The New International Encyclopædia/Augustine, Saint (archbishop of Hippo)

AUGUSTINE, Saint (Lat. Aurelius Augustinus) (354-430). Bishop of Hippo, in North Africa, the greatest of the Latin Fathers, and one of the most eminent doctors of the Western Church. He is called Aurelius Augustinus by Orosius and Prosper of Aquitania. From his autobiographical Confession.i. and from the biography written by his friend Possidius, we gather the most important facts of his life. He was bom in Tagaste. a town in Numidia, November 13. 354, and died in Hippo, August 28, 430, during the siege of that town by the Vandals. His father, Patricius, was a pagan (afterwards converted), but his mother Monica, was a devoted Christian, who labored long and earnestly for her .son's conversion, and who has been canonized by the Church. Augustine was brought up to be a rhetorician, and studied at Tagaste, JIadaura, and Carthage. From about the age of 16 until shortly before his conversion, he lived in concubinage, which, along with other youthful irregularities, he afterwards bitterly lamented (cf. his Confessions, Book III.). One of the greatest obstacles to his conversion was this state of concubinage, against whose bondage lie struggled for a long time in vain; he seemed to be sincerely and deeply attached to the object of his passion, to whom he was faithful for many years. By her he had one son, whom he named Adeodatus ('the gift of God').

The perusal of Cicero's Nortensius awakened Augustine to a more serious view of life, and he became an earnest seeker after truth. bit experimented with several systems before finally entering the Christian Church. For nine years he was a follower of Manichteism (q.v.), a Persian dualistic philosophy then widely current in the Western Empire. With its fundamental principle of conflict between two opposing world-powers, symbolized by light and darkness, good and evil. Manichicism seemed to Augustine to correspond to the facts of experience, and to furnish the most plausible hypothesis upon which to construct a philosophical and ethical system. Moreover, its demands upon novices {auditores) were not strict enough to cause great uneasiness of conscience; witness Augustine's petition recorded in his Confessions (viii. 17), "Lord, make me pure and chaste — but not quite yet!" He never advanced to full membership, not becoming one of the perfecti. After nine years he abandoned this system, failing after diligent inquiry to find in it the solution of his greatest difficulties. His next stage of development was skepticism.

About this time (a.d. 383) Augustine left Cartilage for Rome. His mother, almost heart-broken at his secret flight, took ship and followed. He did not remain long in the capital, but went on to .Milan, where he fell under the influence of the Neo-Platonic philosophy, which has so often carried serious thinkers over from doubt to faith, and where he also met the great Bishop Ambrose, who at that time was the most distinguished ecclesiastic in Italy. Augustine presently found himself attracted once more toward Christianity, and asking what answer it had to give to the problems of life. In obedience to what seemed to him the direct call of God, he turned to the Scriptures and read the words, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof" (Rom. xiii. 14). This decided the question. Augustine resolved to embrace Chris- tianity and to believe as the Church believed. With his natural son he was baptized by Ambrose on Easter Eve. 387. His mother, who had rejoined him in Italy, was rejoiced at this answer to her prayers and hopes. She died soon afterwards at Ostia.

The remaining 43 years of Augustine's life were devoted to the service of the Church. He returned to Africa, was made presbyter in 301, and bishop of Hippo in 305, which latter office he held until his death. It was a period of political and theological unrest, for, while the barbarians pressed in upon the Empire, even sacking Rome itself, schism and heresy also threatened the Church. .Augustine threw himself into the theological conflict, not from inclination, hut from a sense of duty. With voice and pen he waged war, and usually he conquered. The whole of Western Christendom has entered into the fruits of his victories. Beside the Manichtean controversy, Augustine was engaged in two great theological conflicts. One was with the Donatists (q.v.). a numerous but schismatic body, and related chiefly to questions of Church discipline and order. It also involved a certain puritan theory of the Church and her ministry which Augustine did not share. In the course of this discussion he developed his ecclesiastical and sacramental theories. Tlie other was with the Pelagians, followers of a British monk who disliked the idea of absolute predestination, and related to such doctrinal questions as man's primitive state, the fill, depravity, and so on. In the course of this conflict, which was long and bitter, Augustine developed his theories of sin and grace, of divine sovereignty and predestination. The Roman Catholic Church has found especial satisfaction in Augustine's teaching respecting the Church and its sacraments, while Protestants have sought authority for their characteristic doctrines in his anthropology and soteriology.

