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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 24

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 24.—42.  Fortunatus of Thuccabori 1670 said:  "Jesus Christ our Lord and God, the Son of God the Father and Creator, built His Church upon a rock, not upon heresy, p. 490 and gave the power of baptizing to bishops, not to heretics.  Wherefore those who are outside the Church, and stand against Christ, scattering His sheep and flock, cannot baptize outside." 1671

43.  He added the word "outside" in order that he might not be answered with a like brevity to Successus.  For otherwise he might also have been answered word for word:  Jesus Christ our Lord and God, the Son of God the Father and Creator, built His Church upon a rock, not upon iniquity, and gave the power of baptizing to bishops, not to the unrighteous.  Wherefore those who do not belong to the rock on which they build, who hear the word of God and do it,  1672 but, living contrary to Christ in hearing the word and not doing it, and hereby building on the sand, in this way scatter His sheep and flock by the example of an abandoned character, cannot baptize.  Might not this be said with all the semblance of truth? and yet it is false.  For the unrighteous do baptize, since those robbers are unrighteous whom Cyprian maintained to be at unity with himself. 1673   But for this reason, says the Donatist, he adds "outside."  Why therefore can they not baptize outside?  Is it because they are worse from the very fact that they are outside?  But it makes no difference, in respect of the validity of baptism, how much worse the minister may be.  For there is not so much difference between bad and worse as between good and bad; and yet, when the bad baptizes, he gives the selfsame sacrament as the good.  Therefore, also, when the worse baptizes, he gives the selfsame sacrament as the less bad.  Or is it that it is not in respect of man’s merit, but of the sacrament of baptism itself, that it cannot be given outside?  If this were so, neither could it be possessed outside, and it would be necessary that a man should be baptized again so often as he left the Church and again returned to it.

44.  Further, if we inquire more carefully what is meant by "outside," especially as he himself makes mention of the rock on which the Church is built, are not they in the Church who are on the rock, and they who are not on the rock, not in the Church either?  Now, therefore, let us see whether they build their house upon a rock who hear the words of Christ and do them not.  The Lord Himself declares the contrary, saying, "Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock;" and a little later, "Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand." 1674   If, therefore, the Church is on a rock, those who are on the sand, because they are outside the rock, are necessarily outside the Church.  Let us recollect, therefore, how many Cyprian mentions as placed within who build upon the sand, that is, who hear the words of Christ and do them not.  And therefore, because they are on the sand, they are proved to be outside the rock, that is, outside the Church; yet even while they are so situated, and are either not yet or never changed for the better, not only do they baptize and are baptized, but the baptism which they have remains valid in them though they are destined to damnation.

45.  Neither can it be said in this place, 1675 Yet who is there that doeth all the words of the Lord which are written in the evangelic sermon itself, 1676 at the end of which He says, that he who heard the said words and did them built upon a rock, and he who heard them and did them not built upon the sand?  For, granting that by certain persons all the words are not accomplished, yet in the same sermon He has appointed the remedy, saying, "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." 1677   And after the Lord’s prayer had been recorded in detail in the same sermon, He says, "For I say unto you, if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." 1678   Hence also Peter says, "For charity shall cover the multitude of sins;" 1679 which charity they certainly did not have, and on this account they built upon the sand, of whom the same Cyprian says, that within the Church they held conversation, even in the time of the apostles, in unkindly hatred alien from Christian charity; 1680 and therefore they seemed indeed to be within, but really were without, because they were not on that rock by which the Church is signified.


Footnotes

489:1670

Thuccabori, Tucca or Terebrinthina, in ecclesiastical province of Africa Proconsularis or Zeugitana.  For Bp. Fortunatus, see Cypr. Epp. xlviii., lvi., lvii. (the first), lxvii., lxx.

490:1671

Conc. Carth. sec. 17.

490:1672

Matt. vii. 24.

490:1673

Cypr. Serm. de Laps.

490:1674

Matt. 7:24, 26.

490:1675

It is pointed out by the Louvain editors that this passage shows that Augustin considered our Lord’s precept to comprehend everything contained in the Sermon on the Mount.

490:1676

It is pointed out by the Louvain editors that this passage shows that Augustin considered our Lord’s precept to comprehend everything contained in the Sermon on the Mount.

490:1677

Luke vi. 37.

490:1678

Matt. 6:14, 15.

490:1679

1 Pet. iv. 8.

490:1680

Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 14.


Next: Chapter 25

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