Life of Augustine--Part I, continued
THE LIFE OF AURELIUS AUGUSTINUS--St. Augustine
Part I-- His Life-- A Continuation
The Fourth in A Series of Articles
Augustineís earnest search for the salvation of his soul was the direct result of God having begun to work in his heart. This search lately has been in the epistles of Paul. And on this particular day, he has conversed with a Christian general named Ponticianus, who has told him of two companions who, out strolling, had come upon a hermitís hut and into which they had ventured. Here these two had found a short biography of the monk, Anthony, which had so gripped them, they renounced their military commissions to become the followers of Christ.
Augustine has been so overcome by this account he has rushed outside into the garden. Here, the chant of a child in a neighboring house to "Take up and read!" has been to him the voice of God. This renegade youth has been strangely sensible to his utter worthlessness of his life, and the desperate condition of soul. "Thou, my Lord, how long yet? 0 Lord, how long yet be angry? Remember not the sins of my youth! How long? How long? Tomorrow, and again tomorrow? Why not today? Why not now? Why not in this hour put an end to my shame?" so he had cried.
At the chant of the child, Augustine has hurried to the spot where he had left his scroll on Romans, as well as to his poor friend Alypius. Upon opening the book his eyes had fallen upon the 13th and 14th verses of the 13th chapter: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."
"MUZZLE NOT THE OX"
Text: Deuteronomy 25:4ó
"Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."
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"The LOT is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord."--Proverbs 16:33
It is best we allow Augustine to tell us in his own words the incident that followed:
"No further would I read, nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
He hurried to tell his mother, yet his influence, which had been far-reaching, and which had resulted in many students coming to Milan to sit under his teaching, haunted him. He would be held responsible for them, and thus it was that he wasted no time in relating to them his newfound salvation. The year was 386 A.D. He was 33 years of age, and so he penned, "I have loved Thee, too late! whose beauty is as old as eternity, and yet so new; I have loved Thee too late!"
The succeeding year, he returned to Rome. His mother, Monica, now 56 years of age, became ill. "Son, what has befallen me? Nothing has any more charms for me in this life. What I am yet to do here, and why I am here, I do not know, every hope of this world being now consummated. Once there was a reason why I should live longer, that I might see you a believing Christian before I die. God has now richly granted me this beyond measure, in permitting me to see you in His service, having totally abandoned the world. What yet have I to do here?"
Augustine returned to his home in North Africa. Here he sold his inheritance left him by his father, and gave all to the poor excepting his own necessary fare. He lived modestly on the rest and because of his earlier life of lust, he entertained a very strict conduct toward women. His equally strict observance of prayer and Bible study became a rule of conduct in many monasteries which followed Augustineís pattern of dividing the day into three parts each consisting of 8 hours. The first--he devoted to prayer and to the study of the Word of God; the second 8 hours, he devoted to practical Christianity such as deeds of love and mercy, and the remaining 8 hours were filled with all necessities of life as eating, sleeping, and all other necessary duties. And one day 1200 years later, Martin Luther, a reformer, will emerge from the "Augustinian order" of monkery.
In 430, the Vandals laid siege to the city of Hippo. Augustine lay sick of a fever. For the past ten days, he has been reading the Penitential Psalms and praying. He is 76 years of age. His mind is still keen in his death, which occurs now before the city of Hippo is lost to these invading marauders, and indeed all of North Africa will fall. So in Godís perfect time, Augustineís life ebbs from his body.
He leaves no inheritance except his books, which he leaves to the church, but he dies rich in the mercy of God!
IN THE NEXT EDITION: Part II -- His Influence
Jesus, and shall it ever be, a mortal man ashamed of Thee? Ashamed of Thee, whom angels praise, Whose glories shine through endless days?
Ashamed of Jesus! Sooner far let evening blush to own a star; He sheds the beams of light divine oíer this benighted soul of mine.
Ashamed of Jesus! Just as soon let midnight be ashamed of noon; íTis midnight with my soul till He, Bright Morning-Star bid darkness flee.
Ashamed of Jesus! That dear Friend on whom my hopes of Heaven depend!No, when I blush, be this my shame, that I no more revere His name.
Ashamed of Jesus! Yes, I may, when Iíve no guilt to wash away; No tear to wipe, no good to crave, no fears to quell, no soul to save.
Till then, nor is my boasting vain, till then I boast a Saviour slain; And O, may this my glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me!