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Fathers Of The Church, Catholic Edition

Letters Which Were Written by Augustin After His Becoming Bishop of Hippo, and Before the Conference Held with the Donatists at Carthage, and the Discovery of the Heresy of Pelagius in Africa (a.d. 396–410).

To Brother Paulinus and to Sister Therasia, Most Beloved and Sincere, Truly Most Blessed and Most Eminent for the Very Abundant Grace of God Bestowed on Them Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Although in my longing to be without delay near you in one sense, while still remote in another, I wished much that what I wrote in answer to your former letter (if, indeed, any letter of mine deserves to be called an answer to yours) should go with all possible expedition to your Grace, my delay has brought me the advantage of a second letter from you. The Lord is good, who often withholds what we desire, that He may add to it what we would prefer. For it is one pleasure to me that you will write me on receiving my letter, and it is another that, through not receiving it at once, you have written now. The joy which I have felt in reading this letter would have been lost to me if my letter to your Holiness had been quickly conveyed to you, as I intended and earnestly desired. But now, to have this letter, and to expect a reply to my own, multiplies my satisfaction. The blame of the delay cannot be laid to my charge; and the Lord, in His more abundant kindness, has done that which He judged to be more conducive to my happiness.

2. We welcomed with great gladness in the Lord the holy brothers Romanus and Agilis, who were, so to speak, an additional letter from you, capable of hearing and answering our voices, whereby most agreeably your presence was in part enjoyed by us, although only to make us long the more eagerly to see you. It would be at all times and in every way impossible for you to give, and unreasonable for us to ask, as much information from you concerning yourself by letter as we received from them by word of mouth. There was manifest also in them (what no paper could convey) such delight in telling us of you, that by their very countenance and eyes while they spoke, we could with unspeakable joy read you written on their hearts. Moreover, a sheet of paper, of whatever kind it be, and however excellent the things written upon it may be, enjoys no benefit itself from what it contains, though it may be unfolded with great benefit to others; but, in reading this letter of yours—namely, the minds of these brethren—when conversing with them, we found that the blessedness of those upon whom you had written was manifestly proportioned to the fulness with which they had been written upon by you. In order, therefore, to attain to the same blessedness, we transcribed in our own hearts what was written in theirs, by most eager questioning as to everything concerning you.

3. Notwithstanding all this, it is with deep regret that we consent to their so soon leaving us, even to return to you. For observe, I beseech you, the conflicting emotions by which we are agitated. Our obligation to let them go without delay was increased according to the vehemence of their desire to obey you; but the greater the vehemence of this desire in them, the more completely did they set you forth as almost present with us, because they let us see how tender your affections are. Therefore our reluctance to let them go increased with our sense of the reasonableness of their urgency to be permitted to go. Oh insupportable trial, were it not that by such partings we are not, after all, separated from each other,—were it not that we are “members of one body, having one Head, enjoying the effusion of the same grace, living by the same bread, walking in the same way, and dwelling in the same home!” You recognise these words, I suppose, as quoted from your own letter; and why should not I also use them? Why should they be yours any more than mine, seeing that, inasmuch as they are true, they proceed from communion with the same head? And in so far as they contain something that has been specially given to you, I have so loved them the more on that account, that they have taken possession of the way leading through my breast, and would suffer no words to pass from my heart to my tongue until they went first, with the priority which is due to them as yours. My brother and sister, holy and beloved in God, members of the same body with us, who could doubt that we are animated by one spirit, except those who are strangers to that affection by which we are bound to each other?

4. Yet I am curious to know whether you bear with more patience and ease than I do this bodily separation. If it be so, I do not, I confess, take any pleasure in your fortitude in this respect, unless perhaps because of its reasonableness, seeing that I confess myself much less worthy of your affectionate longing than you are of mine. At all events, if I found in myself a power of bearing your absence patiently, this would displease me, because it would make me relax my efforts to see you; and what could be more absurd than to be made indolent by power of endurance? But I beg to acquaint your Charity with the ecclesiastical duties by which I am kept at home, inasmuch as the blessed father Valerius (who with me salutes you, and thirsts for you with a vehemence of which you will hear from our brethren), not content with having me as his presbyter, has insisted upon adding the greater burden of sharing the episcopate with him. This office I was afraid to decline, being persuaded, through the love of Valerius and the importunity of the people, that it was the Lord’s will, and being precluded from excusing myself on other grounds by some precedents of similar appointments. The yoke of Christ, it is true, is in itself easy, and His burden light; yet, through my perversity and infirmity, I may find the yoke vexatious and the burden heavy in some degree; and I cannot tell how much more easy and light my yoke and burden would become if I were comforted by a visit from you, who live, as I am informed, more disengaged and free from such cares. I therefore feel warranted in asking, nay, demanding and imploring you to condescend to come over into Africa, which is more oppressed with thirst for men such as you are than even by the well-known aridity of her soil.

5. God knoweth that I long for your visiting this country, not merely to gratify my own desire, nor merely on account of those who through me, or by public report, have heard of your pious resolution; I long for it for the sake of others also who either have not heard, or, hearing, have not believed the fame of your piety, but who might be constrained to love excellence of which they could then be no longer in ignorance or doubt. For although the perseverance and purity of your compassionate benevolence is good, more is required of you; namely, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may behold your good works, and may glorify your Father which is in heaven.” The fishermen of Galilee found pleasure not only in leaving their ships and their nets at the Lord’s command, but also in declaring that they had left all and followed Him. And truly he despises all who despises not only all that he was able, but also all that he was desirous to possess. What may have been desired is seen only by the eyes of God; what was actually possessed is seen also by the eyes of men. Moreover, when things trivial and earthly are loved by us, we are somehow more firmly wedded to what we have than to what we desire to have. For whence was it that he who sought from the Lord counsel as to the way of eternal life, went away sorrowful upon hearing that, if he would be perfect, he must sell all, and distribute to the poor, and have treasure in heaven, unless because, as the Gospel tells us, he had great possessions? For it is one thing to forbear from appropriating what is wanting to us; it is another thing to rend away that which has become a part of ourselves: the former action is like declining food, the latter is like cutting off a limb. How great and how full of wonder is the joy with which Christian charity beholds in our day a sacrifice cheerfully made in obedience to the Gospel of Christ, which that rich man grieved and refused to make at the bidding of Christ Himself!

6. Although language fails to express that which my heart has conceived and labours to utter, nevertheless, since you perceive with your discernment and piety that the glory of this is not yours, that is to say, not of man, but the glory of the Lord in you (for you yourselves are most carefully on your guard against your Adversary, and most devoutly strive to be found as learners of Christ, meek and lowly in heart; and, indeed, it were better with humility to retain than with pride to renounce this world’s wealth);—since, I say, you are aware that the glory here is not yours, but the Lord’s, you see how weak and inadequate are the things which I have spoken. For I have been speaking of the praises of Christ, a theme transcending the tongue of angels. We long to see this glory of Christ brought near to the eyes of our people; that in you, united in the bonds of wedlock, there may be given to both sexes an example of the way in which pride must be trodden under foot, and perfection hopefully pursued. I know not any way in which you could give greater proof of your benevolence, than in resolving to be not less willing to permit your worth to be seen, than you are zealous to acquire and retain it.

7. I recommend to your kindness and charity this boy Vetustinus, whose case might draw forth the sympathy even of those who are not religious: the causes of his affliction and of his leaving his country you will hear from his own lips. As to his pious resolution—his promise, namely, to devote himself to the service of God—it will be more decisively known after some time has elapsed, when his strength has been confirmed, and his present fear is removed. Perceiving the warmth of your love for me, and encouraged thereby to believe that you will not grudge the labour of reading what I have written, I send to your Holiness and Charity three books: would that the size of the volumes were an index of the completeness of the discussion of so great a subject; for the question of free-will is handled in them! I know that these books, or at least some of them, are not in the possession of our brother Romanianus; but almost everything which I have been able for the benefit of any readers to write is, as I have intimated, accessible to your perusal through him, because of your love to me, although I did not charge him to carry them to you. For he already had them all, and was carrying them with him: moreover, it was by him that my answer to your first letter was sent. I suppose that your Holiness has already discovered, by that spiritual sagacity which the Lord has given you, how much that man bears in his soul of what is good, and how far he still comes short through infirmity. In the letter sent through him you have, as I trust, read with what anxiety I commended himself and his son to your sympathy and love, as well as how close is the bond by which they are united to me. May the Lord build them up by your means! This must be asked from Him rather than from you, for I know how much it is already your desire.

8. I have heard from the brethren that you are writing a treatise against the Pagans: if we have any claim on your heart, send it at once to us to read. For your heart is such an oracle of divine truth, that we expect from it answers which shall satisfactorily and clearly decide the most prolix debates. I understand that your Holiness has the books of the most blessed father Ambrose, of which I long greatly to see those which, with much care and at great length, he has written against some most ignorant and pretentious men, who affirm that our Lord was instructed by the writings of Plato.

9. Our most blessed brother Severus, formerly of our community, now president of the church in Milevis, and well known by the brethren in that city, joins me in respectful salutation to your Holiness. The brethren also who are with me serving the Lord salute you as warmly as they long to see you: they long for you as much as they love you; and they love you as your eminent goodness merits. The loaf which we send you will become more rich as a blessing through the love with which your kindness receives it. May the Lord keep you for ever from this generation, my brother and sister most beloved and sincere, truly benevolent, and most eminently endowed with abundant grace from the Lord.

This letter from Paulinus to Romanianus and Licentius expresses the satisfaction with which he heard of the promotion of Augustin to the episcopate, and conveys both in prose and in verse excellent counsels to Licentius: it is one which in this selection may without loss be omitted.

To Proculeianus, My Lord, Honourable and Most Beloved, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. The titles prefixed to this letter I need not defend or explain at any length to you, though they may give offence to the vain prejudices of ignorant men. For I rightly address you as lord, seeing that we are both seeking to deliver each other from error, although to some it may seem uncertain which of us is in error before the matter has been fully debated; and therefore we are mutually serving one another, if we sincerely labour that we may both be delivered from the perversity of discord. That I labour to do this with a sincere heart, and with the fear and trembling of Christian humility, is not perhaps to most men manifest, but is seen by Him to whom all hearts are open. What I without hesitation esteem honourable in you, you readily perceive. For I do not esteem worthy of any honour the error of schism, from which I desire to have all men delivered, so far as is within my power; but yourself I do not for a moment hesitate to regard as worthy of honour, chiefly because you are knit to me in the bonds of a common humanity, and because there are conspicuous in you some indications of a more gentle disposition, by which I am encouraged to hope that you may readily embrace the truth when it has been demonstrated to you. As for my love to you, I owe not less than He commanded who so loved us as to bear the shame of the cross for our sakes.

2. Be not, however, surprised that I have so long forborne from addressing your Benevolence; for I did not think that your views were such as were with great joy declared to me by brother Evodius, whose testimony I cannot but believe. For he tells me that, when you met accidentally at the same house, and conversation began between you concerning our hope, that is to say, the inheritance of Christ, you were kindly pleased to say that you were willing to have a conference with me in the presence of good men. I am truly glad that you have condescended to make this proposal: and I can in no wise forego so important an opportunity, given by your kindness, of using whatever strength the Lord may be pleased to give me in considering and debating with you what has been the cause, or source, or reason of a division so lamentable and deplorable in that Church of Christ to which He said: “Peace I give you, my peace I leave unto you.

3. I heard from the brother aforesaid that you had complained of his having said something in answer to you in an insulting manner; but, I pray you, do not regard it as an insult, for I am sure it did not proceed from an overbearing spirit, as I know my brother well. But if, in disputing in defence of his own faith and the Church’s love, he spoke perchance with a degree of warmth something which you regarded as wounding your dignity, that deserves to be called, not contumacy, but boldness. For he desired to debate and discuss the question, not to be merely submitting to you and flattering you. For such flattery is the oil of the sinner, with which the prophet does not desire to have his head anointed; for he saith: “The righteous shall correct me in compassion, and rebuke me; but the oil of the sinner shall not anoint my head.” For he prefers to be corrected by the stern compassion of the righteous, rather than to be commended with the soothing oil of flattery. Hence also the saying of the prophet: “They who pronounce you happy cause you to err.” Therefore also it is commonly and justly said of a man whom false compliments have made proud, “his head has grown;” for it has been increased by the oil of the sinner, that is, not of one correcting with stern truth, but of one commending with smooth flattery. Do not, however, suppose me to mean by this, that I wish it to be understood that you have been corrected by brother Evodius, as by a righteous man; for I fear lest you should think that anything is spoken by me also in an insulting manner, against which I desire to the utmost of my power to be on guard. But He is righteous who hath said, “I am the truth. When, therefore, any true word has been uttered, though it may be somewhat rudely, by the mouth of any man, we are corrected not by the speaker, who may perhaps be not less a sinner than ourselves, but by the truth itself, that is to say, by Christ who is righteous, lest the unction of smooth but pernicious flattery, which is the oil of the sinner, should anoint our head. Although, therefore, brother Evodius, through undue excitement in defending the communion to which he belongs, may have said something too vehemently through strong feeling, you ought to excuse him on the ground of his age, and of the importance of the matter in his estimation.

4. I beseech you, however, to remember what you have been pleased to promise; namely, to investigate amicably with me a matter of so great importance, and so closely pertaining to the common salvation, in the presence of such spectators as you may choose (provided only that our words are not uttered so as to be lost, but are taken down with the pen; so that we may conduct the discussion in a more calm and orderly manner, and anything spoken by us which escapes the memory may be recalled by reading the notes taken). Or, if you prefer it, we may discuss the matter without the interference of any third party, by means of letters or conference and reading, wherever you please, lest perchance some hearers, unwisely zealous, should be more concerned with the expectation of a conflict between us, than the thought of our mutual profit by the discussion. Let the people, however, be afterwards informed through us of the debate, when it is concluded; or, if you prefer to have the matter discussed by letters exchanged, let these letters be read to the two congregations, in order that they may yet come to be no longer divided, but one. In fact, I willingly accede to whatever terms you wish, or prescribe, or prefer. And as to the sentiments of my most blessed and venerable father Valerius, who is at present from home, I undertake with fullest confidence that he will hear of this with great joy; for I know how much he loves peace, and how free he is from being influenced by any paltry regard for vain parade of dignity.

