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§ 179. The Works of Augustine.


The numerous writings of Augustine, the composition of which extended through four and forty years, are a mine of Christian knowledge and experience. They abound in lofty ideas, noble sentiments, devout effusions, clear statements of truth, strong arguments against error, and passages of fervid eloquence and undying beauty, but also in innumerable repetitions, fanciful opinions, and playful conjectures of his uncommonly fertile brain.21582158   Ellies Dupin(Bibliothèque ecclésiastique, tom. iii. lrepartie, p. 818) and Nourrisson(l.c. tom. ii. p. 449) apply to Augustinethe term magnus opinator, which Cicero used of himself. There is, however, this important difference that Augustine, along with his many opinions on speculative questions in philosophy and theology, had very positive convictions in all essential doctrines, while Cicero was a mere ecclectic in philosophy. His style is full of life and vigor and ingenious plays on words, but deficient in purity and elegance, and by no means free from wearisome prolixity and from that vagabunda loquacitas, with which his adroit opponent, Julian of Eclanum, charged him. He would rather, as he said, be blamed by grammarians, than not understood by the people; and he bestowed little care upon his style, though he many a time rises in lofty poetic flight. He made no point of literary renown, but, impelled by love to God and to the church, he wrote from the fulness of his mind and heart. The writings before his conversion, a treatise on the Beautiful (De Pulchro et Apto), the orations and eulogies which he delivered as rhetorician at Carthage, Rome, and Milan, are lost. The professor of eloquence, the heathen philosopher, the Manichaean heretic, the sceptic and freethinker, are known to us only, from his regrets and recantations in the Confessions and other works. His literary career for as commences in his pious retreat at Cassiciacum where he prepared himself for a public profession of his faith. He appears first, in the works composed at Cassiciacum, Rome, and near Tagaste, as a Christian philosopher, after his consecration to the priesthood as a theologian. Yet even in his theological works he everywhere manifests the metaphysical and speculative bent of his mind. He never abandoned or depreciated reason, he only subordinated it to faith and made it subservient to the defence of revealed truth. Faith is the pioneer of reason, and discovers the territory which reason explores.

The following is a classified view of his most important works, the contents of the most of which we have already noticed in former sections.21592159   Possidiuscounts in all, including sermons and letters, one thousand and thirty writings of Augustine. On these see, above all, his Retractations, where he himself reviews ninety-three of his works (embracing two hundred and thirty-two books, see ii. 67), in chronological order; in the first book those which he wrote while a layman and presbyter, in the second those which he wrote when a bishop. Also the extended chronological index in Schönemann’sBiblioth. historico-literaria Patrum Latinorum, vol. ii. (Lips. 1794), p. 340 spq. (reprinted in the supplemental volume, xii., of Migne’s ed. of the Opera, p. 24 sqq.); and other systematic and alphabetical lists in the eleventh volume of the Bened. ed. (p. 494 sqq., ed. Venet.), and in Migne, tom. xi.


I. Autobiographical works. To these belong the Confessions and the Retractations; the former acknowledging his sins, the latter his theoretical errors. In the one he subjects his life, in the other his writings, to close criticism; and these productions therefore furnish the best standard for judging of his entire labors.21602160   For this reason the Benedictine editors have placed the Retractations and the Confessions at the head of his works.

