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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—20.  He says:  "You who are a most abandoned traditor have come out in the character of a persecutor and murderer of us who keep the law."  If the followers of Maximianus kept the law when they separated from you, then we may acknowledge you as a keeper of the law, when you are separated from the Church spread abroad throughout the world.  But if you raise the question of persecutions, I at once reply:  If you have suffered anything unjustly, this does not concern those who, though they disapprove of men who act in such a way, 1949 yet endure them for the peace that is in unity, in a manner deserving of all praise.  Wherefore you have nothing to bring up against the Lord’s wheat, who endure the chaff that is among them till the last winnowing, from whom you never would have separated yourself, had you not shown yourself lighter than chaff by flying away under the blast of temptation before the coming of the Winnower.  But not to leave this one example, which the Lord hath thrust back in their teeth, to close the mouths of these men, for their correction if they will show themselves to be wise, but for their confusion if they remain in their folly:  if those are more just that suffer persecution than those who inflict it, then those same followers of Maximianus are the more just, whose basilica was utterly overthrown, and who were grievously maltreated by the military following of Optatus, when the mandates of the proconsul, ordering that all of them should be shut out of the basilicas, were manifestly procured by the followers of Primianus.  Wherefore, if, when the emperors hated their communion, they ventured on such violent measures for the persecution of the followers of Maximianus, what would they do if they p. 526 were enabled to work their will by being in communion with kings?  And if they did such things as I have mentioned for the correction of the wicked, why are they surprised that Catholic emperors should decree with greater power that they should be worked upon and corrected who endeavor to rebaptize the whole Christian world, when they have no ground for differing from them? seeing that they, themselves bear witness that it is right to bear with wicked men even where they have true charges to bring against them in the cause of peace, since they received those whom they had themselves condemned, acknowledging the honors conferred among themselves, and the baptism administered in schism.  Let them at length consider what treatment they deserve at the hands of the Christian powers of the world, who are the enemies of Christian unity throughout the world.  If, therefore, correction be bitter, yet let them not fail to be ashamed; lest when they begin to read what they themselves have written, they be overcome with laughter, when they do not find in themselves what they wish to find in others, and fail to recognize 1950 in their own case what they find fault with in their neighbors.



Qui talia facientes quamvis improbent.  A comparison of the explanation of this passage in Contra Crescon. III. 41, 45, shows the probability of Migne’s conjecture, "quamvis improbe," "who endure the men that act in such a way, however monstrous their conduct may be."


Nec in se agnoscunt.  The reading of the Louvain edition gives better sense, "Et in se agnoscunt," "and discover in themselves."

Next: Chapter 19

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