How we cite our quotes:
I was expected to model myself upon men who were disconcerted by the rebukes they received if they used outlandish words or strange idioms to tell of some quite harmless thing they might have done, but reveled in the applause they earned for the fine flow of well-ordered and nicely balances phrases with which they described their own acts of indecency. (I.18.1)
You know how in Book II.3.5, Augustine's parents care more about him getting good grades in school and becoming a successful lawyer or something (we've been there, Augustine) than they care about the fate of his soul? Well, it turns out that pride has something to do with that. People are generally less concerned with substance and more concerned with how things appear. But all that glitters is not gold, says Augustine.
The more unscrupulous I was, the greater my reputation was likely to be, for men are so blind that they even take pride in their blindness. (III.3.2)
Well, that's law school for you. The problem is that people and God have different standards for greatness. God wants people to be meek and humble, and people want to be better than other people. Throughout his life, Augustine feels pressured to do all sorts of things that are at odds with good Christianity because he knows he'll be applauded for it. Whenever we feel that way, we just think of our mothers saying, "If so-and-so jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?"
I was inflated with self-esteem, which made me think myself a great man. (III.5.1)
Society told Augustine, "Hey, you're a really smart guy," so he's going to go right ahead and believe society on this one. But peoples' oohing and aahing has just flamed the fire of Augustine's pride, and now he thinks he's too good for the Scriptures. Oopsie.