"God speaks to us without ceasing by his good inspirations."

The Cure D'Ars

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"Lord, take from me everything that hinders me from going to You. give me all that will lead me to You. Take me from myself and give me to Yourself."

St Nicholas Flue

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"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"

St Augustine

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Life of St Augustine (354 - 430) Father and Doctor of the Church





by St Augustine of Hippo


BOOK 3. The method of dealing with ambiguous signs

1. Summary of the foregoing books, and scope of that which follows
2. Rule for removing ambiguity by attending to punctuation
3. How pronunciation serves to remove ambiguity--different kinds of interrogation
4. How ambiguities may be solved
5. It is a wretched slavery which takes the figurative expressions of Scripture in a literal sense
6. Utility of the bondage of the Jews
7. The useless bondage of the gentiles
8. The Jews liberated from their bondage in one way, the gentiles in another
9. Who is in bondage to signs, and who not
10. How we are to discern whether a phrase is figurative
11. Rule for interpreting phrases which seem to ascribe severity to God and the saints
12. Rule for interpreting those sayings and actions which are ascribed to God and the saints and which yet seem to the unskilful to be wicked
13. Same subject, continued
14. Error of those who think that there is no absolute right and wrong
15. Rule for interpreting figurative expressions
16. Rule for interpreting commands and prohibitions
17. Some commands are given to all in common, others to particular classes
18. We must take into consideration the time at which anything was enjoyed or allowed
19. Wicked men judge others by themselves
20. Consistency of good men in all outward circumstances
21. David not lustful, though he fell into adultery
22. Rule regarding passages of Scripture in which approval is expressed of actions which are now condemned by good men
23. Rule regarding the narrative of sins of great men
24. The character of the expressions used is above all to have weight
25. The same word does not always signify the same thing
26. Obscure passages are to be interpreted by those which are clearer
27. One passage susceptible of various interpretations
28. It is safer to explain a doubtful passage by other passages of Scripture than by reason
29. The knowledge of tropes is necessary
30. The rules of Tichonius the Donatist examined
31. The first rule of Tichonius
32. The second rule of Tichonius
33. The third rule of Tichonius
34. The fourth rule of Tichonius
35. The fifth rule of Tichonius
36. The sixth rule of Tichonius
37. The seventh rule of Tichonius

Book 4. Treats of expression and recommends the authors of the Holy Scriptures as the best models of eloquence.

1. This work not intended as a treatise on rhetoric
2. It is lawful for a Christian teacher to use the art of rhetoric
3. The proper age and the proper means for acquiring rhetorical skill
4. The duty of the Christian teacher
5. Wisdom of more importance than eloquence to the Christian teacher
6. The sacred writers unite eloquence with wisdom
7. Examples of true eloquence drawn from the epistles of Paul and the prophecies of Amos
8. The obscurity of the sacred writers, though compatible with eloquence, not to be imitated by Christian teachers
9. How, and with whom, difficult passages are to be discussed
10. The necessity for perspicuity of style
11. The Christian teacher must speak clearly, but not inelegantly
12. The aim of the orator, according to Cicero, is to teach, to delight, and to move. Of these, teaching is the most essential
13. The hearer must be moved as well as instructed
14. Beauty of diction to be in keeping with the matter
15. The Christian teacher should pray before preaching
16. Human directions not to be despised though God makes the true teacher
17. Threefold division of the various styles of speech
18. The Christian orator is constantly dealing with great matters
19. The Christian teacher must use different styles on different occasion
20. Examples of the various styles drawn from Scripture
21. Examples of the various styles, drawn from the teachers of the church, especially Ambrose and Cyprian
22. The necessity of variety in style
23. How the various styles should be mingled
24. The effects produced by the majestic style
25. How the temperate style is to be used
26. In every style the orator should aim at perspicuity, beauty, and persuasiveness
27. The man whose life is in harmony with his teaching will teach with greater effect
28. Truth is more important than expression. What is meant by strife about words
29. It is permissible for a preacher to deliver to the people what has been written by a more eloquent man than himself
30. The preacher should commence his discourse with prayer to God
31. Apology for the length of the work