Reading: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172
We have no reliable dates for Patrick’s life. There are, however, a number of different pointers that can help narrow the possibilities—one of them is the Bible Patrick used. Patrick quoted over two dozen times from the Vetus Latina—the Old Latin. Jerome finished his Latin Vulgate around the year 400 AD which tells us that Patrick got his scriptural training before Jerome’s Vulgate was in common use.
One of Patrick’s greatest regrets was his wasted youth. Converted in slavery in Ireland in his late teens he looked back of the years in the home of a deacon and a godly grandfather and realized how much of the things of God he let go by him. He says, “We drew away from God and did not keep His commandments” (Confession, sec. 1), and again he regrets not having studied like others “who have successfully imbibed both law and Holy Scripture” (Confession, sec. 9).
Despite Patrick’s regrets, his writings are full of Scripture and his Confession and Letter breathe Scripture. One historian put it like this: “He was thoroughly acquainted with the Sacred Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament. He constantly uses the language of Scripture, whether consciously or unconsciously; and always uses it with telling effect. He was like St. Paul, filled with the Spirit of the Scriptures, and his language is, as it were a very outpouring of the language of Scripture.”
“Ask yourselves the solemn question. In proportion as you store your minds with biblical texts and biblical ideas – are you all the while seeking to have your heart filled with biblical feelings, and your life with biblical actions?”—John Angell James