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Among his friends there is none who figures so prominently in the Confessions as Alypius, none indeed with whom, from first to last, he continued so intimate ; “ the brother of my soul,” he calls him. Alypius was younger than himself, and had been his pupil at Thagaste. After Augustine's return to Carthage, Alypius came there also, in order to continue his studies; but owing to some unpleasantness that had arisen between his father and Augustine, he did not at once attend the latter's lectures; and Augustine heard with regret that he was wasting much of his time at the circus. One day, however, Alypius entered Augustine's lecture room quite unexpectedly, and listened with the other students to the lecture. In the course of it Augustine happened to use an illustration from the games at the circus, and went on to speak of the folly of frequenting these games too much, without thinking at all of Alypius in that connection. But, says Augustine, “ he took my words home to himself, and thought that I had so spoken only on his account ; and what would have made another

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with me, made that good lad angry with himself, and more devoted to me. For long ago thou didst say and write it in thy book, ‘Rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.'(vi. 7) That is one of the many human touches that help to make the Confessions so interesting.

Augustine remained in Carthage for about seven years, eager in the studies connected with his particular work, and in the search for satisfying answers to the questions which Cicero's Hortensius had awakened in his mind. By the time he went to Rome he seems to have lost all faith in Manichaeism ; but no other system had as yet taken its place. At Rome he began to study the writings of the more sceptical Academics, and was inclined for a while to agree with them in thinking that "all is doubtful, and that certainty is unattainable by man.” (v. 10.) This leaning to a sceptical philosophy, however, does not appear to have lasted long. After a stay of only a few months at Rome he went to Milan to take up the position of Public Teacher of Rhetoric. There he turned to the works of the Neo-Platonists, most likely the Enneads of Plotinus, in hope of finding what he had so long been seeking. And Neo-Platonism broke upon him as a revelation. One great service in particular it did him : it taught him the spiritual nature of God. Hitherto he had conceived of the Deity as an infinite substance within which the created universe existed, like a vast sponge in a limitless ocean; but from the Neo-Platonists he learnt that God is Spirit, the Life of all things, the Soul of all souls, the Reason that gives law and order to the world and makes it intelligible. His references to Neo-Platonism are for the most part grateful and appreciative. He speaks of it as "the elder sister of Christianity," and as the “ vestibule " through which he entered the Christian Church. It remained one of the most potent influences in his thought, and through him it became one of the most potent influences also in the thought of Christendom. Along with the Platonism of the Pauline and Johannine writings of the New Testament, it has been a main source of mystical doctrine in the Church from generation to generation.

The writings of Plotinus were read by Augustine in the Latin translation made by Victorinus, a philosopher of distinction who had been converted to Christianity. Among his friends there is none who figures so prominently in the Confessions as Alypius, none indeed with whom, from first to last, he continued so intimate ; “the brother of my soul,” he calls him. Alypius was younger than himself, and had been his pupil at Thagaste. After Augustine's return to Carthage, Alypius came there also, in order to continue his studies; but owing to some unpleasantness that had arisen between his father and Augustine, he did not at once attend the latter's lectures; and Augustine heard with regret that he was wasting much of his time at the circus. One day, however, Alypius entered Augustine's lecture room quite unexpectedly, and listened with the other students to the lecture. In the course of it Augustine happened to use an illustration from the games at the circus, and went on to speak of the folly of frequenting these games too much, without thinking at all of Alypius in that connection. But, says Augustine," he took my words home to himself, and thought that I had so spoken only on his account; and what would have made another angry with me, made that good lad angry with himself, and more devoted to me. For long ago thou didst say and write it in thy book, “Rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.' (vi. 7.) That is one of the many human touches that help to make the Confessions so interesting.

Augustine remained in Carthage for about seven years, eager in the studies connected with his particular work, and in the search for satisfying answers to the questions which Cicero's Hortensius had awakened in his mind. By the time he went to Rome he seems to have lost all faith in Manichaeism; but no other system had as yet taken its place. At Rome he began

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The story of that conversion made a deep impression on Augustine, and was among the things that led him to think that there was more truth in Christianity than he had given it credit for. But soon after settling in Milan, he came under an influence that was destined to be decisive in bringing about his own conversion to Christianity—the influence of Bishop Ambrose, a man of saintliest character and of rare oratorical and literary gifts. Augustine tells us that he had been attracted to the Church by the fame of Ambrose's oratory and by some special friendliness which the good bishop had shown him. “I began to love him,” he says, “not at first as a teacher of the truth, which I despaired of finding in thy Church, but as a fellow-creature who was kind to me. I listened attentively to his sermons, not with the right attitude of mind, but criticising his eloquence, whether it was equal to his reputation, or whether its stream was broader or narrower than men reported. Thus I hung eagerly upon his expressions, while as regards the subject I remained a cool or contemptuous looker on, delighted only with the charm of his style. ... Yet with the phrases which I loved, the facts which I neglected began to trickle into my mind, for I could not keep them apart. And while I opened my heart to welcome the eloquence of his speech, I began, though only step by step, to feel the truth of it." (v. 13, 14.) One wonders what would have happened had Ambrose been either less careful and accomplished in his oratory, or less friendly in his manner; would Augustine have remained a professor of rhetoric and been lost to Christendom?

Under the spell of the new influences that were at

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