Augustine: Preacher of the "hard sayings" of Jesus.
The sermons of Augustine gained some of their impact from the fact that he did not attempt to avoid preaching those aspects of Christian belief that were the most difficult for his listeners in Hippo to accept.
For example, one of his sermons on the grace (in Latin, gratia) of God
and eternal life contained statements that proved too difficult for some of his listeners to accept.
Learning of this, Augustine at a subsequent sermon publicly defended his inclusion of issues that some people had found difficult.
He stated that even doctrines that initially appeared unpalatable always offered positive outcomes in the lives of the hearers.
He said, "I preached as I did because of those who think it sufficient to believe with their minds but then go out and live evil lives."
Augustine saw temptations as plentiful and evil abounding.
As an antidote, he made no apology for preaching the protection offered to Christians by their following the so-called "hard sayings" of Christ, even if various members of his church would at times have preferred not to be confronted by them.
Although from life experience he knew what it was easy to reject the abundant assistance of God, Augustine preached the ideal of a good Christian life.
Living "in Christ, through Christ and with Christ" was to be the goal of all believers, especially - but not exclusively - in sexual matters.
This expectation discouraged many candidates (catechumens) from advancing on to baptism.
For some candidates (catechumens) to move to baptism would require them either to end or else to regularise their living arrangements with their sexual partner.
Augustine himself had been an example of this personally; with considerable emotional reluctance in Milan while contemplating his baptism, he had separated from his concubine
of the previous dozen years.
(In another example, Augustine's father, Patricius, was a catechumen for a number of years, finally going forward to baptism not long before he died; it can be wondered whether this delay may have been for reasons of faith or for reasons of morality.) ID2274