Against "The Roaring Lions"
One day (this was soon after he became bishop) Augustin went to visit a Catholic farmer in the suburbs of Hippo, whose daughter had been lessoned by the Donatists, and had just enrolled herself among their consecrated virgins. The father at first had shouted at the deserter, and flogged her unmercifully by way of improving her state of mind. Augustin, when he heard of the affair, condemned the farmer's brutality and declared that he would never receive the girl back into the community unless she came of her own free will. He then went out to the place to try and settle the matter. On the way, as he was crossing an estate which belonged to a Catholic matron, he fell in with a priest of the Donatist Church at Hippo. The priest at once began to insult him and his companions, and yelled:

"Down with the traitors! Down with the persecutors!"

And he vomited out abominations against the matron herself who owned the land. As much from prudence as from Christian charity, Augustin did not answer. He even prevented those with him from falling upon the insulter.

Incidents of this kind happened almost every day. About the same time, the Donatists of Hippo made a great noise over the rebaptizing of another apostate from the Catholic community. This was a good-for-nothing loafer who beat his old mother, and the bishop severely rebuked his monstrous conduct.

"Well, as you talk in that tone of voice," said the loafer, "I'm going to be a Donatist."

Through bravado, he continued to ill-treat the poor old woman, and to make the worst kind of threats. He roared in savage fury:

"Yes, I'll become a Donatist, and I'll have your blood."

And the young ruffian did really go over to the Donatist party. In accordance with the custom among the heretics, he was solemnly rebaptized in their basilica, and he exhibited himself on the platform clad in the white robe of the purified. People in Hippo were much shocked. Augustin, full of indignation, addressed his protests to Proculeianus, the Donatist bishop. "What! is this man, all bloody with a murder in his conscience, to walk about for eight days in white robes as a model of innocence and purity?" But Proculeianus did not condescend to reply.

These cynical proceedings were trifling compared to the vexations which the Donatists daily inflicted on their opponents. Not only did they tamper with Augustin's people, but the country dwellers of the Catholic Church were continually interfered with on their lands, pillaged, ravaged, and burned out by mobs of fanatical brigands who organized a rule of terror from one end of Numidia to the other. Supported in secret by the Donatists, they called themselves "the Athletes of Christ." The Catholics had given them the contemptuous name of "Circoncelliones," or prowlers around cellars, because they generally plundered cellars and grain-houses. Troops of fanaticized and hysterical women rambled round with them, scouring the country like your true bacchantes, clawing the unfortunate wretches who fell into their hands, burning farms and harvests, broaching barrels of wine and oil, and crowning these exploits by orgies with "the Athletes of Christ." When they saw a haystack blazing in the fields, the country-folk were panic-stricken -- the "Circoncelliones" were not far off. Soon they appeared, brandishing their clubs and bellowing their war cry: Deo laudes! -- "Praise be to God." "Your shout," said Augustin to them, "is more dreaded by our people than the roaring of lions."

Something had to be done to quell these furious monsters, and to resist the encroachments and forcible acts of the heretics. These, by way of frightening the Catholic bishops, told them roundly:

"We don't want any of your disputes, and we are going to rebaptize just as it suits us. We are going to lay snares for your sheep and to rend them like wolves. As for you, if you are good shepherds, keep quiet!"

Augustin was not a man to keep quiet, nor yet to spend his strength in small local quarrels. He saw big; he did not imprison himself within the limits of his diocese. He knew that Numidia and a good part of Africa were in the hands of the Donatists; that they had a rival primate to the Catholic primate at Carthage; that they had even sent a Pope of their community to Rome. In a word, they were in the majority. Everywhere a dissenting Church rose above the orthodox Church, when it did not succeed in stifling it altogether. At all costs the progress of this sect must be stopped. In Augustin's eyes there was no more urgent work. For him and his flock it was a question of insuring their lives, since they were attacked even in their fields and houses. From the moment he first came to Hippo, as a simple priest, he had thrown himself intrepidly into this struggle. He never ceased till Donatism was conquered and trampled underfoot. To establish peace and Catholic unity everywhere was the great labour of his episcopate.

