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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 41

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 61

Chapter 41.—Children of Believers are Called “Clean” By the Apostle. 604

The apostle indeed says, “Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy;” 605 and “therefore” they infer “there was no necessity for the children of believers to be baptized.” I am surprised at the use of such language by persons who deny that original sin has been transmitted from Adam. For, if they take this passage of the apostle to mean that the children of believers are born in a state of holiness, how is it that even they have no doubt about the necessity of their being baptized? Why, in fine, do they refuse to admit that any original sin is derived from a sinful parent, if some holiness is received from a holy parent? Now it certainly does not contravene our assertion, even if from the faithful “holy” children are propagated, when we hold that unless they are baptized those go into damnation, to whom our opponents themselves shut the kingdom of heaven, although they insist that they are without sin, whether actual or original. 606 Or, if they think it an unbecoming thing for “holy ones” to be damned, how can it be a becoming thing to exclude “holy ones” from the kingdom of God? They should rather pay especial attention to this point, How can something sinful help being derived from sinful parents, if something holy is derived from holy parents, and uncleanness from unclean parents? For the twofold principle was affirmed when he said, “Else were your children unclean, but now are they holy.” They should also explain to us how it is right that the holy children of believers and the unclean children of unbelievers are, notwithstanding their different circumstances, equally prohibited from entering the kingdom of God, if they have not been baptized. What avails that sanctity of theirs to the one? Now if they were to maintain that the unclean children of unbelievers are damned, but that the holy children of believers are unable to enter the kingdom of heaven unless they are baptized,—but nevertheless are not damned, because they are “holy,”—that would be some sort of a distinction; but as it is, they equally declare respecting the holy children of holy parents and the unclean offspring of unclean parents, that they are not damned, since they have not any sin; and that they are excluded from the kingdom of God because they are unbaptized. What an absurdity! Who can suppose that such splendid geniuses do not perceive it?


Footnotes

61:604

[See Gelasius, in his Treatise against the Pelagians.]

61:605

1 Cor. vii. 14.

61:606

See above, Book i. chs. 21–23.


Next: Chapter 42

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