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5. Verecundus was severely disturbed by this new happiness of mine, since he
was still firmly held by his bonds and saw that he would lose my companionship.
For he was not yet a Christian, though his wife was; and, indeed, he was more
firmly enchained by her than by anything else, and held back from that journey
on which we had set out. Furthermore, he declared he did not wish to be a Christian
on any terms except those that were impossible. However, he invited us most
courteously to make use of his country house so long as we would stay there.
O Lord, thou wilt recompense him for this "in the resurrection of the just,"
seeing that thou hast already given him "the lot of the righteous."
For while we were absent at Rome, he was overtaken with bodily sickness, and
during it he was made a Christian and departed this life as one of the faithful.
Thus thou hadst mercy on him, and not on him only, but on us as well; lest,
remembering the exceeding kindness of our friend to us and not able to count
him in thy flock, we should be tortured with intolerable grief. Thanks be unto
thee, our God; we are thine. Thy exhortations, consolations, and faithful promises
assure us that thou wilt repay Verecundus for that country house at Cassiciacum--where
we found rest in thee from the fever of the world--with the perpetual freshness
of thy paradise in which thou hast forgiven him his earthly sins, in that mountain
flowing with milk, that fruitful mountain--thy own.
6. Thus Verecundus was full of grief; but Nebridius was joyous. For he was not
yet a Christian, and had fallen into the pit of deadly error, believing that
the flesh of thy Son, the Truth, was a phantom.
Yet he had come up out of that pit and now held the same belief that we did.
And though he was not as yet initiated in any of the sacraments of thy Church,
he was a most earnest inquirer after truth. Not long after our conversion and
regeneration by thy baptism, he also became a faithful member of the Catholic
Church, serving thee in perfect chastity and continence among his own people
in Africa, and bringing his whole household with him to Christianity. Then thou
didst release him from the flesh, and now he lives in Abraham's bosom. Whatever
is signified by that term "bosom," there lives my Nebridius, my sweet friend,
thy son by adoption, O Lord, and not a freedman any longer. There he lives;
for what other place could there be for such a soul? There he lives in that
abode about which he used to ask me so many questions--poor ignorant one that
I was. Now he does not put his ear up to my mouth, but his spiritual mouth to
thy fountain, and drinks wisdom as he desires and as he is able--happy without
end. But I do not believe that he is so inebriated by that draught as to forget
me; since thou, O Lord, who art the draught, art mindful of us.
Thus, then, we were comforting the unhappy Verecundus--our
friendship untouched--reconciling him to our conversion
and exhorting him to a faith fit for his condition (that
is, to his being married). We tarried for Nebridius to follow
us, since he was so close, and this he was just about to
do when at last the interim ended. The days had seemed long
and many because of my eagerness for leisure and liberty
in which I might sing to thee from my inmost part, "My heart
has said to thee, I have sought thy face; thy face, O Lord,
will I seek."