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under Numidian jurisdiction, precursors of the Anglicans who live there now under the rule of Queen Victoria and her so-called Bishop of Gibraltar. But of his magnificent praises of the Catholic Church, her wonderful unity, her divine authority, the deadly sin of schism or voluntary separation from her communion, and like themes, on which so earnestly, so fondly, so frequently, he loves to dwell, not one word of reference! The “Catholic Church," indeed, is quoted once, but whether the reference be meant as a joke or a sneer, is not so clear. We find “Catholic Church, the," Vol. I., pp. 411-415 (of Clarke's Edinburgh edition, pp. 388–390 edition of Buffalo), where the saint speaks of having altered his views as to the policy of allowing the Donatists to practise their religion and by their immoral conduct to defy the civil and criminal law of the empire with impunity! Indeed, the true spirit of the index-maker would have been honestly and truthfully disclosed to the reader had he labelled his item “Catholic Church, the; essentially and on principle a persecuting church," pp. 388-390. His animus would seem yet more clearly revealed further on in another heading, where the same pages are quoted, “ Persecution, later views of Augustin on, pp. 388–390."
There is, speaking of the same Index, another heading which is, to say the least, reprehensible for its ambiguity. Under the word “ Feast” we read: “ Feasts in honour of martyrs, censured, pp. 239 -241; abolished at Hippo, 253–256." Now, since feast, in English, may mean two things, festival or banquet, the addition of the words,“ in honor of the martyrs,” would rather incline the reader to think that festivals were meant. But this would be a serious mistake. It was not the festivals instituted in honor of the martyrs that St. Augustine and the Church of Hippo condemned, for he extols such commemoration of the martyrs as good and useful. It was the banquets given on those days in the cemeteries, which in their beginnings were commendable enough, being intended to honor the Saints by almsgiving to the poor, but which, by degrees, degenerated into scenes of unseemly revel and riot—that were censured and abolished at Hippo. As long as they did honor to the martyrs, they were retained and respected. It was only when they became a dishonor and insult to God's Saints that these excesses were denounced and condemned by St. Augustine and his fellow bishops. He himself says distinctly' that what was sinful and unworthy was abolished, while the commemoration of the martyrs, which was “a pious and honorable act of religious service,” was retained. Rev. Mr. Cunningham was indebted to the Maurine editors for the reference, and
1 Ep. xxii., ad Aurelium, & 6.
they use St. Augustine's own word, convivia.' They speak, too, of the banquets being given, not "in honor of the martyrs,” but on the "anniversary of their martyrdom," or, as the Church loves to call it, their birthday. Hence, it would have been fairer to use plain English, that would admit of no misconstruction. We make no charge of bad faith against the Rev. compiler, or index-maker, for he may be innocent of evil intent. We only mention it to show that a Catholic is not without reason cautious, suspicious, and even, like the Tyrian Queen, omnia tuta timens, when he sees the wonderful way in which our books, whether Scripture, Holy Fathers, or even petty devotional treatises, are edited, interpreted, annotated, and nicely indexed, too, si superis placet, by those outside of the Church.
Another blemish in the translation of St. Augustine's Letters, and one that applies to the subsequent volumes likewise, is the wilful perversion of his Biblical nomenclature. He is made by his translators to say, Melchizedec, Zion, Zephaniah, Hagar, Terah, Tobit, Haggai, Elisha, and the like, instead of what he did say, viz., Sion, Melchisedec, Sophonias, Thare, etc. In other words, the translator has taken upon himself to correct the spelling of the Saint, or rather of the Septuagint whom he closely follows, by the standard of the English Protestant Old Testament. Even if the heterodox spelling were correct, which no amount of learning can ever prove it to be, it would still be taking an unwarrantable liberty with the Saint's text, and wholly indefensible on philological grounds. The translators of King James had faithfully respected the Greek form of names preserved by the New Testament; and it was only the late Revisers who, with unpardonable presumption, attempted to teach the Apostles and Evangelists that they had erred in not spelling by the infallible rule of King James's translation from the Hebrew. It is unjust to any writer to correct his spelling without being able to substitute something better; and most of the time it is unwise and improper for philological reasons. Rosenmüller is more than once guilty of this inaccuracy in transcribing, with direct quotation and inverted commas, portions of St. Jerome's commentaries on the Sacred Books. He puts under the Saint's pen more than once the letters z and tz where the great Doctor had used sharp s. For this is invariably the way in which this most learned of interpreters is accustomed to transliterate the Hebrew letter Ssade.
The second volume of the Buffalo edition contains the famous twenty-two books on the City of God (“De Civitate Dei"), the
They use also, what is more expressive, epulæ. See Index in Maurine ed, under the words Convivia and Martyres.
· Convivia in natalitiis martyrum.
noblest and most comprehensive apology ever yet written on behalf of the Church, which in Augustine's mind is identical with Christianity. It is a magnificent Philosophy of History, as far above the modern infidel or anti-Catholic works that pretend to the name as the sun is above the clouds and mists that seek to darken his brightness. And never can history be worthily written, never can it be a mirror of the truth, the guide and light of life, unless the historian keep ever before his eyes the lofty views and great principles that Augustine followed in developing the history of the two rival cities, Jerusalem and Babylon, the two hostile kingdoms upon earth of God and of the world. And the Christian believer will find there refuted in advance all the vain sophistry with which the Church is daily assailed by those who cry out that she is a hindrance to the temporal prosperity of nations, that it is only by casting aside her doctrines and maxims that a people can be elevated and enlightened, that progress is proportionate to the decrease of her rule, and that perfect independence of her control is essential to the life and well-being of the nations. No impartial, Christian-minded student of the Saint can fail to see that those "emancipated " nations who have flung off their allegiance to Christ's Church might as well bow down at once in undisguised homage before Jupiter, Mars and Venus. For what is symbolized by these false gods is the true object of their new worship. And their nominal profession (should they retain it) of faith in Christ and His Gospel is only a mask under which they hide their hearty allegiance to the earthly city of Babylon.
