Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 82
Chapter 82.—179. Petilianus said: "But the holy apostle said this: In any way, whatsoever it may be, he says, let Christ be preached."
180. Augustin answered: You speak against yourself; but yet, since you speak on the side of truth, if you love it, let what you say be counted for you. For I ask of you of whom it was that the Apostle Paul said this? Let us, if you please, trace this a little further back. "Some," he says, "preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will, some of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. But some indeed preach Christ even of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds. What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice." 2191 We see that they preached what was in itself holy, and pure, and true, but yet not in a pure manner, but of envy and contention, without charity, without purity. Certainty a short time ago you appeared to be urging the praises of charity as against us, according to the witness of the apostle, that where there is no charity, whatever there is is of no avail; and yet you see that in those there is no charity, and there was with them the preaching of Christ, of which the apostle says here that he rejoices. For it is not that he rep. 572 joices in what is evil in them, but in what is good in the name of Jesus Christ. In him assuredly there was the charity which "rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." 2192 The envy, moreover, which was in them is an evil proceeding from the devil, for by this he has both killed and cast down. Where then were these wicked men whom the apostle thus condemns, and in whom there was so much that was good to cause him to rejoice? Were they within, or without? Choose which you will. If they were within, then Paul knew them, and yet they did not pollute him. And so you would not be polluted in the unity of the whole world by those of whom you make certain charges, whether these be true, or falsehoods invented by yourselves. Wherefore do you separate yourself? Why do you destroy yourself by the criminal sacrilege of schism? But if they were without, then you see that even in those who were without, and who certainly cannot belong to everlasting life, since they have not charity, and do not abide in unity, there is yet found the holiness of the name of Christ, so that the apostle joyfully confirms their teaching, on account of the intrinsic holiness of the name, although he repudiates them. We are right, therefore, in not doing wrong to the actual name, when those come to us who were without; but we correct the individuals, while we do honor to the name. Do you therefore take heed, and see how wickedly you act in the case of those whose acts as it seems you condemn, by treating as naught the sacrament of the name of Christ, which is holy in them. And you, indeed, as is shown by your words, think that those men of whom the apostle spoke were outside the limits of the Church. Therefore, when you fear persecution from the Catholics, of which you speak in order to create odium against us, you have confirmed in heretics the name of Christ to which you do despite by rebaptizing.
Phil. i. 15-18.572:2192
1 Cor. xiii. 6.
Next: Chapter 83
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