5. I ask you, what have we to do with the dissensions of a past generation? Let it suffice that the wounds which the bitterness of proud men inflicted on our members have remained until now; for we have, through the lapse of time, ceased to feel the pain to remove which the physician’s help is usually sought. You see how great and miserable is the calamity by which the peace of Christian homes and families is broken. Husbands and wives, agreeing together at the family hearth, are divided at the altar of Christ. By Him they pledge themselves to be at peace between themselves, yet in Him they cannot be at peace. Children have the same home, but not the same house of God, with their own parents. They desire to be secure of the earthly inheritance of those with whom they wrangle concerning the inheritance of Christ. Servants and masters divide their common Lord, who took on Him the form of a servant that He might deliver all from bondage. Your party honours us, and our party honours you. Your members appeal to us by our episcopal insignia, and our members show the same respect to you. We receive the words of all, we desire to give offence to none. Why then, finding cause of offence in none besides, do we find it in Christ, whose members we rend asunder? When we may be serviceable to men that are desirous of terminating through our help disputes concerning secular affairs, they address us as saints and servants of God, in order that they may have their questions as to property disposed of by us: let us at length, unsolicited, take up a matter which concerns both our own salvation and theirs. It is not about gold or silver, or land, or cattle, matters concerning which we are daily saluted with lowly respect, in order that we may bring disputes to a peaceful termination,—but it is concerning our Head Himself that this dissension, so unworthy and pernicious, exists between us. However low they bow their heads who salute us in the hope that we may make them agree together in regard to the things of this world, our Head stooped from heaven even to the cross, and yet we do not agree together in Him.

6. I beg and beseech you, if there be in you that brotherly feeling for which some give you credit, let your goodness be approved sincere, and not feigned with a view to passing honours, by this, that your bowels of compassion be moved, so that you consent to have this matter discussed; joining with me in persevering prayer, and in peaceful discussion of every point. Let not the respect paid by the unhappy people to our dignities be found, in the judgment of God, aggravating our condemnation; rather let them be recalled along with us, through our unfeigned love, from errors and dissensions, and guided into the ways of truth and peace.

My lord, honourable and most beloved, I pray that you may be blessed in the sight of God.

To Eusebius, My Excellent Lord and Brother, Worthy of Affection and Esteem, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. God, to whom the secrets of the heart of man are open, knoweth that it is because of my love for Christian peace that I am so deeply moved by the profane deeds of those who basely and impiously persevere in dissenting from it. He knoweth also that this feeling of mine is one tending towards peace, and that my desire is, not that any one should against his will be coerced into the Catholic communion, but that to all who are in error the truth may be openly declared, and being by God’s help clearly exhibited through my ministry, may so commend itself as to make them embrace and follow it.

2. Passing many other things unnoticed, what could be more worthy of detestation than what has just happened? A young man is reproved by his bishop for frequently beating his mother like a madman, and not restraining his impious hands from wounding her who bore him, even on those days on which the sternness of law shows mercy to the most guilty criminals. He then threatens his mother that he would pass to the party of the Donatists, and that he would kill her whom he is accustomed to beat with incredible ferocity. He utters these threats, then passes over to the Donatists, and is rebaptized while filled with wicked rage, and is arrayed in white vestments while he is burning to shed his mother’s blood. He is placed in a prominent and conspicuous position within the railing in the church; and to the eyes of sorrowful and indignant beholders, he who is purposing matricide is exhibited as a regenerate man.

3. I appeal to you, as a man of most mature judgment, can these things find favour in your eyes? I do not believe this of you: I know your wisdom. A mother is wounded by her son in the members of that body which bore and nursed the ungrateful wretch; and when the Church, his spiritual mother, interferes, she too is wounded in those sacraments by which, to the same ungrateful son, she ministered life and nourishment. Do you not seem to hear the young man gnashing his teeth in rage for a parent’s blood, and saying, “What shall I do to the Church which forbids my wounding my mother? I have found out what to do: let the Church herself be wounded by such blows as she can suffer; let that be done in me which may cause her members pain. Let me go to those who know how to despise the grace with which she gave me spiritual birth, and to mar the form which in her womb I received. Let me vex both my natural and my spiritual mother with cruel tortures: let the one who was the second to give me birth be the first to give me burial; for her sorrow let me seek spiritual death, and for the other’s death let me prolong my natural life.” Oh, Eusebius! I appeal to you as an honourable man, what else may we expect than that now he shall feel himself, as a Donatist, so armed as to have no fear in assailing that unhappy woman, decrepit with age and helpless in her widowhood, from wounding whom he was restrained while he remained a Catholic? For what else had he purposed in his passionate heart when he said to his mother, “I will pass over to the party of Donatus, and I will drink your blood?” Behold, arrayed in white vestments, but with conscience crimson with blood, he has fulfilled his threat in part; the other part remains, viz. that he drink his mother’s blood. If, therefore, these things find favour in your eyes, let him be urged by those who are now his clergy and his sanctifiers to fulfil within eight days the remaining portion of his vow.

4. The Lord’s right hand indeed is strong, so that He may keep back this man’s rage from that unhappy and desolate widow, and, by means known unto His own wisdom, may deter him from his impious design; but could I do otherwise than utter my feelings when my heart was pierced with such grief? Shall they do such things, and am I to be commanded to hold my peace? When He commands me by the mouth of the apostle saying that those who teach what they ought not must be rebuked by the bishop, shall I be silent through dread of their displeasure? The Lord deliver me from such folly! As to my desire for having such an impious crime recorded in our public registers, it was desired by me chiefly for this end, that no one who may hear me bewailing these proceedings, especially in other towns where it may be expedient for me to do so, may think that I am inventing a falsehood, and the rather, because in Hippo itself it is already affirmed that Proculeianus did not issue the order which was in the official report ascribed to him.

5. In what more temperate way could we dispose of this important matter than through the mediation of such a man as you, invested with most illustrious rank, and possessing calmness as well as great prudence and goodwill? I beg, therefore, as I have already done by our brethren, good and honourable men, whom I sent to your Excellency, that you will condescend to inquire whether it is the case that the presbyter Victor did not receive from his bishop the order which the public official records reported; or whether, since Victor himself has said otherwise, they have in their records laid a thing falsely to his charge, though they belong to the same communion with him. Or, if he consents to our calmly discussing the whole question of our differences, in order that the error which is already manifest may become yet more so, I willingly embrace the opportunity. For I have heard that he proposed that without popular tumult, in the presence only of ten esteemed and honourable men from each party, we should investigate what is the truth in this matter according to the Scriptures. As to another proposal which some have reported to me as made by him, that I should rather go to Constantina, because in that town his party was more numerous; or that I should go to Milevis, because there, as they say, they are soon to hold a council;—these things are absurd, for my special charge does not extend beyond the Church of Hippo. The whole importance of this question to me, in the first place, is as it affects Proculeianus and myself; and if, perchance, he thinks himself not a match for me, let him implore the aid of any one whom he pleases as his colleague in the debate. For in other towns we interfere with the affairs of the Church only so far as is permitted or enjoined by our brethren bearing the same priestly office with us, the bishops of these towns.

6. And yet I cannot comprehend what there is in me, a novice, that should make him, who calls himself a bishop of so many years’ standing, unwilling and afraid to enter into discussion with me. If it be my acquaintance with liberal studies, which perhaps he did not pursue at all, or at least not so much as I have done, what has this to do with the question in debate, which is to be decided by the Holy Scriptures or by ecclesiastical or public documents, with which he has for so many years been conversant, that he ought to be more skilled in them than I am? Once more, I have here my brother and colleague Samsucius, bishop of the Church of Turris, who has not learned any of those branches of culture of which he is said to be afraid: let him attend in my place, and let the debate be between them. I will ask him, and, as I trust in the name of Christ, he will readily consent to take my place in this matter; and the Lord will, I trust, give aid to him when contending for the truth: for although unpolished in language, he is well instructed in the true faith. There is therefore no reason for his referring me to others whom I do not know, instead of letting us settle between ourselves that which concerns ourselves. However, as I have said, I will not decline meeting them if he himself asks their assistance.

(Another letter to Eusebius on the same subject.)

To Eusebius, My Excellent Lord and Brother, Worthy of Affection and Esteem, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. I did not impose upon you, by importunate exhortation or entreaty in spite of your reluctance, the duty, as you call it, of arbitrating between bishops. Even if I had desired to move you to this, I might perhaps have easily shown how competent you are to judge between us in a cause so clear and simple; nay, I might show how you are already doing this, inasmuch as you, who are afraid of the office of judge, do not hesitate to pronounce sentence in favour of one of the parties before you have heard both. But of this, as I have said, I do not meanwhile say anything. For I had asked nothing else from your honourable good-nature,—and I beseech you to be pleased to remark it in this letter, if you did not in the former,—than that you should ask Proculeianus whether he himself said to his presbyter Victor that which the public registers have by official report ascribed to him, or whether those who were sent have written in the public registers not what they heard from Victor, but a falsehood; and further, what his opinion is as to our discussing the whole question between us. I think that he is not constituted judge between parties, who is only requested by the one to put a question to the other, and condescend to write what reply he has received. This also I now again ask you not to refuse to do, because, as I know by experiment, he does not wish to receive a letter from me, otherwise I would not employ your Excellency’s mediation. Since, therefore, he does not wish this, what could I do less likely to give offence, than to apply through you, so good a man and such a friend of his, for an answer concerning a matter about which the burden of my responsibility forbids me to hold my peace? Moreover, you say (because the son’s beating of his mother is disapproved by your sound judgment), “If Proculeianus had known this, he would have debarred that man from communion with his party.” I answer in a sentence, “He knows it now, let him now debar him.”

2. Let me mention another thing. A man who was formerly a subdeacon of the church at Spana, Primus by name, when, having been forbidden such intercourse with nuns as contravened the laws of the Church, he treated with contempt the established and wise regulations, was deprived of his clerical office,—this man also, being provoked by the divinely warranted discipline, went over to the other party, and was by them rebaptized. Two nuns also, who were settled in the same lands of the Catholic Church with him, either taken by him to the other party, or following him, were likewise rebaptized: and now, among bands of Circumcelliones and troops of homeless women, who have declined matrimony that they may avoid restraint, he proudly boasts himself in excesses of detestable revelry, rejoicing that he now has without hindrance the utmost freedom in that misconduct from which in the Catholic Church he was restrained. Perhaps Proculeianus knows nothing about this case either. Let it therefore through you, as a man of grave and dispassionate spirit, be made known to him; and let him order that man to be dismissed from his communion, who has chosen it for no other reason than that he had, on account of insubordination and dissolute habits, forfeited his clerical office in the Catholic Church.

3. For my own part, if it please the Lord, I purpose to adhere to this rule, that whoever, after being deposed among them by a sentence of discipline, shall express a desire to pass over into the Catholic Church, must be received on condition of submitting to give the same proofs of penitence as those which, perhaps, they would have constrained him to give if he had remained among them. But consider, I beseech you, how worthy of abhorrence is their procedure in regard to those whom we check by ecclesiastical censures for unholy living, persuading them first to come to a second baptism, in order to their being qualified for which they declare themselves to be pagans (and how much blood of martyrs has been poured out rather than that such a declaration should proceed from the mouth of a Christian!); and thereafter, as if renewed and sanctified, but in truth more hardened in sin, to defy with the impiety of new madness, under the guise of new grace, that discipline to which they could not submit. If, however, I am wrong in attempting to obtain the correction of these abuses through your benevolent interposition, let no one find fault with my causing them to be made known to Proculeianus by the public registers,—a means of notification which in this Roman city cannot, I believe, be refused to me. For, since the Lord commands us to speak and proclaim the truth, and in teaching to rebuke what is wrong, and to labour in season and out of season, as I can prove by the words of the Lord and of the apostles, let no man think that I am to be persuaded to be silent concerning these things. If they meditate any bold measures of violence or outrage, the Lord, who has subdued under His yoke all earthly kingdoms in the bosom of His Church spread abroad through the whole world, will not fail to defend her from wrong.

4. The daughter of one of the cultivators of the property of the Church here, who had been one of our catechumens, had been, against the will of her parents, drawn away by the other party, and after being baptized among them, had assumed the profession of a nun. Now her father wished to compel her by severe treatment to return to the Catholic Church; but I was unwilling that this woman, whose mind was so perverted, should be received by us unless with her own will, and choosing, in the free exercise of judgment, that which is better: and when the countryman began to attempt to compel his daughter by blows to submit to his authority, I immediately forbade his using any such means. Notwithstanding, after all, when I was passing through the Spanian district, a presbyter of Proculeianus, standing in a field belonging to an excellent Catholic woman, shouted after me with a most insolent voice that I was a Traditor and a persecutor; and he hurled the same reproach against that woman, belonging to our communion, on whose property he was standing. But when I heard his words, I not only refrained from pursuing the quarrel, but also held back the numerous company which surrounded me. Yet if I say, Let us inquire and ascertain who are or have been indeed Traditors and persecutors, they reply, “We will not debate, but we will rebaptize. Leave us to prey upon your flocks with crafty cruelty, like wolves; and if you are good shepherds, bear it in silence.” For what else has Proculeianus commanded but this, if indeed the order is justly ascribed to him: “If thou art a Christian,” said he, “leave this to the judgment of God; whatever we do, hold thou thy peace.” The same presbyter, moreover, dared to utter a threat against a countryman who is overseer of one of the farms belonging to the Church.

5. I pray you to inform Proculeianus of all these things. Let him repress the madness of his clergy, which, honoured Eusebius, I have felt constrained to report to you. Be pleased to write to me, not your own opinion concerning them all, lest you should think that the responsibility of a judge is laid upon you by me, but the answer which they give to my questions. May the mercy of God preserve you from harm, my excellent lord and brother, most worthy of affection and esteem.

To My Brother and Fellow-Presbyter Casulanus, Most Beloved and Longed For, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. I know not how it was that I did not reply to your first letter; but I know that my neglect was not owing to want of esteem for you. For I take pleasure in your studies, and even in the words in which you express your thoughts; and it is my desire as well as advice that you make great attainments in your early years in the word of God, for the edification of the Church. Having now received a second letter from you, in which you plead for an answer on the most just and amiable ground of that brotherly love in which we are one, I have resolved no longer to postpone the gratification of the desire expressed by your love; and although in the midst of most engrossing business, I address myself to discharge the debt due to you.

