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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20.—23.  All these statements in my letter Petilianus set before himself for refutation.  Let us see, therefore, whether he has refuted them; whether he has made any answer to them at all.  For I add the words which he calumniously accuses me of having suppressed, and, having done so, I ask him again the same question in an even shorter form; for by adding these two words he has helped me much in shortening this proposition.  If the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse that of the recipient, and if he who has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt, where shall we find means to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, when he has not known that the conscience of the giver is stained with guilt, and when he receives his faith unwittingly from one that is faithless?  I ask, where shall we find means to cleanse it?  Let him tell us; let him not pass off into another subject; let him not cast a mist over the eyes of the inexperienced.  To end with, at any rate, after many tortuous circumlocutions have been interposed and thoroughly worked out, let him at last tell us where we shall find means to cleanse the conscience of the recipient when the stains of guilt in the conscience of the faithless baptizer are concealed from view, if the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse that of the recipient, and if he who has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt?  For the man in question receives it from a faithless man who has not the conscience of one who gives in holiness, but a conscience stained with guilt, and veiled from view.  Where then shall we find means to cleanse his conscience? whence then does he receive his faith?  For if he is neither then cleansed, nor then receives faith, when the faithlessness and guilt of the baptizer are concealed, why, when these are afterwards brought to light and condemned, is he not then baptized afresh, that he may be cleansed and receive faith?  But if, while the faithlessness and guilt of the other are concealed, he is cleansed and does receive faith, whence does he obtain his cleansing, whence does he receive faith, when there is not the conscience of one that gives in holiness to cleanse the conscience of the recipient?  Let him tell us this; let him make reply to this:  Whence does he obtain his cleansing, whence does he receive faith, if the conscience of him that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, seeing that this does not exist, when the baptizer conceals his character of faithlessness and guilt?  To this no answer has been made whatever.


Next: Chapter 21

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