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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter II.--He Teaches Rhetoric, the Only Thing He Loved, and Scorns the Soothsayer, Who Promised Him Victory.

The Confessions And Letters Of St by St. Augustine

Chapter II.--He Teaches Rhetoric, the Only Thing He Loved, and Scorns the Soothsayer, Who Promised Him Victory.

2. In those years I taught the art of rhetoric, and, overcome by cupidity, put to sale a loquacity by which to overcome. Yet I preferred -- Lord, Thou knowest -- to have honest scholars (as they are esteemed); and these I, without artifice, taught artifices, not to be put in practise against the life of the guiltless, though sometimes for the life of the guilty. And Thou, O God, from afar sawest me stumbling in that slippery path, and amid much smoke sending out some flashes of fidelity, which I exhibited in that my guidance of such as loved vanity and sought after leasing, I being their companion. In those years I had one (whom I knew not in what is called lawful wedlock, but whom my wayward passion, void of understanding, had discovered), yet one only, remaining faithful even to her; in whom I found out truly by my own experience what difference there is between the restraints of the marriage bonds, contracted for the sake of issue, and the compact of a lustful love, where children are born against the parents will, although, being born, they compel love.

3. I remember, too, that when I decided to compete for a theatrical prize, a soothsayer demanded of me what I would give him to win; but I, detesting and abominating such foul mysteries, answered, |That if the garland were of imperishable gold, I would not suffer a fly to be destroyed to secure it for me.| For he was to slay certain living creatures in his sacrifices, and by those honours to invite the devils to give me their support. But this ill thing I also refused, not out of a pure love for Thee, O God of my heart; for I knew not how to love Thee, knowing not how to conceive aught beyond corporeal brightness. And doth not a soul, sighing after such-like fictions, commit fornication against Thee, trust in false things, and nourish the wind? But I would not, forsooth, have sacrifices offered to devils on my behalf, though I myself was offering sacrifices to them by that superstition. For what else is nourishing the wind but nourishing them, that is, by our wanderings to become their enjoyment and derision?

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