2. As to the question on which you wish my opinion, “whether it is lawful to fast on the seventh day of the week,” I answer, that if it were wholly unlawful, neither Moses nor Elijah, nor our Lord Himself, would have fasted for forty successive days. But by the same argument it is proved that even on the Lord’s day fasting is not unlawful. And yet, if any one were to think that the Lord’s day should be appointed a day of fasting, in the same way as the seventh day is observed by some, such a man would be regarded, and not unjustly, as bringing a great cause of offence into the Church. For in those things concerning which the divine Scriptures have laid down no definite rule, the custom of the people of God, or the practices instituted by their fathers, are to be held as the law of the Church. If we choose to fall into a debate about these things, and to denounce one party merely because their custom differs from that of others, the consequence must be an endless contention, in which the utmost care is necessary lest the storm of conflict overcast with clouds the calmness of brotherly love, while strength is spent in mere controversy which cannot adduce on either side any decisive testimonies of truth. This danger the author has not been careful to avoid, whose prolix dissertation you deemed worth sending to me with your former letter, that I might answer his arguments.

Chap. II

3. I have not at my disposal sufficient leisure to enter on the refutation of his opinions one by one: my time is demanded by other and more important work. But if you devote a little more carefully to this treatise of an anonymous Roman author, the talents which by your letters you prove yourself to possess, and which I greatly love in you as God’s gift, you will see that he has not hesitated to wound by his most injurious language almost the whole Church of Christ, from the rising of the sun to its going down. Nay, I may say not almost, but absolutely, the whole Church. For he is found to have not even spared the Roman Christians, whose custom he seems to himself to defend; but he is not aware how the force of his invectives recoils upon them, for it has escaped his observation. For when arguments to prove the obligation to fast on the seventh day of the week fail him, he enters on a vehement blustering protest against the excesses of banquets and drunken revelries, and the worst licence of intoxication, as if there were no medium between fasting and rioting. Now if this be admitted, what good can fasting on Saturday do to the Romans? since on the other days on which they do not fast they must be presumed, according to his reasoning, to be gluttonous, and given to excess in wine. If, therefore, there is any difference between loading the heart with surfeiting and drunkenness, which is always sinful, and relaxing the strictness of fasting, with due regard to self-restraint and temperance on the other, which is done on the Lord’s day without censure from any Christian,—if, I say, there is a difference between these two things, let him first mark the distinction between the repasts of saints and the excessive eating and drinking of those whose god is their belly, lest he charge the Romans themselves with belonging to the latter class on the days on which they do not fast; and then let him inquire, not whether it is lawful to indulge in drunkenness on the seventh day of the week, which is not lawful on the Lord’s day, but whether it is incumbent on us to fast on the seventh day of the week, which we are not wont to do on the Lord’s day.

4. This question I would wish to see him investigate, and resolve in such a manner as would not involve him in the guilt of openly speaking against the whole Church diffused throughout the world, with the exception of the Roman Christians, and hitherto a few of the Western communities. Is it, I ask, to be endured among the entire Eastern Christian communities, and many of those in the West, that this man should say of so many and so eminent servants of Christ, who on the seventh day of the week refresh themselves soberly and moderately with food, that they “are in the flesh, and cannot please God;” and that of them it is written, “Let the wicked depart from me, I will not know their way;” and that they make their belly their god, that they prefer Jewish rites to those of the Church, and are sons of the bondwoman; that they are governed not by the righteous law of God, but by their own good pleasure, consulting their own appetites instead of submitting to salutary restraint; also that they are carnal, and savour of death, and other such charges, which if he had uttered against even one servant of God, who would listen to him, who would not be bound to turn away from him? But now, when he assails with such reproachful and abusive language the Church bearing fruit and increasing throughout the whole world, and in almost all places observing no fast on the seventh day of the week, I warn him, whoever he is, to beware. For in wishing to conceal from me his name, you plainly showed your unwillingness that I should judge him.

Chap. III

5. “The Son of man,” he says, “is Lord of the Sabbath, and in that day it is by all means lawful to do good rather than do evil.” If, therefore, we do evil when we break our fast, there is no Lord’s day upon which we live as we should. As to his admission that the apostles did eat upon the seventh day of the week, and his remark upon this, that the time for their fasting had not then come, because of the Lord’s own words, “The days will come when the Bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall the children of the Bridegroom fast;” since there is “a time to rejoice, and a time to mourn,” he ought first to have observed, that our Lord was speaking there of fasting in general, but not of fasting upon the seventh day. Again, when he says that by fasting grief is signified, and that by food joy is represented, why does he not reflect what it was which God designed to signify by that which is written, “that He rested on the seventh day from all His works,”—namely, that joy, and not sorrow, was set forth in that rest? Unless, perchance, he intends to affirm that in God’s resting and hallowing of the Sabbath, joy was signified to the Jews, but grief to the Christians. But God did not lay down a rule concerning fasting or eating on the seventh day of the week, either at the time of His hallowing that day because in it He rested from His works, or afterwards, when He gave precepts to the Hebrew nation concerning the observance of that day. The only thing enjoined on man there is, that he abstain from doing work himself, or requiring it from his servants. And the people of the former dispensation, accepting this rest as a shadow of things to come, obeyed the command by such abstinence from work as we now see practised by the Jews; not, as some suppose, through their being carnal, and misunderstanding what the Christians rightly understand. Nor do we understand this law better than the prophets, who, at the time when this was still binding, observed such rest on the Sabbath as the Jews believe ought to be observed to this day. Hence also it was that God commanded them to stone to death a man who had gathered sticks on the Sabbath; but we nowhere read of any one being stoned, or deemed worthy of any punishment whatever, for either fasting or eating on the Sabbath. Which of the two is more in keeping with rest, and which with toil, let our author himself decide, who has regarded joy as the portion of those who eat, and sorrow as the portion of those who fast, or at least has understood that these things were so regarded by the Lord, when, giving answer concerning fasting, He said: “Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the Bridegroom is with them?”

6. Moreover, as to his assertion, that the reason of the apostles eating on the seventh day (a thing forbidden by the tradition of the elders) was, that the time for their fasting on that day had not come; I ask, if the time had not then come for the abolition of the Jewish rest from work on that day? Did not the tradition of the elders prohibit fasting on the one hand, and enjoin rest on the other? and.yet the disciples of Christ, of whom we read that they did eat on the Sabbath, did on the same day pluck the ears of corn, which was not then lawful, because forbidden by the tradition of the elders. Let him therefore consider whether it might not with more reason be said in reply to him, that the Lord desired to have these two things, the plucking of the ears of corn and the taking of food, done in the same day by His disciples, for this reason, that the former action might confute those who would prohibit all work on the seventh day, and the latter action confute those who would enjoin fasting on the seventh day; since by the former action He taught that the rest from labour was now, through the change in the dispensation, an act of superstition; and by the latter He intimated His will, that under both dispensations the matter of fasting or not was left to every man’s choice. I do not say this by way of argument in support of my view, but only to show how, in answer to him, things much more forcible than what he has spoken might be advanced.

Chap. IV

7. “How shall we,” says our author, “escape sharing the condemnation of the Pharisee, if we fast twice in the week?” As if the Pharisee had been condemned for fasting twice in the week, and not for proudly vaunting himself above the publican. He might as well say that those also are condemned with that Pharisee, who give a tenth of all their possessions to the poor, for he boasted of this among his other works; whereas I would that it were done by many Christians, instead of a very small number, as we find. Or let him say, that whosoever is not an unjust man, or adulterer, or extortioner, must be condemned with that Pharisee, because he boasted that he was none of these; but the man who could think thus is, beyond question, beside himself. Moreover, if these things which the Pharisee mentioned as found in him, being admitted by all to be good in themselves, are not to be retained with the haughty boastfulness which was manifest in him, but are to be retained with the lowly piety which was not in him; by the same rule, to fast twice in the week is in a man such as the Pharisee unprofitable, but is in one who has humility and faith a religious service. Moreover, after all, the Scripture does not say that the Pharisee was condemned, but only that the publican was “justified rather than the other.”

8. Again, when our author insists upon interpreting, in connection with this matter, the words of the Lord, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” and thinks that we cannot fulfil this precept unless we fast oftener than twice in the week, let him mark well that there are seven days in the week. If, then, from these any one subtract two, not fasting on the seventh day nor on the Lord’s day, there remain five days in which he may surpass the Pharisee, who fasts but twice in the week. For I think that if any man fast three times in the week, he already surpasses the Pharisee who fasted but twice. And if a fast is observed four times, or even so often as five times, passing over only the seventh day and the Lord’s day without fasting,—a practice observed by many through their whole lifetime, especially by those who are settled in monasteries,—by this not the Pharisee alone is surpassed in the labour of fasting, but that Christian also whose custom is to fast on the fourth, and sixth, and seventh days, as the Roman community does to a large extent. And yet your nameless metropolitan disputant calls such an one carnal, even though for five successive days of the week, excepting the seventh and the Lord’s day, he so fast as to withhold all refection from the body; as if, forsooth, food and drink on other days had nothing to do with the flesh, and condemns him as making a god of his belly, as if it was only the seventh day’s repast which entered into the belly.

. . . . .. . . . .

We have no compunction in passing over about eight columns here of this letter, in which Augustin exposes, with a tedious minuteness and with a waste of rhetoric, other feeble and irrelevant puerilities of the Roman author whose work Casulanus had submitted to his review. Instead of accompanying him into the shallow places into which he was drawn while pursuing such an insignificant foe, let us resume the translation at the point at which Augustin gives his own opinion regarding the question whether it is binding on Christians to fast on Saturday.

Chap. XI

25. As to the succeeding paragraphs with which he concludes his treatise, they are, like some other things in it which I have not thought worthy of notice, even more irrelevant to a discussion of the question whether we should fast or eat on the seventh day of the week. But I leave it to yourself, especially if you have found any help from what I have already said, to observe and dispose of these. Having now to the best of my ability, and as I think sufficiently, replied to the reasonings of this author, if I be asked what is my own opinion in this matter, I answer, after carefully pondering the question, that in the Gospels and Epistles, and the entire collection of books for our instruction called the New Testament, I see that fasting is enjoined. But I do not discover any rule definitely laid down by the Lord or by the apostles as to days on which we ought or ought not to fast. And by this I am persuaded that exemption from fasting on the seventh day is more suitable, not indeed to obtain, but to foreshadow, that eternal rest in which the true Sabbath is realized, and which is obtained only by faith, and by that righteousness whereby the daughter of the King is all glorious within.

26. In this question, however, of fasting or not fasting on the seventh day, nothing appears to me more safe and conducive to peace than the apostle’s rule: “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not, and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth:” “for neither if we eat are we the better, neither if we eat not are we the worse;” our fellowship with those among whom we live, and along with whom we live in God, being preserved undisturbed by these things. For as it is true that, in the words of the apostles, “it is evil for that man who eateth with offence,” it is equally true that it is evil for that man who fasteth with offence. Let us not therefore be like those who, seeing John the Baptist neither eating nor drinking, said, “He hath a devil;” but let us equally avoid imitating those who said, when they saw Christ eating and drinking, “Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.” After mentioning these sayings, the Lord subjoined a most important truth in the words, “But Wisdom is justified of her children;” and if you ask who these are, read what is written, “The sons of Wisdom are the congregation of the righteous:” they are they who, when they eat, do not despise others who do not eat; and when they eat not, do not judge those who eat, but who do despise and judge those who, with offence, either eat or abstain from eating.

Chap. XII

27. As to the seventh day of the week there is less difficulty in acting on the rule above quoted, because both the Roman Church and some other churches, though few, near to it or remote from it, observe a fast on that day; but to fast on the Lord’s day is a great offence, especially since the rise of that detestable heresy of the Manichaeans, so manifestly and grievously contradicting the Catholic faith and the divine Scriptures: for the Manichaeans have prescribed to their followers the obligation of fasting upon that day; whence it has resulted that the fast upon the Lord’s day is regarded with the greater abhorrence. Unless, perchance, some one be able to continue an unbroken fast for more than a week, so as to approach as nearly as may be to the fast of forty days, as we have known some do; and we have even been assured by brethren most worthy of credit, that one person did attain to the full period of forty days. For as, in the time of the Old Testament fathers, Moses and Elijah did not do anything against liberty of eating on the seventh day of the week, when they fasted forty days; so the man who has been able to go beyond seven days in fasting has not chosen the Lord’s day as a day of fasting, but has only come upon it in course among the days for which, so far as he might be able, he had vowed to prolong his fast. If, however, a continuous fast is to be concluded within a week, there is no day upon which it may more suitably be concluded than the Lord’s day; but if the body is not refreshed until more than a week has elapsed, the Lord’s day is not in that case selected as a day of fasting, but is found occurring within the number of days for which it had seemed good to the person to make a vow.

28. Be not moved by that which the Priscillianists (a sect very like the Manichaeans) are wont to quote as an argument from the Acts of the Apostles, concerning what was done by the Apostle Paul in Troas. The passage is as follows: “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” Afterwards, when he had come down from the supper chamber where they had been gathered together, that he might restore the young man who, overpowered with sleep, had fallen from the window and was taken up dead, the Scripture states further concerning the apostle: “When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.” Far be it from us to accept this as affirming that the apostles were accustomed to fast habitually on the Lord’s day. For the day now known as the Lord’s day was then called the first day of the week, as is more plainly seen in the Gospels; for the day of the Lord’s resurrection is called by Matthew mia sabbaton, and by the other three evangelists he mia (ton) sabbaton, and it is well ascertained that the same is the day which is now called the Lord’s day. Either, therefore, it was after the close of the seventh day that they had assembled,—namely, in the beginning of the night which followed, and which belonged to the Lord’s day, or the first day of the week,—and in this case the apostle, before proceeding to break bread with them, as is done in the sacrament of the body of Christ, continued his discourse until midnight, and also, after celebrating the sacrament, continued still speaking again to those who were assembled, being much pressed for time in order that he might set out at dawn upon the Lord’s day; or if it was on the first day of the week, at an hour before sunset on the Lord’s day, that they had assembled, the words of the text, “Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow,” themselves expressly state the reason for his prolonging his discourse,—namely, that he was about to leave them, and wished to give them ample instruction. The passage does not therefore prove that they habitually fasted on the Lord’s day, but only that it did not seem meet to the apostle to interrupt, for the sake of taking refreshment, an important discourse, which was listened to with the ardour of most lively interest by persons whom he was about to leave, and whom, on account of his many other journeyings, he visited but seldom, and perhaps on no other occasion than this, especially because, as subsequent events prove, he was then leaving them without expectation of seeing them again in this life. Nay, by this instance, it is rather proved that such fasting on the Lord’s day was not customary, because the writer of the history, in order to prevent this being thought, has taken care to state the reason why the discourse was so prolonged, that we might know that in an emergency dinner is not to stand in the way of more important work. But indeed the example of these most eager listeners goes further; for by them all bodily refreshment, not dinner only, but supper also, was disregarded when thirsting vehemently, not for water, but for the word of truth; and considering that the fountain was about to be removed from them, they drank in with unabated desire whatever flowed from the apostle’s lips.

