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1. Augustine’s Doctrines of the First and Last Things.168168Augustine taught that it was only possible to obtain a firm grasp of the highest questions by earnest and unwearied independent labour. Herein above all did his greatness consist.
It has been said of Fiesole that he prayed his pictures on to the walls. It can be maintained of Augustine that his most profound thoughts regarding the first and the last things arose out of prayers; for all these matters were contained for him in God. If the same can be said of innumerable mystics down to the private communities of Madame de Guyon and Tersteegen, it is true of them because they were Augustine’s disciples. But more than anyone else he possessed the faculty of combining speculation about God with a contemplation of mind and soul which was not content with a few traditional categories, but analysed the states of feeling and the contents of consciousness. Every advance in this analysis became for him at the same time an advance in the knowledge of God, and vice versâ; concentration of his whole being in prayer led him to the most abstract observation, and this, in turn, changed to prayer. No philosopher before or after him has verified in so conspicuous a fashion the profound saying that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Godliness was the very atmosphere of his thought and life. “Piety is the wisdom of man” (Hominis sapientia pietas est, Enchir., 2; De civ. dei XIV., 28). Thus Augustine was the psychological, because he was the theological, genius of the Patristic period.169169Compare with what follows, Siebeck, in the Ztschr. f. Philos. and philos. Kritik, 1888, p. 170 ff. Not unversed in the domains of objective secular knowledge, he yet discarded them more 107resolutely than his Neoplatonic teachers, to whom he owed much, but whom he far surpassed. “The contents of the inner life lay clearly before Augustine’s eyes as a realm of distinctive objects of perception, outside and independent of sense experience, and he was convinced by his own rich insight that in this sphere quite as genuine knowledge and information, based on inner experience, were to be gained, as by external observation in surrounding nature.” Augustine brought to an end the development of ancient philosophy by completing the process which led from the naïve objective to the subjective objective.170170See the Appendix on Neoplatonism, Vol. I., p. 336 ff. He found what had been long sought for: the making of the inner life the starting-point of reflection on the world.171171The method of the Neoplatonists was still very uncertain, and this is connected, among other things, with their polytheism. It is easy to show that Augustine went so much further in psychology because he was a monotheist. So far as I know we are still, unfortunately, without any investigation of the importance of monotheism for psychology. And he did not give himself up to empty dreams, but investigated with a truly “physiological psychology” all conditions of the inner life, from its elementary processes up to the most sublime moods; he became, because he was the counterpart of Aristotle, the true Aristotle of a new science,172172See the excellent parallel between them in Siebeck, l.c. p. 188 f.: “Among the important personalities of Antiquity two could hardly be found with characters so different as Aristotle and Augustine. In the former we have the Greek, restful and clear, and yet moved by energetic warmth of thought, who gives its purest scientific expression to the Hellenic ideal of the life of the cultured, contentment with the even and constant advance of the life of the thinker, examining the depths and wants of the soul, only in so far as they appear on the surface, in the external nature and garb of the affections, and discussing this whole domain, not properly in order to know the heart, but only for rhetorical purposes. The internal world of the soul is here described and criticised only in so far as it evinces itself in reciprocal action with the external, and in the form it assumes as determined by the co-operation of the latter. For the comprehensive and final problem with Aristotle is the scientific construction and form of the external world in nature and social life. Augustine’s tendency and frame of mind are quite the opposite. The external owes all its importance and value in his eyes to the form it assumes as reflected in the internal. Everything is dominated not by problems of nature and the State and secular ethics, but by those of the deepest wants of mind and heart, of love and faith, hope and conscience. The proper objects and the moving forces of his speculation are not found in the relation of inward to outward, but of inner to innermost, to the sense and vision of God in the heart. Even the powers of the intellect are looked at from a new point of view, owing to the influence exerted on them by the heart and will, and they lose, in consequence, their claim to sole supremacy in scientific thought. The cool analysis made by Aristotle of the external world, which also dissected and discriminated between the states of the soul, as if they were objects that existed externally, disappears in Augustine before the immediate experience and feeling of states and processes of the emotional life; but the fact that he presents them to us with the warmest personal interest in them, entirely prevents us from feeling the absence of the Aristotelian talent of acuteness in analytical dissection. While Aristotle avoids all personal and individual colouring in his views, and labours everywhere to let the matter in hand speak for itself, Augustine, even when bringing forward investigations of the most general purport, always speaks as if only of himself, the individual, to whom his personal feelings and sensations are the main thing. He is a priori certain that they must have a farther reaching meaning, since feeling and wishing are found to be similar potencies in every human heart. Questions of ethics, which Aristotle handles from the standpoint of the relation of man to man, appear in Augustine in the light of the relations between his own heart and that of this known and felt God. With the former the supreme decision is given by clear perception of the external by reason; with the latter, by the irresistible force of the internal, the conviction of feeling, which in his case—as is given in such perfection to few—is fused with the penetrating light of the intellect. . . . Aristotle knows the wants of the inner life only so far as they are capable of developing the life, supported by energetic effort and philosophic equanimity, in and with society. He seems to hold that clear thinking and restfully energetic activity prevent all suffering and misfortune to society or the individual. The deeper sources of dispeace, of pain of soul, of unfulfilled wants of the heart, remain dark in his investigation. Augustine’s significance begins just where the problem is to trace the unrest of the believing or seeking soul to its roots, and to make sure of the inner facts in which the heart can reach its rest. Even the old problems which he reviews and examines in their whole extent and meaning from the standpoint of his rich scientific culture, now appear in a new light. Therefore he can grasp, and, at the same time, deepen everything which has come to him from Hellenism. For Aristotle, everything that the intellect can see and analyse in the inner and outer world constitutes a problem; for Augustine, that holds the chief place which the life of feeling and desire forces on him as a new fact added to his previous knowledge. In the one case it is the calm, theoretical mind; in the other, the conscience excited by the unrest caused by love of God and consciousness of sin, from which the questions spring. But along with this, scientific interest also turned to a wholly novel side of actual life. No wonder that the all-sufficiency of the dissecting and abstracting intellect had its despotism limited. The intellect was now no longer to create problems, but to receive them from the depths of the world of feeling, in order then to see what could be made of them. Nor was it to continue to feel supremacy over the will, but rather the influence to which it was subject from it. The main subject of its reflections was to consist, henceforth, not in the external world, nor in the internal discussed by means of analogy with, and the method of, the external, but in the kernel of personality, conscience in connection with emotion and will. Only from this point might it return, in order to learn to understand them anew, to previous views of the inner and outer life. Aristotle, the Greek, was only interested in the life of the soul, in so far as it turned outward and helped to fathom the world theoretically and practically; Augustine, the first modern man (the expression occurs also in Sell, Aus der Gesch. des Christenthums, 1888, p. 43; I had already used it years ago), only took it into consideration, in so far as reflection upon it enabled him to conceive the inner character of personal life as something really independent of the outer world.” Aristotle and Augustine are the two rivals who contended in the science and tendency of the following centuries. Both, as a rule, were indeed degraded, Aristotle to empty distinctions and categories, and a hide-bound dogmatism, Augustine to a mysticism floating in all conceivable media, having lost the guidance of a sure observation of the inner nature. Even in the Pelagians Augustine energetically opposed Aristotelian rationalism, and his controversy with them was repeated over and over again in after ages. In the history of religion it was a fight between a really irreligious, theologically, labelled morality and religion; for even in its classical form, Aristotelianism is a morality without religion. which seems indeed to 108have forgotten that as a theory of perception, and as inner observation, it originated in the monotheistic faith and life of prayer. He disposed of all that we call the ancient classical temper, the classical conception of life and the world. With the last remains of its cheerfulness and naïve objectivity, he buried for a long time the old truth itself, and showed the way to a new truth of things. But this was born in him amid pains, and it has kept its feature of painfulness. Mohammed, the barbarian, smote into ruins, in the name of Allah, who had mastered him, the Hellenistic world which he did not know. Augustine, the disciple of the Hellenes, completed in the West the long prepared dissolution of this world, in the name of God, whom he had 109perceived to be the only reality;173173All Christian Hellenistic thinkers before Augustine were still refined polytheists, or, more correctly, the polytheistic element was not wholly eradicated in their case, seeing that they preserved a part of nature-religion. This is most evident among Origen’s successors. but he built up a new world in his own heart and mind.174174 Weh! Weh! Du hast sie zerstört, Die schöne Welt, Mit mächtiger Faust; Sie stürzt, sie zerfällt! Ein Halbgott hat sie zerschlagen! Wir tragen Die Trümmer ins Nichts hinüber Und klagen Ueber die verlorene Schöne. Prächtiger baue sie wieder, In deinem Busen baue sie auf! However, nothing really perished entirely, because everything was accomplished by a protracted transformation, and, besides, the old Hellenistic world continued in part to exist on the North-East coast of the Mediterranean. It was possible to travel back along the line which had been traced by a millennium down to Augustine, and the positive 110capital, which Neoplatonism and Augustine had received from the past and had changed into negative values, could also be re-established with a positive force. But something had undoubtedly been lost; we find it surviving in almost none but those who were ignorant of theology and philosophy; we do not find it among thinkers; and that is frank joy in the phenomenal world, in its obvious meaning, and in calm and energetic work.175175Compare even the state of feeling of Petrarch and the other Humanists. If it were possible to unite in science and in the disposition, the piety, spirituality, and introspection of Augustine, with the openness to the world, the restful and energetic activity, and unclouded cheerfulness of antiquity, we should have reached the highest level! We are told that such a combination is a phantom, that it is an absurd idea. But do we not honour the great minds, who have been granted us since Luther, simply because they have endeavoured to realise the “fancy picture”? Did not Goethe declare this to be his ideal, and endeavour to present it in his own life, in his closing epoch? Is it not in the same ideal that the meaning of evangelical and reforming Christianity is contained, if it is really different from Catholicism?
