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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
On Marriage and Concupiscence.: Chapter 51

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 51.—To Call Those that Teach Original Sin Manicheans is to Accuse Ambrose, Cyprian, and the Whole Church.

What, moreover, shall I say of those commentators on the divine Scriptures who have flourished in the catholic Church? They have never tried to pervert these testimonies to an alien sense, because they were firmly established in our most ancient and solid faith, and were never moved aside by the novelty of error. Were I to wish to collect these together, and to make use of their testimony, the task would both be too long, and I should probably seem to have bestowed less preference than I ought on canonical authorities, 2315 from which one must never deviate. I will merely mention the most blessed Ambrose, to whom (as I have already observed 2316 ) Pelagius accorded so signal a testimony of his integrity in the faith. This Ambrose, however, maintained that there was nothing else in infants, which required the healing grace of Christ, than original sin. 2317 But in respect of Cyprian, with his all-glorious crown, 2318 will any one say of him, that he either was, or ever could by any possibility have been, a Manichean, when he suffered before the pestilent heresy had made its appearance in the Roman world? And yet, in his book on the baptism of infants, he so vigorously maintains original sin as to declare, that even before the eighth day, if necessary, the infant ought to be baptized, lest his soul should be lost; and he wished it to be understood, that the infant could the more readily attain to the indulgence of baptism, inasmuch as it is not so much his own sins, but the sins of another, which are remitted to him. Well, then, let this writer dare to call these Manicheans; let him, moreover, under this scandalous imputation asperse that most ancient tradition of the Church, whereby infants are, as I have said, exorcised with exsufflation, for the purpose of being translated into the kingdom of Christ, after they are delivered from the power of darkness—that is to say, of the devil and his angels. As for ourselves, indeed, we are more ready to be associated with these men, and with the Church of Christ, so firmly rooted in this ancient faith, in suffering any amount of curse and contumely, than with the Pelagians, to be covered with the flattery of public praise.



i.e., Scripture.


See Book i. of this treatise, last chapter.


Ambrose On Isaiah: cited in the same Book, i. ch. 35.


i.e., of martyrdom.

Next: Chapter 52

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