Augustin: Letters 235


(a.d. 418).

To Boniface,1422 My Noble Lord and Justly Distinguished and Honourable Son, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I had already written a reply to your Charity, but while I was waiting for an opportunity of forwarding the letter, my beloved son Faustus arrived here on his way to your Excellency. After he had received the letter which I had intended to be carried by him to your Benevolence, he stated to me that you were very desirous that I should write you something which might build you up unto the eternal salvation of which you have hope in Christ Jesus our Lord. And, although I was busily occupied at the time, he insisted, with an earnestness corresponding to the love which, as you know, he bears to you, that I should do this without delay. To meet his convenience, therefore, as he was in haste to depart, I thought it better to write, though necessarily without much time for reflection, rather than put off the gratification of your pious desire, my noble lord and justly distinguished and honourable son.

2. All is contained in these brief sentences: “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength: and love thy neighbour as thyself;”1423 for these are the words in which the Lord, when on earth, gave an epitome of religion, saying in the gospel, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Daily advance, then, in this love, both by praying and by well-doing, that through the help of Him, who enjoined it on you, and whose gift it is, it may be nourished and increased, until, being perfected, it render you perfect. “For this is the love which,” as the apostle says, “is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.”1424 This is “the fulfilling of the law;”1425 this is the same love by which faith works, of which he says again, “Neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith, which worketh by love.”1426

3. In this love, then, all our holy fathers, patriarchs, prophets, and apostles pleased God. In this all true martyrs contended against the devil even to the shedding of blood, and because in them it neither waxed cold nor failed, they became conquerors. In this all true believers daily make progress, seeking to acquire not an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of heaven; not a temporal, but an eternal inheritance; not gold and silver, but the incorruptible riches of the angels; not the good things of this life, which are enjoyed with trembling, and which no one can take with him when he dies, but the vision of God, whose grace and power of imparting felicity transcend all beauty of form in bodies not only on earth but also in heaven, transcend all spiritual loveliness in men, however just and holy, transcend all the glory of the angels and powers of the world above, transcend not only all that language can express, but all that thought can imagine concerning Him. And let us not despair of the fulfilment of such a great promise because it is exceeding great, but rather believe that we shall receive it because He who has promised it is exceeding great, as the blessed Apostle Jn says: “Now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”1427

4. Do not think that it is impossible for any one to please God while engaged in active military service. Among such persons was the holy David, to whom God gave so great a testimony; among them also were many righteous men of that time; among them was also that centurion who said to the Lord: “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed: for I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it;” and concerning whom the Lord said: “Verily, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”1428 Among them was that Cornelius to whom an angel said: “Cornelius, thine alms are accepted, and thy prayers are heard,”1429 when he directed him to send to the blessed Apostle Peter, and to hear from him what he ought to do, to which apostle he sent a devout soldier, requesting him to come to him. Among them were also the soldiers who, when they had come to be baptized by John,—the sacred forerunner of the Lord, and the friend of the Bridegroom, of whom the Lord says: “Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than Jn the Baptist,”1430 —and had inquired of him what they should do, received the answer, “Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.”1431 Certainly he did not prohibit them to serve as soldiers when he commanded them to be content with their pay for the service.

5. They occupy indeed a higher place before God who, abandoning all these secular employments, serve Him with the strictest chastity; but “every one,” as the apostle says, “hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.”1432 Some, then, in praying for you, fight against your invisible enemies; you, in fighting for them, contend against the barbarians, their visible enemies. Would that one faith existed in all, for then there would be less weary struggling, and the devil with his angels would be more easily conquered; but since it is necessary in this life that the citizens of the kingdom of heaven should be subjected to temptations among erring and impious men, that they may be exercised, and “tried as gold in the furnace,”1433 we ought not before the appointed time to desire to live with those alone who are holy and righteous, so that, by patience, we may deserve to receive this blessedness in its proper time.

