Then when all things had been considered and treated of which seem to conduce to the advantage of the church, the Spirit of God suggesting and admonishing us, we determined to act leniently and pacifically with the before-mentioned men, although they were cut off from the unity of the Lords body by an unruly dissent, so that (as much as in us lies) to all those who have been caught in the net of their communion and society, it might be known throughout all the provinces of Africa, how they have been overcome by miserable error, holding different opinions, “that perchance,” as the Apostle says, when we have corrected 461 them with gentleness, “God should grant them repentance for the acknowledging of the truth, and that they might be snatched out of the snares of the devil, who are led captive of him at his will.”
It seemed good that the Donatists should be treated kindly and with leniency, even if they should separate themselves from the Church, so that perchance through their respect for our great gentleness they may be loosed from their captivity.
The introduction refers to the Synod of Carthage of September 13, 401, and this canon is part of Canon j. of that Synod. We are indebted to the Ballerini for collecting the acts of this Synod by a comparison of the pseudo-Isidore, Dionysius, Ferrandus and the quotations contained in the acts of the Synod of Carthage of 525.
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