29. In that age, however, although fasting upon the Lord’s day was not usually practised, it was not so great an offence to the Church when, in any similar emergency to that in which Paul was at Troas, men did not attend to the refreshment of the body throughout the whole of the Lord’s day until midnight, or even until the dawn of the following morning. But now, since heretics, and especially these most impious Manichaeans, have begun not to observe an occasional fast upon the Lord’s day, when constrained by circumstances, but to prescribe such fasting as a duty binding by sacred and solemn institution, and this practice of theirs has become well known to Christian communities; even were such an emergency arising as that which the apostle experienced, I verily think that what he then did should not now be done, lest the harm done by the offence given should be greater than the good received from the words spoken. Whatever necessity may arise, or good reason, compelling a Christian to fast on the Lord’s day,—as we find, e.g., in the Acts of the Apostles, that in peril of shipwreck they fasted on board of the ship in which the apostle was for fourteen days successively, within which the Lord’s day came round twice,—we ought to have no hesitation in believing that the Lord’s day is not to be placed among the days of voluntary fasting, except in the case of one vowing to fast continuously for a period longer than a week.

Chap. XIII

30. The reason why the Church prefers to appoint the fourth and sixth days of the week for fasting, is found by considering the gospel narrative. There we find that on the fourth day of the week the Jews took counsel to put the Lord to death. One day having intervened,—on the evening of which, at the close, namely, of the day which we call the fifth day of the week, the Lord ate the passover with His disciples,—He was thereafter betrayed on the night which belonged to the sixth day of the week, the day (as is everywhere known) of His passion. This day, beginning with the evening, was the first day of unleavened bread. The evangelist Matthew, however, says that the fifth day of the week was the first of unleavened bread, because in the evening following it the paschal supper was to be observed, at which they began to eat the unleavened bread, and the lamb offered in sacrifice. From which it is inferred that it was upon the fourth day of the week that the Lord said, “You know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified;” and for this reason that day has been regarded as one suitable for fasting, because, as the evangelist immediately adds: “Then assembled together the chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people unto the palace of the high priest, who is called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty and kill Him.” After the intermission of one day,—the day, namely, of which the evangelist writes: “Now, on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the passover? “—the Lord suffered on the sixth day of the week, as is admitted by all: wherefore the sixth day also is rightly reckoned a day for fasting, as fasting is symbolical of humiliation; whence it is said, “I humbled my soul with fasting.”

31. The next day is the Jewish Sabbath, on which day Christ’s body rested in the grave, as in the original fashioning of the world God rested on that day from all His works. Hence originated that variety in the robe of His bride which we are now considering: some, especially the Eastern communities, preferring to take food on that day, that their action might be emblematic of the divine rest; others, namely the Church of Rome, and some churches in the West, preferring to fast on that day because of the humiliation of the Lord in death. Once in the year, namely at Easter, all Christians observe the seventh day of the week by fasting, in memory of the mourning with which the disciples, as men bereaved, lamented the death of the Lord (and this is done with the utmost devoutness by those who take food on the seventh day throughout the rest of the year); thus providing a symbolical representation of both events,—of the disciples’ sorrow on one seventh day in the year, and of the blessing of repose on all the others. There are two things which make the happiness of the just and the end of all their misery to be confidently expected, viz. death and the resurrection of the dead. In death is that rest of which the prophet speaks: “Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.” In resurrection blessedness is consummated in the whole man, both body and soul. Hence it came to be thought that both of these things [death and resurrection] should be symbolized, not by the hardship of fasting, but rather by the cheerfulness of refreshment with food, excepting only the Easter Saturday, on which, as I have said, it had been resolved to commemorate by a more protracted fast the mourning of the disciples, as one of the events to be had in remembrance.

Chap. XIV

32. Since, therefore (as I have said above), we do not find in the Gospels or in the apostolical writings, belonging properly to the revelation of the New Testament, that any law was laid down as to fasts to be observed on particular days; and since this is consequently one of many things, difficult to enumerate, which make up a variety in the robe of the King’s daughter, that is to say, of the Church,—I will tell you the answer given to my questions on this subject by the venerable Ambrose Bishop of Milan, by whom I was baptized. When my mother was with me in that city, I, as being only a catechumen, felt no concern about these questions; but it was to her a question causing anxiety, whether she ought, after the custom of our own town, to fast on the Saturday, or, after the custom of the Church of Milan, not to fast. To deliver her from perplexity, I put the question to the man of God whom I have just named. He answered, “What else can I recommend to others than what I do myself?” When I thought that by this he intended simply to prescribe to us that we should take food on Saturdays—for I knew this to be his own practice—he, following me, added these words: “When I am here I do not fast on Saturday; but when I am at Rome I do: whatever church you may come to, conform to its custom, if you would avoid either receiving or giving offence.” This reply I reported to my mother, and it satisfied her, so that she scrupled not to comply with it; and I have myself followed the same rule. Since, however, it happens, especially in Africa, that one church, or the churches within the same district, may have some members who fast and others who do not fast on the seventh day, it seems to me best to adopt in each congregation the custom of those to whom authority in its government has been committed. Wherefore, if you are quite willing to follow my advice, especially because in regard to this matter I have spoken at greater length than was necessary, do not in this resist your own bishop, but follow his practice without scruple or debate.

To Simplicianus, My Lord Most Blessed, and My Father Most Worthy of Being Cherished with Respect and Sincere Affection, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I received the letter which your Holiness kindly sent,—a letter full of occasions of much joy to me, because assuring me that you remember me, that you love me as you used to do, and that you take great pleasure in every one of the gifts which the Lord has in His compassion been pleased to bestow on me. In reading that letter, I have eagerly welcomed the fatherly affection which flows from your benignant heart towards me: and this I have not found for the first time, as something short-lived and new, but long ago proved and well known, my lord, most blessed, and most worthy of being cherished with respect and sincere love.

2. Whence comes so great a recompense for the literary labour given by me to the writing of a few books as this, that your Excellency should condescend to read them? Is it not that the Lord, to whom my soul is devoted, has purposed thus to comfort me under my anxieties, and to lighten the fear with which in such labour I cannot but be exercised, lest, notwithstanding the evenness of the plain of truth, I stumble through want either of knowledge or of caution? For when what I write meets your approval, I know by whom it is approved, for I know who dwells in you; and the Giver and Dispenser of all spiritual gifts designs by your approbation to confirm my obedience to Him. For whatever in these writings of mine merits your approbation is from God, who has by me as His instrument said, “Let it be done,” and it was done; and in your approval God has pronounced that what was done is “good.”

3. As for the questions which you have condescended to command me to resolve, even if through the dulness of my mind I did not understand them, I might through the assistance of your merits find an answer to them. This only I ask, that on account of my weakness you intercede with God for me, and that whatever writings of mine come into your sacred hands, whether on the topics to which you have in a manner so kind and fatherly directed my attention, or on any others, you will not only take pains to read them, but also accept the charge of reviewing and correcting them; for I acknowledge the mistakes which I myself have made, as readily as the gifts which God has bestowed on me.

To His Brother Profuturus Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. As for my spirit, I am well, through the Lord’s good pleasure, and the strength which He condescends to impart; but as for my body, I am confined to bed. I can neither walk, nor stand, nor sit, because of the pain and swelling of a boil or tumour. But even in such a case, since this is the will of the Lord, what else can I say than that I am well? For if we do not wish that which He is pleased to do, we ought rather to take blame to ourselves than to think that He could err in anything which He either does or suffers to be done. All this you know well; but what shall I more willingly say to you than the things which I say to myself, seeing that you are to me a second self? I commend therefore both my days and my nights to your pious intercessions. Pray for me, that I may not waste my days through want of self-control, and that I may bear my nights with patience: pray that, though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death, the Lord may so be with me that I shall fear no evil.

2. You have heard, doubtless, of the death of the aged Megalius, for it is now twenty-four days since he put off this mortal body. I wish to know, if possible, whether you have seen, as you proposed, his successor in the primacy. We are not delivered from offences, but it is equally true that we are not deprived of our refuge; our griefs do not cease, but our consolations are equally abiding. And well do you know, my excellent brother, how, in the midst of such offences, we must watch lest hatred of any one gain a hold upon the heart, and so not only hinder us from praying to God with the door of our chamber closed, but also shut the door against God Himself; for hatred of another insidiously creeps upon us, while no one who is angry considers his anger to be unjust. For anger habitually cherished against any one becomes hatred, since the sweetness which is mingled with what appears to be righteous anger makes us detain it longer than we ought in the vessel, until the whole is soured, and the vessel itself is spoiled. Wherefore it is much better for us to forbear from anger, even when one has given us just occasion for it, than, beginning with what seems just anger against any one, to fall, through this occult tendency of passion, into hating him. We are wont to say that, in entertaining strangers, it is much better to bear the inconvenience of receiving a bad man than to run the risk of having a good man shut out, through our caution lest any bad man be admitted; but in the passions of the soul the opposite rule holds true. For it is incomparably more for our soul’s welfare to shut the recesses of the heart against anger, even when it knocks with a just claim for admission, than to admit that which it will be most difficult to expel, and which will rapidly grow from a mere sapling to a strong tree. Anger dares to increase with boldness more suddenly than men suppose, for it does not blush in the dark, when the sun has gone down upon it. You will understand with how great care and anxiety I write these things, if you consider the things which lately on a certain journey you said to me.

3. I salute my brother Severus, and those who are with him. I would perhaps write to them also, if the limited time before the departure of the bearer permitted me. I beseech you also to assist me in persuading our brother Victor (to whom I desire through your Holiness to express my thanks for his informing me of his setting out to Constantina) not to refuse to return by way of Calama, on account of a business known to him, in which I have to bear a very heavy burden in the importunate urgency of the elder Nectarius concerning it; he gave me his promise to this effect. Farewell!

To My Lord Augustin, a Father Truly Holy and Most Blessed, Jerome Sends Greeting in Christ.

Chap. I

1. Last year I sent by the hand of our brother, the subdeacon Asterius, a letter conveying to your Excellency a salutation due to you, and readily rendered by me; and I think that my letter was delivered to you. I now write again, by my holy brother the deacon Praesidius, begging you in the first place not to forget me, and in the second place to receive the bearer of this letter, whom I commend to you with the request that you recognise him as one very near and dear to me, and that you encourage and help him in whatever way his circumstances may demand; not that he is in need of anything (for Christ has amply endowed him), but that he is most eagerly desiring the friendship of good men, and thinks that in securing this he obtains the most valuable blessing. His design in travelling to the West you may learn from his own lips.

Chap. II

2. As for us, established here in our monastery, we feel the shock of waves on every side, and are burdened with the cares of our lot as pilgrims. But we believe in Him who hath said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” and are confident that by His grace and guidance we shall prevail against our adversary the devil.

I beseech you to give my respectful salutation to the holy and venerable brother, our father Alypius. The brethren who, with me, devote themselves to serve the Lord in this monastery, salute you warmly. May Christ our Almighty God guard you from harm, and keep you mindful of me, my lord and father truly holy and venerable.

To My Lord Much Beloved, and Brother Worthy of Being Honoured and Embraced with the Most Sincere Devotion of Charity, My Fellow-Presbyter Jerome, Augustin Sends Greeting.

Chap. I

1. I thank you that, instead of a mere formal salutation, you wrote me a letter, though it was much shorter than I would desire to have from you; since nothing that comes from you is tedious, however much time it may demand. Wherefore, although I am beset with great anxieties about the affairs of others, and that, too, in regard to secular matters, I would find it difficult to pardon the brevity of your letter, were it not that I consider that it was written in reply to a yet shorter letter of my own. Address yourself, therefore, I entreat you, to that exchange of letters by which we may have fellowship, and may not permit the distance which separates us to keep us wholly apart from each other; though we are in the Lord bound together by the unity of the Spirit, even when our pens rest and we are silent. The books in which you have laboured to bring treasures from the Lord’s storehouse give me almost a complete knowledge of you. For if I may not say, “I know you,” because I have not seen your face, it may with equal truth be said that you do not know yourself, for you cannot see your own face. If, however, it is this alone which constitutes your acquaintance with yourself, that you know your own mind, we also have no small knowledge of it through your writings, in studying which we bless God that to yourself, to us, to all who read your works, He has given you as you are.

Chap. II

2. It is not long since, among other things, a certain book of yours came into my hands, the name of which I do not yet know, for the manuscript itself had not the title written, as is customary, on the first page. The brother with whom it was found said that its title is Epitaphium,—a name which we might believe you to have approved, if we found in the work a notice of the lives or writings of those only who are deceased. Inasmuch, however, as mention is there made of the works of some who were at the time when it was written, or are even now, alive, we wonder why you either gave this title to it, or permitted others to believe that you had done so. The book itself has our complete approval as a useful work.

Chap. III

3. In your exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians I have found one thing which causes me much concern. For if it be the case that statements untrue in themselves, but made, as it were, out of a sense of duty in the interest of religion, have been admitted into the Holy Scriptures, what authority will be left to them? If this be conceded, what sentence can be produced from these Scriptures, by the weight of which the wicked obstinacy of error can be broken down? For as soon as you have produced it, if it be disliked by him who contends with you, he will reply that, in the passage alleged, the writer was uttering a falsehood under the pressure of some honourable sense of duty. And where will any one find this way of escape impossible, if it be possible for men to say and believe that, after introducing his narrative with these words, “The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not,” the apostle lied when he said of Peter and Barnabas, “I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel “? For if they did walk uprightly, Paul wrote what was false; and if he wrote what was false here, when did he say what was true? Shall he be supposed to say what is true when his teaching corresponds with the predilection of his reader, and shall everything which runs counter to the impressions of the reader be reckoned a falsehood uttered by him under a sense of duty? It will be impossible to prevent men from finding reasons for thinking that he not only might have uttered a falsehood, but was bound to do so, if we admit this canon of interpretation. There is no need for many words in pursuing this argument, especially in writing to you, for whose wisdom and prudence enough has already been said. I would by no means be so arrogant as to attempt to enrich by my small coppers your mind, which by the divine gift is golden; and none is more able than yourself to revise and correct that work to which I have referred.

