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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—34.  Petilianus said:  "David also spoke of you as persecutors in the following terms:  ‘Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues have they deceived; the poison of asps is under their lips.  Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood.  Destruction and unhappiness is in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known:  there is no fear of God before their eyes.  Have all the workers of wickedness no knowledge, who eat up my people as they eat bread?’" 2012

35.  Augustin answered:  Their throat is an open sepulchre, whence they breathe out death by lies.  For "the mouth that belieth slayeth the soul." 2013   But if nothing is more true than that which Christ said, that His Church should be throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, then there is nothing more false than that which you say, that it is in the party of Donatus.  But the tongues p. 538 which have deceived are the tongues of those who, whilst they are acquainted with their own deeds, not only say that they are just men, but that they are justifiers of men, which is said of One only "that justifieth the ungodly," 2014 and that because "He is just and the justifier." 2015   As regards the poison of asps, and the mouth full of cursing and bitterness, we have said enough already.  But you have yourselves said that the followers of Maximianus had feet swift to shed blood, as is testified by the sentence of your plenary Council, so often quoted in the records of the proconsular province and of the state.  But they, so far as we hear, never killed any one in the body.  You evidently, therefore, understood that the blood of the soul was shed in spiritual murder by the sword of schism, which you condemned in Maximianus.  See then if your feet are not swift to shed blood, when you cut off men from the unity of the whole world, if you were right in saying it of the followers of Maximianus, because they cut off some from the party of Donatus.  Are we again without the knowledge of the way of peace, who study to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace? and yet do you possess that knowledge, who resist the discourse which Christ held with His disciples after His resurrection, of so peaceful a nature that He began it with the greeting, "Peace be unto you;" 2016 and that so strenuously that you are proved to be saying nothing less to Him than this, "What Thou saidst of the unity of all nations is false; what we say of the offense of all nations is true"?  Who would say such things as this if they had the fear of God before their eyes?  See, therefore, if in daily saying things like this you are not trying to destroy the people of God dispersed throughout the world, eating them up as it were bread.



Ps. xiv. 5-8, cp. LXX. and Hieron., the last verse only being in the Hebrew.


Wisd. i. 11.


Rom. iv. 5.


Rom. iii. 26.


John 20:19, 21.

Next: Chapter 16

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