The Confessions are the most profitable, at least the most edifying, product of his pen; indeed, we may no doubt say, the most edifying book in all the patristic literature. They were accordingly, the most read even during his lifetime,21612161   He himself says of them, Retract. l. ii. c. 6: “Multis fratribus eos [Confessionum libros tredecim] multum placuisse et placere scio.” Comp. De dono perseverantiae, c. 20: “Quid autem meorum opusculorum frequentius et delectabilius innotescere potuit quam libri Confessionum mearum?” Comp. Ep. 231 Dario comiti. and they have been the most frequently published since.21622162   Schönemann(in the supplemental volume of Migne’s ed. of Augustine, p. 134 sqq.) cites a multitude of separate editions of the Confessions in Latin, Italian, spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and German, from a.d.1475 to 1776. Since that time several new editions have been added. There are German translations by H. Kautz(R.C., Arnsberg, 1840), G. Rapp(Prot., 2d ed., Stuttg., 1847), and others. The best English edition is that of Dr. E. B. Pusey: The Confessions of S. Angustine, Oxford (first in 1838, as the first volume in the Oxf. Library of the Fathers, together with an edition of the Latin original). It is, however, as Dr. Pusey says, only a revision of the translation of Rev. W. Watts, D. D., London, 1650, accompanied with a long preface (pp. i-xxxv) and elucidations from Augustine’s works in notes and at the end (pp. 314-346). The edition of Dr. W. G. T. Shedd, Andover, 1860, is, as he says, “a reprint of an old translation by an author unknown to the editor, which was republished in Boston in 1843.” A cursory comparison shows, that this anonymous Boston reprint agrees almost word for word with Pusey’s revision of Watts, omitting his introduction and all his notes. Dr. Shedd has, however, added an excellent original introduction, in which he clearly and vigorously characterizes the Confessions and draws a comparison between them and the Confessions of Rousseau. He calls the former (p. xxvii) not inaptly the best commentary yet written upon the seventh and eighth chapters of Romans. “That quickening of the human spirit, which puts it again into vital and sensitive relations to the holy and eternal; that illumination of the mind, whereby it is enabled to perceive with clearness the real nature of truth and righteousness; that empowering of the will, to the conflict of victory—the entire process of restoring the Divine image in the soul of man—is delineated in this book, with a vividness and reality never exceeded by the uninspired mind.” ... “It is the life of God in the soul of a strong man, rushing and rippling with the freedom of the life of nature. He who watches can almost see the growth; he who listens can hear the perpetual motion; and he who is in sympathy will be swept along.” A more sincere and more earnest book was never written. The historical part, to the tenth book, is one of the devotional classics of all creeds, and second in popularity only to the “Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas a Kempis, and Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Certainly no autobiography is superior to it in true humility, spiritual depth, and universal interest. Augustine’s experience, as a heathen sensualist, a Manichaean heretic, an anxious inquirer, a sincere penitent, and a grateful convert, is reflected in every human soul that struggles through the temptations of nature and the labyrinth of error to the knowledge of truth and the beauty of holiness, and after many sighs and tears finds rest ad peace in the arms of a merciful Saviour. Rousseau’s “Confessions,” and Goethe’s “Truth and Poetry,” though written in a radically different spirit, may be compared with Augustine’s Confessions as works of rare genius and of absorbing interest, but, by attempting to exalt human nature in its unsanctified state, they tend as much to expose its vanity and weakness, as the work of the bishop of Hippo, being written with a single eye to the glory of God, raises man from the dust of repentance to a new and imperishable life of the Spirit.21632163   Nourrisson(l.c. tom. i. p. 19) calls the Confessions “cet ouvrage unique, souvent imité, toujours parodié, où il s’accuse se condamne et s’humilie, prière ardente, récit entraînant, métaphysique incomparable, histoire de tout un monde qui se reflète dans l’histoire d’une âme.”

Augustine composed the Confessions about the year 400. The first ten books contain, in the form of a continuous prayer and confession before God, a general sketch of his earlier life, of his conversion, and of his return to Africa in the thirty-fourth year of his age. The salient points in these books are the engaging history of his conversion in Milan, and the story of the last days of his noble mother in Ostia, spent as it were at the very gate of heaven and in full assurance of a blessed reunion at the throne of glory. The last three books (and a part of the tenth) are devoted to speculative philosophy; they treat, partly in tacit opposition to Manichaeism, of the metaphysical questions of the possibility of knowing God, and the nature of time and space; and they give an interpretation of the Mosaic cosmogony in the style of the typical allegorical exegesis usual with the fathers, but foreign to our age; they are therefore of little value to the general reader, except as showing that even abstract metaphysical subjects may be devotionally treated.