6. Think, then, of this first of all, when you are arming for the battle, that even your bodily strength is a gift of God; for, considering this, you will not employ the gift of God against God. For, when faith is pledged, it is to be kept even with the enemy against whom the war is waged, how much more with the friend for whom the battle is fought! Peace should be the object of your desire; war should be waged only as a necessity, and waged only that God may by it deliver men from the necessity and preserve them in peace. For peace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained. Therefore, even in waging war, cherish the spirit of a peacemaker, that, by conquering those whom you attack, you may lead them back to the advantages of peace; for our Lord says: “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.”1434 If, however, peace among men be so sweet as procuring temporal safety, how much sweeter is that peace with God which procures for men the eternal felicity of the angels! Let necessity, therefore, and not your will, slay the enemy who fights against you. As violence is used towards him who rebels and resists, so mercy is due to the vanquished or the captive, especially in the case in which future troubling of the peace is not to be feared.

7. Let the manner of your life be adorned by chastity, sobriety, and moderation; for it is exceedingly disgraceful that lust should subdue him whom man finds invincible, and that wine should overpower him whom the sword assails in vain. As to worldly riches, if you do not possess them, let them not be sought after on earth by doing evil; and if you possess them, let them by good works be laid up in heaven. The manly and Christian spirit ought neither to be elated by the accession, nor crushed by the loss of this world’s treasures. Let us rather think of what the Lord says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also;”1435 and certainly, when we hear the exhortation to lift up our hearts, it is our duty to give unfeignedly the response which you know that we are accustomed to give.1436

236 8. In these things, indeed, I know that you are very careful, and the good report which I hear of you fills me with great delight, and moves me to congratulate you on account of it in the Lord. This letter, therefore, may serve rather as a mirror in which you may see what you are, than as a directory from which to learn what you ought to be: nevertheless, whatever you may discover, either from this letter or from the Holy Scriptures, to be still wanting to you in regard to a holy life, persevere in urgently seeking it both by effort and by prayer; and for the things which you have, give thanks to God as the Fountain of goodness, whence you have received them; in every good action let the glory be given to God, and humility be exercised by you, for, as it is written, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.”1437 But however much you may advance in the love of God and of your neighbour, and in true piety, do not imagine, as long as you are in this life, that you are without sin, for concerning this we read in Holy Scripture: “Is not the life of man upon earth a life of temptation?”1438 Wherefore, since always, as long as you are in this body, it is necessary for you to say in prayer, as the Lord taught us: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,”1439 remember quickly to forgive, if any one shall do you wrong and shall ask pardon from you, that you may be able to pray sincerely, and may prevail in seeking pardon for your own sins.

These things, my beloved friend, I have written to you in haste, as the anxiety of the bearer to depart urged me not to detain him; but I thank God that I have in some measure complied with your pious wish. May the mercy of God ever protect you, my noble lord and justly distinguished son.

Letter CXCI.

(a.d. 418).

To My Venerable Lord and Pious Brother and Co-Presbyter Sixtus,1440 Worthy of Being Received in the Love of Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Since the arrival of the letter which, in my absence, your Grace forwarded by our holy brother the presbyter Firmus, and which I read on my return to Hippo, but not until after the bearer had departed, the present is my first opportunity of sending to you any reply, and it is with great pleasure that I entrust it to our very dearly beloved son, the acolyte Albinus. Your letter, addressed to Alypius and myself jointly, came at a time when we were not together, and this is the reason why you will now receive a letter from each of us, instead of one from both, in reply. For the bearer of this letter has just gone, meanwhile, from me to visit my venerable brother and co-bishop Alypius, who will write a reply for himself to your Holiness, and he has carried with him your letter, which I had already perused. As to the great joy with which that letter filled my heart, why should a man attempt to say what it is impossible to express? Indeed, I do not think that you yourself have any adequate idea of the amount of good done by your sending that letter to us; but take our word for it, for as you bear witness to your feelings, so do we bear witness to ours, declaring how profoundly we have been moved by the perfectly transparent soundness of the views declared in that letter. For if, when you sent a very short letter on the same subject to the most blessed aged Aurelius, by the acolyte Leo, we transcribed it with joyful alacrity, and read it with enthusiastic interest to all who were within our reach, as an exposition of your sentiments, both in regard to that most fatal dogma [of Pelagius], and in regard to the grace of God freely given by Him to small and great, to which that dogma is diametrically opposed; how great, think you, is the joy with which we have read this more extended statement in your writing, how great the zeal with which we take care that it be read by all to whom we have been able already or may yet be able to make it known! For what could be read or heard with greater satisfaction than so clear a defence of the grace of God against its enemies, from the mouth of one who was before this proudly claimed by these enemies as a mighty supporter of their cause?1441 Or is there anything for which we ought to give more abundant thanksgivings to God, than that His grace is so ably defended by those to whom it is given, against those to whom it is not given, or by whom, when given, it is not accepted, because in the secret and just judgment of God the disposition to accept it is not given to them?

