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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 36

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 36.—42.  But after this, when Petilianus came to that objection of ours, that they allowed the baptism of the followers of Maximianus, whom they had condemned, 2400 —although in the statement of this question he thought it right to use his own words rather than mine; for neither do we assert that the baptism of sinners is of profit to us, seeing that we maintain it to belong not only to no sinners, but to no men whatsoever, in that we are satisfied that it is Christ’s alone,—having put the question in this form, he says, "Yet you obstinately aver that it is right that p. 614 the baptism of sinners should be of profit to you, because we too, according to your statement, maintained the baptism of criminals whom we justly condemned."  When he came to this question, as I said before, even all the show of fight which he had made deserted him.  He could not find any way to go, any means of escape, any path by which, either through subtle watching or bold enterprise, he could either secretly steal away, or sally forth by force.  "Although this," he says, "I will demonstrate in my second book, how great the difference is between those of our party and those of yours whom you call innocent, yet, in the meantime, first extricate yourselves from the offenses with which you are acquainted in your colleagues, and then seek out the mode of dealing with those whom we cast out."  Would any one, any man upon the earth, give an answer like this, save one who is setting himself against the truth, against which he cannot find any answer that can be made?  Accordingly, if we too were to use the same words:  In the meantime, first extricate yourselves from the offenses with which you are acquainted in your colleagues, and then bring up against us any charge connected with those whom you hold to be wicked amongst us,—what is the result?  Have we both won the victory, or are we both defeated?  Nay, rather He has gained the victory for His Church and in His Church, who has taught us in His Scriptures that no man should glory in men, and that he that glorieth should glory in the Lord.  2401   For behold in our case who assert with the eloquence of truth that the man who believes is not justified by him by whom he is baptized, but by Him of whom it is written, "To him that believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," 2402 since we do not glory in men, and strive, when we glory, to glory in the Lord in virtue of His own gift, how wholly safe are we, whatever fault or charge Petilianus may have been able to prove concerning certain men of our communion!  For among us, whatever wicked men are either wholly undetected, or, being known to certain persons, are yet tolerated for the sake of the bond of unity and peace, in consideration of other good men to whom their wickedness is unknown, and before whom they could not be convicted, in order that the wheat may not be rooted up together with the tares, yet they so bear the burden of their own wickedness, that no one shares it with them except those who are pleased with their unrighteousness.  Nor indeed have we any apprehension that those whom they baptize cannot be justified, since they believe in Him that justifieth the ungodly that their faith may be counted for righteousness. 2403


Footnotes

613:2400

See Book I. cc. 10, 11, 11, 12.

614:2401

1 Cor. 3:21, 1 Cor. 1:31.

614:2402

Rom. iv. 5.

614:2403

Rom. iv. 5.


Next: Chapter 37

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