The Retractations were produced in the evening of his life (427), when, mindful of the proverb: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin,”21642164   Prov. x. 19. This verse (ex multiloquio non effugies peccatum) the Semi-Pelagian Gennadius (De viris illustr. sub Aug.) applies against Augustinein excuse for his erroneous doctrines of freedom and predestination. and remembering that we must give account for every idle word,21652165   Matt. xii. 36. he judged himself, that he might not be judged.21662166   1 Cor. xi. 31. Comp. his Prologus to the two books of Retractationes. He revised in chronological order the numerous works he had written before and during his episcopate, and retracted or corrected whatever in them seemed to his riper knowledge false or obscure. In all essential points, nevertheless, his theological system remained the same from his conversion to this time. The Retractations give beautiful evidence of his love of truth, his conscientiousness, and his humility.21672167   J. Morell Mackenzie (in W. Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, vol. i. p. 422) happily calls the Retractations of Augustineone of the noblest sacrifices ever laid upon the altar of truth by a majestic intellect acting in obedience to the purest conscientiousness.”

To this same class should be added the Letters of Augustine, of which the Benedictine editors, in their second volume, give two hundred and seventy (including letters to Augustine) in chronological order from a.d. 386 to a.d. 429. These letters treat, sometimes very minutely, of all the important questions of his time, and give us an insight of his cares, his official fidelity, his large heart, and his effort to become, like Paul, all things to all men.

When the questions of friends and pupils accumulated, he answered them in special works; and in this way he produced various collections of Quaestiones and Responsiones, dogmatical, exegetical, and miscellaneous (a.d. 390, 397, &c.).


II. Philosophical treatises, in dialogue; almost all composed in his earlier life; either during his residence on the country-seat Cassiciacum in the vicinity of Milan, where he spent half a year before his baptism in instructive and stimulating conversation in a sort of academy or Christian Platonic banquet with Monica, his son Adeodatus, his brother Navigius, his friend Alypius, and some cousins and pupils; or during his second residence in Rome; or soon after his return to Africa.21682168   In tom. i. of the ed. Bened., immediately after the Retractationes and Confessiones, and at the close of the volume. On these philosophical writings, see Brucker: Historia critics Philosophiae, Lips. 1766, tom. iii. pp. 485-507; H. Ritter: Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. vi. p. 153 ff.; Bindemann, l. c. p. 282 sqq.; Huber, l. c. p. 242 sqq.; Gangauf, l.c. p. 25 sqq., and Nourrison, l.c. ch. i. and ii. Nourrison makes the just remark (i. p. 53): “Si la philosophie est la recherche de la verité, jamais sans doute il ne s’est rencontré une âme plus philosophe que celle de saint Augustin. Car jamais âme n’a supporté avec plus d’impatience les anxiétés du doute et n’a fait plus d’efforts pour dissiper les fantômes de l’erreur.”

