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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 79

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 79.—173.  Petilianus said:  "And again, ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own.’  But you seek what belongs to other men.  ‘Is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth.’  2185   This is to say, in short, Charity does not persecute, does not inflame emperors to take away the lives of other men; does not plunder other men’s goods; does not go on to murder men whom it has spoiled."

174.  Augustin answered:  How often must I tell you the same thing?  If you do not prove these charges, they tell against no one in the world; and if you prove them, they have no bearing upon us; just as those things have no bearing upon you which are daily done by the furious deeds of the insane, by the luxury of the drunken, by the blindness of the suicides, by the tyranny of robbers.  For who can fail to see that what I say is true?  But now if charity were in you, it would rejoice in the truth.  For how neatly it is said under covering of the sheep’s clothing, "Charity beareth all things, endureth all things!" but when you come to the test, the wolf’s teeth cannot be concealed.  For when, in obedience to the words of Scripture, "forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," 2186 charity would compel you, even if you knew of any evils within the Church, I do not say to consent to them, but yet to tolerate them if you could not prevent them, lest, on account of the wicked who are to be separated by the winnowing-fan at the last day, you should at the present time sever the bond of peace by breaking off from the society of good men, you, resisting her influence, and being cast out by the wind of levity, charge the wheat with being chaff, and declare that what you invent of the wicked holds good through the force of contagion even in the righteous.  And when the Lord has said, "The field is the world, the harvest is the end of the world," though He said of the wheat and of the tares, "Let both grow together until the harvest," 2187 you endeavor by your words to bring about a belief that the wheat has perished throughout the main portion of the field, and only continued to exist in your little corner,—being desirous that Christ should be proved a liar, but you the man of truth.  And you speak, indeed, against your own conscience; for no one who in any way looks truly at the gospel will venture in his heart to say that in all the many nations throughout which is heard the response of Amen, and among whom Alleluia is sung almost with one single voice, no Christians are to be found.  And yet, that it may not appear that the party of Donatus, which does not communicate with the several nations of the world, is involved in error, if any angel from heaven, who could see the whole world, were to declare that outside your communion good and innocent men were nowhere to be found, there is little doubt that you would rejoice over the iniquity of the human race, and boast of having told the truth before you had received assurance of it.  How then is there in you that charity which rejoices not in iniquity?  But be not deceived.  Throughout the field, that is, throughout the world, there will be found the wheat of the Lord growing till the end of the world.  Christ has said this:  Christ is truth.  Let charity be in you, and let it rejoice in the truth.  Though an angel from heaven preach unto you another gospel contrary to His gospel, let him be accursed.  2188


Footnotes

570:2185

1 Cor. xiii. 1-8.

570:2186

Eph. 4:2, 3.

570:2187

Matt. 13:38, 39, 30.

570:2188

Gal. i. 8.


Next: Chapter 80

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