2. Wherefore, my venerable lord, and holy brother worthy of being received in the love of Christ, although you render a most excellent service when you thus write on this subject to brethren before whom the adversaries are wont to boast themselves of your being their friend, nevertheless, there remains upon you the yet greater duty of seeing not only that those be punished with wholesome severity who dare to prate more openly their declaration of that error, most dangerously hostile to the Christian name, but also that with pastoral vigilance, on behalf of the weaker and simpler sheep of the Lord, most strenuous precautions be used against those who more covertly, indeed, and timidly, but perseveringly, and in whispers, as it were, teach this error, “creeping into houses,” as the apostle says, and doing with practised impiety all those other things which are mentioned immediately afterwards in that passage.1442 Nor ought those to be overlooked who under the restraint of fear hide their sentiments under the most profound silence, yet have not ceased to cherish the same perverse opinions as before. For some of their party might be known to you before that pestilence was denounced by the most explicit condemnation of the apostolic see, whom you perceive to have now become suddenly silent; nor can it be ascertained whether they have been really cured of it, otherwise than through their not only forbearing from the utterance of these false dogmas, but also defending the truths which are opposed to their former errors with the same zeal as they used to show on the other side. These are, however, to be more gently dealt with; for what need is there for causing further terror to those whom their silence itself proves to be sufficiently terrified already? At the same time, though they should not be frightened, they should be taught; and in my opinion they may more easily, while their fear of severity assists the teacher of the truth, be so taught that by the Lord’s help, after they have learned to understand and love His grace, they may speak out as antagonists of the error which meanwhile they dare not confess.

Letter CXCII.

(a.d. 418).

To My Venerable Lord and Highly Esteemed and Holy Brother, Caelestine,1443 Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I was at a considerable distance from home when the letter of your Holiness addressed to me at Hippo arrived by the hands of the clerk Projectus. When I had returned home, and, having read your letter, felt myself to be owing you a reply, I was still waiting for some means of communicating with you, when, lo! a most desirable opportunity presented itself in the departure of our very dear brother the acolyte Albinus, who leaves us immediately. Rejoicing, therefore, in your health, which is most earnestly desired by me, I return to your Holiness the salutation which I was owing. But I always owe you love, the only debt which, even when it has been paid, holds him who has paid it a debtor still. For it is given when it is paid, but it is owing even after it has been given, for there is no time at which it ceases to be due. Nor when it is given is it lost, but it is rather multiplied by giving it; for in possessing it, not in parting with it, it is given. And since it cannot be given unless it is possessed, so neither can it be possessed unless it is given; nay, at the very time when it is given by a man it increases in that man, and, according to the number of persons to whom it is given, the amount of it which is gained becomes greater. Moreover, how can that be denied to friends which is due even to enemies? To enemies, however, this debt is paid with caution, whereas to friends it is repaid with confidence. Nevertheless, it uses every effort to secure that it receives back what it gives, even in the case of those to whom it renders good for evil. For we wish to have as a friend the man whom, as an enemy, we truly love, for we do not sincerely love him unless we wish him to be good, which he cannot be until he be delivered from the sin of cherished enmities.

237 2. Love, therefore, is not paid away in the same manner as money; for, whereas money is diminished, love is increased by paying it away. They differ also in this,—that we give evidence of greater goodwill to the man to whom we may have given money if we do not seek to have it returned; but no one can be a true donor of love unless he lovingly insist on its repayment. For money, when it is received, accrues to him to whom it is given, but forsakes him by whom it is given; love, on the contrary, even when it is not repaid, nevertheless increases with the man who insists on its repayment by the person whom he loves; and not only so, but the person by whom it is returned to him does not begin to possess it till he pays it back again.

