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§ 178. Augustine.
I. S. Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis episcopi Opera … Post Lovaniensium theologorum recensionem [which appeared at Antwerp in 1577 in 11 vols.] castigatus [referring to tomus primus, etc.] denuo ad MSS. codd. Gallicanos, etc. Opera et studio monachorum ordinis S. Benedicti e congregatione S. Mauri [Fr. Delfau, Th. Blampin, P. Coustant, and Cl. Guesnié]. Paris, 1679–1700, xi tom. in 8 fol. vols. The same edition reprinted, with additions, at Antwerp, 1700–1703, 12 parts in 9 fol.; and at Venice, 1729–’34, in xi tom. in 8 fol. (this is the edition from which I have generally quoted; it is not to be confounded with another Venice edition of 1756–’69 in xviii vols. 4to, which is full of printing errors); also at Bassano, 1807, in 18 vols.; by Gaume fratres, Paris, 1836–’39, in xi tom. in 22 parts (a very elegant edition); and lastly by J. P. Migne, Petit-Montrouge, 1841–’49, in xii tom. (Patrol. Lat. tom. xxxii.-xlvii.). Migne’s edition (which I have also used occasionally) gives, in a supplementary volume (tom. xii.), the valuable Notitia literaria de vita, scriptis et editionibus Aug. from Schönemann’s Bibliotheca historico-literaria Patrum Lat. vol. ii. Lips. 1794, the Vindiciae Augustinianae of Norisius, and the writings of Augustine first published by Fontanini and Angelo Mai. But a thoroughly reliable critical edition of Augustine is still a desideratum. On the controversies relating to the merits of the Bened. edition, see the supplementary volume of Migne, xii. p. 40 sqq., and Thuillier: Histoire de la nouvelle ed. de S. Aug. par les PP. Bénédictins, Par. 1736. The first printed edition of Augustine appeared at Basle, 1489–’95; another, a. 1509, in 11 vols. (I have a copy of this edition in black letter, but without a title page); then the edition of Erasmus published by Frobenius, Bas. 1528–’29, in 10 vols. fol.: the Editio Lovaniensis, or of the divines of Louvain, Antw. 1577, in 11 vols., and often. Several works of Augustine have been often separately edited, especially the Confessions and the City of God. Compare a full list of the editions down to 1794 in Schönemann’s Bibliotheca, vol. ii. p. 73 sqq.
II. Possidius (Calamensis episcopus, a pupil and friend of Aug.): Vita Augustini (brief, but authentic, written 432, two years after his death, in tom. x. Append. 257–280, ed. Bened., and in nearly all other editions). Benedictini Editores: Vita Augustini ex ejus potissimum scriptis concinnata, in 8 books (very elaborate and extensive), in tom. xi. 1–492, ed. Bened. (in Migne’s reprint, tom. i. pp. 66–578). The biographies of Tillemont (Mém. tom. xiii.); Ellies Dupin (Nouvelle bibliothèque des auteurs ecclésiastiques, tom. ii. and iii.); P. Bayle (Dictionnaire historique et critique, art. Augustin); Remi Ceillier (Histoire générale des auteurs sacrés et ecclés., vol. xi. and xii.); Cave (Lives of the Fathers, vol. ii.); Kloth (Der heil. Aug., Aachen, 1840, 2 vols.); Böhringer (Kirchengeschichte in Biographien, vol. i. P. iii. p. 99 ff.); Poujoulat (Histoire de S. Aug. Par. 1843 and 1852, 2 vols.; the same in German by Fr. Hurter, Schaffh. 1847, 2 vols.); Eisenbarth (Stuttg. 1853); Ph. Schaff (St. Augustine, Berlin, 1854; English ed. New York and London, 1854); C. Bindemann (Der heil. Aug., vol. i. Berl. 1844; vol. ii. 1855, incomplete). Braune: Monica und Augustin. Grimma, 1846. Comp. also the literature at § 146, p. 783.
The Philosophy of Augustine is discussed in the larger Histories of Philosophy by Brucker, Tennemann, Rixner, H. Ritter (vol. vi. pp. 153–443), Huber (Philosophie der Kirchenväter), and in the following works: Theod. Gangauf: Metaphysische Psychologie des heil. Augustinus. 1ste Abtheilung, Augsburg, 1852. T. Théry: Le génie philosophique et littéraire de saint Augustin. Par. 1861. Abbé Flottes: Études sur saint Aug., son génie, son âme, sa philosophie. Par. 1861. Nourrisson: La philosophie de saint Augustin (ouvrage couronné par l’Institut de France), deuxième ed. Par. 1866, 2 vols.
