Medieval and Current Understandings of Free Will
Although at first glance it might not seem so, medieval philosophers were concerned with many of the same issues that interest philosophers today. The current discussion of action focuses on the topic of free will: whether free will is compatible with causal determinism, and the relationship between free will and moral responsibility. Medieval thinkers also discussed many of these issues; for example, they accept the common intuition that unless one acts freely, one cannot be held morally responsible for what one does. But the structure of their discussion often makes it difficult to recognize the extent to which their concerns both resemble and deviate from the current debate. Thinkers in the early part of the Middle Ages discussed human action and freedom in the context of broader theological concerns such as theproblem of evil or the effects of the Fall, that is, the sin of the first human beings. As the Middle Ages progressed, scholars became more interested in discussing the nature of freedom for its own sake, apart from the particular theological problems in which free will forms an important part of their solution. Thus, discussions of free will become embedded in larger treatises of human psychology. This is not to say that later theorists lost interest in those theological problems; rather, discussions of the two issues diverged from each other and became discrete subjects of investigation. Medieval philosophers did not ask the question whether free will was compatible with causal determinism, not because they did not understand the ramifications of cause and effect or because they lacked a scientific notion of the world. They recognized the regularities of the world and understood the implications of a mechanistic world-view. They did not ask this question because they accepted the position that the freedom of human action is incompatible with causal determinism and because they believed that human beings in fact do act freely, at least on some occasions. Thus, in current terms, they were libertarians about human freedom. They argued that human beings are importantly different from other animals and the rest of creation. Human beings act freely because they possess rational capacities, which are lacking in other animals. Rational capacities enable human beings to act freely because those capacities are immaterial. How does the immateriality of those capacities enable human beings to act freely? The argument, roughly, is as follows: Everything else in the world is made of matter and thus is material or physical. Material things are governed by particular laws and so are determined to particular activities. If human beings were wholly material, then their actions would also be determined and they would not act freely. But because the capacities that bring about action are immaterial in nature, and hence, not governed by physical laws, actions that come about as a result of those capacities will be uncoerced, at least under ordinary circumstances. According to medieval accounts of freedom, then, freedom is incompatible with causal determinism (although medieval philosophers would not express the point in these terms). Since they all agree on this issue, medieval accounts of freedom then attempt to answer the question ―how is it that human beings are able to act freely?‖ The answer to this question was hotly contested. All medieval theorists agreed that human beings have a soul that enables them to perform the actions that they perform. As the era progressed, theories of human psychology grew more and more elaborate, but even in the earliest theories, two capacities in particular stood out: the intellect and the will. The intellect is the human capacity to cognize. The will is the human motivational capacity; it is the capacity that moves us to do what we do. The will depends upon the intellect to identify what alternatives for action are possible and desirable. It is on the basis of these intellectually cognized alternatives that the will chooses. Medieval theorists recognized that it is the human being who thinks and who acts, but it is in virtue of having an intellect and having a will that human beings are able to do what they do. Talk about what the intellect thinks or what the will does is a kind of