Who, then, were these terrible Donatists whom we have been continually striking against since the beginning of this history?

It would soon be a century since they had been disturbing and desolating Africa. Just after the great persecution of Diocletian, the sect was born, and it increased with amazing rapidity. During this persecution, evidence had not been wanting of the moral slackness in the African Church. A large number of lay people apostatized, and a good number of bishops and priests handed over to the pagan authorities, besides the devotional objects, the Scriptures and the muniments of their communities. In Numidia, and especially at Constantine, scandalous scenes took place. The cowardice of the clergy was lamentable. Public opinion branded with the names of traditors, or traitors, those who had weakened and given over the sacred books to the pagans.

The danger once over, the Numidians, whose behaviour had been so little brilliant, determined to redeem themselves by audacity, and to prove with superb impudence that they had been braver than the others. So they set themselves to shout traditor against whoever displeased them, and particularly against those of Carthage and the Proconsulate. At bottom it was the old rivalry between the two Africas, East and West.

Under the reign of Constantine a peace had been patched up, when it fell out that a new Bishop of Carthage had to be elected, and the Archdeacon Caecilianus, whose name was put forward, was accused of preventing the faithful from visiting the martyrs in their prisons. The zealots contended that in collusion with his bishop, Mensurius, he had given up the Holy Scriptures to the Roman authorities to be burned. The election promised to be stormy. The supporters of the Archdeacon, who feared the hostility of the Numidian bishops, did not wait for their arrival. They hurried things over. Caecilianus was elected and consecrated by three bishops of the district, of whom one was a certain Felix of Abthugni.

At once the opposite clan, backed up by the Numidians, objected. At their head was a wealthy Spanish woman named Lucilla, an unbalanced devotee, who, it seemed, always carried about her person a bone of a martyr, and a doubtful one at that. She would ostentatiously kiss her relic before receiving the Eucharist. The Archdeacon Caecilianus forbade this devotion as superstitious, and thus made a relentless enemy of the fanatical Spaniard. All the former accusations were renewed against him, and it was added that Felix of Abthugni, who had consecrated him, was a traditor. Hence the election was void, by the single fact of the unworthiness of the consecrating bishops. Lucilla, having bribed a section of the bishops assembled in council, Caecilianus was deposed, and the deacon Majorinus elected in his room. He himself was soon after succeeded by Donatus, an active, clever, and energetic man, who organized resistance so ably, and who represented so well the spirit of the sect, that he left it his name. Henceforth, Donatism enters into history.

But Caecilianus had on his side the bishops overseas and the Imperial Government. The Pope of Rome and the Emperor recognized him as legitimately elected. Besides that, he cleared himself of all the grievances urged against him. Finally, an inquiry, conducted by laymen, proved that Felix of Abthugni was not a traditor. The Donatists appealed to Constantine, then to two Councils convoked successively at Rome and Arles. Everywhere they were condemned. Moreover, the Council of Arles declared that the character of him who confers the Sacraments has no influence whatever on their validity. Thus, baptism and ordination, even conferred by a traditor, were canonically sound.

This decision was regarded as an abominable heresy by the Donatists. As a matter of fact, there was an old African tradition, accepted by St. Cyprian himself, that an unworthy priest could not administer the Sacraments. The local prejudice would not yield: all were rebaptized who had been baptized by the Catholics -- that is to say, by the supporters of the traditors.

