This article originally appeared in the September 2, 1983 issue of Christianity Today.

The Confessions of St. Augustine are currently stirring me at a very deep level. Some years ago I read a copy of Louis Bertrand's biography of Augustine. Perhaps it is good to read that biography before reading the Confessions. Against the background of Augustine's life, the pouring out of his heart to God takes on additional meaning.

The pouring out of any soul before God is something one approaches prayerfully, reads reverently, and thinks about. But such a soul as Augustine moves one into the presence of God. We have all responded to his now well-known statement: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless, until it rests in Thee."

Elsewhere, referring to God, he says, "O Thou my tardy joy!" He also recounts the sins and follies of his youth, the influence of his mother, and many of his experiences. These teach me, for instance, that sin, when confessed—truly confessed—will not be described in all its lurid details. True confession implies a genuine sorrow for sin that would negate any desire to say anything more about it than absolutely necessary.

I question the wisdom of anyone today writing a confession of private sins without first reading the Confessions. Here sins are alluded to only enough to let us know why the author is so forever and eternally grateful to God for his goodness and mercy in Christ Jesus. God's forgiveness captivates the whole of his life and being, which pours itself out in worship and love to God who has redeemed him.

We also learn of the faithful persistence of Augustine's mother. He tells us that she went to a certain well-known bishop in Carthage to plead with him to talk with Augustine, ...

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