Chap. IV

4. You do not require me to teach you in what sense the apostle says, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews,” and other such things in the same passage, which are to be ascribed to the compassion of pitying love, not the artifices of intentional deceit. For he that ministers to the sick becomes as if he were sick himself; not, indeed, falsely pretending to be under the fever, but considering, with the mind of one truly sympathizing, what he would wish done for himself if he were in the sick man’s place. Paul was indeed a Jew; and when he had become a Christian, he had not abandoned those Jewish sacraments which that people had received in the right way, and for a certain appointed time. Therefore, even although he was an apostle of Christ, he took part in observing these; but with this view, that he might show that they were in no wise hurtful to those who, even after they had believed in Christ, desired to retain the ceremonies which by the law they had learned from their fathers; provided only that they did not build on these their hope of salvation, since the salvation which was foreshadowed in these has now been brought in by the Lord Jesus. For the same reason, he judged that these ceremonies should by no means be made binding on the Gentile converts, because, by imposing a heavy and superfluous burden, they might turn aside from the faith those who were unaccustomed to them.

5. The thing, therefore, which he rebuked in Peter was not his observing the customs handed down from his fathers—which Peter, if he wished, might do without being chargeable with deceit or inconsistency, for, though now superfluous, these customs were not hurtful to one who had been accustomed to them—but his compelling the Gentiles to observe Jewish ceremonies, which he could not do otherwise than by so acting in regard to them as if their observance was, even after the Lord’s coming, still necessary to salvation, against which truth protested through the apostolic office of Paul. Nor was the Apostle Peter ignorant of this, but he did it through fear of those who were of the circumcision. Manifestly, therefore, Peter was truly corrected, and Paul has given a true narrative of the event, unless, by the admission of a falsehood here, the authority of the Holy Scriptures given for the faith of all coming generations is to be made wholly uncertain and wavering. For it is neither possible nor suitable to state within the compass of a letter how great and how unutterably evil must be the consequences of such a concession. It might, however, be shown seasonably, and with less hazard, if we were conversing together.

6. Paul had forsaken everything peculiar to the Jews that was evil, especially this: “That, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they had not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” In this, moreover, he differed from them: that after the passion and resurrection of Christ, in whom had been given and made manifest the mystery of grace, according to the order of Melchizedek, they still considered it binding on them to celebrate, not out of mere reverence for old customs, but as necessary to salvation, the sacraments of the old economy, which were indeed at one time necessary, else had it been unprofitable and vain for the Maccabees to suffer martyrdom, as they did, for their adherence to them. Lastly, in this also Paul differed from the Jews: that they persecuted the Christian preachers of grace as enemies of the law. These and all similar errors and sins he declares that he “counted but loss and dung that he might win Christ;” but he does not, in so saying, disparage the ceremonies of the Jewish law, if only they were observed after the custom of their fathers, in the way in which he himself observed them, without regarding them as necessary to salvation, and not in the way in which the Jews affirmed that they must be observed, nor in the exercise of deceptive dissimulation such as he had rebuked in Peter. For if Paul observed these sacraments in order, by pretending to be a Jew, to gain the Jews, why did he not also take part with the Gentiles in heathen sacrifices, when to them that were without law he became as without law, that he might gain them also? The explanation is found in this, that he took part in the Jewish sacrifices, as being himself by birth a Jew; and that when he said all this which I have quoted, he meant, not that he pretended to be what he was not, but that he felt with true compassion that he must bring such help to them as would be needful for himself if he were involved in their error. Herein he exercised not the subtlety of a deceiver, but the sympathy of a compassionate deliverer. In the same passage the apostle has stated the principle more generally: “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak; I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some,”—the latter clause of which guides us to understand the former as meaning that he showed himself one who pitied the weakness of another as much as if it had been his own. For when he said, “Who is weak, and I am not weak?” he did not wish it to be supposed that he pretended to suffer the infirmity of another, but rather that he showed it by sympathy.

7. Wherefore I beseech you, apply to the correction and emendation of that book a frank and truly Christian severity, and chant what the Greeks call palinodia. For incomparably more lovely than the Grecian Helen is Christian truth: In her defence, our martyrs have fought against Sodom with more courage than the heroes of Greece displayed against Troy for Helen’s sake. I do not say this in order that you may recover the faculty of spiritual sight,—far be it from me to say that you have lost it!—but that, having eyes both clear and quick in discernment, you may turn them towards that from which, in unaccountable dissimulation, you have turned them away, refusing to see the calamitous consequences which would follow on our once admitting that a writer of the divine books could in any part of his work honourably and piously utter a falsehood.

Chap. V

8. I had written some time ago a letter to you on this subject, which was not delivered to you, because the bearer to whom it was entrusted did not finish his journey to you. From it I may quote a thought which occurred to me while I was dictating it, and which I ought not to omit in this letter, in order that, if your opinion is still different from mine, and is better, you may readily forgive the anxiety which has moved me to write. It is this: If your opinion is different, and is according to truth (for only in that case can it be better than mine), you will grant that “a mistake of mine, which is in the interest of truth, cannot deserve great blame, if indeed it deserves blame at all, when it is possible for you to use truth in the interest of falsehood without doing wrong.”

9. As to the reply which you were pleased to give me concerning Origen, I did not need to be told that we should, not only in ecclesiastical writers, but in all others, approve and commend what we find right and true, but reject and condemn what we find false and mischievous. What I craved from your wisdom and learning (and I still crave it), was that you should acquaint us definitely with the points in which that remarkable man is proved to have departed from the belief of the truth. Moreover, in that book in which you have mentioned all the ecclesiastical writers whom you could remember, and their works, it would, I think, be a more convenient arrangement if, after naming those whom you know to be heretics (since you have chosen not to pass them without notice), you would add in what respect their doctrine is to be avoided. Some of these heretics also you have omitted, and I would fain know on what grounds. If, however, perchance it has been from a desire not to enlarge that volume unduly that you refrained from adding to a notice of heretics, the statement of the things in which the Catholic Church has authoritatively condemned them, I beg you not to grudge bestowing on this subject, to which with humility and brotherly love I direct your attention, a portion of that literary labour by which already, by the grace of the Lord our God, you have in no small measure stimulated and assisted the saints in the study of the Latin tongue, and publish in one small book (if your other occupations permit you) a digest of the perverse dogmas of all the heretics who up to this time have, through arrogance, or ignorance, or self-will, attempted to subvert the simplicity of the Christian faith; a work most necessary for the information of those who are prevented, either by lack of leisure or by their not knowing the Greek language, from reading and understanding so many things. I would urge my request at greater length, were it not that this is commonly a sign of misgivings as to the benevolence of the party from whom a favour is sought. Meanwhile I cordially recommend to your goodwill in Christ our brother Paulus, to whose high standing in these regions I bear before God willing testimony.

To Father Aurelius, Our Lord Most Blessed and Worthy of Veneration, Our Brother Most Sincerely Beloved, and Our Partner in the Sacerdotal Office, Alypius and Augustin Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. “Our mouth is filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing,” by your letter informing us that, by the help of that God whose inspiration guided you, you have carried into effect your pious purpose concerning all our brethren in orders, and especially concerning the regular delivering of a sermon to the people in your presence by the presbyters, through whose tongues thus engaged your love sounds louder in the hearts than their voice does in the ears of men. Thanks be unto God! Is there anything better for us to have in our heart, or utter with our lips, or record with our pen, than this? Thanks be unto God! No other phrase is more easily spoken, and nothing more pleasant in sound, profound in significance, and profitable in practice, than this. Thanks be unto God, who has endowed you with a heart so true to the interests of your sons, and who has brought to light what you had latent in the inner soul, beyond the reach of human eye, giving you not only the will to do good, but the means of realizing your desires. So be it, certainly so be it! let these works shine before men, that they may see them, and rejoice and glorify your Father in heaven. In such things delight yourself in the Lord; and may your prayers for these presbyters be graciously heard on their behalf by Him whose voice you do not consider it beneath you to hear when He speaks by them! May they go on, and walk, yea, run in the way of the Lord! May the small and the great be blessed together, being made glad by those who say unto them, “Let us go into the house of the Lord!” Let the stronger lead; let the weaker imitate their example, being followers of them, as they are of Christ. May we all be as ants pursuing eagerly the path of holy industry, as bees labouring amidst the fragrance of holy duty; and may fruit be brought forth in patience by the saving grace of stedfastness unto the end! May the Lord “not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but with the temptation may He make a way to escape, that we may be able to bear it”!

2. Pray for us: we value your prayers as worthy to be heard, since you go to God with so great an offering of unfeigned love, and of praise brought to Him by your works. Pray that in us also these works may shine, for He to whom you pray knows with what fulness of joy we behold them shining in you. Such are our desires; such are the abounding comforts which in the multitude of our thoughts within us delight our souls. It is so now because such is the promise of God; and as He hath promised, so shall it be in the time to come. We beseech you, by Him who hath blessed you, and has by you bestowed this blessing on the people whom you serve, to order any of the presbyters’ sermons which you please to be transcribed, and after revisal sent to us. For I on my part am not neglecting what you required of me; and as I have written often before, I am still longing to know what you think of Tychonius’ seven Rules or Keys.

We warmly commend to you our brother Hilarinus, leading physician and magistrate of Hippo. As to our brother Romanus, we know how actively you are exerting yourself on his behalf, and that we need ask nothing but that God may prosper your endeavours.

To Paulinus and Therasia, My Brother and Sister in Christ, Worthy of Respect and Praise, Most Eminent for Piety, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Could this have been hoped or expected by us, that now by our brother Severus we should have to claim the answer which your love has not yet written to us, so long and so impatiently desiring your reply? Why have we been doomed through two summers (and these in the parched land of Africa) to bear this thirst? What more can I say? O generous man, who art daily giving away what is your own, be just, and pay what is a debt to us. Perhaps the reason of your long delay is your desire to finish and transmit to me that book against heathen worship, in writing which I had heard that you were engaged, and for which I had expressed a very earnest desire. O that you might by so rich a feast satisfy the hunger which has been sharpened by fasting (so far as your pen was concerned) for more than a year! but if this be not yet prepared, our complaints will not cease unless meanwhile you prevent us from being famished before that is finished. Salute our brethren, especially Romanus and Agilis. From this place all who are with me salute you, and they would be less provoked by your delay in writing if they loved you less than they do.

To Glorius, Eleusius, the Two Felixes, Grammaticus, and All Others to Whom This May Be Acceptable, My Lords Most Beloved and Worthy of Praise, Augustin Sends Greeting.

Chap. I

1. The Apostle Paul hath said: “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” But though the doctrine which men hold be false and perverse, if they do not maintain it with passionate obstinacy, especially when they have not devised it by the rashness of their own presumption, but have accepted it from parents who had been misguided and had fallen into error, and if they are with anxiety seeking the truth, and are prepared to be set right when they have found it, such men are not to be counted heretics. Were it not that I believe you to be such, perhaps I would not write to you. And yet even in the case of a heretic, however puffed up with odious conceit, and insane through the obstinacy of his wicked resistance to truth, although we warn others to avoid him, so that he may not deceive the weak and inexperienced, we do not refuse to strive by every means in our power for his correction. On this ground I wrote even to some of the chief of the Donatists, not indeed letters of communion, which on account of their perversity they have long ceased to receive from the undivided Catholic Church which is spread throughout the world, but letters of a private kind, such as we may send even to pagans. These letters, however, though they have sometimes read them, they have not been willing, or perhaps it is more probable, have not been able, to answer. In these cases, it seems to me that I have discharged the obligation laid on me by that love which the Holy Spirit teaches us to render, not only to our own, but to all, saying by the apostle: “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” In another place we are warned that those who are of a different opinion from us must be corrected with meekness, “if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

2. I have said these things by way of preface, lest any one should think, because you are not of our communion, that I have been influenced by forwardness rather than consideration in sending this letter, and in desiring thus to confer with you regarding the welfare of the soul; though I believe that, if I were writing to you about an affair of property, or the settlement of some dispute about money, no one would find fault with me. So precious is this world in the esteem of men, and so small is the value which they set upon themselves! This letter, therefore, shall be a witness in my vindication at the bar of God, who knows the spirit in which I write, and who has said: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the sons of God.”

Chap. II

3. I beg you, therefore, to call to mind that, when I was in your town, and was discussing with you a little concerning the communion of Christian unity, certain Acts were brought forward by you, from which a statement was read aloud that about seventy bishops condemned Caecilianus, formerly our Bishop of Carthage, along with his colleagues, and those by whom he was ordained. In the same Acts was given a full account of the case of Felix of Aptunga, as one singularly odious and criminal. When all these had been read, I answered that it was not to be wondered at if the men who then caused that schism, and who did not scruple to tamper with Acts, thought that it was right to condemn those against whom they had been instigated by envious and wicked men, although the sentence was passed without deliberation, in the absence of the parties condemned, and without acquainting them with the matter laid to their charge. I added that we have other ecclesiastical Acts, according to which Secundus of Tigisis, who was for the time Primate of Numidia, left those who, being there present, confessed themselves traditors to the judgment of God, and permitted them to remain in the episcopal sees which they then occupied; and I stated that the names of these men are in the list of those who condemned Caecilianus, and that this Secundus himself was president of the Council in which he secured the condemnation of those who, being absent, were accused as traditors, by the votes of those whom he pardoned when, being present, they confessed the same crime.

4. I then said that some time after the ordination of Majorinus, whom they with impious wickedness set up against Caecilianus, raising one altar against another, and rending with infatuated contentiousness the unity of Christ, they applied to Constantine, who was then emperor, to appoint bishops to act as judges and arbiters concerning the questions which, having arisen in Africa, disturbed the peace of the Church. This having been done, Caecilianus and those who had sailed from Africa to accuse him being present, and the case tried by Melchiades, who was then Bishop of Rome, along with the assessors whom at the request of the Donatists the Emperor had sent, nothing could be proved against Caecilianus; and thus, while he was confirmed in his episcopal see, Donatus, who was present as his opponent, was condemned. After all this, when they all still persevered in the obstinacy of their most sinful schism, the Emperor being appealed to, took pains to have the matter again more carefully examined and settled at Arles. They, however, declining an ecclesiastical decision, appealed to Constantine himself to hear their cause. When this trial came on, both parties being present, Caecilianus was pronounced innocent, and they retired vanquished; but they still persisted in the same perversity. At the same time the case of Felix of Aptunga was not forgotten, and he too was acquitted of the crimes laid to his charge, after an investigation by the proconsul at the order of the same prince.

