Ambrose to Constantius on Preaching

“Therefore, let your sermons be flowing, let them be clear and lucid so that by suitable disputation you may pour sweetness into the ears of the people, and by the grace of your words may persuade the crowd to follow willingly where you lead. But if in the people, or in some persons, there is any stubbornness or any fault, let your sermons be such as to goad the listener, to sting the person with a guilty conscience. ‘The words of the wise are as goads’ (Ecclesiastes 12:11). Even the Lord Jesus goaded Saul when he was a persecutor. Consider how saltutary was the goad which made of a persecutor an apostle, saying: ‘It is hard for thee to kick against the goad’ (Acts 9:5).”

Ambrose, Saint Ambrose Letters: 1-91; trans. Sister Mary Melchior Beyenka, Fathers of the Church, Inc., New York. 1954, 78.

As his pastor and mentor, God used Ambrose in the life of Augustine plant the seeds that would eventually blossom into the life and work of the man that gave us such works as Confessions, City of God, and his letters to Pelagius. Though it is less recognized and certainly less acclaimed, Ambrose’s surviving body of work is more extensive than even that of his disciple, Augustine.

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