In this book Augustine refutes the second letter which Petilianus wrote to him after having seen the first of Augustine's earlier books. This letter had been full of violent language; and Augustine rather shows that the arguments of Petilianus had been deficient and irrelevant, than brings forward arguments in support of his own statements.
1. Being able to read, Petilianus, I have read your letter, in which you have shown with sufficient clearness that, in supporting the party of Donatus against the Catholic Church, you have neither been able to say anything to the purpose, nor been allowed to hold your tongue. What violent emotions did you endure, what a storm of feelings surged within your heart, on reading the answer which I made, with all possible brevity and clearness, to that portion of your letter which alone at that time had come into my hands! For you saw that the truth which we maintain and defend was confirmed with such strength of argument, and illustrated with such abundant light, that you could not find anything which could be said against it, whereby the charges which we make might be refuted. You observed, also, that the attention of many who had read it was fixed on you, since they desired to know what you would say, what you would do, how you would escape from the difficulty, how you would make your way out of the strait in which the word of God had encompassed you. Hereupon you, when you ought to have shown contempt for the opinion of the foolish ones, and to have gone on to adopt sound and truthful sentiments, preferred rather to do what Scripture has foretold of men like you: "You have loved evil more than good, and lying rather than to speak righteousness." Just as if I in turn were willing to recompense unto you railing for railing; in which case, what should we be but two evil speakers, so that those who read our words would either preserve their self-respect by throwing us aside with abhorrence, or eagerly devour what we wrote to gratify their malice? For my own part, since I answer every one, whether in writing or by word of mouth, even when I have been attacked with insulting accusations, in such language as the Lord puts in my mouth, restraining and crushing the stings of empty indignation in the interests of my hearer or reader, I do not strive to prove myself superior to my adversary by abusing him, but rather to be a source of health in him by convicting him of his error.
2. For if those who take into consideration what you have written have any feelings whatsoever, how did it serve you in the cause which is at issue between us respecting the Catholic communion and the party of Donatus, that, leaving a matter which was in a certain sense of public interest, you should have been led by private animosity to attack the life of an individual with malicious revilings, just as though that individual were the question in debate? Did you think so badly, I do not say of Christians, but of the whole human race, as not to suppose that your writings might come into the hands of some prudent men, who would lay aside all thoughts of individuals like us, and inquire rather into the question which was at issue between us, and pay heed, not to who and what we were, but to what we might be able to advance in defense of the truth or against error? You should have paid respect to these men's judgment, you should have guarded yourself against their censure, lest they should think that you could find nothing to say, unless you set before yourself some one whom you might abuse by any means within your power. But one may see by the thoughtlessness and foolishness of some men, who listen eagerly to the quarrels of any learned disputants, that while they take notice of the eloquence wherewith you lavish your abuse, they do not perceive with what truth you are refuted. At the same time, I think your object partly was that I might be driven, by the necessity of defending myself, to desert the very cause which I had undertaken; and that so, while men's attention was turned to the words of opponents who were engaged not in disputation, but in quarrelling, the truth might be obscured, which you are so afraid should come to light and be well known among men. What therefore was I to do in opposing such a design as this, except to keep strictly to my subject, neglecting rather my own defense, praying withal that no personal calumny may lead me to withdraw from it? I will exalt the house of my God, whose honor I have loved, with the tribute of a faithful servant's voice, but myself I will humiliate and hold of no account. "I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of heretics." I will therefore turn my discourse from you, Petilianus, for a time, and direct it rather to those whom you have endeavored to turn away from me by your revilings, as though my endeavor rather were that men should be converted unto me, and not rather with me unto God.
3. Hear therefore, all you who have read his revilings, what Petilianus has vented against me with more anger than consideration. To begin with, I will address you in the words of the apostle, which certainly are true, whatever I myself may be: "Let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not my own self." With regard to what immediately follows, although I do not venture to apply to myself the words, "For I am conscious of nothing in myself," yet I say confidently in the sight of God, that I am conscious in myself of none of those charges which Petilianus has brought against my life since the time when I was baptized in Christ; "yet am I not hereby justified, but He that judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself; that you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another." 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 "Therefore let no man glory in men: for all things are yours; and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's." Again I say, "Let no man glory in men;" nay, oftentimes I repeat it, "Let no man glory in men." If you perceive anything in us which is deserving of praise, refer it all to His praise, from whom is every good gift and every perfect gift; for it is "from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17 For what have we which we did not receive? And if we have received it, let us not boast as though we had not received it. 1 Corinthians 4:7 And in all these things which you know to be good in us, be ye our followers, at any rate, if we are Christ's; 1 Corinthians 4:16 but if, on the other hand, you either suspect, or believe, or see that any evil is in us, hold fast to that saying of the Lord's, in which you may safely resolve not to desert His Church because of men's ill deeds. Whatsoever we bid you observe, that observe and do; but whatsoever evil works you think or know to be in us, those do ye not. Matthew 23:3 For this is not the time for me to justify myself before you, when I have undertaken, neglecting all considerations of self, to recommend to you what is for your salvation, that no one should make his boast of men. For "cursed be the man that trusts in man." Jeremiah 17:5 So long as this precept of the Lord and His apostle be adhered to and observed, the cause which I serve will be victorious, even if I myself, as my enemy would fain have thought, am faint and oppressed in my own cause. For if you cling most firmly to what I urge on you with all my might, that every one is cursed who places his trust in man, so that none should make his boast of man, then you will in no wise desert the threshing-floor of the Lord on account of the chaff which either is now being dispersed beneath the blast of the wind of pride, or will be separated by the final winnowing; Matthew 3:12 nor will you fly from the great house on account of the vessels made to dishonor; 2 Timothy 2:20 nor will you quit the net through the breaches made in it because of the bad fish which are to be separated on the shore; Matthew 13:47-48 nor will you leave the good pastures of unity, because of the goats which are to be placed on the left when the Good Shepherd shall divide the flock; Matthew 25:32-33 nor will you separate yourselves by an impious secession, because of the mixture of the tares, from the society of that good wheat, whose source is that grain that dies and is multiplied thereby, and that grows together throughout the world until the harvest. For the field is the world—not only Africa; and the harvest is the end of the world, Matthew 13:24-40 — not the era of Donatus.
4. These comparisons of the gospel you doubtless recognize. Nor can we suppose them given for any other purpose, except that no one should make his boast in man, and that no one should be puffed up for one against another, or divided one against another, saying, "I am of Paul," when certainly Paul was not crucified for you, nor were you baptized in the name of Paul, much less in that of Cæcilianus, or of any one of us, 1 Corinthians 1:12-13 that you may learn, that so long as the chaff is being bruised with the grain, so long as the bad fishes swim together with the good in the nets of the Lord, till the time of separation shall come, it is your duty rather to endure the admixture of the bad out of consideration for the good, than to violate the principle of brotherly love towards the good from any consideration of the bad. For this admixture is not for eternity, but for time alone; nor is it spiritual, but corporal. And in this the angels will not be liable to err, when they shall collect the bad from the midst of the good, and commit them to the burning fiery furnace. For the Lord knows those which are His. And if a man cannot depart bodily from those who practise iniquity so long as time shall last, at any rate, let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity itself. 2 Timothy 2:19 For in the meantime he may separate himself from the wicked in life, and in morals, and in heart and will, and in the same respects depart from his society; and separation such as this should always be maintained. But let the separation in the body be waited for till the end of time, faithfully, patiently, bravely. In consideration of which expectation it is said, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, upon the Lord." For the greatest palm of toleration is won by those who, among false brethren that have crept in unawares, seeking their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ, yet show that they on their part seek not to disturb the love which is not their own, but Jesus Christ's, by any turbulent or rash dissension, nor to break the unity of the Lord's net, in which are gathered together fish of every kind; till it is drawn to the shore, that is, till the end of time, by any wicked strife fostered in the spirit of pride: while each might think himself to be something, being really nothing, and so might lead himself astray, and wish that sufficient reason might be found for the separation of Christian peoples in the judgment of himself or of his friends, who declare that they know beyond all question certain wicked men unworthy of communion in the sacraments of the Christian religion: though whatever it may be that they know of them, they cannot persuade the universal Church, which, as it was foretold, is spread abroad throughout all nations, to give credit to their tale. And when they refuse communion with these men, as men whose character they know, they desert the unity of the Church; whereas they ought rather, if there really were in them that charity which endures all things, themselves to bear what they know in one nation, lest they should separate themselves from the good whom they were unable throughout all nations to fill with the teaching of evil alien to them. Whence even, without discussing the case, in which they are convicted by the weightiest proofs of having uttered calumnies against the innocent, they are believed with greater probability to have invented false charges of giving up the sacred books, when they are found to have themselves committed the far more heinous crime of wicked division in the Church. For even, if whatever imputations they have cast of giving up the sacred books were true, yet they in no wise ought to have abandoned the society of Christians, who are commended by holy Scripture even to the ends of the world, on considerations which they have been familiar with, while these men showed that they were not acquainted with them.
5. Nor would I therefore be understood to urge that ecclesiastical discipline should be set at naught, and that every one should be allowed to do exactly as he pleased, without any check, without a kind of healing chastisement, a lenity which should inspire fear, the severity of love. For then what will become of the precept of the apostle, "Warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men; see that none render evil for evil unto any man?" 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 At any rate, when he added these last words, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man," he showed with sufficient clearness that there is no rendering of evil for evil when one chastises those that are unruly, even though for the fault of unruliness be administered the punishment of chastising. The punishment of chastising therefore is not an evil, though the fault be an evil. For indeed it is the steel, not of an enemy inflicting a wound, but of a surgeon performing an operation. Things like this are done within the Church, and that spirit of gentleness within its pale burns with zeal towards God, lest the chaste virgin which is espoused to one husband, even Christ, should in any of her members be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ, as Eve was beguiled by the subtlety of the serpent. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 Notwithstanding, far be it from the servants of the father of the family that they should be unmindful of the precept of their Lord, and be so inflamed with the fire of holy indignation against the multitude of the tares, that while they seek to gather them in bundles before the time, the wheat should be rooted up together with them. And of this sin these men would be held to be guilty, even though they showed that those were true charges which they brought against the traditors whom they accused; because they separated themselves in a spirit of impious presumption, not only from the wicked, whose society they professed to be avoiding, but also from the good and faithful in all nations of the world, to whom they could not prove the truth of what they said they knew; and with themselves they drew away into the same destruction many others over whom they had some slight authority, and who were not wise enough to understand that the unity of the Church dispersed throughout the world was on no account to be forsaken for other men's sins. So that, even though they themselves knew that they were pressing true charges against certain of their neighbors, yet in this way a weak brother, for whom Christ died, was perishing through their knowledge; 1 Corinthians 8:11 while, being offended at other men's sins, he was destroying in himself the blessing of peace which he had with the good brethren, who partly had never heard such charges, partly had shrunk from giving hasty credence to what was neither discussed nor proved, partly, in the peaceful spirit of humility, had left these charges, whatsoever they might be, to the cognizance of the judges of the Church, to whom the whole matter had been referred, across the sea.
6. Do you, therefore, holy scions of our one Catholic mother, beware with all the watchfulness of which you are capable, in due submission to the Lord, of the example of crime and error such as this. With however great light of learning and of reputation he may shine, however much he may boast himself to be a precious stone, who endeavors to lead you after him, remember always that that brave woman who alone is lovely only to her husband, whom holy Scripture portrays to us in the last chapter of the Book of Proverbs, is more precious than any precious stones. Let no one say, I will follow such an one, for it was even he that made me a Christian; or, I will follow such an one, for it was even he that baptized me. For "neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase." 1 Corinthians 3:7 And "God is love; and he that dwells in love, dwells in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16 No one also that preaches the name of Christ, and handles or administers the sacrament of Christ, is to be followed in opposition to the unity of Christ. "Let every man prove his own work; and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden," Galatians 6:4-5 — the burden, that is, of rendering an account; for "every one of shall give an account of himself. Let us not therefore judge one another any more." Romans 14:12-13 For, so far as relates to the burdens of mutual love, "bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself." Galatians 6:2-3 Let us therefore "forbear one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;" Ephesians 4:2-3 for no one who gathers outside that peace is gathering with Christ; but "he that gathering not with Him scatters abroad." Matthew 12:30
7. Furthermore, whether concerning Christ, or concerning His Church, or any other matter whatsoever which is connected with your faith and life, to say nothing of ourselves, who are by no means to be compared with him who said, "Though we," at any rate, as he went on to say, "Though an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which" you have received in the lawful and evangelical Scripture, "let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8 While carrying out this principle of action in our dealings with you, and with all whom we desire to gain in Christ, and, among other things, while preaching the holy Church which we read of as promised in the epistles of God, and see to be fulfilled according to the promises in all nations of the world, we have earned, not the rendering of thanks, but the flames of hatred, from those whom we desire to have attracted into His most peaceful bosom; as though we had bound them fast in that party for which they cannot find any defense that they should make; or as though we so long before had given injunctions to prophets and apostles that they should insert in their books no proofs by which it might be shown that the party of Donatus was the Church of Christ. And we indeed, dear brethren, when we hear false charges brought against us by those whom we have offended by preaching the eloquence of truth, and confuting the vanity of error, have, as you know, the most abundant consolation. For if, in the matters which they lay to my charge, the testimony of my conscience does not stand against me in the sight of God, where no mortal eye can reach, not only ought I not to be cast down, but I should even rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is my reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12 For in fact I ought to consider, not how bitter, but how false is what I hear, and how true He is in defense of whose name I am exposed to it, and to whom it is said, "Your name is as ointment poured forth." Song of Songs 1:3 And deservedly does it smell sweet in all nations, though those who speak evil of us endeavor to confine its fragrance within one corner of Africa. Why therefore should we take amiss that we are reviled by men who thus detract from the glory of Christ, whose party and schism find offense in what was foretold so long before of His ascent into the heavens, and of the pouring forth of His name, as of the savor of ointment: "Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let Your glory be above all the earth"?