5. Since, however, I was only saying these things, not reading from the record, I seemed to you to be doing less than my earnestness had led you to expect. Perceiving this, I sent at once for that which I had promised to read. While I went on to visit the Church at Gelizi, intending to return thence to you, all these Acts were brought to you before two days had passed, and were read to you, as you know, so far as time permitted, in one day. We read first how Secundus of Tigisis did not dare to depose his colleagues in office who confessed themselves to be traditors; but afterwards, by the help of these very men, dared to condemn, without their confessing the crime, and in their absence, Caecilianus and others who were his colleagues. And we next read the proconsular Acts in which Felix was, after a most thorough investigation, proved innocent. These, as you will remember, were read in the forenoon. In the afternoon I read to you their petition to Constantine, and the ecclesiastical record of the proceedings in Rome of the judges whom he appointed, by which the Donatists were condemned, and Caecilianus confirmed in his episcopal dignity. In conclusion, I read the letters of the Emperor Constantine, in which the evidence of all these things was established beyond all possibility of dispute.

Chap. III

6. What more do you ask, sirs? what more do you ask? The matter in question here is not your gold and silver; it is not your land, nor property, nor bodily health that is at stake. I appeal to your souls concerning their obtaining eternal life, and escaping eternal death. At length awake! I am not handling an obscure question, nor searching into some hidden mystery, for the investigation of which capacity is found in no human intellect, or at least in only a few: the thing is clear as day. Is anything more obvious? could anything be more quickly seen? I affirm that parties innocent and absent were condemned by a Council, very numerous indeed, but hasty in their decisions. I prove this by the proconsular Acts, in which that man was wholly cleared from the charge of being a traditor, whom the Acts of the Council which your party brought forward proclaimed as most specially guilty. I affirm further, that the sentence against those who were said to be traditors was passed by men who had confessed themselves guilty of that very crime. I prove this by the ecclesiastical Acts in which the names of those men are set forth, to whom Secundus of Tigisis, professing a desire to preserve peace, granted pardon of a crime which he knew them to have committed, and by whose help he afterwards, notwithstanding the destruction of peace, passed sentence upon others of whose crime he had no evidence; whereby he made it manifest that in the former decision he had been moved, not by a regard for peace, but by fear for himself. For Purpurius, Bishop of Limata, had alleged against him that he himself, when he had been put in custody by a curator and his soldiers, in order to compel him to give up the Scriptures, was let go, doubtless not without paying a price, in either giving up something, or ordering others to do so for him. He, fearing that this suspicion might be easily enough confirmed, having obtained the advice of Secundus the younger, his own kinsman, and having consulted all his colleagues in the episcopal office, remitted crimes which required no proof to be judged by God, and in so doing appeared to be protecting the peace of the Church: which was false, for he was only protecting himself.

7. For if, in truth, regard for peace had any place in his heart, he would not afterwards at Carthage have joined those traditors whom he had left to the judgment of God when they were present, and confessed their fault, in passing sentence for the same crime upon others who were absent, and against whom no one had proved the charge. He was bound, moreover, to be the more afraid on that occasion of disturbing the peace, inasmuch as Carthage was a great and famous city, from which any evil originating there might extend, as from the head of the body, throughout all Africa. Carthage was also near to the countries beyond the sea, and distinguished by illustrious renown, so that it had a bishop of more than ordinary influence, who could afford to disregard even a number of enemies conspiring against him, because he saw himself united by letters of communion both to the Roman Church, in which the supremacy of an apostolic chair has always flourished, and to all other lands from which Africa itself received the gospel, and was prepared to defend himself before these Churches if his adversaries attempted to cause an alienation of them from him. Seeing, therefore, that Caecilianus declined to come before his colleagues, whom he perceived or suspected (or, as they affirm, pretended to suspect) to be biassed by his enemies against the real merits of his case, it was all the more the duty of Secundus, if he wished to be the guardian of true peace, to prevent the condemnation in their absence of those who had wholly declined to compear at their bar. For it was not a matter concerning presbyters or deacons or clergy of inferior order, but concerning colleagues who might refer their case wholly to the judgment of other bishops, especially of apostolical churches, in which the sentence passed against them in their absence would have no weight, since they had not deserted their tribunal after having compeared before it, but had always declined compearance because of the suspicions which they entertained.

8. This consideration ought to have weighed much with Secundus, who was at that time Primate, if his desire, as president of the Council, was to promote peace; for he might perhaps have quieted or restrained the mouths of those who were raging against men who were absent, if he had spoken thus: “Ye see, brethren, how after so great havoc of persecution peace has been given to us, through God’s mercy, by the princes of this world; surely we, being Christians and bishops, ought not to break up the Christian unity which even pagan enemies have ceased to assail. Either, therefore, let us leave to God, as Judge, all those cases which the calamity of a most troublous time has brought upon the Church; or if there be some among you who have such certain knowledge of the guilt of other parties, that they are able to bring against them a definite indictment, and prove it if they plead not guilty, and who also shrink from having communion with such persons, let them hasten to our brethren and peers, the bishops of the churches beyond the sea, and present to them in the first place a complaint concerning the conduct and contumacy of the accused, as having through consciousness of guilt declined the jurisdiction of their peers in Africa, so that by these foreign bishops they may be summoned to compear and answer before them regarding the things laid to their charge. If they disobey this summons, their criminality and obduracy will become known to those other bishops; and by a synodical letter sent in their name to all parts of the world throughout which the Church of Christ is now extended, the parties accused will be excluded from communion with all churches, in order to prevent the springing up of error in the see of the Church at Carthage. When that has been done, and these men have been separated from the whole Church, we shall without fear ordain another bishop over the community in Carthage; whereas, if now another bishop be ordained by us, communion will most probably be withheld from him by the Church beyond the sea, because they will not recognise the validity of the deposition of the bishop, whose ordination was everywhere acknowledged, and with whom letters of communion had been exchanged; and thus, through our undue eagerness to pronounce without deliberation a final sentence, the great scandal of schism within the Church, when it has rest from without, may arise, and we may be found presuming to set up another altar, not against Caecilianus, but against the universal Church, which, uninformed of our procedure, would still hold communion with him.”

9. If any one had been disposed to reject sound and equitable counsels such as these, what could he have done? or how could he have procured the condemnation of any one of his absent peers, when he could not have any decisions with the authority of the Council, seeing that the Primate was opposed to him? And if such a serious revolt against the authority of the Primate himself arose, that some were resolved to condemn at once those whose case he desired to postpone, how much better would it have been for him to separate himself by dissent from such quarrelsome and factious men, than from the communion of the whole world! But because there were no charges which could be proved at the bar of foreign bishops against Caecilianus and those who took part in his ordination, those who condemned them were not willing to delay passing sentence; and when they had pronounced it, were not at any pains to intimate to the Church beyond the sea the names of those in Africa with whom, as condemned traditors, she should avoid communion. For if they had attempted this, Caecilianus and the others would have defended themselves, and would have vindicated their innocence against their false accusers by a most thorough trial before the ecclesiastical tribunal of bishops beyond the sea.

10. Our belief concerning that perverse and unjust Council is, that it was composed chiefly of traditors whom Secundus of Tigisis had pardoned on their confession of guilt; and who, when a rumour had gone abroad that some had been guilty of delivering up the sacred books, sought to turn aside suspicion from themselves by bringing a calumny upon others, and to escape the detection of their crime, through surrounding themselves with a cloud of lying rumours, when men throughout all Africa, believing their bishops, said what was false concerning innocent men, that they had been condemned at Carthage as traditors. Whence you perceive, my beloved friends, how that which some of your party affirmed to be improbable could indeed happen, viz. that the very men who had confessed their own guilt as traditors, and had obtained the remission of their case to the divine tribunal, afterwards took part in judging and condemning others who, not being present to defend themselves, were accused of the same crime. For their own guilt made them more eagerly embrace an opportunity by which they might overwhelm others with a groundless accusation, and by thus finding occupation for the tongues of men, which screen their own misdeeds from investigation. Moreover, if it were inconceivable that a man should condemn in another the wrong which he had himself done, the Apostle Paul would not have had occasion to say: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” This is exactly what these men did, so that the words of the apostle may be fully and appropriately applied to them.

11. Secundus, therefore, was not acting in the interests of peace and unity when he remitted to the divine tribunal the crimes which these men confessed: for, if so, he would have been much more careful to prevent a schism at Carthage, when there were none present to whom he might be constrained to grant pardon of a crime which they confessed; when, on the contrary, all that the preservation of peace demanded was a refusal to condemn those who were absent. They would have acted unjustly to these innocent men, had they even resolved to pardon them, when they were not proved guilty, and had not confessed the guilt, but were actually not present at all. For the guilt of a man is established beyond question when he accepts a pardon. How much more outrageous and blind were they who thought that they had power to condemn for crimes which, as unknown, they could not even have forgiven! In the former case, crimes that were known were remitted to the divine arbitration, lest others should be inquired into; in the latter case, crimes that were not known were made ground of condemnation, that those which were known might be concealed. But it will be said, the crime of Caecilianus and the others was known. Even if I were to admit this, the fact of their absence ought to have protected them from such a sentence. For they were not chargeable with deserting a tribunal before which they had never stood; nor was the Church so exclusively represented in these African bishops, that in refusing to appear before them they could be supposed to decline all ecclesiastical jurisdiction. For there remained thousands of bishops in countries beyond the sea, before whom it was manifest that those who seemed to distrust their peers in Africa and Numidia could be tried. Have you forgotten what Scripture commands: “Blame no one before you have examined him; and when you have examined him, let your correction be just”? If, then, the Holy Spirit has forbidden us to blame or correct any one before we have questioned him, how much greater is the crime of not merely blaming or correcting, but actually condemning men who, being absent, could not be examined as to the charges brought against them!

12. Moreover, as to the assertion of these judges, that though the parties accused were absent, having not fled from trial, but always avowed their distrust of that faction, and declined to appear before them, the crimes for which they condemned them were well known; I ask, my brethren, how did they know them? You reply, We cannot tell, since the evidence is not stated in the public Acts. But I will tell you how they knew them. Observe carefully the case of Felix of Aptunga, and first read how much more vehement they were against him; for they had just the same grounds for their knowledge in the case of the others as in his, who was afterwards proved most completely innocent by a thorough and severe investigation. How much greater the justice and safety and readiness with which we are warranted in believing the innocence of the others whose indictment was less serious, and their condemnation less severe, seeing that the man against whom they raged much more furiously has been proved innocent!

Chap. IV

13. Some one may perhaps make an objection which, though it was disapproved by you when it was brought forward, I must not pass over, for it has been made by others, viz.: It was not meet that a bishop should be acquitted by trial before a proconsul: as if the bishop had himself procured this trial, and it had not been done by order of the Emperor, to whose care this matter, as one concerning which he was responsible to God, especially belonged. For they themselves had constituted the Emperor the arbiter and judge in this question regarding the surrender of the sacred books, and regarding the schism, by their sending petitions to him, and afterwards appealing to him; and nevertheless they refuse to acquiesce in his decision. If, therefore, he is to be blamed whom the magistrate absolved, though he had not himself applied to that tribunal, how much more worthy of blame are those who desired an earthly king to be the judge of their cause! For if it be not wrong to appeal to the Emperor, it is not wrong to be tried by the Emperor, and consequently not wrong to be tried by him to whom the Emperor refers the case. One of your friends was anxious to make out a ground of complaint on the fact that, in the case of the bishop Felix, one witness was suspended on the rack, and another tortured with pincers. But was it in the power of Felix to prevent the prosecution of the inquiry with diligence, and even severity, when the case regarding which the advocate was labouring to discover the truth was his own? For what else would such a resistance to investigation have been construed to signify, than a confession of his crime? And yet this proconsul, surrounded with the awe-inspiring voices of heralds, and the blood-stained hands of executioners at his service, would not have condemned one of his peers in absence, who declined to come before his tribunal, if there was any other place where his cause could be disposed of. Or if he had in such circumstances pronounced sentence, he would himself assuredly have suffered the due and just award prescribed by civil law.

Chap. V

14. If, however, you repudiate the Acts of a proconsul, submit yourselves to the Acts of the Church. These have all been read over to you in their order. Perhaps you will say that Melchiades, bishop of the Roman Church, along with the other bishops beyond the sea who acted as his colleagues, had no right to usurp the place of judge in a matter which had been already settled by seventy African bishops, over whom the bishop of Tigisis as Primate presided. But what will you say if he in fact did not usurp this place? For the Emperor, being appealed to, sent bishops to sit with him as judges, with authority to decide the whole matter in the way which seemed to them just. This we prove, both by the petitions of the Donatists and the words of the Emperor himself, both of which were, as you remember, read to you, and are now accessible to be studied or transcribed by you. Read and ponder all these. See with what scrupulous care for the preservation or restoration of peace and unity everything was discussed; how the legal standing of the accusers was inquired into, and what defects were proved in this matter against some of them; and how it was clearly proved by the testimony of those present that they had nothing to say against Caecilianus, but wished to transfer the whole matter to the people belonging to the party of Majorinus, that is, to the seditious multitude who were opposed to the peace of the Church, in order, forsooth, that Caecilianus might be accused by that crowd which they believed to be powerful enough to bend aside to their views the minds of the judges by mere turbulent clamour, without any documentary evidence or examination as to the truth; unless it was likely that true accusations should be brought against Caecilianus by a multitude infuriated and infatuated by the cup of error and wickedness, in a place where seventy bishops had with insane precipitancy condemned, in their absence, men who were their peers, and who were innocent, as was proved in the case of Felix of Aptunga. They wished to have Caecilianus accused by a mob such as that to which they had given way themselves, when they pronounced sentence upon parties who were absent, and who had not been examined. But assuredly they had not come to judges who could be persuaded to such madness.

15. Your own prudence may enable you to remark here both the obstinacy of these men, and the wisdom of the judges, who to the last persisted in refusing to admit accusations against Caecilianus from the populace who were of the faction of Majorinus, who had no legal standing in the case. You will also remark how they were required to bring forward the men who had come with them from Africa as accusers or witnesses, or in some other connection with the case, and how it was said that they had been present, but had been withdrawn by Donatus. The said Donatus promised that he would produce them, and this promise he made repeatedly; yet, after all, declined to appear again in presence of that tribunal before which he had already confessed so much, that it seemed as if by his refusal to return he desired only to avoid being present to hear himself condemned; but the things for which he was to be condemned had been proved against him in his own presence, and after examination. Besides this, a libel bringing charges against Caecilianus was handed in by some parties. How the inquiry was thereupon opened anew, what persons brought up the libel, and how nothing after all could be proved against Caecilianus, I need not state, seeing that you have heard it all, and can read it as often as you please.

