3. Oh for one to have regulated my disorder, and turned to my profit the fleeting beauties of the things around me, and fixed a bound to their sweetness, so that the tides of my youth might have spent themselves upon the conjugal shore, if so be they could not be tranquillized and satisfied within the object of a family, as Thy law appoints, O Lord,--who thus formest the offspring of our death, being able also with a tender hand to blunt the thorns which were excluded from Thy paradise! For Thy omnipotency is not far from us even when we are far from Thee, else in truth ought I more vigilantly to have given heed to the voice from the clouds: "Nevertheless, such shall have trouble in the flesh, but I spare you;" and, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman; "' and, "He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife." I should, therefore, have listened more attentively to these words, and, being severed "for the kingdom of heaven's sake," ' I would with greater happiness have expected Thy embraces.
2. For the Church I saw to be full, and one went this way, and another
that. But it was displeasing to me that I led a secular life; yea, now
that my passions had ceased to excite me as of old with hopes of honour
and wealth, a very grievous burden it was to undergo so great a servitude.
For, compared with Thy sweetness, and the beauty of Thy house, which I
loved, those things delighted me no longer. But still very tenaciously
was I held by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry,
although he exhorted me to something better, especially wishing that all
men were as he himself was.' But I, being weak, made choice of the more
agreeable place, and because of this alone was tossed up and down in all
beside, faint and languishing with withering cares, because in other matters
I was compelled, though unwilling, to agree to a married life, to which
I was given up and enthralled. I had heard from the mouth of truth that
"there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of
heaven's sake;" but, saith He, "he that is able to receive it, let him
receive it." Vain, assuredly, are all men in whom the knowledge of God
is not, and who could not, out of the good things which are seen, find
out Him who is good? But I was no longer in that vanity; I had surmounted
it, and by the united testimony of Thy whole creation had found Thee, our
Creator, and Thy Word, God with Thee, and together with Thee and the Holy
Ghost one God, by whom Thou createdst all things. There is yet another
kind of impious men, who "when they knew God, they glorified Him not as
God, neither were thankful." Into this also had I fallen; but Thy right
hand held me up, and bore me away, and Thou placedst me where I might recover.
For Thou hast said unto man, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;"'
and desire not to seem wise, because, "Professing themselves to be wise,
they became fools." But I had now found the goodly pearl, which, selling
all that I had, I ought to have bought; and I hesitated.