POSSIDIUS, BISHOP OF CALAMA: "THE LIFE OF ST. AUGUSTINE"

Introduction:

Possidius was one of St. Augustine's closest associates. Having become a member of the monastery which Augustine had founded in Hippo Regius in 391 A.D., he left there to become bishop of the small Numidian town of Calama in about 397. He was therefore one of the ten men (others known to us were Alypius, Evodius, Severus and Profuturus) who were prepared in Augustine's monastery to take up episcopal duties elsewhere in North Africa (see Chapter 11 below). Possidius was a determined ally of Augustine in his polemical campaigns against the Donatist sect, and was one of the seven bishops chosen to represent the Catholics in the conference at Carthage in 411, after which the Donatists were condemned by the Roman state. A few years earlier in 408 he had been almost killed in a riot at Calama, when he had sought to invoke imperial laws against the pagans. Later he assisted Augustine in taking action against the Pelagians. When the Vandals invaded North Africa in 429 he took refuge with Augustine behind the walls of Hippo and was present at his death-bed in 430, after which he determined to write a history of his life. At sometime after that he was expelled from his diocese at Calama by Gaiseric, the Arian king of the Vandals, and fled into exile. He is known to have been alive in 437, but the date of his death is unknown.

 

While Possidius' biography of his great friend and mentor provides impressive testimony to the very great reputation and influence of Augustine, we do not learn very much more about Augustine and the circumstances of his life than we can acquire from that great man's own prolific writings. Possidius wrote in a flat style, greatly inferior to the superbly rhetorical style of Augustine himself. His writings are full of anacoluthia ('inconsequences'), that is sentences which are grammatically incoherent. While not exactly difficult to translate, the content itself is often somewhat opaque, particularly when he makes use of biblical quotations. With regard to the atmosphere Possidius engenders, Augustine's great modern biographer, Peter Brown, has interestingly observed, with regard to the Saint's highly eventful life, that "It is paradoxical that Possidius ... should have chosen to present his complex hero largely in terms of the tranquil, uncomplicated life that he had created for others" (See Peter Brown, "Augustine of Hippo", revised edition, 2000, p. 136). Possidius' work also reminds us of the intellectual vigour of the world of Augustine, one in which a remarkable number of people listen to sermons and some read pamphlets. Of course, this world, and the physical security upon which it depended, was about to be swept away. The traumatic consequences for the previously peaceful society of Roman North Africa of the Vandal incursions of 429-430 are graphically emphasised by Possidius in Chapter 28, iv - xiii, below, which is for this translator one of the highlights of the work.
 
The text used in this translation is "Possidio: "Vita di S. Agostino", Edizioni Paoline, 1955. This Italian edition, which contains a parallel text in Italian, was the only text of this work available to Sabidius when studying Saint Augustine, under the inspiring tutelage of Peter Brown, as a special subject in the Modern History honours course at Oxford University in 1966-67. Following this text, the work has been divided into a preface and then three parts: Pt. 1. The things done by him (Chapter I-XVIII); 2. A description of his character, as indicated by his daily life at home and in the church (Chapters 19-27); and 3. His last days and the manner of his death (Chapter XXVIII-XXXI). It is possible to divide the first part between Chapters I-V (Introductory) and Chapters VI-XVIII (His activities against heresies). In the translation below Sabidius has departed from his normal practice of offering more literal renderings of Latin in parentheses. Here, he has translated the more difficult constructions, such as gerundives of obligation and impersonal verbs into appropriate English equivalents, without showing more literal alternatives. On the other hand he has usually rendered ablative absolutes in English in accordance with the structure of the Latin. Possidius makes considerable use of this construction, particularly involving the employment of the present participle active. (N.B. Where this particular variant of the ablative absolute is used the translation begins with the preposition 'with' and it is frequently necessary to show the object of the participle in parenthesis.) In common with his other recent translations, Sabidius has also highlighted Latin main verbs by putting their English equivalents into italics.  


Preface: The reason for the work is explained.

With God, the maker and ruler of all things, inspiring me, (and) mindful of my purpose, wherein through the grace of the Saviour, I resolved in faith to serve the omnipotent and divine Trinity, both formerly in the life of laymen and now in the office of bishops, (and) being eager from whatever ability and eloquence received (by me) to be of assistance in the edification of the holy and true Catholic Church of Christ the Lord, (and so have resolved) not to keep silent concerning the life and character of the most noble priest Augustine, predestined and brought forward in his own time, (the things) which I have seen in the him and have heard from him. For I have read and have discovered that this was also done before me by the most devout men of the Holy Catholic Mother Church, who, inspired by the divine Spirit, (and) in their own speech and style, by speaking and by writing like (histories), both for the ears and the eyes of (those) wishing to learn, have brought to the notice of the studious such men as the very great men who have been considered worthy, out of the Lord's universal grace both to live amid human affairs and to persevere right up to the edge of death. For this reason in that unfeigned faith whereby it is for all righteous and faithful (men) necessary to serve and to please the Lord of lords, I myself also, the least of all his stewards, have undertaken, as the Lord will have granted (it) the setting forth of the origin and career and the due end of the aforesaid venerable man (the things) which I have learned and have experienced through him, being attached for so many years to his loving fellowship. But I beseech the highest majesty, through whom I may so carry out and complete such a task as has been  undertaken by me, that I shall offend neither the truth of the Father of Lights nor seem in any way to cheat the love of the good sons of the Church. Nor shall I touch upon introducing all those things which the same most blessed Augustine noted about himself in his books of Confessions, what kind of man he had been before grace was received, and what kind of man was alive, (grace) having taken hold (of him). For he wished to do this, as the Apostle said, so that "No one among men should believe or think of him that (he was) above what he knew him to be or had heard of him", deceiving no one in his holy practice of humility, but not seeking his own praise for those things which he had evidently received already but the (praise) of his Lord for his own delivery and favour, and desiring the prayers of his brethren for those things which wanted to obtain. Therefore, as it was declared by the authority of an angel, "It is good to hide the secret of a king: but it ishonourable to reveal and to confess the works of the Lord".

PART ONE:  THE LIFE OF AUGUSTINE AND THE THINGS DONE BY HIM ARE TOLD, THE ORDER OF TIME HAVING BEEN KEPT (CHAPTERS 1 -18)

Chapter 1.  The life of Augustine up to his receipt of grace.  

So he was born in province of Africa, in the city of Tagaste, of honourable and Christian parents of curial rank, and was nurtured and trained under their care and attention and at their expense, and was educated chiefly in secular literature, having been steeped, that is, in all the disciplines which (men) call liberal. For he first taught grammar in his own city, and then rhetoric in Carthage, the capital of Africa. In the time following (he) also (taught)across the sea in the city of Rome and at Milan, where the court of the emperor Valentinian the Younger had then been established. In this city at that time Ambrose, a priest most acceptable to God (and) eminent among the best of men, was administering the bishopric. Meanwhile, standing amongst the people in the church, he used to devote himself, on tenterhooks and (with his attention) fixed, to the frequent sermons of this preacher of the word of God. But at one time, (as) a young man at Carthage, he had been carried away by the error of the Manichaeans and was on that account more eager than others (to hear) whether anything was said either for or against this very heresy. And, by the mercy of God the deliverer touching the heart of his priest, it came to pass that the questions of the Law bearing upon that error were solved, and so, having been led on  gradually and little by little by the divine compassion, that  heresy was driven from his soul: and, having been established at once in the Catholic faith, the fire of love for progressing in religion was born in him, through which, with the days of holy Easter approaching, he received the water of salvation. And, with the divine grace showing (itself), it happened that he received through that very great and illustrious priest Ambrose both the salutary doctrine of the Catholic Church and the divine sacraments.

Chapter 2.  The things of the world having been forsaken, he determined to serve the one god. 

And soon from the innermost bottom of his heart he abandoned all the hope which he had in this world, no longer seeking a wife or children of his flesh or worldly honours. But he determined to serve God with his (saints) and eager to be in and of that little flock, whom the Lord addresses, saying: "Do not fear, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the  kingdom. Sell what you possess and give alms: make for yourselves little bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens which does not fail" and so on. And that which the Lord says again, that same holy man was desiring to do: "If you wish to be perfect, selleverything which you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, andcome (and) follow me". And besides (he was) desirous to build on the foundation of faith, not (on) wood, hay and stubble, but (on) gold, silver and precious stones. And he was now more than thirty years (old), his mother alone surviving and clinging to him, and exulting in his determined plan of serving God rather than in the offspring of the flesh; for his fatherhad previously died. He also gave notice to his pupils, whom he was teaching (as) a rhetorician, that they should provide themselves with another teacher for the reason that he himself had decided to serve God. 

Chapter 3.  As a layman he lived for God for three years and brought others to the Christian truth.  


And it seemed good to him, grace having been received, with other citizens and his friends serving God together (with him) to return to Africa and his own home and lands. Coming to these (places) and having been settled in them for almost three years, and these now having been sold by him, he began to live in God with those who were remaining close to him, in fastings, prayers (and) good works, meditating on the Law of the Lord day and night. And of those things which God revealed to him, having been understood by meditating and by praying, he taught both those present and those absent in his sermons and in his books. Ithappened by chance at the same time that one of those whom they call agents in affairs, having settled at Hippo Regius, a good Christian and fearing God, having learned of his good reputation and learning, was longing and desiring to see him, promising that he would be able to despise all the desires and allurements of this world if at some time he were considered worthy to hear the word of God from his lips. When this had been brought to him by trustworthy report, he, desiring to rescue this soul from the dangers of this life and from eternal death, came of his own accord and without delay to that famous city and, having seen the man,  he spoke to (him) frequently and exhorted (him), inasmuch as God was blessing (him), to pay to God what he had vowed. And from day to day he promised that he would do (so), yet he did not then fulfil this in his presence. But surely it could not have been an empty and vain thing which the divine providence was accomplishing in every place by means of such a vessel purified unto honour and useful to the Lord (and) prepared for every good work.

