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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 12

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 12.—18.  Nemesianus of Tubunæ 1610 said:  "That the baptism which is given by heretics and schismatics is not true is everywhere declared in the holy Scriptures, inasmuch as their very prelates are false Christs and false prophets, as the Lord declares by the mouth of Solomon, ‘Whoso trusteth in lies, the same feedeth the winds; he also followeth flying birds.  For he deserteth the ways of his own vineyard, and hath strayed from the paths of his own field.  For he walketh through pathless and dry places, and a land destined to thirst; and he gathereth fruitless weeds in his hands.’ 1611   And again, ‘Abstain from strange water, and drink not of a strange fountain, that thou mayest live long, and that years may be added to thy life.’ 1612   And in the gospel our Lord Jesus Christ spake with His own voice, saying, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ 1613   This is the Spirit which from the beginning ‘moved upon the face of the waters.’ 1614   For neither can the Spirit act without the water, nor the water without the Spirit.  Ill, therefore, for themselves do some interpret, saying that by imposition of hands they receive the Holy Ghost, and are received into the Church, when it is manifest that they ought to be born again by both sacraments in the Catholic Church.  For then indeed will they be able to become the sons of God, as the apostle says, ‘Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.’ 1615   All this the Catholic Church asserts.  And again he says in the gospel, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; for the Spirit is God, and is born of God.’ 1616   Therefore all things whatsoever all heretics and schismatics do are carnal, as the apostle says, ‘Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:  fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, p. 485 hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, seditions, heresies, and such like:  of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.’  1617   The apostle condemns, equally with all the wicked, those also who cause divisions, that is, schismatics and heretics.  Unless therefore they receive that saving baptism which is one, and found only in the Catholic Church, they cannot be saved, but will be condemned with the carnal in the judgment of the Lord."

19.  Nemesianus of Tubunæ has advanced many passages of Scripture to prove his point; but he has in fact said much on behalf of the view of the Catholic Church, which we have undertaken to set forth and maintain.  Unless, indeed, we must suppose that he does not "trust in what is false" who trusts in the hope of things temporal, as do all covetous men and robbers, and those "who renounce the world in words but not in deeds," of whom Cyprian yet bears witness that such men not only baptize, but even are baptized within the Church. 1618   For they themselves also "follow flying birds," 1619 since they do not attain to what they desire.  But not only the heretic, but everyone who leads an evil life "deserteth the ways of his own vineyard, and hath strayed from the paths of his own field.  And he walketh through pathless and dry places, and a land destined to thirst; and he gathereth fruitless weeds in his hands;" because all justice is fruitful, and all iniquity is barren.  Those, again, who "drink strange water out of a strange fountain," are found not only among heretics, but among all who do not live according to the teaching of God, and do live according to the teaching of the devil.  For if he were speaking of baptism, he would not say, "Do not drink of a strange fountain," but, do not wash thyself in a strange fountain.  Again, I do not see at all what aid he gets towards proving his point from the words of our Lord, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."  1620   For it is one thing to say that every one who shall enter into the kingdom of heaven is first born again of water and the Spirit, because except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is the Lord’s saying, and is true; another thing to say that every one who is born of water and the Spirit shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is assuredly false.  For Simon Magus also was born of water and of the Spirit,  1621 and yet he did not enter into the kingdom of heaven; and this may possibly be the case with heretics as well.  Or if only those are born of the Spirit who are changed with a true conversion, all "who renounce the world in word and not in deed" are assuredly not born of the Spirit, but of water only, and yet they are within the Church, according to the testimony of Cyprian.  For we must perforce grant one of two things,—either those who renounce the world deceitfully are born of the Spirit, though it is to their destruction, not to salvation, and therefore heretics may be so born; or if what is written, that "the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit," 1622 extends to proving as much as this, that those who renounce the world deceitfully are not born of the Spirit, then a man may be baptized with water, and not born of the Spirit, and Nemesianus says in vain that neither the Spirit can work without the water, nor the water without the Spirit.  Indeed it has been already often shown how it is possible that men should have one baptism in common who have not one Church, as it is possible that in the body of the Church herself those who are sanctified by their righteousness, and those who are polluted through their covetousness, may not have the same one Spirit, and yet have the same one baptism.  For it is said "one body," that is, the Church, just as it is said "one Spirit" and "one baptism."  The other arguments which he has adduced rather favor our position.  For he has brought forward a proof from the gospel, in the words, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; for the Spirit is God, and born of God;" 1623 and he has advanced the argument that therefore all things that are done by any heretic or schismatic are carnal, as the apostle says, "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are these:  fornication, uncleanness;" and so he goes through the list which the apostle there enumerates, amongst which he has reckoned heresies, since "they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." 1624   Then he goes on to add, that "therefore the apostle condemns with all wicked men those also who cause division, that is, schismatics and heretics."  And in this he does well, that when he enumerates the works of the flesh, among which are also heresies, he found and declared that the apostle condemns them all alike.  Let him therefore question the holy Cyprian himself, and learn from him how many even within the Church live according to the evil works of the flesh, which the apostle condemns in common with the heresies, p. 486 and yet these both baptize and are baptized.  Why then are heretics alone said to be incapable of possessing baptism, which is possessed by the very partners in their condemnation?


Footnotes

484:1610

Tubunæ, a town in Mauritania Cæsariensis.  Nemesianus probably same with one of that name in Cypr. Epp. lxii., lxx., lxxvi., lxxvii.

484:1611

Prov. ix. 12, LXX., the passage being altogether absent in the Hebrew, and consequently in the English version.  Probably in N. Afr. version.  The text in Erasmus is somewhat different, and was revised by the Louvain editors to bring it into harmony with the answer of Augustin and the text of Cyprian (Conc. Carth. sec. 5).

484:1612

Prov. ix. 18, LXX., possibly N. Afr. version also.

484:1613

John iii. 5.

484:1614

Gen. i. 2.

484:1615

Eph. iv. 3-6.

484:1616

Quoniam Spiritus Deus est, et de Deo natus est.  These words are found at the end of John iii. 6, in the oldest Latin Ms. (in the Bodleian Library), and their meaning appears to be, as given in the text, that whatsoever is born of the Spirit is spirit, since the Holy Ghost, being God, and born of, or proceeding from God, in virtue of His supreme power makes those to be spirits whom He regenerates.  If the meaning had been (as Bishop Fell takes it), that "he who is born of the Spirit is born of God," the neuter "de Deo natum est" would have been required.  To refer "Spiritus Deus est," with the Benedictines, to John iv. 24, "God is a Spirit," reverses the grammar and destroys the sense of the passage.  The above explanation is taken from the preface to Cyprian by the monk of St. Maur (Maranus), p. xxxvi., quoted by Routh, Rel. Sac. iii. 193.

485:1617

Gal. v. 19-21.

485:1618

Cypr. Ep. xi. 1.

485:1619

Prov. ix. 12, cp. LXX.

485:1620

John iii. 5.

485:1621

Acts viii. 13.

485:1622

Wisd. i. 5.

485:1623

John iii. 6.

485:1624

Gal. v. 19-21.


Next: Chapter 13

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