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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 334: Count Boniface (4)

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ARTICLE 3341

Count Boniface (4)

Augustine did not dare write Boniface during his time of peril lest he expose a courier to danger.2 Augustine did not want a letter condemning the count’s conduct to fall into enemy hands. He was content to pray for Boniface’s delivery from his visible enemies. Upon discovering Paul the deacon, a trustworthy man whom Boniface esteemed, Augustine wrote Boniface out of love in the hope of finding him wise enough to profit from his counsel.

Augustine considered the evils Africa was suffering from this war far less dangerous than did others since he knew men must look to higher causes and attribute their sufferings to their own sins. Because Augustine loved the count, he desired Boniface not be numbered among those whom God uses to punish sin temporally and in turn punishes themselves eternally. In Augustine’s mind, several people were capable of advising Boniface concerning his salvation. However, a difficulty arose in finding an occasion to speak to Boniface on these matters. Thus Augustine did not wish to squander an opportunity presented through Paul.

In his letter Augustine first places before Boniface’s eyes the piety of his previous life, his desire to leave the secular world, and his promise of continence. Next Augustine showed him the unhappy state in which his second marriage, the war he waged, sins he committed, and sins of others because of him had placed him. Augustine insinuated he could not be secure...

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