8. Whilst we bear the testimony of God to this and the like effect against the vain speaking of men, we are forced to undergo bitter insults from the enemies of the glory of Christ. Let them say what they will, while He exhorts us, saying, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." What He says in the first instance, "for righteousness' sake," He has repeated in the words that He uses afterwards, "for my sake;" seeing that He "is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption, that, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 And when He says, "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven," Matthew 5:10-12 if I hold in a good conscience what is said "for righteousness' sake," and "for my sake," whosoever willfully detracts from my reputation is against his will contributing to my reward. For neither did He only instruct me by His word, without also confirming me by His example. Follow the faith of the holy Scriptures, and you will find that Christ rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father. Follow the charges brought by His enemies, and you will presently believe that He was stolen from the sepulchre by His disciples. Why then should we, while defending His house to the best of the abilities given us by God, expect to meet with any other treatment from His enemies? "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of His household?" Matthew 10:25 If, therefore, we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. But if it be not only the wrath of the accuser that strikes the ear, but also the truth of the accusation that stings the conscience, what does it profit me if the whole world were to exalt me with perpetual praise? So neither the eulogy of him who praises has power to heal a guilty conscience, nor does the insult of him, who reviles wound the good conscience. Nor, however, is your hope which is in the Lord deceived, even though we chance to be in secret what our enemies wish us to be thought; for you have not placed your hope in us, nor have you ever heard from us any doctrine of the kind. You therefore are safe, whatever we may be, who have learned to say, "I have trusted in the Lord; therefore I shall not slide;" and "In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me." And to those who endeavor to lead you astray to the earthly heights of proud men, you know how to answer, "In the Lord put I my trust: how do you say to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?"
9. Nor is it only you that are safe, whatever we may be, because you are satisfied with the very truth of Christ which is in us, in so far as it is preached through us, and everywhere throughout the world, and because, listening to it willingly, so far as it is set forth by the humble ministry of our tongue, you also think well and kindly of us—for so your hope is in Him whom we preach to you out of His loving-kindness, which extends over you—but further, all of you, who also received the sacrament of holy baptism from our ministering, may well rejoice in the same security, seeing that you were baptized, not into us, but into Christ. You did not therefore put on us, but Christ; nor did I ask you whether you were converted unto me, but unto the living God; nor whether you believed in me, but in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But if you answered my question with truthful hearts, you were placed in a state of salvation, not by the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but by the answer of a good conscience towards God; 1 Peter 3:21 not by a fellow-servant, but by the Lord; not by the herald, but by the judge. For it is not true, as Petilianus inconsiderately said, that "the conscience of the giver," or, as he added "the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to wash the conscience of the recipient." For when something is given that is of God, it is given in holiness, even by a conscience which is not holy. And certainly it is beyond the power of the recipient to discern whether the said conscience is holy or not holy; but that which is given he can discern with clearness. That which is known to Him who is ever holy is received with perfect safety, whatever be the character of the minister at whose hands it is received. For unless the words which are spoken from Moses' seat were necessarily holy, He that is the Truth would never have said, "Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." But if the men who uttered holy words were themselves holy, He would not have said, "Do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." Matthew 23:2-3 For it is true that in no way do men gather grapes of thorns, because grapes never spring from the root of a thorn; but when the shoot of the vine has entwined itself in a thorn hedge, the fruit which hangs upon it is not therefore looked upon with dread, but the thorn is avoided, while the grape is plucked.
10. Therefore, as I have often said before, and am desirous to bring home to you, whatsoever we may be, you are safe, who have God for your Father and His Church for your mother. For although the goats may feed in company with the sheep, yet they shall not stand on the right hand; although the chaff may be bruised together with the wheat, it shall not be gathered into the barn; although the bad fish may swim in company with the good within the Lord's nets, they shall not be gathered into vessels. Let no man make his boast even in a good man: let no man shun the good gifts of God even in a bad man.
11. Let these things suffice you, my beloved Christian brethren of the Catholic Church, so far as the present business is concerned; and if you hold fast to this in Catholic affection, so long as you are one sure flock of the one Shepherd, I am not too much concerned with the abuse that any enemy may lavish on me, your partner in the flock, or, at any rate, your watch-dog, so long as he compels me to bark rather in your defense than in my own. And yet, if it were necessary for the cause that I should enter on my own defense, I should do so with the greatest brevity and the greatest ease, joining freely with all men in condemning and bearing witness against the whole period of my life before I received the baptism of Christ, so far as relates to my evil passions and my errors, lest, in defending that period, I should seem to be seeking my own glory, not His, who by His grace delivered me even from myself. Wherefore, when I hear that life of mine abused, in whatever spirit he may be acting who abuses it, I am not so thankless as to be grieved. However much he finds fault with any vice of mine, I praise him in the same degree as my physician. Why then should I disturb myself about defending those past and obsolete evils in my life, in respect of which, though Petilianus has said much that is false, he has yet left more that is true unsaid? But concerning that period of my life which is subsequent to my baptism, to you who know me I speak unnecessarily in telling of those things which might be known to all mankind; but those who know me not ought not to act with such unfairness towards me as to believe Petilianus rather than you concerning me. For if one should not give credence to the panegyrics of a friend, neither should one believe the detraction of an enemy. There remain, therefore, those things which are hidden in a man, in which conscience alone can bear testimony, which cannot be a witness before men. Herein Petilianus says that I am a Manichæan, speaking of the conscience of another man; I, speaking of my own conscience, aver that I am not. Choose which of us you had sooner believe. Notwithstanding, since there is not any need even of this short and easy defense on my part, where the question at issue is not concerning the merits of any individual, whoever he may be, but concerning the truth of the whole Church, I have more also to say to any of you, who, being of the party of Donatus, have read the evil words which Petilianus has written about me, which I should not have heard from him if I had had no care about the loss of your salvation; but then I should have been wanting in the bowels of Christian love.
12. What wonder is it then, if, when I draw in the grain that has been shaken forth from the threshing-floor of the Lord, together with the soil and chaff, I suffer injury from the dust that rebounds against me; or that, when I am diligently seeking after the lost sheep of my Lord, I am torn by the briars of thorny tongues? I entreat you, lay aside for a time all considerations of party feeling, and judge with some degree of fairness between Petilianus and myself. I am desirous that you should be acquainted with the cause of the Church; he, that you should be familiar with mine. For what other reason than because he dares not bid you disbelieve my witnesses, whom I am constantly citing in the cause of the Church—for they are prophets and apostles, and Christ Himself, the Lord of prophets and apostles—whereas you easily give him credit in whatever he may choose to say concerning me, a man against a man, and one, moreover, of your own party against a stranger to you? And should I adduce any witnesses to my life, however important the thing he might say would be, it would not be believed by them, and of this Petilianus would quickly persuade you; especially when any one would bring forward a plea for me. Since he is an enemy of the Donatist party, in virtue of this fact he would also continually be considered your enemy. Petilianus therefore reigns supreme. Whenever he aims any abuse at me, of whatever character it may be, you all applaud and shout assent. This cause he has found wherein the victory is possible for him, but only with you for judges. He will seek for neither proof nor witness; for all that he has to prove in his words is this, that he lavishes most copious abuse on one whom you most cordially hate. For whereas, when the testimony of divine Scripture is quoted in such abundance and in such express terms in favor of the Catholic Church, he remains silent amidst your grief, he has chosen for himself a subject on which he may speak amidst applause from you; and though really conquered, yet, pretending that he stands unmoved, he may make statements concerning me like this, and even worse than this. It is enough for me, in respect of the cause which I am now pleading, that whatsoever I may be found to be, yet the Church for which I speak unconquered.
13. For I am a man of the threshing-floor of Christ: if a bad man, then part of the chaff; if good, then of the grain. The winnowing-fan of this threshing-floor is not the tongue of Petilianus; and hereby, whatever evil he may have uttered, even with truth, against the chaff of this threshing-floor, this in no way prejudices its grain. But whereinsoever he has cast any revilings or calumnies against the grain itself, its faith is tried on earth, and its reward increased in the heavens. For where men are holy servants of the Lord, and are fighting with holiness for God, not against Petilianus, or any flesh and blood like him, but against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, Ephesians 6:12 such as are all enemies of the truth, to whom I would that we could say, "You were sometime darkness, but now are you light in the Lord," Ephesians 5:8 — where the servants of God, I say, are waging such a war as this, then all the calumnious revilings that are uttered by their enemies, which cause an evil report among the malicious and those that are rash in believing, are weapons on the left hand: it is with such as these that even the devil is defeated. For when we are tried by good report, whether we resist the exaltation of ourselves to pride, and are tried by evil report, whether we love even those very enemies by whom it is invented against us, then we overcome the devil by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. For when the apostle had used the expression, "By the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," he at once goes on to say, as if in explanation of the terms, "By honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report," 2 Corinthians 6:7-8 and so forth—reckoning honor and good report among the armor on the right hand, dishonor and evil report among that upon the left.
14. If, therefore, I am a servant of the Lord, and a soldier that is not reprobate, with whatever eloquence Petilianus stands forth reviling me, ought I in any way to be annoyed that he has been appointed for me as a most accomplished craftsman of the armor on the left? It is necessary that I should fight in this armor as skillfully as possible in defence of my Lord, and should smite with it the enemy against whom I wage an unseen fight, who in all cunning strives and endeavors, with the most perverse and ancient craftiness, that this should lead me to hate Petilianus, and so be unable to fulfill the command which Christ has given, that we should "love our enemies." Luke 6:35 But from this may I be saved by the mercy of Him who loved me, and gave Himself for me, so that, as He hung upon the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do;" Luke 23:34 and so taught me to say of Petilianus and all other enemies of mine like him "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'
15. Furthermore, if I have obtained from you, in accordance with my earnest endeavors, that, laying aside from your minds all prejudice of party, you should be impartial judges between Petilianus and myself, I will show to you that he has not replied to what I wrote, that you may understand that he has been compelled by lack of truth to abandon the dispute, and also see what revilings he has allowed himself to utter against the man who so conducted it that he had no reply to make. And yet what I am going to say displays itself with such manifest clearness, that, even though your minds were estranged from me by party prejudice and personal hatred, yet, if you would only read what is written on both sides, you could not but confess among yourselves, in your inmost hearts, that I have spoken truth.
16. For, in replying to the former part of his writings, which then alone had come into my hands, without taking any notice of his wordy and sacrilegious revilings, where he says, "Let those men cast in our teeth our twice-repeated baptism, who, under the name of baptism, have polluted their souls with a guilty washing; whom I hold to be so obscene that no manner of filth is less clean than they; whose lot it has been, by a perversion of cleanliness, to be defiled by the water wherein they washed;" I thought that what follows was worthy of discussion and refutation, where he says, "For what we look for is the conscience of the giver, that the conscience of the recipient may thereby be cleansed;" and I asked what means were to be found for cleansing one who receives baptism when the conscience of the giver is polluted, without the knowledge of him who is to receive the sacrament at his hands.
17. Read now the most profuse revilings which he has poured forth while puffed up with indignation against me, and see whether he has given me any answer, when I ask what means are to be found for cleansing one who receives baptism when the conscience of the giver is polluted, without the knowledge of him who receives the sacrament at his hands. I beg of you to search minutely, to examine every page, to reckon every line, to ponder every word, to sift the meaning of each syllable, and tell me, if you can discover it, where he has made answer to the question, What means are to be found for cleansing the conscience of the recipient who is unaware that the conscience of the giver is polluted?
18. For how did it bear upon the point that he added a phrase which he said was suppressed by me, maintaining that he had written in the following terms: "The conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient?" For to prove to you that it was not suppressed by me, its addition in no way hinders my inquiry, or makes up the deficiency which was found in him. For in the face of those very words I ask again, and I beg of you to see whether he has given any answer, If "the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," what means are to be found for cleansing the conscience of the recipient when the conscience of the giver is stained with guilt, without the knowledge of him who is to receive the sacrament at his hands? I insist upon an answer being given to this. Do not allow that any one should be prejudiced by revilings irrelevant to the matter in hand. If the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for—observe that I do not say "the conscience of him who gives," but that I added the words, "of him who gives in holiness,"— if the conscience, then, of him who gives in holiness is what we look for, what means are to be found for cleansing one who receives baptism when the conscience of the giver is polluted, without the knowledge of him who is to receive the sacrament at his hands?
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 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; Acts 24:1 and let him give himself the name of Advocate, 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 of her husband. What the man who was afterwards to ordain me bishop 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.
20. Let him further go on, in his discourse of many but manifestly empty words, to matters of which he is wholly ignorant, or in which rather he abuses the ignorance of the mass of those who hear him, and from the confession of a certain woman, that she had called herself a catechumen of the Manichæans, being already a full member of the Catholic Church, let him say or write what he pleases concerning their baptism—not knowing, or pretending not to know, that the name of catechumen is not bestowed among them upon persons to denote that they are at some future time to be baptized, but that this name is given to such as are also called Hearers, on the supposition that they cannot observe what are considered the higher and greater commandments, which are observed by those whom they think right to distinguish and honor by the name of Elect. Let him also maintain with wonderful rashness, either as himself deceived or as seeking to deceive, that I was a presbyter among the Manichæans. Let him set forth and refute, in whatever sense seems good to him, the words of the third book of my Confessions, which, both in themselves, and from much that I have said before and since, are perfectly clear to all who read them. Lastly, let him triumph in my stealing his words, because I have suppressed two of them, as though the victory were his upon their restoration.
21. Certainly in all these things, as you can learn or refresh your memory by reading his letter, he has given free scope to the impulse of his tongue, with all the license of boasting which he chose to use, but nowhere has he told us where means are to be found for cleansing the conscience of the recipient, when that of the giver has been stained with sin without his knowing it. But amid all his noise, and after all his noise, serious as it is, too terrible as he himself supposes it to be, I deliberately, as it is said, and to the purpose, ask this question once again: If the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for, what means are to be found for cleansing one who receives baptism without knowing that the conscience of the giver is stained with sin? And throughout his whole epistle I find nothing said in answer to this question.