The theological question was complicated with a question of property which was all but insoluble. Since the Donatist bishops were resolved to separate from the Catholic communion, did they mean to give up, with their title, their basilicas and the property belonging to their churches? Supposing that they themselves were disinterested, they had behind them the crowd of clients and land-tillers who got their living out of the Church, and dwelt on Church property. Never would these people allow a rival party to alter the direction of the charities, to plant themselves in their fields and their gourbis, to expel them from their cemeteries and basilicas. Other reasons, still deeper perhaps, induced the Donatists to persevere in the schism. These religious dissensions were agreeable to that old spirit of division which at all times has been the evil genius of Africa. The Africans have always felt the need of segregating themselves from one another in hostile cofs. They hate each other from one village to another -- for nothing, just, for the pleasure of hating and felling each other to the ground.

At bottom, here is what Donatism really was: It was an extra sharp attack of African individualism. These rebels brought in nothing new in dogma. They would not even have been heretics without their claim to rebaptize. They limited themselves to retain a position gained long ago; to keep their churches and properties, or to seize those of the Catholics upon the pretence that they were themselves the legitimate owners. With that, they affected a respect for tradition, an austerity in morals and discipline, which made them perfect puritans. Yes, they were the pure, the irreconcilables, who alone had not bent before the Roman officials. All this was very pleasing to the discontented and quarrelsome, and caressed the popular instinct in its tendency to particularism.

That is why the sect became, little by little, mistress of almost the whole country. Then it subdivided, crumbled up into little churches which excommunicated each other. In Southern Numidia, the citadels of orthodox Donatism, so to speak, were Thimgad and Bagai. Carthage, with its primate, was the official centre. But in the Byzacena and Tripolitana Regio, there were the Maximianists, and the Rogatists in Mauretania, who had cut themselves off from the Great Church. These divisions of the schism corresponded closely enough to the natural compartments of North Africa. There must be some incompatibility of temper between these various regions. To this day, Algiers prides itself on not thinking like Constantine, which does not think like Bona or like Tunis.

Are we to see in Donatism a nationalist or separatist movement directed against the Roman occupation? That would be to transport quite modern ideas into antiquity. No more in Augustin's time than in our own was there such a thing as African nationality. But if the sectaries had no least thought of separating from Rome, it is none the less true that they were in rebellion against her representatives, temporal as well as spiritual. Supposing that Rome had yielded to them -- an impossible event, of course -- that would have meant a surrender to the claims of Africans who wished to be masters of their property as well as of their religious beliefs in their own country. What more could they have wanted? It little mattered to them who was the nominal master, provided that they had the realities of government in their hands. Altogether, Donatism is a regionalist revindication, very strongly characterized. It is a remarkable fact that it was among the indigenous population, ignorant of Latin, that the most of its adherents were recruited.

* * * * *

Such was the position of the Church in Africa when Augustin was named Bishop of Hippo. He judged it at once, with his clear-sightedness, his strong good sense, his broad outlook of a Roman citizen freed from the smallnesses of a local spirit, his Christian idealism which took no heed of the accidents or considerations of worldly prosperity. What! was Catholicism to become an African religion, a restricted sect, wretchedly tied to the letter of tradition, to the exterior practices of worship? To reign in a little corner of the world -- did Christ die for that? Never! Christ died for the wide world. The only limits of His Church are the limits of the universe. And besides, in this resolution to exclude, what becomes of the great principle of Charity? It is by charity, above all, that we are Christians. Faith without love is a faith stagnant and dead....

Augustin also foresaw the consequences of spiritual separation; he had them already under his eyes. The Church is the great spring, not only of love, but of intelligence. Once cut away from this reviving spring, Donatism would become dry and stunted like a branch stripped from a tree. The deep sense of its dogmas would become impoverished as its works emptied themselves of the spirit of charity. Obstinacy, narrowness, lack of understanding, fanaticism, and cruelty -- there you had the inevitable fruits of schism. Augustin knew the rudeness and ignorance of his opponents, even of the most cultivated among them: he might well ask himself in anguish what would become of the African Church deprived of the benefit of Roman culture, isolated from the great intellectual current which united all the churches beyond seas. Finally, he knew his fellow-countrymen; he knew that the Donatists, even victorious, even sole masters of the land, would turn against themselves the fury they now satisfied against the Catholics, and never stop tearing each other in pieces. Here was now nearly a hundred years that they had kept Africa in fire and blood. This meant before very long a return to barbarism. Separated from Catholicism, they would really separate from the Empire and even from civilization. And so it was that in fighting for Catholic unity, Augustin fought for the Empire and for civilization.

