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Augustine, Saint, of Hippo
AUGUSTINE, SAINT, OF HIPPO.
1. Formative Period.
1. Sources for a Biography.
Augustine, bishop of Hippo (Lat. Augustinus; the prænomen Aurelius given by Orosius, Prosper, and others, has no evidence in his own writings, or in letters addressed to him), is not only the most important of the Fathers of the early Church, but at the same time the one best known through a variety of specially full and useful sources. He was one of the most fertile writers of the early period, and the multiplication of his manuscripts has allowed his works to come down relatively complete in number. Among these, the Confessiones and the Retractationes have a unique value for the history of primitive church life, while others are full of biographical details. Moreover, a countryman of his, Possidius, Bishop of Calama, who was in close relations with him for forty years and present at his death, has given us a life which deserves a place of honor in early hagiography. We have thus remarkably satisfactory sources both as to Augustine’s life and as to his literary work. He himself, in his Confessiones (written between 397 and 400), has described the events of his first thirty-three years; and for the rest of his life we have both the treatises and letters, which begin about the time when the Confessiones stop, as well as the biography by Possidius. For the historical understanding of his works, as well as for their dates and criticism, Augustine himself has left in the Retractationes (completed at the end of 427) a unique guide. In this review he has taken up each one of his writings, except the letters and sermons, in chronological order, with the purpose of explaining things which might be misconstrued or of restating them in a better way; and Possidius has given us also a comprehensive and systematic list of all the writings, as an appendix to his biography.
2. Boyhood. Parental Influences.
Augustine is the first ecclesiastical author the whole course of whose development can be clearly traced, as well as the first in whose case we are able to determine the exact period covered by his career, to the very day. He informs us himself that he was born at Thagaste (Tagaste; now Suk Arras), in proconsular Numidia, Nov. 13, 354; he died at Hippo Regius (just south of the modern Bona) Aug. 28, 430. [Both Suk Arras and Bona are in the present Algeria, the first 60 m. w. by s. and the second 65 m. w. of Tunis, the ancient Carthage.] His father Patricius, as a member of the council, belonged to the influential classes of the place; he was, however, in straitened circumstances, and seems to have had nothing remarkable either in mental equipment or in character, but to have been a lively, sensual, hot-tempered person, entirely taken up with his worldly concerns, and unfriendly to Christianity until the close of his life; he became a catechumen shortly before Augustine reached his sixteenth year (369-370). To his mother Monnica (so the manuscripts write her name, not Monica; b. 331, d. 387) Augustine later believed that he owed what he became. But though she was evidently an honorable, loving, self-sacrificing, and able woman, she was not always the ideal of a Christian mother that tradition has made her appear. Her religion in earlier life has traces of formality and worldliness about it; her ambition for her son seems at first to have had little moral earnestness and she regretted his Manicheanism more than she did his early sensuality. It seems to have been through Ambrose and Augustine that she attained the mature personal piety with which she left the world. Of Augustine as a boy his parents were intensely proud. He received his first education at Thagaste, learning to read and write, as well as the rudiments of Greek and Latin literature, from teachers who followed the old traditional pagan methods. He seems to have had no systematic instruction in the Christian faith at this period, and though enrolled among the catechumens, apparently was near baptism only when an illness and his own boyish desire made it temporarily probable.
3. Schooling and Early Marriage.
His father, delighted with his son’s progress in his studies, sent him first to the neighboring Madaura, and then to Carthage, some two days’ journey away. A year’s enforced idleness, while the means for this more expensive schooling were being accumulated, proved a time of moral deterioration; but we must be on our guard against forming our conception of Augustine’s vicious living from the Confessiones alone. To speak, as Mommsen does, of ” frantic dissipation” is to attach too much weight to his own penitent expressions of self-reproach. Looking back as a bishop, he naturally regarded his whole life up to the ” conversion” which led to his baptism as a period of wandering from the right way; but not long after this conversion, he judged differently, and found, from one point of view, the turning point of his career in his taking up philosophy in his nineteenth year. This view of his early life, which may be traced also in the Confessiones, is probably nearer the truth than the popular conception of a youth sunk in all kinds of immorality. When he began the study of rhetoric at Carthage, it is true that (in company with comrades 366whose ideas of pleasure were probably much more gross than his) he drank of the cup of sensual pleasure. But his ambition prevented him from allowing his dissipations to interfere with his studies. His son Adeodatus was born in the summer of 372, and it was probably the mother of this child whose charms enthralled him soon after his arrival at Carthage about the end of 370. But he remained faithful to her until about 385, and the grief which he felt at parting from her shows what the relation had been. In the view of the civilization of that period, such a monogamous union was distinguished from a formal marriage only by certain legal restrictions, in addition to the informality of its beginning and the possibility of a voluntary dissolution. Even the Church was slow to condemn such unions absolutely, and Monnica seems to have received the child and his mother publicly at Thagaste. In any case Augustine was known to Carthage not as a roysterer but as a quiet honorable student. He was, however, internally dissatisfied with his life. The Hortensius of Cicero, now lost with the exception of a few fragments, made a deep impression on him. To know the truth was henceforth his deepest wish. About the time when the contrast between his ideals and his actual life became intolerable, he learned to conceive of Christianity as the one religion which could lead him to the attainment of his ideal. But his pride of intellect held him back from embracing it earnestly; the Scriptures could not bear comparison with Cicero; he sought for wisdom, not for humble submission to authority.
