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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 349: Sermons during the Vandal Invasion

Extract

ARTICLE 3491

Sermons during the Vandal Invasion2

430 A.D.

430 is the last year of Augustine’s life. He finished it as always, defending Christian truth and wisdom and persisting gloriously in confessing Christ’s grace.3 He stopped working on the books against Julian only at his death.4

God purified him by a last affliction of seeing the evils the Vandals were causing in Africa. His affliction doubled when he saw Hippo under siege. Amid misfortunes, he continued preaching God’s word firmly and vigorously up to his last illness with as much spirit and wisdom as ever he did.5

Baronius believes he preached Sermo 3, classified under Sermones de tempore according to the title, on the Thursday after Passion Sunday.6 It is an exhortation to profit from temporal misfortune in appeasing God’s justice by a true change of life. Baronius recommends it as Augustine’s last extant sermon. For this reason he placed it whole and entire in his Annales. However the style and the facts in it give reason to believe it is not Augustine’s. For a long time, capable scholars have doubted its authenticity. The Benedictines have placed in the appendix, judging it to be from Caesarius of Arles.

The sermon entitled De tempore barbarico was preached some days after the feast of St. Perpetua during the Vandal invasion in a city not yet vanquished. Bellarmine places this sermon among those having no proof of authenticity, ← 403 | 404 → although...

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