He taught that the true Church was characterized by four qualities — unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity. Outside this Church there could be no salvation. It alone was the 'ark of safety' in which a perishing world must take refuge through submission to its authority. Convinced of the indispensable necessity of church membership, Augustine finally came to believe it right to coerce the intractable; it was the duty of the Christian State to 'compel them to come in.' This force-doctrine, so rejiellent to our modern ideas, and so fraught with evil in the history of religion, may be found clearly stated by Augustine in his Ninety-third Epistle (A.D. 408), where he cites the Parable of the Wedding-Feast in support of his position, and also in tlie proceedings of the Synod of Carthage, held in the year 411, which is commonly said to have ended the Donatist schism. Augustine's doctrine stood between the extremes of Pelagianism and jNIanichipistii. Against Pelagian naturalism lie held that death came into the world as the result of sin, and that man is saved by divine grace ; against Manichieism he vigorously defended free-will. A misunderstanding of his position on grace and free-will often arises from neglecting to consider that he is at the same time an ardent defender of human freedom again.ot jManichaean fatalism, and the champion of divine grace against the theory of complete human in- dependence.

Augustine was an energetic controversialist, as we have seen. He was also a powerful preacher; but his sermons, owing partly to the great difference between their style and method and that to which we are accustomed, and partly to their fanciful interpretation of Scripture, often disappoint the modern reader. The editors have accepted 363 sermons as genuine, among a much larger number which bear his name. In his great apologetic work, the City of God, Augustine appeared in the role of seer, unfolding the meaning of the past and tlie secrets of the future with abundant learning and marvelous fertility of imagination. Ten of the 22 books into which this long work is divided are devoted to refuting the pagan notion that the worship of the gods insures prosperity in this life or in the life to come. The remaining 12 trace the origin, progress, and destiny of the two cities, one of God, the other of this world, with the final triumph of the foraier, which is the Christian Church. Thirteen years of Augustine's busy life (413- 426) were occupied with this sublime attempt to construct a Christian philosophy of history. In 428, shortly before his death, Augustine wrote the Retractions, in which he registers his final verdict upon the books he had previously written, correcting whatever his maturer judgment held to be misleading or wrong.

The Confessions were written in 397; the Epistles, of which there are 270 in the Benedictine edition, are variously dated between 386 and 420. Among other important works may be noted his treatise On Frce-Will (388-395): On Christian Doctrine (397); On Baptism: Against the Donatists (400); On the Trinity (400-416); On Natitre and Grace (415): and Homilies upon several books of the Bible. Tlie Benedictine edition of Augustine's works is still authoritative (Paris, 1079-1700, 11 vols., reprinted in Migne's Patroloaia Latina, and elsewhere): but it is safe to predict that the standard edition will be that now in process of publication under the auspices of the Vienna Academy (in the Corpus Scripiorum Ecclcsiasticorum Latinorum) , of which eight volumes had appeared in 1900. The most important of Augustine's Works may be read in English in the Nicene and Post-nicene Fathers, first series, edited bv Philip Sehaff (New York, 1886-88, 8 vols.). Separate translations of the Confessions are numerous, e.g. bv W. G. T. Shedd (Andover, 1860). and Charles Bigg (London, 1900). F. R. M. Hitchcock, f<aint Aufiitstine's Treatise on the City of God (London. 1900), is a convenient abstract of the complete work. Consult: "Augustine," in Smith and Wace, Dictionary of Christian Biography (London, 1887): Farrar. Lives of the Fathers, Vol. II. (Edinburgh, 1889); Harnack, History of Dogma, English translation by Neil Buchanan, Vol. V. (London, 1898): Cunningham, Saint Austin and His Place in the History of Christian Thought (London, 1885); and Harnack, Augustine's Confessions, English translation (London, 1901). For an unfavorable view of Augustine, see A. V. G. Allen, Continuity of Christian Thought (Boston, 1894).