4. Comes Under Manichean Influences.
In this frame of mind he was ready to be affected by the Manichean propaganda which was then actively carried on in Africa, without apparently being much hindered by the imperial edict against assemblies of the sect. Two things especially attracted him to the Manicheans: they felt at liberty to criticize the Scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, with perfect freedom; and they held chastity and self denial in honor. The former fitted in with the impression which the Bible had made on Augustine himself; the latter corresponded closely to his mood at the time. The prayer which he tells us he had in his heart then, ” Lord, give me chastity and temperance, but not now,” may be taken as the formula which represents the attitude of many of the Manichean auditores. Among these Augustine was classed during his nineteenth year; but he went no further, though he held firmly to Manicheanism for nine years, during which he endeavored to convert all his friends, scorned the sacraments of the Church, and held frequent disputations with catholic believers.
5. Teaches at Thagaste.
Having finished his studies, he returned to Thagaste and began to teach grammar, living in the house of Romanianus, a prominent citizen who had been of much service to him since his father’s death, and whom he converted to Manicheanism. Monnica deeply grieved at her son’s heresy, forbade him her house, until reassured by a vision that promised his restoration. She comforted herself also by the word of a certain bishop (probably of Thagaste) that ” the child of so many tears could not be lost.” He seems to have spent little more than a year in Thagaste, when the desire for a wider field, together with the death of a dear friend, moved him to return to Carthage as a teacher of rhetoric.
6. Rejection of Manicheanism. Removal to Rome.
The next period was a time of diligent study, and produced (about the end of 380) the treatise, long since lost, De pulchro et apto. Meanwhile the hold of Manicheanism on him was loosening. Its feeble cosmology and metaphysics had long since failed to satisfy him, and the astrological superstitions springing from the credulity of its disciples offended his reason. The members of the sect, unwilling to lose him, had great hopes from a meeting with their leader Faustus of Mileve; but when he came to Carthage in the autumn of 382, he too proved disappointing, and Augustine ceased to be at heart a Manichean. He was not yet, however, prepared to put anything in the place of the doctrine he had held, and remained in outward communion with his former associates while he pursued his search for truth. Soon after his Manichean convictions had broken down, he left Carthage for Rome, partly, it would seem, to escape the preponderating influence of his mother on a mind which craved perfect freedom of investigation. Here he was brought more than ever, by obligations of friendship and gratitude, into close association with Manicheans, of whom there were many in Rome, not merely auditores but perfecti or fully initiated members. This did not last long, however, for the prefect Symmachus sent him to Milan, certainly before the beginning of 385, in answer to a request for a professor of rhetoric.
7. Life Under Ambrose at Milan.
The change of residence completed Augustine’s separation from Manicheanism. He listened to the preaching of Ambrose and by it was made acquainted with the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures and the weakness of the Manichean Biblical criticism, but he was not yet ready to accept catholic Christianity. His mind was still under the influence of the skeptical philosophy of the later Academy. This was the least satisfactory stage in his mental development, though his external circumstances were increasingly favorable. He had his mother again with him now, and shared a house and garden with her and his devoted friends Alypius and Nebridius, who had followed him to Milan; his assured social position is shown also by the fact that, in deference to his mother’s entreaties, he was formally betrothed to a woman of suitable station. As a catechumen of the Church, he listened regularly to the sermons of Ambrose. The bishop, though as yet he knew nothing of Augustine’s internal struggles, had welcomed him in the friendliest manner both for his own and for Monnica’s sake. Yet Augustine was attracted only by Ambrose’s eloquence, not by his faith; now he agreed, and now he questioned. Morally his life was perhaps at its lowest point. On his betrothal, he had put 367away the mother of his son; but neither the grief which he felt at this parting nor regard for his future wife, who was as yet too young for marriage, prevented him from taking a new concubine for the two intervening years. Sensuality, however, began to pall upon him, little as he cared to struggle against it. His idealism was by no means dead; he told Romanian, who came to Milan at this time on business, that he wished he could live altogether in accordance with the dictates of philosophy; and a plan was even made for the foundation of a community retired from the world, which should live entirely for the pursuit of truth. With this project his intention of marriage and his ambition interfered, and Augustine was further off than ever from peace of mind.
8. Attracted to Neoplatonism.
In his thirty-first year he was strongly attracted to Neoplatonism by the logic of his development. The idealistic character of this philosophy awoke unbounded enthusiasm, and he was attracted to it also by its exposition of pure intellectual being and of the origin of evil. These doctrines brought him closer to the Church,. though he did not yet grasp the full significance of its central doctrine of the personality of Jesus Christ. In his earlier writings he names this acquaintance with the Neoplatonic teaching and its relation to Christianity as the turning-point of his life, though in the Confessiones it appears only as a stage on the long road of error. The truth, as it may be established by a careful comparison of his earlier and later writings, is that his idealism had been distinctly strengthened by Neoplatonism, which had at the same time revealed his own will, and not a natura altera in him, as the subject of his baser desires. This made the conflict between ideal and actual in his life more unbearable than ever. Yet his sensual desires were still so strong that it seemed impossible for him to break away from them.
