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AUGUSTINE


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AUGUSTINE


which is morally imputed to them. Consequently, the Fathers — the Greeks especially — have insisted on its penal and afflictive character, which is most in evidence, while Augustine was led by the polemics of the Pelagians (and only by them) to lay emphasis on the moral aspect of the fault of the human race in its first father.

With regard to Adam's state before the fall Au- gustine not only affirmed, against Pelagius, the gifts of immortality, impassibility, integrity, freedom from error, and, above all, the sanctifying grace of Divine adoption, but he emphasized its absolutely gratuitous and supernatural character. Doubtless, considering the matter historically and de facto, it was only the sin of Adam that inflicted death on us — .\.ugustine repeats it again and again — because God had safeguarded us against the law of our nature. But (ie jure neither immortality nor the other graces were our due, and Augustine recognized this in af- firming that God could have made the condition in which we were actually born the primitive con- dition of our first parents. That assertion alone is the very reverse of Jansenism. It is, moreover, formally confirmed in the "Retractations" (I, ix, n. 6).

(6) Does this mean that we must praise every- thing in St. Augustine's explanation of grace? — Cer- tainly not. And we shall note the improvements made by the Church, through her doctors, in the original Augustinism. Some exaggerations have been abandoned, as, for instance, the condemnation to hell of children dying without baptism. Obscure and ambiguous formulae have been eliminated. We must say frankly that Augustine's literary method of emphasizing his thought by exaggerated expressions, issuing in troublesome paradoxes, has often obscured his doctrine, aroused opposition in many minds, or led them into error. Also, it is above all important, in order to comprehend his doctrine, to compile an Augustinian dictionary, not a priori, but after an objective study of his texts. The work would be long and laborious, but how many prejudices it would dispel!

The Protestant historian Ph. Schaff (St. Augustine, p. 102) writes: "The great genius of the African Church, from whom the Middle Ages and the Refor- mation have received an impulse alike powerful, though in different directions, has not yet fulfilled the work marked out for him in the coimsels of Divine Wisdom. He serves as a bond of union between the two antagonistic sections of Western Christendom, and encourages the hope that a time may come when the injustice and bitterness of strife will be forgiven and forgotten, and the discords of the past be drowned forever in the sweet harmonies of perfect knowledge and perfect love". May this dream be realized!

V. Augustinism in History. — The influence of the Doctor of Hippo has been so exceptional in the Church, that, after having indicated its general characteristics (see above), it is proper to indicate the principal phases of the historical development of his doctrine. The word Augustinism designates at times the entire group of philosophical doctrines of Augustine, at others, it is restricted to his system of grace. Hence, (1) philosophical Augustinism; (2) the- ological Augustinism on grace; (3) laws which gov- erned the mitigation of Augustinism.

(1) Philosophical Augustinism. — In the history of philosophical Augustinism we may distinguish three very distinct phases. First, the period of its almost exclusive triumph in the West, up to the thirteenth century. During the long ages which were darkened by the invasion of the barbarians, but which were nevertheless burdened with the responsibility of safe- guarding the sciences of the future, we may say that Augustine was the Great Master of the West. He was absolutely without a rival, or if there was one.


it was one of his disciples, Gregory the Great, who, after being formed in his school, popularized his theories. The role of Origen, who engrafted neo- Platonism on the Christian schools of the East, was that of Augustine in the West, with the difference, however, that the Bishop of Hippo was better able to detach the trutlis of Platonism from the dreams of Oriental imagination. Hence, a current of Platonic ideas was started which will never cease to act upon Western thought. Tliis influence shows itself in various ways. It is found in the compilers of this period, who are so munerous and so well deserving of recognition — such as Isidore, Bede, Alcuin — who drew abundantly from the works of Augustine, just as did the preachers of the sixth century, and nota- bly St. Ca'sarius. In the controversies, especially in the great disputes of the ninth and twelfth centuries on the validity of Simoniacal ordinations, the text of Augustine plays the principal part. Carl Mirbt has published on this point a very interesting study: "Die Stellung Augustins in der Publizistik des gre- gorianischen Kirchenstreits " (Leipzig, 1888). In the pre-Thomistic period of Scholasticism, then in process of formation, namely, from Anselm to Albert the Great, Augustine is the great inspirer of all the mas- ters, such as Anselm, Abelard, Hugo of St. Victor, who is called by his contemporaries, another Augus- tine, or even the soul of Augustine. And it is proper to remark, with Cunningham (Saint Austin, p. 178), that from the time of Anselm the cult of Augustinian ideas exercised an enormous influence on English thought in the Middle Ages. As regards Peter Lom- bard, his Sentences are little else than an effort to S3mthesize the Augustinian theories.

While they do not form a system as rigidly botmd together as Thomism, yet Father Mandonnet (in his learned study of Siger de Brabant) and M. de Wulf (on Gilles de Lessines) have been able to group these theories together. And here let us present a summary sketch of those theses regarded in the thirteenth cen- tury as Augustinian, and over which the battle was fought. First, the fusion of theology and philosophy; the preference given to Plato over Aristotle — the latter representing rationalism, which was mistrusted, whilst the idealism of Plato exerted a strong attrac- tion — wisdom regarded rather as the philosophy of the Good than the philosophy of the True. As a consequence, the disciples of Augustine always have a pronounced tinge of mysticism, while the disciples of St. Thomas may be recognized by their very accentuated intellectualism. In psychology the illuminating and immediate action of God is the origin of our intellectual knowledge (at times it is piu"e ontologism); and the faculties of the soul are made substantially identical with the soul itself. They are its functions, and not distinct entities (a thesis which was to keep its own partisans in the Scholasticism of the future and to be adopted by Descartes); the soul is a substance even without the body, so that after death, it is truly a person. In cosmology, besides the celebrated thesis of rationed seminales, which some have recently attempted to interpret in favour of evolutionism, Augustinism ad- mitted the multiplicity of substantial forms in com- pound beings, especially in man. But especially in the impossibility of creation ab aterno, or the es- sentially temporal character of every creature which is subject to change, we have one of the ideas of Augvistine which his disciples defended with greater constancy and, it would appear, with greater success.

A second period of very active struggles came in the thirteenth century, and this has only lately been recognized. Renan (Averroes, p. 259) and others believed that the war against Thomism, which was just then beginning, was caused by the infatuation of the Franciscans for Averroism; but if the Fran- ciscan Order showed itself on the whole opposed to