“I desire to know God and the soul. Nothing more? Nothing at all.”176176Soliloq., I. 7. Deum et animam scire cupio. Nihilne plus? Nihil omnino. In the knowledge of God was also included that of the Cosmus, see Scipio, Metaphysik, p. 14 ff. In these words Augustine has briefly formulated the aim of his spiritual life. That was the truth177177Playing with husks and shells disgusted Augustine; he longed for facts, for the knowledge of actual forces. for which “the marrow of his soul sighed.” All truth was contained for him in the perception of God. After a brief period of sore doubting, he was firm as a rock in the conviction that there was a God, and that he was the supreme good (summum bonum);178178Augustine became a Manichæan because he did not get past the idea that the Catholic doctrine held God to be the originator of sin. 179179Confess., VII. 16: “Audivi (verba Ego sum qui sum) sicut auditur in corde, et non erat prorsus unde dubitarem; faciliusque dubitarem vivere me, quam non esse veritatem (VI., 5). but who he was, and how he was to be found, were to him the great questions. He was first snatched from the night of uncertainty by Neoplatonism: the Manichæan notion of God had 111proved itself to be false, since its God was not absolute and omnipotent. Neoplatonism had shown him a way by which to escape the flux of phenomena, and the mysterious and harassing play of the transient, to reach the fixed resting-point he sought, and to discover this in the absolute and spiritual God (Confess. VI I., 26: “incorporea veritas”). Augustine traversed this ascending path from the corporeal world through ever higher and more permanent spheres, and he also experienced the ecstatic mood in the “excess” of feeling.180180Suggestions in Confess., VII. 13-16, 23. Here is described the intellectual “exercise” of the observation of the mutabilia leading to the incommutabile. “Et pervenit cogitatio ad id quod est, in ictu trepidantis aspectus. Tunc vero invisibilia tua, per ea quæ facta sunt, intellecta conspexi (this now becomes his dominant saying); sed aciem figere non valui: et repercussa infirmitate redditus solitis, non mecum ferebam nisi amantem memoriam et quasi olfacta desiderantem (quite as in Plotinus) quæ comedere nondum possem,” VIII. 1. But again in his famous dialogue (IX. 23-25), with his mother in Ostia, a regular Neoplatonic “exercise” is really described which ends with ecstasy (attigimus veritatem modice toto ictu cordis”). We afterwards meet extremely seldom with anything of the same kind in Augustine; on the other hand, the anti-Manichæan writings still show many echoes (“se rapere in deum,” “rapi in deum,” “volitare,” “amplexus dei”). Reuter says rightly (p. 472) that these are unusual expressions, only occurring exceptionally. But he must have forgotten the passages in the Confessions when he adds that no instructions are given as to the method to be followed. But at the same time he turned more energetically to those observations for which the Neoplatonists had only been able to give him hints—to his spiritual experience, and psychological analysis. He was saved from scepticism by perceiving that even if the whole of external experience was subject to doubt, the facts of the inner life remained and demanded an explanation leading to certainty. There is no evil, but we are afraid, and this fear is certainly an evil.181181Confess., VII. 7: “Ubi ergo malum et unde et qua huc irrepsit? Quæ radix ejus et quo semen ejus? An omnino non est? Cur ergo timemus et cavemus quod non est? Aut si inaniter timemus, certe vel timor ipse malum est . . . et tanto gravius malum, quanto non est quod timeamus. Idcirco aut est malum quod timemus, aut hoc malum est quia timemus.” There is no visible object of faith, but we see faith in us.182182De trinit., XIII. 3: “Cum propterea credere jubeamur, quia id quod credere jubemur, videre non possumus, ipsam tamen fidem, quando inest in nobis, videmus in nobis.” Thus—in his theory of perception—God and the soul entered into the closest union, and this union confirmed him in 112his belief in their metaphysical connection. Henceforth the investigation of the life of the soul was to him a theological necessity. No examination seemed to him to be indifferent; he sought to obtain divine knowledge from every quarter. The command to “know thyself” (Γνῶθι σεαυτόν) became for him the way to God. We cannot here discuss the wealth of psychological discoveries made by him.183183As regards memory, association of ideas, synthetic activity of spontaneous thought, ideality of the categories, a priori functions, “determinant” numbers, synthesis of reproduction in the imagination, etc. Of course all this is only touched on by him; we have, as it were, merely flashes of it in his works; see Siebeck, 1.c. p. 179. He has applied his observations on self-consciousness in his speculation on the Trinity. But he only entered his proper element when he was inquiring into the practical side of spiritual life. The popular conception, beyond which even philosophers had not advanced far, was that man was a rational being who was hampered by sensuousness, but possessed a free will capable at every moment of choosing the good—a very external, dualistic view. Augustine observed the actual man. He found that the typical characteristic of the life of the soul consisted in the effort to obtain pleasure184184He meant by this the legitimate striving after self-assertion, after Being, which he attributed to all organic, nay, even to inorganic, things; see De civ. dei, XI., 28. (cupido, amor); from this type no one could depart. It was identical with the striving to get possessions, enjoyment. As the attempt to attain the pleasant it was desire (libido), cupiditas, and was perfected in joy; as resistance to the unpleasant, it was anger (ira), fear (timor), and was completed in sadness (tristitia). All impulses were only evolutions of this typical characteristic; sometimes they partook more of the form of passive impression, sometimes they were more of an active nature, and they were quite as true of the spiritual as of the sensuous life.185185This is the most important advance in perception.
According to Augustine, the will is most closely connected with this life of impulse, so that impulses can indeed be conceived as contents of the will, yet it is to be distinguished from them. For the will is not bound to the nexus of nature; it is a force existing above sensuous nature.186186See Siebeck l.c. p. 181 f.; Hamma in the Tüb. Theol. Quartalschr., vol. 55, pp. 427 ff. 458; Kahl, Primat des Willens, p. 1 f. Augustine’s psychology of the will is undoubtedly rooted in indeterminism; but in his concrete observations he becomes a determinist. It is free, in so far as it 113possesses formally the capacity of following or resisting the various inclinations; but concretely it is never free; that never free choice (liberum arbitrium), but is always conditioned by the chain of existing inclinations, which form its motives and determine it. The theoretical freedom of choice therefore only becomes actual freedom when desire (cupiditas, amor) of good has become the ruling motive of the will; in other words, it is only true of a good will that it is free: freedom of will and moral goodness coincide. But it follows just from this that the will truly free possesses its liberty not in caprice, but in being bound to the motive which impels to goodness (“beata necessitas boni”). This bondage is freedom, because it delivers the will from the rule of the impulses (to lower forms of good), and realises the destiny and design of man to possess himself of true being and life. In bondage to goodness the higher appetite (appetitus), the genuine impulse of self-preservation, realises itself, while by satisfaction “in dissipation” it brings man “bit by bit to ruin.” It does not follow, however, from Augustine’s assertion of the incapacity for good of the individual spontaneous will, that the evil will, because it is not free, is also irresponsible; for since the will is credited with the power of yielding to the love of good (amor boni), it is guilty of the neglect (the defect).
From this point Augustine, combining the results of Neoplatonic cosmological speculation with the above analysis, now built up his metaphysic, or more correctly, his theology. But since in the epoch in which he pursued these observations, he turned to the asceticism of Catholic monachism, and also studied profoundly the Psalms (and the Pauline epistles), the simple grandeur of his living notion of God exerted a tremendous influence on his speculations, and condensed the different, and in part artificially obtained, elements of his doctrine of God,187187They have all besides a practical object, i.e., they correspond to a definite form of the pious contemplation of the divine, and a definite relation to it (a definite self-criticism). For details of the theology, see Dorner, Augustin, pp. 5-112. again and again into the supremely simple confession: “The 114Lord of heaven and earth is love; He is my salvation; of whom should I be afraid?”
By the Neoplatonic speculation of the ascent [of the soul] Augustine reached the supreme unchangeable, permanent Being,188188In Confess. VII. 16, he could now put the triumphant question: “Numquid nihil est veritas, quoniam neque per finita, neque per infinita locorum spatia diffusa est.” the incorporeal truth, spiritual substance, incommutable and true eternity of truth, the light incommutable189189Not common light; “non hoc illa erat; sed aliud, aliud valde ab istis omnibus. Nec ita erat supra mentem meam sicut oleum super aquam, nec sicut coelum super terram, sed superior, quia ipsa fecit me, et ego inferior, quia factus sum ab ea. Qui novit veritatem novit eam, et qui novit eam, novit æternitatem. Caritas novit eam. O æterna veritas, et vera caritas, et cara æternitas! tu es deus meus; tibi suspiro die ac nocte.” (Confess. VII. I6.) Further the magnificently reproduced reflection, IX. 23-25, De Trin. IV. 1. By being, Augustine did not understand a vacuous existence, but being full of life, and he never doubted that being was better than not-being. De civit. dei, XI. 26: “Et sumus et nos esse novimus et id esse ac nosse diligimus.” The triad, “esse, scire, amare” was to him the supreme thing; he never thought of the possibility of glorifying not-being after the fashion of Buddhism or Schopenhauer. (incorporea veritas, spiritalis substantia, incommutabilis et vera veritatis æternitas, the lux incommutabilis). Starting with this, everything which was not God, including his own soul, was examined by Augustine from two points of view. On the one hand, it appeared as the absolutely transient, therefore as non-existent; for no true being exists, where there is also not-being; therefore God exists alone (God the only substance). On the other hand, as far as it possessed a relative existence, it seemed good, very good, as an evolution of the divine being (the many as the embodiment, emanating, and ever-returning, of the one). Augustine never tires of realising the beauty (pulchrum) and fitness (aptum) of creation, of regarding the universe as an ordered work of art, in which the gradations are as admirable as the contrasts. The individual and evil are lost to view in the notion of beauty; nay, God himself is the eternal, the old and new, the only, beauty. Even hell, the damnation of sinners, is, as an act in the ordination of evils (ordinatio malorum), an indispensable part of the work of art.190190We cannot here discuss Augustine’s cosmology more fully (see the works by Gangauf and Scipio). His reflections on life and the gradation of organic and inorganic (“ordo, species, modus”) were highly important to later philosophy and theology, and especially continued to exert an influence in mediæval mysticism. So also the view that evil and good are necessary elements in the artistic composition of the world continued to make its presence actively felt in the same quarter. Yet—as in Augustine—the idea of the privative significance of evil always preponderated. But, indeed, the whole work of art is after 115all—nothing; a likeness, but ah! only a likeness of the infinite fulness of the one which alone exists. How deeply in earnest Augustine was with this acosmic Pantheism, which threatened to degenerate into cosmic Monism, how he never wholly abandoned it, is shown even by the expression “pulchritudo” (beauty) for God,191191This expression is frequent in all his writings. Even utterances like “;vita vitæ meæ,” etc., have at first an acosmic meaning, but, of course, were given a deeper sense by Augustine. by his doctrine of predestination, which has one of its roots here, and, finally, by the aesthetic optimism of his view of the world which comes out here and there even in his latest writings,192192Augustine never lost his optimistic joy in life in the sense of the true life, as is proved in his work, De civit. dei; but in contrasting the moods caused by contemplation of the world—æsthetic joy in the Cosmus, and sorrow over the world perverted by sin—the latter prevailed. Existence never became to Augustine a torment in itself, but that existence did which condemned itself to not-being, bringing about its own ruin. and by his uncertainty as to the notion of creation.193193Where Augustine put the question of creation in the form, “How is the unity of being related to plurality of manifestation?” the notion of creation is really always eliminated. But he never entirely gave up this way of putting the question; for, at bottom, things possess their independence only in their manifestation, while, in so far as they exist, they form the ground of knowledge for the existence of God. But besides this, Augustine still asserted vigorously the creatio ex nihilo (“omnes naturæ ex deo, non de deo,” De nat. bon. c. Manich., I.). See note 4, p. 120. But the very fact that, as a rule, Augustine was governed by a wholly different temper is a guarantee that the element here obtained was only a grounding to which he applied new colours. He would not have been the reformer of Christian piety if he had only celebrated, albeit in the most seductive tones,194194He discovered these, and inspired hundreds of mystics after him. We have no right to deny that this contemplative view of being, not-being, and the harmony of being evolving itself in the phenomenal, is also a sphere of piety. that Neoplatonic notion of God, which, indeed, ultimately rested on a pious natural sentiment.