Wherefore, my lord and brother, I willingly give to you, and joyfully receive from you, the love which we owe to each other. The love which I receive I still claim, and the love which I give I still owe. For we ought to obey with docility the precept of the One Master, whose disciples we both profess to be, when He says to us by His apostle: “Owe no man anything, but to love one another.”1444

Letter CXCV.

(a.d. 418).

To His Holy Lord and Most Blessed Father,1445 Augustin, Jerome Sends Greeting.

At all times I have esteemed your Blessedness with becoming reverence and honour, and have loved the Lord and Saviour dwelling in you. But now we add, if possible, something to that which has already reached a climax, and we heap up what was already full, so that we do not suffer a single hour to pass without the mention of your name, because you have, with the ardour of unshaken faith, stood your ground against opposing storms, and preferred, so far as this was in your power, to be delivered from Sodom, though you should come forth alone, rather than linger behind with those who are doomed to perish. Your wisdom apprehends what I mean to say. Go on and prosper! You are renowned throughout the whole world; Catholics revere and look up to you as the restorer of the ancient faith, and—which is a token of yet more illustrious glory—all heretics abhor you. They persecute me also with equal hatred, seeking by imprecation to take away the life which they cannot reach with the sword. May the mercy of Christ the Lord preserve you in safety and mindful of me, my venerable lord and most blessed father.”1446

Letter CCI.

(a.d. 419).

The Emperors Honorius Augustus and Theodosius Augustus to Bishop Aurelius Send Greeting.

1. It had been indeed long ago decreed that Pelagius and Celestius, the authors of an execrable heresy, should, as pestilent corruptors of the Catholic truth, be expelled from the city of Rome, lest they should, by their baneful influence, pervert the minds of the ignorant. In this our clemency followed up the judgment of your Holiness, according to which it is beyond all question that they were unanimously condemned after an impartial examination of their opinions. Their obstinate persistence in the offence having, however, made it necessary to issue the decree a second time, we have enacted further by a recent edict, that if any one, knowing that they are concealing themselves in any part of the provinces, shall delay either to drive them out or to inform on them, he, as an accomplice, shall be liable to the punishment prescribed.

2. To secure, however, the combined efforts of the Christian zeal of all men for the destruction of this preposterous heresy, it will be proper, most dearly beloved father, that the authority of your Holiness be applied to the correction of certain bishops, who either support the evil reasonings of these men by their silent consent, or abstain from assailing them with open opposition. Let your Reverence, then, by suitable writings, cause all bishops to be admonished (as soon as they shall know, by the order of your Holiness, that this order is laid upon them) that whoever shall, through impious obstinacy, neglect to vindicate the purity of their doctrine by subscribing the condemnation of the persons before mentioned, shall, after being punished by the loss of their episcopal office, be cut off by excommunication and banished for life from their sees. For as, by a sincere confession of the truth, we ourselves, in obedience to the Council of Nice, worship God as the Creator of all things, and as the Fountain of our imperial sovereignty, your Holiness will not suffer the members of this odious sect, inventing, to the injury of religion, notions new and strange, to hide in writings privately circulated an error condemned by public authority. For, most beloved and loving father, the guilt of heresy is in no degree less grievous in those who either by dissimulation lend the error their secret support, or by abstaining from denouncing it extend to it a fatal approbation.

238 (In another hand.) May the Divinity preserve you in safety for many years!

Given at Ravenna, on the 9th day of June, in the Consulship of Monaxius and Plinta.

A letter, in the same terms, was also sent to the holy Bishop Augustin.

Letter CCII.

(a.d. 419).

To the Bishops Alypius and Augustin, My Lords Truly Holy, and Deservedly Loved and Reverenced, Jerome Sends Greeting in Christ.1447

Chap. I.

1. The holy presbyter Innocentius, who is the bearer of this letter, did not last year take with him a letter from me to your Eminences, as he had no expectation of returning to Africa. We thank God, however, that it so happened, as it afforded you an opportunity of overcoming [evil with good in requiting] our silence by your letter. Every opportunity of writing to you, revered fathers, is most acceptable to me. I call God to witness that, if it were possible, I would take the wings of a dove and fly to be folded in your embrace. Loving you, indeed, as I have always done, from a deep sense of your worth, but now especially because your co-operation and your leadership have succeeded in strangling the heresy of Celestius, a heresy which has so poisoned the hearts of many, that, though they felt they were vanquished and condemned, yet they did not lay aside their venomous sentiments, and, as the only thing that remained in their power, hated us by whom they imagined that they had lost the liberty of teaching heretical doctrines.