His theory of human nature is rather rudimentary. Human beings perceive the world around them. including what things are available to be pursued. Pelagius took Augustine’s early writings to be favorable to his own position. Rather. and God. which the intellect and will could disregard in favor of the eternal things that human beings ought to pursue. Augustine argues that desire can never overwhelm an agent. he was much more careful to insist upon the pernicious effects of sin upon human behavior and the need for God’s grace in order to avoid sin and achieve salvation. an agent gives in to desire in virtue of the will.voluntas. if a will were ever coerced. On his view. Not surprisingly. Thus. Augustine argued that Pelagius misinterpreted his early views. He argued that all one had to do in order to avoid sin was simply to will against it. Choices as to what to do are made in virtue of the will. Such data can also stimulate basic desires. This got him into a bit of trouble with a particular heresy of the time – Pelagianism. virtue. are responsible for evil in the world. This information is fed to the intellect. which makes judgments about the contents of perception and desire. through their senses. In fact. human beings do evil things when they give in to their desires for the temporal things instead of pursuing eternal things such as knowledge.shorthand for what the individual does in virtue of those capacities In light of a common theory of human psychology. 2. This position contradicts the traditional Christian view of the Fall of Adam and Eve and the need for the Incarnation of Jesus and grace from God. . Pelagius was a contemporary of Augustine’s who held that human beings are able to bring about their own salvation and do not require grace from God. agents are not determined by basic bodily desires. because they have intellects and wills. Augustine Augustine was interested in the topic of human action and freedom because he needed to explain how it is that God is not responsible for the presence of evil in the world while at the same time holding that God sustains and governs the world. Early in his career. Individual Theories – the Early Middle Ages a. Augustine was very optimistic about the human ability to resist temptation and sin. Since human beings act freely. which operates freely and never under compulsion. Augustine argues that they. and in his later writings. Augustine says it would not be a will. from the Latin word for will. Human beings possess the rational capacities of intellect and will as well as sensory capabilities and desire. Those who argue that freedom is primarily a function of the intellect are known as intellectualists while those who argue that freedom is primarily a function of the will are known as voluntarists. human beings commit sins freely by giving into the desire for temporal things. and not God. the medieval debate centered upon whether human beings act freely primarily in virtue of their wills or in virtue of their intellects. This sets up a tension with his insistence upon free will that exercised the minds of later theorists and one that Augustine himself did not entirely resolve. but it helps to establish the foundation for later more elaborate accounts.

7. the latter tendency is apparent in modern slogans such as ―biology is destiny. Augustine is a fourth century philosopher whose groundbreaking philosophy infused Christian doctrine with Neoplatonism. Augustine says. Additionally. He argues that skeptics have no basis for claiming to know that there is no knowledge. 3. 8. so. Early Years Manichean and Neoplatonist Period Conversion and Ordination Later Years Anti-Manicheanism and Pelagian Writings Activity Against Donatism Development of His Views Miscellaneous Works 1. In a proof for existence similar to one later made famous by René Descartes. 6.Augustine (354—430) St. with his belief that one’s life is predestined. He believes that time is not infinite because God ―created‖ it. He is famous for being an inimitable Catholic theologian and for his agnostic contributions to Western philosophy. Augustine believes reason to be a uniquely human cognitive capacity that comprehends deductive truths and logical necessity. Augustine tries to reconcile his beliefs about freewill. at the end he is pessimistic. Augustine adopts a subjective view of time and says that time is nothing in reality but exists only in the human mind’s apprehension of reality. Early Years .‖ Table of Contents 1. 2. and thinks that original sin makes human moral behavior nearly impossible: if it were not for the rare appearance of an accidental and undeserved Grace of God. especially the belief that humans are morally responsible for their actions. ―[Even] If I am mistaken. 5. Augustine’s theological discussion of freewill is relevant to a non-religious discussion regardless of the religious-specific language he uses. I am justified in believing that these bodies have a similar mental life to mine. humans could not be moral. Though initially optimistic about the ability of humans to behave morally. by analogy. I am. one can switch Augustine’s ―omnipotent being‖ and ―original sin‖ explanation of predestination for the present day ―biology‖ explanation of predestination.‖ He is the first Western philosopher to promote what has come to be called ―the argument by analogy‖ against solipsism: there are bodies external to mine that behave as I behave and that appear to be nourished as mine is nourished. 4.