To this class belong the works: Contra Academicos libri tres (386), in which he combats the skepticism and probabilism of the New Academy,—the doctrine that man can never reach the truth, but can at best attain only probability; De vita beata (386), in which he makes true blessedness to consist in the perfect knowledge of God; De ordine,—on the relation of evil to the divine order of the world21692169    Or on the question: “Utrum omnia bona et mala divinae providentiae ordo contineat ? ” Comp. Retract. i. 3. (386); Soliloquia (387), communings with his own soul concerning God, the highest good, the knowledge of truth, and immortality; De immortalitate animae (387), a continuation of the Soliloquies; De quantitate animae (387), discussing sundry questions of the size, the origin, the incorporeity of the soul; De musica libri vi (387389); De magistro (389), in which, in a dialogue with his son Adeodatus, a pious and promising, but precocious youth, who died soon after his return to Africa (389), he treats on the importance and virtue of the word of God, and on Christ as the infallible Master.21702170   Augustine, in his Confessions (I. ix. c. 6), expresses himself in this touching way about this son of his illicit love: “We took with us [on returning from the country to Milan to receive the sacrament of baptism] also the boy Adeodatus, the son of my carnal sin. Thou hadst formed him well. He was but just fifteen years old, and he was superior in mind to many grave and learned men. I acknowledge Thy gifts, O Lord, my God, who createst all, and who canst reform our deformities; for I had no part in that boy but sin. And when we brought him up in Thy nurture, Thou, only Thou, didst prompt us to it; I acknowledge Thy gifts. There is my book entitled, De Magistro; he speaks with me there. Thou knowest that all things there put into his mouth were in his mind when he was sixteen years of age. That maturity of mind was a terror to me; and who but Thou is the artificer of such wonders? Soon Thou didst take his life from the earth; and I think more quietly of him now, fearing no more for his boyhood, nor his youth, nor his whole life. We took him to ourselves as one of the same age in Thy grace, to be trained in Thy nurture; and we were baptized together; and all trouble about the past fled from us.” To these may be added the later work, De anima et ejus origine (419). Other philosophical works on grammar, dialectics (or ars bene disputandi), rhetoric, geometry, and arithmetic, are lost.21712171   The books on grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, and the ten Categories of Aristotle, in the Appendix to the first volume of the Bened. ed., are spurious. For the genuine works of Augustineon these subjects were written in a different form (the dialogue) and for a higher purpose, and were lost in his own day. Comp. Retract. i. c. 6. In spite of this, Prantl(Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, pp. 665-674, cited by Huber, l.c. p. 240) has advocated the genuineness of the Principia dialecticae, and Huberinclines to agree. Gangauf, l.c. p. 5, and Nourrisson, i. p. 37, consider them spurious.

These works exhibit as yet little that is specifically Christian and churchly; but they show a Platonism seized and consecrated by the spirit of Christianity, full of high thoughts, ideal views, and discriminating argument. They were designed to present the different stages of human thought by which he himself had reached the knowledge of the truth, and to serve others as steps to the sanctuary. They form an elementary introduction to his theology. He afterwards, in his Retractations, withdrew many things contained in them, like the Platonic view of the pre-existence of the soul, and the Platonic idea that the acquisition of knowledge is a recollection or excavation of the knowledge hidden in the mind.21722172    Ἡ μάθησις οὐκ ἄλλο τι ἢ ἀνάμνησις . On his Plato, in the Phaedo, as is well known, rests his doctrine of pre-existence. Augustinewas at first in favor of the idea, Solil. ii. 20, n. 35; afterwards he rejected it, Retract. i. 4, § 4. The philosopher in him afterwards yielded more and more to the theologian, and his views became more positive and empirical, though in some cases narrower also and more exclusive. Yet he could never cease to philosophize, and even his later works, especially De Trinitate and De Civitate Dei, are full of profound speculations. Before his conversion he, followed a particular system of philosophy, first the Manichaean, then the Platonic; after his conversion he embraced the Christian philosophy, which is based on the divine revelation of the Scriptures, and is the handmaid of theology and religion; but at the same time he prepared the way for the catholic ecclesiastical philosophy, which rests on the authority of the church, and became complete in the scholasticism of the middle age.

In the history of philosophy he deserves a place in the highest rank, and has done greater service to the science of sciences than any other father, Clement of Alexandria and Origen not excepted. He attacked and refuted the pagan philosophy as pantheistic or dualistic at heart; he shook the superstitions of astrology and magic; he expelled from philosophy the doctrine of emanation, and the idea that God is the soul of the world; he substantially advanced psychology; he solved the question of the origin and the nature of evil more nearly than any of his predecessors, and as nearly as most of his successors; he was the first to investigate thoroughly the relation of divine omnipotence and omniscience to human freedom, and to construct a theodicy; in short, he is properly the founder of a Christian philosophy, and not only divided with Aristotle the empire of the mediaeval scholasticism, but furnished also living germs for new systems of philosophy, and will always be consulted in the speculative establishment of Christian doctrines.


