The Confessions is a work by Augustine that outlines his sinful youth and conversion to Christianity. Augustine wrote it between 397 and 401 while serving as the bishop of Hippo Regius. In his book, Augustine gives an account of his own life from birth up to that point. He then wrote about other matters such as the creation of the world, memory and time. A big segment of the book is spent on Augustine’s confession of sins that he had struggled with and how he had pled to God for deliverance from those sins. Augustine writes about his disappointment in living an immoral lifestyle. He regrets having believed in astrology and followed the Manichaean religion. He also writes about how Nebridius helped persuade him that astrology was evil and how St. Ambrose helped in his conversion to Christianity. The Confessions is finally an address by Augustine to God in which he confesses his sins, faith, and praise. Augustine says that he wrote the Confessions for “a people curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.”
Augustine was aware that people loved to gossip and look deeply into the lives of others to see how they could talk down a person and ultimately make themselves feel better. Augustine knew that his writing was going to be scrutinized but made it his purpose to tell the truth and demonstrate the providence of God in the life of a sinner. He didn’t want anyone to think any better of himself than he actually was. Another purpose in writing Confessions was to create an immediate bond between his new Christian community. His colleagues were distrustful of his pagan influenced education as well as his standing as an ex-Manichee. He wanted to let them know that he was trustworthy and he did that by putting on display the worst and best of his life.
In essence, Augustine’s life became an open book for everyone to read and get to know personally. Augustine could have also written Confessions as an attempt to understand himself. He might have considered his enjoyment of sex and the pleasures of this world to be an unbearable weakness and he needed to confess in writing that God alone was his true love. It is obvious that Augustine is broken over his sin and it is probably something that consumed his mind. Getting this horrific past behind him was of the utmost importance and he did it through writing Confessions to God. The writing style with which Augustine writes the Confessions is amongst other things openly bold, encouraging, and without remorse.
This is definitely different from modern writers who try and disguise their true inner feelings while still trying to write with meaningful style. Augustine is not trying to hold back any part of his life that he might be ashamed of. It is quite the contrary as he confidently praises the Lord and declares God’s greatness. Augustine recognizes his place as a speck of dust that vies for a place in the presence of almighty God who created the universe. He is not ashamed to speak highly of his Lord and continuously gives you a feeling that he is not satisfied until he finds his rest in God. He is encouraging throughout his book as he conveys God’s faithfulness to him even when he was deep into sin.
No matter what portion of the book one reads, he or she can always take comfort in the fact that no matter how far one runs from God, He is always right there waiting for us with arms wide open. In conclusion, Augustine is so focused on God, that he has no regret in sharing his mishaps and declaring God’s forgiveness. He knows that he ran far from God but that God was right there the entire time. He feels extremely foolish but at the same time so grateful for God’s unending grace. Augustine asserts with passion that he wants to be filled by God and as a result he can truly live.