Confessions 1.vi.(8) – 1.vii.(12)
Augustine continues the opening of his Confessions by reminiscing about his infancy. He states in 1.vii.(12), “this period of my life [infancy], Lord, I do not remember having lived, but I have believed what others have told me and have assumed how I behaved from observing other infants” (Chadwick, ed. 10). Augustine spent some time in his life observing the behavior of infants. He sees the power of sin present even in these little ones. Quoting Job 14:4-5 and Ps 50:7 he is not ashamed to preach, teach and believe the sinfulness of humanity from conception. Original sin, as it’s known, is the doctrine that teaches that all mankind fell into sin in Adam. Therefore, every one of his progeny are conceived, born and live in the depths of depravity. Augustine sees the jealousy in an infants eyes having to share his mother’s breast.
And, though Augustine does not remember his own days of infancy, he knows that the Lord does. At first the break from speaking of children to speaking about the Lord may cause confusion. But, Augustine knows what he is doing. He does not remember the wickedness of his infancy, but the Lord does. Augustine did not see the evil in his heart, but the Lord did. Rhetorically, he asks the Lord, “How many of our days and days of our fathers have passed during your Today, and have derived from it the measure and condition of their existence?” (8). Difficult, though it may seem, to see the sin of a newborn over the joy of a new life, yet it is present; and our condition has not escaped the eyes of God.
These next thoughts are my own, but I find great comfort in reflecting upon the incarnation of Jesus. He did not descend from the clouds as the ascended. He entered the virgin womb of Mary, grew in her womb as any one of us, was born and grew – yet, was without sin. He was full of holiness in his conception, his birth, his infancy, his childhood and each day to the cross. He has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. In his adulthood, he can identify with our temptations and sufferings and, even more, he can identify with us in our infancy. We truly do have a great high priest who knows our weaknesses and intercedes on our behalf. Our God is a God who sees, but he is also a God who knows.