22. For perhaps some one of you will say to me, All these things which he said against you he wished to have force for this purpose, that he might take away your character, and through you the character of those with whom you hold communion, that neither they themselves, nor those whom you endeavor to bring over to your communion, may hold you to be of any further importance. But, in deciding whether he has given no answer to the words of your epistle, we must look at them in the light of the passage in which he proposed them for consideration. Let us then do so: let us look at his writings in the light of that very passage. Passing over, therefore, the passage in which I sought to introduce my subject to the reader, and to ignore those few prefatory words of his, which were rather insulting than revelant to the subject under discussion, I go on to say, "He says, ‘What we look for is the conscience of the giver, to cleanse that of the recipient.' But supposing the conscience of the giver is concealed from view, and perhaps defiled with sin, how will it be able to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, if, as he says, ‘what we look for is the conscience of the giver, to cleanse that of the recipient?' For if he should say that it makes no matter to the recipient what amount of evil may be concealed from view in the conscience of the giver, perhaps that ignorance may have such a degree of efficacy as this, that a man cannot be defiled by the guilt of the conscience of him from whom he receives baptism, so long as he is unaware of it. Let it then be granted that the guilty conscience of his neighbor cannot defile a man so long as he is unaware of it; but is it therefore clear that it can further cleanse him from his own guilt? Whence then is a man to be cleansed who receives baptism, when the conscience of the giver is polluted without the knowledge of him who is to receive it, especially when he goes on to say, ‘For he who receives faith from the faithless receives not faith but guilt?'"
23. All these statements in my letter Petilianus set before himself for refutation. Let us see, therefore, whether he has refuted them; whether he has made any answer to them at all. For I add the words which he calumniously accuses me of having suppressed, and, having done so, I ask him again the same question in an even shorter form; for by adding these two words he has helped me much in shortening this proposition. If the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse that of the recipient, and if he who has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt, where shall we find means to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, when he has not known that the conscience of the giver is stained with guilt, and when he receives his faith unwittingly from one that is faithless? I ask, where shall we find means to cleanse it? Let him tell us; let him not pass off into another subject; let him not cast a mist over the eyes of the inexperienced. To end with, at any rate, after many tortuous circumlocutions have been interposed and thoroughly worked out, let him at last tell us where we shall find means to cleanse the conscience of the recipient when the stains of guilt in the conscience of the faithless baptizer are concealed from view, if the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse that of the recipient, and if he who has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt? For the man in question receives it from a faithless man who has not the conscience of one who gives in holiness, but a conscience stained with guilt, and veiled from view. Where then shall we find means to cleanse his conscience? Whence then does he receive his faith? For if he is neither then cleansed, nor then receives faith, when the faithlessness and guilt of the baptizer are concealed, why, when these are afterwards brought to light and condemned, is he not then baptized afresh, that he may be cleansed and receive faith? But if, while the faithlessness and guilt of the other are concealed, he is cleansed and does receive faith, whence does he obtain his cleansing, whence does he receive faith, when there is not the conscience of one that gives in holiness to cleanse the conscience of the recipient? Let him tell us this; let him make reply to this: Whence does he obtain his cleansing, whence does he receive faith, if the conscience of him that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, seeing that this does not exist, when the baptizer conceals his character of faithlessness and guilt? To this no answer has been made whatever.
24. But see, when he is reduced to straits in the argument, he again makes an attack on me full of mist and wind, that the calm clearness of the truth may be obscured; and through the extremity of his want he becomes full of resources, shown not in saying what is true, but in unbought empty revilings. Hold fast, with the keenest attention and utmost perseverance, what he ought to answer—that is, where means may be found for cleansing the conscience of the recipient when the stains in that of the giver are concealed—lest possibly the blast of his eloquence should wrest this from your hands, and you in turn should be carried away by the dark tempest of his turgid discourse, so as wholly to fail in seeing whence he has digressed, and to what point he should return; and see where the man can wander, while he cannot stand in the matter which he has undertaken. For see how much he says, through having nothing that he ought to say. He says "that I slide in slippery places, but am held up; that I neither destroy nor confirm the objections that I make; that I devise uncertain things in the place of certainty; that I do not permit my readers to believe what is true, but cause them to look with increased suspicion on what is doubtful." He says "that I have the accursed talents of the Academic philosopher Carneades." He endeavors to insinuate what the Academics think of the falseness or the falsehood of human sensation, showing in this also that he is wholly without knowledge of what he says. He declares that "it is said by them that snow is black, whereas it is white; and that silver is black; and that a tower is round, or free from projections, when it is really angular; that an oar is broken in the water, while it is whole." And all this because, when he had said that "the conscience of him that gives," or "of him that gives in holiness, is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," I said in reply, What if the conscience of the giver be hidden from sight, and possibly be stained with guilt? Here you have his black snow, and black silver, and his tower round instead of angular, and the oar in the water broken while yet whole, in that I suggested a state of the case which might be conceived, and could not really exist, that the conscience of the giver might be hidden from view, and possibly might be stained with guilt!
25. Then he continues in the same strain, and cries out: "What is that what if? what is that possibly? except the uncertain and wavering hesitation of one who doubts, of whom your poet says'—
"'What if I now return to those who say, What if the sky should fall?'"
Does he mean that when I said, What if the conscience of the giver be hidden from sight, and possibly be stained with guilt? That it is much the same as if I had said, What if the sky should fall? There certainly is the phrase What if, because it is possible that it may be hidden from view, and it is possible that it may not. For when it is not known what the giver is thinking of, or what crime he has committed, then his conscience is certainly hidden from the view of the recipient; but when his sin is plainly manifest, then it is not hidden. I used the expression, And possibly may be stained with guilt, because it is possible that it may be hidden from view and yet be pure; and again, it is possible that it may be hidden from view and be stained with guilt. This is the meaning of the What if; this the meaning of the Possibly. Is this at all like "What if the sky should fall?" O how often have men been convicted, how often have they confessed themselves that they had consciences stained with guilt and adultery, while men were unwittingly baptized by them after they were degraded by the sin subsequently brought to light, and yet the sky did not fall! What have we here to do with Pilus and Furius, who defended the cause of injustice against justice? What have we here to do with the atheist Diagoras, who denied that there was any God, so that he would seem to be the man of whom the prophet spoke beforehand, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God?" What have we here to do with these? Why were their names brought in, except that they might make a diversion in favor of a man who had nothing to say? That while he is at any rate saying something, though needlessly, about these, the matter in hand may seem to be progressing, and an answer may be supposed to be made to a question which remains without an answer?
26. Lastly, if these two or three words, What if, and Possibly, are so absolutely intolerable, that on their account we should have aroused from their long sleep the Academics, and Carneades, and Pilus, and Furius, and Diagoras, and black snow, and the falling of the sky, and everything else that is equally senseless and absurd, let them be removed from our argument. For, as a matter of fact, it is by no means impossible to express what we desire to say without them. There is quite sufficient for our purpose in what is found a little later, and has been introduced by himself from my letter: "By what means then is he to be cleansed who receives baptism when the conscience of the giver is polluted, and that without the knowledge of him who is to receive the sacrament?" Do you acknowledge that here there is no What if, no Possibly? Well then, let an answer be given. Give close heed, lest he be found to answer this in what follows. "But," says he, "I bind you in your cavilling to the faith of believing, that you may not wander further from it. Why do you turn away your life from errors by arguments of folly? Why do you disturb the system of belief in respect of matters without reason? By this one word I bind and convince you." It was Petilianus that said this, not I. These words are from the letter of Petilianus; but from that letter, to which I just now added the two words which he accuses me of having suppressed, showing that, notwithstanding their addition, the pertinency of my question, to which he makes no answer, remains with greater brevity and simplicity. It is beyond dispute that these two words are, In holiness, and Wittingly: so that it should not be, "The conscience of him who gives," but "The conscience of him who gives in holiness;" and that it should not be, "He who has received his faith from one that is faithless," but "He who has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless." And yet I had not really suppressed these words; but I had not found them in the copy which was placed in my hands. It is possible enough that it was incorrect; nor indeed is it wholly beyond the possibility of belief that even by this suggestion Academic grudge should be roused against me, and that it should be asserted that, in declaring the copy to be incorrect, I had said much the same sort of thing as if I had declared that snow was black. For why should I repay in kind his rash suggestion, and say that, though he pretends that I suppressed the words, he really added them afterwards himself, since the copy, which is not angry, can confirm that mark of incorrectness, without any abusive rashness on my part?
27. And, in the first place, with regard to that first expression, "Of him who gives in holiness," it does not interfere in the least with my inquiry, by which he is so much distressed, whether I use the expression, "If the conscience of him that gives is what we look for," or the fuller phrase, "If the conscience of him that gives in holiness is what we look for, to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," by what means then is he to be cleansed who receives baptism if the conscience of the giver is polluted, without the knowledge of him who is to receive the sacrament? And with regard to the other word that is added, "wittingly," so that the sentence should not run, "He who has received his faith from one that is faithless," but "He who has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt," I confess that I had said some things as though the word were absent, but I can easily afford to do without them; for they caused more hindrance to the facility of my argument than they gave assistance to its power. For how much more readily, how much more plainly and shortly, can I put the question thus: "If the conscience of him who gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," and "if he who has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless receives not faith but guilt," by what means is he cleansed, from whom the stain on the conscience of him who gives, but not in holiness, is hidden? And whence does he receive true faith, who is baptized unwittingly by one that is faithless? Let it be declared whence this shall be, and then the whole theory of baptism will be disclosed; then all that is matter of investigation will be brought to light—but only if it be declared, not if the time be consumed in evil-speaking.
28. Whatever, therefore, he finds in these two words—whether he brings calumnious accusations about their suppression, or boasts of their being added—you perceive that it in no way hinders my question, to which he can find no answer that he can make; and therefore, not wishing to remain silent, he takes the opportunity of making an attack upon my character,— retiring, I should have said, from the discussion, except that he had never entered on it. For just as though the question were about me, and not about the truth of the Church, or of baptism, therefore he says that I, by suppressing these two words, have argued as though it were no stumblingblock in the way of my conscience, that I have ignored what he calls the sacrilegious conscience of him who polluted me. But if this were so, the addition of the word "wittingly," which is thus introduced, would be in my favor, and its suppression would tell against me. For if I had wished that my defense should be urged on the ground that I should be supposed to have been unacquainted with the conscience of the man that baptized me, then I would accept Petilianus as having spoken in my behalf, since he does not say in general terms, "He that has received his faith from one that is faithless," but "He that has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt;" so that hence I might boast that I had received not guilt, but faith, since I could say I did not receive it wittingly from one that was faithless, but was unacquainted with the conscience of him that gave it. See, therefore, and reckon carefully, if you can, what an amount of superfluous words he wastes on the one phrase, "I was unacquainted with" which he declares that I have used; whereas I never used it at all—partly because the question under discussion was not concerning me, so that I should need to use it; partly because no fault was apparent in him that baptized me, so that I should be forced to say in my defense that I had been unacquainted with his conscience.
29. And yet Petilianus, to avoid answering what I have said, sets before himself what I have not, and draws men's attention away from the consideration of his debt, lest they should exact the answer which he ought to make. He constantly introduces the expressions, "I have been unacquainted with," "I say," and makes answer, "But if you were unacquainted with;" and, as though convicting me, so that it should be out of my power to say, "I was unacquainted with," he quotes Mensurius, Cæcilianus, Macarius, Taurinus, Romanus, and declares that "they had acted in opposition to the Church of God, as I could not fail to know, seeing that I am an African, and already well advanced in years," whereas, so far as I hear, Mensurius died in the unity of the communion of the Church, before the faction of Donatus separated itself therefrom; while I had read the history of Cæcilianus, that they themselves had referred his case to Constantine, and that he had been once and again acquitted by the judges whom that emperor had appointed to try the matter, and again a third time by the sovereign himself, when they appealed to him. But whatever Macarius and Taurinus and Romanus did, either in their judicial or executive functions, in behalf of unity as against their pertinacious madness, it is beyond doubt that it was all done in accordance with the laws, which these same persons made it unavoidable should be passed and put in force, by referring the case of Cæcilianus to the judgment of the emperor.
30. Among many other things which are wholly irrevelant, he says that "I was so hard hit by the decision of the proconsul Messianus, that I was forced to fly from Africa." And in consequence of this falsehood (to which, if he was not the author of it, he certainly lent malicious ears when others maliciously invented it), how many other falsehoods had he the hardihood not only to utter, but actually to write with wondrous rashness, seeing that I went to Milan before the consulship of Banto, and that, in pursuance of the profession of rhetorician which I then followed, I recited a panegyric in his honor as consul on the first of January, in the presence of a vast assembly of men; and after that journey I only returned to Africa after the death of the tyrant Maximus: whereas the proconsul Messianus heard the case of the Manichæans after the consulship of Banto, as the day of the chronicles inserted by Petilianus himself sufficiently shows. And if it were necessary to prove this for the satisfaction of those who are in doubt, or believe the contrary, I could produce many men, illustrious in their generation, as most sufficient witnesses to all that period of my life.
31. But why do we make inquiry into these points? Why do we both suffer and cause unnecessary delay? Are we likely to find out by such a course as this what means we are to use for cleansing the conscience of the recipient, who does not know that the conscience of the giver is stained with guilt: whence the man is to receive faith who is unwittingly baptized by one that is faithless?— the question which Petilianus had proposed to himself to answer in my epistle, then going on to say anything else he pleased except what the matter in hand required. How often has he said, "If ignorant you were,"— as though I had said, what I never did say, that I was unacquainted with the conscience of him who baptized me. And he seemed to have no other object in all that his evil-speaking mouth poured forth, except that he should appear to prove that I had not been ignorant of the misdeeds of those among whom I was baptized, and with whom I was associated in communion, understanding fully, it would seem, that ignorance did not convict me of guilt. See then that if I were ignorant, as he has repeated so often, beyond all doubt I should be innocent of all these crimes. Whence therefore should I be cleansed, who am unacquainted with the conscience of him who gives but not in holiness, so that I may be least ensnared by his offenses? Whence then should I receive faith, seeing that I was baptized unwittingly by one that was faithless? For he has not repeated "If ignorant you were" so often without purpose, but simply to prevent my being reputed innocent, esteeming beyond all doubt that no man's innocence is violated if he unwittingly receives his faith from one that is faithless, and is not acquainted with the stains on the conscience of him that gives, but not in holiness. Let him say, therefore, by what means such men are to be cleansed, whence they are to receive not guilt but faith. But let him not deceive you. Let him not, while uttering much, say nothing; or rather, let him not say much while saying nothing. Next, to urge a point which occurs to me, and must not be passed over—if I am guilty because I have not been ignorant, to use his own phraseology, and I am proved not to have been ignorant, because I am an African, and already advanced in years, let him grant that the youths of other nations throughout the world are not guilty, who had no opportunity either from their race, or from that age you bring against me, of knowing the points that are laid to our charge, be they true, or be they false; and yet they, if they have fallen into your hands, are rebaptized without any considerations of such a kind.
