Chapter XIV.—The Design of Establishing a Common Household with His Friends is Speedily Hindered.
24. And many of us friends, consulting on and abhorring the turbulent vexations of human life, had considered and now almost determined upon living at ease and separate from the turmoil of men. And this was to be obtained in this way; we were to bring whatever we could severally procure, and make a common household, so that, through the sincerity of our friendship, nothing should belong more to one than the other; but the whole, being derived from all, should as a whole belong to each, and the whole unto all. It seemed to us that this p. 100 society might consist of ten persons, some of whom were very rich, especially Romanianus, 474 our townsman, an intimate friend of mine from his childhood, whom grave business matters had then brought up to Court; who was the most earnest of us all for this project, and whose voice was of great weight in commending it, because his estate was far more ample than that of the rest. We had arranged, too, that two officers should be chosen yearly, for the providing of all necessary things, whilst the rest were left undisturbed. But when we began to reflect whether the wives which some of us had already, and others hoped to have, would permit this, all that plan, which was being so well framed, broke to pieces in our hands, and was utterly wrecked and cast aside. Thence we fell again to sighs and groans, and our steps to follow the broad and beaten ways 475 of the world; for many thoughts were in our heart, but Thy counsel standeth for ever. 476 Out of which counsel Thou didst mock ours, and preparedst Thine own, purposing to give us meat in due season, and to open Thy hand, and to fill our souls with blessing. 477
Romanianus was a relation of Alypius (Aug. Ep. 27, ad Paulin.), of talent which astonished Augustin himself (C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), “surrounded by affluence from early youth, and snatched by what are thought adverse circumstances from the absorbing whirlpools of life” (ibid.). Augustin frequently mentions his great wealth, as also this vexatious suit, whereby he was harassed (C. Acad. i. 1, ii. 1), and which so clouded his mind that his talents were almost unknown (C. Acad. ii. 2); as also his very great kindness to himself, when, “as a poor lad, setting out to foreign study, he had received him in his house, supported and (yet more) encouraged him; when deprived of his father, comforted, animated, aided him: when returning to Carthage, in pursuit of a higher employment, supplied him with all necessaries.” “Lastly,” says Augustin, “whatever ease I now enjoy, that I have escaped the bonds of useless desires, that, laying aside the weight of dead cares, I breathe, recover, return to myself, that with all earnestness I am seeking the truth [Augustin wrote this the year before his baptism], that I am attaining it, that I trust wholly to arrive at it, you encouraged, impelled, effected” (C. Acad. ii. 2). Augustin had “cast him headlong with himself” (as so many other of his friends) into the Manichæan heresy (ibid. i. sec. 3), and it is to be hoped that he extricated him with himself; but we only learn positively that he continued to be fond of the works of Augustin (Ep. 27), whereas in that which he dedicated to him (C. Acad.), Augustin writes very doubtingly to him, and afterwards recommends him to Paulinus, “to be cured wholly or in part by his conversation” (Ep. 27).—E. B. P.100:475
Ps. 145:15, 16.