Early Church Fathers
69 He was baptized by Ambrose, and tradition says, as he came out of the water, they sang alternate verses of the Te Deum (ascribed by some to Ambrose), which, in the old offices of the English Church is called "The Song of Ambrose and Augustin." In his Con. Julian. Pelag. i. 10, he speaks of Ambrose as being one whose devoted labours and perils were known throughout the whole Roman world, and says: "In Christo enim Jesu per evangelium ipse me genuit, et eo Christi ministro lavacrum regenerationis accepti." See also the last sec. of his De Nupt. et Concup., and Ep. cxlvii. 23. In notes 3, p. 50, and 4, p. 89, will be found references to the usages of the early Church as to baptism.
70 The Bishop of Milan who preceded Ambrose was an Arian, and though Valentinian the First approved the choice of Ambrose as bishop, Justina, on his death, greatly troubled the Church. Ambrose subsequently had great influence over both Valentinian the Second and his brother Gratian. The persecution referred to above, says Pusey, was "to induce him to give up to the Arians a church,-the Portian Basilica without the walls; afterwards she asked for the new Basilica within the walls, which was larger." See Ambrose, Epp. 20-22; Serm. c. Auxentium de Basilicis Tradendis, pp. 852-880, ed. Bened.; cf. Tillemont, Hist. Eccl. St. Ambroise, pp. 76-82. Valentinian was then at Milan. See next sec., the beginning of note.
72 Augustin alludes to this, amongst other supposed miracles, in his De Civ. Dei, xxii. 8; and again in Serm. cclxxxvi. sec. 4, where he tells us that the man, after being cured, made a vow that he would for the remainder of his life serve in that Basilica where the bodies of the martyrs lay. St. Ambrose also examines the miracle at great length in one of his sermons. We have already referred in note 5, p. 69 to the origin of these false miracles in the early Church. Lecture vi. series 2, of Blunt's Lectures on the Right Use of the Early Fathers, is devoted to an examination of the various passages in the Ante-Nicene Fathers where the continuance of miracles in the Church is either expressed or implied. The reader should also refer to the note on p. 485 of vol. ii. of the City of God, in this series.
73 Ps. cxvi. 15.
74 Cant. i. 3, 4.
75 Ps. lxviii. 6.
76 See viii. sec. 15, note, above.
77 We find from his Retractations (i. 7, sec. 1), that at this time he wrote his De Moribus Ecclesiae Catholicae and his De Moribus Manichaeorum. He also wrote (ibid. 8, sec. I) his De Animae Quantitate, and (ibid. 9, sec. I) his three books De Libero Arbitrio.
78 In his De Vita Beata and in his De Dono Persev. he attribute all that he was to his mother's tears and prayers.
79 Ecclus. xix. 1. Augustin frequently alludes to the subtle power of little things. As when he says,-illustrating (Serm. cclxxviii.) by the plagues of Egypt,-tiny insects, if they be numerous enough, will be as harmful as the bite of great beasts; and (Serm. lvi.) a hill of sand, though composed of tiny grains, will crush a man as surely as the same weight of lead. Little drops (Serm lviii.) make the river, and little leaks sink the ship; wherefore, he urges, little things must not be despised. "Men have usually," says Sedgwick in his Anatomy of Secret Sins, "been first wading in lesser sins who are now swimming in great transgressions." It is in the little things of evil that temptation has its greatest strength. The snowflake is little and not to be accounted of, but from its multitudinous accumulation results the dread power of the avalanche. Satan often seems to act as it is said Pompey did, when he could not gain entrance to a city. He persuaded the citizens to admit a few of his weak and wounded soldiers, who, when they had become strong, opened the gates to his whole army. But if little things have such subtlety in temptation, they have likewise higher ministries. The Jews, in their Talmudical writings, have many parables illustrating how God by little things tries and proves men to see if they are fitted for greater things. They say, for example, that He tried David when keeping sheep in the wilderness, to see whether he would be worthy to rule over Israel, the sheep of his inheritance. See Ch. Schoettgen, Hor. Heb. et Talmud, i. 300.
80 " `Animam oportet assiduis saliri tentationibus,0' says St. Ambrose. Some errors and offences do rub salt upon a good man's integrity, that it may not putrefy with presumption."-Bishop Hacket's Sermons, p 210.
