Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume I/Confessions/Book V/Chapter 1

Chapter I.—That It Becomes the Soul to Praise God, and to Confess Unto Him.

1. Accept the sacrifice of my confessions by the agency of my tongue, which Thou hast formed and quickened, that it may confess to Thy name; and heal Thou all my bones, and let them say, “Lord, who is like unto Thee?”[1] For neither does he who confesses to Thee teach Thee what may be passing within him, because a closed heart doth not exclude Thine eye, nor does man’s hardness of heart repulse Thine hand, but Thou dissolvest it when Thou wiliest, either in pity or in vengeance, “and there is no One who can hide himself from Thy heart.”[2] But let my soul praise Thee, that it may love Thee; and let it confess Thine own mercies to Thee, that it may praise Thee. Thy whole creation ceaseth not, nor is it silent in Thy praises—neither the spirit of man, by the voice directed unto Thee, nor animal nor corporeal things, by the voice of those meditating thereon;[3] so that our souls may from their weariness arise towards Thee, leaning on those things which Thou hast made, and passing on to Thee, who hast made them wonderfully and there is there refreshment and true strength.


  1. Ps. xxxv. 10.
  2. Ps. xix. 6.
  3. St. Paul speaks of a “minding of the flesh” and a “minding of the spirit” (Rom. viii. 6, margin), and we are prone to be attracted and held by the carnal surroundings of life; that is, “quæ per carnem sentiri querunt id est per oculos, per aures, ceterosque corporis sensus” (De Vera Relig.. xxiv.). But God would have us, as we meditate on the things that enter by the gates of the senses, to arise towards Him, through these His creatures. Our Father in heaven might have ordered His creation simply in a utilitarian way, letting, for example, hunger be satisfied without any of the pleasures of taste, and so of the other senses. But He has not so done. To every sense He has given its appropriate pleasure as well as its proper use. And though this presents to us a source of temptation, still ought we for it to praise His goodness to the full, and that corde are opere.—Bradward, ii. c. 23. See also i. sec. 1, note 3, and iv. sec. 18, above.