Chap. II.

2. As to your inquiry whether I have written in opposition to the books of Annianus, this pretended deacon1448 of Celedae, who is amply provided for in order that he may furnish frivolous accounts of the blasphemies of others, know that I received these books, sent in loose sheets by our holy brother, the presbyter Eusebius, not long ago. Since then I have suffered so much through the attacks of disease, and through the falling asleep of your distinguished and holy daughter Eustochium, that I almost thought of passing over these writings with silent contempt. For he flounders from beginning to end in the same mud, and, with the exception of some jingling phrases which are not original, says nothing he had not said before. Nevertheless, I have gained much in the fact, that in attempting to answer my letter he has declared his opinions with less reserve, and has published to all men his blasphemies; for every error which he disowned in the wretched synod of Diospolis he in this treatise openly avows. It is indeed no great thing to answer his superlatively silly puerilities, but if the Lord spare me, and I have a sufficient staff of amanuenses, I will in a few brief lucubrations answer him, not to refute a defunct heresy, but to silence his ignorance and blasphemy by arguments: and this your Holiness could do better than I, as you would relieve me from the necessity of praising my own works in writing to the heretic. Our holy daughters Albina and Melania, and our son Pinianus, salute you cordially. I give to our holy presbyter Innocentius this short letter to convey to you from the holy place Bethlehem. Your niece Paula piteously entreats you to remember her, and salutes you warmly. May the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve you safe and mindful of me, my lords truly holy, and fathers deservedly loved and reverenced.

Letter CCIII.

(a.d. 420).

239 To My Noble Lord and Most Excellent and Loving Son, Largus, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

I received the letter of your Excellency, in which you ask me to write to you. This assuredly you would not have done unless you had esteemed acceptable and pleasant that which you suppose me capable of writing to you. other words, I assume that, having desired the vanities of this life when you had not tried them, now, after the trial has been made, you despise them, because in them the pleasure is deceitful, the labour fruitless, the anxiety perpetual, the elevation dangerous. Men seek them at first through imprudence, and give them up at last with disappointment and remorse. This is true of all the things which, in the cares of this mortal life, are coveted with more eagerness than wisdom by the uneasy solicitude of the men of the world. But it is wholly otherwise with the hope of the pious: very different is the fruit of their labours, very different the reward of their dangers. Fear and grief, and labour and danger are unavoidable, so long as we live in this world; but the great question is, for what cause, with what expectation, with what aim a man endures these things. When, indeed, I contemplate the lovers of this world, I know not at what time wisdom can most opportunely attempt their moral improvement; for when they have apparent prosperity, they reject disdainfully her salutary admonitions, and regard them as old wives fables; when, again, they are in adversity, they think rather of escaping merely from present suffering than of obtaining the real remedy by which they may be made whole, and may arrive at that place where they shall be altogether exempt from suffering. Occasionally, however, some open their ears and hearts to the truth,—rarely in prosperity, more frequently in adversity. These are indeed the few, for such it is predicted that they shall be. Among these I desire you to be, because I love you truly, my noble lord and most excellent and loving son. Let this counsel be my answer to your letter, because though I am unwilling that you should henceforth suffer such things as you have endured, yet I would grieve still more if you were found to have suffered these things without any change for the better in your life.

Letter CCVIII.

(a.d. 423).

To the Lady Felicia, His Daughter in the Faith, and Worthy of Honour Among the Members of Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I do not doubt, when I consider both your faith and the weakness or wickedness of others, that your mind has been disturbed, for even a holy apostle, full of compassionate love, confesses a similiar experience, saying, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?”1449 Wherefore, as I myself share your pain, and am solicitous for your welfare in Christ, I have thought it my duty to address this letter, partly consolatory, partly hortatory, to your Holiness, because in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, in which all His members are one, you are very closely related to us, being loved as an honourable member in that body, and partaking with us of life in His Holy Spirit.