It is a venturesome and delicate undertaking to write one’s own life, even though that life be a masterpiece of nature or of the grace of God, and therefore most worthy to be described. Of all autobiographies none has so happily avoided the reef of vanity and self-praise, and none has won so much esteem and love through its honesty and humility as that of St. Augustine.
The “Confessions,” which he wrote in the forty-sixth year of his life, still burning in the ardor of his first love, are full of the fire and unction of the Holy Ghost. They are a sublime effusion, in which Augustine, like David in the fifty-first Psalm, confesses to God, in view of his own and of succeeding generations, without reserve the sins of his youth; and they are at the same time a hymn of praise to the grace of God, which led him out of darkness into light, and called him to service in the kingdom of Christ.21352135 Augustinehimself says of his Confessions: “Confessionum mearum libri tredecim et de malis et de bonis meis Deum laudant justum et bonum, atque in eum excitant humanum intellectum et affectum.” Retract. l. ii. c. 6. Here we see the great church teacher of all times “prostrate in the dust, conversing with God, basking in his love; his readers hovering before him only as a shadow.” He puts away from himself all honor, all greatness, all beauty, and lays them gratefully at the feet of the All-merciful. The reader feels on every hand that Christianity is no dream nor illusion, but truth and life, and he is carried along in adoration of the wonderful grace of God.
Aurelius Augustinus, born on the 13th of November, 354,21362136 He died, according to the Chronicle of his friend and pupil Prosper Aquitanus, the 28th of August, 430 (in the third month of the siege of Hippo by the Vandals); according to his biographer Possidius he lived seventy-six years. The day of his birth Augustinestates himself, De vita beata, § 6 (tom. i. 800): “Idibus Novembris mihi natalis dies erat.” at Tagaste, an unimportant village of the fertile province Numidia in North Africa, not far from Hippo Regius, inherited from his heathen father, Patricius,21372137 He received baptism shortly before his death. a passionate sensibility, from his Christian mother, Monica (one of the noblest women in the history of Christianity, of a highly intellectual and spiritual cast, of fervent piety, most tender affection, and all-conquering love), the deep yearning towards God so grandly expressed in his sentence: “Thou hast made us for Thee, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee.”21382138 Conf. i. I: “Fecisti nos ad Te, et inquietum est cor nostrum, donee requiescat in Te.” In all his aberrations, which we would hardly know, if it were not from his own free confession, he never sunk to anything mean, but remained, like Paul in his Jewish fanaticism, a noble intellect and an honorable character, with burning love for the true and the good. This yearning, and his reverence for the sweet and holy name of Jesus, though crowded into the background, attended him in his studies at the schools of Madaura and Carthage, on his journeys to Rome and Milan, and on his tedious wanderings through the labyrinth of carnal pleasures, Manichaean mock-wisdom, Academic skepticism, and Platonic idealism; till at last the prayers of his mother, the sermons of Ambrose, the biography of St. Anthony, and, above all, the Epistles of Paul, as so many instruments in the hand of the Holy Ghost, wrought in the man of three and thirty years that wonderful change which made him an incalculable blessing to the whole Christian world, and brought even the sins and errors of his youth into the service of the truth.21392139 For particulars respecting the course of Augustine’s life, see my work above cited, and other monographs. Comp. also the fine remarks of Dr. Baurin his posthumous Lectures on Doctrine-History (1866), vol. i. Part ii, p. 26 ff. He compares the development of Augustinewith the course of Christianity from the beginning to his time, and draws a parallel between Augustineand Origen.
A son of so many prayers and tears could not be lost, and the faithful mother who travailed with him in spirit with greater pain than her body had in bringing him into the world,21402140 Conf. ix. c. 8: “Quae me parturivit et carne ut in hanc temporalem, et corde, ut in aeternam lucem nascerer.” L. v. 9: “Non enim satis eloquor, quid erga me habebat animi, et quanto majore sollicitudine me parturiebat spiritu, quam came pepererat.” was permitted, for the encouragement of future mothers, to receive shortly before her death an answer to her prayers and expectations, and was able to leave this world with joy without revisiting her earthly home. For Monica died on a homeward journey, in Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber, in her fifty-sixth year, in the arms of her son, after enjoying with him a glorious conversation that soared above the confines of space and time, and was a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath-rest of the saints. She regretted not to die in a foreign land, because she was not far from God, who would raise her up at the last day. “Bury my body anywhere,” was her last request, “and trouble not yourselves for it; only this one thing I ask, that you remember me at the altar of my God, wherever you may be.”21412141 Conf. l. ix. c. 11 “Tantum illud vos rogo, ut ad Domini altare memineritis mei, ubi fueritis.” This must be explained from the already prevailing custom of offering prayers for the dead, which, however, had rather the form of thanksgiving for the mercy of God shown to them, than the later form of intercession for them. Comp. above, § 84, p. 432 ff. Augustine, in his Confessions, has erected to Monica the noblest monument that can never perish.
