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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 291: Celestine, Sixtus, and Arians

Extract

ARTICLE 291

Celestine, Sixtus, and Arians

Albinus, the acolyte, carried Letter 193 to Mercator and Letter 192 to the deacon Celestine. The latter had written Augustine through the notary Projectus. This notary had come to Hippo when Augustine was in Caesarean Mauretania. Upon his return Augustine read Celestine’s letter and responded at his earliest convenience through Albinus. His letter is a compliment to their friendship. The same circumstances and the same porter are encountered in this letter, Letter 193 to Mercator, and Letter 191 to Sixtus. Celestine was apparently a deacon in Rome and became Pope Boniface in 423. Augustine wrote him respectfully. Sixtus was apparently a Roman priest at that time.1 He used his authority to fight the opponents of grace by fear as Augustine was combating them by teaching. Augustine’s short letter was joyfully received. Sixtus had written to Aurelius while the Council of Carthage (418) was in session.

Later Sixtus wrote a longer letter. There he expressed clearly and at some length his thinking and the thinking of the Roman church on Pelagian teaching. Against them he clearly defended the teaching on grace.2 This letter was addressed to Augustine and Alypius and was carried by Firmus, a priest whom Augustine calls a holy and faithful courier of this correspondence. He had carried Sixtus’ letters to Augustine and had witnessed the former’s conduct as a historian. Firmus was a Manichean convert, a former merchant ordained outside of Africa. Augustine was not at...

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