32. But this is not what we are now inquiring. Let him rather answer (what he wanders off into the most irrelevant matters in order to avoid answering) by what means the conscience of the recipient is cleansed who is unacquainted with the stain on the conscience of the giver, if the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient? And from what source he receive faith who is unwittingly baptized by one that is faithless, if he that has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless receives not faith but guilt? Omitting, therefore, his revilings, which he has cast at me without any sound consideration, let us still notice that he does not say what we demand in what follows. But I should like to look at the garrulous mode in which he has set this forth, as though he were sure to overwhelm us with confusion. "But let us return," he says, "to that argument of your fancy, whereby you seem to have represented to yourself in a form of words the persons you baptize. For since you do not see the truth, it would have been more seemly to have imagined what was probable." These words of his own, Petilianus put forth by way of preface, being about to state the words that I had used. Then he went on to quote: "Behold, you say, the faithless man stands ready to baptize, but he who is to be baptized knows nothing of his faithlessness." He has not quoted the whole of my proposition and question; and presently he begins to ask me in his turn, saying, "Who is the man, and from what corner has he started up, that you propose to us? Why do you seem to see a man who is the produce of your imagination, in order to avoid seeing one whom you are bound to see, and to examine and test most carefully? But since I see that you are unacquainted with the order of the sacrament, I tell you this as shortly as I can: you were bound both to examine your baptizer, and to be examined by him." What is it, then, that we were waiting for? That he should tell us by what means the conscience of the recipient is to be cleansed, who is unacquainted with the stain on the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness, and whence the man is to receive not guilt but faith, who has received baptism unwittingly from one that is faithless. All that we have heard is that the baptizer ought most diligently to be examined by him who wishes to receive not guilt but faith, that the latter may make himself acquainted with the conscience of him that gives in holiness, which is to cleanse the conscience of the recipient. For the man that has failed to make this examination, and has unwittingly received baptism from one that is faithless, from the very fact that he did not make the examination, and therefore did not know of the stain on the conscience of the giver, was incapacitated from receiving faith instead of guilt. Why therefore did he add what he made so much of adding—the word wittingly, which he calumniously accused me of having suppressed? For in his unwillingness that the sentence should run, "He who has received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt," he seems to have left some hope to the man that acts unwittingly. But now, when he is asked whence that man is to receive faith who is baptized unwittingly by one that is faithless, he has answered that he ought to have examined his baptizer; so that, beyond all doubt, he refuses the wretched man permission even to be ignorant, by not finding out from what source he may receive faith, unless he has placed his trust in the man that is baptizing him.
33. This is what we look upon with horror in your party; this is what the sentence of God condemns, crying out with the utmost truth and the utmost clearness, "Cursed is every one that trusts in man." Jeremiah 17:5 This is what is most openly forbidden by holy humility and apostolic love, as Paul declares, "Let no man glory in men." 1 Corinthians 3:21 This is the reason that the attack of empty calumnies and of the bitterest invectives grows even fiercer against us, that when human authority is as it were overthrown, there may remain no ground of hope for those to whom we administer the word and sacrament of God in accordance with the dispensation entrusted unto us. We make answer to them: How long do you rest your support on man? The venerable society of the Catholic Church makes answer to them: "Truly my soul waits upon God: from Him comes my salvation. He only is my God and my helper; I shall not be moved." For what other reason have they had for removing from the house of God, except that they pretended that they could not endure those vessels made to dishonor, from which the house shall not be free until the day of judgment? Whereas all the time they rather appear, by their deeds and by the records of the time, to have themselves been vessels of this kind, while they threw the imputation in the teeth of others; of which said vessels made unto dishonor, in order that no one should on their account remove in confusion of mind from the great house, which alone belongs to the great Father of our family, the servant of God, one who was good and faithful, or was capable of receiving faith in baptism, as I have shown above, expressly says, "Truly my soul waits upon God" (on God, you see, and not on man): "from Him comes my salvation" (not from man). But Petilianus would refuse to ascribe to God the cleansing and purifying of a man, even when the stain upon the conscience of him who gives, but not in holiness, is hidden from view, and any one receives his faith unwittingly from one that is faithless. "I tell you this," he says, "as shortly as I can: you were bound both to examine your baptizer, and to be examined by him."
34. I entreat of you, pay attention to this: I ask where the means shall be found for cleansing the conscience of the recipient, when he is not acquainted with the stain upon the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness, if the conscience of him that gives in holiness is waited for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient? And from what source he is to receive faith, who is unwittingly baptized by one that is faithless, if, whosoever has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt? And he answers me, that both the baptizer and the baptized should be subjected to examination. And for the proof of this point, out of which no question arises, he adduces the example of John, in that he was examined by those who asked him who he claimed to be, John 1:22 and that he also in turn examined those to whom he says, "O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Matthew 3:7 What has this to do with the subject? What has this to do with the question under discussion? God had vouchsafed to John the testimony of most eminent holiness of life, confirmed by the previous witness of the noblest prophecy, both when he was conceived, and when he was born. But the Jews put their question, already believing him to be a saint, to find out which of the saints he maintained himself to be, or whether he was himself the saint of saints, that is, Christ Jesus. So much favor indeed was shown to him, that credence would at once have been given to whatever he might have said about himself. If, therefore, we are to follow this precedent in declaring that each several baptizer is now to be examined, then each must also be believed, whatever he may say of himself. But who is there that is made up of deceit, whom we know that the Holy Spirit flees from, in accordance with the Scripture, Wisdom 1:5 who would not wish the best to be believed of him, or who would hesitate to bring this about by the use of any words within his reach? Accordingly, when he shall have been asked who he is, and shall have answered that he is the faithful dispenser of God's ordinances, and that his conscience is not polluted with the stain of any crime, will this be the whole examination, or will there be a further more careful investigation into his character and life? Assuredly there will. But it is not written that this was done by those who in the desert of Jordan asked John who he was.
35. Accordingly this precedent is wholly without bearing on the matter in hand. We might rather say that the declaration of the apostle sufficiently inculcates this care, when he says, "Let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless." 1 Timothy 3:10 And since this is done anxiously and habitually in both parties, by almost all concerned, how comes it that so many are found to be reprobates subsequently to the time of having undertaken this ministry, except that, on the one hand, human care is often deceived, and, on the other hand, those who have begun well occasionally deteriorate? And since things of this sort happen so frequently as to allow no man to hide them or to forget them, what is the reason that Petilianus now teaches us insultingly, in a few words, that the baptizer ought to be examined by the candidate for baptism, since our question is, by what means the conscience of the recipient is to be cleansed, when the stain on the conscience of him that gives, but not in holiness, has been concealed from view, if the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient. "Since I see," he says, "that you are unacquainted with the order of the sacrament, I tell you this as shortly as I can: you were bound both to examine your baptizer, and to be examined by him." What an answer to make! He is surrounded in so many places by such a multitude of men that have been baptized by ministers who, having in the first instance seemed righteous and chaste, have subsequently been convicted and degraded in consequence of the disclosure of their faults: and he thinks that he is avoiding the force of this question, in which we ask by what means the conscience of the recipient is to be cleansed, when he is unacquainted with the stain upon the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness, if the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient—he thinks, I say, that he is avoiding the force of this question, by saying shortly that the baptizer ought to be examined. Nothing is more unfortunate than not to be consistent with truth, by which every one is so shut in, that he cannot find a means of escape. We ask from whom he is to receive faith who is baptized by one that is faithless? The answer is, "He ought to have examined his baptizer." Is it therefore the case that, since he does not examine him, and so even unwittingly receives his faith from one that is faithless, he receives not faith but guilt? Why then are those men not baptized afresh, who are found to have been baptized by men that are detected and convicted reprobates, while their true character was yet concealed?
36. "And where," he says, "is the word that I added, wittingly?so that I did not say, He that has received his faith from one that is faithless; but, He that has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt." He therefore who received his faith unwittingly from one that was faithless, received not guilt but faith; and accordingly I ask from what source he has received it? And being thus placed in a strait, he answers, "He ought to have examined him." Granted that he ought to have done so; but, as a matter of fact, he did not, or he was not able: what is your verdict about him? Was he cleansed, or was he not? If he was cleansed, I ask from what source? For the polluted conscience of him that gave but not in holiness, with which he was unacquainted, could not cleanse him. But if he was not cleansed, command that he be so now. You give no such orders, therefore he was cleansed. Tell me by what means? Do you at any rate tell me what Petilianus has failed to tell. For I propose to you the very same words which he was unable to answer. "Behold the faithless man stands ready to baptize; but he who is to be baptized knows nothing of his faithlessness: what do you think that he will receive— faith, or guilt?" This is sufficient as a constant form of question: answer, or search diligently to find what he has answered. You will find abuse that has already been convicted. He finds fault with me, as though in derision, maintaining that I ought to suggest what is probable for consideration, since I cannot see the truth. For, repeating my words, and cutting my sentence in two, he says, "Behold, you say, the faithless man stands ready to baptize; but he who is to be baptized knows nothing of his faithlessness." Then he goes on to ask, "Who is the man, and from what corner has he started up, that you propose to us?" Just as though there were some one or two individuals, and such cases were not constantly occurring everywhere on either side! Why does he ask of me who the man in question is, and from what corner he has started up, instead of looking round, and seeing that the churches are few and far between, whether in cities or in country districts, which do not contain men detected in crimes, and degraded from the ministry? While their true character was concealed, while they wished to be thought good, though really bad, and to be reputed chaste, though really guilty of adultery, so long they were involved in deceit; and so the Holy Spirit, according to the Scripture, was fleeing from them. Wisdom 1:5 It is from the crowd, therefore, of these men who hitherto concealed their character that the faithless man whom I suggested started up. Why does he ask me whence he started up, shutting his eyes to all this crowd, from which sufficient noise arises to satisfy the blind, if we take into consideration none but those who might have been convicted and degraded from their office?
37. What shall we say of what he himself advanced in his epistle, that "Quodvultdeus, having been convicted of two adulteries, and cast out from among you, was received by those of our party?" What then (I would speak without prejudice to this man, who proved his case to be a good one, or at least persuaded men that it was so), when such men among you, being as yet undetected, administer baptism, what is received at their hands—faith, or guilt? Surely not faith, because they have not the conscience of one who gives in holiness to cleanse the conscience of the recipient. But yet not guilt either, in virtue of that added word: "For he that has received his faith wittingly from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt." But when men were baptized by those of whom I speak, they were surely ignorant what sort of men they were. Furthermore, not receiving faith from their baptizers, who had not the conscience of one that gives in holiness, and not receiving guilt, because they were baptized not knowing but in ignorance of their faults, they therefore remained without faith and without guilt. They are not, therefore, in the number of men of such abandoned character. But neither can they be in the number of the faithful, because, as they could not receive guilt, so neither could they receive faith from their baptizers. But we see that they are reputed by you in the number of the faithful, and that no one of you declares his opinion that they ought to be baptized, but all of you hold valid the baptism which they have already received. They have therefore received faith; and yet they have not received it from those who had not the conscience of one that gives in holiness, to cleanse the conscience of the recipient. Whence then did they receive it? This is the point from which I make my effort; this is the question that I press most earnestly; to this I do most urgently demand an answer.
38. See now how Petilianus, to avoid answering this question, or to avoid being proved to be incapable of answering it, wanders off vainly into irrelevant matter in abuse of us, accusing us and proving nothing; and when he chances to make an endeavor to resist, with something like a show of fighting for his cause, he is everywhere overcome with the greatest ease. But yet he nowhere gives an answer of any kind to this one question which we ask: If the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, by what means is he to be cleansed who received baptism while the conscience of the giver was polluted, without the knowledge of him who was to receive it? For in these words, which he quoted from my epistle, he set me forth as asking a question, while he showed himself as giving no answer. For after saying what I have just now recited, and when, on being brought into a great strait on every side, he had been compelled to say that the baptizer ought to be examined by the candidate for baptism, and the candidate in turn by the baptizer; and when he had tried to fortify this statement by the example of John, in hopes that he might find auditors either of the greatest negligence or of the greatest ignorance, he then went on to advance other testimonies of Scripture wholly irrelevant to the matter in hand, as the saying of the eunuch to Philip, "See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized?" Acts 8:36 "inasmuch as he knew," says he, "that those of abandoned character were prevented;" arguing that the reason why Philip did not forbid him to be baptized was because he had proved, in his reading of the Scriptures, how far he believed in Christ—as though he had prohibited Simon Magus. And again, he urges that the prophets were afraid of being deceived by false baptism, and that therefore Isaiah said, "Lying water that has not faith," as though showing that water among faithless men is lying; whereas it is not Isaiah but Jeremiah that says this of lying men, calling the people in a figure water, as is most clearly shown in the Apocalypse. Revelation 17:15 And again, he quotes as words of David, "Let not the oil of the sinner anoint my head," when David has been speaking of the flattery of the smooth speaker deceiving with false praise, so as to lead the head of the man praised to wax great with pride. And this meaning is made manifest by the words immediately preceding in the same psalm. For he says, "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me: but the oil of the sinner shall not break my head." What can be clearer than this sentence? What more manifest? For he declares that he had rather be reproved in kindness with the sharp correction of the righteous, so that he may be healed, than anointed with the soft speaking of the flatterer, so as to be puffed up with pride.