16. As to the fact that there were seventy bishops in the Council [which condemned Caecilianus], you remember what was said in the way of pleading against him the venerable authority of so great a number. Nevertheless these most venerable men resolved to keep their judgment unembarrassed by endless questions of hopeless intricacy, and did not care to inquire either what was the number of those bishops, or whence they had been collected, when they saw them to be blinded with such reckless presumption as to pronounce rash sentence upon their peers in their absence, and without having examined them. And yet what a decision was finally pronounced by the blessed Melchiades himself; how equitable, how complete, how prudent, and how fitted to make peace! For he did not presume to depose from his own rank those peers against whom nothing had been proved; and, laying blame chiefly upon Donatus, whom he had found the cause of the whole disturbance, he gave to all the others restoration if they chose to accept it, and was prepared to send letters of communion even to those who were known to have been ordained by Majorinus; so that wherever there were two bishops, through this dissension doubling their number, he decided that the one who was prior in the date of ordination should be confirmed in his see, and a new congregation found for the other. O excellent man! O son of Christian peace, father of the Christian people! Compare now this handful, with that multitude of bishops, not counting, but weighing them: on the one side you have moderation and circumspection; on the other, precipitancy and blindness. On the one side, clemency has not wronged justice, nor has justice been at variance with clemency; on the other side, fear was hiding itself under passion, and passion was goaded to excess by fear. In the one case, they assembled to clear the innocent from false accusations by discovering where the guilt really lay; in the other, they had met to screen the guilty from true accusations by bringing false charges against the innocent.

Chap. VI

17. Could Caecilianus leave himself to be tried and judged by these men, when he had such others before whom, if his case were argued, he could most easily prove his innocence? He could not have left himself in their hands even had he been a stranger recently ordained over the Church at Carthage, and consequently not aware of the power in perverting the minds of men, either worthless or unwise, which was then possessed by a certain Lucilla, a very wealthy woman, whom he had offended when he was a deacon, by rebuking her in the exercise of church discipline; for this evil influence was also at work to bring about that iniquitous transaction. For in that Council, in which men absent and innocent were condemned by persons who had confessed themselves to be traditors, there were a few who wished, by defaming others, to hide their own crimes, that men, led astray by unfounded rumours, might be turned aside from inquiring into the truth. The number of those who were especially interested in this was not great, although the preponderating authority was on their side; because they had with them Secundus himself, who, yielding to fear, had pardoned them. But the rest are said to have been bribed and instigated specially against Caecilianus by the money of Lucilla. There are Acts in the possession of Zenophilus, a man of consular rank, according to which one Nundinarius, a deacon who had been (as we learn from the same Acts) deposed by Sylvanus, bishop of Cirta, having failed in an attempt to recommend himself to that party by the letters of other bishops, in the heat of passion revealed many secrets, and brought them forward in open court; amongst which we read this on the record, that the rearing of rival altars in the Church of Carthage, the chief city of Africa, was due to the bishops being bribed by the money of Lucilla. I am aware that I did not read these Acts to you, but you remember that there was not time. Besides these influences, there was also some bitterness arising from mortified pride, because they had not themselves ordained Caecilianus bishop of Carthage.

18. When Caecilianus knew that these men had assembled, not as impartial judges, but hostile and perverted through all these things, was it possible that either he should consent, or the people over whom he presided should allow him, to leave the church and go into a private dwelling, where he was not to be tried fairly by his peers, but to be slain by a small faction, urged on by a woman’s spite, especially when he saw that his case might have an unbiassed and equitable hearing before the Church beyond the sea, which was uninfluenced by private enmities on either side in the dispute? If his adversaries declined pleading before that tribunal, they would thereby cut themselves off from that communion with the whole world which innocence enjoys. And if they attempted there to bring a charge against him, then he would compear for himself, and defend his innocence against all their plots, as you have learned that he afterwards did, when they, already guilty of schism, and stained with the atrocious crime of having actually reared their rival altar, applied—but too late—for the decision of the Church beyond the sea. For this they would have done at first, if their cause had been supported by truth; but their policy was to come to the trial after false rumours had gained strength by lapse of time, and public report of old standing, so to speak, had prejudged the case; or, which seems more likely, having first condemned Caecilianus as they pleased, they relied for safety upon their number, and did not dare to open the discussion of so bad a case before other judges, by whom, as they were not influenced by bribery, the truth might be discovered.

Chap. VII

19. But when they actually found that the communion of the whole world with Caecilianus continued as before, and that letters of communion from churches beyond the sea were sent to him, and not to the man whom they had flagitiously ordained, they became ashamed of being always silent; for it might be objected to them: Why did they suffer the Church in so many countries to go on in ignorance, communicating with men that were condemned; and especially why did they cut themselves off from communion with the whole world, against which they had no charge to make, by their bearing in silence the exclusion from that communion of the bishop whom they had ordained in Carthage? They chose, therefore, as it is reported, to bring their dispute with Caecilianus before the foreign churches, in order to secure one of two things, either of which they were prepared to accept: if, on the one hand, by any amount of craft, they succeeded in making good the false accusation, they would abundantly satisfy their lust of revenge; if, however, they failed, they might remain as stubborn as before, but would now have, as it were, some excuse for it, in alleging that they had suffered at the hands of an unjust tribunal,—the common outcry of all worthless litigants, though they have been defeated by the clearest light of truth,—as if it might not have been said, and most justly said, to them: “Well, let us suppose that those bishops who decided the case at Rome were not good judges; there still remained a plenary Council of the universal Church, in which these judges themselves might be put on their defence; so that, if they were convicted of mistake, their decisions might be reversed.” Whether they have done this or not, let them prove: for we easily prove that it was not done, by the fact that the whole world does not communicate with them; or if it was done, they were defeated there also, of which their state of separation from the Church is a proof.

20. What they actually did afterwards, however, is sufficiently shown in the letter of the Emperor. For it was not before other bishops, but at the bar of the Emperor, that they dared to bring the charge of wrong judgment against ecclesiastical judges of so high authority as the bishops by whose sentence the innocence of Caecilianus and their own guilt had been declared. He granted them the second trial at Aries, before other bishops; not because this was due to them, but only as a concession to their stubbornness, and from a desire by all means to restrain so great effrontery. For this Christian Emperor did not presume so to grant their unruly and groundless complaints as to make himself the judge of the decision pronounced by the bishops who had sat at Rome; but he appointed, as I have said, other bishops, from whom, however, they preferred again to appeal to the Emperor himself; and you have heard the terms in which he disapproved of this. Would that even then they had desisted from their most insane contentions, and had yielded at last to the truth, as he yielded to them when (intending afterwards to apologize for this course to the reverend prelates) he consented to try their case after the bishops, on condition that, if they did not submit to his decision, for which they had themselves appealed, they should thenceforward be silent! For he ordered that both parties should meet him at Rome to argue the case. When Caecilianus, for some reason, failed to compear there, he, at their request, ordered all to follow him to Milan. Then some of their party began to withdraw, perhaps offended that Constantine did not follow their example, and condemn Caecilianus in his absence at once and summarily. When the prudent Emperor was aware of this, he compelled the rest to come to Milan in charge of his guards. Caecilianus having come thither, he brought him forward in person, as he has written; and having examined the matter with the diligence, caution, and prudence which his letters on the subject indicate, he pronounced Caecilianus perfectly innocent, and them most criminal.

Chap. VIII

21. And to this day they administer baptism outside of the communion of the Church, and, if they can, they rebaptize the members of the Church: they offer sacrifice in discord and schism, and salute in the name of peace communities which they pronounce beyond the bounds of the peace of salvation. The unity of Christ is rent asunder, the heritage of Christ is reproached, the baptism of Christ is treated with contempt; and they refuse to have these errors corrected by constituted human authorities, applying penalties of a temporal kind in order to prevent them from being doomed to eternal punishment for such sacrilege. We blame them for the rage which has driven them to schism, the madness which makes them rebaptize, and for the sin of separation from the heritage of Christ, which has been spread abroad through all lands. In using manuscripts which are in their hands as well as in ours, we mention churches, the names of which are now read by them also, but with which they have now no communion; and when these are pronounced in their conventicles, they say to the reader, “Peace be with thee;” and yet they have no peace with those to whom these letters were written. They, on the other hand, blame us for crimes of men now dead, making charges which either are false, or, if true, do not concern us; not perceiving that in the things which we lay to their charge they are all involved, but in the things which they lay to our charge the blame is due to the chaff or the tares in the Lord’s harvest, and the crime does not belong to the good grain; not considering, moreover, that within our unity those only have fellowship with the wicked who take pleasure in their being such, whereas those who are displeased with their wickedness yet cannot correct them,—as they do not presume to root out the tares before the harvest, lest they root out the wheat also,—have fellowship with them, not in their deeds, but in the altar of Christ; so that not only do they avoid being defiled by them, but they deserve commendation and praise according to the word of God, because, in order to prevent the name of Christ from being reproached by odious schisms, they tolerate in the interest of unity that which in the interest of righteousness they hate.

22. If they have ears, let them hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. For in the Apocalypse of John we read: “Unto the angel of the Church of Ephesus write: These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My name’s sake hast tolerated them, and hast not fainted.” Now, if He wished this to be understood as addressed to a celestial angel, and not to those invested with authority in the Church, He would not go on to say: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” This could not be said to the heavenly angels, who retain their love unchanged, as the only beings of their order that have departed and fallen from their love are the devil and his angels. The first love here alluded to is that which was proved in their tolerating for Christ’s name’s sake the false apostles. To this He commands them to return, and to do “their first works.” Now we are reproached with the crimes of bad men, not done by us, but by others; and some of them, moreover, not known to us. Nevertheless, even if they were actually committed, and that under our own eyes, and we bore with them for the sake of unity, letting the tares alone on account of the wheat, whosoever with open heart receives the Holy Scriptures would pronounce us not only free from blame, but worthy of no small praise.

23. Aaron bears with the multitude demanding, fashioning, and worshipping an idol. Moses bears with thousands murmuring against God, and so often offending His holy name. David bears with Saul his persecutor, even when forsaking the things that are above by his wicked life, and following after the things that are beneath by magical arts, avenges his death, and calls him the Lord’s anointed, because of the venerable right by which he had been consecrated. Samuel bears with the reprobate sons of Eli, and his own perverse sons, whom the people refused to tolerate, and were therefore rebuked by the warning and punished by the severity of God. Lastly, he bears with the nation itself, though proud and despising God. Isaiah bears with those against whom he hurls so many merited denunciations. Jeremiah bears with those at whose hands he suffers so many things. Zechariah bears with the scribes and Pharisees, as to whose character in those days Scripture informs us. I know that I have omitted many examples: let those who are willing and able read the divine records for themselves: they will find that all the holy servants and friends of God have always had to bear with some among their own people, with whom, nevertheless, they partook in the sacraments of that dispensation, and in so doing not only were not defiled by them, but were to be commended for their tolerant spirit, “endeavouring to keep,” as the apostle says, “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Let them also observe what has occurred since the Lord’s coming, in which time we would find many more examples of this toleration in all parts of the world, if they could all be written down and authenticated: but attend to those which are on record. The Lord Himself bears with Judas, a devil, a thief, His own betrayer; He permits him, along with the innocent disciples, to receive that which believers know as our ransom. The apostles bear with false apostles; and in the midst of men who sought their own things, and not the things of Jesus Christ, Paul, not seeking his own, but the things of Christ, lives in the practice of a most noble toleration. In fine, as I mentioned a little while ago, the person presiding under the title of Angel over a Church, is commended, because, though he hated those that were evil, he yet bore with them for the Lord’s name’s sake, even when they were tried and discovered.

24. In conclusion, let them ask themselves: Do they not bear with the murders and devastations by fire which are perpetrated by the Circumcelliones, who treat with honour the dead bodies of those who cast themselves down from dangerous heights? Do they not bear with the misery which has made all Africa groan for years beneath the incredible outrages of one man, Optatus [bishop of Thamugada]? I forbear from specifying the tyrannical acts of violence and public depredations in districts, towns, and properties throughout Africa; for it is better to leave you to speak of these to each other, whether in whispers or openly, as you please. For wherever you turn your eyes, you will find the things of which I speak, or, more correctly, refrain from speaking. Nor do we on this ground accuse those whom, when they do such things, you love. What we dislike in that party is not their bearing with those who are wicked, but their intolerable wickedness in the matter of schism, of raising altar against altar, and of separation from the heritage of Christ now spread, as was so long ago promised, throughout the world. We behold with grief and lamentation peace broken, unity rent asunder, baptism administered a second time, and contempt poured on the sacraments, which are holy even when ministered and received by the wicked. If they regard these things as trifles, let them observe those examples by which it has been proved how they are esteemed by God. The men who made an idol perished by a common death, being slain with the sword: but when the men endeavoured to make a schism in Israel, the leaders were swallowed up by the opening earth, and the crowd of their accomplices was consumed by fire. In the difference between the punishments, the different degrees of demerit may be discerned.

Chap. IX

25. These, then, are the facts: In time of persecution, the sacred books are surrendered to the persecutors. Those who were guilty of this surrender confess it, and are remitted to the divine tribunal; those who were innocent are not examined, but condemned at once by rash men. The integrity of that one who, of all the men thus condemned in their absence, was the most vehemently accused, is afterwards vindicated before unimpeachable judges. From the decision of bishops an appeal is made to the Emperor; the Emperor is chosen judge; and the sentence of the Emperor, when pronounced, is set at naught. What was then done you have read; what is now being done you have before your eyes. If, after all that you have read, you are still in doubt, be convinced by what you see. By all means let us give up arguing from ancient manuscripts, public archives, or the acts of courts, civil or ecclesiastical. We have a greater book—the world itself. In it I read the accomplishment of that of which I read the promise in the Book of God: “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee: ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” He that has not communion with this inheritance may know himself to be disinherited, whatever books he may plead to the contrary. He that assails this inheritance is plainly enough declared to be an outcast from the family of God. The question is raised as to the parties guilty of surrendering the divine books in which that inheritance is promised. Let him be believed to have delivered the testament to the flames, who is resisting the intentions of the testator. O faction of Donatus, what has the Corinthian Church done against you? In speaking of this one Church, I wish to be understood as asking the same question in regard to all similar churches remote from you. What have these churches done against you, which could not know even what you had done, or the names of the men whom you branded with condemnation? Or is it so, that because Caecilianus gave offence to Lucilla in Africa, the light of Christ is lost to the whole world?