9. Conversion to Christianity.
Help came in a curious way. A countryman of his, Pontitianus, visited him and told him things which he had never heard about the monastic life and the wonderful conquests over self which had been won under its inspiration. Augustine’s pride was touched; that the unlearned should take the kingdom of heaven by violence, while he with all his learning, was still held captive by the flesh, seemed unworthy of him. When Pontitianus had gone, with a few vehement words to Alypius, he went hastily with him into the garden to fight out this new problem. Then followed the scene so often described. Overcome by his conflicting emotions he left Alypius and threw himself down under a fig-tree in tears. From a neighboring house came a child’s voice repeating again and again the simple words Tolle, lege, ” Take up and read.” It seemed to him a heavenly indication; he picked up the copy of St. Paul’s epistles which he had left where he and Alypius had been sitting, and opened at Romans xiii. When he came to the words, ” Let us walk honestly as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness,” it seemed to him that a decisive message had been sent to his own soul, and his resolve was taken. Alypius found a word for himself a few lines further, ” Him that is weak in the faith receive ye;” and together they went into the house to bring the good news to Monnica. This was at the end of the summer of 386.
10. Baptism. Ordination in Africa.
Augustine, intent on breaking wholly with his old life, gave up his position, and wrote to Ambrose to ask for baptism. The months which intervened between that summer and the Easter of the following year, at which, according to the early custom, he intended to receive the sacrament, were spent in delightful calm at a country-house, put at his disposal by one of his friends, at Cassisiacum (Casciago, 47 m. n. by w. of Milan). Here Monnica, Alypius, Adeodatus, and some of his pupils kept him company, and he still lectured on Vergil to them and held philosophic discussions. The whole party returned to Milan before Easter (387), and Augustine, with Alypius and Adeodatus, was baptized. Plans were then made for returning to Africa; but these were upset by the death of Monnica, which took place at Ostia as they were preparing to cross the sea, and has been described by her devoted son in one of the most tender and beautiful passages of the Confessiones. Augustine remained at least another year in Italy, apparently in Rome, living the same quiet life which he had led at Cassisiacum, studying and writing, in company with his countryman Evodius, later bishop of Uzalis. Here, where he had been most closely associated with the Manicheans, his literary warfare with them naturally began; and he was also writing on free will, though this book was only finished at Hippo in 391. In the autumn of 388, passing through Carthage, he returned to Thagaste, a far different man from the Augustine who had left it five years before. Alypius was still with him, and also Adeodatus, who died young, we do not know when or where. Here Augustine and his friends again took up a quiet, though not yet in any sense a monastic, life in common, and pursued their favorite studies. About the beginning of 391, having found a friend in Hippo to help in the foundation of what he calls a monastery, he sold his inheritance, and was ordained presbyter in response to a general demand, though not without misgivings on his own part.
11. Presbyterate at Hippo.
The years which he spent in the presbyterate (391-395) are the last of his formative period. The very earliest works which fall within the time of his episcopate show us the fully developed theologian of whose special teaching we think when we speak of Augustinianism. There is little externally noteworthy in these four years. He took up active work not later than the Easter of 391, when we find him preaching to the candidates for baptism. The plans for a monastic community which had brought him to Hippo were now realized. In a garden given for the purpose by the bishop, Valerius, he founded his monastery, which seems to have been the first in Africa, and is of especial significance because it maintained a clerical school and thus 368made a connecting link between monasticism and the secular clergy. Other details of this period are that he appealed to Aurelius, bishop of Carthage, to suppress the custom of holding banquets and entertainments in the churches, and by 395 had succeeded, through his courageous eloquence, in abolishing it in Hippo; that in 392 a public disputation took place between him and a Manichean presbyter of Hippo, Fortunatus; that his treatise De fide et symbolo was prepared to be read before the council held at Hippo October 8, 393; and that after that he was in Carthage for a while, perhaps in connection with the synod held there in 394.
12. Beginnings of Polemic Activity.
The intellectual interests of these four years are more easily determined, principally concerned as they are with the Manichean controversy, and producing the treatises De utilitate credendi (391), De duabus animabus contra Manichæos (first half of 392), and Contra Adimantum (394 or 395). His activity against the Donatists also begins in this period, but he is still more occupied with the Manicheans, both from the recollections of his own past, and from his increasing knowledge of Scripture, which appears, together with a stronger hold on the Church’s teaching, in the works just named, and even more in others of this period, such as his expositions of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. Full as the writings of this epoch are, however, of Biblical phrases and terms,—grace and the law, predestination, vocation, justification, regeneration—a reader who is thoroughly acquainted with Neoplatonism will detect Augustine’s old love of it in a Christian dress in not a few places. He has entered so far into St. Paul’s teaching that humanity as a whole appears to him a massa peccati or peccatorum, which, if left to itself, that is, without the grace of God, must inevitably perish. However much we are here reminded of the later Augustine, it is clear that he still held the belief that the free will of man could decide his own destiny. He knew some who saw in Romans ix an unconditional predestination which took away the freedom of the will; but he was still convinced that this was not the Church’s teaching. His opinion on this point did not change till after he was a bishop.