Chapter 4.  He is seized for the office of presbyter.  


And so at the same time the holy Valerius was conducting the bishopric in the church at Hippo. When he, with his ecclesiastical duty demanding (it), addressed and exhorted the people of God about providing and ordaining a presbyter for the city, the Catholics, already knowing of the purpose and teaching of the holy Augustine, their hands having been laid (on him), since he was standing there among the people secure and unaware of what was about to happen [for (as) a layman he was accustomed, as he used tell us, to withhold his presence only from those churches which had no bishops]; so they kept hold of him, and, as is customary in such cases, they brought him to the bishop (as) an ordinand, all, with one and the same agreement and desire, asking that it should be done and accomplished, and demanding (it) with great enthusiasm and clamour, (but) with him weeping abundantly: indeed, as he himself told us, with some (of them) then interpreting his tears as a sign of arrogance and, as though consoling him, and telling (him) that the position of a presbyter, although he himself was worthy of a greater one, was however close to (that) of a bishopric; since this man of God, as he told us, understood and lamented with greater contemplation, (and) he feared how many great dangers to his life with regard to the guidance and governance of the Church were already threatening (him) and arising, therefore he wept. But their desire was accomplished as they wished.


Chapter 5.  He establishes a monastery and begins to preach the Gospel.  

Having been made a presbyter, he soon afterwards established a monastery within the Church and began to live with the servants of God according to the manner and rule fixed under the holy apostles: in particular that no one in that society should have anything of his own, but that all things should be to them in common and be distributed to each one as there was need, (something) which he himself had already done previously when he had returned from across the seas to his own possessions. Indeed the holy Valerius, his ordainer, as he was a pious man and one fearing God, rejoiced, and gave thanks to God that his prayers, which he said that he had poured forth unceasingly, had been heard by the Lord, so that there would be granted to him by divine providence such a man who could edify the Church of God, for which purpose the man, Greek by birth and less versed in the Latin language and literature, considered himself less useful. And he gave to his presbyter the right of preaching the Gospel in the church in his presence and very frequently of holding discussions, contrary indeed to the practice and custom of African churches: on account of this some bishops  even criticised him. But that venerable and wise man, knowing and sure that this was done out of custom in the eastern churches, was not concerned about the words of his detractors, provided that what he perceived could not be accomplished by himself (as) bishop could be done by his presbyter. Wherefore this burning and shining lamp, having been lifted up on a candlestick, gave light to all who were in the house. And afterwards, with reports of such a kind rushing and flying about, (and) with the good example preceding (it), some (other) presbyters, authority having been obtained from their bishops, began to preach to the people in their bishops' presence.

Chapters 6-7.  He attacks with books and sermons the pagans and heretics, among whom Fortunatus the Manichaean is called to mind in particular.

Chapter 6.  


Indeed in the city of Hippo at that time the plague of the Manichaeans had both infected andpermeated as many (people) as possible, whether citizens or aliens, with a certain presbyter of that sect, Fortunatus by name, frequently sojourning to and staying in this same place, seducing and deceiving (them). Meanwhile the Christian citizens of Hippo, both Catholics and even Donatists, came to the presbyter and demanded that he should see to that presbyter of the Manichaeans, whom they believed (to be) a learned man, and dispute with him about the Law. He did not reject this, as it is written, he (was) "ready to (give) an answer to every man asking him about the faith and hope that is towards God, and (was) able by sound doctrine to exhort and to refute the gainsayers". But he enquired whether that man was also willing that this should happen. And at once they reported this to Fortunatus himself, asking and urging and demanding that he should not refuse this. However, since this same Fortunatus had previously known the holy Augustine at Carthage, having at that time been involved with him in the same error, he was afraid to meet with him. But yet, having been very greatly pressured and shamed by the insistence of his own (followers), he promisedthat he would come face-to-face (with him) and submit to the contest of debate. Whereforethey met together on the day and at the place appointed, with as many interested (people) as possible and curious crowds flocking together, and, the notebooks of the notaries having been opened, the debate was started on the first day and was finished on the second. In this (debate) that Manichaean teacher, as the evidence of the reporters indicates in relation to him, could neither refute the Catholic declaration nor (was he able) to prove that the sect of the Manichees was  based upon the truth: but, failing in his final answer, he proceeded (to say) that he would discuss with his superiors those (arguments) which he could not refute; and that, if by chance they should  not satisfy him sufficiently on these (matters), he would consider the welfare of his own soul; and so it was judged by all (those) before whom he had appeared great and learned that he had availed nothing in the promotion of his own sect. Overcome by this confusion, and having left the city of Hippo in the time following, he returned to it no more: and so, that error having been removed from the hearts of all who, were present or who, being absent, had learned of those things which were done, the Catholic faith was announced and upheld (as) true. 

Chapter 7.  He helps the church by discourses and writings. 

In private and in public, at home and in church, he taught and preached the Word of salvation with every confidence against the African heresies, and especially against the Donatists, the Manichaeans and the pagans, in his finished books and extemporaneous sermons, with the Christians, admiring (him) ineffably and greatly praising (him), both not keeping silent and spreading his (name) abroad wherever they could. And by the gift of God, the Catholic Church in Africa, which for a long time had lain seduced, oppressed and overwhelmed, with those heretics, and especially the rebaptising sect of Donatus, growing stronger, began to lift its head. Even the heretics themselves, gathering together with the Catholics, listened with great eagerness to those books and treatises of his, issuing and flowing forth by the wonderful grace of God, having been prepared with an abundance of reason and with the authority of the Holy Scriptures, each man, as he would or could, bringing notaries (and) taking down in shorthand the things which were said. And thence now thorough the whole body of Africa, the glorious doctrine and the sweet savour of Christwas spread abroad and made manifest, with the Church of God across the sea, having heard of it, rejoicing with (them) also. Whereas just as when one member suffers all member suffer with it, so when one member is honoured, all members rejoice with it.

Chapter 8.  He is ordained bishop against his will. 

But that blessed old man Valerius, rejoicing more than others on this (account) and giving thanks to God for the special benefit bestowed upon him, began to fear, as is human nature, lest he be sought for the episcopate and taken from him by another church without a bishop: for this would have happened, if the same bishop, this (danger) being realised, had not taken care to transfer him to a secret place, and had ensured that he, having been hidden, was not found by (those) seeking (him). Then the same venerable old man fearing further and knowing that (he was) very infirm in body and in age, communicated by a secret letter with the primate of bishops at Carthage, mentioning the weakness of his body and of his age, and beseeching that Augustine be ordained bishop of the church at Hippo, inasmuch as he would not so much succeed to his office, but that he would become a coadjutor-bishop. And what he desired and asked for, he obtained satisfactorily by written reply. And afterwards, Megalius, the bishop of Calama, at that time primate of Numidia, having been asked to (make) a visit, and arriving at the church of Hippo, the bishop Valerius made his wish known unexpectedly to all the bishops who by chance were there at that time and to all the clergy of Hippo and all the people. And with all (those) hearing (this) rejoicing and clamouring with great eagerness for it to be done and accomplished, the presbyter declinedto receive the episcopate contrary to the practice of the Church and with his own bishop living. But, when advice was given to him that it was customary (for it) to be done by all, and, (with him being) unaware of it, appeals were made to examples of the Church across the seas and in Africa, under pressure and constraint, he yielded and underwent ordination to the higher office. Later, he both said and wrote that this ought not to have been done in his case, as he was ordained, with his bishop (still being) alive, on account of the prohibition of the oecumenical council, which he learned about, having already been ordained: and what he regretted had been done to him he did not wish to be done to others. Therefore heeven endeavoured that it should be decreed at councils of bishops that the rules concerning all priests ought to be placed on the record by ordaining (bishops) for those being ordained or for those having been ordained: and so it was done. 

Chapter 10.  The madness of the Circumcellions. 


These same Donatists also had in almost all their churches an unheard of kind of men, perverse and violent, going about as if under a profession of decency, who were called Circumcellions, and they were in an  enormous number and (had) formed themselves into bands throughout almost all the regions of Africa. Having been instructed by evil teachers,they in their insolent boldness and lawless temerity never spared either their own (people) or strangers, depriving men of their civil rights contrary to justice and right. And, unless (men) obeyed (them), they afflicted (them) with very severe losses and injuries, (while) armed with various weapons (and) raving wildly through fields and estates, not (even) fearing to go as far as the shedding of blood. But, while the Word of God was diligently preached and whenever a plan of peace was held out to those who hated peace, they freely assailed(those) talking (about it). And  when contrary to their teachings the truth became known, those who would and could either tore themselves from them or secretly withdrew, (together) with (as many of) their friends as they could (persuade), and adhered to the peace and unity of the Church. Then, seeing that the congregations of their own error were diminishing and being envious of the expanding Church, they, having been inflamed, burnedwith the fiercest wrath and, in accordance with their compacts, began to carry outintolerable persecutions against the unity of the Church and daily and nightly attacks upon Catholic priests and ministers themselves, and occasioned robberies of all their possessions. For they crippled many of the servants of God by tortures, and in some cases they even threw lime (mixed) with vinegar into their eyes, and others they killed. Therefore these rebaptising Donatists came into odium even among their own (people).


Chapter 11.  Progress of the Church through Augustine.  


With the divine teaching making further progress, the clergy in the church of Hippo, serving God under the holy and with the holy Augustine in the monastery, began to be ordained. And with the truth of the preaching of the Catholic Church and the purpose of the holy servants of God, their continence and their abject poverty then becoming known and becoming illustrious from day to day, the peace and unity of the Church first began to demand with great eagerness bishops and clergy from the monastery which had begun both to exist and to grow through that memorable man, and afterwards it (so) happened. For the most blessed Augustine, having been requested, gave to various churches, some quite prominent (ones) too, about ten men, whom I myself knew, (men who were) holy and venerable, continent and learned. And likewise those very men coming from that model of those holy menextended the Church of the Lord and established monasteries and, with their zeal for building up the Word of God growing, they provided other churches with brethren promoted to undertake the priesthood. Therefore, with the teaching of the salutary faith, hope and love of the Church becoming known, through many and to many, not only to all parts of Africa but even in (churches) across the sea, and, by means of books, edited and translated in the Greek language, (and) with God favouring (it), all things deserved to become known, (being preached) by that one man and through him (by) many. And hence, as it is written, the sinner seeing (it) was enraged, gnashed his teeth and melted away: but your servants, as it is said, were peaceful with those who hated peace, and, whenever they spoke, they wereunkindly harassed by them.

Chapter 12, i-ii.  He avoids an ambush prepared for him.  


But several times these same Circumcellions, (fully) armed, beset the roads even against Augustine, while by chance he, having been requested, went for the purpose of visiting, instructing, and exhorting the Catholic people, (something) which he himself very frequently did. And once it happened that they, having been fully recruited hitherto, lost the opportunity of capturing (him): for it came about, indeed through the providence of God, by the error of the man guiding (him) that the priest with his companions had come (to the place) to which he was directing his course by a different road, and through this mistake as he afterwards learned he had evaded their impious hands, and (together) with everyone he gave thanks to God the deliverer. And, in accordance with their custom, they spared neither laymen nor clergy at all, as the public records bear witness.

Chapter 12, iii-ix.  Crispinus, the bishop of the Donatists, is condemned and his sect is proscribed by the emperor. 


Meanwhile we must not be silent about (the things) which were done and accomplished to the glory of God by the eagerness of that man so distinguished in the Church and his zeal for the house of God against the aforesaid rebaptising Donatists. When by chance one of those whom he had propagated (as) bishops for the Church from his monastery and clergy visited the diocese of the church of Calama (which was) pertaining to his care, and preached against that heresy what he had learned on behalf of the peace of the Church, it happenedthat in the middle of their journey he fell into an ambush, and that, having been set upon (together) with all his companions, his animals and possessions having been taken, they afflicted him with injuries and a very serious wound. Concerning this matter, in order that the progress of the peace of the Church might not be hindered any further, the defender of the Church was not silent before the law. And Crispinus, who was bishop to the same Donatists in the city and region of Calama, undoubtedly both well-known for a long time and learned, was warned that he was liable to a fine of gold (as) fixed by the civil laws against heretics. When, protesting against the law, having been placed before the proconsul, he denied that he was a heretic, the need arose that he, with the defender of the Church withdrawing, should be opposed by a Catholic bishop, and that it should be proved that he was what he had denied he was; since, if it were concealed by him, perchance the heretic would be believed by the ignorant (to be) a Catholic bishop, with him denying that he was what (he was), and so a stumbling block for the weak might have originated from this inactivity. And with that remarkable priest Augustine insisting (on it) in every way, both those bishops of Calama came to a debate, and for the third time they did battle with each other concerning their different communions; with a great multitude of Christian peoples, both at Carthage and throughout the whole of Africa, awaiting (the outcome), that man Crispinus was pronounced a heretic by proconsular and libellary sentence. That renowned Catholic bishop interceded for him with the prosecutor, lest the fine of gold were exacted, and that benefit was obtained for him. Therefore, when that ungrateful man appealed to the most pious princeps and an unencumbered answer to his appeal was due from the emperor, consequently (it was) also ordered that Donatist heretics ought not to be in any position at all  and that they ought to be liable everywhere to the (full) force of all the wide laws against heretics. From this (rescript) also the judge and his officers and the same Crispinus, because he had not been fined, were ordered to pay twelve pounds of gold to the treasury. But at once every effort was made by the Catholic bishops, (and) especially by Augustine of blessed memory that this condemnation of all should be withdrawn with the indulgence of the princeps, and, with the Lord helping (them), this was accomplished. By this diligence and holy zeal, the Church grew greatly.

Chapter 13.  The unity of peace and the fraternity of the Church of God, especially after the conference at Carthage, grew.

And for all these labours on behalf of the peace of the Church, the Lord both gave the palm to Augustine and reserved with himself the crown of righteousness (for him), and, with Christ assisting, the unity of peace and the fraternity of the Church of God were increasedand multiplied more and more. And this happened especially after the conference which was shortly afterwards held at Carthage by all the Catholic bishops with the same bishops of the Donatists, with the most glorious and the most devout emperor Honorius ordering it, on account of which (conference) needing to be undertaken he had also sent the tribune and notary Marcellinus from his side to Africa (as) judge. In this debate (the Donatists) werecompletely confounded and convicted of error by the Catholics, censured by the judge, and, after their appeal these branded men were condemned as heretics by the rescript of that most pious ruler. For this reason their bishops, more than usual, took communion (with us) together with their clergy and people, and maintaining the Catholic peace endured many of their persecutions as far as the loss of limbs and slaughter. And all this benefit, as I have said, was both begun and completed by that holy man, with our fellow-bishops consenting and being equally satisfied.

Chapter 14.  Emeritus, a Donatist bishop, overcome. 

But after that conference which was held with the Donatists, there were not lacking (those) who said that those bishops had not been permitted to speak fully and freely for their sect before the magistrate who heard the case, since the judge from the Catholic communion favoured his own church: [although they came up with this excuse (only after) failing this (test) and having been defeated, since the same heretics had known that he was of the Catholic communion, and, when they were summoned by him to the public event, because they were present at the conference and agreed that they would do it again, they could, if they considered him suspect, surely have refused to meet (him)]: however the succour of Almighty God revealed (itself), when Augustine of venerable memory afterwards stopped in the city of Caesarea in Mauretania, whither letters from the Apostolic See had compelled him to go (together) with others of his fellow-bishops, namely for the purpose of settling other ecclesiastical difficulties: thus it happened on this occasion that he came across Emeritus, the bishop of the Donatists at that place, whom they had regarded as the chief defender of their sect at that conference, and he debated publicly with him in the church, with people of different communions standing by, and he challenged (him) with the ecclesiastical records that, whatever they said, as it were, they could have proceeded (to say) at the conference and had not been permitted (to say), he should not hesitate to say in safety at the present (moment) without the interference of any magistrate, (and) he should not refuse to defend his own communion confidently in his own city with all his citizens being present. Neither through this encouragement nor through the urgent entreaty of his parents and citizens was he willing to do this, (although) they promised him that they would return to his communion even at the risk to their property and their temporal welfare, if only he would overcome the Catholic case. But he was neither willing nor able to add anything more to these records except this only: "Those records already comprise the things (which were) done between the bishops at Carthage, whether we conquered or were conquered". And at another place, when he was urged by a notary to reply, he said: "You do(it)", and, when he was silent, his embarrassment having been made evident to all, the growth and strengthening of the Church of God became clear. Whoever therefore might wish to learn more fully about the diligence and labour of Augustine of blessed memory on behalf of the standing of the Church of God, let him also run through these records and he will findwhat or what kind of arguments he produced, by which he challenged and had encouraged that learned, eloquent and well-known man to state what he wished in defence of his sect, and he will learn that he was defeated.

Chapters 15 - 16.  He confounds the Manichaeans and brings (people) to the Catholic faith: by a digression of Augustine (while) delivering a sermon, Firmus is corrected (Ch. 15). 

I know too, and not myself only, but also other brethren and fellow-servants who were then living with us and with that holy man in the church at Hippo, with us having been placed together at table, that he said: "Did you notice my sermon in the church today, and that its beginning and ending turned out contrary to my usual practice, since I did not explain that subject which I had propounded to its conclusion, but left (it) hanging?" To this we replied: "Yes, we know (it) and we do remember that we were wondering (about it) at the time". And he said: "I suppose that the Lord, in whose hands are both ourselves and our utterances, might have wished that someone wandering amongst the people might be taught and healed by means of our forgetfulness and error. For, when I was examining the margins of the question proposed, by a digression of speech I went on to something else, and so, the question not having been rounded off or explained, I ended my discourse arguing against the error of the Manichaeans, about which I had determined to say nothing, rather than about those things concerning which I had planned to speak". And after this, unless I am deceived, lo, on the next day or after two days there came a certain merchant, Firmus by name, to the holy Augustine (as he was) sitting in the monastery, and in our presence having fallen down on his knees at his feet he prostrated himself, shedding tears and asking that the priest with his holy men intercede with the Lord for his sins, (while) confessing that he had followed the sect of the Manichaeans and had lived in it for very many years, and therefore he had paid out in vain much money to those very Manichaeans or to those whom they call the Elect, but recently by the mercy of God he had been in the church, having been corrected and made a Catholic by his sermons. And the venerable Augustine himself and we who were there at the time diligently enquiring from that man by what thing in that sermon of his he had been satisfied in particular, and, (with him) telling (us) and with all of us recalling the course of the sermon, wondering and marvelling at the profound plan of God for the salvation of souls,we glorified and blessed the Holy Name of Him, who when He wishes and in whatever way He wishes, and by means of those who know and those who do not know, works the salvation of souls. And from that (time) that man, holding fast to the way of life of the servants of God, gave up his business as a merchant, and, progressing among the members of the Church, by the will of God, having been sought and constrained in another region, also entered upon the office of presbyter, maintaining and preserving the sanctity of his way of life; and, having settled across the seas, perhaps he still lives continuously amongst human affairs.

Chapter 16.  He uncovers the blasphemous and shameful practices of the Manichaeans and converts Felix the Elect.

At Carthage also, when access was made by a certain procurator of the royal household, Ursus by name, a man of the Catholic faith, to a certain gathering of Manichaeans, whom they call elect men or elect women, and they had been led away by him to a church and examined by bishops, they were given a hearing on the record. Among these (bishops) alsowas Augustine of blessed memory, who had known that accursed sect before the others (did), and, making known those damnable blasphemies of theirs from the places in the books which the Manichaeans accept, he induced them to (make) a confession of the same blasphemies; and the unworthy and shameful things which they were  accustomed to do among themselves in accordance with their own evil practice was revealed in those ecclesiastical records by the disclosure of those so-called Elect women. And so by the diligence of these pastors, an increase was added to the Lord's flock and a strong defencewas procured against thieves and robbers.

He also debated with a certain Felix, of the number of those whom the Manichaeans call the Elect, in public in the church at Hippo, with notaries taking down (their words) (and) with the people standing by; and after the second or third meeting that Manichaean, the emptiness and error of the sect itself having been exposed, was converted to our faith and church, as these writings would be able to show, (if they are) reread.


Chapter 17.  He debates publicly with the Arians:

Chapter 17, i-vi.  with Pascentius, a count of the royal household.  

Moreover, some honourable and noble men having placed themselves between (them), (and) having been challenged by him in person, he met with a certain Pascentius, an Arian count of the royal household, who by the authority of his position as a most determined collector of tax, was fiercely and persistently attacking the Catholic faith and by his repartee and forcefulness was harassing and alarming very many priests of God living in a more simple faith. But the same heretic absolutely refused to to have at hand tablets and a pen, (something) which our teacher most urgently wished to be arranged both before the meeting and during the meeting. But, while he had refused this, saying that through fear of the public laws he was unwilling to be endangered by such writings and that this was pleasing to the bystanders, Augustine the bishop with his fellow-priests, who were present, thought it good that they should debate in private without any records, and he undertook the meeting, predicting, as afterwards happened, that after the conference was dissolved, it would perchance be possible for anyone freely to say, with no proof in writing, that he had said what he perchance did not say, or that he had not said what he did say. Then he joined in debate with the same man and declared what he believed, and heard from him what he held (to be true), and the true reasoning and authority of the scriptures being produced, he taught and showed the foundations of our faith, and analysed and exposed the assertions of that man, (which had been) supported by no truth and by no authority from the Holy Scriptures. And, as the parties separated from each other in turn, that man, growing more and more enraged and furious, hurled forth many lies about his false faith, proclaiming that Augustine, (although) having been praised by the mouths of many, had really been defeated by him. Since these things could not be concealed, he was compelled to write to Pascentius himself, the names of those attending the conference being omitted, and in those letters he set forth faithfully whatever had been said or done by the parties, having a great abundance of witnesses, that is, the illustrious and honourable men who were present on that occasion,  for the purpose of these things needing to be proved if they should be denied. And he returned but one reply, in which he managed to offer insult rather than to declare the reasoning of his sect. This is acknowledged by those willing and able to read (it).

Chapter 17, vii - ix.  With Maximinus, bishop of the Arians.  


He also met at Carthage with a certain Maximinus, a bishop of those very Arians coming with the Goths to Africa, with very many distinguished men wanting and seeking (this) and placed themselves between (them),  and what each of the parties declared was written (down). If the studious take the trouble to read these (records) carefully, they will without doubtsearch out both what that cunning and irrational heresy professes so as to seduce and deceive, and what the Catholic Church maintains and preaches concerning the divine Trinity. But, since that heretic, returning from Hippo to Carthage, through his great loquacity at the conference, boasted that he had returned from that very conference (as) the victor, and lied, (these things could not, of course, be easily examined and judged by those ignorant of divine law), a recapitulation of the separate charges and answers at that entire conference was made by Augustine with his own pen during the time following; and, although that man was able to offer nothing to the charges, nevertheless, supplements having been added, all the things which could not be introduced and written down in the limited time of the conference were made clear. For the craftiness of the man had arranged it that he took up the entire time of the day which had been left with his last and by far his longest address. 

Chapter 18, i - v.  He exerts himself against the Pelagians, who are condemned by the Bishop Of Rome and by the Emperor, some returning to the bosom of the Church. 


He also laboured for almost ten years against the Pelagians, new heretics of our times and skilful debaters, writing with a skill even more subtle and noxious and speaking wherever they could, publicly and in homes, (himself) writing and publishing many books and arguing very frequently with people of that error in churches.  And, since the same perverse people tried through their flattery to persuade the Apostolic See of their false doctrine, it was alsoresolved most urgently by African councils of holy bishops that persuasion should be brought to the Holy Father of the City, both the venerable Innocent in the first place and then his holy successor Zosimus, that this sect should be abominated and condemned by the Catholic faith. And those bishops of that great see, at various times censuring them and cutting (them) off from the limbs of the Church, decreed, in letters given out to the churches of Africa and to (churches) of the Western and Eastern regions, that they should be anathematised and shunned by all Catholics. And the most pious Emperor Honorius, hearing of this judgment of the Catholic Church of God having been published, and in furtherance (of it), also decreed that they, having been condemned by his laws, ought to be regarded as heretics. Therefore, some of them returned to the bosom of the Holy Mother Church from which they had shrunk away, and others are still returning, with the truth of the faith becoming known and prevailing against that detestable error.

Chapter 18, vi - x.  His writings are the particular proof of the sollicitude of Augustine with regard to the advantage of the universal Church. 

And that memorable man, an excellent member of the Lord's body, was ever sollicitous and watchful with regard to the advantage of the universal Church. And to him it was divinelygranted that from the fruit of his labours he should have succeeded in being joyful even in this life, firstly indeed in the district of the church of Hippo, over which he presided in particular, peace and unity having been accomplished, then in other parts of Africa, either due to himself or on account of others, and (through) priests, whom he himself had furnished,  seeing that the Church of the Lord had been sprouting and multiplying, and rejoicing that those Manichaeans, Donatists, Pelagians and pagans had for the most part diminished, and had become united to the Church of God. He was also delighted by the progress of his studies and rejoiced over all good things, enduring in a pious and saintly manner the shortcomings of his brethren and groaning over the iniquities of the wicked, whether of those within the Church, or of those who are placed outside the Church, always rejoicing, as I said, in the Lord's gains and lamenting his losses.

And so many things were dictated and published by him, and so many things were debated in the church, written down and amended, either against the various heretics, or expoundedfrom the canonical books for the edification of the holy sons of the Church, that scarcely anyone of his students was capable of reading or knowing them all. But yet, lest we seem in some way to deprive those very eager for the truth of his word, I have decided, with God offering (to assist), to add also a little index of those books, homilies and letters at the end of this little work, from which, having been read by those who love the truth of God more than worldly riches, each may choose for himself what he wishes to read and understand, and, in order to copy it, let him seek (it) either from the library of the church of Hippo where the more perfect copies can probably be found, or let him search (for them) from wherever he can, and, these having been found, may he copy (them) and hold on (to them), and may he himself also lend (them) without ill-will to (anyone) seeking to copy (them).

PART TWO:  SAINT AUGUSTINE'S CHARACTER IS DESCRIBED (CHAPTERS 19 - 27. v)

Chapters 19 - 21.  How he performed the episcopal office.

Chapter 19, i - v.  with regard to cases having to be heard and the Word of God having to be preached. 

According also to the teaching of the Apostle, who said: "Does anyone of you having a matter against another dare to be judged by the unjust and not before saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And, if the world is to be judged by you, are they (not) unworthy of the smallest judgements?  Do you not know that, because we shall judge angels, (we shall judge) much more the things of this world? Therefore, if you have judgments between yourselves, allocate them at least to those who are in the Church. I speak this to your shame. Is there not among you some wise man, who can judge between his brethren? But brother is judged with brother, and this before unbelievers." So, having been interrupted by Christians or by men of any sect, he heard their cases carefully and dutifully, keeping before his eyes the opinion of a certain man, who said that he preferred to hear cases between strangers rather than between friends (of his), for the reason that with regard to unknown people he could gain (as) a friend, (the one) in whose favour the case had been fairly judged, but with regard to friends he would be likely to lose the one against whom he had passed judgment. And, indeed, he always investigated and finalised these (cases) right up to meal times, but sometimes fasting all day, considering in them the value of Christian souls, how much each had achieved both in faith and in good works, or had failed in these things. And, opportunities for these things having been detected, he taught the parties the truth of the divine Law and impressed it upon them and both taught and advised of the ways by which they might obtain eternal life, asking nothing else from those  for whom he had given his time for this purpose, except only that Christian obedience and devotion which is owed both to God and to men, rebuking sinners in the presence of everyone, in order that the rest might have fear. And he did this as one appointed by the Lord (as) a watchman, of the house of Israel preaching the Word and urging in season and out of season, rebuking, exhorting (and) reproving with all forbearance and doctrine, giving his efforts especially to instruct those who were capable of teaching others as well.

Chapter 19, vi - Chapter 20.  With regard to the need to intercede before the powers of this world. 

Having been asked by some, he also sent letters to various people with regard to their temporal cases. But he considered this work of his as a kind of conscription from better causes, always having pleasure in the things which are God's or in the comfort or conversation of brotherly and private friendship.

We also know that he, having been asked by his dearest (friends) to intercede by letter with the powers of this world, did not send (them), saying that it was necessary to observe the opinion of a certain wise man, of whom it was written that, out of great regard for his own reputation, he would not be responsible for his friends, and nonetheless adding this remark of his own, (that it was a good policy) since the power which is responsible (for replying to petitions) generally becomes oppressive. But (if), when asked, he saw that it was necessary to intercede, he did it so sincerely and tactfully that not only did he not seem irksome and annoying,  but he even appeared admirable. For, when a (case of) necessity having arisen, he intervened in his usual way by letter on behalf of a suppliant, with a certain vicar of Africa, called Macedonius, and that man had complied, he sent (him) an answer in this manner: "I am struck in a wonderful manner by your wisdom both in those things which you have published and in this (letter) which you have not disdained to send. For the former (writings) possess so much discernment, knowledge (and) holiness that there is nothing more (possible), and the latter (writings possess) so much modesty that unless I do what you require, (O) venerable and worthy to be esteemed father, I could not regard myself to be as keeping free from blame in this matter. For you do not insist, as most men in your position do, that you should extort all that the suppliant wanted, but what had seemed to you capable of being demanded from a judge hampered by so many cares, you advise with a humble modesty, which is very efficacious with regard to difficulties between good men. Consequently, I have at once granted the performance of your request, as you have recommended; for I had disclosed beforehand the path of expectation."

Chapter 21.  With regard to councils which he had to attend and the priests and clergy that he needed to ordain. 

When he could, he attended the councils of the holy priests held throughout the various provinces, seeking in  them not what are his own things but those of Jesus Christ, so that the faith of the Holy Catholic Church might remain inviolate, or that some priests and clergy, having been either justly or unjustly excommunicated, might be either absolved or rejected. But with regard to priests and clergy requiring to be ordained he thought that the agreement of the majority of Christians and the custom of the Church should be followed.

Chapters 22 - 27, v.  How he managed himself at home and among his friends: 

Chapter 22.  Concerning clothing and the table, with regard to which he vehemently rebuked backsliders. 

His clothing and foot-wear and even his bedding were of a modest but sufficient quality, neither too smart nor too mean: for in these things most men are accustomed either to flaunt or to degrade (themselves), in both cases seeking similarly not (the things) which (are) of Jesus Christ but (the things) which are their own. But he, as I have said, held a middle (course), leaning neither to the right hand (side), nor to the left. He employed a frugal and sparing table, which indeed among the herbs and lentils sometimes had meat also, on account of his guests or certain weaker (brethren), and always wine, because he knew and taught, as the Apostle says, that " Every creature of God is good, and nothing which is received with an expression of thanks (should be) rejected: for it is sanctifiedthrough the Word of God and prayer". And as the same holy Augustine has set down in his books of Confessions, saying: "I fear not the uncleanness of food but the uncleanness of lust.I know that Noah was permitted to eat every kind of flesh, which was of use as food, that Elijah (was) refreshed with the food of flesh, (and) that John, having been endowed with a wonderful abstinence, was not defiled by animals, that is the locusts turning into food. And I know that Esau was ensnared by desire for a pottage of lentils, and that David was rebuked by himself because of his desire for water, and that our King was tempted, not by meat but by bread. And for this reason too the people in the desert deserved to be condemned, not because they desired meat, but because in their desire for food they murmured against the Lord." With regard to wine being taken, there is the opinion of the Apostle writing to Timothy and saying: "Do not still drink water all the time, but take a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent infirmities".

(Although) using only silver spoons, the vessels in which the food was served at table wereeither earthenware or wooden or marble, but not through the need of necessity but through the  design of his will. But he always showed hospitality. And at the table itself he lovedreading or discussion rather than eating and drinking, and against that pest of human customhe had an inscription (placed) on it thus: "Whoever loves to slander in words the reputation of those who are absent, will know that his own is unworthy of this table." And so he warnedevery guest that he ought to abstain from unnecessary and harmful stories. And on one occasion, having become exasperated, he rebuked certain of his most familiar fellow-bishops, (who had) forgotten this inscription and (who were) speaking contrary to it, so sternly that he declared that either those verses should be removed from the table or that he would arise and go to his bed-chamber in the midst of the meal. I and others who were present at that table experienced this.

Chapters 23 -24.  The revenues of the church, the care of which he assigned to the clergy, he dispenses to the poor. 

Chapter 23. 

Indeed, he was always mindful of his fellow-poor, and for them he paid out from those (funds) from which (he) also (provided) for himself and all those living with him, that is, either from the revenues of the church or also from the offerings of the faithful. And, when perchance, as is usual, jealousy occurred among the clergy concerning these very possessions,he addressed the people of God, (saying) that he would prefer to live from the contributions of the people rather than to endure the care or direction of those possessions and that he was ready to entrust (them) to them, so that all the servants of God might live in that manner in which in the Old Testament they are chosen to be joint partakers of that same altar (which they are) serving. But this the laity never wished to undertake.

Chapter 24. 

He assigned and entrusted the care of the church building and all its property to the more able clergy in turn, never holding the key (and) never (having) his ring on his hand, but all things (which had been) received and spent were noted down by those overseers of the household. The year having been completed, these (records) were read to him, so that he might know how much (had been) received and spent or what remained to be spent, and in the case of many bills, following his trust in that overseer of the household rather than investigating the tried and obvious. He was never willing to buy a house or land or an estate. But if, perchance, something were either given to the church by someone of his own accord or was left in the form of a legacy he did not refuse (it) but ordered that it should be accepted. But some legacies I know he did refuse, not because they could not be used for the poor, but because it seemed just and right that were possessed rather by the sons or parents or relatives of the deceased, to whom the departed had been unwilling to leave them. One of the chief men of Hippo, (who was) also living at Carthage, wished to give his property to the church at Hippo, and voluntarily sent the testament, duly attested, to the same Augustine of holy memory, retaining the interest for himself. He gladly accepted the offering, because he was mindful of his eternal salvation. But after some years, ourselves having been placed near at hand with him, lo, that benefactor, sending a letter by his son,asked that those records of donation be returned to his son, but he directed that a hundred solidi should be made over to the poor. This having been understood, that holy man mournedthat the man had either fabricated the donation or had repented of his good works, and in grief of mind at this perversity, he said as much as he could, with God putting (it) into his heart, towards that man's evident rebuke and reproof. And he at once returned the testament, which he had been sent voluntarily, and (which had) not (been) requested or demanded, and he spurned that money, and in his answer, as he was in duty bound, he bothdenounced and reproached him, warning that he should give satisfaction to God in the humility of penitence with regard to his pretence or wickedness, lest he should depart from this life with so great a sin.

He also said frequently that the Church ought more securely and safely to accept legacies left by the dead rather than bequests (which were) perhaps disquieting and ruinous, and that the legacies themselves ought to be offered rather than solicited. However, he did notaccept anything offered in trust, but did not prevent any clergy wishing to accept (such gifts). He was not intent with desire or entangled in those things which the church held and possessed, but, hanging on and adhering rather to greater spiritual matters, he sometimesrelaxed from the contemplation of the things eternal and committed himself to those temporal matters. These things having been arranged and set in order, he made a rebounding of his soul as though from consuming and annoying matters to the more intimate and elevating things of the mind, in which he either pondered divine matters to be discovered or dictated some of the things already discovered or at any rate corrected some of the things previously dictated and transcribed. This he did (by) working during the day and (by) toiling during the night. He was a type of the Church on high, acting like that most religious Mary, of whom it was written that she sat at the feet of the Lord and listened intently to His Word; her sister, occupied with much serving work, having complained about her that she was not being helped, heard (the following): "Martha, Martha, Mary has chosenthat better part which shall not be taken away from her".

He never had a zeal for new buildings, avoiding the entanglement in these things of his soul, which he always wished to be free from temporal distractions. Yet he did not hinder those desiring and building those things, unless (they were) too extravagant. Meanwhile, when the church's money was exhausted, he declared this very thing to the Christian people, that he did not have (anything) which he could pay out to the poor. But with regard to the Lord's vessels, for the sake of captives and as many as possible of the poor, he ordered (them) to be broken up and melted down, and to be distributed to the needy. I should not have mentionedthis if I had not considered that it was done against the carnal judgment of some. Ambrose of venerable memory, also both said and wrote that in such extreme circumstances this very thing undoubtedly had to be done. But with regard to the treasury and consistory, from which places necessities were supplied to the altar, having been neglected by the faithful, speaking in the church he sometimes reminded (the people), even as he had once mentioned to us, that the most blessed Ambrose had discussed (it) in church with himself being present.

Chapter 25.  The discipline of the clergy who lived in the same house as himself.

At one (and the same) house and table with himself, the clergy were always fed and clothedat the common expense. And lest anyone might fall into condemnation even by a simple oath, he preached to the people in the church and had instructed those in his own (household) that no one should swear, not even at the table. If (anyone) erring had done this, he lost one drink according to the rules: for the number of cups for those of his (companions) dwelling and eating with him had been fixed beforehand. He straightforwardly and honestly censured and bore the faults and transgressions of his (companions) from the rule as far as it was fitting and necessary, particularly teaching in such cases that no one's heart should be inclined towards evil words in order to apologise for the excuses in sins. And that, when anyone offered his gift at the altar and there remembered that his brother had something against him, he was required to leave his gift at the altar and go to be reconciled with this brother, and then he should come and offer his gift at the altar. But that, if he himself had anything against his brother, he ought to rebuke him in secret; and, if he listened to him, he would have acquired a brother: but if not he should bring one or two (others with him). But that, if he (then) defied them, he should be brought before the Church; but if he did not obey her, he should be treated (as) a heathen and a publican. But adding this, that, with a brother sinning and seeking pardon not seven times but seventy times seven, his sin should be forgiven, just as each man asks to be forgiven by the Lord daily on his own behalf.

Chapter 26.  He abstains from the company of women. 

No woman ever lived within his house, no (woman) stayed (there), not even his own sister, who (as) a widow serving God for a long time lived in charge of the handmaidens of God right up to the day of her death, nor even the daughters of his brother, who were likewise serving God, which persons the councils of holy bishops had placed (as) exceptions. Indeed he used to say that, although no evil suspicion could arise from his sister and nieces living with him, yet since those persons could be without other relations and women staying with them, and that other also would come in from outside to (see) them, (and) that from these a stumbling-block or a source of temptation to the weak could arise, and because of all those individual women living together or coming (there), those who, by chance, were staying with the bishop or anyone of the clergy could either perish through human temptation or assuredly be very shamefully maligned by the evil suspicions of men; on this account therefore he used to say that women ought never to stay in the same house with the servants of God, even the most chaste (of them), lest, as it has been said, any source of temptation or stumbling block might be placed in the way of the weak by such an example. And if, by chance he were asked by any women to be seen or greeted (by them), they never came to him without (some of) the clergy (as) witnesses, or he never spoke on his own with (them) alone, not even if it concerned something secret.

Chapter 27, i- v.  He employed wisdom and kindness in his visitations, avoiding what is not proper for a priest. 

Furthermore, in his visitations he held to the rule laid down by the Apostle to visit only orphans and widows placed in their afflictions. And if, by chance, he were asked by the sick for this (reason) to pray to the Lord on their behalf at the present time and to lay his hand upon them, he went without delay. However, he only visited the monasteries of women in extreme emergencies.

He also said that in the life and habits of a man of God it was necessary to observe what he had learned from the rule of Ambrose of holy memory, never to seek a wife for someone, nor to recommend (a man) wishing to serve as a soldier to (do) it, nor, having been invited, to go to a feast in his own district; giving (as) reasons for each of these things, namely that, when the married couple quarrelled between themselves, they might revile the man through who they had been joined together, but, with them having clearly already consented to it by themselves, that the priest, (whom they had) sought, ought to be concerned that what had already been either agreed or decided by them should be confirmed or blessed; and lest, (in the case of) the man having been recommended to serve as a soldier and faring badly, the blame for this might be attributed to the man who had supported (it); and in order that his rule of temperance should not be lost through a frequent involvement in the arrangements peculiar to feasts.

PART THREE: WHAT PRAY WOULD BE THE DESTINED END OF AUGUSTINE (CHAPTERS 27, vi - 31)

Chapter 27, vi - xi.  Feeling humbly about himself, he confides rather in the good Lord. 

He had also declared to us that he had heard the very wise and the very pious reply of the aforesaid man of blessed memory, (when) placed at the end of his life, and he greatlypraised and extolled (it). For, when that venerable man was lying (sick) in his last illness, with the chief members of the faithful standing by his bed, and seeing him about to depart from this life to God, and sorrowing on this account, that the Church could be deprived of so great and glorious a prelate, (and), by his dispensation, of the Word and sacrament of God, and he was besought with tears that he should seek from the Lord for an extension of life for himself, (it is understood) that he said to them: "I have not lived in such a way that I am ashamed to live among you, but nor do I fear to die, since we have a good Lord". And with regard to these things, our Augustine (as) an old man admired these polished and well phrased words. For on that account we needed to understand that he had said: "I do not fearto die because we have a good Lord", in order that it should not be believed that, being very confident in his own very purified character, he had sent out these (words) beforehand: "I have not lived in such a way that I am ashamed to live among you". For he had said this with regard to what men can know about a man; for with regard to the investigation (of him) by the divine justice he trusted rather in the good Lord, to whom he also used to say daily in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our trespasses".

Also towards the end of his life he very frequently reported the statement of a certain fellow-bishop and very intimate friend of his; when he had gone regularly to visit him (as he was) drawing near to death, and he had indicated by a gesture of his hand that he was about to depart from this world, and the reply from himself to that man was that he could still live as a source of benefit to the Church, he, in order that he should not be thought (to be) in a tender desire for this life, had responded (thus): "If (I were) never to die, (it would be) well; (but) if (I am to die) sometime, why not now?" And he admired this sentiment and praisedthe man that had brought it forward, a man fearing God indeed, but nevertheless, (one) having been born and brought up on an estate, and not much educated in the art of reading. Against that, of course, (is) the attitude of an ailing bishop, concerning whom the holy martyr Cyprian spoke thus, saying: "When a certain of our colleagues and fellow-priests, wearied by infirmity, and troubled with approaching death, prayed for an extension of his life, there stood by (him as he was) praying and already almost dying, a young man, venerable in glory and majesty, upright in stature and radiant in countenance, and whom (as he was) standing there the human face could scarcely look upon with mortal eyes, except that he who was about to depart from this life was already able to see such (a being). And, not without a certain indignation of soul and voice, he growled (at him) and said: "You fearto suffer, (yet) you do not want to die; what shall I do with you?"

Chapter 28, i- iii.  He reviews his writings, and (in) a work which he calls "The Mirror" he makes excerpts from the Scriptures. 

Indeed, shortly before the day of his death, he reviewed the books dictated and published by him, whether (they were) those which he had dictated at the time immediately following his conversion or (while he was) still a layman, or (those) which (he had dictated as) a presbyter or as a bishop, and in these (works which) he had dictated and written by himself when he still did not know ecclesiastical usage and had less understanding, whatever he found at variance with the ecclesiastical rule (which) he himself kept were both censured andcorrected by himself. Then he also wrote two volumes, the title of which is "On the revision of books". He also complained that certain of his books (had been) carried off by some of his brethren before his careful revision, although he corrected them later. Certain of his bookshe also left unfinished (when) overtaken by death. And, wishing to be of help to all, both (those who) could read many books and (those who) could not, he made excerpts from both the Old and the New Testaments of the divine commandments and prohibitions, and madeone volume of these, with a preface having been written beforehand, so that (anyone) who wished could read (it) and understand how obedient and disobedient to God he was; and hewished this work to be called "The Mirror".

Chapter 28, iv - xiii.  He greatly laments the invasion of the Vandals and the siege of the city of Hippo. 

But a short time following (this), it happened, through the divine will and authority, that a great host of savage foes, Vandals and Alans, having the tribe of the Goths and people of various other (tribes) interspersed with them, armed with diverse weapons and well-trained in warfare, had poured into Africa in ships from the regions of Spain across the sea, and attacked (it); and everywhere throughout the regions of the Mauretanias, even crossing over to our other provinces and territories, raging with every cruelty and barbarity, they devastated everything that they could by pillage, by murder, and by various tortures, conflagrations and other countless and unspeakable crimes, sparing neither sex nor age, nor the very priests and ministers of God, nor the very ornaments and vessels or buildings of the churches. And that famous man of God did not feel and think, as other men (did) about this most ferocious assault and devastation of the enemy; but, considering these (events) more deeply and more profoundly, and perceiving in them above all the dangers to, and the death of, souls [since, as it is written, "He who adds to his knowledge, adds to his sorrow", and "An understanding heart (is) a worm in the bones"], more than usual tears were his bread by day and by night, (and) he passed and endured (that part of) his life (which was) now almost at an end, and beyond all others the most bitter and mournful of his old age. For that man of God saw cities overthrown in destruction and their inhabitants together with their estate buildings, some annihilated by the enemy's slaughter, others driven into flight and dispersed, the churches deprived of their priests and ministers, and  holy virgins and ascetics scattered everywhere, and some had succumbed to these tortures, others had been slain by the sword, and others too, (while) in captivity, having been enslaved by the enemy through an evil and harsh practice, the integrity and faith of body and soul having been lost; (he saw) that  hymns to and praises of God had perished from the churches, that the buildings in very many places (had been) consumed by fire, that the usual services which are due to God had ceased from their proper places, that the divine sacraments were either not sought or, in the case of (someone) seeking (them), someone to administer them could not easily be found; (he saw) that some, having gathered in the very woods of the mountains, in the caverns and the caves of the rocks, or in whatever kind of retreat, had been captured and put to death, others had been robbed and deprived of the necessary means of sustenance, so that they wasted away from hunger; and (he saw) that the very bishops and clergy of the churches, who by chance with the help of God did not meet them, or, meeting (them), escaped, having been despoiled and deprived of all their possessions, were begging in the greatest need, nor could they all be assisted with everything by which they were needing to be sustained; of innumerable churches (he saw) scarcely three survive, that is at Carthage, at Hippo and at Cirta, which by the kindness of God were not demolished, and their cities stillremain, sustained both by divine and human protection [although after his death the city of Hippo, having been forsaken by its citizens, would be burned by the enemy]. Amongst these evils he consoled himself with the opinion of a certain wise man, who said: "(Anyone) thinking that it is significant that wood and stones fall and that mortals die will not be a great (man)".

So, as he was exceedingly wise, he greatly bewailed all these (events) on a daily basis. Andit increased his sadness and lamentation that it befell the same city of the Hippo Regians, still standing firm in its position, to be besieged by the same enemy, since the late Count Boniface had at that time been stationed in its defence, with an army of federate Goths, and they enclosed and besieged this city for almost fourteen months: and they even took away its sea shore by blockade. We, (together) with other fellow-bishops from the neighbourhood,had also taken refuge in it, and we were in it for all the time of this siege. Therefore, wefrequently conversed with ourselves and considered the awful judgments of God laid before our eyes, saying: "Righteous are you, (O) Lord, and upright are your judgments"; and, grieving, groaning and weeping together, we begged the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation to vouchsafe to sustain us in this tribulation.

Chapter 29.  While he is engaged in his final illness, he instantly heals a sick man. 

And by chance it happened that we were seated together with him at table, and then conversing, he said to us: "You should know that at this time of our calamity I should ask this of God, that he either deigns to free this city (which has been) surrounded by the enemy, or, if something else seems good to him, that He makes his servants brave to endure his will, or that at least he takes me from this world unto himself ". With him speaking these (words) and teaching us, we made a petition similarly to the Most High God in turn with him both for ourselves and for all our (fellow-bishops) and (all) those people who were in this city. And lo, in the third month of that siege he succumbed to a fever and was engaged in his last illness. Nor indeed did the Lord deprive his servant of the fruit of his prayer: for what he asked with tears and with prayers both for himself and that city he obtained in (due) time. Ialso know that he, both (as) presbyter and (as) bishop, when he was asked to pray for certain people suffering from possession by the devil, and he, shedding tears, beseeched the Lord in an entreaty, and the demons departed from those men. And likewise, (I know that) there came to (him) (when he was) sick and confined to his bed, a certain man with a sick relative, and he asked that he should place his hand upon him, so that he might be healed, and he answered that if he had any power in such matters, he would surely have performed it in the first place for himself; and he said that he had had a visitation, and that in this dream it had been said: "Go to bishop Augustine, so that he may lay his hand upon him, andhe will be well". When he heard this, he did not tarry in doing (it), and the Lord immediatelycaused that sick man to depart from him.

Chapter 30.  He instructs Honoratus, bishop of Thiabe, with regard to flight during persecution in a letter which is inserted here. 