If ever there was a thorough and fruitful conversion, next to that of Paul on the way to Damascus, it was that of Augustine, when, in a garden of the Villa Cassiciacum, not far from Milan, in September of the year 386, amidst the most violent struggles of mind and heart—the birth-throes of the new life—he heard that divine voice of a child: “Take, read!” and he “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. xiii. 14). It is a touching lamentation of his: “I have loved Thee late, Thou Beauty, so old and so new; I have loved Thee late! And lo! Thou wast within, but I was without, and was seeking Thee there. And into Thy fair creation I plunged myself in my ugliness; for Thou wast with me, and I was not with Thee! Those things kept me away from Thee, which had not been, except they had been in Thee! Thou didst call, and didst cry aloud, and break through my deafness. Thou didst glimmer, Thou didst shine, and didst drive away, my blindness. Thou didst breathe, and I drew breath, and breathed in Thee. I tasted Thee, and I hunger and thirst. Thou didst touch me, and I burn for Thy peace. If I, with all that is within me, may once live in Thee, then shall pain and trouble forsake me; entirely filled with Thee, all shall be life to me.”
He received baptism from Ambrose in Milan on Easter Sunday, 387, in company with his friend and fellow-convert Alypius, and his natural son Adeodatus (given by God). It impressed the divine seal upon the inward transformation. He broke radically with the world; abandoned the brilliant and lucrative vocation of a teacher of rhetoric, which he had followed in Rome and Milan; sold his goods for the benefit of the poor: and thenceforth devoted his rare gifts exclusively to the service of Christ, and to that service he continued faithful to his latest breath. After the death of his mother, whom he revered and loved with the most tender affection, he went a second time to Rome for several months, and wrote books in defence of true Christianity against false philosophy and the Manichaean heresy. Returning to Africa, he spent three years, with his friends Alypius and Evodius, on an estate in his native Tagaste, in contemplative and literary retirement.
Then, in 391, he was chosen presbyter against his will, by the voice of the people, which, as in the similar cases of Cyprian and Ambrose, proved to be the voice of God, in the Numidian maritime city of Hippo Regius (now Bona); and in 395 he was elected bishop in the same city. For eight and thirty years, until his death, he labored in this place, and made it the intellectual centre of Western Christendom.21422142 He is still known among the inhabitants of the place as “the great Christian (Rumi Kebir). Gibbon(ch. xxxiii. ad Ann. 430) thus describes the place which became so famous through Augustine: ” The maritime colony of Hippo, about two hundred miles westward of Carthage, had formerly acquired the distinguishing epithet of Regius, from the residence of the Numidian kings; and some remains of trade and populousness still adhere to the modern city, which is known in Europe by the corrupted name of Bona.” See below, Fn126.
His outward mode of life was extremely simple, and mildly ascetic. He lived with his clergy in one house in an apostolic community of goods, and made this house a seminary of theology, out of which ten bishops and many lower clergy went forth. Females, even his sister, were excluded from his house, and could see him only in the presence of others. But he founded religious societies of women; and over one of these his sister, a saintly widow, presided.21432143 He mentions a sister, “soror mea, sancta proposita” [monasterii], without naming her Epist. 211, n. 4 (ed. Bened.), alias Ep. 109. He also had a brother by the name of Navigius. He once said in a sermon, that he had nowhere found better men, and he had nowhere found worse, than in monasteries. Combining, as he did, the clerical life with the monastic, he became unwittingly the founder of the Augustinian order, which gave the reformer Luther to the world. He wore the black dress of the Eastern coenobites, with a cowl and a leathern girdle. He lived almost entirely on vegetables, and seasoned the common meal with reading or free conversation, in which it was a rule that the character of an absent person should never be touched. He had this couplet engraved on the table:
“Quisquis amat dictis absentum rodere vitam,
Hanc mensam vetitam noverit esse sibi.”
