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Introductory Notice

By the Editor.

St. Augustin speaks of this book in his Retractations, l. ii. c. 63, as follows:

“I also wrote a book on Faith, Hope, and Charity, at the request of the person to whom I addressed it, that he might have a work of mine which should never be out of his hands, such as the Greeks call an Enchiridion (Hand-Book). There I think I have pretty carefully treated of the manner in which God is to be worshipped, which knowledge divine Scripture defines to be the true wisdom of man. The book begins: ‘I cannot express,’” etc.10881088    “Scripsi etiam librum ‘de Fide, Spe et Charitate’ cum a me ad quem scriptus est postulasset ut aliquod opusculum haberet meum de suis manibus nunquam recessurum, quod genus Græci Enchiridion vocant. Ubi satis diligenter mihi videor esse complexus quomodo sit colendus Deus quam sapientiam esse hominis utique veram Divina Scriptura definit. Hic liber sic incipit, ‘Dici non potest, dilectissime fili Laurenti, quantum tuâ eruditione delecter.’”

The Enchiridion is among the latest books of Augustin. It was written after the death of Jerome, which occurred Sept. 30, 420; for he alludes in ch. 87 to Jerome “of blessed memory” (sanctæ memoriæ Hieronymus presbyter).

It is addressed to Laurentius, in answer to his questions. This person is otherwise unknown. One ms. calls him a deacon, another a notary of the city of Rome. He was probably a layman.

The author usually calls the book “On Faith, Hope and Love,” because he treats the subject under these three heads (comp. (I Cor. xiii. 13). He follows under the first head the order of the Apostles’ Creed, and refutes, without naming them, the Manichæan, Apollinarian, Arian, and Pelagian heresies. Under the second head he gives a brief exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. The third part is a discourse on Christian love.

The original is in the sixth volume of the Benedictine edition. A neat edition of the Latin text, with three other small tracts of Augustin, (De Catechizandis Rudibus; De Fide Rerum quæ non creduntur; De Utilitate Credendi), is also published in C. Marriott’s S. Aurelius Augustinus, 4th ed. by H. de Romestin, Oxford and London (Parker and Comp.), 1885 (pp. 150–251.) An English edition of the same tracts by H. de Romestin, Oxford and London, 1885 (pp. 151–251). His English translation is based on that of C. L. Cornish, M.A., which appeared in the Oxford “Library of the Fathers,” Oxford 1847 (“Seventeen Short Treatises of St. Aug.” pp. 85–158).

The present translation by Professor Shaw was first published in Dr. Dods’s series of Augustin’s works, Edinburgh, (T. and T. Clark,) 3d ed. 1883. It is more free and idiomatic than that of Cornish. I have in a few cases conformed it more closely to the original.


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