He received his first education at Thagaste. Of Augustine as a boy his parents were intensely proud. he died at Hippo Regius (just south of the modern Bona) Aug. to the very day. 430. He was. not for humble submission to authority. it is true that (in company with comrades whose ideas of pleasure were probably much more gross than his) he drank of the cup of sensual pleasure. as well as the rudiments of Greek and Latin literature. he naturally regarded his whole life up to the ‖ conversion ‖ which led to his baptism as a period of wandering from the right way. entirely taken up with his worldly concerns. and unfriendly to Christianity until the close of his life. he sought for wisdom. proved a time of moral deterioration. from teachers who followed the old traditional pagan methods. 331. hot-tempered person. he judged differently. and Monnica seems to have received the child and his mother publicly at Thagaste. In any case Augustine was known to Carthage not as a roysterer but as a quiet honorable student. His son Adeodatus was born in the summer of 372. But his pride of intellect held him back from embracing it earnestly. To speak. in straitened circumstances. however. But though she was evidently an honorable. in proconsular Numidia. Her religion in earlier life has traces of formality and worldliness about it. internally dissatisfied with his life. and though enrolled among the catechumens. [Both Suk Arras and Bona are in the present Algeria. he learned to conceive of Christianity as the one religion which could lead him to the attainment of his ideal. This view of his early life. made a deep impression on him. But he remained faithful to her until about 385. the ancient Carthage. About the time when the contrast between his ideals and his actual life became intolerable. A year’s enforced idleness. He seems to have had no systematic instruction in the Christian faith at this period. and the second 65 m. of Tunis. It seems to have been through Ambrose and Augustine that she attained the mature personal piety with which she left the world. The Hortensius of Cicero. the Scriptures could not bear comparison with Cicero. To know the truth was henceforth his deepest wish. to read and write. . is probably nearer the truth than the popular conception of a youth sunk in all kinds of immorality. but we must be on our guard against forming our conception of Augustine’s vicious living from the Confessiones alone.] His father Patricius. He informs us himself that he was born at Thagaste (Tagaste. Nov. the turning point of his career in his taking up philosophy -in his nineteenth year. belonged to the influential classes of the place. and found. Even the Church was slow to condemn such unions absolutely. but not long after this conversion. and then to Carthage. as a member of the council. 13. 28. by s. d. in addition to the informality of its beginning and the possibility of a voluntary dissolution. such a monogamous union was distinguished from a formal marriage only by certain legal restrictions. w. sensual. some two days’ journey away. he was. and the grief which he felt at parting from her shows what the relation had been. In the view of the civilization of that period. but to have been a lively. learning. of ‖ frantic dissipation ‖ is to attach too much weight to his own penitent expressions of self-reproach. and it was probably the mother of this child whose charms enthralled him soon after his arrival at Carthage about the end of 370. the first 60 m. Looking back as a bishop. self-sacrificing. she was not always the ideal of a Christian mother that tradition has made her appear. But his ambition prevented him from allowing his dissipations to interfere with his studies. b. and seems to have had nothing remarkable either in mental equipment or in character. His father. as Mommsen does. not Monica. 354. To his mother Monnica (so the manuscripts write her name. from one point of view. as well as the first in whose case we are able to determine the exact period covered by his career. now lost with the exception of a few fragments. delighted with his son’s progress in his studies. her ambition for her son seems at first to have had little moral earnestness and she regretted his Manicheanism more than she did his early sensuality. sent him first to the neighboring Madaura. now Suk Arras). which may be traced also in the Confessiones. he became a catechumen shortly before Augustine reached his sixteenth year (369-370). while the means for this more expensive schooling were being accumulated.Augustine is the first ecclesiastical author the whole course of whose development can be clearly traced. W. loving. however. When he began the study of rhetoric at Carthage. 387) Augustine later believed that he owed what lie became. apparently was near baptism only when an illness and his own boyish desire made it temporarily probable. and able woman.