2. Work as Bishop.
1. Election to the Bishopric.
The more widely known Augustine became, the more Valerius, the bishop of Hippo, was afraid of losing him on the first vacancy of some neighboring see, and desired to fix him permanently in Hippo by making him coadjutor-bishop,—a desire in which the people ardently concurred. Augustine was strongly opposed to the project, though possibly neither he nor Valerius knew that it might be held to be a violation of the eighth canon of Nicaea, which forbade in its last clause ” two bishops in one city” (Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, i, 407 sqq., Eng. transl., i, 409-410); and the primate of Numidia, Megalius of Calama, seems to have raised difficulties which sprang at least partly from a personal lack of confidence. But Valerius carried his plan through, and not long before Christmas, 395, Augustine was consecrated by Megalius. It is not known when Valerius died; but it makes little difference, since for the rest of his life he left the administration more and more in the hands of his assistant.
2. Possidius’s View of Augustine’s Services.
A complete narration of Augustine’s doings during the thirty-five years in which he was the glory of the little diocese would require a history of the African, almost of the whole Western, Church. Here we can do no more than briefly discuss some things which constitute his importance to later Christianity, and mention a few important biographical facts. Further details will be found in the articles Donatism, Pelagius, Semipelagianism, Monasticism, North African Church. The life of Augustine by his friend Possidius shows that its author was possessed by the desire to erect a suitable memorial to a man who was destined to have a lasting importance in the history of the Church; it is much more than a mere product of hagiography. He considers Augustine first as an author who has left so many works in refutation of heresy and encouragement of piety that few even of diligent students can master them all; and he feels himself therefore bound to include a brief account of his subject’s literary activity. Then he deals with the services which Augustine rendered to the peace and unity of the Church by his labors against the Donatists; and finally he attributes to Augustine’s encouragement of monasticism much of its growth, together with an actual regeneration of the clerical life. His view on the two latter points, if colored a little by the local point of view, is still the respectable opinion of a contemporary; but it does not altogether agree with the deliberate historical judgment of posterity. The Vandal invasion, which came like a spring frost upon the young life of the African Church, and the Mohammedan conquests, both prevented Augustine’s labors from having their full effect in Africa. Leaving aside for the moment the influence of his writings, one may really say that the condemnation of Pelagianism was the only permanant result of his work.
3. Doctrinal Importance of Augustine.
But his writings have continued to exert such an influence, by no means confined to the time of the early Church nor to African soil, as no other Father before or since has ever attained. If we look to the posthumous effects they have had, we may agree with the verdict of Possidius, and carry it further than was possible to a contemporary. Augustine is practically the father of all western Christianity after his time. It is true that Catholicism has never officially accepted his doctrine of grace in its entirety; but this fact is of relatively slight importance when we think of the colossal influence which his writings have had upon the gradual shaping of the Church’s doctrine as a whole—there is scarcely a single Roman Catholic dogma which is historically intelligible without reference to his teaching. And it is not only the dogmas of the Western Church over which he has exerted an unparalleled influence; its hierarchical and its scientific development both derive from 369him. The great struggle between the rival chiefs of medieval Christendom, the pope and the emperor, is explicable in its deepest meaning, intelligible in its course, only from his De civitate Dei; when medieval theology was most active, then it was most under his influence, and the scholastic movement was determined, not only in its speculations but in its very method, by him. From him, again, medieval mysticism, in both its authorized and its heretical forms, received its most decisive impulse; Augustinian influences must be taken into account in the study of all the so-called precursors of the Reformation. When, however, we have called him the father of medieval Catholicism, we have not yet said all. The effect of his teaching in the East has been, to be sure, slight and indirect; but the Reformers made an ally of him. The characteristic notes of what are specifically called the Reformed Churches, in contradistinction to the Lutheran, are especially founded upon Augustinian tradition. In the history of philosophy, too, he has been a force far beyond the Middle Ages; in both Descartes and Spinoza his voice may be distinctly heard.
4. Events of His Episcopate.
Space forbids any attempt to trace all the causes of these abiding effects; and in what remains to be said, biographical interest must be largely our guide. We know a considerable number of events in Augustine’s episcopal life which can be surely placed — the so-called third and eighth synods of Carthage in 397 and 403, at which, as at those still to be mentioned, he was certainly present; the disputation with the Manichean Felix at Hippo in 404; the eleventh synod of Carthage in 407; the conference with the Donatists in Carthage, 411; the synod of Mileve, 416; the African general council at Carthage, 418; the journey to Cæsarea in Mauretania and the disputation with the Donatist bishop there, 418; another general council in Carthage, 419; and finally the consecration of Eraclius as his assistant in 426. None of these events, however, marks a decisive epoch in his life, which flowed on quietly and evenly during the whole time of his episcopate, except the last few months. Thus it will require careful study to determine the epochs in his intellectual development during this period.
