The Calling of Augustine of Hippo

“For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men…Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.” (Job 33:14-17)

augustine of hippoAugustine of Hippo (354-430AD) stands out in history as one of the preeminent theologians of the Christian Faith.  He has been called “the greatest genius among the Latin fathers,” and his writings have widespread acclaim throughout Christendom. 

While we thank God for such a man, we must be quick to add a special blessing for the man’s mother.  Had it not been for her faith in the Lord’s word, a faith that was most wonderfully enkindled through a dream, history might have seen an altogether different man than the Augustine who followed Jesus.  For, before the dream came to his mother concerning his conversion, Augustine was in all manners a most calcified sinner.

 In The Confessions, Augustine writes of the memorable dream given to his mother.  “For whence was that dream with which Thou consoledst her, so that she permitted me to live with her, and to have my meals at the same table in the house, which she had begun to avoid, hating and detesting the blasphemies of my error?”

In the dream she saw herself standing upon a ruler, which signified the rule of faith. An angel approached her and asked a reason for her sorrow, and she answered that it was the perdition of her son that she was lamenting.  The angel then assured her in the dream, saying that where she was, there also would her son be (i.e., upon the rule of faith).  The encouragement and hope which the dream gave her was unshakable.

Augustine wrote, “When she had narrated this vision to me, and I tried to put this construction on it, ‘That she rather should not despair of being some day what I was,’ she immediately replied, ‘No; for it was not told me that where he is, there thou should be, but where thou art, there he shall be.’”

Upon hearing her reply Augustine later admitted to God, “I confess to Thee, O Lord, that, to the best of my remembrance (and I have oft spoken of this), Thy answer through my watchful mother — that she was not disquieted by the spaciousness of my false interpretation, and saw in a moment what was to be seen, and which I myself had not in truth perceived before she spake –even then moved me more than the dream itself.”

Augustine blessed God for the dream, its interpretation and its fruit in his conversion to Christ.  “Thou sendest Thine hand from above, and drewest my soul out of that profound darkness, when my mother, Thy faithful one, wept to Thee on by behalf more than mothers are wont to weep the bodily deaths of their children.  For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from Thee, and Thou heardest her, O Lord.”

Who was it that dreamed you into the arms of Jesus?

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