81 Not only is this true in private, but in public concerns. Even in the crucifixion of our Lord, the wicked rulers did (Acts. iv. 26) what God's hand and God's counsel had before determined to be done. Perhaps by reason of His infinite knowledge it is that God, who knows our thoughts long before (Ps. cxxxix. 2, 4), weaves man's self-willed purposes into the pattern which His inscrutable providence has before ordained. Or, to use Augustin's own words (De Civ. Dei, xxii. 2), "It is true that wicked men do many things contrary to God's will; but so great is His wisdom and power, that all things which seem adverse to His purpose do still tend towards those just and good ends and issues which He Himself has foreknown."
82 That is, not only from the time of actual marriage, but from the time of betrothal, when the contract was written upon tablets (see note 10, p. 133), and signed by the contracting parties. The future wife was then called sponsa sperata or pacta. Augustin alludes to this above (vii. sec. 7), when he says, "It is also the custom that the affianced bride (pactae sponsae) should not immediately be given up, that the husband may not less esteem her whom, as betrothed, he longed not for" (non suspiraverit sponsus). It should be remembered, in reading this section, that women amongst the Romans were not confined after the Eastern fashion of the Greeks to separate apartments, but had charge of the domestic arrangements and the training of the children.
83 1 Tim. v. 4, 9, 10, 14.
84 Gal. iv. 19.
85 I Thess. iv. 14.
86 Phil. iii. 13.
87 I Cor. ii. 9.; Isa. lxiv. 4.
88 Ps xxxvi. 9.
89 Ps. iv. 8, Vulg.
90 Ps. lxxx. 5
91 Rom. viii. 23.
92 Wisd. vii. 27.
93 Matt. xxv. 21.
94 I Cor. xv. 51, however, is, "we shall all be changed."
95 Dean Stanley (Canterbury Sermons, serm. 10) draws the following, amongst other lessons, from God's dealings with Augustin. "It is an example," he says, "like the conversion of St. Paul, of the fact that from time to time God calls His servants not by gradual, but by sudden changes. These conversions are, it is true, the exceptions and not the rule of Providence, but such examples as Augustin show us that we must acknowledge the truth of the exceptions when they do occur. It is also an instance how, even in such sudden conversions, previous good influences have their weight. The prayers of his mother, the silent influence of his friend, the high character of Ambrose, the preparation for Christian truth in the writings of heathen philosophers, were all laid up, as it were, waiting for the spark, and, when it came, the fire flashed at once through every corner of his soul."
96 For this would be to sorrow as those that have no hope. Chrysostom accordingly frequently rebukes the Roman custom of hiring persons to wail for the dead (see e. g. Hom. xxxii. in Matt.); and Augustin in Serm. 2 of his De Consol. Mor. makes the same objection, and also reproves those Christians who imitated the Romans in wearing black as the sign of mourning. But still (as in his own case on the death of his mother) he admits that there is a grief at the departure of friends that is both natural and seemly. In a beautiful passage in his De Civ. Dei (xix. 8), he says: "That he who will have none of this sadness must, if possible, have no friendly intercourse....Let him burst with ruthless insensibility the bonds of every human relationship;" and he continues: "Though the cure is effected all the more easily and rapidly the better condition the soul is in, we must not on this account suppose that there is nothing at all to heal." See p. 140, note 2, below.
97 I Tim. i. 5.
98 Ps. ci. 1 "I suppose they continued to the end of Psalm cii. This was the primitive fashion; Nazianzen says that his speechless sister Gorgonia's lips muttered the fourth Psalm: `I will lie down in peace and sleep.0' As St. Austen lay a dying, the company prayed (Possid.). That they had prayers between the departure and burial, see Tertull. De Anima, c. 51. They used to sing both at the departure and burial. Nazianzen, Orat. 10, says, the dead Caesarius was carried from hymns to hymns. The priests were called to sing (Chrysost. Hom. 70, ad Antioch). They sang the 116th Psalm usually (see Chrysost. Hom. 4, in c. 2, ad Hebraeos)."-W. W. See also note 13, p. 141, below.
99 In addition to the remarks quoted in note 1, see Augustin's recognition of the naturalness and necessity of exercising human affections, such as sorrow, in his De Civ. Dei, xiv. 9.
100 "Here my Popish translator says, that the sacrifice of the mass was offered for the dead. That the ancients had communion with their burials, I confess. But for what? (1) To testify their dying in the communion of the Church. (2) To give thanks for their departure. (3) To Pray God to give them place in His Paradise, (4) and a part in the first resurrection; but not as a propitiatory sacrifice to deliver them out of purgatory, which the mass is now only meant for."-W. W. See also note 13, p. 141.