and remained in outward communion with his former associates while he pursued his search for truth. it would seem. with perfect freedom. Monnica deeply grieved at her son’s heresy. This was the least satisfactory stage in his mental development. and they held chastity and self-denial in honor. in answer to a request for a professor of rhetoric. however. he left Carthage for Rome. together with the death of a dear friend. he was formally betrothed to a woman of suitable station. partly. He listened to the preaching of Ambrose and by it was made acquainted with the allegorical interpretation of the Scriptures and the weakness of the Manichean Biblical criticism. His mind was still under the influence of the skeptical philosophy of the later Academy. but he was not yet ready to accept catholic Christianity. Soon after his Manichean convictions had broken down. to escape the preponderating influence of his mother on a mind which craved perfect freedom of investigation.2. the latter corresponded closely to his mood at the time. certainly before the beginning of 385. Its feeble cosmology and metaphysics had long since failed to satisfy him. scorned the sacraments of the Church. but when he came to Carthage in the autumn of 382. for the prefect Symmachus sent him to Milan. unwilling to lose him. ‖ Lord. As a catechumen of the Church. The members of the sect. had welcomed him in the friendliest manner both for his own and for Monnica’s sake. She comforted herself also by the word of a certain bishop (probably of Thagaste) that ―the child of so many tears could not be lost. into close association with Manicheans. now he agreed. The next period was a time of diligent study. without apparently being much hindered by the imperial edict against assemblies of the sect. he too proved disappointing. Here he was brought more than ever. Manichean and Neoplatonist Period In this frame of mind he was ready to be affected by the so-called ―Manichean propaganda‖ which was then actively carried on in Africa. The prayer which he tells us he had in his heart then. forbade him her house. during which he endeavored to convert all his friends. prevented him from taking a new concubine . Yet Augustine was attracted only by Ambrose’s eloquence. when the desire for a wider field.‖ He seems to have spent little more than a year in Thagaste. a prominent citizen who had been of much service to him since his father’s death. by obligations of friendship and gratitude. moved him to return to Carthage as a teacher of rhetoric. De pulchro et apto. Meanwhile the hold of Manicheanism on him was loosening. of whom there were many in Rome. The bishop. he had put away the mother of his son. had great hopes from a meeting with their leader Faustus of Mileve. though he held firmly to Manicheanism for nine years. not merely auditores but perfecti or fully initiated members. particularly the Old Testament. Two things especially attracted him to the Manicheans: they felt at liberty to criticize the Scriptures. who was as yet too young for marriage. On his betrothal. however. but he went no further. Among these Augustine was classed during his nineteenth year. and now he questioned. though his external circumstances were increasingly favorable. but neither the grief which he felt at this parting nor regard for his future wife. and the astrological superstitions springing from the credulity of its disciples offended his reason. The change of residence completed Augustine’s separation from Manicheanism. Having finished his studies. until reassured by a vision that promised his restoration. and Augustine ceased to be at heart a Manichean. He was not yet. and shared a house and garden with her and his devoted friends Alypius and Nebridius. long since lost. he returned to Thagaste and began to teach grammar. living in the house of Romanianus. The former fitted in with the impression which the Bible had made on Augustine himself. and whom he converted to Manicheanism. who had followed him to Milan. give me chastity and temperance. though as yet he knew nothing of Augustine’s internal struggles.‖ may be taken as the formula which represents the attitude of many of the Manichean auditores. prepared to put anything in the place of the doctrine he had held. He had his mother again with him now. but not now. and produced (about the end of 380) the treatise. he listened regularly to the sermons of Ambrose. his assured social position is shown also by the fact that. and held frequent disputations with catholic believers. in deference to his mother’s entreaties. not by his faith. This did not last long. Morally his life was perhaps at its lowest point.

and he was also writing on free will. and he still lectured on Vergil to them and held philosophic discussions. he told Romanian. living the same quiet life which he had led at Cassisiacum. began to pall upon him. seemed unworthy of him. His idealism was by no means dead. Then followed the scene so often described. is that his idealism had been distinctly strengthened by Neoplatonism. who came to Milan at this time on business. at Cassisiacum (Casciago. in company with his countryman Evodius. 3. ‖ Him that is weak in the faith receive ye. visited him and told him things which he had never heard about the monastic life and the wonderful conquests over self which had been won under its inspiration. with a few vehement words to Alypius. Augustine remained at least another year in Italy. he picked up the copy of St. while he with all his learning was still held captive by the flesh. Alypius. Conversion and Ordination Help came in a curious way. When Pontitianus had gone. n. and he was attracted to it also by its exposition of pure intellectual being and of the origin of evil.for the two intervening years. was baptized. though he did not yet grasp the full significance of its central doctrine of the personality of Jesus Christ. he went hastily with him into the garden to fight out this new problem. and Augustine was further off than ever from peace of mind. though this book was only finished at Hippo in 391. The idealistic character of this philosophy awoke unbounded enthusiasm. passing through Carthage. his literary warfare with them naturally began. which should live entirely for the pursuit of truth. not in chambering and wantonness. These doctrines brought him closer to the Church. This made the conflict between ideal and actual in his life more unbearable than ever. This was at the end of the summer of 386. The whole party returned to Milan before Easter (387). where he had been most closely associated with the Manicheans. and some of his pupils kept him company. In the autumn of 388. 