39. Petilianus quotes also the warning of the Apostle John, that we should not believe every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God, 1 John 4:1 as though this care should be bestowed in order that the wheat should be separated from the chaff in this present world before its time, and not rather for fear that the wheat should be deceived by the chaff; or as though, even if the lying spirit should have said something that was true, it was to be denied, because the spirit whom we should abominate had said it. But if any one thinks this, he is mad enough to contend that Peter ought not to have said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Matthew 16:16 because the devils had already said something to the same effect. Seeing, therefore, that the baptism of Christ, whether administered by an unrighteous or a righteous man, is nothing but the baptism of Christ what a cautious man and faithful Christian should do is to avoid the unrighteousness of man, not to condemn the sacraments of God.
40. Assuredly in all these things Petilianus gives no answer to the question, If the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, by what means is he to be cleansed who receives baptism, when the conscience of the giver is polluted without the knowledge of the proposed recipient? A certain Cyprian, a colleague of his from Thubursicubur, was caught in a brothel with a woman of most abandoned character, and was brought before Primianus of Carthage, and condemned. Now, when this man baptized before he was detected and condemned, it is manifest that he had not the conscience of one that gives in holiness, so as to cleanse the conscience of the recipient. By what means then have they been cleansed who at this day, after he has been condemned, are certainly not washed again? It was not necessary to name the man save only to prevent Petilianus from repeating, "Who is the man, and from what corner has he started up, that you propose to us?" Why did not your party examine that baptizer, as John, in the opinion of Petilianus, was examined? Or was the real fact this, that they examined him so far as man can examine man, but were unable to find him out, as he long lay hid with cunning falseness?
Was the water administered by this man not lying? Or is the oil of the fornicator not the oil of the sinner? Or must we hold what the Catholic Church says, and what is true, that that water and that oil are not his by whom they were administered, but His whose name was then invoked? Why did they who were baptized by that hypocrite, whose sins were concealed, fail to try the spirit, to prove that it was not of God? For the Holy Spirit of discipline was even then fleeing from the hypocrite. Wisdom 1:5 Was it that He was fleeing from him, but at the same time not deserting His sacraments, though ministered by him? Lastly, since you do not deny that those men have been already cleansed, whom you take no care to have cleansed now that he is condemned, see whether, after shedding over the subject so many mists in so many different ways, Petilianus, after all, in any place gives any answer to the question by what means these men have been cleansed, if what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient is the conscience of one that gives in holiness, such as the man who was secretly unclean could not have had.
41. Making then, no answer to this which is so urgently asked of him, and, in the next place, even seeking for himself a latitude of speech, he says, "since both prophets and apostles have been cautious enough to fear these things, with what face do you say that the baptism of the sinner is holy to those who believe with a good conscience?" Just as though I or any Catholic maintained that that baptism was of the sinner which is administered or received with a sinner to officiate, instead of being His in virtue of belief in whose name the candidate is baptized! Then he goes off to an invective against the traitor Judas, saying against him whatever he can, quoting the testimony of the prophets uttered concerning him so long a time before, as though he would steep the Church of Christ dispersed throughout the world, whose cause is involved in this discussion, in the impiety of the traitor Judas,— not considering what this very thing should have recalled to his mind, that we ought no more to doubt that that is the Church of Christ which is spread abroad throughout the world, since this was prophesied with truth so many years before, than we ought to doubt that it was necessary that Christ should be betrayed by one of His disciples, because this was prophesied in like manner.
42. But after this, when Petilianus came to that objection of ours, that they allowed the baptism of the followers of Maximianus, whom they had condemned, — although in the statement of this question he thought it right to use his own words rather than mine; for neither do we assert that the baptism of sinners is of profit to us, seeing that we maintain it to belong not only to no sinners, but to no men whatsoever, in that we are satisfied that it is Christ's alone—having put the question in this form, he says, "Yet you obstinately aver that it is right that the baptism of sinners should be of profit to you, because we too, according to your statement, maintained the baptism of criminals whom we justly condemned." When he came to this question, as I said before, even all the show of fight which he had made deserted him. He could not find any way to go, any means of escape, any path by which, either through subtle watching or bold enterprise, he could either secretly steal away, or sally forth by force. "Although this," he says, "I will demonstrate in my second book, how great the difference is between those of our party and those of yours whom you call innocent, yet, in the meantime, first extricate yourselves from the offenses with which you are acquainted in your colleagues, and then seek out the mode of dealing with those whom we cast out." Would any one, any man upon the earth, give an answer like this, save one who is setting himself against the truth, against which he cannot find any answer that can be made? Accordingly, if we too were to use the same words: In the meantime, first extricate yourselves from the offenses with which you are acquainted in your colleagues, and then bring up against us any charge connected with those whom you hold to be wicked among us—what is the result? Have we both won the victory, or are we both defeated? Nay, rather He has gained the victory for His Church and in His Church, who has taught us in His Scriptures that no man should glory in men, and that he that glories should glory in the Lord. For behold in our case who assert with the eloquence of truth that the man who believes is not justified by him by whom he is baptized, but by Him of whom it is written, "To him that believes in Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness," Romans 4:5 since we do not glory in men, and strive, when we glory, to glory in the Lord in virtue of His own gift, how wholly safe are we, whatever fault or charge Petilianus may have been able to prove concerning certain men of our communion! For among us, whatever wicked men are either wholly undetected, or, being known to certain persons, are yet tolerated for the sake of the bond of unity and peace, in consideration of other good men to whom their wickedness is unknown, and before whom they could not be convicted, in order that the wheat may not be rooted up together with the tares, yet they so bear the burden of their own wickedness, that no one shares it with them except those who are pleased with their unrighteousness. Nor indeed have we any apprehension that those whom they baptize cannot be justified, since they believe in Him that justifies the ungodly that their faith may be counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5
43. Furthermore, according to our tenets, neither he of whom Petilianus said that he was cast forth by us for the sin of the men of Sodom, another being appointed in his place, and that afterwards he was actually restored to our college,— talking all the time without knowing what he was saying—nor he whom he declares to have been penitent among you, in whatever degree their respective cases do or do not admit of any defense, can neither of them prejudice the Church, which is spread abroad throughout all nations, and increases in the world until the harvest. For if they were really wicked members of it that you accuse, then they were already not in it, but among the chaff; but if they are good, while you defame their character with unrighteous accusations, they are themselves being tried like gold, while you burn after the similitude of chaff. Yet the sins of other men do not defile the Church, which is spread abroad throughout the whole world, according to most faithful prophesies, waiting for the end of the world as for its shore, on which, when it is landed, it will be freed from the bad fish, in company with which the inconvenience of nature might be borne without sin within the same nets of the Lord, so long as it was not right to be impatiently separated from them. Nor yet is the discipline of the Church on this account neglected by constant and diligent and prudent ministers of Christ, in whose province crimes are in such wise brought to light that they cannot be defended on any plea of probability. Innumerable proofs of this may be found in those who have been bishops or clergy of the second degree of orders, and now, being degraded, have either gone abroad into other lands through shame, or have gone over to you yourselves or to other heresies, or are known in their own districts; of whom there is so great a multitude dispersed throughout the earth, that if Petilianus, bridling for a time his rashness in speaking, had taken them into consideration, he would never have fallen into so manifestly false and groundless a misconception, as to think that we ought to join in what he says: None of you is free from guilt, where no one that is guilty is condemned.
44. For, to pass over others dwelling in different quarters of the earth—for you will scarcely find any place in which this kind of men is not represented, from whom it may appear that overseers and ministers are wont to be condemned even in the Catholic Church—we need not look far to find the example of Honorius of Milevis. But take the case of Splendonius, whom Petilianus ordained priest after he had been condemned in the Catholic Church, and rebaptized by himself, whose condemnation in Gaul, communicated to us by our brethren, our colleague Fortunatus caused to be publicly read in Constantina, and whom the same Petilianus afterwards cast forth on experience of his abominable deceit. From the case of this Splendonius, when was there a time when he might not have been reminded after what fashion wicked men are degraded from their office even in the Catholic Church? I wonder on what precipice of rashness his heart was resting when he dictated those words in which he ventured to say, "No one of you is free from guilt, where no one that is guilty is condemned." Wherefore the wicked, being bodily intermingled with the good, but spiritually separated from them in the Catholic Church, both when they are undetected through the infirmity of human nature, and when they are condemned from considerations of discipline, in every case bear their own burden. And in this way those are free from danger who are baptized by them with the baptism of Christ, if they keep free from share in their sins either by imitation or consent; seeing that in like manner, if they were baptized by the best of men, they would not be justified except by Him that justifies the ungodly: since to those that believe in Him that justifies the ungodly their faith is counted for righteousness.
45. But as for you, when the case of the followers of Maximianus is brought up against you, who, after being condemned by the sentence of a Council of 310 bishops; after being utterly defeated in the same Council, quoted in the records of so many proconsuls, in the chronicles of so many municipal towns; after being driven forth from the basilicas of which they were in possession, by the order of the judges, enforced by the troops of the several cities, were yet again received with all honor by you, together with those whom they had baptized outside the pale of your communion, without any question respecting their baptism—when confronted, I say, with their case, you can find no reply to make. Indeed, you are vanquished by an expressed opinion, not indeed true, but proceeding from yourselves, by which you maintain that men perish for the faults of others in the same communion of the sacraments, and that each man's character is determined by that of the man by whom he is baptized—that he is guilty if his baptizer is guilty, innocent if he is innocent. But if these views are true, there can be no doubt that, to say nothing of innumerable others, you are destroyed by the sins of the followers of Maximianus, whose guilt your party, in so large a Council, has exaggerated even to the proportions of the sin of those whom the earth swallowed up alive. But if the faults of the followers of Maximianus have not destroyed you, then are these opinions false which you entertain; and much less have certain indefinite unproved faults of the Africans been able to destroy the entire world. And accordingly, as the apostle says, "Every man shall bear his own burden;" Galatians 6:5 and the baptism of Christ is no one's except Christ's; and it is to no purpose that Petilianus promises that he will take as the subject of his second book the charges which we bring concerning the followers of Maximianus, entertaining too low an opinion of men's intellects, as though they do not perceive that he has nothing to say.
46. For if the baptism which Prætextatus and Felicianus administered in the communion of Maximianus was their own, why was it received by you in those whom they baptized as though it were the baptism of Christ? But if it is truly the baptism of Christ, as indeed it is, and yet could not profit those who had received it with the guilt of schism, what do you say that you could have granted to those whom you have received into your body with the same baptism, except that, now that the offense of their accursed division is wiped out by the bond of peace, they should not be compelled to receive the sacrament of the holy laver as though they had it not, but that, as what they had was before for their destruction, so it should now begin to be of profit to them? Or if this is not granted to them in your communion, because it could not possibly be that it should be granted to schismatics among schismatics, it is at any rate granted to you in the Catholic communion, not that you should receive baptism as though it were lacking in you, but that the baptism which you have actually received should be of profit to you. For all the sacraments of Christ, if not combined with the love which belongs to the unity of Christ, are possessed not unto salvation, but unto judgment. But since it is not a true verdict, but your verdict, "that through the baptism of certain traditors the baptism of Christ has perished from the world in general," it is with good reason that you cannot find any answer to make respecting the recognition of the baptism of the followers of Maximianus.
47. See therefore, and remember with the most watchful care, how Petilianus has made no answer to that very question, which he proposes to himself in such terms as to seem to make it a starting-point from which to say something. For the former question he has dismissed altogether, and has not wished to speak of it to us, because I suppose it was beyond his power; nor is he at any time, up to the very end of his volume, going to say anything about it, though he quoted it from the first part of my epistle as though it were a matter calling for refutation. For even though he has added the two words which he accused me of having suppressed, as though they were the strongest bulwarks of his position, he yet lies wholly defenseless, unable to find any answer to make when he is asked, If the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, where are we to find means for cleansing the conscience of the man who is unacquainted with the conscience of him gives, but not in holiness? And if it be the case that any one who has received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt, from what source is he to receive not guilt but faith, who is unwittingly baptized by one that is faithless? To this question it has long been manifest from what he says that he has made no answer.
48. In the next place, he has gone on, with calumnious mouth, to abuse monasteries and monks, finding fault also with me, as having been the founder of this kind of life. And what this kind of life really is he does not know at all, or rather, though it is perfectly well known throughout all the world, he pretends that he is unacquainted with it. Then, asserting that I had said that Christ was the baptizer, he has also added certain words from my epistle as though I had set this forth as my own sentiment, when I had really quoted it as his and yours, and it was inveighed against with most copious harshness, as if it were I who had said these things against myself, when what he reprehended was not mine, but his and your sentiment, as I will presently show clearly to the best of my ability. Then he has endeavored to show us, in many unnecessary words, that Christ does not baptize, but that baptism is administered in His name, at once in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; of which Trinity itself he has said, either because it was what he wished, or because it was all that he could say, that "Christ is the centre of the Trinity." In the next place, he has taken occasion of the names of the sorcerers Simon and Barjesus to vent against us what insults he thought fit. Then he goes on, keeping in guarded suspense the case of Optatus of Thamugas, that he might not be steeped in the odium that arose from it, denying that neither he or his party could have passed judgment upon him, and actually intimating in respect of him, that he was crushed in consequence of suggestions from myself.
49. Lastly, he has ended his epistle with an exhortation and warning to his own party, that they should not be deceived by us, and with a lamentation over those of our party, that we had made them worse than they had been before. Having therefore carefully considered and discussed these points, as appears with sufficient clearness from the words of the epistle which he wrote, Petilianus has made no answer at all to the position which I advanced to begin with in my epistle, when I asked, Supposing it to be true, as he asserts, that the conscience of one that gives— or rather, to add what he considers so great a support to his argument— that the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, by what means he who receives baptism is to be cleansed, when, if the conscience of the giver is polluted, it is without the knowledge of the proposed recipient? Whence it is not surprising that a man resisting in the cause of falsehood, pressed hard in the straits of the truth that contradicts it, should have chosen rather to gasp forth mad abuse, than to walk in the path of that truth which cannot be overcome.