101 Ps. lxviii. 5.
102 Rendered as follows in a translation of the first ten books of the Confessions, described on the title-page as "Printed by J. C., for John Crook, and are to be sold at the sign of the `Ship,0' in St. Paul's Churchyard. 1660":-
"O God, the world's great Architect,
Who dost heaven's rowling orbs direct;
Cloathing the day with beauteous light,
And with sweet slumbers silent night;
When wearied limbs new vigour gain
From rest, new labours to sustain,
When hearts oppressed do meet relief,
And anxious minds forget their grief."
See x. sec. 52, below, where this hymn is referred to.
103 Rom. viii. 7.
104 I Cor. xv. 22. The universalists of every age have interpreted the word "all" here so as to make salvation by Christ Jesus extend to every child of Adam. If their interpretation were true, Monica's spirit need not have been troubled at the thought of the danger of unregenerate souls. But Augustin in his De Civ. Dei, xiii. 23, gives the import of the word: "Not that all who die in Adam shall be members of Christ-for the great majority shall be punished in eternal death,-but he uses the word `all0' in both clauses because, as no one dies in an animal body except in Adam, so no one is quickened a spiritual body save in Christ." See x. sec. 68, note 1, below.
105 For to have done so would have been to go perilously near to the heresy of the Pelagians, who laid claim to the possibility of attaining perfection in this life by the power of free-will, and without the assistance of divine grace; and went even so far, he tells us (Ep. clxxvi. 2), as to say that those who had so attained need not utter the petition for forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer,-ut ei non sit jam necessarium dicere "Dimitte nobis debita nostra." Those in our own day who enunciate perfectionist theories,- though, it is true, not denying the grace of God as did these,-may well ponder Augustin's forcible words in his De Pecc. Mer. et Rem. iii. 13: "Optandum est ut fiat, conandum est ut fiat, supplicandum est ut fiat; non tamen quasi factum fuerit, confitendum." We are indeed commanded to be perfect (Matt. v. 48); and the philosophy underlying the command is embalmed in the words of the proverb, "Aim high, and you will strike high." But he who lives nearest to God will have the humility of heart which will make him ready to confess that in His sight he is a "miserable sinner." Some interesting remarks on this subject will be found in Augustin's De Civ. Dei, xiv. 9, on the text, "If we say we have no sin," etc. (I John i. 8.) On sins after baptism, see note on next section.
106 Matt. xii. 36.
107 Matt. v 22.
108 There is a passage parallel to this in his Ep. to Sextus (cxciv. 19). "Merits" therefore would appear to be used simply in the sense of good actions. Compare sec. 17, above, xiii. sec. 1, below, and Ep. cv. That righteousness is not by merit, appears from Ep. cxciv.; Ep. clxxvii., to Innocent; and Serm.ccxciii.
109 2 Cor. x. 17.
110 Rom. viii. 34.
111 Matt. xviii. 35.
112 Matt. vi. 12. Augustin here as elsewhere applies this petition in the Lord's Prayer to the forgiveness of sins after baptism. He does so constantly. For example, in his Ep. cclxv. he says: "We do not ask for those to be forgiven which we doubt not were forgiven in baptism; but those which, though small, are frequent, and spring from the frailty of human nature." Again, in his Con Ep. Parmen. ii. 10, after using almost the same words, he points out that it is a prayer against daily sins; and in his De Civ. Dei, xxi. 27, where he examines the passage in relation to various erroneous beliefs, he says it "was a daily prayer He [Christ] was teaching, and it was certainly to disciples already justified He was speaking. What, then, does He mean by `your sins0' (Matt. vi. 14), but those sins from which not even you who are justified and sanctified can be free?" See note on the previous section; and also for the feeling in the early Church as to sins after baptism, the note on i. sec. 17, above.
113 Ps. cxliii. 2.
114 Jas. ii. 13.
115 Matt. v. 7.
116 Rom. ix. 15.
117 Ps. cxix. 108.
118 See v. sec. 17, above.
119 Col. ii. 14.
120 See his De Trin. xiii. 18, the passage beginning, "What then is the righteousness by which the devil was conquered?"
121 John xiv. 30.
122 Ps. xci. 13.
123 Matt. ix. 2.