47 m. gave up his position. with Alypius and Adeodatus. Alypius found a word for himself a few lines further. Sensuality. In his earlier writings he names this acquaintance with the Neoplatonic teaching and its relation to Christianity as the turning-point of his life. ‖ Take up and read. and has been described by her devoted son in one of the most tender and beautiful passages of the Confessiones. and Augustine. Overcome by his conflicting emotions he left Alypius and threw himself down under a figtree in tears.‖ It seemed to him a heavenly indication. In his thirty-first year he was strongly attracted to Neoplatonism by the logic of his development. which had at the same time revealed his own will. a far different man . as the subject of his baser desires. that the unlearned should take the kingdom of heaven by violence. by w. and not a natura altera in him. according to the early custom. were spent in delightful calm at a country-house. put at his disposal by one of his friends. as it may be established by a careful comparison of his earlier and later writings. later bishop of Uzalis. and wrote to Ambrose to ask for baptism. and his resolve was taken.‖ and together they went into the house to bring the good news to Monnica. With this project his intention of marriage and his ambition interfered.‖ it seemed to him that a decisive message had been sent to his own soul. he returned to Thagaste. which took place at Ostia as they were preparing to cross the sea. Plans were then made for returning to Africa. From a neighboring house came a child’s voice repeating again and again the simple words Tolle. Paul’s epistles which he had left where he and Alypius had been sitting. The truth. lege. Pontitianus. Augustine’s pride was touched. apparently in Rome. ‖ Let us walk honestly as in the day. studying and writing. When he came to the words. Yet his sensual desires were still so strong that it seemed impossible for him to break away from them. he intended to receive the sacrament. Here Monnica. little as he cared to struggle against it. but these were upset by the death of Monnica. not in rioting and drunkenness. of Alilan). Augustine. at which. that he wished he could live altogether in accordance with the dictates of philosophy. Here. A countryman of his. however. The months which intervened between that summer and the Easter of the following year. and o pened at Romans xiii. Adeodatus. and a plan was even made for the foundation of a community retired from the world. intent on breaking wholly with his old life.

bishop of Carthage. Full as the writings of this epoch are. in the works just named. Other details of this period are that he appealed to Aurelius. but he was still convinced that this was not the Church’s teaching. together with a stronger hold on the Church’s teaching. but it makes little difference. regeneration-a reader who is thoroughly acquainted with Neoplatonism will detect Augustine’s avid love of it in a Christian dress in not a few places. But Valerius carried his plan through. He knew some who saw in Romans ix an unconditional predestination which took away the freedom of the will. to suppress the custom of holding banquets and entertainments in the churches. he founded his monastery. and producing the treatises De utilitate credendi (391). About the beginning of 391. though not without misgivings on his own part. though possibly neither he nor Valerius knew that it might be held to be a violation of the eighth canon of Niema. which forbade in its last clause ‖ two bishops in one city ―. justification. he sold his inheritance. Megalius of Calama. seems to have raised difficulties which sprang at least partly from a personal lack of confidence. vocation. and Contra Adimantum (394 or 395). we do not know when or where. Alypius was still with him. but he is still more occupied with the Manicheans. He has entered so far into St. if left to itself.from the Augustine who had left it five years before. who died young. which. It is not known when Valerius died. which appears. predestination. The years which he spent in the presbyterate (391-395) are the last of his formative period. and was ordained presbyter in response to a general demand. and not long before Christmas. and also Adeodatus. However much we are here reminded of the later Augustine. and that after that he was in Carthage for a while. The plans for a monastic community which had brought him to Hippo were now realized. 393. Augustine was consecrated by Megalius. 395. There is little externally noteworthy in these four years. when we find him preaching to the candidates for baptism. Paul’s teaching that humanity as a whole appears to him a massa peccati or peccatorum. which seems to have been the first in Africa. and by 395 had succeeded. must inevitably perish. Augustine was strongly opposed to the project. His activity against the Donatists also begins in this period. perhaps in connection with the synod held there in 394. and desired to fix him permanently in Hippo by making him coadjutor-bishop. 4. life in common. in abolishing it in Hippo. through his courageous eloquence.-a desire in which the people ardently concurred. that is. Fortunatus. having found a friend in Hippo to help in the foundation of what he calls a monastery. such as his expositions of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. the more Valerius. and pursued their favorite studies. that his treatise De fide et symbols was prepared to be read before the council held at Hippo October 8. of Biblical phrases and terms. it is clear that he still held the belief that the free will of man could decide his own destiny. In a garden given for the purpose by the bishop. the bishop of Hippo. Valerius. Here Augustine and his friends again took up a quiet. and the primate of Numidia. though not yet in any sense a monastic. His opinion on this point did not change till after he was a bishop. De duabus animabus contra Manichaos (first half of 392). The more widely known Augustine became. both from the recollections of his own past and from his increasing knowledge of Scripture. principally concerned as they are with the Manichean controversy. and even more in others of this period. since for the rest of his life he left the administration more and more in . was afraid of losing him on the first vacancy of some neighboring see. however. without the grace of God. and is of especial significance because it maintained a clerical school and thus made a connecting link between monastics and the secular clergy. that in 392 a public disputation took place between him and a Manichean presbyter of Hippo. He took up active work not later than the Easter of 391.-grace and the law. The very earliest works which fall within the time of his episcopate show us the fully developed theologian of whose special teaching we think when we speak of Augustinianism. Later Years The intellectual interests of these four years are more easily determined.