Confronted with these barbarians and sectaries, his attitude could not be doubtful for a single moment. He must do his best to bring them back to the Church. It was only a matter of hitting upon the most effectual means.

Preaching, for an orator such as he was, should be an excellent weapon. His eloquence, his dialectic, his profane and sacred learning, gave him an immense superiority over the defenders of the opposite side. He certainly kept in the Church many Catholics who were ready to apostatize. But before the crowd of schismatics, all these high gifts were as good as lost. The people were in no wise anxious to know upon which side truth was to be found. They were Donatists, as they were Numidians or Carthaginians, without knowing why -- because everybody about them was. Many might have answered like that grammarian of Constantine, who told the Inquisitors with astute simplicity:

"I am a professor of Roman literature, a teacher of Latin grammar. My father was a decurion at Constantine; my grandfather was a soldier and had served in the guard. Our family is of Moorish blood.... As for me, I am quite ignorant about the origin of the schism: I am just one of the ordinary faithful of the people called Christians. When I was at Carthage, Bishop Secundus came there one day. I heard tell that they found out that Bishop Caecilianus had been ordained irregularly by I don't know who, and they elected another bishop against him. That's how the schism began at Carthage. I have no means of knowing much about the origin of the schism, because there has never been more than one church in our city. If there has been a schism here, we know nothing about it."

When a grammarian talked thus, what could have been the thoughts of agricultural labourers, city workmen, and slaves? They belonged to an estate, or a quarter of a town, where no other faith than theirs had ever been professed. They were Donatists like their employers, like their neighbours, like the other people of the cof to which they had belonged from father to son. The theological side of the question left them absolutely indifferent. If Augustin tried to debate with them, they refused to listen and referred him to their bishops. That was the word of command.

The bishops, on their side, avoided all discussion. Augustin tried in vain to arrange an argument with Proculeianus, his Donatist colleague at Hippo. And if some of them shewed themselves more obliging, the evasions and reticences of the antagonist, and sometimes outside circumstances, made the debate utterly futile. At Thubursicum the audience raised such a noise in the place where Augustin was debating with the bishop Fortunius, that they were no longer able to hear each other. At other times, the meeting sank to an oratorical joust, wherein they tired themselves out passading against words, instead of attacking the matters at issue. Augustin felt that he was losing his time. Besides, the Donatist bishops presented an obstinate front against which everything smashed.

"Leave us in our errors," they said ironically. "If we are lost in your eyes, why follow us about? We don't want to be saved."

And they prohibited their flocks from saluting Catholics, from speaking to them, from going into their churches or into their houses, from sitting down in the midst of them. They laid an interdict on their adversaries. Primanius, the Donatist Primate of Carthage, upon being invited to a conference, answered proudly:

"The sons of the martyrs can have nothing to do with the race of traitors."

This being the state of the case, no method of pacification was left but written controversy. Augustin shewed himself tireless at it. It was chiefly in these letters and treatises against the Donatists that he was not afraid to repeat himself. He knew that he was dealing with the deaf, and with the deaf who did not want to hear: he was obliged to raise his voice. With admirable self-denial he reiterated the same arguments a hundred times over, a hundred times took up the history of the quarrel from the beginning, spreading such a light over the quibbles and refinings of his contradictors, that it should have brought conviction to the bluntest minds. "No," he repeated, "Caecilianus was not a traditor, nor Felix of Abthugni either who consecrated him bishop. The documents are there to prove this. And even supposing they were, can the fault of a single man be charged to the whole Church?... Then why do you baptize the Catholics under the pretence that their priests are traditors and as such unworthy to administer the Sacraments? It is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and not the virtue of the priest which renders baptism efficacious. If it were otherwise, what was the good of the Redemption? It is the fact that by the voluntary death of Christ, all men have been called to salvation. Salvation is not the privilege of Africans only. Being Catholic, the Church should take in the whole world...."

