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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 40

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 40.—46.  For if the baptism which Prætextatus and Felicianus administered in the communion of Maximianus was their own, why was it received by you in those whom they baptized as though it were the baptism of Christ?  But if it is truly the baptism of Christ, as indeed it is, and yet could not profit those who had received it with the guilt of schism, what do you say that you could have granted to those whom you have received into your body with the same baptism, except that, now that the offense of their accursed division is wiped out by the bond of peace, they should not be compelled to receive the sacrament of the holy laver as though they had it not, but that, as what they had was before for their destruction, so it should now begin to be of profit to them?  Or if this is not granted to them in your communion, because it could not possibly be that it should be granted to schismatics among schismatics, it is at any rate granted to you in the Catholic communion, not that you should receive baptism as though it were lacking in you, but that the baptism which you have actually received should be of profit to you.  For all the sacraments of Christ, if not combined with the love which belongs to the unity of Christ, are p. 616 possessed not unto salvation, but unto judgment.  But since it is not a true verdict, but your verdict, "that through the baptism of certain traditors the baptism of Christ has perished from the world in general," it is with good reason that you cannot find any answer to make respecting the recognition of the baptism of the followers of Maximianus.

47.  See therefore, and remember with the most watchful care, how Petilianus has made no answer to that very question, which he proposes to himself in such terms as to seem to make it a starting-point from which to say something.  For the former question he has dismissed altogether, and has not wished to speak of it to us, because I suppose it was beyond his power; nor is he at any time, up to the very end of his volume, going to say anything about it, though he quoted it from the first part of my epistle as though it were a matter calling for refutation.  For even though he has added the two words which he accused me of having suppressed, as though they were the strongest bulwarks of his position, he yet lies wholly defenseless, unable to find any answer to make when he is asked, If the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, where are we to find means for cleansing the conscience of the man who is unacquainted with the conscience of him gives, but not in holiness? and if it be the case that any one who has received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt, from what source is he to receive not guilt but faith, who is unwittingly baptized by one that is faithless?  To this question it has long been manifest from what he says that he has made no answer.

48.  In the next place, he has gone on, with calumnious mouth, to abuse monasteries and monks, finding fault also with me, as having been the founder of this kind of life. 2406   And what this kind of life really is he does not know at all, or rather, though it is perfectly well known throughout all the world, he pretends that he is unacquainted with it.  Then, asserting that I had said that Christ was the baptizer, he has also added certain words from my epistle as though I had set this forth as my own sentiment, when I had really quoted it as his and yours, and it was inveighed against with most copious harshness, as if it were I who had said these things against myself, when what he reprehended was not mine, but his and your sentiment, as I will presently show clearly to the best of my ability. 2407   Then he has endeavored to show us, in many unnecessary words, that Christ does not baptize, but that baptism is administered in His name, at once in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; of which Trinity itself he has said, either because it was what he wished, or because it was all that he could say, that "Christ is the centre of the Trinity."  In the next place, he has taken occasion of the names of the sorcerers Simon and Barjesus to vent against us what insults he thought fit.  Then he goes on, keeping in guarded suspense the case of Optatus of Thamugas, that he might not be steeped in the odium that arose from it, denying that neither he or his party could have passed judgment upon him, and actually intimating in respect of him, that he was crushed in consequence of suggestions from myself.


Footnotes

616:2406

See Possidius’ Life of St. Augustin, cc. v.-xi.

616:2407

See c. 45, 54.


Next: Chapter 41

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