1. His Anti-Manicheanism.
His special and direct opposition to Manicheanism did not last a great while after his consecration. About 397 he wrote a tractate Contra epistolam [Manichæi] quam vocant fundamenti; in the De agone christiano, written about the same time, and in the Confessiones, a little later, numerous anti-Manichean expressions occur. After this, however, he only attacked the Manicheans on some special occasion, as when, about 400, on the request of his ” brethren,” he wrote a detailed rejoinder to Faustus, a Manichean bishop, or made the treatise De natura boni out of his discussions with Felix; a little later, also, the letter of the Manichean Secundinus gave him occasion to write Contra Secundinum, which, in spite of its comparative brevity, he regarded as the best of his writings on this subject. In the succeeding period, he was much more occupied with anti-Donatist polemics, which in their turn were forced to take second place by the emergence of the Pelagian controversy.
2. His Anti-Pelagianism.
It has been thought that Augustine’s anti-Pelagian teaching grew out of his conception of the Church and its sacraments as a means of salvation; and attention was called to the fact that before the Pelagian controversy this aspect of the Church had, through the struggle with the Donatists, assumed special importance in his mind. But this conception should be denied. It is quite true that in 395 Augustine’s views on sin and grace, freedom and predestination, were not what they afterward came to be. But the new trend was given to them before the time of his anti-Donatist activity, and so before he could have heard anything of Pelagius. What we call Augustinianism was not a reaction against Pelagianism; it would be much truer to say that the latter was a reaction against Augustine’s views. He himself names the beginning of his episcopate as the turning-point. Accordingly, in the first thing which he wrote after his consecration, the De diversis quæstionibus ad Simplicianum (396 or 397), we come already upon the new conception. In no other of his writings do we see as plainly the gradual attainment of conviction on any point; as he himself says in the Retractiones, he was laboring for the free choice of the will of man, but the grace of God won the day. So completely was it won, that we might set forth the specifically Augustinian teaching on grace, as against the Pelagians and the Massilians, by a series of quotations taken wholly from this treatise. It is true that much of his later teaching is still undeveloped here; the question of Predestination (though the word is used) does not really come up; he is not clear as to the term ” election” ; and nothing is said of the ” gift of perseverance.” But what we get on these points later is nothing but the logical consequence of that which is expressed here, and so we have the actual genesis of Augustine’s predestinarian teaching under our eyes. It is determined by no reference to the question of infant baptism—still less by any considerations connected with the conception of the Church. The impulse comes directly from Scripture, with the help, it is true, of those exegetical thoughts which he mentioned earlier as those of others and not his own. To be sure, Paul alone can not explain this doctrine of grace; this is evident from the fact that the very definition of grace is non-Pauline. Grace is for Augustine, both now and later, not the misericordia peccata condonans of the Reformers, as justification is not the alteration of the relation to God accomplished by means of the accipere remissionem. Grace is rather the misericordia which displays itself in the divine inspiratio, and justification is justum or pium fieri as a result of this. We may even say that this grace is an interna illuminatio such as a study of Augustine’s Neoplatonism enables us easily to understand, which restores the connection with the divine bonum esse. He had long been convinced 370that ” not only the greatest but also the smallest good things can not be, except from him from whom are all good things, that is, from God;” and it might well seem to him to follow from this that faith, which is certainly a good thing, could proceed from the operation of God alone. This explains the idea that grace works like a law of nature, drawing the human will to God with a divine omnipotence. Of course this Neoplatonic coloring must not be exaggerated; it is more consistent with itself in his earlier writings than in the later, and he would never have arrived at his predestinarian teaching without the New Testament. With this knowledge, we are in a position to estimate the force of a difficulty which now confronted Augustine for the first time, but never afterward left him, and which has been present in the Roman Catholic teaching even down to the Councils of Trent and the Vatican. If faith depends upon an action of our own, solicited but not caused by vocation, it can only save a man when, per fidem gratiam accipiens, he becomes one who not merely believes in God but loves him also. But if faith has been already inspired by grace, and if, while the Scripture speaks of justification by faith, it is held (in accordance with the definition of grace) that justification follows upon the infusio caritatis,—then either the conception of the faith which is God-inspired must pass its fluctuating boundaries and approach nearer to that of caritas, or the conception of faith which is unconnected with caritas will render the fact of its inspiration unintelligible and justification by faith impossible. Augustine’s anti-Pelagian writings set forth this doctrine of grace more clearly in some points, such as the terms ” election,” ” predestination,” ” the gift of perseverance,” and also more logically; but space forbids us to show this here, as the part taken in this controversy by Augustine is so fully detailed elsewhere (see Pelagius; Semipelagianism). An enumeration of his contributions to this subject must suffice.
3. Anti-Pelagian Writings.
They are as follows: De peccatorum meritis et remissione (412); De spiritu et litera (412); De natura et gratia contra Pelagium (415); De perfectione justitiæ hominis (about 415); De gestis Pelagii (417); De gratia Christi et de peccato originali (418); De nuptiis et concupiscentia (419 and 420); De anima et ejus origine (about 419), which does not bear directly on Pelagianism, but answers a Pelagianizing critic of Augustine’s reserve on the question of traducianism and creationism; Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum ad Bonifatium, romanæ ecclesiæ episcopum (about 420); Contra Julianum (about 421); De gratia et libero arbitrio (426 or 427); De correptione et gratia (426 or 427); De prædestinatione sanctorum (428 or 429); De dono perseverantiæ (428 or 429); and the opus imperfectum written in the last years of his life, Contra secundam Juliani responsionem.