The new elements resulted first from the psychological analysis briefly indicated above. He found in man, as the fundamental form of existence, the desire to reach happiness, 116goods, being, and he could harmonise this desire excellently with his Neoplatonic doctrine. He farther found the desire to obtain an ever higher happiness, and ever loftier forms of good, an inexhaustible and noble longing, and this discovery also agreed with the doctrine. Unrest, hunger and thirst for God, horror and disgust at the enjoyment of lower kinds of good, were not to be stifled; for the soul, so far as it exists, comes certainly from God, and belongs to Him (ex deo and ad deum). But now he discovered a dreadful fact: the will, as a matter of fact, would not what it would, or at least seemed to will. No, it was no seeming; it was the most dreadful of paradoxes; we will to come to God, and we cannot, i.e., we will not.195195We have the most profound description of this state in Confess. VIII, 17-26; Augustine calls it a “monstrum” (monstrous phenomenon). He solves the problem disclosed, in so far as it is capable of solution, not by an appeal to the enslaved will, accordingly not by the “non possumus,” but as an indeterminist by the reflection, “non ex toto volumus, non ergo ex toto [nobis] imperamus.” (21), “I was afraid that Thou mightest soon hear me, and heal me of the sickness of lust, whose satisfaction I wished more than its eradication. . . . And I was deluded, therefore I put off following Thee alone from day to day, because I had not yet seen any certain aim for my striving. And now the day was at hand, and the voice of my conscience exhorted me: ‘Didst thou not say thou wouldst not cast the vain burden from thee, only because the truth was still uncertain? Behold now thou art certain of the truth, but (thou wilt not).’ . . . The way to union with God, and the attainment of the goal, coincide with the will to reach this goal, though, indeed, only with the determined and pure will. . . . And thus during this inner fever and irresoluteness I was wont to make many movements with my body, which can only be performed when the will makes definite resolves, and become impossible if the corresponding limbs are wanting, or are fettered, worn out, asleep, or hindered in any way. If, e.g., I tore a hair out, beat my brow, or embraced my knee with folded hands, I did it because I willed it. But I might have willed and not done it, if the power of motion in my limbs had forsaken me. So many things, then, I did in a sphere, where to will was not the same as to be able. And yet I did not that which both I longed incomparably more to do, and which I could do whenever I really earnestly willed it; because, as soon as I had willed it, I had really already made it mine in willing. For in these things the ability was one with the will, and really to resolve was to do. And yet, in my case, it was not done; and more readily did my body obey the weakest willing of my soul, in moving its limbs at its nod, than the soul obeyed itself where it was called upon to realise its great desire by a simple effort of the will. How is such a prodigy possible, and what is its reason? The soul commands the body, and it obeys instantly; the soul commands itself, and is resisted. The soul commands the hand to be moved, and it is done so promptly that command and performance can scarcely be distinguished; and yet the soul is spirit, but the hand is a member of the body. The soul commands the soul itself to an act of will; it is its own command, yet it does not carry it out. How is such a prodigy possible, and what is its reason? The soul commands an act of will, I say; its command consists simply in willing; and yet that command is not carried out. Sed non ex toto vult; non ergo ex toto imperat. Nam in tantum imperat, in quantum vult, et in tantum non fit quod imperat, in quantum non vult. Quoniam voluntas imperat ut sit voluntas, nec alia sed ipsa. Non itaque plena imperat ideo non est quod imperat. Nam si plena esset, nec imperaret ut esset, quia jam esset. Non igitur monstrum partim velle, partim nolle, sed ægritudo animi est, quia non totus assurgit, veritate sublevatus, consuetudine prægravatus. Et ideo sunt duæ voluntates, quia una earum tota non est, et hoc adest alteri quod deest alteri.” Augustine felt this state along with the whole weight of responsibility; that responsibility was never lessened for him by the view that the will in not seeking God was seeking nothing, that it therefore by self-will was properly “annulling itself until it no longer existed.” Nor was it mitigated for him by the correlative consideration, that the individual will, ruled by its desire, was not free. Rather, from the dread sense of responsibility, God appeared as the good, 117and the self-seeking life of impulse, which determined the will and gave its motive, constituted evil. The “summum bonum” now first obtained its deeper meaning—it was no longer merely the permanent resting point for disturbed thinkers, or the exhilarating enjoyment of life for jaded mortals: it now meant that which ought to be,196196“What ought to be? How cannot the inner nature exhibit itself by reflection, but can by action?” (Scipio, Metaphysik des Aug., p. 7.) Augustine was the first to put this question clearly. “Antiquity conceived the whole of life, we might say, in a naïve fashion from the standpoint of science: the spiritual appeared as natural, and virtue as a natural force. that which should be the fundamental motive ruling the will, should give the will its liberty, and therewith for the first time its power over the sphere of the natural, freeing the inexhaustible longing of man for the good from the dire necessity of sinning (misera necessitas peccandi), and accordingly first making that innate longing effectual. In a word, it now meant the good. And thus the notion of the good itself was divested of all accretions from the intellect, and all eudaimonist husks and wrappings. In this contemplation that overpowered him, the sole object was the good will, the moral imperative vitalised, to renounce selfish pleasure. But at the same time he acquired the experience which he himself could not analyse, which no thinker will undertake to analyse, that this good laid hold of him as love, and snatched him from 118the misery of the monstrous inconsistency of existence.197197Augustine indeed could further explain why the form, in which the good takes possession of and delivers the soul, must consist in the infusion of love. So long as the soul along with its will is confronted by duty (an ought), and commands itself to obey, it has not completely appropriated the good; “nam si plena esset, nec imperaret ut esset, quia jam esset” (Confess. VIII. 21). Accordingly, the fact that it admits the duty, does not yet create an effective will ex toto. It must accordingly so love what it ought, that it no longer needs command itself; nay, duty (the ought) must be its only love; only then is it plena in voluntate bona. The “abyssus corruptionis nostræ” is only exhausted when by love we “totum illud, quod volebamus nolumus et totum illud, quod deus vult, volumus (Confess. IX. 1). Thereby the notion of God received a wholly new content: the good which could do that was omnipotent. In the one act of liberation was given the identity of omnipotent being and the good, the summum ὄν (supreme being) was holiness working on the will in the form of omnipotent love. This was what Augustine felt and described. A stream of divine conceptions was now set loose, partly given in the old language, but with a meaning felt for the first time, wonderfully combined with the statement of the philosophical knowledge of God, but regulating and transforming it. The Supreme Being (summum esse) is the Supreme Good; He is a person; the ontological defect of creaturely being becomes the moral defect of godlessness of will; evil is here as there negative;198198Confess. VII. 18: “Malum si substantia esset, bonum esset. Aut enim esset incorruptibilis substantia, magnum utique bonum; aut substantia corruptibilis esset, quæ nisi bona esset, corrumpi non posset.” But since evil thus always exists in a good substance (more accurately: springs from the had will of the good substance), it is absolutely inexplicable; see e.g., De civitat. dei, XII. 7: “Nemo igitur quærat efficientem causam malæ voluntatis; non enim est efficiens sed deficiens (that is, the aspiration after nothing, after the annulling of life, constitutes the content of the bad will), quia nec illa effectio sed defectio. Deficere namque ab eo, quod summe est, ad id, quod minus est, hoc est incipere habere voluntatem malam. Causas porro defectionum istarum, cum efficientes non sint, ut dixi, sed deficientes, velle invenire tale est, ac si quisquam velit videre tenebras vel audire silentium, quod tamen utrumque nobis notum est, neque illud nisi per oculos, neque hoc nisi per aures, non sane in specie, sed in speciei privatione. Nemo ergo ex me scire quærat, quod me nescire scio, nisi forte, ut nescire discat, quod scire non posse sciendum est. Ea quippe quæ non in specie, sed in ejus privatione sciuntur, si dici aut intellegi potest quodammodo nesciendo sciuntur, ut sciendo nesciantur.” but in the former case it is the negation of substance (privatio substantiæ), in the latter that of good (privatio boni), meaning the defect arising from freedom. The good indeed still remains 119the divine being as fulness of life; but for man it is summed up in the “common morality” which issues from the divine being and divine love. That is, he cannot appropriate it save in the will, which gladly forsakes its old nature, and loves that which dwells above all that is sensuous and selfish. Nothing is good except a good will: this principle was most closely combined by Augustine with the other: nothing is good but God; and love became for him the middle term. For the last and highest point reached in his knowledge was his combination of the thought that “all substance was from God” (omnis substantia a deo) with the other that “all good was” from God (omne bonum a deo). The conception of God as universal and sole worker, shaded into the other that God, just because he is God and source of all being, is also the only author and source of good in the form of self-imparting love.199199Augustine says of love (De civ. XI. 28), that we not only love its objects, but itself. “Amor amatur, et hinc probamus, quod in hominibus, qui rectius amantur, ipse magis amatur.” This observation led him to see God everywhere in love. As God is in all being, so is he also in love; nay, his existence in being is ultimately identical with his existence in love. Therefore love is beginning, middle, and end. It is the final object of theological thought, and the fundamental form of true spiritual life. “Caritas inchoata inchoata justitia est; caritas provecta provecta justitia est; caritas magna magna justitia est; caritas perfecta perfecta justitia est” (De nat. et grat. 84). But since in life in general voluntas = caritas (De trin. XV. 38): “quid est aliud caritas quam voluntas?”, we here find once more the profound connection between ethics and psychology. It belongs just as essentially to God to be grace (gratia) imparting itself in love, as to be the uncaused cause of causes (causa causatrix non causata). If we express this anthropologically: goodness does not make man independent of God—that was the old conception—but in goodness the constant natural dependence of all his creatures on God finds expression as a willed dependence securing the existence of the creaturely spirit. The latter only exists in yielding himself, only lives in dying, is only free when he suffers himself to be entirely ruled by God, is only good if his will is God’s will. These are the grand paradoxes with which he contrasted the “monstrous” paradoxes discussed above. But meanwhile there is no mistake that the metaphysical background everywhere shows in the ethical view; it is seen, first, in the ascetic trait which clings to 120the notion of the good in spite of its simple form (joy in God); secondly, in uncertainty as to the notion of love, into which an intellectual element still enters; thirdly, in the conception of grace (gratia), which appears not infrequently as the almost natural mode of the divine existence.
