On the Catechising of the Uninstructed

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In the fourteenth chapter of the second book of his Retractations, Augustin makes the following statement: “There is also a book of ours on the subject of the Catechising of the Uninstructed, [or, for Instructing the Unlearned, De Catechizandis Rudibus], that being, indeed, the express title by which it is designated. In this book, where I have said, ‘Neither did the angel, who, in company with other spirits who were his satellites, forsook in pride the obedience of God, and became the devil, do any hurt to God, but to himself; for God knoweth how to dispose of souls that leave Him:’ it would be more appropriate to say, ‘spirits that leave Him,’ inasmuch as the question dealt with angels. This book commences in these terms: ‘You have requested me, brother Deogratias.’” The composition so described in the passage cited is reviewed by Augustin regarding other works which he had in hand about the year 400 A.D., and may therefore be taken to belong to that date. It has been conjectured that the person to whom it is addressed may perhaps be the same with the presbyter Deogratias, to whom, as we read in the epistle which now ranks as the hundred and second, Augustin wrote about the year 406, in reply to some questions of the pagans which were forwarded to him from Carthage.