50. And now I would beg of you to pay special attention to the next few words, that I may show you clearly what he has been afraid of in not answering this, and that I may bring into the light what he has endeavored to shroud in obscurity. It certainly was in his power, when we asked by what means he is to be cleansed, who receives baptism when the conscience of the giver is polluted without the knowledge of the proposed recipient, to answer with the greatest ease, From our Lord God; and at any rate to say with the utmost confidence, God wholly cleanses the conscience of the recipient, when he is unacquainted with the stain upon the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness. But when a man had already been compelled by the tenets of your sect to rest the cleansing of the recipient on the conscience of the giver, in that he had said, "For the conscience of him that gives," or "of him that gives in holiness, is looked for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," he was naturally afraid lest any one should seem to be better baptized by a wicked man who concealed his wickedness, than by one that was genuinely and manifestly good; for in the former case his cleansing would depend not on the conscience of one that gave in holiness, but on the most excellent holiness of God Himself. With this apprehension, therefore, that he might not be involved in so great an absurdity, or rather madness, as not to know where he could make his escape, he was unwilling to say by what means the conscience of the recipient should be cleansed, when he does not know of the stain upon the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness; and he thought it better, by making a general confusion with his quarrelsome uproar, to conceal what was asked of him, than to give a reply to his question, which should at once discomfit him; never, however, thinking that our letter could be read by men of such good understanding, or that his would be read by those who had read ours as well, to which he has professed to make an answer.
51. For what I just now said is put with the greatest clearness in that very epistle of mine, in answering which he has said nothing; and I would beg of you to listen for a few moments to what he there has done. And although you are partisans of his, and hate us, yet, if you can, bear it with equanimity. For in his former epistle, to the first portion of which— the only portion which had then come into our hands— I had in the first instance made my reply, he had so rested the hope that is found in baptism in the baptizer, as to say, "For everything consists of an origin and root; and if anything has not a head, it is nothing." Since then Petilianus had said this, not wishing anything to be understood by the origin and root and head of baptizing a man, except the man by whom he might be baptized, I made a comment, and said "We ask, therefore, in a case where the faithlessness of the baptizer is undetected, if then the man whom he baptizes receives faith and not guilt? If then the baptizer is not his origin and root and head, who is it from whom he receives faith? Where is the origin from which he springs? Where is the root of which he is a shoot? Where the head which is his starting-point? Can it be that, when he who is baptized is unaware of the faithlessness of his baptizer, it is then Christ who is the origin and root and head?" This therefore I say and exclaim now also, as I did there as well: "Alas for human rashness and conceit! Why do you not allow that it is always Christ who gives faith, for the purpose of making a man a Christian by giving it? Why do you not allow that Christ is always the origin of the Christian, that the Christian always plants his root in Christ, that Christ is the Head of the Christian? Will it then be urged that, even where spiritual grace is dispensed to those that believe by the hands of a holy and faithful minister, it is still not the minister himself who justifies, but that One of whom it is said, ‘He justifies the ungodly'? Romans 4:5 But unless we admit this, either the Apostle Paul was the head and origin of those whom he had planted, or Apollos the root of those whom he had watered, rather than He who had given them faith in briefing; whereas the same Paul says, ‘I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So that neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase.' 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 Nor was the apostle himself their root, but rather He who says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.' John 15:5 How, too, could he be their head, when he says that ‘we, being many, are one body in Christ,' Romans 12:5 and expressly declares in many passages that Christ Himself is the Head of the whole body? Wherefore, whether a man receives the sacrament of baptism from a faithful or a faithless minister his whole hope is in Christ, that he fall not under the condemnation, that ‘Cursed is he that places his hope in man!'"
52. These things, I think, I put with clearness and truth in my former epistle, when I made answer to Petilianus. These things I have also now quoted, intimating and commending to you the truth that our faith rests on something else altogether than man, and that we believe that the Lord Christ is the cleanser and the justifier of men that believe in Him that justifies the ungodly, that their faith may be counted unto them for righteousness, whether the man who administers the baptism be righteous, or such an impious and deceitful man as the Holy Spirit flees. Then I went on to point out what absurdity would follow were it otherwise, and I said, as I say now: "Otherwise, if each man is born again in spiritual grace of the same sort as he by whom he is baptized, and if, when he who baptizes him is manifestly a good man, then he himself gives faith, he is himself the origin and root and head of him who is being born; while, when the baptizer is faithless without its being known, then the baptized person receives faith from Christ, then derives his origin from Christ, then he is rooted in Christ then he boasts in Christ as his head; in that case all who are baptized should wish that they might have faithless baptizers, and be ignorant of their faithlessness. For however good their baptizers might have been, Christ is certainly beyond comparison better still, and He will then be the Head of the baptized if the faithlessness of the baptizer shall escape detection. But if it be perfect madness to hold such a view (for it is Christ always that justifies the ungodly, by changing his ungodliness into Christianity; it is from Christ always that faith is received; Christ is always the origin of the regenerate, and the Head of the Church), what weight then will those words have, which thoughtless readers value by their sound, without inquiring what their inner meaning is?" This much I said at that time; this is written in my epistle.
53. Then a little after, as he had said, "This being so, brethren, what perversity must that be, that he who is guilty by reason of his own faults should make another free from guilt, whereas the Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘Every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit: do men gather grapes of thorns?' and again, ‘A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things,'" Matthew 12:35 — by which words Petilianus showed with sufficient clearness, that the man who baptizes is to be looked on as the tree, and he who is baptized as the fruit: to this I had answered, If the good tree is the good baptizer, and his good fruit he whom he has baptized, then any one who has been baptized by a bad man, even if his wickedness be not manifest, cannot by any possibility be good, for he is sprung from an evil tree. For a good tree is one thing; a tree whose quality is concealed, but yet bad, is another. What else did I wish to be understood by those words, except what I had stated a little above, that the tree and its fruit do not represent him that baptizes and him that is baptized; but that the man ought to be received as signified by the tree, his works and his life by the fruit, which are always good in the good man, and evil in the evil man, lest this absurdity should follow, that a man should be bad when baptized by a bad man, even though his wickedness were concealed, being, as it were, the fruit of a tree whose quality was unknown, but yet bad? To which he has answered nothing whatsoever.
54. But that neither he nor any one of you might say that, when any one of concealed bad character is the baptizer, then he whom he baptizes is not his fruit, but the fruit of Christ, I went on immediately to point out what a foolish error is consequent also on that opinion; and I repeated, though in other words, what I had said shortly before: If, when the quality of the tree is concealed, but evil, any one who may have been baptized by it is born, not of it but of Christ, then they are justified with greater holiness who are baptized by wicked men, whose wickedness is concealed, than they who are baptized by men that are genuinely and manifestly good. Petilianus then, being hemmed in by these embarrassing straits, said nothing about the earlier part on which these remarks depended, and in his answer so quoted his absurd consequence of his error as though I had stated it as my own opinion, whereas it was really stated in order that he might perceive the amount of evil consequent on his opinion, and so be forced to alter it. Imposing, therefore, this deceit on those who hear and read his words, and never for a moment supposing that what we have written could be read, he begins a vehement and petulant invective against me, as though I had thought that all who are baptized ought to wish that they might have as their baptizers men who are faithless, without knowing this themselves, since, however good the men might be whom they had to baptize them, Christ is incomparably better, who will then be the head of the person baptized, if the faithless baptizer conceal his true character. As though, too, I had thought that those were justified with greater holiness who are baptized by evil men, whose character is concealed, than those who are baptized by men that are genuinely and manifestly good; when this marvellous piece of madness was only mentioned by me as following necessarily on the opinion of those who think with Petilianus, that a man, when baptized, bears the same relation to his baptizer as fruit does to the tree from which it springs—good fruit springing from a good tree, evil fruit from an evil tree—seeing that they, when they are bidden by me to answer whose fruit they think a man that is baptized to be when he is baptized by one of secretly bad character, since they do not venture to rebaptize him, are compelled to answer, that then he is not the fruit of that man of secretly bad character, but that he is the fruit of Christ. And so they are followed by a consequence contrary to their inclination, which none but a madman would entertain—that if a man is the fruit of his baptizer when he is baptized by one that is genuinely and manifestly good, but when he is baptized by one of secretly bad character, he is then not his fruit, but the fruit of Christ—it cannot but follow that they are justified with greater holiness who are baptized by men of secretly bad character, than those who are baptized by men who are genuinely and manifestly good.
55. Now, seeing that when Petilianus attributes this to me as though it were my opinion, he makes it an occasion for a serious and vehement invective against me, he at any rate shows, by the very force of his indignation, how great a sin it is in his opinion to entertain such views; and, accordingly, whatever he has wished it to appear that he said against me for holding this opinion will be found to have been really said against himself, who is proved to entertain the view. For he shows herein by how great force on the side of truth he is overcome, when he cannot find any other door of escape except to pretend that it was I who entertained the views which really are his own. Just as if those whom the apostle confutes for maintaining that there was no resurrection from the dead, were to wish to bring an accusation against the same apostle, on the ground that he said, "Then is Christ not risen," and to maintain that the preaching of the apostle was vain, and the faith of those who believed in it was also vain, and that false witnesses were found against God in those who had said that He raised up Christ from the dead. This is what Petilianus wished to do to me, never expecting that any one could read what I had written, which he could not answer, though very anxious that men should believe him to have answered it. But just as, if any one had done this to the apostle, the whole calumnious accusation would have recoiled on the head of those who made it so soon as the entire passage in his epistle was read, and the preceding words restored, on which any one who reads them must perceive that those which I have quoted depend, in the same way, so soon as the preceding words of my epistle are restored, the accusation which Petilianus brings against me is cast back with all the greater force upon his own head, from which he had striven to remove it.
56. For the apostle, in confuting those who denied that there was any resurrection of the dead, corrects their view by showing the absurdity which follows those who entertain this view, however loth they may be to admit the consequence, in order that, while they shrink in abhorrence from what is impious to say, they may correct what they have ventured to believe. His argument continues thus: "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God: because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not." 1 Corinthians 15:13-15 In order that, while they fear to say that Christ had not risen, with the other wicked and accursed conclusions which follow from such a statement, they may correct what they said in a spirit of folly and infidelity, that there is no resurrection of the dead. If, therefore, you take away what stands at the head of this argument, "If there be no resurrection of the dead," the rest is spoken amiss, and yet must be ascribed to the apostle. But if you restore the supposition on which the rest depends, and place as the hypothesis from which you start, "There is no resurrection of the dead," then the conclusion will follow rightly, "Then is Christ not risen, and our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain," with all the rest that is appended to it. And all these statements of the apostle are wise and good, since whatever evil they have in them is to be imputed to those who denied the resurrection of the dead. In the same manner also, in my epistle, take away my supposition, If every one is born again in spiritual grace of the same character as he by whom he is baptized, and if, when the man who baptizes is genuinely and manifestly good, he does of himself give faith, he is the origin and root and head of him who is being born again; but when the baptizer is a wicked man, and undetected in his wickedness, then each man who is baptized receives his faith from Christ, derives his origin from Christ, is rooted in Christ, makes his boast in Christ as his Head:— take away, I say, this hypothesis, on which all that follows depends, and there remains a saying of the worst description which must fairly be ascribed to me, viz., that all who are baptized should desire that they should have faithless men to baptize them, and be ignorant of their faithlessness. For however good men they may have to baptize them, Christ is incomparably better who will then be the Head of the baptized, if the baptizer be a faithless man, but undetected. But let the statements that you make be restored, and then it will immediately be found that this which depends upon it and follows in close connection from it is not my sentiment, and that any evil which it contains is retorted on the opinion which you maintain. In like manner, take away the supposition, If the good baptizer is the good tree, so that he whom he has baptized is his good fruit, and if, when the character of an evil tree is concealed, then any one that has been baptized by it is born, not of it, but of Christ—take away this hypothesis, which you were compelled to confess had its origin in your sect and in the letter of Petilianus, and the mad conclusion which follows from it will be mine, to be ascribed to me alone, then they are justified with greater holiness who are baptized by undetected evil men, than they who are baptized by men that are genuinely and manifestly good. But restore the hypothesis on which this depends, and you will at once see both that I have been right in making this statement for your correction, and that all that with good reason displeases you in this opinion has recoiled upon your own head.
57. Furthermore, in like manner as those who denied the resurrection of the dead could in no way defend themselves from the evil consequences which the apostle proved to follow from their premises, in order to refute their error, saying, "Then is not Christ raised," with the other conclusions of similar atrocity, unless they changed their opinions, and acknowledged that there was a resurrection of the dead; so is it necessary that you should change your opinion, and cease to rest on man the hope of those who are baptized, if you do not wish to have imputed to you what we say for your refutation and correction, that they are justified with greater holiness who are baptized by undetected evil men than those that are baptized by men that are genuinely and manifestly good. For if you make your first assertion, see what I say, unless some one shall suppress this a second time, and make out that I have entertained the opinion which I quote for your refutation and correction. See what I lay down as my premiss, from which hangs the statement which I shall subsequently make: If you rest the hope of those who are to be baptized on the man by whom they are baptized, and if you maintain, as Petilianus wrote, that the man who baptizes is the origin and root and head of him that is baptized; if you receive as the good tree the good man who baptizes, and as his good fruit the man who has been baptized by him; then you put it into our heads to ask from what origin he springs, from what root he shoots up, to what head he is joined, from what tree he is born, who is baptized by an undetected bad man? For to this inquiry, belongs also the following, to which I have over and over again maintained that Petilianus has given no reply: By what means is a man to be cleansed who receives baptism while he is ignorant of the stain upon the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness? For this conscience of him that gives, or of him that gives in holiness, Petilianus wishes to be the origin, root, head, seed, tree from which the sanctification of the baptized has its existence—springs, begins, sprouts forth, is born.