The instruction how to hold communion with God displays still more clearly the interweaving of metaphysical and ethical views, that wonderful oscillation, hesitancy, and wavering between the intellectual and that which lives and is experienced in the depths of the soul.200200Augustine’s ability to unite the Neoplatonic ontological speculation with the results of his examination of the practical spiritual life was due inter alia especially to his complete abstinence, in the former case, from accepting ritualistic elements, or from introducing into his speculation matter taken from the Cultus and the religion of the second order. If at first the stage of spiritual development which he occupied (when outside the Church), of itself protected him from admitting these deleterious elements, yet it was a conspicuous and hitherto unappreciated side of his greatness that he always kept clear of ritualistic mysticism. Thereby he rendered an invaluable service not only to his disciples in mysticism, but to the whole Western Church. On the one hand, it is required to enjoy God; nay, he is the only “thing” (res) which may be enjoyed, all else may only be used. But to enjoy means “to cling to anything by love for its own sake” (alicui rei amore inhærere propter se ipsam”).201201De doctr. christ., I., 3 sq. God is steadfastly to be enjoyed—the Neoplatonists are reproached with not reaching this.202202See Confess., VII. 24: “et qæerebam viam comparandi roboris quod esset idoneum ad fruendum te, etc.,” 26: “certus quidem in istis eram, nimis taken infirmus ad fruendum te.” This enjoying is inseparably connected with the thought of God’s “beauty,” and in turn with the sense that he is all in all and indescribable.203203Augustine has often repeated the old Platonic assertion of the impossibility of defining the nature of God, and that not always with a feeling of dissatisfaction, but as an expression of romantic satisfaction (“ineffabilis simplex natura”; “facilius dicimus quid non sit, quam quod sit”). He contributed much, besides, to the relative elucidation of negative definitions and of properties and accidents, and created scholastic terminology; see especially De trinit., XV. He is the father of Western theological dialectic: but also the inventor of the dialectic of the pious consciousness. From the anti-Manichæan controversy sprang the desire to conceive all God’s separate attributes as identical, i.e., the interest in the indivisibility of God—God is essence, not substance; for the latter cannot be thought of without accidents; see De trinit., VII., 10; and this interest went so far as to hold that even habere and esse coincided in God (De civ., X1. 10: “ideo simplex dicitur quoniam quod habet hoc est”). In order to guard God from corruptibilitas, compositeness of any sort was denied. But, at this point, Augustine had, nevertheless, to make a distinction in God, in order to discriminate the divine world-plan from him, and not to fall completely into Pantheism. (The latter is stamped on many passages in the work De trinit., see e.g., IV., 3, “Quia unum verbum dei est, per quod facta sunt omnia, quod est incommutabilis veritas, ibi principaliter atque incommutabiliter sunt omnia simul, et omnia vita sunt et omnia unum sunt.”) But since he always harked to the conviction that being, and wisdom, and goodness, are identical in God, he did not reach what he aimed at. This difficulty increased still further for him, where he combined speculation as to the nature of God with that regarding the Trinity. (Dorner, p. 22 ff.) It is seen most clearly in the doctrine of the divine world-plan. It always threatens to submerge the world in the Son as a unity, and to take away its difference (it is wrong, however—at least for the period after c., A.D. 400—to say conversely that the intelligible world is for Augustine identical with the Son, or is the Son). The vacillation is continued in the doctrine of creation. But Dorner (p. 40 f.) is wrong when he says: “Augustine had no conception as yet that the notion of causality, clearly conceived, is sufficient to establish the distinction between God and the world.” Augustine had undoubtedly no such conception, but this time it is not he, but Dorner, who shows his simplicity. The notion of causality, “clearly conceived,” can never establish a distinction, but only a transformation. If he had meant to give expression to the former, he required to introduce more into the cause than the effect; that is, it was necessary to furnish the cause with properties and powers which did not pass into the causatum (effect). But this already means that the scheme of cause and effect is inadequate to establish the difference. Augustine, certainly, had no clear conception of such a thing; but he felt that mere causality was useless. He adopted the expedient of calling in “nihil” (nothing) to his aid, the negation: God works in nothing. This “nothing” was the cause of the world not being a transformation or evolution of God, but of its appearing as an inferior or irridescent product, which, because it is a divina operatio, exists (yet not independently of God), and which, so far as independent, does not exist, since its independence resides in the nihil. The sentence “mundus de nihilo a deo factus”—the root principle of Augustinian cosmology—is ultimately to be taken dualistically; but the dualism is concealed by the second element consisting in negation, and therefore only revealing itself in the privative form (of mutability, transitoriness). But in the end the purely negative character of the second element cannot be absolutely retained (Augustine never, certainly, identified it with matter); it purported to be absolute impotence, but combined with the divine activity it became the resisting factor, and we know how it does resist in sin. Accordingly, the question most fatal to Augustine would have been: Who created this nothing? As a matter of fact this question breaks down the whole construction. Absurd as it sounds, it is justified. Augustine cannot explain negation with its determinative power existing side by side with the divina operatio; for it is no explanation to say that it did not exist at all, since it merely had negative effects. Yet theory, sometimes acosmic, sometimes dualistic, in form, is everywhere corrected in Augustine, whether by the expression of a wise nescience, or by faith in God as Father. The criticism here used has been attacked by Loofs (R.-Encykl. 3, Vol. II., p. 271). We have to admit that it goes more deeply into the reason of his views than Augustine’s words require. But I do not believe that the statement given by Loofs is adequate: “God so created his creatures from nothing that some are less fair, less good than others, and, therefore, have less being (esse).” Could Augustine have actually contented himself with these facts without asking whence this “less”? But, on the other hand, Augustine thrust 121aside the thought that God was a substance (res) in the interest of a living communion with him. God was a person, and in the phrase “to cleave by love” (“amore inhærere”) the emphasis falls in that case on the love (amor) which rests on faith 122(fides), and includes hope (spes). “God to be worshipped with faith, hope, and love (“Fide, spe, caritate colendum deum”).204204Enchirid. 3. Augustine was so strongly possessed by the feeling, never, indeed, clearly formulated, that God is a person whom we must trust and love, that this conviction was even a latent standard in his Trinitarian speculations.205205See Vol. IV., p. 129 ff. I do not enter further into the doctrine of the Trinity, but remark that the term “tres personæ” was very fatal to Augustine, and that all his original efforts in dealing with the Trinity lead away from cosmical and hypercosmical plurality to conceptions that make it express inner, spiritual self-movement in the one God. Faith, hope, and love had, in that case, however, nothing further to do with “freedom” in the proper sense of the word. They were God’s gifts, and constituted a spiritual relation to Him, from which sprang good resolves (bonum velle) and righteousness (justitia). But, indeed, whenever Augustine looked from this life to eternal life, the possession of faith, love, and hope assumed a temporary aspect. “But when the mind has been imbued with the commencement of faith which works by love, it aspires by a good life to reach the manifestation in which holy and perfect hearts perceive the ineffable beauty whose complete vision is the highest felicity. This is surely what thou requirest, ‘what is to be esteemed the first and the last thing,’ to begin with faith, to be perfected in sight” (Enchir. 5; see De doctr., II. 34 sq.).206206Cum autem initio fidei quæ per dilectionem operatur imbuta mens fuerit, tendit bene vivendo etiam ad speciem pervenire, ubi est sanctis et perfectis cordibus nota ineffabilis pulchritudo, cujus plena visio est summa felicitas. Hoc est nimirum quod requiris, “quid primum, quid ultimum teneatur,” inchoari fide, perfici specie. Certain as it is that the Neoplatonic tendency comes out in this, it is as certain that we have more than a mere “remnant of mystical natural religion”; for the feeling that “presses upward and forward” from the faith in what is not seen, to the 123seeing of what is believed, is not only the innate germ of religion, but its enduring stimulus.207207We may here touch briefly on the question several times recently discussed, as to the supremacy of the will in Augustine. Kahl has maintained it. But Siebeck (1.c. 183 f.) has with reason rejected it; (see also my notice of Kahl’s book in the ThLZ., 1886, No. 25); and Kahl has himself to admit “that at the last stage of knowledge Neoplatonic intellectualism, which explains volition away in view of thought, has frequently traversed the logical consequences of Augustine’s standpoint.” But it is just the last stage that decides. On the other hand, Kahl is quite right in appreciating so highly the importance of the will in Augustine. The kernel of our nature exists indisputably according to Augustine in our will; therefore, in order that the veritas, the scire deum et animam may be able to obtain supremacy, and become, as it were, the unique function of man, the will must be won on its behalf. This takes place through God’s grace, which leads the soul to will and love spiritual truth, i.e., God. Only now is it rendered possible for the intellect to assume supremacy. Accordingly the freeing of the will is ultimately the substitution of the supremacy of the intellect for that of the will. (Compare, e.g., the passage Confess. IX. 24: “regio ubertatis indeficientis, ubi pascis Israel in æternum veritatis pabulo, et ubi vita sapientia est”; but for this life it holds true that “sapientia hominis pietas.”) Yet in so far as the supremacy of the intellect could not maintain itself without the amor essendi et sciendi, the will remains the co-efficient of the intellect even in the highest sphere. That is, briefly, Augustine’s view of the relation of the will and intellect. It explains why the return to Augustine in the Middle Ages brought about the complete subordination of the intellect to the will; for Augustine himself so presented the case that no inner state and no activity of thought existed apart front the will. But if that were so, Augustine’s opinion, that the vision (visio) of God was the supreme goal, could not but in the end pass away. It was necessary to demonstrate a goal which corresponded to the assured fact that man was will (see Duns Scotus). The idea of the world sketched from contemplation of the inner life and the sense of responsibility, which was combined with that of metaphysical cosmological speculation, led finally to a wholly different state of feeling from the latter. The optimism founded on aesthetics vanished before the “monstrum” of humanity which, infirm of will,208208See De civit. dei, XIV. 3 sq.; it is not the body (sensuousness) that is the ultimate cause of sin. willed not and did not what at bottom it desired, and fell into the abyss of perdition. They are only a few who suffer themselves to be saved by grace. The mass is a massa perditionis, which death allures. “Woe is thee, thou torrent of human custom! Who shall stop thy course? How long will it be before thou art dried up? and whom wilt thou, O offspring of Eve, roll into the huge and hideous ocean, which even they 124scarcely overpass who have climbed the tree [the Church]?”209209Confess. I. 25: Væ tibi flumen moris humani? quis resistet tibi? quamdiu non siccaberis? quosque volves Evæ, filius in mare magnum et formidolosum, quod vix transeunt qui lignum [ecclesiam] conscenderint? The misery of the earth is unspeakable; whatever moves and cherishes an independent life upon it is its own punishment; for he who decreed sins (the ordinator peccatorum) has ordained that every sin judges itself, that every unregulated spirit is its own punishment.210210There is a wonderful contrast in Augustine between the profound pessimistic view of the world, and the conception, strictly held in theory, that everything takes place under the uniform and unchangeable activity of God. What a difference between the statement of the problem and the result! And in order to remove this difference the metaphysician refers us to the—nothing. The course of the world is so confidently regarded as caused in whole and in detail by God, nay, is, as it were, taken up into the unchangeableness of God himself, that even miracles are only conceived to be events contrary to nature as known to us (Genes. ad lit. VI. 13; cf. De civ. X. 12; XXI. 1-8; nothing happens against nature; the world is itself the greatest, nay, the sole miracle; see Nitzsch, Aug’s Lehre v. Wunder, 1865; Dorner, p. 71 f.), and yet everything shapes itself into a vast tragedy. In this nothing there still indeed lurks in Augustine a part of Manichæism; but in his vital view of the world it is not the “nothing” which plays a part, but the sin of wicked pleasure—self-will.
