Fifteen Quotes by St Augustine (With References)

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This page contains a collection of quotes by St Augustine. These quotes are all genuine and details about the book, chapter number, and translation are included where applicable. Quotes that begin with a section of bold text are my personal favourites. Without further ado, here are fifteen quotes by St Augustine:


Though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke … so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked.

– St Augustine, City of God, I, 8, trans. M. Dods


To the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices.

– St Augustine, City of God, IV, 3, trans. M. Dods


How much human nature loves the knowledge of its existence, and how it shrinks from being deceived, will be sufficiently understood from this fact, that every man prefers to grieve in a sane mind, rather than to be glad in madness.

– St Augustine, City of God, XI, 27, trans. M. Dods


From the bad use of free will, there originated the whole train of evil, which, with its concatenation of miseries, convoys the human race from its depraved origin, as from a corrupt root, on to the destruction of the second death, which has no end, those only being excepted who are freed by the grace of God.

– St Augustine, City of God, XIII, 14, trans. M. Dods


Few indeed are they who are so happy as to have passed their youth without committing any damnable sins, either by dissolute or violent conduct, or by following some godless and unlawful opinions.

– St Augustine, City of God, XXI, 16, trans. M. Dods


Every disorder of the soul is its own punishment.

– St Augustine, Confessions, I, 12, trans. F. J. Sheed


It is strange that we should not realise that no enemy could be more dangerous to us than the hatred with which we hate him, and that by our efforts against him we do less damage to our enemy than is wrought in our own heart.

– St Augustine, Confessions, I, 18, trans. F. J. Sheed


Nothing is utterly condemnable save vice.

– St Augustine, Confessions, II, 3, trans. F. J. Sheed


The very limit of blindness is to glory in being blind

– St Augustine, Confessions, III, 3, trans. F. J. Sheed


Ignorant men who apply the tests of their human minds, and measure all the conduct of the human race by the measure of their own custom … are like a man handling armour and not knowing what piece is meant for what part of the body and so putting a greave on his head and a helmet on his feet and complaining that they do not fit.

– St Augustine, Confessions, III, 7, trans. F. J. Sheed


Men procure the actual pleasures of human life by way of pain—I mean not only the pain that comes upon us unlooked for and beyond our will, but unpleasantness planned and willingly accepted. There is no pleasure in eating or drinking, unless the discomfort of hunger and thirst come before. Drunkards eat salty things to develop a thirst so great as to be painful, and pleasure arises when the liquor quenches the pain of the thirst. And it is the custom that promised brides do not give themselves at once lest the husband should hold the gift cheap unless delay had set him craving.

We see this in base and dishonourable pleasure, but also in the pleasure that is licit and permitted, and again in the purest and most honourable friendship. We have seen it in the case of him who had been dead and was brought back to life, who had been lost and was found. Universally the greater joy is heralded by greater pain.

– St Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 3, trans. F. J. Sheed


I in my great worthlessness—for it was greater thus early— had begged You for chastity, saying: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.’’ For I was afraid that You would hear my prayer too soon, and too soon would heal me from the disease of lust which I wanted satisfied rather than extinguished.

– St Augustine, Confessions, VIII, 7, trans. F. J. Sheed


What is it that I love when I love You [God]? Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. None of these things do I love in loving my God. Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God—the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. This it is that I love, when I love my God.

– St Augustine, Confessions, X, 6, trans. F. J. Sheed


A body tends by its weight towards the place proper to it— weight does not necessarily tend towards the lowest place but towards its proper place. Fire tends upwards, stone downwards. By their weight they are moved and seek their proper place. Oil poured over water is borne on the surface of the water, water poured over oil sinks below the oil; it is by their weight that they are moved and seek their proper place. Things out of their place are in motion: they come to their place and are at rest. My love is my weight: wherever I go my love is what brings me there.

– St Augustine, Confessions, XIII, 9, trans. F. J. Sheed


What then is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to a questioner, I do not know.

– St Augustine, Confessions, XIV, 17, trans. F. J. Sheed


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