Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Moral Treatises of St. Augustin: Section 5
5. Well then, let us set before our eyes a cunning spy as he makes up to the person whom he has already perceived to be a Priscillianist; he begins with Dictinius the bishop, and lyingly bepraises either his life, if he knew him, or his fame, if he knew him not; this is more tolerable thus far, because Dictinius is accounted to have been a Catholic, and to have been corrected of that error. Then, passing on to Priscillian, (for this comes next in the art of lying,) he shall make reverend mention of him, of an impious and detestable person, condemned for his nefarious wickedness and crimes! In which reverend mention, if haply the person for whom this sort of net is spread, had not been a firm Priscillianist, by this preaching of him, he will be confirmed. But when the spy shall go on to discourse of the other matters, and saying that he pities them whom the author of darkness hath invoked in such darkness of error, that they acknowledge not the honor of their own soul, and the brightness of their divine ancestry: then speaking of Dictiniuss Book, which is called “the Pound,” because it p. 484 treats, first and last, of a dozen questions, being as the ounces which go to the pound, shall extol it with such praise, as to protest that such a “Pound” (in which awful blasphemies are contained) is more precious than many thousands of pounds of gold; truly, this astuteness of him who tells the lie slays the soul of him who believes it, or, that being slain already, doth in the same death sink, and hold it down. But, thou wilt say, “afterwards it shall be set at liberty.” What if it come not to pass, either upon something intervening that prevents what was begun from being completed, or through obstinacy of an heretical mind denying the same things over again, although of some it had already begun to make confession? especially because, if he shall find out that he has been tampered with by a stranger, he will just the more boldy study to conceal his sentiments by a lie, when he shall have learned much more certainly that this is done without blame, even by the example of the very person who tampered with him. This, truly, in a man who thinks it right to hide the truth by telling a lie, with what face can we blame, and dare to condemn what we teach?
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