4. Activity Against Donatism.
In order to arrive at a decision as to what influence the Donatist controversy had upon Augustine’s intellectual development, it is necessary to see how long and how intensely he was concerned with it. We have seen that even before he was a bishop he was defending the catholic Church against the Donatists; and after his consecration he took part directly or indirectly in all the important discussions of the matter, some of which have been already mentioned, and defended the cause of the Church in letters and sermons as well as in his more formal polemical writings. The first of these which belongs to the period of his episcopate, Contra partem Donati, has been lost; about 400 he wrote the two cognate treatises Contra epistulam Parmeniani (the Donatist bishop of Carthage) and De baptismo contra Donatistas. He was considered by the schismatics as their chief antagonist, and was obliged to defend himself against a libelous attack on their part in a rejoinder now lost. From the years 401 and 402 we have the reply to the Donatist bishop of Cirta, Contra epistulam Petiliani, and also the Epistula ad catholicos de unitate ecclesiæ. The conflict was now reaching its most acute stage. After the Carthaginian synod of 403 had made preparations for a decisive debate with the Donatists, and the latter had declined to fall in with the plan, the bitterness on both sides increased. Another synod at Carthage the following year decided that the emperor should be asked for penal laws against the Donatists. Honorius granted the request; but the employment of force in matters of belief brought up a new point of discord between the two sides. When these laws were abrogated (409), the plan of a joint conference was tried once more in June, 411, under imperial authority, nearly 300 bishops being present from each side, with Augustine and Aurelius of Carthage as the chief representatives of the catholic cause. In the following year, the Donatists proving insubordinate, Honorius issued a new and severer edict against them, which proved the beginning of the end for the schism. For these years from 405 to 412 we have twenty-one extant letters of Augustine’s bearing on the controversy, and there were eight formal treatises, but four of these are lost. Those which we still have are: Contra Cresconium grammaticum (about 406); De unico baptismo (about 410 or 411), in answer to a work of the same name by Petilian; the brief report of the conference (end of 411); and the Liber contra Donatistas post collationem (probably 412). After this date, though he occasionally touched on the question in letters and sermons, he produced practically no more literary polemics in regard to it; we know of one lost anti-Donatist treatise of about 416, and still possess one written for a special occasion Contra Gaudentium, Donatistarum episcopum, about 420; but these are all.
5. Development of His Views.
The earliest of the extant works against the Donatists present the same views of the Church and its sacraments which Augustine developed later. The principles which he represented in this conflict are merely those which, in a simpler form, had either appeared in the anti-Donatist polemics before his time or had been part of his own earlier belief. What he did was to formulate them with more dogmatic precision, and to permeate the ordinary controversial theses with his own deep 371thoughts on unitas, caritas, and inspiratio gratiæ in the Church, thoughts which again trace their origin back to his Neoplatonic foundations. In the course of the conflict he changed his opinion about the methods to be employed; he had at first been opposed to the employment of force, but later came to the ” Compel them to come in” point of view. It may well be doubted, however, if the practical struggle with the schismatics had as much to do with Augustine’s development as has been supposed. Far more weight must be attached to the fact that Augustine had become a presbyter and a bishop of the catholic Church, and as such worked continually deeper into the ecclesiastical habit of thought. This was not hard for the son of Monnica and the reverent admirer of Ambrose. His position as a bishop may fairly be said to be the only determining factor in his later views besides his Neoplatonist foundation, his earnest study of the Scripture, and the predestinarian conception of grace which he got from this. Everything else is merely secondary. Thus we find Augustine practically complete by the beginning of his episcopate—about the time when he wrote the Confessiones. It would be too much to say that his development stood still after that; the Biblical and ecclesiastical coloring of his thoughts becomes more and more visible and even vivid; but such development as this is no more significant than the effect of the years seen upon a strong face; in fact, it is even less observable here—for while the characteristic features of his spiritual mind stand out more sharply as time goes on with Augustine, his mental force shows scarcely a sign of age at seventy. His health was uncertain after 386, and his body aged before the time; on Sept. 26, 426, he solemnly designated Eraclius (or Heraclius) as his successor, though without consecrating him bishop, and transferred to him such a portion of his duties as was possible. But his intellectual vigor remained unabated to the end. We see him, as Prosper depicts him in his chronicle, ” answering the books of Julian in the very end of his days, while the on-rushing Vandals were at the gates, and gloriously persevering in the defense of Christian grace.” In the third month of the siege of Hippo by the barbarian invaders, he fell ill of a fever, and, after lingering more than ten days, died Aug. 28, 430. He was able to read on his sick-bed; he had the Penitential Psalms placed upon the wall of his room where he could see them. Meditating upon them, he fulfilled what he had often said before, that even Christians revered for the sanctity of their lives, even presbyters, ought not to leave the world without fitting thoughts of penitence.
