Meditations on beginnings
Creation Augustine wrote the Confessions in his early 40s, when he had been bishop for about five years. In the Latin usage of his time a confessor was not-as we oddly apply the wordone who hears confessions, but one who makes them; and there are two ways of making them, by acknowledgement of sins and declaration of allegiance. Augustine sees the latter as praise:
The former’, he says in another place, ‘expresses sorrow, the latter joy; the former shows the wound to the doctor, the latter says thank you for curing it’ (Enarr. Ps 110.2). What these passages ignore is that a confession of praise must be advertised: it is an act by which a Christian-particularly in earlier penal times a persecuted Christian-proclaims his Christianity, takes sides, ‘comes out’. This, as much as confession of sins, is the theme of Augustine’s Confessions; and although the work is addressed as a prayer to God, it is essentially a public document.