But from the beginning the historical Christian tradition penetrated with its influence the sequence of thoughts (on nature and grace), which the pious thinker had derived from his speculations on nature and his spiritual experience. Brought up from boyhood as a Catholic Christian, he has himself confessed that nothing ever satisfied him which did not bear the name of Christ.211211Confess. III. 8; V. 25; etc. The description of the years when he wandered in doubt is traversed as with a scarlet cord by the bond that united him with Christ. Without many words, indeed with a modest reserve, he recalls in the Confessions the relation to Christ that had never died out in him, until in VII. 24 f., he can emphasise it strongly. We cannot doubt that even those expositions of his which are apparently indifferent to the Church traditions of Christianity—on the living personal God, the distinction between God and the world, on God as Creator, on grace as the omnipotent principle—were already influenced by that tradition. And we must remember that his intense study of Paul and the Psalms began whenever, having broken 125with Manichæism, he had been convinced by Neoplatonism that God was a spiritual substance (spiritalis substantia). Even the expositions in the earliest writings which are apparently purely philosophical, were already dominated by the Christian conviction that God, the world, and the Ego were to be distinguished, and that room was to be made for the distinction in mystical speculation. Further, all attempts to break through the iron scheme of God’s unchangeableness (in his active presence in the world) are to be explained from the impression made by Christian history upon Augustine.
However, we cannot here take in hand to show how Christ and the Church gradually obtained a fixed fundamental position in his mode of thought. His reply to Laurentius in the Enchiridion, that “Christ is the sure and peculiar foundation of the Catholic faith,” (certum propriumque fidei catholicæ fundamentum Christus est), would have been made in the same terms many years before, and, indeed, though his conceptions of Christ were then still uncertain, as early as about A.D. 387.212212See the avowals in Confess. VII. 25. Christ, the way, strength, and authority, explained for him the significance of Christ. It is very noteworthy that in the Confessions VII., 24 sq., and other passages where he brings the Christian religion into the question as to the first and last things, he does not produce general theories about revelation, but at once gives the central place to Christ and the Church.213213Naturally, general investigations are not wanting of the nature of revelation as a whole, its relation to ratio, its stages (punishment of sin, law, prophecy), etc., but they have no secure connection with his dogmatics; they are dependant on the occasions that called them forth, and they are not clearly thought out. In any case, however, so many elements are found in them which connect them with Greek speculations, and in turn others which exerted a powerful influence at a later date (see Abelard), that one or two references are necessary (cf. Schmidt, Origenes and Aug. als Apolegeten in the Jahrbb. f. deutsche Theol. VIII.; Böhringer, p. 204 ff.; Reuter, p. 90 f., 350 ff., 400). Augustine occupies himself here, as always, with a problem whose factors ultimately do not admit of being reconciled. On the one hand, he never gave up the lofty appreciation of reason (ratio), of independent knowledge, in which being and life are embraced. Originally (in his first period, after A.D. 385), although he had already seen the importance of auctoritas, he set up as the goal of the ratio the overcoming of auctoritas, which required to precede it only for a time (De ord. II., 26, 27). “Ratio was to him the organ in which God reveals himself to man, and in which man perceives God.” In after times this thought was never given up; but it was limited by the distinction between subjective and objective reason, by the increasing perception of the extent of the influence exerted on human mason by the will, by the assumption that one consequence of original sin was ignorance, and, finally, by the view that while knowledge, due to faith, would always be uncertain here below, the soul longed after the real, i.e., the absolute and absolutely sure, knowledge. The latter alone superseded ratio as the organ by which God is known, as guide to the vita beata; the other limitations were limitations pure and simple. And the constancy with which, in spite of these, Augustine at all times valued ratio is proved by those striking expositions, which occur in his earliest and latest writings, of Christianity as the disclosure of the one true religion which had always existed. The whole work De civitate dei is, indeed, built upon this thought—the civitas dei not being first created by the appearance of Christ—which, indeed, has two other roots besides Rationalism, namely, the conception of the absolute immutability of God, and the intention to defend Christianity and its God against Neoplatonic and pagan attacks. (The first two roots, as can be easily shown, are reducible ultimately to one single conception. The apologetic idea is of quite a different kind. Christianity is held to be as old as the world, in order that the reproach of its late arrival may fall to the ground. Here the wholly incongruous idea is introduced that Christians before Christ had believed on his future appearance. Reuter has shown excellently (p. 90 ff.) how even the particularist doctrine of pre-destination has its share in the universalist and humanist conception; he also deserves the greatest gratitude for collecting the numerous passages in which that conception is elaborated.) Even before the appearance of Christ the civitas dei existed; to it belonged pagans and Jews. Christianity is as old as the world. It is the natural religion which has existed from the beginning under various forms and names. Through Christ it received the name of the Christian religion; “res ipsa quæ nunc Christiana religio nuncupatur, erat apud antiquos, nec defuit ab initio generis humani, quousque ipse Christus venit in carne, unde vera religio, quæ jam erat, cœpit appellari Christiana” (Retract. I., 12, 3); see especially Ep. 102 and De civit. XVIII., 47, where the incongruous thought is inserted that the unus mediator was revealed to the heathens who belonged to the heavenly Jerusalem in the earliest time. The latter idea is by no means inserted everywhere; there was rather up to the end of his life, in spite and because of his doctrine of particular predestinating grace, an undercurrent in Augustine’s thought: co-ordinating God and free knowledge, he recognised behind the system of the Church a free science, and in accordance therewith conceived also God and the world to be the abiding objects of knowledge. With this idea, however, as in the case of Origen, Christ at once disappears. The ultimate reason of this consists in the fact that Augustine, with all his progress in knowledge, never advanced to history. The great psychologist was still blind to the nature of historical development, to what personality achieved in history, and what history had accomplished fur mankind. He had only two methods of observation at his disposal—either the mythological contemplation of history, or a rationalistic neutralising. The man who felt so clearly and testified so convincingly that freedom lay in the change of will when it received a strength binding us to the good, was yet incapable as a thinker of drawing clearly the consequences of this experience. But those should not blame him who cannot free themselves from the illusion that an absolute knowledge of some sort must be possible to man; for the effort to obtain such a knowledge is the ultimate cause of the inability to understand history as history. He who is only happy with absolute knowledge is either blind to history, or it becomes a Medusa’s head to him. Yet rationalism is only the undercurrent, though here and there it does force its way to the surface. More surely and more constantly Augustine appeased with revelation his hunger for the absolute, which he was unable to distinguish from aiming at force and strength (God and goodness). His feelings were the same as Faust’s: “We long for revelation.” Now, it is very characteristic that in dealing with the notion of revelation, Augustine has expounded nothing more clearly than the thought that revelation is absolutely authoritative. We can leave out of account his other views on its necessity, nature, etc. The decisive fact for him is that revelation does not merely recommend itself by its intrinsic worth. Accordingly, the external attestation is the main point. Augustine discussed this (especially in his work De civit.) much more carefully and comprehensively than earlier Apologists, in order to establish the right to demand simple submission to the contents of revelation. Auctoritas and fides were inseparably connected; indeed, they occupied an almost exclusive relation to each other (see De util. cred., 25 sq.). We indeed find him explaining in his writings of all periods that authority is milk-food, and that, on the other hand, the demand in matters of religion for faith resting on authority is not exceptional, but that all the affairs of life of a deeper nature rest on such a faith. But these are simply sops to Cerberus. Man needs authority to discipline his mind, and to support a certainty not to be obtained elsewhere. Augustine was especially convinced of this as against heretics (Manichæans). Heathens he could refute to a certain extent from reason, heretics he could not. But even apart from this, since the power which hinds the will to God presented itself to him as the rock-fast conviction of the unseen, even the “strong” could not dispense with faith in authority. The gradual progress from faith to knowledge, which was well-known to him (“Every one who knows also believes, although not every one who believes knows,”) was still a progress constantly accompanied by faith. The saying, “fides præcedit rationem,” of which he has given so many variations (see e.g., Ep. 120, 2 sq.: “fides præcedit rationem,” or paradoxically: “rationabiliter visum est, ut fides præcedat rationem,”) did not signify a suspension of faith at the higher stages. Or, rather, and here the Sic et Non holds good, Augustine was never clear about the relation of faith and knowledge; he handed over this problem to the future. On the one hand he trusted ratio; but, on the other hand, he did not, relying only on God, and:is Genius ruling in experience. Faith’s authority was given for him in Scripture and the Church. But here, again, he only maintained and transmitted the disposition to obey, while his theoretical expositions are beset by sheer contradictions and ambiguities; for he has neither worked out the sufficiency, infallibility, and independence of Scripture, nor demonstrated the infallibility of the Church, nor defined the relation of Scripture and the Church. Sometimes Scripture is a court of appeal which owes its authority to the Church, sometimes the Church doctrine and all consuetudo are to be measured by Scripture (Scripture is the only source of doctrina Christiana), sometimes Church and Scripture are held to constitute one whole; in one place the Church seems to find in the Council its infallible mouthpiece, in the other, the perfectibility of Councils themselves is maintained. “The idea of the Church’s infallibility belongs to Augustine’s popular Catholic presuppositions which grew out of his Catholic faith. It was never directly or expressly expounded by him, or dogmatically discussed. Therefore he cannot have felt the necessity of adjusting an exhaustive or precise doctrine regarding the legitimate form of the supreme representation of the Church by supposition infallible. This uncertainty and vagueness perhaps” (rather, indisputably) “spring from the vacillations of his thought regarding authority and reason, faith and knowledge” (see Reuter, pp. 345-358; Böhringer, pp. 217-256; Dorner, pp. 233-244; further, above pp. 77-83, and Vol. III., p. 203 ff.). The 126two decisive principles on which he laid stress were that the Catholic Church alone introduces us into communion with Christ, and that it is only through communion with Christ that we participate in God’s grace. That is, he is only 127certain of the speculative conception of the idea of the good, and its real activity as love when it is proclaimed authoritatively by the Church and supported by the conception of Christ.