Grace is rather the misericordia which displays itself in the divine inspiratio and justification is justum or pium fieri as a result of this. he was much more occupied with anti-Donatist polemics. 419. 418. 418. He himself names the beginning of his episcopate as the turning-point. To be sure. Anti-Manicheanism and Pelagian Writings His special and direct opposition to Manicheanism did not last a great while after his consecration. of those exegetical thoughts which he mentioned earlier as those of others and not his own. It has been thought that Augustine’s anti-Pelagian teaching grew out of his conception of the Church and its sacraments as a means of salvation. We may even say that this grace is an interne illuminatio such as a study of Augustine’s Neoplatonism enables us easily to understand. the letter of the Manichean Secundinus gave him occasion to write Contra Secundinum.the hands of his assistant. a Manichean bishop. he was laboring for the free choice of the will of man. the synod of Mileve. this is evident from the fact that the very definition of grace is non-Pauline. biographical interest must be largely our guide. which restores the connection with the . What we call Augustinianism was not a reaction against Pelagianism. In no other of his writings do we see as plainly the gradual attainment of conviction on any point. and so before he could have heard anything of Pelagius. numerous antiManichean expressions occur. but the grace of God won the day. 416. he is not clear as to the term ‖ election‖. 5. were not what they afterward came to be. in the De agone christiano. both now and later. he only attacked the Manicheans on some special occasion. and finally the consecration of Eraclius as his assistant in 426. about 400. Accordingly. which in their turn were forced to take second place by the emergence of the Pelagian controversy. in the first thing which he wrote after his consecration. About 397 he wrote a tractate Contra epistolam [Manichcet] quam vocant fundamenti. But the new trend was given to them before the time of his anti-Donatist activity. So completely was it won. not the misericordia peccata condonans of the Reformers. the disputation with the Manichean Felix at Hippo in 404. It is determined by no reference to the question of infant baptism — still less by any considerations connected with the conception of the Church. with the help. and in the Confessiones. It is true that much of his later teaching is still undeveloped here. and attention was called to the fact that before the Pelagian controversy this aspect of the Church had. at which. he was certainly present. Paul alone can not explain this doctrine of grace. as he himself says in the Retractationes. that we might set forth the specifically Augustinian teaching on grace. the De diversis gucestionibus ad Simplicianum (396 or 397). Grace is for Augustine. the journey to Caesarea in Mauretania and the disputation with the Donatist bishop there. however. he regarded as the best of his writings on this subject. The impulse comes directly from Scripture. a little later. it would be much truer to say that the latter was a reaction against Augustine’s views. by a series of quotations taken wholly from this treatise. in spite of its comparative brevity. as justification is not the alteration of the relation to God accomplished by means of the accipere remissionem. through the struggle with the Donatists. 411. the African general council at Carthage. In the succeeding period. written about the same time. assumed special importance in his mind. After this. and nothing is said of the ‖ gift of perseverance.‖ he wrote a detailed rejoinder to Faustus. as against the Pelagians and the Massilians. and in what remains to be said.‖ But what we get on these points later is nothing but the logical consequence of that which is expressed here. the question of predestination (though the word is used) does not really come up. as at those still to be mentioned. freedom and predestination. also. another general council in Carthage. it is true. we come already upon the new conception. which. the eleventh synod of Carthage in 407. and so we have the actual genesis of Augustine’s predestinarian teaching under our eyes. a little later. But this conception should be denied. We know a considerable number of events in Augustine’s episcopal life which can be surely placed-the so-called third and eighth synods of Carthage in 397 and 403. Space forbids any attempt to trace events of his later life. on the request of his ―brethren. or made the treatise De natura boni out of his discussions with Felix. the conference with the Donatists in Carthage. It is quite true that in 395 Augustine’s views on sin and grace. as when.

