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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Merits and Forgiveness...: Chapter 36

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 36.—Infants Not Enlightened as Soon as They are Born.

Some, however, understand that as soon as children are born they are enlightened; and they derive this opinion from the passage: “That was the true Light, which lighteth every one that cometh into the world.” 322 Well, if this be the case, it is quite astonishing how it can be that those who are thus enlightened by the only-begotten Son, who was in the beginning the Word with God, and [Himself] God, are not admitted into the kingdom of God, nor are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. For that such an inheritance is not bestowed upon them except through baptism, even they who hold the opinion in question do acknowledge. Then, again, if they are (though already illuminated) thus unfit for entrance into the kingdom of God, they at all events ought gladly to receive the baptism, by which they are fitted for it; but, strange to say, we see how reluctant infants are to submit to baptism, resisting even with strong crying. And this ignorance of theirs we think lightly of at their time of life, so that we fully administer the sacraments, which we know to be serviceable to them, even although they struggle against them. And why, too, does the apostle say, “Be not children in understanding,” 323 if their minds have been already enlightened with that true Light, which is the Word of God?



John i. 9.


1 Cor. xiv. 20.

Next: Chapter 37