Life and Times of Ambrose of Milan by Robinson Thornton

Ambrose of MilanRobinson Thornton (1824-1906) was Archdeacon of Middlesex and later a Prebendary of St. Paul’s Cathedral (see Wikipedia article). This book is a brief biogaphy of Ambrose of Milan, followed by an assessment of his impact on church history.

My thanks to Book Aid for making a copy of this public domain title available for digitisation.

Robinson Thornton [1824-1906], St. Ambrose. his Life, Times and Teaching. The Fathers for English Readers. London: SPCK, 1879. Hbk. pp.215. [Click to visit the download page]

Table of Contents

  1. Birth and Infancy (A.D. 340-341)
  2. Youth and Manhood (A.D. 341-374)
  3. The Episcopate (A.D. 374)
  4. Difficulties and Dangers (A.D. 374)
  5. Death of Valentinian (A.D. 374-375)
  6. Theodosius (A.D. 378-380)
  7. Synods of Aquileia and Rome (A.D. 380-383)
  8. Augustine (A.D. 383-385)
  9. Conflict with the Arians (A.D. 385-386)
  10. Church-Building – Maximus and Justina (A.D. 386-387)
  11. Theodosius (A.D. 388)
  12. The Sin and Penance of Theodosius (A.D. 389-390)
  13. Eugenius (A.D. 392-393)
  14. Victory and Death (A.D. 394-395)
  15. The End of a Great Life (A.D. 395-397)
  16. Ambrose a Poet and Musician
  17. St. Ambrose as a Theologian
  18. St. Ambrose as an Interpreter of Scripture
  19. Ambrose as a Pastor

Birth and Infancy

It is the year A.D. 340. Twenty-eight years have passed since Constantine the Great saw, as he declared, in vision the symbol of the Crucified, and was bidden to hope for victory, temporal and eternal, through Him alone; twenty-eight years since the tyrant Maxentius lost his power and his life at the Milvian bridge; twenty-seven since Constantine’s second edict, dated not from Rome, but from Milan, released the Christians from the fear of persecution, and launched the Cross on an unimpeded career of conquest. It is fifteen years since the memorable time when the three hundred and eighteen at Nicaea affirmed, in the happy word Consubstantial, the truth of the Incarnation of the Eternal Son, very God of very God, made very man; four since the unhappy heresiarch Arius perished at Constantinople by a strange and sudden death; seven since the busy brain of another enemy of the faith, not heretic, but scoffer, Iamblichus, of Chalcis in Syria‚Ķ

Introduction to Patristic Study by Henry Barclay Swete

Henry Barclay Swete [1835-1917], Patristic StudyIn his foreword H.B. Swete notes that he wrote this book to encourage younger clergy to read the church fathers for themselves and not to rely on second hand information. This brief introduction will be still of value to students of the early church more than a century after it was first published. This title is in the public domain.

Henry Barclay Swete [1835-1917], Patristic Study. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1902. Hbk. pp.194. [Click to visit the download page]


  1. Introductory
  2. Fathers of the First Two Centuries
  3. Fathers of the Third Century
  4. Post-Nicene Fathers (Greek and Eastern)
  5. Post-Nicene Fathers (Latin)
  6. Courses and Methods of Patristic Study
  7. Help to Patristic Study

Chapter 1: Introductory

The literary remains of the Apostolic age in the providence of God have become the common property of Christendom. Admitted into the canon of Holy Scripture, translated into the language of every civilised people, circulated by great societies established for that end, the Gospels and Epistles, the Acts and the Apocalypse are in the hands of all Christians who can read their mother tongue. A widely different fate has overtaken the post-Apostolic literature of the Ancient Church. If the names of some of the more eminent ‘Fathers’ are familiar to all educated men, few are attracted to the study of their writings. A grotesque misrepresentation associates the Fathers with dulness and ignorance. It is assumed that the writings which record the history, the life, and the thought of the Christian Church during the centuries which followed the death of St. John are destitute of literary merit or spiritual profit….