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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V:
A Treatise on the Soul and its Origin.: Chapter 19

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 19 [XIII.]—His Eleventh Error. (See Above in Book I. 15 [XII.] and Book II. 16.)

Once more, if you desire to be a catholic, do not believe, or say, or teach that “some of those persons who have departed this life without Christ’s baptism, do not in the meantime go into the kingdom of heaven, but into paradise; yet afterwards in the resurrection of the dead they attain also to the blessedness of the kingdom of heaven.” Even the Pelagian heresy was not daring enough to grant them this, although it holds that infants do not contract original sin. You, however, as a catholic, confess that they are born in sin; and yet by some unaccountable perverseness in the novel opinion you put forth, you assert that they are absolved from that sin with which they were born, and admitted into the kingdom of heaven without the baptism which saves. Nor do you seem to be aware how much below Pelagius himself you are in your views on this point. For he, being alarmed by that sentence of the Lord which does not permit unbaptized persons to enter into the kingdom of heaven, does not venture to send infants thither, although he believes them to be free from all sin; whereas you have so little regard for what is written, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” 2454 that (to say nothing of the error which induces you recklessly to sever paradise from the kingdom of God) you do not hesitate to promise to certain persons, whom you, as a catholic, believe to be born unp. 351 der guilt, both absolution from this guilt and the kingdom of heaven, even when they die without baptism. As if you could possibly be a true catholic because you build up the doctrine of original sin against Pelagius, if you show yourself a new heretic against the Lord, by pulling down His statement respecting baptism. For our own part, beloved brother, we do not desire thus to gain victories over heretics: vanquishing one error by another, and, what is still worse, a less one by a greater. You say, “Should any one perhaps be reluctant to allow that paradise was temporarily bestowed in the meantime on the souls of the dying thief and of Dinocrates, while there still remains to them the reversion of the kingdom of heaven at the resurrection, seeing that the principal passage stands in the way of the opinion, ‘Except a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,’ he may still hold my ungrudging assent on this point; only let him do full honour to both the effect and the aim 2455 of the divine mercy and foreknowledge.” These are your own words, and in them you express your agreement with the man who says that paradise is conferred on certain unbaptized for a time, in such a sense that at the resurrection there is in store for them the reward of the kingdom of heaven, in opposition to “that principal passage” which has determined that none shall enter into that kingdom who has not been born again of water and the Holy Ghost. Pelagius was afraid to oppose himself to this “principal passage” of the Gospel, and he did not believe that any (whom he still did not suppose to be sinners) would enter into the kingdom of heaven unbaptized. You, on the contrary, acknowledge that infants have original sin, and yet you absolve them from it without the laver of regeneration, and send them for a temporary residence in paradise, and subsequently permit them to enter even into the kingdom of heaven.



John iii. 5.


Et effectum et affectum.

Next: Chapter 20

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