Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 7 (The Holy Scriptures are Better than the Prose of Cicero!)

Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 7 (The Holy Scriptures are Better than the Prose of Cicero!)

“It was my ambition to be a good speaker, for the unhallowed and inane purpose of gratifying human vanity. These prescribed course of study brought me to a work by an author named Cicero, whose writing nearly everyone admires , if not the spirit of it. The title of the book is “Hortensius” and it recommends the reader to study philosophy. It altered my outlook on life. It changed my prayers to you, O Lord, and provided me with new hopes and aspirations. All my empty dreams suddenly lost their charm and my heart began to throb with a bewildering passion for the wisdom of eternal truth. I began to climb out of the depths to which I had sunk, in order to return to you. For I did not use the book as a whetstone to sharpen my tongue. It was not the style of it but the contents which won me over…

The only thing that pleased me in Cicero’s book was his advice not simply to admire one or another of the schools of philosophy, but to love wisdom itself, whatever it might be, and to search for it, pursue it, hold it, and embrace it firmly. These were the words which excited me and set me burning with fire, and the only check to this blaze of enthusiasm was that they made no mention of the name of Christ…

So I made up my mind to examine the holy Scriptures and see what kind of books they were. I discovered something that was at once beyond the understanding of the proud and hidden from the eyes of children. Its gait was humble, but the heights it reached were sublime. It was enfolded in my mysteries, and I was not the kind of man to enter into it or bow my head to follow where it led. But these were not the feelings I had when I first read the Scriptures. To me they seemed quite unworthy of comparison with the stately prose of Cicero, because I had too much conceit to accept their simplicity and not enough insight to penetrate their depths. It is surely true that as the child grows these books grow with him. But I was too much proud to call myself a child. I was inflated with self-esteem, which made me think myself a great man.”

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