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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VII. St. Ambrose, addressing Christ, complains of the Novatians, and shows that they have no part with Christ, Who wishes all men to be saved.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.

St. Ambrose, addressing Christ, complains of the Novatians, and shows that they have no part with Christ, Who wishes all men to be saved.

30. So, then, Lord Jesus, come wholly to Thy Church, since Novatian makes excuse. Novatian says, “I have bought a yoke of oxen,” and he puts not on the light yoke of Christ, but lays upon his shoulders a heavy burden which he is not able to bear. Novatian held back Thy servants by whom he was invited, treated them contemptuously and slew them, polluting them with the stain of a reiterated baptism. Send forth, therefore, into the highways, and gather together good and bad, 2949 bring the weak, the blind, and the lame into Thy Church. Command that Thy house be filled, bring in all unto Thy supper, for Thou wilt make him whom Thou shalt call worthy, if he follow Thee. He indeed is rejected who has not the wedding garment, that is, the vestment of charity, the veil of grace. Send forth I pray Thee to all.

31. Thy Church does not excuse herself from Thy supper, Novatian makes excuse. Thy family says not, “I am whole, I need not the physician,” but it says: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved.” 2950 The likeness of Thy Church is that woman who went behind and touched the hem of Thy garment, saying within herself: “If I do but touch His garment I shall be whole.” 2951 So the Church confesses her wounds, but desires to be healed.

32. And Thou indeed, O Lord, desirest that all should be healed, but all do not wish to be healed. Novatian wishes not, who thinks that he is whole. Thou, O Lord, sayest that Thou art sick, and feelest our infirmity in the least of us, saying: “I was sick and ye visited Me.” 2952 Novatian does not visit that least one in whom Thou desirest to be visited. Thou saidst to Peter when he excused himself from having his feet washed by Thee: “If I wash not thy feet, thou wilt have no part with Me.” 2953 What fellowship, then, can they have with Thee, who receive not the keys of the kingdom of heaven, saying that they ought not to remit sins?

33. And this confession is indeed rightly made by them, for they have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.” 2954 And the vessel of divine election himself said: “If ye have forgiven anything to any one, I forgive also, for what I have forgiven I have done it for your sakes in the person of Christ.” 2955 Why, then, do they read Paul’s writings, if they think that he has erred so wickedly as to claim for himself the right of his Lord? But he claimed what he had rep. 335 ceived, he did not usurp that which was not due to him.



S. Luke xiv. 21.


Jerem. xvii. 14.


S. Matt. ix. 21.


S. Matt. xxv. 36.


S. John xiii. 8.


S. Matt. xvi. 19.


2 Cor. ii. 10.

Next: Chapter VIII. It was the Lord's will to confer great gifts on His disciples. Further, the Novatians confute themselves by the practices of laying on of hands and of baptism, since it is by the same power that sins are remitted in penance and in baptism. Their conduct is then contrasted with that of our Lord.

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