Meanwhile, I must not pass over in silence, that, when the above-mentioned enemy was threatening (us), he had been consulted by letter by Honoratus, a holy man and a fellow-bishop at the church at Thiabe, and as to whether, with them approaching, bishops or clergy should withdraw from their churches, or not, and in his reply he indicated what was more to be feared from those destroyers of Romania. I have wished to include that letter of his in this written work; for it is very useful and necessary for the conduct of the priests and ministers of God.

"To his holy brother and fellow-bishop Honoratus, Augustine (sends) his greeting in the Lord.

(1)  A copy of the letter which I wrote to our fellow-bishop Quodvultdeus having been sent to your grace, I thought I would be relieved from this task which you have laid upon me by seeking my advice (as to) what, you ought to do amongst these dangers which have come upon our times. For, although I wrote that letter quickly, I believe however that I omitted nothing which would be sufficient both (for me) in answering to say and (for anyone) in seeking (my reply) to hear: for I said that it was not right for those who wished to withdraw to fortified places, if they could, to be prevented, and that the chains of our ministry, by which the love of Christ has bound us, must not be broken, so that we should not desert the churches which we are bound to serve. Here, indeed, are those words, which I put in that letter: 'Therefore', I said, 'it remains that we, whose ministry is so necessary to the people of God, however few, if they stay where we are, that they ought not to remain behind without it, should pray to the Lord (as follows): "Be thou unto us in respect of a protector God and in respect of a fortified place".'

(2)  But this advice, as you write, is not therefore satisfactory to you, lest we may be striving to act contrary to the precept of the Lord, where he warns that we should flee from city to city, for we recall these words which he said: 'But when they persecute you in that city, fleeto another'. But who would believe that the Lord wishes this to be done in such a manner that the flocks which he purchased with his own blood should be abandoned by that necessary ministry, without which they cannot live? Did he himself do this, when, with his parents carrying (him), he fled into Egypt (as) a little child, who had not yet gathered together any churches, which we might say had been deserted by him? When the apostle Paul, in order that his enemy should not capture him, was let down through a window in a basket to escape his band of men, was there a church there which was deserted of its necessary ministry, and was not (that) which was needed performed by others in the same dwelling place? Indeed, with them desiring (it), the Apostle did this, so that he himself, whom that persecutor was particularly seeking should be saved for the Church. So let the servants of Christ, the ministers of His Word and sacrament, do what he has ordered or allowed. Let them by all means flee from city to city, when one of them is particularly sought by persecutors, provided that the church shall not be abandoned by others who are not so searched for, but may they provide the food to their fellow-servants whom they know cannot otherwise live. But, when the danger is common to all, that is to bishops and clergy and to laymen, let those who are in need of others not be abandoned by those of whom they are in need. Therefore, either let them all withdraw to fortified places, or let (those) who have the need to remain not be abandoned by those through whom their ecclesiastical need has to be supplied, so that they may either live together or suffer together whatever their father wishes them patiently to endure.

(3)  But, if it should happen that some (should suffer) more (and) others less, or that all suffer equally, it is evident that there are some of them who suffer for others, that is those who, although they could escape from such troubles by fleeing, have preferred to stay in order not to forsake the need of others. Hence is shown especially that love which the apostle John commends, saying: 'As Christ has laid down his life for us, so also we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.' For (those) who flee, or having been bound by their duties cannot flee, if, having been captured, they suffer, they suffer of course for themselves, not for their brothers. But (those) who suffer because they were unwilling to forsake their brothers, who were in need of them for their Christian welfare, without doubtlay down their lives for their brothers.

(4)  Therefore that which we have heard that a certain bishop had said: 'If the Lord has ordered our flight in those persecutions where it is possible to have enjoyed martyrdom, how much more ought we to avoid fruitless suffering when there is a hostile invasion of barbarians', is indeed true and acceptable, but not for those who are held by the bonds of ecclesiastical duty. For (he) who, for this reason, does not flee the scourge of the enemy, although he could escape, in order that he should not abandon the ministry of Christ, without which men cannot either become or live as Christians, finds a greater reward of love than he who, fleeing not on account of his brothers but on account of himself, and, having been captured, does not deny Christ and undergoes martyrdom.

(5)  (But) what then is that which you wrote in your previous letter? For you say: 'If we must remain in the churches, I do not see what will be of advantage to us or the people, except that men should be cut down before our eyes, women outraged, churches burned down and we die by torture, when what we do not have is demanded from us'. God, indeed, is able to hear the prayers of his children and to ward off the things which they fear; yet, for this reason, there ought not, on account of those things which are uncertain, to be a definite neglect of our duty, without which the destruction of the people is certain, not with regard to the things of this life but of that other (life), which must be cared for with incomparably more devotion and solicitude. For, if those evils were certain which are feared, lest they might by chance happen in the places where we are, everyone, on account of whom we need to stay, would have fled from there beforehand and made us free from the need to remain; for there is no one who says that we need to remain, when there are no longer (any people) to whom it is necessary to minister. So, indeed, the holy bishops fled from Spain, their people either having fallen in flight beforehand, or having been slain, or having been overcome by siege or scattered in captivity: but many more stayed amidst the density of those dangers, with those, on account of whom they stayed, remaining. And, if some deserted their people, that is what we say ought not to have happened. For such were notinformed by divine authority, but were either deceived by human error or overcome by fear.

(6)  For why do they think that they should comply indiscriminately with the command, when they read that they must flee from city to city, and do not tremble at the hireling who sees the wolf coming and flees since he does care for the sheep? Why do they not try to understand those two true doctrines of the Lord, one indeed where flight has been permitted and commanded, (and) the other where it is denounced and censured, such that they are not discovered to be contrary to one another, as indeed they are not? And how shall this be discovered unless attention can be given to that which I have already discussed above, that the ministers of Christ should flee from the places in which we are, with persecution pressing (upon us), (only) when either there are not any people of Christ (left), to whom ministry can be offered, or (when) it is possible for the necessary ministry to be fulfilled by others, for whom there is not the same reason for fleeing: so the Apostle fled, having been let down in a basket, as I have related above, when he himself was sought by the persecutor in person, the others, by whom the ministry there might be removed, so that the Church was abandoned, assuredly not having a similar need for (flight). So the holy Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, fled, when the Emperor Constantius wished to apprehend him in particular, the Catholic people, who remained permanently in Alexandria, having by no means been deserted by their other ministers. But when the people remain, and the ministers flee and the ministry is withdrawn, what will this be except that damnable flight of hirelings, for whom there is no care for the sheep? For the wolf will come, not a man but the devil, who has generally persuaded the faithful, for whom the daily ministry of the Lord's Body has been lacking, to apostatise; and not through your knowledge but through your ignorance will the weak brother, on behalf of whom Christ died, perish.

(7)  But as it pertains to those who are not deceived by error in this matter but are overcome by terror, why should they not rather strive against their fear, with the Lord pitying and assisting (them), lest evils, incomparably heavier (and) which are much more to be dreaded, befall (them)? This happens when the love of God is aflame, not (when) desire for this world is smouldering. For love says: 'Who says love is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I burn not'. But love is from God. Let us therefore pray that (this love) is given by him from whom it is commanded. And on account of this let us fear rather that the sheep of Christ, who will die at some time by some kind of death, may be slain by the sword of spiritual wickedness in the heart than by (a sword of) iron in the body. Let us fear rather that, the inner sense having been corrupted, the purity of faith may perish, than that women may be forcibly defiled in body: for chastity is not violated by force if it is preserved in the mind; since (a woman) is not violated in the flesh when the will of the sufferer does not shamefully involve her flesh; but without consent she endures what another is engaged upon.Let us fear rather that living stones may be destroyed, with ourselves abandoning (them), than that the stones and wood of worldly buildings may be burned with ourselves being present. Let us fear rather that the members of Christ's Body, having been deprived of spiritual nourishment, may be destroyed, than that the members of our body, having been overpowered by the attack of the enemy, may be be tortured. Not that these things are notto be avoided when they can (be), but rather that they are to be endured when they cannot be avoided without impiety. Unless, perchance, someone maintains that a minister is not impious who withdraws his ministry, (which is) necessary for piety at the time when it is all the more necessary.

(8)  When the height of those dangers is reached, and there is not any opportunity of fleeing,do we not realise how great a gathering is accustomed to take place in the church by both sexes and by all ages, some demanding baptism, others reconciliation, other even acts of penitence itself, (and) all (seeking) consolation and the administration and distribution of the sacraments? If then the ministers are not present, how great a destruction follows those who depart from this life, either not born again or bound (by sin)! How great also is the grief of their faithful (brethren) who will not have them with them in the rest of the life eternal! Finally, how great (is) the lamentation of all and how great (is) the blasphemy of some with regard to the absence of the ministry and of their ministers! See what the fear of temporal evils does, and how great an increase of eternal woes there is in it! But if their ministers are there, help is brought to all, according to the strength which the Lord gives to them: some are baptised, others are reconciled, none are deprived of the communion of the Lord's body, all are consoled, edified and exhorted to pray to God, who is able to avert all the things which are feared; (they are) prepared for either (outcome), so that, if that cup cannot be passed from them, His will may be done who cannot will any evil.

(9)  Surely now you see that which you wrote that you did not see, how great an advantage Christian people may obtain, if in the present evils the presence of the ministers of Christ is not lacking to them, and whose absence you also see does such great damage, when they seek their own things (and) not (the things) which (are) of Jesus Christ, and they have not that love of which it was said 'She does not seek (those things) which are her own", and theydo not imitate him who said: "Seeking not what is useful to me, but what (is) useful to many, that they may be saved'. He also would not have fled the snares of that persecutor prince, but that he wished to save himself for others, for whom he was needed. On account of this he says: 'But I am impelled by two (things), having a desire to be killed and to be with Christ, for (this is) very much the best (course); but to remain in the flesh (is) necessary for you.'

