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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 52

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 52.—119.  Petilianus said:  "If you suppose that you can offer sacrifice, God Himself thus speaks of you as most abandoned sinners:  ‘The wicked man,’ He says, ‘that sacrificeth a calf is as if he cut off a dog’s neck; and he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood.’ 2136   Recognize herein your sacrifice, who have already poured out human blood.  And again He says, ‘Their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted.’" 2137

120.  Augustin answered:  We say that in the case of every man the sacrifice that is offered partakes of the character of him who approaches to offer it, or approaches to partake of it; and that those eat of the sacrifices of such men, who in approaching to them partake of the character of those who offer them.  Therefore, if a bad man offer sacrifice to God, and a good man receive it at his hands, the sacrifice is to each man of such character as he himself has shown himself to be, since we find it also written that "unto the pure all things are pure." 2138   In accordance with this true and catholic judgment, you too are free from pollution by the sacrifice of Optatus, if you disapproved of his deeds.  For certainly his bread was the bread of mourners, seeing that all Africa was mourning under his iniquities.  But the evil involved in the schism of all your party makes this bread of mourners common to you all.  For, according to the judgment of your Council, Felicianus of Musti was a shedder of man’s blood.  For you said, in condemning them, 2139 "Their feet are swift to shed blood." 2140   See therefore what kind of sacrifice he offers whom you hold to be a priest, when you have yourselves convicted him of sacrilege.  And if you think that this is in no way to your prejudice, I would ask you how the emptiness of your calumnies can be to the prejudice of the whole world?



Isa. lxvi. 3.


Hos. ix. 4.


Tit. i. 15.


In the Council of Bagai.


Ps. xiv. 3, cp. LXX. and Hieron.

Next: Chapter 53

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