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AUGUSTINE belonged to that class of men whom the march of centuries and of civilizations never leaves behind. Probably among all who have followed the apostles, no one has exercised a wider influence. The scholastics of the Middle Ages paid homage to him as the great theological master. The foremost leaders of the Protestant Reformation drew from his writings as from no other ancient treasury, the Scriptures alone excepted. Those who disagree with him on some points are glad to appeal to him upon others, and he is still frequently quoted both by Protestants and Roman Catholics. Such breadth of influence argues, of course,

, a corresponding breadth and fertility of nature. Augustine was a man of extraordinary endowments. Deep thought in him was united with deep sentiment, the head of iron with the heart of flame, high intellectuality with consecrated emotion. The tone of his writings is a prominent element in their worth, as well as the thousand gems of philosophical and theological wisdom which they contain. In the broad circle of his ideas, very serious errors, it is true, were included; and the homage commanded before the majesty and riches of his great mind have often prevented these from being duly considered. Nevertheless, his works remain a source both of valuable instruction and healthful inspiration for every serious reader.

points of detail, to one who has the magisterium of the Church pledged to his saintly perfection. I cannot, indeed, force myself to approve or like these particulars on my private judgment or feeling; but I can receive things on faith against both the one and the other. And I readily and heartily do take on faith these characteristics, words, or acts of this great doctor of the universal Church, and think it not less acceptable to God or to him to give him my religious homage than my human praise." A peculiar illustration, surely, of that broad and roomy freedom which Newman invites his Protestant readers to expect in the Romish Church! A peculiar specimen, too, of a voluntary abasement of moral judgment! If one is to compel himself to call that white which his native moral sense emphatically declares to be black, then farewell to moral clearness and health I

As a Christian, Augustine commands interest, as being one of that class who could refer to an experience positive, profound, and transforming. He was born about 353, at the village of Tagaste in Numidia. His father was an adherent of the heathen religion until near his death; his mother, Monica, was a devoted Christian, whose prayers for the salvation of her son were ever fresh upon the divine altar until she obtained the pledge of their acceptance. For many years there was little token of a gracious response. Augustine appeared absorbed in the study and practice of the rhetorician's art, or, still worse, bound by the chain of illicit pleasures. “I was,” he said, in subsequent utterances of self-condemnation, “far from Thy face through my darkened affections. I was become deaf by the rattling of the chains of my mortality. . . . Behold with what companions I walked the streets of Babylon, in whose filth I was rolled as if in cinnamon and precious ointments. ... I befouled the spring of friendship with the filth of concupiscence, and dimmed its lustre with the hell of lustfulness; and yet, foul and dishonorable as I was, I craved, through an excess of vanity, to be thought elegant and urbane.”] Very likely, in these strong accusations against his former life, Augustine acted as an unsparing critic, and judged his course from the stand-point of the most sensitive conscience; but we know from his own explicit statement, that the part

1 Confessions.


ner with whom he lived for years, and by whom he had a son, was not his by lawful wedlock. The


of hood came to Augustine without definite indications of religious awakening, except of an abnormal and fruitless kind. From his nineteenth to his twenty-eighth year he adhered to the sect of the Manichæans, not passing, however, beyond the rank of a hearer. “Nearly nine years passed,” he says, “ in which I wallowed in the slime of that deep pit and the darkness of falsehood, striving often to rise, but being all the more heavily dashed down.”

Meanwhile, the power of a mother's prayers, and the cravings of a nature robbed of its proper food, were drawing him toward the true spiritual goal. An inner discontent proved the truthfulness of the maxim which he afterwards placed upon the opening page of his Confessions: “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” As he came to Milan, as teacher of rhetoric, a deeper feel. ing than mere discontent finally took hold of his heart. The agony of poignant conviction was felt. “Thou didst set me,” he writes, “ face to face with myself, that I might behold how foul I was, and how crooked and sordid, bespotted and ulcerous. And I beheld, and loathed myself.” While thus cast down with a sense of personal degradation and longing for deliverance, the voice of a child, which seemed to come from a neighboring house, directed him to the Scriptures. He opened and read, “ Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof." No sooner was the sentence finished, than “ all the gloom of doubt vanished away.” Augustine


was now a new man. The chains of sinful delights had been snapped asunder. “How sweet," he exclaims, “did it suddenly become to me to be without the delights of trifles! And what at one time I feared to lose, it was now a joy to me to put away. For Thou

. didst cast them away from me, Thou true and highest sweetness, and instead of them didst enter in Thyself,

sweeter than all pleasure, brighter than all light. ... He loves Thee too little who loves aught with Thee, which he loves not for Thee, O love, who ever burnest, and art never quenched!” A joy in God rising to the verge of ecstasy, but at the same time chastened by a feeling of personal unworthiness, was henceforth a principal factor in the inner life of the son of Monica.

Augustine was converted in 386. In 395 he became bishop of the Numidian city Hippo, a position retained till his death, in 430. He died as the shadow of the invasion by the Vandals was upon his country. But we may well believe that his faith rose above the outward shadow, and that his departure was lighted by visions of that supernal beauty, toward which his desire had ardently reached, as his own words testify: “O, how wonderful, how beautiful and lovely are the dwellings of Thy house, Almighty God! I burn with longing to behold Thy beauty in Thy bridal chamber.”




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1. INTRODUCTORY. — Among the outgrowths of the Christian religion the hymn occupies a place of unique interest and significance. Combining in its idea both music and poetry, it is the congenial medium for expressing the emotional and æsthetic elements which enter into all deep religious experience. It at once satisfies and reveals in ward piety. While it has the worth which pertains to artistic products in general, it serves at the same time to mirror the mind from which it issued, and is often an index of the age in which it received its birth. Speaking of the hymns of the early Church, Dorner says: “As in the Psalms of the Old Testament we have the most instructive monuments of ancient Hebrew piety, and thereby ascertain what passed over from the ancient revelation into joy and life, what filled the heart and burst forth from it in song, so may we regard the old Christian hymnology." i

The interpreter, it is true, must take due account of the truth that the highest piety of one Christian age


1 History of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ.

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