The volume closes with the Saint's treatise on Christian Doctrine, a work that has been highly esteemed in every age of the Church. Bossuet says of it somewhere that there is no book in Catholic antiquity that contains in a condensed form more valuable rules and helps for the elucidation of Scripture than this treatise of St. Augustine. The translator is the Rev. I. F. Shaw. No suggestion of ours would be likely to find approval from the translators or editors. But we have an opinion, and may express a hope. We think the books of St. Augustine and the other Fathers do not need much glossing. In matters of pure erudition note and comment would not be out of place. But to ascertain their doctrinal views is very easy, and no commentary is needed, especially when experience shows that "explanatory notes," even if not so intended, have the practical result of confusing, hiding and darkening, rather than elucidating the meaning of the authors. Let then rely a little more on the good sense of the reader, and give us the text, as they profess to do with Scripture, without note or comment.
Lest any one should think there is here some exaggeration, we will give (out of hundreds) an example or two to illustrate those
generally useless, and often silly, attempts to explain the holy Father's meaning, where no explanation was needed; and where, if one be offered, it has every appearance of being offered with the sole view of bewildering the reader, of “throwing dust in his eyes,” as the vulgar but very significant phrase has it, of carefully hindering him from getting to know what the Father really meant. It has a very uncharitable look to be always suspecting that under every word lurks fraud and design. But we cannot help it. There is an inexorable logic of facts, in the presence of which Christian charity loses all her resources, and must yield the contest. She may weep, but she can utter no word of defence. She is stricken dumb by the sentence of her own divine Master: "ex fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos ” (Matth. vii).
In a note to the Buffalo edition' we have an elaborate attempt to explain away, or rather divest of all meaning, the pious hope and entreaty of St. Monica on her death-bed, that she should be unceasingly remembered at God's Altar by her family and friends, in other words, at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There was no word of explanation needed here. It was what Monica had learned in infancy from her catechism, and what every pious mother in the Catholic Church might or does actually repeat on her death-bed at this day in any part of the world. She was perfectly understood by Augustine and his weeping friends, just as the same request would be understood by the Catholic Christian nowadays in Ostia (where she uttered it), in Algiers, in Rome, in New York or Washington. She had lived a holy life, but the scales of divine justice are above our comprehension. She may have had her imperfections, and they can only be cleansed by the prayers of the Church, and above all by the Adorable Sacrifice of the Altar. But this teaching, known to every Catholic child, as well as to St. Augustine, must be kept from the view of the “intelligent" evangelical reader. He might suspect that the saint was bearing witness, not only to the faith of the fourth no less than of the nineteenth century, but also to the doctrine of Christ and His Apostles in the New Testament.
Hence the note begins by gravely informing us that the origin of prayers for the dead dates back, probably, to the close of the second century; that they were originally expressions of hope, and became gradually supplications and prayers, degenerating even into prayers for the unregenerate, until at last there was developed purgatory on one side and creature worship on the other. But Augustine did not believe in creature worship (see his Letter to Maximus). In the Church of England prayers for the dead were wisely eliminated from the Prayer Book, because praying for the dead implies a belief in Purgatory.
1 Vol. i., p. 141.
? “ Wheresoever you may be.”
This is the substance of the Note, which we have faithfully condensed. Who wrote it, matters little. It seems to be an improvement by Rev. Mr. Pilkington on a previous note of Rev. Mr. Watts, the Calvinist divine who translated and edited St. Augustine's Confessions in the first half of the seventeenth century. But whoever wrote it, Dr. Pusey and Dr. Schaff are just as responsible as if they were the writers. What connection is there between the note and the text? Is the reader enabled any better to understand the pious request of Monica and its fulfilment by Augustine, when he is told that prayers for the dead began at such a date or were thrust out of the Anglican Prayer Book for fear they might lead incautious Protestants to believe in Purgatory? The only question that can interest the reader is this: Did Monica and Augustine think the dead were helped by the prayers of the faithful and especially by the Holy Sacrifice, and did they say so? If not, let the note disprove it.
And then the gratuitous information that Augustine did not believe in creature-worship! Who ever accused him of it? Did any Catholic, or Protestant either, to the knowledge of Dr. Pusey or Dr. Schaff, ever make such a charge against the Saint? It was rather unfortunate to quote St. Augustine's letter to Maximus,' because from it we learn that the accusation of creature-worship was actually brought against St. Augustine and the Church of his day. And by whom? By Pagans, because they invoked the saints and martyrs, honored their memory and their relics, in a word, for the very same reason that makes heresy at this day charge creatureworship on the Council of Trent and the great world of Catholic believers. When will these good men learn that their accusations against the Catholic Church have not even the poor merit of originality, and that they are nothing more than an idle repetition of the stale calumnies invented against Christianity by the old worshippers of Jove and Bacchus? It does not require a very profound study of the Fathers to discover that there is scarcely-we will not say an argument—but even a lying sneer or jibe directed by the present heretical world against our sacraments, rites and moral teaching, that does not find its counterpart in the wicked insinuations and calumnies of dead Paganism. In the very letter of Maximus, to which St. Augustine replies, there is heathen ridicule of a holy martyr because of his odd name, Namphanion; and the very cant name of “dead men,” by which Protestants love to call our Saints, seems to have been taught them by this Pagan scoffer. Our
1 Ep. xvii., ad Maximum Madaurensem.