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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 39

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 39.—92.  Petilianus said:  "But there is no fellowship of darkness with light, nor any fellowship of bitterness with the sweet of honey; there is no fellowship of life with death, of innocence with guilt, of water with blood; the lees have no fellowship with oil though they are related to it as being its dregs, but everything that is reprobate will flow away.  It is the very sink of iniquity; according to the saying of John, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us.’ 2103   There is no gold among their pollution:  all that is precious has been purged away.  For it is written, ‘As gold is tried in the furnace, so also are the just tried by the harassing of tribulation.’ 2104   Cruelty is not a part of gentleness, nor religion a part of sacrilege; nor can the party of Macarius 2105 in any way be part of us, because he pollutes the likeness of our rite.  For the enemy’s line, which fills up an enemy’s name, is no part of the force to which it is opposed; but if it is truly to be called a part, it will find a suitable motto in the judgment of Solomon, ‘Let their part be cut off from the earth.’" 2106

93.  Augustin answered:  What is it but sheer madness to utter these taunts without proving anything?  You look at the tares throughout the world, and pay no heed to the wheat, although both have been bidden to grow together throughout the whole of it.  You look at the seed sown by the wicked one, which shall be separated in the time of harvest, 2107 and you pay no heed to the seed of Abraham, in which all nations of the earth shall be blessed. 2108   Just as though you were already a purged mass, and virgin honey, and refined oil, and pure gold, or rather the very similitude of a whited wall.  For, to say nothing of your other faults, do the drunken form a portion of the sober, or are the covetous reckoned among the portion of the wise?  If men of gentle temper appropriate the term of light, where shall the madness of the Circumcelliones be esteemed to be, excepting in the darkness?  Why then is baptism, given by men like these, held valid among you, and the same baptism of Christ not held valid, by whatsoever men it may be administered throughout the world?  You see, in fact, that you are separated from the communion of the whole world in so far as this, that you are not indeed all drunk, nor all of you covetous, nor all men of violence, but that you are all heretics, and, in virtue of this, are all impious and all sacrilegious.

94.  But as to your saying that the whole world that rejoices in Christian communion is the party of Macarius, who with any remnant of sanity in his brain could make such a statement?  But because we say that you are of the party of Donatus, you therefore seek for a man of whose party you may say we are; and, being in a great strait, you mention the name of some obscure person, who, if he is known in Africa, is certainly unknown in any other quarter of the globe.  And therefore hearken to the answer made to you by all the seed of Abraham from every corner of the earth:  Of that Macarius, to whose party you assert us to belong, we know absolutely nothing.  Can you reply in turn that you know nothing of Donatus?  But even if we were to say that you are the party of Optatus, which of you can say that he is unacquainted with Optatus, unless in the sense that he does not know him personally, as perhaps he does not know Donatus either?  But you acknowledge that you rejoice in the name of Donatus, do you also take any pleasure in the name of Optatus?  What then can the name of Donatus profit you, when all of you alike are polluted by Optatus?  What advantage can you derive from the sobriety of Donatus, when you are defiled by the drunkenness of the Circumcelliones?  What, according to your views, are you profited by the innocence of Donatus, when you are stained by the rapacity of Optatus?  For this is your mistake, that you think that the unrighteousness of a man has more power in infecting his neighbor than the righteousness of a man has in purifying those around him.  Therefore, if two share p. 556 in common the sacraments of God, the one a just man, the other an unrighteous one, but so that neither the former should imitate the unrighteousness of the latter, nor the latter the righteousness of the former, you say that the result is not that both are made just, but that both are made unrighteous; so that also that holy thing, which both receive in common, becomes unclean and loses its original holiness.  When does unrighteousness find for herself such advocates as these, through whose madness she is esteemed victorious?  How comes it then that, in the midst of such mistaken perversity, you congratulate yourselves upon the name of Donatus, when it shows not that Petilianus deserves to be what Donatus is, but that Donatus is compelled to be what Optatus is?  But let the house of Israel say, "God is my portion for ever;" 2109 let the seed of Abraham say in all nations "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance." 2110   For they know how to speak through the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.  For you, too, through the sacrament which is in you, like Caiaphas the persecutor of the Lord, prophesy without being aware of it. 2111   For what in Greek is expressed by the word Μαχάριος is in our language simply "Blessed;" and in this way certainly we are of the party of Macarius, the Blessed One.  For what is more blessed than Christ, of whose party we are, after whom all the ends of the earth are called, and to whom they all are turned, and in whose sight all the countries of the nations worship?  Therefore the party of this Macarius, that is to say, of this Blessed One, feels no apprehension at your last curse, distorted from the words of Solomon, lest it should perish from the earth.  For what is said by him of the impious you endeavor to apply to the inheritance of Christ, and you strive to prove that this has been achieved with inexpressible impiety; for when he was speaking of the impious, he says, "Let their portion perish from off the earth." 2112   But when you say, with reference to the words of Scripture, "I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance," 2113 and "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord," 2114 that the promise contained in them has already perished from the earth, you are seeking to turn against the inheritance of Christ what was foretold about the lot of the impious; but so long as the inheritance of Christ endures and increases, you are perishing in saying such things.  For you are not in every case prophesying through the sacrament of God, since in this case you are merely uttering evil wishes through your own madness.  But the prophecy of the true prophets is more powerful than the evil speaking of the false prophets.


Footnotes

555:2103

1 John ii. 19.

555:2104

Apparently from Wisd. iii. 6.

555:2105

Macarius acted as imperial commissioner with Paulus, c. 348, to settle the disputes between Donatists and Catholics, but only to the further exasperation of the former, who accused him of intrusion and murder, and thereafter called their opponents Macarians.

555:2106

Prov. ii. 22.

555:2107

Matt. xiii. 24-30.

555:2108

Gen. xxii. 18.

556:2109

Ps. lxxiii. 26.

556:2110

Ps. xvi. 5.

556:2111

John xi. 51.

556:2112

Prov. ii. 22.

556:2113

Ps. ii. 8.

556:2114

Ps. xxii. 27.


Next: Chapter 40

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