He had long been convinced that ‖ not only the greatest but also the smallest good things can not be. could proceed from the operation of God alone. solicited but not caused by vocation. Honorius issued a new and severer edict against them. it is held (in accordance with the definition of grace) that justification follows upon the infitsio caritatis. . which proved the beginning of the end for the schism. but never afterward left him. such as the terms ‖ election. De unico baptismio (about 410 or 411). Contra epistulam Petiliani. but space for bids us to show this here. but the employment of force in matters of belief brought up a new point of discord between the two sides. and was obliged to defend himself against a libelous attack on their part in a rejoinder now lost.‖ and also more logically. and after his consecration he took part directly or indirectly in all the important discussions of the matter. as the part taken in this controversy by Augustine is so fully detailed elsewhere. When these laws were abrogated (409).‖ ‖ the gift of perseverance. the bitterness on both sides increased. After the Carthaginian synod of 403 had made preparations for a decisive debate with the Donatists. drawing the human will to God with a divine omnipotence. the Donatists proving insubordinate. and if. Of course this Neoplatonic coloring must not be exaggerated. per fidem gratiam accipiens. under imperial authority. Those which we still have are: Contra Cresconium grammaticum (about 406). The conflict was now reaching its most acute stage. except from him from whom are all good things. From the years 401 and 402 we have the reply to the Donatist bishop of Cirta. Activity Against Donatism In order to arrive at a decision as to what influence the Donatist controversy had upon Augustine’s intellectual development. has been lost.‖ and it might well seem to him to follow from this that faith. with Augustine and Aurelius of Carthage as the chief representatives of the Catholic cause. If faith depends upon an action of our own. the plan of a joint conference was tried once more in June. but four of these are lost. we are in a position to estimate the force of a difficulty which now confronted Augustine for the first time. from God.‖ ‖ predestination. The first of these which belongs to the period of his episcopate. approach nearer to that of caritas. We have seen that even before he was a bishop he was defending the catholic Church against the Donatists. -then either the conception of the faith which is God-inspired must pass its fluctuating boundaries and. With this knowledge. and which has been present in the Roman Catholic teaching even down to the Councils of Trent and the Vatican. it can only save a man when. about 400 he wrote the two cognate treatises Contra epistulam Parmeniani (the Donatist bishop of Carthage) and De baptismo contra Donatistas. and there were eight formal treatises. he becomes one who not merely believes in God but loves him also. and also the Epistula ad catholicos de unitate ecclesioe. Augustine’s anti-Pelagian writings set forth this doctrine of grace more clearly in some points. in answer to a work of the same name by Petilian.divinebonum esse. or the conception of faith which is unconnected with caritas will render the fact of its inspiration unintelligible and justification by faith impossible. This explains the idea that grace works like a law of nature. it is necessary to see how long and how intensely he was concerned with it. Honorius granted the request. the brief report of the conference (end of 411). For these years from 405 to 412 we have twenty-one extant letters of Augustine’s bearing on the controversy. that is. some of which have been already mentioned. Contra partem Donati. while the Scripture speaks of justification by faith. and defended the cause of the Church in letters and sermons as well as in his more formal polemical writings. and theLiber contra Donatistas post collationem (probably 412). But if faith has been already inspired by grace. and the latter had declined to fall in with the plan. 6. it is more consistent with itself in his earlier writings than in the later. In the following year. 411. He was considered by the schismatics as their chief antagonist. Another synod at Carthage the following year decided that the emperor should be asked for penal laws against the Donatists. nearly 300 bishops being present from each side. which is certainly a good thing. and he would never have arrived at his predestinarian teaching without the New Testament.