(10)  At this point someone may say that for this reason the ministers of God ought to flee, with such evils threatening, so that they may save themselves for the use of the Church in more peaceful times. This is done correctly by some when others are not lacking, through whom the ministry of the Church may be supplied, so that it may not be deserted by all; as we have said above that Athanasius did. For the Catholic faith, which was defended against the Arian heretics by his voice and devotion, perceived how great was the need of the Church and how greatly it would benefit (the church) that that famous man remained in the flesh. But, when the danger is common and it is more to be feared that someone may be thought to do this not from a desire of serving (others) but from a fear of dying, and there may be more harm done by the example of fleeing than benefit gained by the duty of living, it should not be done for any reason. Finally, the holy David, in order that he should not expose himself to the risks of battles, and that the 'light of Israel', as it is there written, should perchance be extinguished, undertook (to do so), with his men seeking this from (him), buthe did not take the lead (in this) himself; for otherwise he would have created many imitators of his cowardice, who would have believed that he had done this not from any consideration of others, but from the confusion of his own fear.

(11)  But another question arises, which we ought not to despise. For, if this usefulness should not be disregarded so that some ministers should therefore flee, with any devastation threatening, to be saved in order to minister to those survivors whom they might be able to find after that disaster, what should be done when all seem likely to perish, unless some should flee. But what if that persecution should so far rage that it pursues the ministers of the Church alone, what shall we say? Should the Church be forsaken by its ministers in flight, so that it should not be more wretchedly forsaken by (them) dying. But, if laymen are not hunted to death, they can in some way hide their bishops and clergy, just as He, in whose power are all things, shall help them, and He can through his marvellous power save even (those who are) not fleeing. But for that reason we are inquiring what we ought to do in order that we may not be adjudged as tempting the Lord by expecting divine miracles in all things. Indeed this storm, when the danger is common to laymen and to clergy, is not such as when there is a common danger to merchants and sailors in a single ship. But far be it that this ship of ours should be valued so little that the sailors, and especially the helmsman, ought to abandon it (when it is) in danger, even if they can escape by jumping into a skiff or even by swimming. In the case of those whom we fear that they may perish through our desertion, we do not fear their temporal death, which is likely to come at some time or another, but their eternal (death), which can come about if one is not careful, and yet cannot come about if one is careful. But in the common peril of this life why should we thinkthat wherever there is a hostile incursion all the clergy and not also all the laymen are going to die, so that (those) for whom the clergy are needed shall end this life together (with them)? Or why should we not expect that as some laymen will survive, so also (will) some of the clergy, by whom the required ministry can be provided for them?

(12)  And yet, O that the debate between the ministers of God was henceforth (as to) which of them should remain, so that the Church should not be abandoned by the flight of all, and (as to) which of them should flee so that (the Church may not be forsaken) by the death of all! Such indeed will be the rivalry between them when both may glow with love and both may satisfy (the claims of) love. If this argument cannot be otherwise settled, in so far as it seems good to me, (those) who should remain and (those) who should flee should be chosenby lot.  (Those) who say that they ought rather to flee will either seem fearful, because they were unwilling to endure the impending evil, or presumptuous, because they have adjudged themselves more necessary to the Church in order that (its services) be preserved. Then maybe those who are the better may choose to lay down their lives for their brethren, and those will be saved by fleeing whose lives are less useful because they have less skill in counselling and governing. Yet (those) who, if they discern (things) dutifully, will gainsaythose whom they see both ought rather to live and prefer rather to die than to flee. For this reason, as it is written, "The lot settles disputes and marks boundaries between the powerful". For in prevarications of such a kind God judges better than men whether he should deigns to call the better to the reward of martyrdom and to spare the weak, or whether he makes the former stronger to face the hardships (which) must be endured, and removes from this life (those) whose lives cannot be of such great advantage to the Church. The procedure will indeed be less usual if that lot occurs: but, if it has been applied, whowill dare to criticise it? Who, unless (he is) ignorant or envious, will not praise (it) with a fitting commendation? But if this action, an example of which has not occurred, does not seem good to do, let no one, by his flight, act so that the ministry of the Church, (which is) especially necessary and due amidst such great perils, may fail. Let no one regard his own person, so that, if he seems to excel in some gift, he should for this reason say that he is more worthy of life, and on account of this, of flight. For whoever thinks this pleaseshimself too much; but whoever also says this, displeases everyone. 

(13)  Without doubt there are (those) who think that bishops and clergy, not fleeing in such dangers, act to deceive their people, since for this reason they do not flee, because they see that their bishops are remaining. But it is easy to avoid this criticism or reproach by speaking to the same people and saying: 'May one not deceive you, because we do not flee from this place. For we are remaining here not on our own account but rather on account of you, so that we may not fail to supply you with whatever we know (to be) necessary for your salvation. If therefore you wish to flee, you will also release us from those bonds by which we are held.' I think this should be said at a time when it seems to be truly expedient to withdraw to a safer place. This having been heard, if either all or some have said: 'We are in the power of Him whose anger no one escapes, whithersoever he goes, and whose mercy he can find wheresoever he may be, who wishes to go nowhere (else), whether prevented by certain obligations or unwilling to struggle to uncertain refuges and for the sake of dangers not to be ended but in so as to be changed', without doubt they should not be abandoned by the Christian ministry. But, if, this having been heard, they prefer to leave, it is notnecessary for them to remain, who were remaining on their account, because they are there no longer on account of whom they ought to stay. 

(14)  Therefore whoever flees in this way so that the necessary ministry of the Church is not lacking by his fleeing, does as the Lord commands or permits. But whoever flees so that that nourishment, by which it lives spiritually, is withdrawn from Christ's flock, that man is an hireling, who sees the wolf coming and flees because he does not have a care for the sheep.

These things, most beloved brother, I have written to you, since I have believed (them), in truth and certain love, because you asked for my advice, but, if you find a better (one), I have not enjoined (you) to that opinion. However, we cannot find (anything) which we can do better in these dangers than prayers to the Lord, our God, that he may pity us. Some wise and holy men, with the help of God, have been counted worthy both to will and to do this very thing, that is that they should not desert their churches, and in the teeth of disparagement they have not wavered from attention to their plan."

Chapter 31, i - v.  Conspicuous examples of repentance having been provided, Augustine dies. 

Indeed, that holy man in his long life, which by divine inspiration had been given for the benefit and happiness of the Holy Church (for he lived for seventy-six years, and almost for forty years in the priesthood or episcopacy), had been accustomed to say to us during private conversations that, even after baptism (had been) received, exemplary Christians and priests ought not to depart from the body without fitting and appropriate repentance. And he himself did this in his last illness from which he died: for he had ordered the psalms of David concerning repentance, which are the shortest, to be copied for him, and, lying in bed during the days of his illness, he gazed at these very four sheets which had been placed against the wall, and wept abundantly and constantly. And, in order that his attention should not be impeded by anyone, about ten days before he departed from the body he asked of us (who were) present, that no one should come to (see) him except only during those hours when the doctors were entering for the purpose of inspecting (him), or when food was brought to him. And thus it was observed and done, and during all that time he devoted himself to prayer. Right up to his very last illness he preached in the church vigorously and bravely, with a clear mind and sound judgment. With all the members of his body intact, and his sight and hearing unimpaired, (and) with us standing by, both watching and praying, "he slept with his fathers", as it is written, "well-nourished in a good old-age". And in our presence, a service was offered to God for the commended repose of his body, and he was buried.

Chapter 31, vi - xi.  The good things which Augustine left to the Church having been recounted and the things having been done (so) excellently by him having been repeated, Possidius concludes, asking for the prayers of his readers. 

He made no will, because (as) a poor man of God he did not have (anything) from which he could make (it). He repeatedly ordered that the library of the Church and all its books should be carefully preserved for posterity. But if the Church had anything, either in its possessions and in its ornaments, he left (this) to the charge of the presbyter, who, under his (direction),  was managing the care of the church building. In his life and in his death he didnot treat his relatives according to the general custom, whether they had observed his way of life or (had lived) outside (it). While he was still living, if there was need, he gave them the same as (he gave) to others also, not so that had riches, but so that they were either not in want or were less in want. He left the church a very sufficient (body) of clergy and monasteries full of men and women with their continent overseers, together with libraries containing books and treatises, either his own or (those) of other holy men, in which by the gift of God one may be taught how good and how great he was in the Church, and in these he may be found by the faithful to be always living. In like manner to this also a certain secular poet, instructing his friends, on his death, to place a burial mound on a public embankment, composed an epigram, saying: "Do you wish, (O) traveller, to know that  a poet lives (on) after his death? What you read, behold I speak: your voice is surely mine".

And indeed in his writings that priest acceptable and dear to God is revealed to have lived uprightly, soberly in the faith, hope and love of the Catholic Church, in so far as he was permitted to see (it) with the truth shining, as they recognise who profit (from) reading him writing on divine (matters). But I think that they were able to benefit more from him who could hear and see him speaking in the church in person, and especially (those who) were not unacquainted with his manner of life among men. For not only was he a "scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, bringing forth from his treasure things new and old" and one of those merchants, "who, the pearl of high price having been found, (all things) which he had having been sold,  bought (it)", but (he was) also (one) of those concerning whom it is written: " So speak ye and so do", and of whom the Saviour said: "Whoever shall do and shall teach men thus, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven".

Now I very much ask for your kindness, who read these words, that you may give thanks with me to Almighty God and that you may bless the Lord who has given me the understanding so that I may both desire, and have the power, to bring these things to the attention of men, both (those) close at hand and far away, of the present and of future time; and (I ask that) you pray with me and for me, that I may both exist in this world (as) an emulator and imitator of that former man, with whom by the grace of God I have lived intimately and delightfully for almost forty years without any bitter disagreement, and enjoy with him the promises of Almighty God in (the world) to come.
Last modified onTuesday, 30 December 2014 19:11
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