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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 21

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 21 [XVI.]—Unbaptized Infants Damned, But Most Lightly; 275 The Penalty of Adam’s Sin, the Grace of His Body Lost.

It may therefore be correctly affirmed, that p. 23 such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: “Judgment from one offence to condemnation,” 276 and again a little after: “By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation.” 277 When, indeed, Adam sinned by not obeying God, then his body—although it was a natural and mortal body—lost the grace whereby it used in every part of it to be obedient to the soul. Then there arose in men affections common to the brutes which are productive of shame, and which made man ashamed of his own nakedness. 278 Then also, by a certain disease which was conceived in men from a suddenly injected and pestilential corruption, it was brought about that they lost that stability of life in which they were created, and, by reason of the mutations which they experienced in the stages of life, issued at last in death. However many were the years they lived in their subsequent life, yet they began to die on the day when they received the law of death, because they kept verging towards old age. For that possesses not even a moment’s stability, but glides away without intermission, which by constant change perceptibly advances to an end which does not produce perfection, but utter exhaustion. Thus, then, was fulfilled what God had spoken: “In the day that ye eat thereof, ye shall surely die.” 279 As a consequence, then, of this disobedience of the flesh and this law of sin and death, whoever is born of the flesh has need of spiritual regeneration—not only that he may reach the kingdom of God, but also that he may be freed from the damnation of sin. Hence men are on the one hand born in the flesh liable to sin and death from the first Adam, and on the other hand are born again in baptism associated with the righteousness and eternal life of the second Adam; even as it is written in the book of Ecclesiasticus: “Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.” 280 Now whether it be said of the woman or of Adam, both statements pertain to the first man; since (as we know) the woman is of the man, and the two are one flesh. Whence also it is written: “And they twain shall be one flesh; wherefore,” the Lord says, “they are no more twain, but one flesh.” 281



See Augustin’s Enchirid. c. 93, and Contra Julianum, v. 11.


Rom. v. 16.


Rom. 5.18.


Gen. iii. 10.


Gen. ii. 17.


Ecclesiasticus 25.24.


Matt. 19:5, 6.

Next: Chapter 22

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