58. When we ask, therefore, by what means the man is to be cleansed whom you do not baptize again in your communion, even when it has been made clear that he has been baptized by some one who, on account of some concealed iniquity, did not at the time possess the conscience of one that gives in holiness, what answer do you intend to make, except that he is cleansed by Christ or by God, although, indeed, Christ is Himself God over all, blessed for ever, Romans 9:5 or by the Holy Spirit since He too is Himself God, because this Trinity of Persons is one God? Whence Peter, after saying to a man, "You have dared to lie to the Holy Ghost," immediately went on to add what was the nature of the Holy Ghost, saying, "You have not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5:3-4 Lastly, even if you were to say that he was cleansed and purified by an angel when he is unacquainted with the pollution in the conscience of him that gives but not in holiness, take notice that it is said of the saints, when they shall have risen to eternal life, that they shall then be equal to the angels of God. Matthew 22:30 Any one, therefore, that is cleansed even by an angel is cleansed with greater holiness than if he were cleansed by any kind of conscience of man. Why then are you unwilling that it should be said to you, If cleaning is wrought by the hands of a man when he is genuinely and manifestly good; but when the man is evil, but undetected in his wickedness, then since he has not the conscience of one that gives in holiness, it is no longer he, but God, or an angel, that cleanses; therefore they who are baptized by undetected evil men are justified with greater holiness than those who are baptized by men that are genuinely and manifestly good? And if this opinion is displeasing to you, as in reality it ought to be displeasing to every one, then take away the source from which it springs, correct the premiss to which it is indissolubly bound; for if these do not precede as hypotheses, the other will not follow as a consequence.
59. Do not therefore any longer say, "The conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient," lest you be asked, When a stain on the conscience of the giver is concealed, who cleanses the conscience of the recipient? And when you shall have answered, Either God or an angel (since there is no other answer which you possibly can make), then should follow a consequence whereby you would be confounded: Those then are justified with greater holiness who are baptized by undetected evil men, so as to be cleansed by God or by an angel, than those who are baptized by men who are genuinely and manifestly good, who cannot be compared with God or with the angels. But prevail upon yourselves to say what is said by Truth and by the Catholic Church, that not only when the minister of baptism is evil, but also when he is holy and good, hope is still not to be placed in man, but in Him that justifies the ungodly, in whom if any man believe, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5 For when we say, Christ baptizes, we do not mean by a visible ministry, as Petilianus believes, or would have men think that he believes, to be our meaning, but by a hidden grace, by a hidden power in the Holy Spirit as it is said of Him by John the Baptist, "The same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost." John 1:33 Nor has He, as Petilianus says, now ceased to baptize; but He still does it, not by any ministry of the body, but by the invisible working of His majesty. For in that we say, He Himself baptizes, we do not mean, He Himself holds and dips in the water the bodies of the believers; but He Himself invisibly cleanses, and that He does to the whole Church without exception. Nor, indeed, may we refuse to believe the words of the Apostle Paul who says concerning Him, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Ephesians 5:25-26 Here you see that Christ sanctifies; here you see that Christ also Himself washes, Himself purifies with the self-same washing of water by the word, wherein the ministers are seen to do their work in the body. Let no one, therefore, claim unto himself what is of God. The hope of men is only sure when it is fixed on Him who cannot deceive, since "Cursed be every one that trusts in man," Jeremiah 17:5 and "Blessed is that man that makes the Lord His trust." For the faithful steward shall receive as his reward eternal life; but the unfaithful steward, when he dispenses his lord's provisions to his fellow-servants, must in no way be conceived to make the provisions useless by his own unfaithfulness. For the Lord says, "Whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works." Matthew 23:3 And this is therefore the injunction that is given us against evil stewards, that the good things of God should be received at their hands, but that we should beware of their own evil life, by reason of its unlikeness to what they thus dispense.
60. But if it is clear that Petilianus has made no answer to those first words of my epistle, and that, when he has endeavored to make an answer, he has shown all the more clearly how incapable he was of answering, what shall I say in respect of those portions of my writings which he has not even attempted to answer, on which he has not touched at all? And yet if any one shall be willing to review their character, having in his possession both my writings and those of Petilianus, I think he will understand by what confirmation they are supported. And that I may show you this as shortly as I can, I would beg you to call to mind the proofs that were advanced from holy Scripture, or refresh your memory by reading both what he has brought forward as against me, and what I have brought forward in my answer as against you, and see how I have shown that the passages which he has brought forward are antagonistic not to me, but rather to yourselves; while he has altogether failed to touch those which I brought forward as especially necessary, and in that one passage of the apostle which he has endeavored to make use of as though it favored him, you will see how he found himself without the means of making his escape.
61. For the portion of this epistle which he wrote to his adherents— from the beginning down to the passage in which he says, "This is the commandment of the Lord to us, ‘When they persecute you in this city, flee into another;' Matthew 10:23 and if they persecute you in that also, flee to a third"— came first into my hands, and to it I made a reply; and when this reply of ours had fallen, in turn, into his hands, he wrote in answer to it this which I am now refuting, showing that he has made no reply to mine. In that first portion, therefore, of his writings to which I first replied, these are the passages of Scripture which he conceives to be opposed to us: "Every good tree brings forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Do men gather grapes of thorns?" And again: "A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things." Matthew 12:35 And again: "When a man is baptized by one that is dead, his washing profits him nothing." From these passages he is anxious to show that the man who is baptized is made to partake of the character of him by whom he is baptized; I on the other hand, have shown in what sense these passages should be received, and that they could in no wise aid his view. But as for the other expressions which he has used against evil and accursed men, I have sufficiently shown that they are applicable to the Lord's wheat, dispersed, as was foretold and promised, throughout the world, and that they might rather be used by us against you. Examine them again, and you will find it so.
62. But the passages which I have advanced to assert the truth of the Catholic Church, are the following: As regards the question of baptism, that our being born again, cleansed, justified by the grace of God, should not be ascribed to the man who administered the sacrament, I quoted these: "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man:" and "Cursed be every one that trusts in man;" Jeremiah 17:5 and that, "Salvation belongs unto the Lord;" and that, "Vain is the help of man;" and that, "Neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase;" 1 Corinthians 3:7 and that He in whom men believe justifies the ungodly, that his faith may be counted to him for righteousness. Romans 4:5 But in behalf of the unity of the Church itself, which is spread abroad throughout all the world, with which you do not hold communion, I urged that the following passages were prophesied of Christ: that "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth;" and, "I shall give You the heathen for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession;" and that the covenant of God made with Abraham may be quoted in behalf of our, that is, of the Catholic communion, in which it is written, "In your seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed;" Genesis 22:18 which seed the apostle interprets, saying, "And to your seed, which is Christ." Galatians 3:16 Whence it is evident that in Christ not only Africans or Africa, but all the nations through which the Catholic Church is spread abroad, should receive the blessing which was promised so long before. And that the chaff is to be with the wheat even to the time of the last winnowing, that no one may excuse the sacrilege of his own separation from the Church by calumnious accusations of other men's offenses, if he shall have left or deserted the communion of all nations; and to show that the society of Christians may not be divided on account of evil ministers, that is, evil rulers in the Church, I further quoted the passage, "All whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not." Matthew 23:3 With regard to these passages of holy Scripture which I advanced to prove my points, he neither showed how they ought to be otherwise interpreted, so as to prove that they neither made for us nor against you, nor was he willing to touch them in any way. Nay, his whole object was could it have been achieved, that by the tumultuous outpouring of his abuse, it might never occur to any one at all, who after reading my epistle might have been willing to read his as well, that these things had been said by me.
63. Next, listen for a short time to the kind of way in which he has tried to use, in his own behalf, the passages which I had advanced from the writings of the Apostle Paul. "For you asserted," he says, "that the Apostle Paul finds fault with those who used to say that they were of the Apostle Paul, saying, ‘Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?' 1 Corinthians 1:13 Wherefore, if they were in error, and would have perished had they not been corrected, because they wished to be of Paul, what hope can there possibly be for those who have wished to be of Donatus? For this is their sole object, that the origin, and root, and head of him that is baptized should be none other than he by whom he is baptized." These words, and this confirmation from the writings of the apostle, he has quoted from my epistle, and he has proposed to himself the task of refuting them. Go on then, I beg of you, to see how he has fulfilled the task. For he says, "This assertion is meaningless, and inflated, and childish, and foolish, and something very far from a true exposition of our faith. For you would only be right in asserting this, if we were to say, We have been baptized in the name of Donatus, or Donatus was crucified for us, or we have been baptized in our own name. But since such things as this neither have been said nor are said by us—seeing that we follow the formula of the holy Trinity,— it is clear that you are mad to bring such accusations against us. Or if you think that we have been baptized in the name of Donatus, or in our own name, you are miserably deceived, and at the same time confess in your sacrilege that you on your part defile your wretched selves in the name of Cæcilianus." This is the answer which Petilianus has made to those arguments of mine, not supposing— or rather making a noise that no one might suppose— that he has made no answer at all which could bear in any way upon the question which is under discussion. For who could fail to see that this witness of the apostle has been adduced by us with all the more propriety, in that you do not say that you were baptized in the name of Donatus, or that Donatus was crucified for you, and yet separate yourselves from the communion of the Catholic Church out of respect to the party of Donatus; as also those whom Paul was rebuking certainly did not say that they had been baptized in the name of Paul, or that Paul has been crucified for them, and yet they were making a schism in the name of Paul. As therefore in their case, for whom Christ, not Paul, was crucified, and who were baptized in the name of Christ, not of Paul, and who yet said, "I am of Paul," the rebuke is used with all the more propriety, "Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" to make them cling to Him who was crucified for them, and in whose name they were baptized, and not be guilty of division in the name of Paul; so in your case, also, the rebuke, Was Donatus crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Donatus? Is used all the more appositely, because you do not say, We were baptized in the name of Donatus, and yet desire to be of the party of Donatus. For you know that it was Christ who was crucified for you, and Christ in whose name you were baptized; and yet, out of respect to the name and party of Donatus, you show such obstinacy in fighting against the unity of Christ, who was crucified for you, and in whose name you were baptized.
64. But if you wish to see that the object of Petilianus in his writings really was to prove "that the origin, and root, and head of him that is baptized is none other than he by whom he is baptized," and that this has not been asserted by me without meaning, or childishly, or foolishly, review the beginning of the epistle itself to which I made my reply, or rather pay careful attention to me as I quote it. "The conscience," he says, "of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient; for he who has received his faith from one that is faithless, receives not faith but guilt." And as though some one had said to him, Whence do you derive your proof of this? He goes on to say, "For everything has its existence from a source and root; and if anything has not a head, it is nothing; nor does anything well confer a new birth, unless it be born again of good seed. And this being so, brethren, what perversity must it be to maintain that he who is guilty by reason of his own offenses should make another free from guilt; whereas our Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘A good tree brings forth good fruit: do men gather grapes of thorns?' And again, ‘A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things.' And again, ‘When a man is baptized by one that is dead, his washing profits him nothing.'" You see to what end all these things tend, viz., that the conscience of him that gives in holiness (lest any one, by receiving his faith from one that is faithless, should receive not faith but guilt) should be itself the origin, and root, and head, and seed of him that is baptized. For, wishing to prove that the conscience of one that gives in holiness is what we look for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient, and that he receives not faith but guilt, who wittingly receives his faith from one that is faithless, he has added immediately afterwards, "For everything has its existence from a source and root; and if anything has not a head, it is nothing; nor does anything well confer a new birth, unless it be born again of good seed." And for fear that any one should be so dull as still not to understand that in each case he is speaking of the man by whom a person is baptized, he explains this afterwards, and says, "This being so, brethren, what perversity must it be to maintain that he who is guilty by reason of his own offenses should make another free from guilt; whereas our Lord Jesus Christ says, ‘A good tree brings forth good fruit: do men gather grapes of thorns?'" And lest, by some incredible stupidity of understanding, the hearer or seer should be blind enough not to see that he is speaking of the man that baptizes, he adds another passage, where he actually specifies the man. "And again," he says, "‘A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things; and an evil man, out of the evil treasure, brings forth evil things;' and again, ‘When a man is baptized by one that is dead, his washing profits him nothing,'" Certainly it is now plain, certainly he needs no longer any interpreter, or disputant, or demonstrator, to show that the object of his party is to prove that the origin, and root, and head of him that is baptized is none other than he by whom he is baptized. And yet, being overwhelmed by the force of truth, and as though forgetful of what he had said before, Petilianus acknowledges afterwards to me that Christ is the origin and root of them that are regenerate, and the Head of the Church, and not any one that may happen to be the dispenser and minister of baptism. For having said that the apostles used to baptize in the name of Christ, and set forth Christ as the foundation of their faith, to make men Christians, and being fain to prove this, too, by passages and examples from holy Scripture, just as though we were denying it, he says, "Where is now that voice, from which issued the noise of those minute and constant petty questionings, wherein, in the spirit of envy and self-conceit, you uttered many involved sayings about Christ, and for Christ, and in Christ, in opposition to the rashness and haughtiness of men? Lo, Christ is the origin, Christ is the head, Christ is the root of the Christian." When, therefore, I heard this, what could I do but give thanks to Christ, who had compelled the man to make confession? All those things, therefore, are false which he said in the beginning of his epistle, when he wished to persuade us that the conscience of one that gives in holiness must be looked for to cleanse the conscience of the recipient; and that when one has wittingly received his faith from one that is faithless he receives not faith but guilt. For, wishing as it were to show clearly how much rested in the man that baptizes, he had added what he seems to think most weighty proofs, saying "For everything has its existence from a source and root; and if anything has not a head, it is nothing." But afterwards, when he says what we also say, "Lo, Christ is the origin, Christ is the head, Christ is the root of the Christian," he wipes out what he had said before, "that the conscience of one that gives in holiness is the origin, and root, and head of the recipient." The truth, therefore, has prevailed, so that the man who is desirous to receive the baptism of Christ should not rest his hope upon the man who administers the sacrament, but should approach in all security to Christ Himself, as to the source which is not changed, to the root which is not plucked up, to the head which is not cast down.