He often preached five days in succession, sometimes twice a day, and set it as the object of his preaching, that all might live with him, and he with all, in Christ. Wherever he went in Africa, he was begged to preach the word of salvation.21442144 Possidius says, in his Vita Aug.: “Caeterum episcopatu suscepto multo instantius ac ferventius majore auctoritate, non in una tantum regione, sed ubicunque rogatus verisset verbum salutis alacriter ac suaviter, pullulante atque crescente Domini ecclesia, praedicavit.” He faithfully administered the external affairs connected with his office, though he found his chief delight in contemplation. He was specially devoted to the poor, and, like Ambrose, upon exigency, caused the church vessels to be melted down to redeem prisoners. But he refused legacies by which injustice was done to natural heirs, and commended the bishop Aurelius of Carthage for giving back unasked some property which a man had bequeathed to the church, when his wife unexpectedly bore him children.
Augustine’s labors extended far beyond his little diocese. He was the intellectual head of the North African and the entire Western church of his time. He took active interest in all theological and ecclesiastical questions. He was the champion of the orthodox doctrine against Manichaean, Donatist, and Pelagian. In him was concentrated the whole polemic power of the catholicism of the time against heresy and schism; and in him it won the victory over them.
In his last years he took a critical review of his literary productions, and gave them a thorough sifting in his Retractations. His latest controversial works against the Semi-Pelagians, written in a gentle spirit, date from the same period. He bore the duties of his office alone till his seventy-second year, when his people unanimously elected his friend Heraclius to be his assistant and successor.
The evening of his life was troubled by increasing infirmities of body and by the unspeakable wretchedness which the barbarian Vandals spread over his country in their victorious invasion, destroying cities, villages, and churches, without mercy, and even besieging the fortified city of Hippo.21452145 Possidius, c. 28, gives a vivid picture of the ravages of the Vandals, which have become proverbial. Comp. also Gibbon, ch. xxxiii. Yet he faithfully persevered in his work. The last ten days of his life he spent in close retirement, in prayers and tears and repeated reading of the penitential Psalms, which he had caused to be written on the wall over his bed, that he might have them always before his eyes. Thus with an act of penance he closed his life. In the midst of the terrors of the siege and the despair of his people he could not suspect what abundant seed he had sown for the future.
In the third month of the siege of Hippo, on the 28th of August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age, in full possession of his faculties, and in the presence of many friends and pupils, he passed gently and happily into that eternity to which he had so long aspired. “O how wonderful,” wrote he in his Meditations,21462146 I freely combine several passages. “how beautiful and lovely are the dwellings of Thy house, Almighty God! I burn with longing to behold Thy beauty in Thy bridal-chamber .... O Jerusalem, holy city of God, dear bride of Christ, my heart loves thee, my soul has already long sighed for thy beauty! .... The King of kings Himself is in the midst of thee, and His children are within thy walls. There are the hymning choirs of angels, the fellowship of heavenly citizens. There is the wedding-feast of all who from this sad earthly pilgrimage have reached thy joys. There is the far-seeing choir of the prophets; there the number of the twelve apostles; there the triumphant army of innumerable martyrs and holy confessors. Full and perfect love there reigns, for God is all in all. They love and praise, they praise and love Him evermore .... Blessed, perfectly and forever blessed, shall I too be, if, when my poor body shall be dissolved, ... I may stand before my King and God, and see Him in His glory, as He Himself hath deigned to promise: ’Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory which I had with Thee before the world was.’ ” This aspiration after the heavenly Jerusalem found grand expression in the hymn De gloria et gaudiis Paradisi:
“Ad perennis vitae fontem mens sativit arida,”
which is incorporated in the Meditations of Augustine, and the idea of which originated in part with him, though it was not brought into poetical form till long afterwards by Peter Damiani.21472147 Comp. Daniel: Thesaurus hymnol. i. p. 116 sqq., and iv. p. 203 sq., and 116, above (p. 593, note 1).
He left no will, for in his voluntary poverty he had no earthly property to dispose of, except his library; this he bequeathed to the church, and it was fortunately preserved from the depredations of the Arian barbarians.21482148 Possidius says, Vita, c. 31: “Testamentum nullum fecit, quia unde faceret, pauper Dei non habuit. Ecclesiae bibliothecam omnesque codices diligenter posteris custodiendos semper jubebat.”