6. Additional Writings.
He left no property behind him but the books which he had procured for the library of the church, among which, according to Possidius, corrected copies of his own works were some of the most valuable. They constitute, in fact, Augustine’s legacy to the Church at large. Certain parts of it which have not been enumerated above may be mentioned here. He himself divided his writings into three classes: the 232 treatises (libri) discussed in the Retractiones; the letters; and the ” popular tractates, which the Greeks call homilies” (he calls them sermones ad populum in another place). He had intended to review the two latter classes as he did with the libri in the Retractiones, but death prevented him. In so far, therefore, as the index of Possidius fails us—and this is often the case, owing to the uncertainty of titles and the great number of letters and sermons—a critical study of these classes of writings is much more difficult to make than of the libri. The edition published by the Benedictines of St. Maur (Paris, 1679-1700) in eleven folio volumes affords a useful working basis; it includes 217 1etters, though the classification is not always justified, and a few more have come to light since. The sermons comprise a much larger number. Augustine must be considered, although his preaching did not please himself, as the greatest Western preacher of the early Church. He did not memorize his sermons, but after saturating himself with his subject, spoke from the inspiration of the moment; some of them he himself dictated for preservation after preaching them, while others were taken down by his hearers. Among those for which he is responsible are the series on the Gospel of John, dogmatically among his most interesting works (about 416), and the comments on the Psalms, partly preached (between 410 and 420).
7. Miscellaneous Works.
Of works not yet mentioned, those written after 395 and named in the Retractiones, may be classified under three heads—exegetical works; minor dogmatic, polemical, and practical treatises; and a separate class containing four more extensive works of special importance. The earliest of the minor treatises is De catechizandis rudibus (about 400), interesting for its connection with the history of catechetical instruction and for many other reasons. A brief enumeration of the others will suffice; they are: De opera monachorum (about 400); De bono conjugali and De sancta virginitate (about 401), both directed against Jovinian’s depreciation of virginity; De divinatione dæmonum (between 406 and 411); De fide et operibus (413), a completion of the argument in the De spiritu et litera, useful for a study of the difference between the Augustinian and the Lutheran doctrines of grace; De cura pro mortuis, interesting as showing his attitude toward superstition within the Church; and a few others of less interest. We come now to the four works which have deserved placing in a special category. One is the De doctrina christiana (begun about 397, finished 426), important as giving his theory of scriptural interpretation and homiletics; another is the Enchiridion de fide, spe, et caritate (about 421), noteworthy as an attempt at a systematic collocation of his thoughts. There remain the two doctrinal masterpieces, the De trinitate (probably begun about 400 and finished about 416) and the De civitate Dei (begun about 413, finished about 426). The last-named, beginning with an apologetic purpose, takes on later the form of a history of the City of God from its beginnings, 372 before the world was, to the time when it looks upward, beyond the world, to its heavenly goal. The closing years of his life, after the completion of the Retractationes in 426–427, were busy ones. Besides works already named, he wrote four others in these years: three against heresies, and the Speculum de scriptura sacra, a collection of the ethical teaching of the Scripture for popular use. We can not now tell whether the last paragraph of the Opus imperfectum or the latest of the letters were the last words he wrote; but the close of the letter is eminently characteristic of him: “That we may have a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and love, let this be your prayer for us (as it is ours for you), wherever you are; for, wherever we are, there is no place where he is not whose we are.”
Bibliography: The earliest printed ed. of the collected works was by Amerbach, 9 vols., Basel, 1506, reprinted Paris, 1515, lacking, however, the Epistolæ, Sermones, and Enarrationes in Psalmos, of the original edition; an ed. by Erasmus was published in 10 vols., Basel, 1529, often reprinted there, at Venice, and at Lyons; the next ed. by the theologians of the University of Louvain was in 10 vols., Antwerp, 1577, often reproduced (a great advance on both the others); the Benedictine ed., still the best, came next, 11 vols., Paris, 1679–1700 (the article Augustine in DCB, i, 222–224 gives the contents of this ed., volume by volume); other editions are by Leclerc, 12 vols., Antwerp [Amsterdam], 1700–03, Gaume, 11 vols., Paris, 1836–39, Antonelli, 14 vols., Venice, 1858–60, MPL, xxxii–xlvii; in CSEL fifteen volumes have appeared, 1887–1905 (this will be the definitive