(Augustine, image courtesy Wikiart)
(Saint Possidius, image courtesy Province of St Augustine)
By Spencer D Gear
The ministry of St Augustine of Hippo demonstrates the failure of cessationism in relation to the gifts of the Spirit. The gift of healing was alive and well through Augustine’s ministry. He lived ca. AD 354-430 
Bishop Possidius (fifth century, died ca. 437), Bishop of Calama (in the Roman province of Numidia), was a friend of Augustine of Hippo and wrote in the first biography about Augustine, Life of Augustine (Possidius 1919, ch XXIX), about ‘Augustine’s last illness’:
And it chanced at one time while we were seated with him at the table and were conversing together that he said to us: “I would have you know that in this time of our misfortune I ask this of God: either that He may be pleased to free this city which is surrounded by the foe, or if something else seems good in His sight, that He make His servants brave for enduring His will, or at least that He may take me from this world unto Himself.” And when he had taught us these words, together with him we all joined in a like petition to God Most High, for ourselves and for all our fellow bishops and for the others who were in this city. And lo, in the third month of the siege he succumbed to fever and began to suffer in his last illness. In truth the Lord did not deprive His servant of the reward of his prayer. For what he asked with tears and prayers for himself and the city he obtained in due time. I know also that both while he was presbyter and bishop, when asked to pray for certain demoniacs, he entreated God in prayer with many tears and the demons departed from the men. In like manner when he was sick and confined to his bed there came a certain man with a sick relative and asked him to lay his hand upon him that he might be healed. But Augustine answered that if he had any power in such things he would surely have applied it to himself first of all; to which the stranger replied that he had had a vision and that in his dream these words had been addressed to him: “Go to the bishop Augustine that he may lay his hand upon him, and he shall be whole.” Now when Augustine heard this he did not delay to do it and immediately God caused the sick man to depart from him healed (emphasis added).
This demonstration of the gift of the Spirit of healing is a further acknowledgment that a gift of the Spirit – the gift of healing – had not ceased in the 4th-5th centuries. Augustine was a leader of the Christian church and not some occult practitioner. Augustine, philosopher and theologian, ‘is looked upon by Protestants as one who was a forerunner of the Reformation ideas’ .
In the above citation, Augustine’s belief in the continuing gift of healing is demonstrated. For another example of this emphasis in the life and ministry of Augustine, see my article: St. Augustine: The leading Church Father who dared to change his mind about divine healing. In this article, I have shown Augustine’s change of theology in relation to divine healing.
 Donald X Burt 1996. Reflections on Augustine’s spirituality: Saint Augustine – His Life and Times. Villanova University. Available at: http://www41.homepage.villanova.edu/donald.burt/augustine.htm (Accessed 16 October 2015).
 Midwest Augustinians 2015. Saint Possidius, May 16 (online). Available at: http://midwestaugustinians.org/st-possidius/ (Accessed 8 September 2015). This article states that ‘he died in exile around the year 437’.
 Earl E Cairns 1981. Christianity through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, p. 149.
Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 5 May 2016.