Early Church Fathers: Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers Series 1, 14 Vols.Early Church Fathers: Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers Series 1, 14 Vols.
Philip Schaff, ed.
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Series I of the NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS consists of eight volumes of the writings of St. Augustine, the greatest and most influential of the early Church Fathers, and six volumes of the treatises and homilies of St. Chrysostom. The series is edited by the eminent church historian Philip Schaff (1819-1893), professor at Union Theological Seminary, New York.
     

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Chapter II:  A Sketch of the Life of St. Augustin

    It is a venturesome and delicate undertaking to write one’s own life, even though that life be a masterpiece of nature and the grace of God, and therefore most worthy to be described.  Of all autobiographies none has so happily avoided the reef of vanity and self-praise, and none has won so much esteem and love through its honesty and humility as that of St. Augustin
 
     The “Confessions,” which he wrote in the forty-fourth year of his life, still burning in the ardor of his first love, are full of the fire and unction of the Holy Spirit.  They are a sublime composition, in which Augustin, like David in the fifty-first Psalem, confesses to God, in view of his own and of succeeding generations without reserve th sins of his youth; and they are at the same time a hymn of praise to the grace of God, which led him out of darkness into light, and called him to service in the kingdom of Christ.  Here we see the great church teacher of all times “prostrate in the dust, conversing with God, basking in his love; his reader hovering before him only as a shadow.”  He puts away from himself all honor all greatness, all merit, and lays them gratefully at the feet of the All-merciful.  The reader feels on every hand that Christianity is no dream nor illusion, but truth and life and he is carried along in adoration of the wonderful grace of God.

     Aurelius Augustinus, born on the 13th of November 354, at Tagaste, an unimportant village o fertile province of Numidia in North Africa, not far from Hippo Regius, inherited from his heather father, Patricius, a passionate sensibility, from his Christian mother, Monnica (of of the noblest women in the history of Christianity, of a highly intellectual and spiritual cast, of fervent piety, most tender affection, and all-conquering love), the deep yearning towards God so grandly expressed in his sentence: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee.”  This yearning, and his reverence for the sweet and holy name of Jesus, though crowded into the background, attended him in his studies at the schools of Madaura and Carthage, on his journeys to Rome and Milan, and on his tedious wanderings through the labyrinth of carnal preasures, Manichaean mock-wisdom, Academic skepticism, and Platonic idealism; till at last the prayers of his mother, the sermons of Ambrose, the biography of St. Anthony, and above all, the Epistles of Paul, as so many instruments in the hand of the Holy Spirit, wrought in the man of three and thirty years that wonderful change which made him an incalculable blessing to the whole Christian world, and brought even the sins and errors of his youth into the service of the truth.

     A son of so many prayers and tears could not be lost, and the faithful mother who travailed with him in spirit with great pain than her body had in bringing him into the world was permitted for the encouragement of future mothers to receive shortly before her death an answer to her prayers and expectations, and was able to leave this world with joy without revisiting her earthly home.  For Monnica died on a homeward journey, in Ostia at the mouth of the Tiber, in her fifty-sixth year, in the arms of her son, after enjoying with him a glorious conversation that soared above the confines of space and time, and was a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath-rest of the saints.  If those moments, he says, could be prolonged for ever, they would more than suffice for his happiness in heaven.  She regretted not to die in a foreign land, because she was not far from God, who would raise her up at the last day.  “Bury my body anywhere,” was her last request. “and trouble not yourselves for it; only this one thing I ask, that you remember me at the altar of my God, wherever you may be.”  Augustin in his “Confessions” has erected to Monnica a noble monument that can never perish.