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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 8

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 8.—9.  Nor is it only you that are safe, whatever we may be, because you are satisfied with the very truth of Christ which is in us, in so far as it is preached through us, and everywhere throughout the world, and because, listening to it willingly, so far as it is set forth by the humble ministry of our tongue, you also think well and kindly of us,—for so your hope is in Him whom we preach to you out of His loving-kindness, which extends over you,—but further, all of you, who p. 601 also received the sacrament of holy baptism from our ministering, may well rejoice in the same security, seeing that you were baptized, not into us, but into Christ.  You did not therefore put on us, but Christ; nor did I ask you whether you were converted unto me, but unto the living God; nor whether you believed in me, but in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  But if you answered my question with truthful hearts, you were placed in a state of salvation, not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience towards God; 2358 not by a fellow-servant, but by the Lord; not by the herald, but by the judge.  For it is not true, as Petilianus inconsiderately said, that "the conscience of the giver," or, as he added "the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to wash the conscience of the recipient."  For when something is given that is of God, it is given in holiness, even by a conscience which is not holy.  And certainly it is beyond the power of the recipient to discern whether the said conscience is holy or not holy; but that which is given he can discern with clearness.  That which is known to Him who is ever holy is received with perfect safety, whatever be the character of the minister at whose hands it is received.  For unless the words which are spoken from Moses’ seat were necessarily holy, He that is the Truth would never have said, "Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do."  But if the men who uttered holy words were themselves holy, He would not have said, "Do not ye after their works:  for they say, and do not." 2359   For it is true that in no way do men gather grapes of thorns, because grapes never spring from the root of a thorn; but when the shoot of the vine has entwined itself in a thorn hedge, the fruit which hangs upon it is not therefore looked upon with dread, but the thorn is avoided, while the grape is plucked.



1 Pet. iii. 21.


Matt. 23:2, 3.

Next: Chapter 9

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