By the conception formed of Christ. Here a new element 128entered. Augustine supported, times without number, the old Western scheme of the twofold nature (utraque natura), the word and man one person (verbum et homo una persona)—(we may leave unnoticed the rare, inaccurate expressions “permixtio,” “mixtura,” e.g. Ep. 137, I11, 12), the form of God and form of a slave, and he contributed much to fortify this scheme in the West with its sharply defined division between what was done by the human, and what by the divine. But the unusual energy with which he rejected Apollinarianism—from his earliest to his latest writings—is enough to show that his deepest interest centred in the human soul of Jesus. The passages are extremely rare in which he adopts the same interpretation as Cyril of the confession: “the Word became flesh,” and the doctrine of the deification of all human nature by the Incarnation is not represented, or, at any rate, only extremely doubtfully represented, by him. (Passages referring to it are not wholly awanting, but they arc extremely rare.) He rather explains the incarnation of the Word from another point of view, and accordingly, though he has points of contact with Origen, he describes it quite differently from the Greeks. Starting from the speculative consideration, to him a certainty, that it is always the whole Trinity that acts, and that its operation is absolutely invariable, the Incarnation was also a work of the whole Trinity. The Trinity produced the manifestation held to signify the Son (De trin. in many places). The Word (verbum) was not really more closely related than the 129whole Trinity to the Son. But since the Trinity could not act upon Jesus except as it always did, the uniqueness and power of the Person of Jesus Christ were to be derived from the receptiveness with which the man Jesus met the operatio divina; in other words, Augustine started from the human nature (soul) in his construction of the God-man. The human nature received the Word into its spirit; the human soul, because it acted as intermediary (medians), was also the centre of the God-man. Accordingly, the Word did not become flesh, if that be taken to mean that a transformation of any sort took place, but the divina operatio trinitatis could so work upon the human spirit of Jesus, that the Word was permanently attached to him, and was united with him to form one person.214214The figure often used by Augustine that the Word was united with the man Jesus as our souls are with our bodies is absolutely unsuitable. Augustine borrowed it from antiquity without realising that it really conflicted with his own conception. This receptiveness of Jesus was, as in all other cases, caused by the election of grace; it was a gift of God (munus dei), an incomprehensible act of divine grace; nay, it was the same divine grace that forgives us our sins which led the man Jesus to form one person with the Word and made him sinless. The Incarnation thus appeared simply to be parallel to the grace which makes us willing who were unwilling, and is independent of every historical fact.215215Enchir., 36: “Hic omnino granditer et evidenter dei gratia commendatur. Quid enim natura humana in homine Christi meruit ut in unitatem personæ unici filii dei singulariter esset assumpta! Quæ bona voluntas, cujus boni propositi studium, quæ bona opera præcesserunt, quibus mereretur iste homo una fieri persona cum deo? Numquid antea fuit homo, et hoc ei singulare beneficium præstitum est, cum singulariter promereretur deum? Nempe ex quo homo esse cœpit, non aliud cœpit esse homo quam dei filius: et hoc unicus, et propter deum verbum, quod illo suscepto caro factum est, utique deus. . . . Unde naturæ humanæ tanta gloria, nullis præcedentibus meritis sine dubitatione gratuita, nisi quia magna hic et sola dei gratia fideliter et sobrie considerantibus evidenter ostenditur, ut intellegant homines per eandem gratiam se justifcari a peccatis, per quam factum est ut homo Christus nullum habere posset peccatum.” 40: “Natus Christus insinuat nobis gratiam dei, qua homo nullis præcedentibus meritis in ipso exordio naturæ suæ quo esse cœpit, verbo deo copularetur in tantam personæ unitatem, ut idem ipse esset filius dei qui filius hominis, etc.” De dono persev., 67. Op. imperf., I., 138: “Qua gratia homo Jesus ab initio factus est bonus, eadem gratia homines qui sunt membra ejus ex malis fiunt boni.” De prædest. 30: “Est etiam præclarissimum lumen prædestinationis et gratiæ ipse salvator, ipse mediator dei et hominum homo Christus Jesus, qui ut hoc esset, quibus tandem suis vel operum vel fidei præcedentibus meritis natura humana quæ in illo est comparavit? . . . Singulariter nostra natura in Jesu nullis suis præcedentibus meritis accepit admiranda (scil. the union with deity). Respondeat hic homo deo, si audet, et dicat: Cur non et ego? Et si audierit: O homo, tu quis es qui respondeas deo, etc.” De corrept. et grat. 30: “Deus naturam nostram id est animam rationalem carnemque hominis Christi suscepit, susceptione singulariter mirabili vel mirabiliter singulari, ut nullis justitiæ suæ præcedentibus meritis filius dei sic esset ab initio quo esse homo cœpisset, ut ipse et verbum, quod sine initio est, una persona esset.” De pecc. mer. II. 27. Augustine says in Confess. VII. 25: “Ego autem aliquanto posterius didicisse me fateor, in eo quod verbum caro factum est, quomodo catholica veritas a Photini falsitate dirimatur.” Our account given above will have shown, however, that he never entirely learnt this. His Christology, at all times, retained a strong trace of affinity with that of Paul of Samosata and Photinus (only all merit was excluded on the part of the man Jesus), because he knew that his faith could not dispense with the man Jesus, and he supplanted the pseudo-theological speculation as to the Word by the evangelical one that the Word had become the content of Christ’s soul.130
But it was not so meant. While, indeed, it is here again evident, that the conception of the divine grace in Christ was, at bottom, subordinate to predestinating grace, and that the latter was independent of the former,216216Therefore, also, the uncertainty which we find already in Augustine as to whether the Incarnation was necessary. In De Trinit. XIII. 13, he answers the momentous question whether God might not have chosen another way, by leaving the possibility open, but describing the way selected as bonus, divinæ dignitati congruns and convenientior. By this he opened up a perilous perspective to the Middle Ages. yet Augustine by no means confined himself to dealing with the ultimate grounds of his conceptions. Rather the Incarnation benefited us; the salvation bestowed was dependent on it for us “who are his members” (qui sumus membra ejus).217217Op. imperf. l.c. But how far? Where Augustine speaks as a Churchman, he thinks of the sacraments, the powers of faith, forgiveness and love, which were the inheritance left the Church by the God-man (see under). But where he expresses the living Christian piety which actuated him, he had three wholly distinct conceptions by which he realised that Christ, the God-man, was the rock of his faith.218218He definitely rejects the idea held by him before his conversion that Christ was only a teacher; see, e.g., Confess. VII. 25: “Tantum sentiebam de domino Christo meo, quantum de excellentis sapientiæ viro, cui nullus posset æquari; præsertim quia mirabiliter natus ex virgine ad exemplum contemnendorum temporalium pro adipiscenda immortalitate divina pro nobis cura tantam auctoritatem magisterii meruisse videbatur.” The Incarnation was the great 131proof of God’s love towards us;219219De trin. XIII. 13: “Quid tam necessarium fuit ad erigendam spem nostram, quam ut demonstraretur nobis, quanti nos penderet deus quantumque diligeret?” That takes place through the Incarnation. the humility of God and Christ attested in it breaks down our pride and teaches us that “all goodness is made perfect in humility” (omne bonum in humilitate perficitur); the truth which was eternal is made comprehensible to us in Christ: lying in the dust we can apprehend God who redeems us by revealing himself in our lowliness.
