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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. IV:
Writings in Connection with the Donatist Controversy.: Chapter 16

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 16.—19.  Let him go now, and with panting lungs and swollen throat find fault with me as a mere dialectician.  Nay, let him summon, not me, but the science of dialectics itself, to the bar of popular opinion as a forger p. 604 of lies, and let him open his mouth to its widest against it, with all the noisiest uproar of a special pleader.  Let him say whatever he pleases before the inexperienced, that so the learned may be moved to wrath, while the ignorant are deceived.  Let him call me, in virtue of my rhetoric, by the name of the orator Tertullus, by whom Paul was accused; 2368 and let him give himself the name of Advocate, 2369 in virtue of the pleading in which he boasts his former power, and for this reason delude himself with the notion that he is, or rather was, a namesake of the Holy Ghost.  Let him, with all my heart, exaggerate the foulness of the Manichæans, and endeavor to divert it on to me by his barking.  Let him quote all the exploits of those who have been condemned, whether known or unknown to me; and let him turn into the calumnious imputation of a prejudged crime, by some new right entirely his own, the fact that a former friend of mine there named me in my absence to the better securing of his own defense.  Let him read the titles that have been placed upon my letters by himself or by his friends, as suited their pleasure, and boast that he has, as it were, involved me hopelessly in their expressions.  When I acknowledge certain eulogies of bread, uttered in all simplicity and merriment, let him take away my character with the absurd imputations of poisonous baseness and madness.  And let him entertain so bad an opinion of your understanding, as to imagine that he can be believed when he declares that pernicious love-charms were given to a woman, not only with the knowledge, but actually with the complicity 2370 of her husband.  What the man who was afterwards to ordain me bishop 2371 wrote about me in anger, while I was as yet a priest, he may freely seek to use as evidence against me.  That the same man sought and obtained forgiveness from a holy Council for the wrong he thus had done me, he is equally at liberty to ignore as being in my favor,—being either so ignorant or so forgetful of Christian gentleness, and the commandment of the gospel, that he brings as an accusation against a brother what is wholly unknown to that brother himself, as he humbly entreats that pardon may in kindness be extended to him.


Footnotes

604:2368

Acts xxiv. 1.

604:2369

Paracletus.

604:2370

"Favente," which is wanting in the Mss., was inserted in the margin by Erasmus, as being needed to complete the sense.

604:2371

Megalius, bishop of Calama, primate of Numidia, was the bishop who ordained Augustin, as we find in c. viii. of his life by Possidius.  Augustin makes further reply to the same calumny, which was gathered from a letter of Megalius, in Contra Cresconium, Book III. c. 80, 92, and Book IV. c. 64, 78, 79.


Next: Chapter 17

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