted both ways, yet more
in that which I approved in myself than in that which I disapproved in myself.
For in the latter it was not now really I that was involved, because here I
was rather an unwilling sufferer than a willing actor. And yet it was through
me that habit had become an armed enemy against me, because I had willingly
come to be what I unwillingly found myself to be.
Who, then, can with any justice speak against it, when just punishment follows
the sinner? I had now no longer my accustomed excuse that, as yet, I hesitated
to forsake the world and serve thee because my perception of the truth was uncertain.
For now it was certain. But, still bound to the earth, I refused to be thy soldier;
and was as much afraid of being freed from all entanglements as we ought to
fear to be entangled.
12. Thus with the baggage of the world I was sweetly burdened, as one in slumber,
and my musings on thee were like the efforts of those who desire to awake, but
who are still overpowered with drowsiness and fall back into deep slumber. And
as no one wishes to sleep forever (for all men rightly count waking better)--yet
a man will usually defer shaking off his drowsiness when there is a heavy lethargy
in his limbs; and he is glad to sleep on even when his reason disapproves, and
the hour for rising has struck--so was I assured that it was much better for
me to give myself up to thy love than to go on yielding myself to my own lust.
Thy love satisfied and vanquished me; my lust pleased and fettered me.
I had no answer to thy calling to me, "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from
the dead, and Christ shall give you light."
On all sides, thou didst show me that thy words are true, and I, convicted by
the truth, had nothing at all to reply but the drawling and drowsy words: "Presently;
see, presently. Leave me alone a little while." But "presently, presently,"
had no present; and my "leave me alone a little while" went on for a long while.
In vain did I "delight in thy law in the inner man" while "another law in my
members warred against the law of my mind and brought me into captivity to the
law of sin which is in my members." For the law of sin is the tyranny of habit,
by which the mind is drawn and held, even against its will. Yet it deserves
to be so held because it so willingly falls into the habit. "O wretched man
that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" but thy grace alone,
through Jesus Christ our Lord?