edition). An Eng. transl. of the most important works is in NPNF, 1st series, vols. i–viii (vol. i contains St. Augustine’s Life and Work by P. Schaff. This edition reproduces in revised form the fifteen volumes of the Edinburgh edition, Marcus Dods editor, and the three volumes on the New Testament and the six on the Psalms in the Oxford Library of the Fathers, with treatises not previously translated, making it superior to all previous translations). Of individual works editions that are noteworthy or convenient are the following: Civitas Dei, Opuscula selecta de ecclesia, De gratia et libero arbitrio, De prædestinatione, De dono perseverantiæ, De trinitate, In Joannem, and Confessiones are all in the Teubner series; Civitas Dei, Lat. text and Eng. transl., by H. Gee, 2 vols., London, 1893–94, and Lat. text with Fr. transl., 3 vols., Paris, 1846; Select Anti-Pelagian Treatises, Lat. text with introduction by W. Bright, Oxford, 1880. Translations of separate treatises worthy of mention are, in English: Confessions, by W. Watts, London, 1631, republished by W. G. T. Shedd, Andover, 1860, by W. H. Hutchings, London, 1883, by A. Smellie, ib. 1897, and by C. Bigg, ib. 1898; Letters, selected and translated by Mary H. Allies, ib. 1890; Homilies on John, by H. F. Stewart, ib. 1902; City of God, by J. Healey, 3 vols., ib. 1903; in German: Confessiones by A. Rapp, Bremen, 1889, by W. Bornemann, Gotha, 1889, and by E. Pfleiderer, Göttingen, 1902; Meditationes, by A. Dreier, Steyl, 1886; in French: La Cité de Dieu, by E. Saisset, 4 vols., Paris, 1855; Méditations, by Pelissier, ib. 1853; Lettres, by J. J. F. Poujoulat, 4 vols., ib. 1858; Les Confessions, by P. Janet. ib. 1857, and by C. Douais, ib. 1893. For the life of Augustine the chief sources are his Confessiones, Retractationes, and Epistolæ, and the Vita Augustini by his pupil Possidius, the latter ed. A. G. Cramer, Kiel, 1832, from which are culled the accounts in L. S. Tillemont, Mémoires . . . ecclésiastiques, vol. xi, Paris 1706 (Eng. transl., 2 vols., London, 1733–35), and in ASB, Aug. vi, pp. xxviii, 213–286. Modern accounts to be mentioned are: F. A. G. Kloth, Der heilige Kirchenlehrer Augustin, 3 vols., Aachen, 1839–40; J. J. F. Poujoulat, Histoire de St. Augustin, 3 vols., Paris, 1843; C. Bindemann, Der heilige Augustinus, 2 vols., Leipsic, 1844–55 (a standard work); F. Böhringer, Aurelius Augustinus, Bischof von Hippo, Stuttgart, 1878; U. J. C. Bourke, Life and Labours of St. Augustine, Dublin, 1880; R. W. Bush, St. Augustine, his Life and Times, London, 1883; C. H. Collette, St. Augustine; . . . his Life and Writings as affecting his Controversy with Rome, ib. 1883; Histoire de St. Augustin, 2 vols., Paris, 1886 (by a member of the Augustine Order); P. Schaff, Studies in Christian Biography, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine, New York, 1891; C. Wolfsgruber, Augustinus. Auf Grund des kirchengeschichtlichen Nachlasses von Kardinal Rauschen, Paderborn, 1898; A. Hatzfeld, St. Augustin, Paris, 1902 (Eng. transl. of earlier ed., London, 1898); J. Hudson, St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, ib. 1899; J. McCabe, St. Augustine and his Age, New York, 1903 (a brilliant book); G. W. Osmun, Augustine, the Thinker, Cincinnati, 1906. For discussions of various phases of his activities and influence consult: J. C. F. Bähr, Geschichte der römischen Literatur, supplement volume, part 2, 3 parts, Carlsruhe, 1836–40; G. F. Wiggers, Versuch einer pragmatischen Darstellung des Augustinismus und Pelagianismus nach ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung, Hamburg, 2 vols., 1821–33, Eng. transl., An Historical Presentation of Augustinism and Pelagianism from the Original Sources, Andover, 1840 (a standard work); J. B. M. Flottes, Études sur St. Augustin, son génie, son âme, sa philosophie, Montpellier, 1861; Nourisson, La Philosophie de St. Augustin, 2 vols., Paris, 1866; Ferraz, De la psychologie de St. Augustin, ib. 1869; A. Naville, Étude sur le développement de sa pensée jusqu’à l’epoque de son ordination, Geneva, 1872; A. Dorner, Augustinus, sein theologisches System und seine religionsphilosophische Anschauung, Berlin, 1873; J. H. Newman, Augustine and the Vandals, and Conversion of Augustine, in vol. iii of Historical Sketches, London, 1873; J. B. Mozley, The Augustinian Doctrine of Predestination, London, 1878; A. F. Théry, Le Génie philosophique et littéraire de St. Augustin, Amiens, 1878; J. Storz, Die Philosophie des heiligen Augustinus, Freiburg, 1882, K. Werner, Die augustinische Theologie, Vienna, 1882; S. Angus, Sources of the First Ten Books of Augustine’s De civitate Dei, Princeton, N. J., 1906; H. Reuter, Augustinische Studien, Gotha, 1887; G. J. Seyrich, Die Geschichtsphilosophie Augustine nach seiner Schrift De civitate Dei, Leipsic, 1891; J. Specht, Die Lehre von der Kirche nach dem heiligen Augustinus, Paderborn, 1891; W. Heinzelmann, Augustins Ansichten vom Wesen der menschlichen Seele, Erfurt, 1894; O. Scheel, Die Anschauung Augustins über Christi Person and Werk, Tübingen, 1901. Besides the foregoing the various histories of the church and of Christian doctrine may be consulted with profit.
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