Soon after his death Hippo was taken and destroyed by the Vandals.21492149 The inhabitants escaped to the sea. There appears no bishop of Hippo after Augustine. In the seventh century the old city was utterly destroyed by the Arabians, but two miles from it Bona was built out of its ruins. Comp. Tillemont, xii i. 945, and Gibbon, ch. xxxiii. Gibbon says, that Bona, “in the sixteenth century, contained about three hundred families of industrious, but turbulent manufacturers. The adjacent territory is renowned for a pure air, a fertile soil, and plenty of exquisite fruits.” Since the French conquest of Algiers, Bona was rebuilt in 1832, and is gradually assuming a French aspect. It is now one of the finest towns in Algeria, the key to the province of Constantine, has a public garden, several schools, considerable commerce, and a population of over 10,000 of French, Moors, and Jews, the great majority of whom are foreigners. The relics of St. Augustinehave been recently transferred from Pavia to Bona. See the letters of abbé Sibour to Poujoulat sur la translation de la relique de saint Augustin de Pavie à Hippone, in Poujoulat’sHistoire de saint Augustin, tom. i. p. 413 sqq. Africa was lost to the Romans. A few decades later the whole West-Roman empire fell in ruins. The culmination of the African church was the beginning of its decline. But the work of Augustine could not perish. His ideas fell like living seed into the soil of Europe, and produced abundant fruits in nations and countries of which he had never heard.21502150 Even in Africa Augustine’s spirit reappeared from time to time, notwithstanding the barbarian confusion, as a light in darkness, first in Vigilius, bishop of Tapsus, who, at the close of the fifth century, ably defended the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and the person of Christ, and to whom the authorship of the so-called Athanasian Creed has sometimes been ascribed; in Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe, one of the chief opponents of Semi-Pelagianism, and the later Arianism, who with sixty catholic bishops of Africa was banished for several years by the Arian Vandals to the island of Sardinia, and who was called the Augustineof the sixth century died 533); and in Facundus of Hermiane (died 570), and Fulgentius Ferrandusand Liberatus, two deacons of Carthage, who took a prominent part in the Three Chapter controversy.
Augustine, the man with upturned eye, with pen in the left hand, and a burning heart in the right (as he is usually represented), is a philosophical and theological genius of the first order, towering like a pyramid above his age, and looking down commandingly upon succeeding centuries. He had a mind uncommonly fertile and deep, bold and soaring; and with it, what is better, a heart full of Christian love and humility. He stands of right by the side of the greatest philosophers of antiquity and of modern times. We meet him alike on the broad highways and the narrow footpaths, on the giddy Alpine heights and in the awful depths of speculation, wherever philosophical thinkers before him or after him have trod. As a theologian he is facile princeps, at least surpassed by no church father, scholastic, or reformer. With royal munificence he scattered ideas in passing, which have set in mighty motion other lands and later times. He combined the creative power of Tertullian with the churchly spirit of Cyprian, the speculative intellect of the Greek church with the practical tact of the Latin. He was a Christian philosopher and a philosophical theologian to the full. It was his need and his delight to wrestle again and again with the hardest problems of thought, and to comprehend to the utmost the divinely revealed matter of the faith.21512151 Or, as he wrote to a friend about the year 410, Epist. 120, c. 1, § 2 (tom. ii. p. 347, ed. Bened. Venet.; in older ed., Ep. 122): “Ut quod credis intelligas ... non ut fidem respuas, sed ea quae fidei firmitate jam tenes, etiam rationis luce conspicias.” He continues, ibid. c. 3: “Absit namque, ut hoe in nobis Deus oderit, in quo nos reliquis animalibus excellentiores creavit. Absit, inquam, ut ideo credamus, ne rationem accipiamus vel quaeramus; cum etiam credere non possemus, nisi rationales animas haberemus.” In one of his earliest works, Contra Academ. l. iii. c. 20, § 43, he says of himself: “Ita sum affectus, ut quid sit verum non credendo solum, sed etiam intelligendo apprehendere impatienter desiderem.” He always asserted, indeed, the primacy of faith, according to his maxim: Fides praecedit intellectum; appealing, with theologians before him, to the well-known passage of Isaiah vii. 9 (in the LXX.): “Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis.” But to him faith itself was an acting of reason, and from faith to knowledge, therefore, there was a necessary transition.21522152 Comp. De praed. Sanct. cap. 2, § 5 (tom. x. p. 792): “Ipsum credere nihil aliud est quam cum assensione cogitare. Non enim omnia qui cogitat, credit, cum ideo cogitant, plurique ne credant; sed cogitat omnia qui credit, et credendo cogitat et cogitando credit. Fides si non cogitetur, nulls est.” Ep. 120, cap. 1, § 3 (tom. ii. 347), and Ep. 137, c. 4, § 15 (tom. ii. 408): “Intellectui fides aditum aperit, infidelitas claudit.” Augustine’s view of faith and knowledge is discussed at large by Gangauf, Metaphysische Psychologie des heil Augustinus, i. pp. 31-76, and by Nourrisson, La philosophie de saint Augustin, tom. ii. 282-290. He constantly looked below the surface to the hidden motives of actions and to the universal laws of diverse events. The metaphysician and the Christian believer coalesced in him. His meditatio passes with the utmost ease into oratio, and his oratio into meditatio. With profundity he combined an equal clearness and sharpness of thought. He was an extremely skilful and a successful dialectician, inexhaustible in arguments and in answers to the objections of his adversaries.
He has enriched Latin literature with a greater
store of beautiful, original, and pregnant proverbial sayings, than any
classic author, or any other teacher of the church.21532153 Prosper Aquitanus collected from the works
of Augustinea long list of sentences (see the Appendix to
the tenth vol. of the Bened. ed. p. 223 sqq.), with reference to
theological purport and the Pelagian controversies. We recall some of
the best, which he has omitted:
“Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet, Vetus in Novo patet.”
“Distingue tempora, et concordabit Scriptura.”
“Cor nostrum inquietum est, donec requiescat in Te.”
“Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis.”
“Non vincit nisi veritas, victoria veritatis est caritas.”
“Ubi amor, ibi trinitas.”
“Fides praecedit intellectum.”
“Deo servire vera libertas est.”
“Nulla infelicitas frangit, quem felicitas nulls corrumpit.”
The famous maxim of ecclesiastical harmony: “In necessariis unitas, in dubiis (or non necessariis) libertas, in omnibus (in utrisque) caritas,”—which is often ascribed to Augustine, dates in this form not from him, but from a much later period. Dr. Lücke(in a special treatise on the antiquity of the author, the original form, etc., of this sentence, Göttingen, 1850) traces the authorship to Rupert Meldenius, an irenical German theologian of the seventeenth century.
He had a creative and decisive hand in almost every dogma of the church, completing some, and advancing others. The centre of his system is the free redeeming grace of God in Christ, operating through the actual, historical church. He is evangelical or Pauline in his doctrine of sin and grace, but catholic (that is, old-catholic, not Roman Catholic) in his doctrine of the church. The Pauline element comes forward mainly in the Pelagian controversy, the catholic-churchly in the Donatist; but each is modified by the other.
Dr. Baur incorrectly makes freedom the fundamental idea of the Augustinian system (it much better suits the Pelagian), and founds on this view an ingenious, but only half true, comparison between Augustine and Origen. “There is no church teacher of the ancient period,” says he,21542154 L.c.p. 30 sq. “who, in intellect and in grandeur and consistency of view, can more justly be placed by the side of Origen than Augustine; none who, with all the difference in individuality and in mode of thought, so closely resembles him. How far both towered above their times, is most clearly manifest in the very fact that they alone, of all the theologians of the first six centuries, became the creators of distinct systems, each proceeding from its definite idea, and each completely carried out; and this fact proves also how much the one system has that is analogous to the other. The one system, like the other, is founded upon the idea of freedom; in both there is a specific act, by which the entire development of human life is determined; and in both this is an act which lies far outside of the temporal consciousness of the individual; with this difference alone, that in one system the act belongs to each separate individual himself, and only falls outside of his temporal life and consciousness; in the other, it lies within the sphere of the temporal history of man, but is only the act of one individual. If in the system of Origen nothing gives greater offence than the idea of the pre-existence and fall of souls, which seems to adopt heathen ideas into the Christian faith, there is in the system of Augustine the same overleaping of individual life and consciousness, in order to explain from an act in the past the present sinful condition of man; but the pagan Platonic point of view is exchanged for one taken from the Old Testament .... What therefore essentially distinguishes the system of Augustine from that of Origen, is only this: the fall of Adam is substituted for the pre-temporal fall of souls, and what in Origen still wears a heathen garb, puts on in Augustine a purely Old Testament form.”
The learning of Augustine was not equal to his genius, nor as extensive as that of Origen and Eusebius, but still considerable for his time, and superior to that of any of the Latin fathers, with the single exception of Jerome. He had received in the schools of Madaura and Carthage a good theoretical and rhetorical preparation for the forum, which stood him in good stead also in theology. He was familiar with Latin literature, and was by no means blind to the excellencies of the classics, though he placed them far below the higher beauty of the Holy Scriptures. The Hortensius of Cicero (a lost work) inspired him during his university course with enthusiasm for philosophy and for the knowledge of truth for its own sake; the study of Platonic and Neo-Platonic works (in the Latin version of the rhetorician Victorinus) kindled in him an incredible fire;21552155 Adv. Academicos, l. ii. c. 2, § 5: “Etiam mihi ipsi de me incredibile incendium concitarunt.” And in several passages of the Civitas Dei (viii. 3-12; xxii. 27) he speaks very favorably of Plato, and also of Aristotle, and thus broke the way for the high authority of the Aristotelian philosophy with the scholastics of the middle age. though in both he missed the holy name of Jesus and the cardinal virtues of love and humility, and found in them only beautiful ideals without power to conform him to them. His City of God, his book on heresies, and other writings, show an extensive knowledge of ancient philosophy, poetry, and history, sacred and secular. He refers to the most distinguished persons of Greece and Rome; he often alludes to Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Plotin, Porphyry, Cicero, Seneca, Horace, Virgil, to the earlier Greek and Latin fathers, to Eastern and Western heretics. But his knowledge of Greek literature was mostly derived from Latin translations. With the Greek language, as he himself frankly and modestly confesses, he had, in comparison with Jerome, but a superficial acquaintance.21562156 It is sometimes asserted that he had no knowledge at all of the Greek. So Gibbon, for example, says (ch. xxxiii.): “The superficial learning of Augustinewas confined to the Latin language.” But this is as much a mistake as the other assertion of Gibbon, that “the orthodoxy of St. Augustinewas derived from the Manichaean school.” In his youth he had a great aversion to the glorious language of Hellas (Conf. i. 14), and read the writings of Plato in a Latin translation (vii. 9). But after his baptism during his second residence in Rome, he took it up again with greater zest, for the sake of his biblical studies. In Hippo he had, while presbyter, good opportunity to advance in it, since his bishop, Aurelius, a native Greek, understood his mother tongue much better than the Latin. In his books he occasionally makes reference to the Greek. In his work Contra Jul. i. c. 6 § 21 (tom. x. 510), he corrects the Pelagian Julianin a translation from Chrysostom, quoting the original. “Ego ipsa verba Graeca quae a Joanne dicta sunt ponam: ̀διὰ τοῦτο καὶ τὰ παιδία βαπτίζομεν, καίτοι ἁμαπτήματα οὐκ ἔχοντα, quod est Latine: Ideo et infantes baptizamus, quamvis peccata non habentes.” Julianhad freely rendered this: “cum non sint coinquinati peccato,” and had drawn the inference: “Sanctus Joannes Constantinopolitanus negat esse in parvulis originale peccatum.” Augustinehelps himself out of the pinch by arbitrarily supplying propria to ἁμαρτήματα, so that the idea of sin inherited from another is not excluded. The Greek fathers, however, did not consider hereditary corruption to be proper sin or guilt at all, but only defect, weakness, or disease. In the City of God, lib. xix. c. 23, he quotes a passage from Porphyry’s ἐκ λογίων φιλοσοφία. It is probable that he read Plotin, and the Panarion of Epiphanius or the summary of it, in Greek (while the Church History of Eusebius he knew only in the translation of Rufinus). But in his exegetical and other works he very rarely consults the Septuagint or Greek Testament, and was content with the very imperfect Itala or the improved version of Jerome. The Benedictine editors overestimate his knowledge of Greek. He himself frankly confesses that he knew very little of it, De Trinit. l. iii. Prooem. (“Graecae linguae non sit nobis tantus habitus, ut talium rerum libris legendis et intelligendis uno modo reperiamur idonei”), and Contra literas Petiliani (written in 400), l. ii. c. 38 (“Et ego quidem Graecae linguae perparum assecutus sum, et prope nihil”). On the philosophical learning of Augustinemay be compared Nourrisson, l.c. ii. p. 92 ff. Hebrew he did not understand at all. Hence, with all his extraordinary familiarity with the Latin Bible, he made many mistakes in exposition. He was rather a thinker than a scholar, and depended mainly on his own resources, which were always abundant.21572157 166 The following are some of the most intelligent and appreciative estimates of Augustine. Erasmus(Ep. dedicat. ad Alfons. archiep. Tolet. 1529) says, with an ingenious play upon the name Aurelius Augustinus: “Quid habet orbis christianus hoc scriptore magis aureum vel augustius? ut ipsa vocabula nequaquam fortuito, sed numinis providentia videantur indita viro. Auro sapientiae nihil pretiosius: fulgore eloquentiae cum sapientia conjunctae nihil mirabilius .... Non arbitror alium esse doctorem, in quem opulentus ille ac benignus Spiritus dotes suas omnes largius effuderit, quam in Augustinum.” The great philosopher Leibnitz(Praefat. ad Theodic. § 34) calls him “virum sane magnum et ingenii stupendi,” and “vastissimo ingenio praeditum.” Dr. Baur, without sympathy with his views, speaks enthusiastically of the man and his genius. Among other things be says (Vorlesungen über Dogmengeschichte, i. i. p. 61): “There is scarcely another theological author so fertile and withal so able as Augustine. His scholarship was certainly not equal to his mind; yet even that is sometimes set too low, when it is asserted that he had no acquaintance at all with the Greek language; for this is incorrect, though he had attained no great proficiency in Greek.” C. Bindemann(a Lutheran divine) begins his thorough monograph (vol. i. preface) with the well-deserved eulogium: “St. Augustineis one of the greatest personages in the church. He is second in importance to none of the teachers who have wrought most in the church since the apostolic time; and it can well be said that among the church fathers the first place is due to him, and in the time of the Reformation a Luther alone, for fulness and depth of thought and grandeur of character, may stand by his side. He is the summit of the development of the mediaeval Westem church; from him descended the mysticism, no less than the scholasticism, of the middle age; he was one of the strongest pillars of the Roman Catholicism, and from his works, next to the Holy Scriptures, especially the Epistles of Paul, the leaders of the Reformation drew most of that conviction by which a new age was introduced.” Staudenmaier, a Roman Catholic theologian, counts Augustineamong those minds in which an hundred others dwell (Scotus Erigena, i. p. 274). The Roman Catholic philosophers A. Güntherand Th. Gangauf, put him on an equality with the greatest philosophers, and discern in him a providential personage endowed by the Spirit of God for the instruction of all ages. A striking characterization is that of Dr. Johannes Huber(in his instructive work: Die Philosophie der Kirchenväter, Munich, 1859, p. 312 sq.): “Augustineis a unique phenomenon in Christian history. No one of the other fathers has left so luminous traces of his existence. Though we find among them many rich and powerful minds yet we find in none the forces of personal character, mind, heart, and will, so largely developed and so harmoniously working. No one surpasses him in wealth of perceptions and dialectical sharpness of thoughts, in depth and fervor of religious sensibility, in greatness of aims and energy of action. He therefore also marks the culmination of the patriotic age, and has been elevated by the acknowledgment of succeeding times as the first and the universal church father.—His whole character reminds us in many respects of Paul, with whom he has also in common the experience of being called from manifold errors to the service of the gospel, and like whom he could boast that he had labored in it more abundantly than all the others. And as Paul among the Apostles pre-eminently determined the development of Christianity, and became, more than all others, the expression of the Christian mind, to which men ever afterwards return, as often as in the life of the church that mind becomes turbid, to draw from him, as the purest fountain, a fresh understanding of the gospel doctrine,—so has Augustineturned the Christian nations since his time for the most part into his paths, and become pre-eminently their trainer and teacher, in the study of whom they always gain a renewal and deepening of their consciousness. Not the middle age alone, but the Reformation also, was ruled by him, and whatever to this day boasts of the Christian spirit, is connected at least in part with Augustine.” Nourrisson, the latest French writer on Augustine, whose work is clothed with the authority of the Institute of France, assigns to the bishop of Hippo the fast rank among the masters of human thought, alongside of Plato and Leibnitz, Thomas Aquinas and Bossuet. “Si une critique toujours respectueuse, mais d’une inviolable sincérité, est une des formes les plus hautes de l’admiration, j’estime, au contraire, n’avoir fait qu’exalter ce grand coeur, ce psychologue consolant et ému, ce métaphysicien subtil et sublime, en un mot, cet attachant et poétique génie, dont la place reste marquée, au premier rang, parmi le maîtres de la pensée humaine, à côté de Platon et de Descartes, d’Aristote et de saint Thomas, de Leibniz et de Bossuet.” (La philosophie de saint Augustin, Par. 1866, tom. i. p. vii.) Among English and American writers, Dr. Shedd, in the Introduction to his edition of an old translation of the Confessions (1860), has furnished a truthful and forcible description of the mind and heart of St. Augustine, as portrayed in this remarkable book.
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