Of Flattery and Taunts

From Augustine’s Confessions [9.8.18]

As the flattery of friends corrupts, so often do the taunts of enemies instruct.  Yet you repay them, not for the good you work through their means, but for the malice they intended.  That angry slave girl wanted to infuriate her young mistress, not to cure her, and that is why she spoke up when they were alone.  Or perhaps it was because their quarrel just happened to break out at that time and place, or perhaps she was afraid of punishment for having told of it so late.  But you, lord, ruler of heaven and earth, who change to your purposes the deepest floods and control the turbulent tide of the ages, you heal one soul by the unsoundness of another; so that no one, when he hears of such a happening, should attribute it to his own power if another person whom he wishes to reform is reformed through a word of his.

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