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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 328: De gratia et libero arbitrio; De correptione et gratia

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ARTICLE 328

De gratia et libero arbitrio; De correptione et gratia

A few monks from Hadrumetum went to Hippo contrary to monastic discipline.1 They carried with them Augustine’s Letter 194 (to Sixtus) over which they had been scandalized.2 Only Cresconius and another Felix (not the companion of Florus) arrived in Hippo.3 Apparently the other Felix had left with the party to travel to Hippo since they called themselves his companions, but arrived later. With the departure of this group from Hadrumetum the other brothers remained peaceful.

These monks had no letter of commendation from Valentinus.4 However, because they were from the monastery at Hadrumetum, Augustine received them cordially—they were too straightforward to lie. They told Augustine of their brothers who were mistaken about free choice. These monks also denied human beings would be judged according to their works. Others monks recognized both grace and free choice. Florus was accused of being the author of the disturbance which divided their community. Augustine explained to them his letter to Sixtus.5 He wrote Letter 214 to Valentinus and his monastic brothers in which the difficult question of free will and grace is treated. Augustine supports grace more than free choice. He asks Valentinus to send Florus to Hippo. No doubt Florus raised objections against Augustine through misunderstanding.

Through Cresconius and Felix Augustine wished to send various pieces concerning the history of Pelagianism. However, there was no time to copy them. The monks wanted to...

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