Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian; August 28

The prophet says, "Come out from among them, and touch no unclean thing," [Isaiah 52:11]. I also cry out and say to you, "Come out from among them, and touch not the unclean thing," but with the touch of the heart, not of the body. For what is it to "touch the unclean thing" but to consent to sin? And what is it to "come out from among them" but to rebuke the wicked, as far as can be done, according to each person’s grade and condition, with the maintenance of peace? If you are displeased at a man’s sin, then you have not "touched the unclean thing." If you have reproved, rebuked, admonished him, and have administered, if the case required it, a suitable discipline that does not violate unity, then you have "come out from among them." . . .

How many and vehement rebukes did Jeremiah preach against the sinners and wicked ones of his people. Yet he lived among them, he entered into the same temple with them, celebrated the same mysteries; he lived in that congregation of wicked men, but by his preaching "he came out from among them." This is what it means "to come out from among them"; this is what it means to not "touch the unclean thing." It means not consenting to them in will and not sparing them in word. I say this of Jeremiah, of Isaiah, of Daniel, and Ezekiel, and the rest of the prophets, who did not retire from the wicked people, lest they should desert the good who were mingled with that people.

—Augustine of Hippo

Augustine was one of the greatest of the Latin Church Fathers and a significant influence in the formation of Western Christianity, including Lutheranism. Born in AD 354 in North Africa, Augustine’s early life was distinguished by exceptional advancement as a teacher of rhetoric. In his book Confessions he describes his life before his conversion to Christianity, when he was drawn into the moral laxity of the day and fathered an illegitimate son. Through the devotion of his sainted mother, Monica, and the preaching of Ambrose, bishop of Milan (AD 339-97), Augustine was converted to the Christian faith. During the great Pelagian controversies of the fifth century, Augustine emphasized the unilateral grace of God in the salvation of mankind. Bishop and theologian at Hippo in North Africa from AD 395 until his death in AD 430, Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to Confessions, Augustine’s book City of God had a great impact upon the Church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Prayer

O Lord God, the light of the minds that know You, the life of the souls that love You, and the strength of the hearts that serve You, give us strength to follow the example of Your servant Augustine of Hippo, so that knowing You we may truly love You and loving You we may fully serve You—for to serve You is perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Published in: on August 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm  Comments (1)  

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