The grace of Christ, without which no body can be saved, is not bestowed on account of any virtues, but is given gratuitously, which is why it is called ‘grace’. The Reformation witnessed the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over the legacy of the Pelagian view of man. Luther and Calvin quoted Augustine. If we take Augustine at his word, his ability to write the Confessions (the name of an autobiographical work, consisting of 13 books) depends entirely upon the discovery of himself in conversion. From the vantage of eleven years, the 44 year-old Bishop remembers clearly what transpired in his soul that resolved his wanderings and his intellectual discovery in an experience of conversion that informs all of his work for the church. Understanding conversion is central to any understanding of Augustine.
“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” ~ St. Augustine of Hippo
The work outlines Augustine’s sinful youth and his conversion to Christianity. It is widely seen as the first Western autobiography ever written, and was an influential model for Christian writers throughout the following 1000 years of the Middle Ages. It is not I must add, a complete autobiography. It was written in his early 40s, and he lived long afterwards, producing another important work (City of God).
“Give me yourself, O my God, give yourself back to me. Lo, I love you, but if my love is too mean, let me love more passionately. I cannot gauge my love, nor know how far it fails, how much more love I need for my life to set its course straight into your arms, never swerving until hidden in the covert of your face. This alone I know, that without you all to me is misery, woe outside myself and woe within, and all wealth but penury, if it is not my God.” ~St. Augustine of Hippo
The Confessions by St. Augustine of Hippo were written between AD 397 and AD 398. I stumbled on the online archive of his 13 Books and what a resourceful mine of invaluable theology. Please click on link: The Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo