Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/Of the Work of Monks/Section 21
21. Moreover, if discourse must be bestowed upon any, and this so take up the speaker that he have not time to work with his hands, are all in the monastery able to hold discourse unto brethren which come unto them from another kind of life, whether it be to expound the divine lessons, or concerning any questions which may be put, to reason in an wholesome manner? Then since not all have the ability, why upon this pretext do all want to have nothing else to do? Although even if all were able, they ought to do it by turns; not only that the rest might not be taken up from necessary works, but also because it sufficeth that to many hearers there be one speaker. To come now to the Apostle; how could he find time to work with his hands, unless for the bestowing of the word of God he had certain set times? And indeed God hath not willed this either to be hidden from us. For both of what craft he was a workman, and at what times he was taken up with dispensing the Gospel, holy Scripture has not left untold. Namely, when the day of his departure caused him to be in haste, being at Troas, even on the first day of the week when the brethren were assembled to break bread, such was his earnestness, and so necessary the disputation, that his discourse was prolonged even until midnight, as though it had slipped from their minds that on that day it was not a fast: but when he was making longer stay in any place and disputing daily, who can doubt that he had certain hours set apart for this office? For at Athens, because he had there found most studious inquirers of things, it is thus written of him: “He disputed therefore with the Jews in the synagogue, and with the Gentile inhabitants in the market every day to those who were there.” Not, namely, in the synagogue every day, for there it was his custom to discourse on the sabbath; but “in the market,” saith he, “every day;” by reason, doubtless, of the studiousness of the Athenians. For so it follows: “Certain however of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers conferred with him.” And a little after, it says: “Now the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Let us suppose him all those days that he was at Athens not to have worked: on this account, indeed, was his need supplied from Macedonia, as he says in the second to the Corinthians: though in fact he could work both at other hours and of nights, because he was so strong in both mind and body. But when he had gone from Athens, let us see what says the Scripture: “He disputed,” saith it, “in the synagogue every sabbath;” this at Corinth. In Troas, however, where through necessity of his departure being close at hand, his discourse was protracted until midnight, it was the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s Day: whence we understand that he was not with Jews but with Christians; when also the narrator himself saith they were gathered together to break bread. And indeed this same is the best management, that all things be distributed to their times and be done in order, lest becoming ravelled in perplexing entanglements, they throw our human mind into confusion.
- Acts xx. 7
- S. Augustin therefore assumes that the Christians of the Apostolic age did not break their fast before receiving the Eucharist. See St. Chrys. on Stat. Hom. ix. § 2. Tr. p. 159, and note g.
- Τοῖς ᾽Ιουδαίοις καὶ τοῖς σεβομένοις καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀγορᾷ κατὰ πᾶσαν ἡμέραν πρὸς τοὺς παρατυγχάνοντας. For καὶ τοῖς σεβομένοις Aug. has et Gentibus incolis: for which some mss. have Gentibus in viculis.
- Acts xvii. 17, 18, 21
- 2 Cor. xi. 9
- Acts xviii. 4