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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 14

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 14 [X.]—Victor Sends Those Infants Who Die Unbaptized to Paradise and the Heavenly Mansions, But Not to the Kingdom of Heaven.

But I beg you mark how bold he is, who is displeased with hesitancy, which prefers to be cautious rather than overknowing in a question so profound as this: “I would be bold to say”—such are his words—“that they can attain to the forgiveness of their original sins, yet not so as to be admitted into the kingdom of heaven. Just as in the case of the thief on the cross, who confessed but was not baptized, the Lord did not give him the kingdom of heaven, but paradise;  2412 the words remaining accordingly in full force, ‘Except a man be born again of water and of the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ 2413 This is especially true, inasmuch as the Lord acknowledges that in His Father’s house are many mansions, 2414 by which are indicated the many different merits of those who dwell in them; so that in these abodes the unbaptized is brought to forgiveness, and the baptized to the reward which by grace has been prepared for him.” You observe how the man keeps paradise and the mansions of the Father’s house distinct from the kingdom of heaven, so that even unbaptized persons may have an abundant provision in places of eternal happiness. Nor does he see, when he says all this, that he is so unwilling to distinguish the future abode of a baptized infant from the kingdom of heaven as to have no fear in keeping distinct therefrom the very house of God the Father, or the several parts thereof. For the Lord Jesus did not say: In all the created universe, or in any portion of that universe, but, “In my Father’s house, are many mansions.” But in what way shall an unbaptized person live in the house of God the Father, when he cannot possibly have God for his Father, except he be born again? He should not be so ungrateful to God, who has vouchsafed to deliver him from the sect of the Donatists or Rogatists, as to aim at dividing the house of God the Father, and to put one portion of it outside the kingdom of heaven, where the unbaptized may be able to dwell. And on what terms does he himself presume that he is to enter into the kingdom of heaven, when from that kingdom he p. 338 excludes the house of the King Himself, in what part soever He pleases? From the case, however, of the thief who, when crucified at the Lord’s side, put his hope in the Lord who was crucified with him, and from the case of Dinocrates, the brother of St. Perpetua, he argues that even to the unbaptized may be given the remission of sins and an abode with the blessed; as if any one unbelief in whom would be a sin, had shown him that the thief and Dinocrates had not been baptized. Concerning these cases, however, I have more fully explained my views in the book which I wrote to our brother Renatus. 2415 This your loving self will be able to ascertain if you will condescend to read the book; for I am sure our brother will not find it in his heart to refuse you, if you ask him the loan of it.


Footnotes

337:2412

Luke xxiii. 43.

337:2413

John iii. 5.

337:2414

John xiv. 2.

338:2415

See Book i. of the present treatise, chs. 11 [ix.] and 12 [x.].


Next: Chapter 15

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