The present volume consists of seventeen short works of St. Augustine, all taken from the Vlth volume of the Benedictine Edition, except the last, which was inserted from the VITIth volume as connected in some degree with several of the others, and important in itself. The first and last may be classed together as relating to the general principles of evidence in Religion, and the last but one with some of the earlier ones, as going over the Creed with a particular exposition. There is of course some repetition of matter in the several expositions of the Creed, but it was thought worth while to put them together, both in order to give a more complete view of his teaching, and in order to shew how much of it was based on the Creed, and how it was used by the Christians of that time. The Treatise on Catechizing the Unlearned is remarkable as a specimen of the times, besides its great value in shewing what was thought the most needful instruction, and giving hints for conveying it, for which purpose it should be compared with the Sermon to the Catechumens. That on Faith and Works is very clear on its own main subject, maintaining that the faith which saves is the Faith of grace, which implies Love. It also contains a remarkable discussion on the state of souls awaiting the Judgment, from which it appears that the doctrine of a Purgatory was then held by some, but doubted by St. Augustine. A similar doubt appears in his view of the interference of departed Saints in human affairs, which however he considers established as a fact in some cases, though the manner iv PREFACE.
of it is very doubtful, and not easily to be gathered from appearances, which he shews to be deceptive with respect to living persons.
The Treatises on Continence, Marriage, Virginity, and Widowhood, together give a tolerably complete view of his teaching on an important subject, and one which has given occasion to many attacks upon the Fathers of the Church. Much of what has been said against them will appear at once on reading these to be mere misrepresentation, while on some points there may be fair room for difference of opinion. It is impossible to go over such ground without offending modern delicacy, but it is probably really safer to venture on it by the side of St Augustine, than with many of those who would blame him.
The Treatise on Lying is, as he says, difficult, from its having the arguments on both sides drawn out, and his own judgment reserved for the end. It is necessary to remark this, as single extracts on one side might give a false impression of his doctrine, which is as strict as possible against lying in Christians, especially in any matter of Faith and Religion. He makes allowance for heathens, and persons in any less perfect state, when their intention is good. The argument is clearer in the work ' against Lying,' where the objections are not put as if in his own mouth, and where a dangerous position taken up by others had roused him to speak somewhat vehemently.
The treatise' on the Work of Monks' refers to the question, whether manual labour is to be expected of them. The argument turns chiefly on certain passages of Scripture, which, without mentioning the exact case, contain principles applicable to it. He decides in the affirmative. It is interesting as shewing something of the state of Monachism at that early period in Africa. Cassian and Palladins must however be consulted by any one who wishes to know the state of it in Egypt, where it had long flourished.
The principles stated in the Treatise 'on the Profit of Believing,' with respect to the authority of the Church, compared with the constant appeal to the Holy Scriptures in the rest of the works, and the manner in which those appeal* are made, shew how perfectly consistent he considereth the free use of Holy Scripture to be with the deference due to Ecclesiastical Tradition, and how many interesting points even his enquiring mind was content to leave uncertain.
The publication has been delayed some little time by the Index, which would have kept it back longer but for the kind assistance of two friends. The first ten treatises, and the last, are translated by the Rev. C. L. Cornish, M.A. of Exeter College, Oxford; and the remaining six by the Rev. H. Browne, M.A. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, late Principal of the Diocesan College, Chichester.
Several new volumes are in the press, to be brought out in the coming year; the third and last of St. Gregory's Morals on Job, the first of St. Augustine on the Psalms, St. Chrysostom on the second Epistle to the Corinthians. The third and last volume of St. Chrysostom on St. Matthew, and the Acta Martyrum from the Collection of Ruinart, are in immediate preparation for the press.