There is a joy that brings true happiness, but it is not given to the ungodly. It is only for those who love You for Your own sake. That joy is to know You as You are. This is the happy life, to rejoice in You, of You, and for You.
There are others whose concept of God, such as it is, ascribes to him the nature and moods of the human spirit, a mistake which ties their arguments about God to distorted and misleading rules of interpretation.
Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.
But I am aware of some that murmur: What, say they, if all men should abstain from all sexual intercourse, whence will the human race exist? Would that all would this, only in charity out of a pure heart, and good conscience, and faith unfeigned; much more speedily would the City of God be filled, and the end of the world hastened.
But he does not enter into temptation if he conquers his evil concupiscence by good will. And yet the determination of the human will is insufficient, unless the Lord grant it victory in answer to prayer that it enter not into temptation. What, indeed, affords clearer evidence of the grace of God than the acceptance of prayer in any petition?
The dominion of good men is profitable, not so much for themselves as for human affairs. But the dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater licence in wickedness;
Bad company is like a nail driven into a post, which, after the first and second blow, may be drawn out with little difficulty; but being once driven up to the head, the pincers cannot take hold to draw it out, but which can only be done by the destruction of the wood.
But Thou who fillest all things, fillest Thou them with Thy whole self? or, since all things cannot contain Thee wholly, do they contain part of Thee? and all at once the same part? or each its own part, the greater more, the smaller less?
Why does a man like to be made sad by viewing doleful and tragic scenes, which he himself could not by any means endure? Yet, as a spectator, he wishes to experience from them a sense of grief, and in this very sense of grief his pleasure consists. What is this but wretched madness?
If, on the contrary, they hear from you about themselves, they will be in no position to say, The Lord is lying. Is hearing the truth about oneself from you anything different from knowing oneself? And can anyone have this self-knowledge and still protest, It is not true, unless he himself is lying?
My mind withdrew its thoughts from experience, extracting itself from the contradictory throng of sensuous images, that it might find out what that light was wherein it was bathed... And thus, with the flash of one hurried glance, it attained to the vision of That Which Is.
But I, a most wretched youth, most wretched from the very start of my youth, had even sought chastity from you, and had said, Give me chastity and continence, but not yet! For I feared that you would hear me quickly, and that quickly you would heal me of that disease of lust, which I wished to have satisfied rather than extinguished.