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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 12

Early Church Fathers  Index     

12. Thus has the question been on both sides considered and treated; and still it is not easy to pass sentence: but we must further lend diligent hearing to those who say, that no deed is so evil, but that in avoidance of a worse it ought to be done; moreover that the deeds of men include not only what they do, but whatever they consent to be done unto them. Wherefore, if cause have arisen that a Christian man should choose to burn incense to idols, that he might not consent to bodily defilement which the persecutor threatened him withal, unless he should do so, they think they have a right to ask why he should not also tell a lie to escape so foul a disgrace. For the consent itself to endure violation of the person rather than to burn incense to idols, this, they say, is not a passive thing, but a deed; which rather than do, he chose to burn incense. How much more readily then would he have chosen a lie, if by a lie he might ward off from a holy body so shocking a disgrace?


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