65. Then who is there that could fail to perceive from what a vein of conceit it proceeds, that in explaining as it were the declaration of the apostle, he says, "He who said, ‘I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase,' surely meant nothing else than this, that ‘I made a man a catechumen in Christ, Apollo baptized him; God confirmed what we had done?'" Why then did not Petilianus add what the apostle added, and I especially took pains to quote, "So then neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase"? 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 And if he be willing to interpret this on the same principle as what he has set down above, it follows beyond all doubt, that neither is he that baptizes anything but God that gives the increase. For what matter does it make in reference to the question now before us, in what sense it has been said, "I planted, Apollos watered,"— whether it is really to be taken as equivalent to his saying, "I made a catechumen, Apollos baptized him;" or whether there be any other truer and more congruous understanding of it?— for in the mean time, according to his own interpretation of the words, neither is he that makes the catechumen anything, neither he that baptizes, but God that gives the increase. But there is a great difference between confirming what another does, and doing anything oneself. For He who gives the increase does not confirm a tree or a vine, but creates it. For by that increase it comes to pass that even a piece of wood planted in the ground produces and establishes a root; by that increase it comes to pass that a seed cast into the earth puts forth a shoot. But why should we make a longer dissertation on this point? It is enough that, according to Petilianus himself neither he that makes a catechumen, nor he that baptizes, is anything, but God that gives the increase. But when would Petilianus say this, so that we should understand that he meant, Neither is Donatus of Carthage anything, neither Januarius, neither Petilianus? When would the swelling of his pride permit him to say this, which now causes the man to think himself to be something, when he is nothing, deceiving himself? Galatians 6:3
66. Finally, again, a little afterwards, when he resolved and was firmly purposed, as it were, to reconsider once more the words of the apostle which he had brought up against him, he was unwilling to set down this that I had said, preferring something else in which by some means or other the swelling of human pride might find means to breathe. "For to reconsider," he says, "those words of the apostle, on which you founded an argument against us; he said, ‘What is Apollos, what is Paul, save only ministers of Him in whom you have believed?' What else for example, does he say to all of us than this, What is Donatus of Carthage, what is Januarius, what is Petilianus, save only ministers of Him in whom you have believed?" I did not bring forward this passage of the apostle, but I did bring forward that which he has been unwilling to quote, "Neither he that plants is anything, neither he that waters; but God that gives the increase." But Petilianus was willing to insert those words of the apostle, in which he asks what is Paul, and what is Apollos, and answers that "They are ministers of Him in whom you have believed." This the muscles of the heretic's neck could bear; but he was wholly unable to endure the other, in which the apostle did not ask and answer what he was, but said that he was nothing. But now I am willing to ask whether it be true that the minister of Christ is nothing. Who will say so much as this? In what sense, therefore, is it true that "Neither is he that plants anything, neither he that waters, but God that gives the increase," except that he who is something in one point of view may be nothing in another? For ministering and dispensing the word and sacrament he is something, but for purifying and justifying he is nothing, seeing that this is not accomplished in the inner man, except by Him by whom the whole man was created, and who while He remained God was made man—by Him, that is, of whom it was said, "Purifying their hearts by faith;" Acts 15:9 and "To him that believes in Him that justifies the ungodly." Romans 4:5 And this testimony Petilianus has been willing to set forth in my words, while in his own he has neither handled it nor even touched it.
67. A minister, therefore, that is a dispenser of the word and sacrament of the gospel, if he is a good man, becomes a fellow-partner in the working of the gospel; but if he is a bad man, he does not therefore cease to be a dispenser of the gospel. For if he is good, he does it of his own free will; but if he is a bad man—that is, one who seeks his own and not the things of Jesus Christ—he does it unwillingly, for the sake of other things which he is seeking after. See, however, what the same apostle has said: "For if I do this thing willingly," he says, "I have a reward; but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me;" 1 Corinthians 9:17 as though he were to say, If I, being good, announce what is good, I attain unto it also myself; but if, being evil, I announce it, yet I announce what is good. For has he in any way said, If I do it against my will, then shall I not be a dispenser of the gospel? Peter and the other disciples announce the good tidings, as being good themselves. Judas did it against his will, but yet, when he was sent, he announced it in common with the rest. They have a reward; to him a dispensation of the gospel was committed. But they who received the gospel at the mouth of all those witnesses, could not be cleansed and justified by him that planted, or by him that watered, but by Him alone that gives the increase. For neither are we going to say that Judas did not baptize, seeing that he was still among the disciples when that which is written was being accomplished, "Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples." John 4:2 Are we to suppose that, because he had not betrayed Christ, therefore he who had the bag, and bare what was put therein, John 12:6 was still enabled to dispense grace without prejudice to those who received it, though he could not be an upright guardian of the money entrusted to his care? Or if he did not baptize, at any rate we must acknowledge that he preached the gospel. But if you consider this a trifling function, and of no importance, see what you must think of the Apostle Paul himself, who said, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." 1 Corinthians 1:17 To this we may add, that according to this, Apollos begins to be more important, who watered by baptizing, than Paul, who planted by preaching the gospel, though Paul claims to himself the relation of father towards the Corinthians in virtue of this very act, and does not grant this title to those who came to them after him. For he says, "Though you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." 1 Corinthians 4:15 He says, "I have begotten you" to the same men to whom he says in another place, "I thank God that I baptized none of you but Crispus and Gaius, and I baptized also the household of Stephanus." He had begotten them, therefore, not through himself, but through the gospel. And even though he had been seeking his own, and not the things of Jesus Christ, and had been doing this unwillingly, so as to receive no reward for himself, yet he would have been dispensing the treasure of the Lord; and this, though evil himself, he would not have been making evil or useless to those who received it well.
68. And if this is rightly said of the gospel, with how much greater certainty should it be said of baptism, which belongs to the gospel in such wise, that without it no one can reach the kingdom of heaven, and with it only if to the sacrament be added righteousness? For He who said, "Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John 3:5 said Himself also, "Unless your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20 The form of the sacrament is given through baptism, the form of righteousness through the gospel. Neither one without the other leads to the kingdom of heaven. Yet even men of inferior learning can baptize perfectly, but to preach the gospel perfectly is a task of much greater difficulty and rarity. Therefore the teacher of the Gentiles, that was superior in excellence to the majority, was sent to preach the gospel, not to baptize; because the latter could be done by many, the former only by a few, of whom he was chief. And yet we read that he said in certain places, "My gospel;" 2 Timothy 2:8 but he never called baptism either his, or any one's else by whom it was administered. For that baptism alone which John gave is called John's baptism. Acts 19:3 This that man received as the special pledge of his ministry, that the preparatory sacrament of washing should even be called by the name of him by whom it was administered; whereas the baptism which the disciples of Christ administered was never called by the name of any one of them, that it should be understood to be His alone of whom it is said, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word." Ephesians 5:25-26 If, therefore, the gospel, which is Christ's, but so that a minister also may call it his in virtue of his office of administering it, can be received by a man even at the hands of an evil minister without danger to himself, if he does according to what he says, and not after the example of what he does, how much more may any one who comes in good faith to Christ receive without fear of contagion from an evil minister the baptism of Christ, which none of the apostles so administered as to dare to call it his own?
69. Furthermore, if, while I have continued without intermission to prove how entirely the passages of Scripture which Petilianus has quoted against us have failed to hurt our cause, he himself has in some cases not touched at all what I have quoted, and partly, when he has endeavored to handle them, has shown that the only thing that he could do was to fail in finding an escape from them, you require no long exhortation or advice in order to see what you ought to maintain, and what you should avoid. But it may be that this has been the kind of show that he has made in dealing with the testimony of holy Scripture, but that he has not been without force in the case of the documentary evidence found in the records of the schism itself. Let us then see in the case of these too, though it is superfluous to inquire into them after testimony from the word of God, what he has quoted, or what he has proved. For, after pouring forth a violent invective against traditors, and quoting loudly many passages against them from the holy books themselves, he yet said nothing which could prove his opponents to be traditors. But I quoted the case of Silvanus of Cirta, who held his own see some little time before himself, who was expressly declared in the Municipal Chronicles to have been a traditor while he was yet a sub-deacon. Against this fact he did not venture to whisper a syllable. And yet you cannot fail to see how strong the pressure was which must have been urging him to reply that he might show a man, who was his predecessor, not only one of his party, but a partner, so to speak, in his see, to have been innocent of the crime of delivering up the sacred books, especially as you rest the whole strength of your cause on the fact that you give the name of traditor to all whom you either pretend or believe to have been the successors of traditors in the path of their communion. Although, then, the very exigencies of your cause would seem to compel him to undertake the defence of a citizen even of Russicadia, or Calama, or any other city of your party, whom I should declare to be a traditor, on the authority of the Municipal Chronicles, yet he did not open his mouth even in defense of his own predecessor. For what reason, except that he could not find any mist dark enough to deceive the minds of even the slowest and sleepiest of men? For what could he have said, except that the charges brought against Silvanus were false? But we quote the words of the Chronicles, both as to the date of the fact, and as to the time of the information laid before Zenophilus the ex-consul. And how could he resist this evidence, being encompassed on every side by the most excellent cause of the Catholics, while yours was bad as bad could be? For which reason I quote these words from my epistle to which he would fain be thought to have replied in this which I am now refuting, that you may see for yourselves how impregnable the position must be against which he has been able to find no safer weapon than silence.
70. For when he quoted a passage from the gospel as making against us, where our Lord says, "They will come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves; you shall know them by their fruits," Matthew 7:15-16 — I answered and said, "Then let us consider their fruits;" and then I at once went on to add the following words: "You bring up against them their delivery of the sacred books. This very charge we urge with greater probability, against their accusers themselves. And not to carry our search too far: in the same city of Constantina, your predecessors ordained Silvanus bishop at the very outset of his schism. He, while he was still a sub-deacon, was most unmistakably entered as a traditor in the archives of the city. If you, on your side, bring forward documents against our predecessors, all that we ask is equal terms, that we should either believe both to be true, or both to be false. If both are true, you are unquestionably guilty of schism, who have pretended that you avoid offenses in the communion of the whole world, though these were common among you in your own fragmentary sect. But again, if both are false, you are unquestionably guilty of schism, who, on account of the false charges of traditors, are staining yourselves with the heinous offense of severance from the Church. But if we have something to urge in accusation, while you have nothing, or if our charges are true, while yours are false, it is no longer matter of discussion how thoroughly your mouths are closed. What if the holy and true Church of Christ were to convince and overcome you, even if we held no documents in support of our cause, or only such as were false, while you had possession of some genuine proof of delivery of the sacred books, what would then remain for you, except that, if you would, you should show your love of peace, or otherwise should hold your tongues? For whatever in that case you might bring forward in evidence, I should be able to say with the greatest ease and with the most perfect truth, that then you are bound to prove as much to the full and Catholic unity of the Church, already spread abroad and established throughout so many nations, to the end that you should remain within, and that those whom you convict should be expelled. And if you have endeavored to do this, certainly you have not been able to make good your proof; and, being vanquished or enraged, you have separated yourselves, with all the heinous guilt of sacrilege, from the guiltless men who could not condemn on insufficient proof. But if you have not even endeavored to do this, then with most accursed and unnatural blindness you have cut yourselves off from the wheat of Christ, which grows throughout His whole fields, that is, throughout the whole world until the end, because you have taken offense at a few tares in Africa." To this, which I have quoted from my former epistle, Petilianus has made no answer whatsoever. And, at all events, you see that in these few words is comprised the whole question which is at issue between us. For what should he endeavor to say, when, whatever course he chose, he was sure to be debated?
71. For when documents are brought forward relating to the traditors, both by us against the men of your party, and by you against the men of our party, (if indeed any really are brought forward on your side, for to this very day we are left in total ignorance of them; nor indeed can we believe that Petilianus would have omitted to insert them in his letter, seeing that he has taken so much pain to secure the quotation and insertion of those portions of the Chronicles which bear on the matter in opposition to me)—but still, as I began to say, if such documents are brought forward both by us and by you, documents of whose existence we are wholly ignorant to this very day—surely you must acknowledge that either both are true, or both false, or ours true and yours false, or yours true and ours false; for there is no further alternative that can be suggested.
But according to all these four hypotheses, the truth is on the side of the communion of the Catholic Church. For if both are true, then you certainly should not have deserted the communion of the whole world on account of men such as you too had among yourselves. But if both are false, you should have guarded against the guilt of most accursed division, which had not even any pretext to allege of any delivery of the sacred books. If ours are true and yours are false, you have long been without anything to say for yourselves. If yours are true and ours are false, we have been liable to be deceived, in common with the whole world, not about the truth of the faith, but about the unrighteousness of men. For the seed of Abraham, dispersed throughout the world, was bound to pay attention, not to what you said you knew, but to what you proved to the judges. Whence have we any knowledge of what was done by those men who were accused by your ancestors, even if the allegations made against them were true, so long as they were held to be not true but false, either by the judges who took cognizance of the case, or at least by the general body of the Church dispersed throughout the world, which was only bound to pay heed to the sentence of the judges? God does not necessarily pardon any human guilt that others in the weakness of human judgment fail to discover; yet I maintain that no one is rightly deemed guilty for having believed a man to be innocent who was not convicted. How then do you prove the world to be guilty, merely because it did not know what possibly was really guilt in the Africans,— its ignorance arising either from the fact that no one reported the sin to it, or from its having given credence, in respect of the information which was given, rather to the judges who took cognizance of the case, than to the murmurers who were defeated? So far then, Petilianus deserves all praise, in that, when he saw that on this point I was absolutely impregnable, he passed it by in silence. Yet he does not deserve praise for his attempts to obscure in a mist of words other points which were equally impregnable, which yet he thought could be obscured; or for having put me in the place of his cause, when the cause left him nothing to say; while even about myself he could say nothing except what was either altogether false, or undeserving of any blame, or without any bearing whatsoever upon me. But, in the meantime, are you, whom I have made judges between Petilianus and myself, possessed of discrimination enough to decide in any degree between what is true and what is false, between what is mere empty swelling and what is solid, between what is troubled and what is calm, between inflammation and soundness, between divine predictions and human assumptions, between bringing an accusation and establishing it, between proofs and fictions, between pleading a cause and leading one away from it? If you have such power of discrimination, well and good; but if you have it not, we shall not repent of having bestowed our pains on you, for even though your heart be not converted unto peace, yet our peace shall return unto ourselves.
Source. Translated by J.R. King and revised by Chester D. Hartranft. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 4. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/14093.htm>.
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