In the long run, these continual repetitions end by seeming wearisome to modern readers: for us there arises out of all these discussions a dense and intolerable boredom. But let us remember that all this was singularly living for Augustin's cotemporaries, that these thankless developments were read with passion. And then, too, it was a question of the unity of the Church which involved, as we cannot too often repeat, the interest of the Empire and civilization.

Against so persuasive a power the Donatists opposed a conspiracy of silence. Their bishops forbade the people to read what Augustin wrote. They did more -- they concealed their own libels so that it was impossible to reply to them. But Augustin used all his skill to unearth them. He refuted them, and had his refutations recopied and posted on the walls of the basilicas. The copies circulated through the province and the whole Roman world.

This would have had an excellent result if the quarrel had been entirely over questions of theory. But immense property interests came into it, and rancours and terrible hates. Augustin was forced to pass from verbal polemics to direct action -- defensive action, at first, and then attack.

While he and his fellow-bishops did their utmost to preach peace, the Donatist bishops urged their followers to the holy war. Augustin even received threats on his life. During one of his visitations, he was nearly assassinated. Men in ambush lay in wait for him. By a providential chance, he took the wrong road, and owed his life to this mistake. His pupil Possidius, who was then Bishop of Guelma, was not so lucky. Brought to bay in a house by the Donatist bishop Crispinus, he defended himself desperately. They set fire to the house to turn him out. When there was nothing else left but to be burned alive, he did come out. The band of Donatists seized him, and would have beaten his brains out, if Crispinus himself, fearing a prosecution for murder, had not interfered. But the assailants sacked the property and slaughtered all the horses and mules in the stables. At Bagai, Bishop Maximianus was stabbed in his basilica. A furious mob smashed the altar and began to strike the victim with the fragments, and left him for dead on the flags. The Catholics lifted up his body, but the Donatists plucked him out of their hands and flung him from the top of a tower, and he fell on a dunghill which broke the fall. The unhappy man still breathed, and by a miracle he recovered.

Meanwhile, the Circoncelliones, armed with their bludgeons, continued to pillage and burn the farms. They tortured the owners to extract their money from them. They made them toil round the mill-path like beasts of burthen, while they lashed at them with whips. At their back, the Donatist priests invaded the Catholic churches and lands. There and then they rebaptized the labourers. These doings were, indeed, very like the practices of the African Mussulmans to-day, who, in like circumstances, always begin by converting the Christian farm-hands by main force. Then they purified the basilicas by scraping down the walls and washing the floors with big douches of water; and after demolishing the altar, they scattered salt where it had stood. It was a perfect disinfection. The Donatists treated the Catholics like the plague-stricken.

Such acts cried out for vengeance. Augustin, who up till this time had recoiled from asking the public authorities to prosecute, who, as an observer of the apostolic tradition, did not recognize the interference of the civil power in Church matters -- well, Augustin had to give way to circumstances, and also to the pressure brought to bear on him by his colleagues. Councils assembled at Carthage petitioned the Emperor to take exceptional measures against the Donatists, who laughed at all the laws directed against heretics. When they were summoned before the courts they demonstrated to the judges, who were often pagans incompetent to decide in these questions, that it was they who really belonged to the only orthodox Church. Something must be done to end this equivocal position, and to bring about once for all a categorical condemnation of the schism. Augustin, acting in concert with the primate Aurelius, was the ruling spirit of these meetings.

Let us not judge his conduct by modern ideas, or be in a hurry to exclaim against his intolerance. He and the Catholic bishops, in acting thus, were complying with the old tradition which had influenced all the pagan governments. Rome, particularly, though it recognized all the local sects, all the foreign religions, never allowed any of its subjects to refuse to fall in with the official religion. The persecutions of the Christians and the Jews had no other motive. Now that it was become the State religion, Christianity, willingly or unwillingly, had to summon people to the same obedience. The Emperors made a special point of this from political reasons easy to understand -- to prevent riots and maintain public order. Even if the bishops had refrained from all complaint, the Imperial Government would have acted without them and suppressed the disturbances caused by the heretics.

Just look at the situation and the men as they were at that moment in Africa. It was the Catholics who were persecuted, and that with revolting fury and cruelty. They were obliged to defend themselves. In the next place, the distribution of property in those countries made conversions in batches singularly easy. Multitudes of farm tenants, workmen, and agricultural slaves, lived upon the immense estates of one owner. Without any interest in dogmatic questions, they were Donatists simply because their master was. To change these devouring wolves into tranquil sheep, it was often quite enough if the master got converted. The great blessing of peace depended upon pressure being brought to bear on certain persons. When all day and every day there was a risk of being murdered or burned out by irresponsible ruffians, the temptation was very strong to fall back on such a prompt and simple remedy. Augustin and his colleagues ended by making up their minds to do so. For that matter, they had no choice. They were bound to strike, or be themselves suppressed by their enemies.

However, before resorting to rigorous measures, they resolved to send forth a supreme appeal for reconciliation. The Catholics proposed a meeting to the Donatists in which they would loyally examine one another's grievances. As personal or material questions made the great bar to an understanding, they promised that every Donatist bishop who turned convert should keep his see. In places where a schismatic and an orthodox bishop were found together, they would come to a friendly agreement to govern the diocese by turns. Where it was impossible for this to be done, it was proposed that the Catholic should resign in favour of the other. Augustin lent all his eloquence to carry this motion, which was sufficiently heroic for a good number of bishops who were not so detached as he from the goods of this world. And one must allow that it was difficult to go much further in the way of self-denial.

After a good deal of skirmishing and hesitation on the side of the schismatics, the Conference met at Carthage in June of the year 411, under the presidency of an Imperial commissioner, the tribune Marcellinus. Once again, the Donatists saw themselves condemned. Upon the report of the commissioner, a decree of Honorius classed them definitely among heretics. They were forbidden to rebaptize or to assemble together, under penalties of fine and confiscation. Refractory countrymen and slaves would be liable to corporal punishment, and as for the clerics, they would be banished.

The effect of these new laws was not long in appearing, and it fully answered the wishes of the orthodox bishops. Many populations returned, or pretended to return, to the Catholic communion. This result was largely the work of Augustin, who for twenty years had worked to bring it about by preaching and controversy. But, as might be expected, he did not overdo his triumph. Without delay, he set himself to preach moderation to the conquerors. Nor had he waited till the enemy was defeated to do that. Ten years before, while the Donatists were besetting the Catholics everywhere, he said to the priests of his communion:

"Remember this, my brothers, so as to practise and preach it with never-varying gentleness. Love the men; kill the lie! Lean on truth without pride; fight for it without cruelty. Pray for those whom you chide, and for those to whom you shew their error."

However, the victory of the party of peace was not so thorough as it had seemed at first. A good many fanatics here and there grew obstinate in their resistance. The Circoncelliones, maddened, distinguished themselves by a new outbreak of ravages and cruelties. They tortured and mutilated all the Catholics who fell into their hands. They had invented an unheard-of refinement of torture, which was to cover with lime diluted with vinegar the eyes of their victims. The priest Restitutus was assassinated in the suburbs of Hippo. A bishop had his tongue and his hand cut off. If the towns were pretty quiet, terror began to reign once more in the country places.