III. Apologetic works against Pagans and Jews. Among these the twenty-two books, De Civitate Dei, are still well worth reading. They form the deepest and richest apologetic work of antiquity; begun in 413, after the occupation of Rome by the Gothic king Alaric, finished in 426, and often separately published. They condense his entire theory of the world and of man, and are the first attempt at a comprehensive philosophy of universal history under the dualistic view of two antagonistic currents or organized forces, a kingdom of this world which is doomed to final destruction and a kingdom of God which will last forever.21732173   In the Bened. ed. tom. vii. Comp. Retract. ii. 43, and above, § 12. The City of God and the Confessions are the only writings of Augustinewhich Gibbonthought good to read (chap. xxxiii.). Huber(l.c. p. 315) says: ”Augustine’s philosophy of history, as he presents it in his Civitas Dei, has remained to this hour the standard philosophy of history for the church orthodoxy, the bounds of which this orthodoxy, unable to perceive in the motions of the modern spirit the fresh morning air of a higher day of history, is scarcely able to transcend.” Nourrissondevotes a special chapter to the consideration of the two cities of Augustine, the City of the World and the City of God (tom. ii. 43-88). Compare also the Introduction to Saisset’sTraduction de la Cité de Dieu, Par. 1855.


IV. Religious-Theological works of a general nature (in part anti-Manichaean): De utilitate credendi, against the Gnostic exaltation of knowledge (392); De fide et symbolo, a discourse which, though only presbyter, he delivered on the Apostles’ Creed before the council at Hippo at the request of the bishops in 393; De doctrina Christiana iv libri (397; the fourth book added in 426), a compend of exegetical theology for instruction in the interpretation of the Scriptures according to the analogy of the faith; De catechizandis rudibus, likewise for catechetical purposes (400); Enchiridion, or De fide, spe et caritate, a brief compend of the doctrine of faith and morals, which he wrote in 421, or later, at the request of Laurentius; hence also called Manuale ad Laurentium.


V. Polemic-Theological works. These are the most copious sources of the history of doctrine. The heresies collectively are reviewed in the book De haeresibus ad Quodvultdeum, written between 428 and 430 to a friend and deacon in Carthage, and giving a survey of eighty-eight heresies, from the Simonians to the Pelagians.21742174   This work is also incorporated in the Corpus haereseologicum of Fr. Oehler, tom. i. pp. 192-225. In the work De vera religione (390) Augustine proposed to show that the true religion is to be found not with the heretics and schismatics, but only in the catholic church of that time.

The other controversial works are directed against the particular heresies of Manichaeism, Donatism, Arianism, Pelagianism, and Semi-Pelagianism. Augustine, with all the firmness of his convictions, was free from personal antipathy, and used the pen of controversy in the genuine Christian spirit, fortiter in re, suaviter in modo. He understood Paul’s ἀληθεύειν ἐν ἀγάπῃ, and forms in this respect a pleasing contrast to Jerome, who probably had by nature no more fiery temperament than he, but was less able to control it. “Let those,” he very beautifully says to the Manichaeans, “burn with hatred against you, who do not know how much pains it costs to find the truth, how hard it is to guard against error;—but I, who after so great and long wavering came to know the truth, must bear myself towards you with the same patience which my fellow-believers showed towards me while I was wandering in blind madness in your opinions.”21752175   Comp. Contra Epist. Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti, l. i. 2.

1. The anti-Manichaean works date mostly from his earlier life, and in time and matter follow immediately upon his philosophical writings.21762176   The earliest anti-Manichaean writings (De libero arbitrio; De moribus eccl. cath. et de moribus Manich.) are in tom. i. ed. Bened.; the latter in tom. viii. In them he afterwards found most to retract, because he advocated the freedom of the will against the Manichaean fatalism. The most important are: De moribus ecclesiae catholicae, et de moribus Manichaeorum, two books (written during his second residence in Rome, 388); De vera religione (390); Unde malum, et de libero arbitrio, usually simply De libero arbitrio, in three books, against the Manichaean doctrine of evil as a substance, and as having its seat in matter instead of free will (begun in 388, finished in 395); De Genesi contra Manichaeos, a defence of the biblical doctrine of creation (389); De duabus animabus, against the psychological dualism of the Manichaeans (392); Disputatio contra Fortunatum (a triumphant refutation of this Manichaean priest in Hippo in August, 392); Contra Epistolam Manichaei quam vocant fundamenti (397); Contra Faustum Manichaeum, in thirty-three books (400–404); De natura boni (404), &c.

