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The Life of Augustine of Hippo

Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)

Edited By Frederick Van Fleteren

The seventeenth century was the century of Saint Augustine. In 1695, Louis Sébastien, Le Nain de Tillemont, finished volume 13 of his Mémoires ecclésiastique, entitled La vie de saint Augustin. The volume consisted of approximately 1200 pages wherein Louis Sébastien gathered from the works of Augustine and elsewhere all extant passages relevant to the biography of Augustine of Hippo. Completed in 1695, the biography was published posthumously in 1700. The work lies in the tradition of Jansenism from Port-Royal and the Leuven. Though an ascetic recluse on the family estate for the last twenty years of his life, he was in touch with important French scholars and the ecclesiastical movements of his time. Louis’ work is the first modern biography of Augustine and the most comprehensive of all Augustinian biographies, even today. Modern authors consult him and frequently adopt his theories without citation. His method exercises influence on contemporary Parisian scholarship on Augustine. This English translation has been divided into three volumes covering three time periods: part 1: birth to episcopal consecration (354–396); part 2: the Donatist controversy (396–411); part 3: the Pelagian controversy (411–430).
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Article 272: Boniface as African General

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ARTICLE 272

Boniface as African General

Boniface desired to go beyond Augustine’s advice.1 He had been married with at least one daughter who was married to Count Sebastianus.2 Nevertheless worldly vanity horrified him and he desired to retire, live as a monk, and serve God alone.3 He was lonely after his wife’s death. He met Augustine and Alypius shortly thereafter. He recounted to them his desire to leave secular affairs and spend his life in holy solitude, fighting his demons in the quiet of the company of Christ’s soldiers.

Alypius and Augustine did not encourage this plan. They indicated he was more useful to the Church in his present state, provided he would use his arms in behalf of the republic to further peace by repressing the barbarian incursions. In this world he should seek only the necessities of life for himself and the nation. He should happily receive goods of this world when offered, but ought not to seek them when refused or taken away. Otherwise through love of earthly goods he might possibly commit grave evil. To fortify himself with spiritual weapons he should observe continence. Boniface resolved to remain in the world and embrace continence. He lived at Tubunes.4 Two cities with this name exist, one in Numidia and the other in Caesarean Mauretania. The former is more naturally understood as his place of residence. The modern town is unknown.

Augustine and Alypius gave Boniface this counsel because they...

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