Aurelius Augustine’s Testimony of His Conversion to Christianity (from his ‘Confessions’)

Augustine died in AD 430. He is one of the most influential (if not ‘the’ most influential) Christian teacher in the church of the post-apostolic age. It was the teaching of Augustine that instructed John Calvin and the Reformers to return to true and biblical Christianity in the 16th century. Dr. R. C. Sproul once said that if you are a Christian, and yet have never read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Well, I can’t argue with Dr. Sproul, but I would add that if you have never read Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ at least once (even twice), you may indeed be ashamed, but you are missing the great blessing of reading and being influenced by a great man of God who pours out his heart in praise to his Great God and Savior.

Augustine:  “I was saying these things [asking God to cleanse him from sin that he realized was in his heart] and weeping in the most bitter contrition in my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl- – I know not which — coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, ‘Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it.’ [In Latin this is ‘Tolle, lege; tolle, lege”, a phrase made famous by the ‘Confessions’].

Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon….

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius [his friend] was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence I read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: ‘Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof’ (Rom. 13:13). I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” -Augustine, ‘Confessions’, VIII.12.29.

“Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” -Apostle Paul, Epistle to the Romans, 10.17.

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