Throughout all this we are met by the living impression of Christ’s person,220220The “work” of Christ falls to be discussed afterwards; for we cannot include Augustine’s views concerning it among his fundamental conceptions. In part they alternate (between redemption from the devil, sacrifice, and removal of original sin by death), and in part they are dependant on his specific view of original sin. Where he indulges in expositions of practical piety, he has no theory at all regarding Christ’s work. and it is humility, which Paul also regarded as so important, that stands out as its clearest and most weighty attributes.221221The clearest, and on account of the historical connection the most decisive, testimony is given in Confess. VII. 24-27, where, in telling what Christ had become to him, he at the same time explains why Neoplatonism was insufficient. He knew what the Neoplatonists perceived, but “quærebam viam comparandi roboris quod esset idoneum ad fruendum te, nec inveniebam donec amplecterer mediatorem dei et hominem, hominem Christum Jesum vocantem et dicentem: Ego sum via et veritas et vita, et cibum, cui capiendo invalidus eram, miscentem carni; quoniam verbum caro factum est, ut infantiæ nostræ lactesceret sapientia tua per quam creasti omnia. Non enim tenebam dominum meum Jesum, humilis humilem, nec cujus rei magistra esset ejus infirmitas noveram. Verbum enim tuum æterna veritas . . . subditos erigit ad se ipsam: in inferioribus autem ædificavit sihi humilem domum de limo nostro, per quam subdendos deprimeret a seipsis et ad se trajiceret, sanans tumorem et nutriens amorem, ne fiducia sui progrederentur longius, sed potius infirmarentur videntes ante pedes sues infirmam divinitatem ex participatione tunicæ pelliceæ nostræ, et lassi prosternerentur in eam, illa autem surgens lavaret eos.” He then explains in the sequel that the Neoplatonic writings led him to thoroughly understand the nature of God, but: “garriebam plane quasi peritus, et nisi in Christo salvatore nostro viam tuam quærerem, non peritus, sed periturus essem.” I sought to be wise, puffed up by knowledge. “Ubi enim erat illa ædificans caritas a fundamento humilitatis, quod est Christus Jesus?” This love rooted in humility those writings could not teach me. It was from the Bible I first learned: “quid interesset inter præsumptionem et confessionem, inter videntes quo eundun sit nec videntes qua, et viam ducentem ad beatificam patriam, non tantum cernendam, sed et habitandam.” Now I read Paul. “Et apparuit mihi una facies eloquiorum castorum. Et cœpi et inveni quidquid illac verum legeram, hac cum commendatione gratiæ tuæ dici, ut qui videt non sic glorietur quasi non acceperit, non solum id quod videt, sed etiam ut videat, et ut te non solum admoneatur ut videat, sed etiam sanetur ut teneat, et qui de longinquo videre non potest, viam tamen ambulet, qua veniat et videat et teneat.” For if a man delights in the law of God after the inner man, what does he do with the other law in his members? . . . What shall wretched man do? Who shall deliver him from the body of this death? Who but thy grace through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the handwriting which was against us was abolished. “Hoc illæ litteræ non habent. Non habent illæ paginæ vultum pietatis hujus, lacrimas confessionis, sacrificium tuum, spiritum contribulatum. . . . Nemo ibi cantat: Nonne deo subdita erit anima mea. Ab ipso enim salutare meum. Nemo ibi audit vocantem: Venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis. Dedignantur ab eo discere quoniam mitis est et humilis corde. Abscondisti enim hæc a sapientibus et prudentihus, et revelasti ea parvulis.” “For it is one thing from the mountain’s wooded top to see the land of peace and yet to find no way to it, and another to keep steadfastly on the way thither.” Compare with this the elaborate criticism of Platonism in De civit. dei, X., esp. ch. 24 and 32, where Christ is presented as “universalis animæ liberandæ via,” while his significance is for the rest explained much more in the popular Catholic fashion than in the Confessions. In ch. 1 ff. there is even an attempt to conceive the angels and saints as a heavenly hierarchy as the Greeks do. The type of humility exhibited in majesty—this it was that overpowered Augustine: pride was sin, and humility was the sphere and force of goodness. From this he learned and implanted in the Church the new disposition of reverence for 132humility. The new bias which he thus gave to Christology continued to exert its influence in the Middle Ages, and displayed itself in rays of varying brilliancy and strength; although, as a consequence of the Adoptian controversy, Greek Christology once more entered in force, from the ninth century, and hindered piety from expressing its knowledge clearly in dogma. We now understand also why Augustine attached such value to the human element (homo) in Christ. This was not merely due to a consequence of his theology (see above), but it was in a much higher degree the pious view of Christ that demanded this conception. He could not realise Christ’s humility with certainty in the Incarnation; for the latter sprang from the universal working of God, predestinating grace, and Jesus’ receptiveness; but humility was the constant “habit” of the divino-human personality. Thus the true nature of Jesus Christ was really known: “strength is made perfect in weakness” (robur in infirmitate perficitur). That lowliness, suffering, shame, misery, and death are means of sanctification; nay, that selfless and therefore ever suffering love is the only means of sanctification (“I sanctify myself for them”); that what is great and 133good always appears in a lowly state, and by the power of the contrast triumphs over pride; that humility alone has an eye wherewith to see the divine; that every feeling in the good is accompanied by the sense of being pardoned—that was the very core of Augustine’s Christology. He, for his part, did not drag it into the region of æsthetics, or direct the imagination to busy itself with separate visions of lowliness. No, with him it still existed wholly on the clear height of ethical thought, of modest reverence for the purport of Christ’s whole life, whose splendour had been realised in humility. “Reverence for that which is beneath us is a final stage which mankind could and had to reach. But what was involved not only in despising the earth and claiming a higher birthplace, but in recognising lowliness and poverty, ridicule and contempt, shame and misery, suffering and death as divine, nay, in revering sin and transgression not as hindrances, but as furtherances of sanctification.” Augustine could have written these words; for no idea was more strongly marked in his view of Christ than that he had ennobled what we shrank from—shame, pain, sorrow, death—and had stripped of value what we desired—success, honour, enjoyment. “By abstinence he rendered contemptible all that we aimed at, and because of which we lived badly. By his suffering he disarmed what we fled from. No single sin can be committed if we do not desire what he despised, or shirk what he endured.”
But Augustine did not succeed in reducing this conception of the person of Christ to dogmatic formulas. Can we confine the sun’s ray in a bucket? He held by the old formulas as forming an element of tradition and as expressing the uniqueness of Christ; but to him the true foundation of the Church was Christ, because he knew that the impression made by his character had broken down his own pride, and had given him the power to find God in lowliness and to apprehend him in humility. Thus the living Christ had become to him the truth222222Augustine accordingly testifies that in order that the truth which is perceived should also be loved and extolled, a person is necessary who should conduct us and that on the path of humility. This is the burden of his Confessions. The truth itself had been shown clearly to him by the Neoplatonists; but it had not become his spiritual possession. Augustine knew only one person capable of so impressing the truth as to make it loved and extolled, and he alone could do this, because he was the revelation of the verbum dei in humilitate. When Christendom has attained securely and clearly to this “Christology,” it will no longer demand to be freed from the yoke of Christology. and the way to 134blessedness, and he who was preached by the Church his authority.223223This is linked together by Augustine in a wonderful fashion. The scepticism of the thinker in genre and the doubts, never overcome in his own mind as to the Catholic doctrine in specie, demanded that Christ should be the indisputable authority of the Church. To this is added, in connection with gratia infusa, the Christ of the sacraments. I do not discuss this authoritative Christ more fully, because he coincides with the authority of the Church itself, and we have already dealt with the latter.
But what is the beatific fatherland, the blessed life, to which Christ is the way and the strength? We have already discussed it (p. 91 f.), and we need only here mention a few additional points.
The blessed life is eternal peace, the constant contemplation of God in the other world.224224De civ. dei XIX. 13: “Pax cælestis civitatis ordinatissima et concordissima societas fruendi deo et invicem in deo.” Enchir. 29: “Contemplatio ejus artifices, qui vocat ea quæ non sunt tamquam ea quæ sunt, atque in mensura et numero et pondere cuncta disponit,” see 63. Knowledge remains man’s goal; even the notion of the enjoyment of God (fruitio dei), or that other of heavenly peace, does not certainly divert us from it.225225Yet the conception of blessedness as peace undoubtedly involves a tendency to think primarily of the will. Knowledge, is, however, contrasted with action, and the future state is wholly different from the present. From this it follows that Augustine retained the popular Catholic feeling that directed men in this life wholly to hope, asceticism, and the contemplation [of God] in worship, for though that can never be attained in this world which the future will bring, yet life here must be regulated by the state which will be enjoyed afterwards. Hence Augustine championed monachism and opposed Jovinian so decidedly; hence he regarded the world in the same light as the ancient Catholic Fathers; hence he valued as highly as they did the distinction between precepts and counsels; hence he never looked even on the highest blessings (munera dei) which we can here enjoy as containing the reality, but only a 135pledge and similitude; for set in the sphere of the transitory they were themselves transitory; hence, finally, he did not think of the earthly Church when seeking to realise the first and last things, for God alone, constantly seen and enjoyed, was the supreme blessing; and even the divine kingdom, so far as it was earthly, was transitory.
But even here much that was new emerged in the form of undercurrents, and the old was modified in many respects, a few details being almost set aside. It is therefore easy to point to numerous dissonances in Augustine’s idea of the goal; but he who does not criticise like an irresponsible critic or impartial logician will admit that he knows no more than Augustine, and that he also cannot do better than alternate between different points of view. Let us pick out the following points in detail.
1. Augustine put an end to the doubt whether virtue was not perhaps the supreme good; he reduced virtues to dependance on God—to grace; see Ep. 155, 12 sq.226226The whole of Book XIX. of De civit. dei—it is perhaps on the whole the most important—comes to be considered here. In Ch. IV., it is expressly denied that virtue is the supreme good. He, indeed, re-admitted the thought at a new and higher stage—merits called forth by grace, righteousness made perfect by love. But the mood at any rate is changed.
2. Augustine did not follow the lead of the Greek Church: he did not cultivate systematic mysticism with a view to the future state, or regard and treat the cultus as a means by which to anticipate deification. He set aside the elements of physical magic in religious doctrine, and by this means spiritualised the ideas of the other world. The ascetic life of the churchman was to be spiritual and moral. Statements, indeed, are not wholly wanting in his works to the effect that eternal life can be experienced in ecstatic visions in this world; but he is thinking then especially of Biblical characters (Paul), and in the course of his Christian development he thrust the whole conception more and more into the background.
3. Augustine’s profound knowledge of the will, and his perception of the extent to which the latter swayed even knowledge, led to his discovery of the principle, that goodness and 136blessing, accordingly also final salvation, coincided in the dependance of the will on God. By this means he broke through intellectualism, and a superlative blessing was shown to exist even in this world. “It is a good thing for me to cleave to God.” This “cleaving” is produced by the Holy Spirit, and he thereby imparts love and blessedness to the heart.227227See De spiritu et lit. 5 (the passage follows afterwards). In presence of the realisation of this blessedness, the antithesis of time and eternity, life and death, disappears.228228That Augustine was able from this point of view to make the conscious feeling of blessedness a force entering into the affairs of this world, is shown by the passage De civit. dei XIX. 14, which, indeed, so far as I know, is almost unique. “Et quoniam (Christianus) quamdin est in isto mortali corpore, peregrinatur a domino, ambulat per fidem non per speciem; ac per hoc omnem pacem vel corporis vel animæ vel simul corporis et animæ refert ad illam pacem, quæ homini mortali est cum immortali deo, ut ei sit ordinata in fide sub æterna lege obœdientia. Jam vero quia duo præcipua præcepta, hoc est dilectionem dei et dilectionem proximi, docet magister deus . . . consequens est, ut etiam proximo ad diligendum deum consulat, quem jubetur sicut se ipsum diligere (sic uxori, sic filiis, sic domesticis, sic ceteris quibus potuerit hominibus), et ad hoc sibi a proximo, si forte indiget, consuli velit; ac per hoc erit pacatus, quantum in ipso est, omni homini pace hominum, id est ordinata concordia cujus hic ordo est, prinmm ut nulli noceat, deinde ut etiam prosit cui potuerit. Primitus ergo inest ei suorum cura; ad eos quippe habet opportuniorem facilioremque aditum consulendi, vel naturæ ordine vel ipsius societatis humanæ. Unde apostolus dicit: ‘Quisquis autem suis et maxime domesticis non providet, fidem denegat et est infideli deterior.’ Hinc itaque etiam pax domestica oritur, id est ordinati imperandi obœdiendique concordia cohabitantium. Imperaut enim, qui consulunt: sicut vir uxori, parentes finis, domini servis. . . . Sed in domo justi viventes ex fide et adhuc ab illa cælesti civitate peregrinantis etiam qui imperant serviunt eis, quibus videntur imperare. Neque enim dominandi cupiditate imperant, sed officio consulendi, nec principandi superbia, sed providendi misericordia.”