These works treat of the origin of evil; of free will; of the harmony of the Old and New Testaments, and of revelation and nature; of creation out of nothing, in opposition to dualism and hylozoism; of the supremacy of faith over knowledge; of the, authority of the Scriptures and the church; of the true and the false asceticism, and other disputed points; and they are the chief source of our knowledge of the Manichaean Gnosticism and of the arguments against it. Having himself belonged for nine years to this sect, Augustine was the better fitted for the task of refuting it, as Paul was peculiarly prepared for the confutation of the Pharisaic Judaism. His doctrine of the nature of evil is particularly valuable, He has triumphantly demonstrated for all time, that evil is not a corporeal thing, nor in any way substantial, but a product of the free will of the creature, a perversion of substance in itself good, a corruption of the nature created by God.

2. Against the Priscillianists, a sect in Spain built on Manichaean principles, are directed the book Ad Paulum Orosium contra Priscillianistas et Origenistas (411);21772177   Tom. viii. p. 611 sqq. the book Contra mendacium, addressed to Consentius (420); and in part the 190th Epistle (alias Ep. 157), to the bishop Optatus, on the origin of the soul (418), and two other letters, in which he refutes erroneous views on the nature of the soul, the limitation of future punishments, and the lawfulness of fraud for supposed good purposes.

3. The anti-Donatistic works, composed between the years 393 and 420, argue against separatism, and contain Augustine’s doctrine of the church and church-discipline, and of the sacraments. To these belong: Psalmus contra partem Donati (a.d. 393), a polemic popular song without regular metre, intended to offset the songs of the Donatists; Contra epistolam Parmeniani, written in 400 against the Carthaginian bishop of the Donatists, the successor of Donatus; De baptismo contra Donatistas, in favor of the validity of heretical baptism (400); Contra literas Petiliani (about 400), against the view of Cyprian and the Donatists, that the efficacy of the sacraments depends on the personal worthiness and the ecclesiastical status of the officiating priest; Ad Catholicos Epistola contra Donatistas, vulgo De unitate ecclesiae (402); Contra Cresconium grammaticum Donatistam (406); Breviculus collationis cum Donatistis, a short account of the three-days’ religious conference with the Donatists (411); De correctione Donatistarum (417); Contra Gaudentium, Donat. Episcopum, the last anti-Donatistic work (420).21782178   All these in tom. lx. Comp. above, §§ 69 and 70.

4. The anti-Arian works have to do with the deity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, and with the Holy Trinity. By far the most important of these are the fifteen books De Trinitate (400–416);—the most profound and discriminating production of the ancient church on the Trinity, in no respect inferior to the kindred works of Athanasius and the two Gregories, and for centuries final to the dogma.21792179   Tom. viii. ed. Bened. p. 749 sqq. Comp. § 131, above. The work was stolen from him by some impatient friends before revision, and before the completion of the twelfth book, so that he became much discouraged, and could only be moved to finish it by urgent entreaties. This may also be counted among the positive didactic works, for it is not directly controversial. The Collatio cum Maximino Ariano, an obscure babbler, belongs to the year 428.

