Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 39.--Concluding Admonition.
If, as may possibly be the case, you desire to know whether there are many other points which appear to me to require emendation in your books, it cannot be troublesome for you to come to me, -- not, indeed, as a scholar to his master, but as a person in his prime to one full of years, and as a strong man to a weak one. And although you ought not to have published your books, still there is a greater and a truer glory in a man's being censured, when he confesses with his own lips the justice of his correction, than in being lauded out of the mouth of any defender of error. Now, while I should be unwilling to believe that all those who listened to your reading of the afore-mentioned books, and lavished their praises on you, had either previously held for themselves the opinions which sound doctrine disapproves of, or were induced by you to entertain them, I still cannot help thinking that they had the keenness of their mind blunted by the impetuous and constant flow of your elocution, and so were unable to bestow adequate attention on the contents of your discourse; or else, that when they were in any case capable of understanding what you said, it was less for any very clear statement of the truth that they praised you than for the affluence of your language, and the facility and resources of your mental powers. For praise, and fame, and kindly regard are very commonly bestowed on a young man's eloquence in anticipation of the future, though as yet it lacks the mellowed perfection and fidelity of a fully-informed instructor. In order, then, that you may attain to true wisdom yourself, and that what you say may be able not only to delight, but even edify other people, it behoves you, after removing from your mind the dangerous applause of others, to keep conscientious watch over your own words.