4. Starting from this, he arrived at a series of views which necessarily exerted a powerful influence on the popular frame of mind.
(a) Of the three virtues, graces, by which man clings to God—faith, love, and hope—love continues to exist in eternity. Accordingly, love, unchanging and grateful, connects this world with the next.
(b) Thereby, however, the quietism of knowledge is also modified. Seeing is to be nothing but loving; an element of adjustment of all discords in feeling and will is introduced into the notion of blessedness, and although “rational contemplation” 137(contemplatio rationalis) is always ranked above “rational action” (actio rationalis), a high value is always attached to practical and active love.229229The element of “pax” obtains a value higher than and independent of knowledge (see above). That is shown also in the fact that the definitive state of the unsaved (De civit. dei, XIX., 28) is not described as ignorance, but as constant war: “Quod bellum gravius et amarius cogitari potest, quam ubi voluntas sic adversa est passioni et passio voluntati, ut nullius earum victoria tales inimicitiæ finiantur, et ubi sic confligit cum ipsa natura corporis vis doloris, ut neutrum alteri cedat? Hic [in terra] enim quando contingit iste conflictus, aut dolor vincit et sensum mors adimit, aut natura vincit et dolorem sanitas tollit. Ibi autem et dolor permanet ut affligat, et natura perdurat ut sentiat; quia utrumque ideo non deficit, ne pœna deficiat.” Undoubtedly, as regards the sainted (see Book, XXII.), the conception comes again and again to the front that their felicity will consist in seeing God.
(c) A higher meaning was now given, not indeed to the earthly world, but to the earthly Church and its peculiar privileges (within it) in this world. The idea of the city of God on earth, formulated long before by others, was yet, as we shall see in the next section, first raised by Augustine into the sphere of religious thought. In front of the Holy of Holies, the first and last things, he beheld, as it were, a sanctuary, the Church on earth, with the blessings granted it by God. He saw that it was a self-rewarding task, nay, a sacred duty, to cherish this sanctuary, to establish it in the world, to rank it higher than worldly ties, and to devote to it all earthly goods, in order again to receive them from it as legitimate possessions. He thus, following, indeed, the impulses given by the Western tradition, also created, if we may use so bold a phrase, a religion of the second order. But this second-order religion, was not, as in the case of the Greeks, the formless creation of a superstitious cultus. It was on the contrary a doctrine which dealt with the Church in its relation to the world as an active and moral power transforming and governing society, as an organism, in which Christ was actively present, of the sacraments, of goodness and righteousness. Ecclesiasticism and theology were meant to be thoroughly united, the former serving the latter, the one like Martha, the other like Mary.230230Augustine has (De trin. I. 20) applied this comparison to the Churches of the future and present world; we may also adapt it to the relations of his doctrines of the Church and of God. They ministered to 138the same object, and righteousness made perfect by love was the element in which both lived.231231Ritschl published in his Treatise on the method of the earliest history of dogma (Jahrb. f. deutsche Theol., 1871) the grand conception that the Areopagite in the East, and Augustine in the West, were parallels; that the former founded a ritualistic ecclesiasticism, the latter an ecclesiasticism of moral tasks, in the service of a world-wide Christianity that both thus modified in the same direction, but with entirely different means, the old state of feeling (the bare hope of the future life). This conception is substantially correct If we keep firm hold of the fact that the traditional popular Catholic system was not modified by either to its utmost limit, and that both followed impulses which had been at work in their Churches even before their time. The doctrine regarding the Church was not Augustine’s “central idea,” but he took what every Catholic was certain of, and made it a matter of clearer, in part for the first time of any clear, conviction; and moved by very varied causes, he finally produced an ecclesiasticism whose independent value he himself never thoroughly perceived.
(d) While the ascetic life remained the ideal for the individual, Augustine modified the popular tendency also in monachism by never forgetting, with all his appreciation of external works (poverty, virginity, etc.), that faith, hope, and charity were alone of decisive importance, and that therefore the worth of the man who possessed these virtues might no longer be determined by his outward performances. He knew, besides, better than anyone else, that external works might be accomplished with a godless heart—not only by heretical monks, where this was self-evident, but also by Catholics, Ep., 78, 79, and, uniting ascetics as closely as possible to the Church, he urged them to engage in active work. Here, again, we see that he broke through the barren system which made blessedness consist in contemplatio rationalis and that alone.
This is, in brief, Augustine’s doctrine of the first and last things, together with indications that point to that sphere which belongs though not directly yet indirectly to those things, viz., the equipment and tasks of the Church in our present state. “Doctrine” of the first and last things is really an incorrect expression; for, and this is the supreme thing to be said in closing the subject, it was not to him a matter of “doctrine,” but of the faithful reproduction of his experiences. The most thorough-going modification by Augustine of traditional dogmatic Christianity consisted in his perception “that Christianity is 139ultimately different from everything called ‘doctrine’” (Reuter, p. 494). The law is doctrine; the gospel is power. The law produces enlightenment; the gospel peace. This Augustine clearly perceived, and thereby set religion in the sphere of a vital, spiritual experience, while he disassociated it from knowledge and inference. He once more, indeed, placed his newly-discovered truth on the plane of the old; for he was a Catholic Christian; but the connection with the past which belongs to every effective reformer need not prevent us from exhibiting his originality. Anyone who seeks to give effect to the “whole” Augustine and the “whole” Luther is suspected of seeking to evade the “true” Augustine and the “true” Luther; for what man’s peculiarity and strength are fully expressed in the breadth of all he has said and done? One or two glorious passages from Augustine should show, in conclusion, that he divested the Christian religion of what is called “doctrine” or “dogma.” “I possess nothing but will; I know nothing but that what is fleeting and transitory ought to be despised, and what is certain and eternal ought to be sought for. . . . If those who flee to thee find thee by faith, grant faith; if by virtue, grant virtue; if by knowledge, grant knowledge. Increase in me faith, hope, love.” “But we say that man’s will is divinely aided to do what is righteous, so that, besides his creation with free-will, and besides the doctrine by which he is taught how he should live, man receives the Holy Spirit in order that there may be created in his mind, even now when he still walks by faith, and not by appearance, the delight in and love of that supreme and unchangeable good which is God; in order that this pledge, as it were, having been given him of the free gift, a man may fervently long to cling to his Creator, and be inflamed with desire to enter into the participation of that true light, that he may receive good from him from whom he has his being. For if the way of truth be hidden, free-will is of no use except for sinning, and when that which ought to be done, or striven for, begins to reveal itself, nothing is done, or undertaken, and the good life is not lived, unless it delights and is loved. But that it may be loved, the love of God is diffused in our hearts, not by free choice emanating from ourselves, but by the Holy 140Spirit given unto us.” “What the law of works commands by threatening, the law of faith effects by believing. This is the wisdom which is called piety, by which the father of lights is worshipped, by whom every excellence is given, and every gift made perfect. . . . By the law of works God says: Do what I command; by the law of faith we say to God: Grant what thou commandest. . . . We have not received the spirit of this world, says the most constant preacher of grace, but the spirit which is from God, that we may know what things have been granted us by God. But what is the spirit of this world but the spirit of pride? . . . Nor are they deceived by any other spirit, who, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, are not subject to God’s righteousness. Whence it seems to me that he is a son of faith who knows from whom he hopes to receive what he does not yet possess, rather than he who attributes to himself what he has. We conclude that a man is not justified by the letter, but by the spirit, not by the merits of his deeds, but by free grace.”232232Solil. I. 5: “Nihil aliud habeo quam voluntatem; nihil aliud scio nisi fluxa et caduca spernenda esse, certa et æterna requirenda . . . si fide te inveniunt, qui ad te refugiunt, fidem da, si virtute, virtutem, si scientia, scientiam. Auge in me fidem, auge spem, auge caritatem.” De spiritu et lit., 5: “Nos autem dicimus humanam voluntatem sic divinitus adjuvari ad faciendam justitiam, ut præter quod creatus est homo cum libero arbitrio voluntatis, præterque doctrinam qua ei præcipitur quemadmodum vivere debeat, accipiat spiritum sanctum, quo fiat in animo ejus delectatio dilectioque summi illius atque incommutabilis boni quod deus est, etiam nunc cum adhuc per fidem ambulatur, nondum per speciem: ut hac sibi velut arra data gratuiti muneris inardescat inhærere creatori atque inflammetur accedere ad participationem illius veri luminis, ut ex illo ei bene sit, a quo habet ut sit. Nam neque liberum arbitrium quidquam nisi ad peccandum valet, si lateat veritatis via, et cum id quod agendum et quo nitendum est cœperit non latere, nisi etiam delectet et ametur, non agitur, non suscipitur, non bene vivitur. Ut autem diligatur, caritas dei diffunditur in cordibus nostris, non per arbitrium liberum quod surgit ex nobis, sed per spiritum sanctum qui datus est nobis.” L.c., 22: “Quod operum lex minando imperat, hoc fidei Iex credendo impetrat. Ipsa est illa sapientia quæ pietas vocatur, qua colitur pater luminum, a quo est omne datum optimum et omne donum perfectum. . . . Lege operum dicit deus: Fac quod jubeo; lege fidei dicitur deo: Da quod jubes. . . . Non spiritum hujus mundi accepimus, ait constantissimus gratiæ prædicator, sed spiritum qui ex deo est, ut sciamus quæ a deo donata sunt nobis. Quis est autem spiritus mundi hujus, nisi superbiæ spiritus? . . . Nec alio spiritu decipiuntur etiam illi qui ignorantes dei justitiam et suam justitiam volentes constituere, justitiæ dei non sunt subjecti. Unde mihi videtur magis esse fidei filius, qui novit a quo speret quod nondum habet, quam qui sibi tribuit id quod habet. Colligimus non justificari hominem littera, sed spiritu, non factorum meritis, sed gratuita gratia.”
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