5. The numerous anti-Pelagian works of Augustine are his most influential and most valuable. They were written between the years 412 and 429. In them Augustine, in his intellectual and spiritual prime, developes his system of anthropology and soteriology, and most nearly approaches the position of evangelical Protestantism: On the Guilt and the Remission of Sins, and Infant Baptism (412); On the Spirit and the Letter (413); On Nature and Grace (415); On the Acts of Pelagius (417); On the Grace of Christ, and Original Sin (418); On Marriage and Concupiscence (419); On Grace and Free Will (426); On Discipline and Grace (427); Against Julian of Eclanum (two large works, written between 421 and 429, the Second unfinished, and hence called Opus imperfectum); On the Predestination of the Saints (428); On the Gift of Perseverance (429); &c.21802180   Opera, tom. x., in two parts, with an Appendix. The same in Migne. Comp.146-160, above.


VI. Exegetical works. The best of these are: De Genesi ad literam (The Genesis word for word), in twelve books, an extended exposition of the first three chapters of Genesis, particularly the history of the creation literally interpreted, though with many mystical and allegorical interpretations also (written between 401 and 415);21812181   Tom. iii. 117-324. Not to be confounded with two other books on Genesis, in which he defends the biblical doctrine of creation against the Manichaeans. In this exegetical work he aimed, as he says, Retract. ii. c. 24, to interpret Genesis “non secundum allegoricas significationes, sed secundum rerum gestarum proprietatem.” The work is more original and spirited than the Hexaëmeron of Basil or of Ambrose. Enarrationes in Psalmos (mostly sermons);21822182   Tom. iv., the whole volume. the hundred and twenty-four Homilies on the Gospel of John (416 and 417);21832183   Tom. iii., 289-824. the ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John (417); the Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (393); the Harmony of the Gospels (De consensu evangelistarum, 400); the Epistle to the Galatians (394); and the unfinished commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.21842184   All in tom. iii.

Augustine deals more in lively, profound, and edifying thoughts on the Scriptures than in proper grammatical and historical exposition, for which neither he nor his readers had the necessary linguistic knowledge, disposition, or taste. He grounded his theology less upon exegesis than upon his Christian and churchly mind, saturated with Scriptural truths.


VII. Ethical or Practical and Ascetic works. Among these belong three hundred and ninety-six Sermones (mostly very short) de Scripturis (on texts of Scripture), de tempore (festival sermons), de sanctis (in memory of apostles, martyrs, and saints), and de diversis (on various occasions), some of them dictated by Augustine, some taken down by hearers.21852185   Tom. v., which contains besides these a multitude (317) of doubtful and spurious sermons, likewise divided into four classes. To these must be added recently discovered sermons, edited from manuscripts in Florence, Monte Cassino, etc., by M. Denis(1792), O. F. Frangipane(1820), A. L. Caillau(Paris, 1836), and Angelo Mai(in the Nova Bibliotheca Patrum). Also various moral treatises: De continentia (395); De mendacio (395), against deception (not to be confounded with the similar work already mentioned Contra mendacium, against the fraud-theory of the Priscillianists, written in 420); De agone Christiano (396); De opere monachorum, against monastic idleness (400); De bono conjugali adv. Jovinianum (400); De virginitate (401); De fide et operibus (413); De adulterinis conjugiis, on 1 Cor. vii. 10 sqq. (419); De bono viduitatis (418); De patientia (418); De cura pro mortuis gerenda, to Paulinus of Nola (421); De utilitate jejunii; De diligendo Deo; Meditationes; etc.21862186   Most of them in tom. vi. ed. Bened. On the scripta deperdita, dubia et spuria of Augustine, see the index by Schönemann, l.c. p. 50 sqq., and in the supplemental volume of Migne’s edition, pp. 34-40. The so-called Meditations of Augustine(German translation by August Krohne, Stuttgart, 1854) are a later compilation by the abbot of Fescamp in France, at the close of the twelfth century, from the writings of Augustine, Gregory the Great, Anselm, and others.

As we survey, this enormous literary labor, augmented by many other treatises and letters now lost, and as we consider his episcopal labors, his many journeys, and his adjudications of controversies among the faithful, which often robbed him of whole days, we must be really astounded at the fidelity, exuberance, energy, and perseverance of this father of the church. Surely, such a life was worth the living.



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