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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 350: Various Sermons

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ARTICLE 350

Various Sermons

Various inauthentic treatises attributed to Augustine mentioning the Vandals are extant. The second of four books or sermons on the Creed addressed to the catechumens appear in the ninth volume of the Benedictines and are among this number. According to one treatise the Arian heresy did not damage the Church. Its tenderness is deceptive, its wondrous promises only vain amusements.

Come and I will protect you. If you are in need I will nourish you. If you are naked I will clothe you. I will give you money and regulate what each person receives daily. Misfortunate as you are, you exorcize Christ, you will re-baptize a Catholic. There is something pernicious in the means used for that: you will treat some with violence and powerful authority to force them to be lost. You will buy others with silver for sacrificing them in your impiety.

The Vandals would almost certainly not have acted in this manner before the peace in parts of Africa. After Augustine’s death they defeated Count Boniface a second time, but could only dream of mastering the country and establishing their religion by force. A capable scholar has noted this treatise is not Augustine’s.1 He judges its inauthenticity and should be followed because of various places where the atmosphere is less serious than Augustine’s and several scripture exegeses which are apparently not his. However several items are worthy of Augustine and it is easy to believe...

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