however. and as such worked continually deeper into the ecclesiastical habit of thought. 8. His position as a bishop may fairly be said to be the only determining factor in his later views besides his Neoplatonist foundation. he had the Penitential Psalms placed upon the wall of his room where he could see them. but later came to the ‖ Compel them to come in ‖ point of view. useful for a study of the difference between the Augustinian and the Lutheran doctrines of grace. We come now to the four works which have deserved placing in a special category. and practical treatises. We see him.7. ought not to leave the world without fitting thoughts of penitence. he fell ill of a fever and. important as giving his theory of scriptural interpretation and homiletics. interesting for its connection with the history of catechetical instruction and for many other reasons. 26. those written after 395 and named in the Retractationes. his mental force shows scarcely a sign of age at seventy. De cura pro mortuis. he had at first been opposed to the employment of force. caritas. De bono conjugali and De sancta virginitate (about 401). noteworthy as an attempt at a systematic collocation . he fulfilled what he had often said before. even presbyters. and a separate class containing four more extensive works of special importance. minor dogmatic. and the predestinarian conception of grace which he got from this. and inspiratio gratice in the Church. Everything else is merely secondary. One is the De doctrina christiana (begun about 397. 426. though without consecrating him bishop. he solemnly designated Eraclius (or Heraclius) as his successor.. and transferred to him such a portion of his duties as was possible. if th e practical struggle with the schismatics had as much to do with Augustine’s development as has been supposed. they are: De opera monachorum (about 400).‖ In the third month of the siege of Hippo by the barbarian invaders. after lingering more than ten days. thoughts which again trace their origin back to his Neoplatonic foundations. finished 426). in fact. while the on-rushing Vandals were at the gates. His health was uncertain after 386. What he did was to formulate them with more dogmatic precision. the Biblical and ecclesiastical coloring of his thoughts becomes more and more visible and even vivid. both directed against Jovinian’s depreciation of virginity. his earnest study of the Scripture. Meditating upon them. A brief enumeration of the others will suffice. had either appeared in the anti-Donatist polemics before his time or had been part of his own earlier belief. He was able to read on his sick-bed. Far more weight must be attached to the fact that Augustine had become a presbyter and a bishop of the catholic Church. De fide et operibus (413). and his body aged before the time. In the course of the conflict he changed his opinion about the methods to be employed. died Aug. another is the Enchiridion de fide. spe. But his intellectual vigor remained unabated to the end. 430. as Prosper depicts him in his chronicle. and a few others of less interest. De deviation damonum (between 406 and 411). that even Christians revered for the sanctity of their lives. in a simpler form. and to permeate the ordinary controversial theses with his own deep thoughts on unitas. but such development as this is no more significant than the effect of the years seen upon a strong face. 28. The principles which he represented in this conflict are merely those which. This was not hard for the son of Monnica and the reverent admirer of Ambrose. may be classified under three heads-exegetical works. ‖ answering the books of Julian in the very end of his days. it is even less observable herefor while the characteristic features of his spiritual mind stand out more sharply as time goes on with Augustine. on Sept. polemical. interesting as showing his attitude toward superstition within the Church. Thus we find Augustine practically complete by the beginning of his episcopate-about the time when he wrote the Confessiones. Development of His Views The earliest of the extant works against the Donatists present the same views of the Church and its sacraments which Augustine developed later. et caritate (about 421). and gloriously persevering in the defense of Christian grace. The earliest of the minor treatises is De catechizandis rudibus (about 400). It would be too much to say that his development stood still after that. It may well be doubted. a completion of the argument in the De spiritu et litera. Miscellaneous Works Of works not yet mentioned.

beginning with an apologetic purpose. There remain the two doctrinal masterpieces. The lastnamed.of his thoughts. takes on later the form of a history of the City of God from its beginnings. . finished about 426). the De trinitate(probably begun about 400 and finished about 416) and the De civitate Dei (begun about 413.

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