2. I exhort you, therefore, not to be too much troubled by those offences which for this very reason were foretold as destined to come, that when they came we might remember that they had been foretold, and not be greatly disconcerted by them. For the Lord Himself in His gospel foretold them, saying, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh!”1450 These are the men of whom the apostle said, “They seek their own, not the things that are Jesus Christ’s.”1451 There are, therefore, some who hold the honourable office of shepherds in order that they may provide for the flock of Christ; others occupy that position that they may enjoy the temporal honours and secular advantages connected with the office. It must needs happen that these two kinds of pastors, some dying, others succeeding them, should continue in the Catholic Church even to the end of time, and the judgment of the Lord. If, then, in the times of the apostles there were men such that Paul, grieved by their conduct, enumerates among his trials, “perils among false brethren,”1452 and yet he did not haughtily cast them out, but patiently bore with them, how much more must such arise in our times, since the Lord most plainly says concerning this age which is drawing to a close, “that because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold.”1453 The word which follows, however, ought to console and exhort us, for He adds, “He that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.”

3. Moreover, as there are good shepherds and bad shepherds, so also in flocks there are good and bad. The good are represented by the name of sheep, but the bad are called goats: they feed, nevertheless, side by side in the same pastures, until the Chief Shepherd, who is called the One Shepherd, shall come and separate them one from another according to His promise, “as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats.” On us He has laid the duty of gathering the flock; to Himself He has reserved the work of final separation, because it pertains properly to Him who cannot err. For those presumptuous servants, who have lightly ventured to separate before the time which the Lord has reserved in His own hand, have, instead of separating others, only been separated themselves from Catholic unity; for how could those have a clean flock who have by schism become unclean?

4. In order, therefore, that we may remain in the unity of the faith, and not, stumbling at the offences occasioned by the chaff, desert the threshing-floor of the Lord, but rather remain as wheat till the final winnowing,1454 and by the love which imparts stability to us bear with the beaten straw our great Shepherd in the gospel admonishes us concerning the good shepherds, that we should not, on account of their good works. place our hope in them, but glorify our heavenly Father for making them such; and concerning the bad shepherds (whom He designed to point out under the name of Scribes and Pharisees), He reminds us that they teach that which is good though they do that which is evil.1455

5. Concerning the good shepherds He thus speaks: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”1456 Concerning the bad shepherds He admonishes the sheep in these words: “The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do. not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.”1457 When these are listened to, the sheep of Christ, even through evil teachers, hear His voice, and do not forsake the unity of His flock, because the good which they hear them teach belongs not to the shepherds but to Him, and therefore the sheep are safely fed, since even under bad shepherds they are nourished in the Lord’s pastures. They do not, however, imitate the actions of the bad shepherds, because such actions belong not to the world but to the shepherds themselves. In regard, however, to those whom they see to be good shepherds, they not only hear the good things which they teach, but also imitate the good actions which they perform. Of this number was the apostle, who said: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”1458 He was a light kindled by the Eternal Light, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and was placed on a candlestick because He gloried in His cross, concerning which he said: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1459 Moreover, since he sought not his own things, but the things which are Jesus Christ’s, whilst he exhorts to the imitation of his own life those whom he had “begotten through the gospel,”1460 he yet severely reproved those who, by the names of apostles, introduced schisms, and he chides those who said, “I am of Paul; was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”1461

6. Hence we understand both that the good shepherds are those who seek not their own, but the things of Jesus Christ, and that the good sheep, though imitating the works of the good shepherds by whose ministry they have been gathered together, do not place their hope in them, but rather in the Lord, by Whose blood they are redeemed; so that when they may happen to be placed under bad shepherds, preaching Christ’s doctrine and doing their own evil works, they will do what they teach, but will not do what they do, and will not, on account of these sons of wickedness, forsake the pastures of the one true Church. For there are both good and bad in the Catholic Church, which, unlike the Donatist sect, is extended and spread abroad, not in Africa only, but through all nations; as the apostle expresses it, “bringing forth fruit, and increasing in the whole world.”1462 But those who are separated from the Church, as long as they are opposed to it cannot be good; although an apparently praiseworthy conversation seems to prove some of them to be good, their separation from the Church itself renders them bad, according to the saying of the Lord: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.”1463

Augustin: Letters 235