The Roman authorities exerted themselves to put an end to these bloody scenes. They heavily chastised the offenders whenever they could catch them. In his charity, Augustin interceded for them with the judges. He wrote to the tribune Marcellinus:

"We would not that the servants of God should be revenged by hurts like to those they suffered. Surely, we are not against depriving the guilty of the means to do harm, but we consider it will be enough, without taking their lives or wrenching any limb from them, to turn them from their senseless tumult by the restraining power of the laws, in bringing them back to calm and reason; or, in a last resort, to take away the opportunity for criminal actions by employing them in some useful work.... Christian judge, in this matter fulfil the duty of a father, and while repressing injustice, do not forget humanity."

This compassion of Augustin was shewn particularly in his meeting with Emeritus, the Donatist Bishop of Cherchell (or as it was then called, Mauretanian Caesarea), one of the most stubborn among the irreconcilables. His attitude in dealing with this uncompromising enemy was not only humane, but courteous, full of graciousness, and of the most sensitive charity.

This fell out in the autumn of the year 418, seven years after the great Conference at Carthage. Augustin was sixty-four years old. How was it that he who had always had such feeble health undertook at this age the long journey from Hippo to Caesarea? We know that the Pope, Zozimus, had entrusted him with a mission to the Church of that town. With his tireless zeal, always ready to march for the glory of Christ, the old bishop doubtless saw in this journey a fresh opportunity for an apostle. So he started off, in spite of the roads, which were very unsafe in those troublous times, in spite of the crushing heat of the season -- the end of September. He travelled six hundred miles across the endless Numidian plain and the mountainous regions of the Atlas, preaching in the churches, halting in the towns and the hamlets to decide questions of private interest, ever pursued by a thousand business worries and by the squabbles of litigants and the discontented. At last, after many weeks of fatigue and tribulation, he reached Cherchell, where he was the guest of Deuterius, the metropolitan Bishop of Mauretania.

Now Emeritus, the deposed bishop, lived mysteriously in the suburbs, in constant fear of some forcible action on the part of the authorities. When he learned the friendly intentions of Augustin, he came out of his hiding-place and shewed himself in the town. In one of the squares of Caesarea the two prelates met. Augustin, who had formerly seen Emeritus at Carthage, recognized him, hurried over to him, saluted him, and at once suggested a friendly talk.

"Let us go into the church," he said. "This square is hardly suitable for a talk between two bishops."

Emeritus, flattered, agreed. The conversation continued in such a cordial tone that Augustin was already rejoicing upon having won back the schismatic. Deuterius, following the line of conduct which the Catholic bishops had adopted, spoke of resigning and handing over the see to the other. It was agreed that within two days Emeritus should come to the cathedral for a public discussion with his colleague of Hippo. At the appointed hour he appeared. A great crowd of people gathered to hear the two orators. The basilica was full. Then Augustin, turning to the impenitent Donatist, said to him mildly:

"Emeritus, my brother, you are here. You were also at our Conference at Carthage. If you were beaten there, why do you come here now? If, on the other hand, you think that you were not beaten, tell us what leads you to believe that you had the advantage...."

What change had Emeritus undergone in two days? Whatever it was, he disappointed the hopes of Augustin and the people of Caesarea. He returned only ambiguous phrases to the most pressing and brotherly urging. Finally, he took refuge in an angry silence from which it was found impossible to draw him.

Augustin went home without having converted the heretic. No doubt he was sorely disappointed. Nevertheless, he shewed no resentment; he even took measures to ensure the safety of the recalcitrant, in a charitable fear less the roused people might do him a bad turn. With all that, when he looked back at the results of nearly thirty years of struggle against schism, he might well say to himself that he had done good work for the Church. Donatism, in fact, was conquered, and conquered by him. Was he at last to have a chance to rest himself, with the only rest suitable to a soul like his, in a steady meditation and study of the Scriptures? Henceforth, would he be allowed to live a little less as a bishop and a little more as a monk? This was always the strong desire of his heart....

But new and worse trials awaited him at Hippo.

iii the bishops burthen
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