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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 348: Fides rerum quae non uidentur



Fides rerum quae non uidentur

Augustine received Count Darius’ gifts and praise gratefully and happily because they indicated the giver’s good disposition and would be useful for his progress in virtue.2 Augustine responded cordially and warmly. He witnesses Darius’ joy at acquiring his friendship and hoped the esteem of this illustrious man for his works would render them useful for others. Augustine promised to pray for him and wished Darius to render him the same love and obtain the prayers of others. Augustine asked him to send letters and promised him his own as his work allowed.

Augustine sent Darius Confessiones and various other treatises as he wished to do more than the count had asked. These treatises are De fide rerum quae non uidentur, De patientia, De continentia, De prouidentia, and Enchiridion. He asks Darius to indicate his judgment on these works if he could read them before his departure from Africa or at least to note his judgment to Aurelius which would then be sent to Augustine

De patientia and De continentia are extant. The first is apparently a sermon ad populum.3 Thus not surprisingly Augustine says nothing of it in Retractationes.4 Besides instructions on patience, to distinguish true patience from false, Augustine speaks strongly against the Pelagians without naming them and against those killing themselves (Donatists) lest they not enter into the true life which they claim to acquire by martyrdom.5 He does not respond to the...

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