Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 10
Chapter 10.—11. Let these things suffice you, my beloved Christian brethren of the Catholic Church, so far as the present business is concerned; and if you hold fast to this in Catholic affection, so long as you are one sure flock of the one Shepherd, I am not too much concerned with the abuse that any enemy may lavish on me, your partner in the flock, or, at any rate, your watch-dog, so long as he compels me to bark rather in your defense than in my own. And yet, if it were necessary for the cause that I should enter on my own defense, I should do so with the greatest brevity and the greatest ease, joining freely with all men in condemning and bearing witness against the whole period of my life before I received the baptism of Christ, so far as relates to my evil passions and my errors, lest, in defending that period, I should seem to be seeking my own glory, not His, who by His grace delivered me even from myself. Wherefore, when I hear that life of mine abused, in whatever spirit he may be acting who abuses it, I am not so thankless as to be grieved. However much he finds fault with any vice of mine, I praise him in the same degree as my physician. Why then should I disturb myself about defending those past and obsolete evils in my life, in respect of which, though Petilianus has said much that is false, he has yet left more that is true unsaid? But concerning that period of my life which is subsequent to my baptism, to you who know me I speak unnecessarily in telling of those things which might be known to all mankind; but those who know me not ought not to act with such unfairness towards me as to believe Petilianus rather than you concerning me. For if one should not give credence to the panegyrics of a friend, neither should one believe the detraction of an enemy. There remain, therefore, those things which are hidden in a man, in which conscience alone can bear testimony, which cannot be a witness before men. Herein Petilianus says that I am a Manichæan, speaking of the conscience of another man; I, speaking of my own conscience, aver that I am not. Choose which of us you had sooner believe. Notwithstanding, since there is not any need even of this short and easy defense on my part, where the question at issue is not concerning the merits of any individual, whoever he may be, but concerning the truth 2360 of the whole Church, I have more p. 602 also to say to any of you, who, being of the party of Donatus, have read the evil words which Petilianus has written about me, which I should not have heard from him if I had had no care about the loss of your salvation; but then I should have been wanting in the bowels of Christian love.
Some editors have "unitate," but Amerbach and the Mss. "veritate;" and this is supported by c. 24, 28 below: "De ecclesiæ vel baptismi veritate;" and c. 13, 22 of the treatise de Unico Baptismo: "Ambulantibus in ecclesiæ veritate."
Next: Chapter 11
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