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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 20

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 20 [XIV.]—Augustin Calls on Victor to Correct His Errors. (See Above in Book II. 22 [XVI.].)

Now these errors, and such as these, with whatever others you may perhaps be able to discover in your books on a more attentive and leisurely perusal, I beg of you to correct, if you possess a catholic mind; in other words, if you spoke in perfect sincerity when you said, that you were not over-confident in yourself that what statements you had made were all capable of proof; and that your constant aim was not to maintain even your own opinion, if it were shown to be improbable; and that it gave you much pleasure, if your own judgment were condemned, to adopt and pursue better and truer sentiments. Well now, my dear brother, show that you said this in no fallacious sense; so that the catholic Church may rejoice in your capacity and character, as possessing not only genius, but prudence withal, and piety, and moderation, rather than that the madness of heresy should be kindled by your contentious persistence in these errors. Now you have an opportunity of showing also how sincerely you expressed your feelings in the passage which immediately follows the satisfactory statement which I have just now mentioned of yours. “For,” you say, “as it is the mark of every highest aim and laudable purpose to transfer one’s self readily to truer views; so it shows a depraved and obstinate judgment to refuse to return promptly to the pathway of reason.” Well, then, show yourself to be influenced by this high aim and laudable purpose, and transfer your mind readily to truer views; and do not display a depraved and obstinate judgment by refusing to return promptly to the pathway of reason. For if your words were uttered in frank sincerity, if they were not mere sound of the lips, if you really felt them in your heart, then you cannot but abhor all delay in accomplishing the great good of correcting yourself. It was not, indeed, much for you to allow, that it showed a depraved and obstinate judgment to refuse to return to the pathway of reason, unless you had added “promptly.” By adding this, you showed us how execrable is his conduct who never accomplishes the reform; inasmuch as even he who effects it but tardily appears to you to deserve so severe a censure, as to be fairly described as displaying a depraved and obstinate mind. Listen, therefore, to your own admonition, and turn to good account mainly and largely the fruitful resources of your eloquence; that so you may promptly return to the pathway of reason, more promptly, indeed, than when you declined therefrom, at an unstable period of your age, when you were fortified with too little prudence and less learning.


Next: Chapter 21

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