Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 49
Chapter 49.—113. Petilianus said: "For, granting that you faithless ones are acquainted with the law, without any prejudice to the law itself, I may say so much as this, the devil knows it too. For in the case of righteous Job he answered the Lord God concerning the law as though he were himself righteous, as it is written, "And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a man without malice, a true worshipper of God abstaining from every evil; and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause?" 2132 And Satan answered the Lord, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. Behold he speaks in legal phrase, even when he is striving against the law. And a second time he endeavored thus to tempt the Lord Christ with his discourse, as it is written, The devil taketh Jesus into the holy city, and setteth Him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto Him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning thee; and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God. 2133 You know the law, I say, as did the devil, who is conquered in his endeavors, and blushes in his deeds."
114. Augustin answered: I might indeed ask of you in what law the words are written which the devil used when he was uttering calumnies against the holy man Job, if the position which I am set to prove were this, that you yourself are unacquainted with the law which you assert the devil to have known, but as this is not the question at issue between us, I pass it by. But you have endeavored in such sort to prove that the devil is skilled in the law, as though we maintained that all who know the law are just. Accordingly, I do not see in what manner you are assisted by what you have chosen to quote concerning the devil,—unless, indeed, it may be that we should be thereby reminded how you imitate the devil himself. For as he brought forward the words of the law against the Author of the law, so you also out of the words of the law bring accusation against men whom you do not know, that you may resist the promises of God which are made in that very self-same law. Then I should be glad if you would tell me in whose honor do those confessors of yours achieve their martyrdom, when they throw themselves over precipices,—in honor of Christ, who thrust the devil from Him when he made a like suggestion, or rather in honor of the devil himself, who suggested such a deed to Christ? There are two especially vile and customary deaths resorted to by those who kill themselves,—hanging and the precipice. You assuredly said in the earlier part of this epistle, "The traitor hung himself: he left this death to all who are like him." This has no application whatever to us; for we refuse to reverence with the name of martyr any who have strangled themselves. With how much greater show of reason might we say against you, That master of all traitors, the devil, wished to persuade Christ to throw Himself headlong down, and was repulsed! What, therefore, must we say of those whom he persuaded with success? What, indeed, except that they are the enemies of Christ, the friends of the devil, the disciples of the seducer, the fellow-disciples of the traitor? For both have learned to kill themselves from the same master,—Judas by hanging himself, the others by throwing themselves over precipices.
Job 2:3, 4.560:2133
Matt. iv. 5-7.
Next: Chapter 50
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