Friday, May 13, 2011


Augustine, The Retractions, pp. 3-4:

For a long time I have been thinking about and planning to do something which I, with God's assistance, am now undertaking because I do not think it should be postponed: with a kind of judicial severity, I am reviewing my works -- books, letters, and sermons -- and, as it were, with the pen of a censor, I am indicating what dissatisfies me....In this case, however, I had to consider also the pronouncement of the Apostle when he says: "If we judged ourselves, we should not be judged by the Lord" [1 Cor. 11.31]. The following words of Scripture, too, terrify me very much: "In a multitude of words, you shall not avoid sin" [Prov. 10.19], not because I have written a great deal, or even because many things which I did not dictate, but which I said, were put into writing -- for when necessary things are said, God forbid that this be considered wordiness, no matter how prolix or loquacious it may be -- but I fear this pronouncement of Holy Scripture because, indeed, without a doubt, many things can be collected from my numerous disputations which, if not false, yet may certainly seem or even be proved unnecessary. In truth, which one of Christ's own faithful has He not terrified when He says: "Of every idle word men speak, they shall give account on the day of judgment" [Matt. 12.36]? Wherefore His Apostle James also says: "Let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak" [James 1.19]; and in another place: "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that you will receive a greater judgment. For in many things we all offend. If anyone does not offend in word, he is a perfect man" [James 3.1-2]. I do not claim this perfection for myself even now when I am old, and even less when, in early manhood, I had begun to write or to speak to the people, and so much authority was attributed to me that, whenever it was necessary for someone to speak to the people and I was present, I was seldom allowed to be silent and to listen to others and to be "swift to hear but slow to speak" [James 1.19]. Hence, it remains for me to judge myself before the sole Teacher who judgments of my offenses I desire to avoid.

Iain Murray, The Life of John Murray, p. 100:

At dinner one night, a student who was himself to be a professor of Old Testament, once asked [John Murray] why he had not written more, earlier in his career. For several minutes Murray continued with his meal and then said quite abruptly, 'Because I did not want to have to withdraw what I wrote!'

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