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AUOUSTINE


95


AUGUSTINE


thinker ever caused so many and such sahitary tears to flow. This characteristic of Augustine's genius explains his doctrinal work. Christian dogmas are considered in relation to the soul and the great Uities ot Christian Ufe, rather than to themselves ml in a speculative fashion. This alone explains his division of theology in the "Enchiridion", which at first sight seems so strange. He assembles all Christian doctrine in the three theological virtues, considering in the mysteries the different activities of the soul that must live by them. Thus, in the Incarnation, he assigns the greatest part to the moral side, to the triumph of humilit}'. For this reason, also, .\ugustine's work bears an imprint, until then unknown, of living personality peeping out every- where. He inaugurates that literature in which the author's individuality reveals itself in the most ab- stract matters, the " Confessions " being an inimitable example of it. It is in this connexion that Hamack admires the African Doctor's gift of psychological obser\'ation and a captivating facility for portraying his penetrating observations. Tliis talent, he says, is the secret of .Augustine's originality and greatness. Again, it is this same characteristic that distinguishes him from the other Doctors and gives him his own special temperament. The practical side of a ques- tion appealed to the Roman mind of Ambrose, too, but he never rises to the same lieights, nor moves the heart as deeply as does his disciple of Milan. Je- rome is a more learned exegetist, better equipped in resirect of Scriptural erudition; he is even purer in his style; but, despite his impetuous ardour, he is less animated, less striking, than his correspondent of Hippo. Athanasius, too, is subtile in the meta- physical analysis of dogma, but he does not appeal to the heart and take hold of the soul like the .\frican Doctor. Origen played the part of initiator in the Eastern Church, just as .\ugustine did in the West- em. but his influence, mifortunate in more ways than one, was exercised rather in the sphere of speculative inteUigence, while that of .Augustine, owing to the qualities of his heart, extended far beyond the realm of theology. Bossuet, who of all genivises most closely resembles Augustine by his elevation and his universality, is his superior in the skilfulness and artistic finish of his works, but he has not the alluring tenderness of soul; and if Au- gustine fulminates less, he attracts more power- fully, subjugating the mind with gentleness.

Thus may .Augustine's universal inflvience in all succeeding ages be explained: it is due to combined gifts of heart and mind. Speculative genius alone does not sway the multitude; the Christian world, apart from professional theologians, does not read Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, without the clear, definite idea of dogma, mysticism founders as soon as reason awakes and discovers the empti- ness of metaphors: this is always the fate of vague pietism, whether it recognize Christ or not, whether It be extolled by Schleiermacher, Sabatier, or their disciples. But to .Augvistine's genius, at once en- lightened and ardent, the whole soul is accessible, and the whole Church, both teachers and taught, is permeated by his sentiments and ideas. A. Har- nack, more than any other critic, admires and de- scribes .Augustine's influence over all the life of Christian people. If Thomas .Aquinas is the Doctor of the Schools, Augustine is, according to Hamack, the inspirer and restorer of Christian piety. If Thomas inspires the canons of Trent, .Augustine, besides having formed Thomas himself, inspires the inner life of the Church and is the soul of all the great reforms effected within its pale. In his " E.s- sence of Christianity" (14tli lesson. 1900. p. 161) Hamack shows how Catholics and Protestants live upon the piety of .Augustine. " His living has been incessantly relived in the course of the fifteen hun-


dred years that have followed. Even to our days interior and living piety among Catholics, as well as the mode of its expression, has been essentially Augustinian: the soul is permeated by his sentiment, it feels as he felt and retliinks his thoughts. It is the same with many Protestants also, and they are by no means among the worst. .And even those to whom dogma is but a relic of the past proclaim that Augustine's influence will live forever."

This genuine emotion is also the veil that hides certain faults from the reader or else makes him oblivious of them. Says Eucken: "Never could .Au- gustine have exercised all the influence lie has exercised if it had not been that, in spite of the rhe- torical artifice of his utterance, absolute sincerity reigned in the inmost recesses of his soul". His frequent repetitions are excused because they are the expression of his deep feeling. SchafT says : "His books, with all the faults and repetitions of isolated parts, are a spontaneous outflow from the marvellous treasures of his highly-gifted mind and his truly pious heart". (St. .Augustine, p. 96.') But we must also acknowledge that his passion is the source of exaggerations and at times of errors that are fraught with real danger for the inattentive or badly disposed reader. Out of sheer love for .Au- gustine certain theologians have endeavoured to jvistify all he wrote, to admire all, and to proclaim him infallible, but nothing could be more detrimental to his glory than such excess of praise. The reaction already referred to arises partly from this. We must recognize that the passion for truth sometimes fixes its attention too much upon one side of a complex question; his too absolute formulae, lacking quali- fication, false in appearance now in one sense now in another. "The oratorical temperament that was his in such a high degree", says Becker, very truly {Reime d'histoire ecclesiastique, 15 April, 1902, p. 379), "the kind of exaltation that befitted his rich imagination and his loving soul, are not the most reliable in philosophical speculations". Such is the origin of the contradictions alleged against him and of the errors ascribed to him by the predestinarians of all ages. Here we see the role of the more frigid minds of Scholasticism. Thomas .Aquinas was a necessary corrective to .Augustine. He is less great, less original, and, above all, less animated; but the calm didactics of his intellectualism enable him to castigate .Augustine's exaggerations with rigorous criticism, to impart exactitude and precision to his terms — in one word, to prepare a dictionary with which the African Doctor may be read without danger.

IV. Hi.s System of Grace. — It is unquestionably in the great Doctor's solution of the eternal problem of freedom and grace — of the part taken by God and by man in the affair of salvation — that his thought stands forth as most personal, most powerful, and most disputed. Most personal, for he was the first of all to synthesize the great theories of the Fall, grace, and free will; and moreover it is he who, to reconcile them all, has furnished us with a profound explanation which is in very truth his, and of which we find no trace in his predecessors. Hence, the term Augustinism is often exclusively used to desig- nate his .system of grace. Most powerjul, for, as all admit, it was he above all others who won the triumph of liberty against the Manichaeans, and of grace against the Pelagians. His doctrine has, in the main, been solemnly accepted by the Church, and we know that the canons of the Council of Orange are bor- rowed from his works. Most disputed, also. — Like St. Paul, whose teachings he develops, he has often been quoted, often not understood. Friends and enemies have exploited his teaching in the most diverse senses. It has not been grasped, not only by the opponents of liberty, and nence by the Re