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THE Author has a few words to say to his readers as to what they are to look for and what they are not to look for in this Memoir.
Some two years ago, his attention was called to the fact that no attempt had yet been made --at least in this country—either to exhibit the great Church-father in his daily outer and inner life, or to estimate the extraordinary influence which his voluminous writings exercised, for so many centuries, upon the Church of Christ. And he was asked to make an effort to supply this want.
After a careful study of the subject he was impressed with the conviction that the first thing to be done was to gather together into a single portraiture the various features of the MAN, as these were to be found scattered up and down different books and documents, and also were to be detected in his Letters, and especially in his well-known Confessions.
It has been God's uniform method, in effecting any great revival in His Church, to prepare the human instrument by a protracted process of discipline. In the desert of Horeb, the future chief of Israel was trained for forty years. In the lonely nights with his "few sheep,” the slayer of Goliath had proved, against "the lion and the bear," the virtue of the Divine panoply. He who enquired, “Lord ! what wouldst thou have me to do?" was shewni “how great things he must suffer.” In a later age, the man who gave to Europe a revived theology and a restored Church, lived out the heavenly life in the cell at Erfurth and in the chamber at Coburg and in the lowly home at Wittemberg. And, if ever it might be said of a man that the central point of his system of faith had previously been elaborated as the · central point of his personal life, that man was St. Augustine.
It is this great fact which gives to the strug
gles and the victories of his hidden life an interest and a value so transcendant. Like the author of the "Pilgrim's Progress," he first lived the Christian doctrine—then taught it. "The life," he used to say, "must precede the conception; the latter can only come out of the former."
This, too, invested with such authority the teachings of this great Church-father. It was not a poor, shrivelled, lifeless theology which he taught, but "the things which he had seen and heard.” And he had heard them, not at the lips of human teachers, but at the feet of the life-giving Saviour. He knew what it was to sit there as a guilty and helpless yet freely! forgiven sinner; and so (as Neander justly observes) all that Christ taught him was regarded as infallible truth, which required no other confirmation.
Augustine was not a monk, though he lived in a monkish age. He was a warm-hearted, loving, genial man,—turning his own wheel and the wheels of others with energy,
“Guiding souls to God, and multiplying himself for
Hence it comes to pass that the good in all ages have instinctively drawn to him. And hence it is so desirable that a simple photograph of him should be placed within the reach of all. Such is the distinctive and specific aim of this volume; and the Author will feel amply compensated for his labour in preparing it, if it stir in any bosoms—especially among his brethren in the ministry—an intenser longing after holiness and a tenderer yearning over souls.
A recent commentator* on his writings has caught, with his wonted sagacity, Augustine's leading characteristic-an unquenched and unquenchable thirst for the Word. This was his safeguard in his own dark age; and this it is which surrounds with such freshness and such lifelikeness all his words still.
If at times his noble mien wear some traces of the entouraget of his age, they are the spots in the bright luminary, not the luminary itself. The light in which he lived shone too direct from
O Dean Trench.
+ What the Americans, more expressively than elegantly, call “surroundings."