26. Let them at last become sensible of what they have done; for in the lapse of years, by a just retribution, their work has recoiled upon themselves. Ask by what woman’s instigation Maximianus (said to be a kinsman of Donatus) withdrew himself from the communion of Primianus, and how, having gathered a faction of bishops, he pronounced sentence against Primianus in his absence, and had himself ordained as a rival bishop in his place,—precisely as Majorinus, under the influence of Lucilla, assembled a faction of bishops, and, having condemned Caecilianus in his absence, was ordained bishop in opposition to him. Do you admit, as I suppose you do, that when Primianus was delivered by the other bishops of his communion in Africa from the sentence pronounced by the faction of Maximianus, this decision was valid and sufficient? And will you refuse to admit the same in the case of Caecilianus, when he was released by the bishops of the same one Church beyond the sea from the sentence pronounced by the faction of Majorinus? Pray, my brethren, what great thing do I ask of you? What difficulty is there in comprehending what I bring before you? The African Church, if it be compared with the churches in other parts of the world, is very different from them, and is left far behind both in numbers and in influence; and even if it had retained its unity, is far smaller when compared with the universal Church in other nations, than was the faction of Maximianus when compared with that of Primianus. I ask, however, only this—and I believe it to be just—that you give no more weight to the Council of Secundus of Tigisis, which Lucilla stirred up against Caecilianus when absent, and against an apostolic see and the whole world in communion with Caecilianus, than you give to the Council of Maximianus, which in like manner some other woman stirred up against Primianus when absent, and against the rest of the multitude throughout Africa which was in communion with him. What case could be more transparent? what demand more just?

27. You see and know all these things, and you groan over them; and yet God at the same time sees that nothing compels you to remain in such fatal and impious schism, if you would but subdue the lust of the flesh in order to win the spiritual kingdom; and in order to escape from eternal punishment, have courage to forfeit the friendship of men, whose favour will not avail at the bar of God. Go now, and take counsel together: find what you can say in reply to that which I have written. If you bring forward manuscripts on your side, we do the same; if your party say that our documents are not to be trusted, let them not take it amiss if we retort the charge. No one can erase from heaven the divine decree, no one can efface from earth the Church of God. His decree has promised the whole world, and the Church has filled it; and it includes both bad and good. On earth it loses none but the bad, and into heaven it admits none but the good.

In writing this discourse, God is my witness with what sincere love to peace and to you I have taken and used that which He has given. It shall be to you a means of correction if you be willing, and a testimony against you whether you will or not.

To My Lords Most Beloved, and Brethren Worthy of All Praise, Eleusius, Glorius, and the Two Felixes, Augustin Sends Greeting.

Chap. I

1. In passing through Tubursi on my way to the church at Cirta, though pressed for time, I visited Fortunius, your bishop there, and found him to be, in truth, just such a man as you were wont most kindly to lead me to expect. When I sent him notice of your conversation with me concerning him, and expressed a desire to see him, he did not decline the visit. I therefore went to him, because I thought it due to his age that I should go to him, instead of insisting upon his first coming to me. I went, therefore, accompanied by a considerable number of persons, who, as it happened, were at that time beside me. When, however, we had taken our seats in his house, the thing becoming known, a considerable addition was made to the crowd assembled; but in that whole multitude there appeared to me to be very few who desired the matter to be discussed in a sound and profitable manner, or with the deliberation and solemnity which so great a question demands. All the others had come rather in the mood of playgoers, expecting a scene in our debates, than in Christian seriousness of spirit, seeking instruction in regard to salvation. Accordingly they could neither favour us with silence when we spoke, nor speak with care, or even with due regard to decorum and order,—excepting, as I have said, those few persons about whose pious and sincere interest in the matter there was no doubt. Everything was therefore thrown into confusion by the noise of men speaking loudly, and each according to the unchecked impulse of his own feelings; and though both Fortunius and I used entreaty and remonstrance, we utterly failed in persuading them to listen silently to what was spoken.

2. The discussion of the question was opened notwithstanding, and for some hours we persevered, speeches being delivered by each side in turn, so far as was permitted by an occasional respite from the voices of the noisy onlookers. In the beginning of the debate, perceiving that things which had been spoken were liable to be forgotten by myself, or by those about whose salvation I was deeply concerned; being desirous also that our debate should be managed with caution and self-restraint, and that both you and other brethren who were absent might be able to learn from a record what passed in the discussion, I demanded that our words should be taken down by reporters. This was for a long time resisted, either by Fortunius or by those on his side. At length, however, he agreed to it; but the reporters who were present, and were able to do the work thoroughly, declined, for some reason unknown to me, to take notes. I urged them, that at least the brethren who accompanied me, though not so expert in the work, should take notes, and promised that I would leave the tablets on which the notes were taken in the hands of the other party. This was agreed to. Some words of mine were first taken down, and some statements on the other side were dictated and recorded. After that, the reporters, not being able to endure the disorderly interruptions vociferated by the opposing party, and the increased vehemence with which under this pressure our side maintained the debate, gave up their task. This, however, did not close the discussion, many things being still said by each as he obtained an opportunity. This discussion of the whole question, or at least so much of all that was said as I can remember, I have resolved, my beloved friends, that you shall not lose; and you may read this letter to Fortunius, that he may either confirm my statements as true, or himself inform you, without hesitation, of anything which his more accurate recollection suggests.

Chap. II

3. He was pleased to begin with commending my manner of life, which he said he had come to know through your statements (in which I am sure there was more kindness than truth), adding that he had remarked to you that I might have done well all the things which you had told him of me, if I had done them within the Church. I thereupon asked him what was the Church within which it was the duty of a man so to live; whether it was that one which, as Sacred Scripture had long foretold, was spread over the whole world, or that one which a small section of Africans, or a small part of Africa, contained. To this he at first attempted to reply, that his communion was in all parts of the earth. I asked him whether he was able to issue letters of communion, which we call regular, to places which I might select; and I affirmed, what was obvious to all, that in this way the question might be most simply settled. In the event of his agreeing to this, my intention was that we should send such letters to those churches which we both knew, on the authority of the apostles, to have been already founded in their time.

4. As the falsity of his statement, however, was apparent, a hasty retreat from it was made in a cloud of confused words, in the midst of which he quoted the Lord’s words: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” When I said that these words of the Lord might also be applied by us to them, he went on to magnify the persecution which he affirmed that his party had often suffered; intending thereby to prove that his party were Christians because they endured persecution. When I was preparing, as he went on with this, to answer him from the Gospel, he himself anticipated me in bringing forward the passage in which the Lord says: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Thanking him for the apt quotation, I immediately added that this behoved therefore to be inquired into, whether they had indeed suffered persecution for righteousness’ sake. In following up this inquiry I wished this to be ascertained, though indeed it was patent to all, whether the persecutions under Macarius fell upon them while they were within the unity of the Church, or after they had been severed from it by schism; so that those who wished to see whether they had suffered persecution for righteousness’ sake might turn rather to the prior question, whether they had done rightly in cutting themselves off from the unity of the whole world. For if they were found in this to have done wrong, it was manifest that they suffered persecution for unrighteousness’ sake rather than for righteousness’ sake, and could not therefore be numbered among those of whom it is said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” Thereupon mention was made of the surrender of the sacred books, a matter about which much more has been spoken than has ever been proved true. On our side it was said in reply, that their leaders rather than ours had been traditors; but that if they would not believe the documents with which we supported this charge, we could not be compelled to accept those which they brought forward.

Chap. III

5. Having therefore laid aside that question as one on which there was a doubt, I asked how they could justify their separation of themselves from all other Christians who had done them no wrong, who throughout the world preserved the order of succession, and were established in the most ancient churches, but had no knowledge whatever as to who were traditors in Africa; and who assuredly could not hold communion with others than those whom they had heard of as occupying the episcopal sees. He answered that the foreign churches had done them no wrong, up to the time when they had consented to the death of those who, as he had said, had suffered in the Macarian persecution. Here I might have said that it was impossible for the innocence of the foreign churches to be affected by the offence given in the time of Macarius, seeing that it could not be proved that he had done with their sanction what he did. I preferred, however, to save time by asking whether, supposing that the foreign churches had, through the cruelties of Macarius, lost their innocence from the time in which they were said to have approved of these, it could even be proved that up to that time the Donatists had remained in unity with the Eastern churches and other parts of the world.

6. Thereupon he produced a certain volume, by which he wished to show that a Council at Sardica had sent a letter to African bishops who belonged to the party of Donatus. When this was read aloud, I heard the name Donatus among the bishops to whom the writing had been sent. I therefore insisted upon being told whether this was the Donatus from whom their faction takes its name; as it was possible that they had written to some bishop named Donatus belonging to another section [heresy], especially since in these names no mention had been made of Africa. How then, I asked, could it be proved that we must believe the Donatus here named to be the Donatist bishop, when it could not even be proved that this letter had been specially directed to bishops in Africa? For although Donatus is a common African name, there is nothing improbable in the supposition, that either some one in other countries should be found bearing an African name, or that a native of Africa should be made a bishop there. We found, moreover, no day or name of consul given in the letter, from which any certain light might have been furnished by comparison of dates. I had indeed once heard that the Arians, when they had separated from the Catholic communion, had endeavoured to ally the Donatists in Africa with themselves; and my brother Alypius recalled this to me at the time in a whisper. Having then taken up the volume itself, and glancing over the decrees of the said Council, I read that Athanasius, Catholic bishop of Alexandria, who was so conspicuous as a debater in the keen controversies with the Arians, and Julius, bishop of the Roman Church, also a Catholic, had been condemned by that Council of Sardica; from which we were sure that it was a Council of Arians, against which heretics these Catholic bishops had contended with singular fervour. I therefore wished to take up and carry with me the volume, in order to give more pains to find out the date of the Council. He refused it, however, saying that I could get it there if I wished to study anything in it. I asked also that he would allow me to mark the volume; for I feared, I confess, lest, if perchance necessity arose for my asking to consult it, another should be substituted in its room. This also he refused.

Chap. IV

7. Thereafter he began to insist upon my answering categorically this question: Whether I thought the persecutor or the persecuted to be in the right? To which I answered, that the question was not fairly stated: it might be that both were in the wrong, or that the persecution might be made by the one who was the more righteous of the two parties; and therefore it was not always right to infer that one is on the better side because he suffers persecution, although that is almost always the case. When I perceived that he still laid great stress upon this, wishing to have the justice of the cause of his party acknowledged as beyond dispute because they had suffered persecution, I asked him whether he believed Ambrose, bishop of the Church of Milan, to be a righteous man and a Christian? He was compelled to deny expressly that that man was a Christian and a righteous man; for if he had admitted this, I would at once have objected to him that he esteemed it necessary for him to be rebaptized. When, therefore, he was compelled to pronounce concerning Ambrose that he was not a Christian nor a righteous man, I related the persecution which he endured when his church was surrounded with soldiers. I also asked whether Maximianus, who had made a schism from their party at Carthage, was in his view a righteous man and a Christian. He could not but deny this. I therefore reminded him that he had endured such persecution that his church had been razed to the foundations. By these instances I laboured to persuade him, if possible, to give up affirming that the suffering of persecution is the most infallible mark of Christian righteousness.

8. He also related that, in the infancy of their schism, his predecessors, being anxious to devise some way of hushing up the fault of Caecilianus, lest a schism should take place, had appointed over the people belonging to his communion in Carthage an interim bishop before Majorinus was ordained in opposition to Caecilianus. He alleged that this interim bishop was murdered in his own meeting house by our party. This, I confess, I had never heard before, though so many charges brought by them against us have been refuted and disproved, while by us greater and more numerous crimes have been alleged against them. After having narrated this story, he began again to insist on my answering whether in this case I thought the murderer or the victim the more righteous man; as if he had already proved that the event had taken place as he had stated. I therefore said that we must first ascertain the truth of the story, for we ought not to believe without examination all that is said: and that even were it true, it was possible either that both were equally bad, or that one who was bad had caused the death of another yet worse than himself. For, in truth, it is possible that his guilt is more heinous who rebaptizes the whole man than his who kills the body only.

9. After this there was no occasion for the question which he afterwards put to me. He affirmed that even a bad man should not be killed by Christians and righteous men; as if we called those who in the Catholic Church do such things righteous men: a statement, moreover, which it is more easy for them to affirm than to prove to us, so long as they themselves, with few exceptions, bishops, presbyters, and clergy of all kinds, go on gathering mobs of most infatuated men, and causing, wherever they are able, so many violent massacres, and devastations to the injury not of Catholics only, but sometimes even of their own partisans. In spite of these facts, Fortunius, affecting ignorance of the most villanous doings, which were better known by him than by me, insisted upon my giving an example of a righteous man putting even a bad man to death. This was, of course, not relevant to the matter in hand; for I conceded that wherever such crimes were committed by men having the name of Christians, they were not the actions of good men. Nevertheless, in order to show him what was the true question before us, I answered by inquiring whether Elijah seemed to him to be a righteous man; to which he could not but assent. Thereupon I reminded him how many false prophets Elijah slew with his own hand. He saw plainly herein, as indeed he could not but see, that such things were then lawful to righteous men. For they did these things as prophets guided by the Spirit and sanctioned by the authority of God, who knows infallibly to whom it may be even a benefit to be put to death. He therefore required me to show him one who, being a righteous man, had in the New Testament times put any one, even a criminal and impious man, to death.

Chap. V

10. I then returned to the argument used in my former letter, in which I laboured to show that it was not right either for us to reproach them with atrocities of which some of their party had been guilty, or for them to reproach us if any such deeds were found by them to have been done on our side. For I granted that no example could be produced from the New Testament of a righteous man putting any one to death; but I insisted that by the example of our Lord Himself, it could be proved that the wicked had been tolerated by the innocent. For His own betrayer, who had already received the price of His blood, He suffered to remain undistinguished from the innocent who were with Him, even up to that last kiss of peace. He did not conceal from the disciples the fact that in the midst of them was one capable of such a crime; and, nevertheless, He administered to them all alike, without excluding the traitor, the first sacrament of His body and blood. When almost all felt the force of this argument, Fortunius attempted to meet it by saying, that before the Lord’s Passion that communion with a wicked man did no harm to the apostles, because they had not as yet the baptism of Christ, but the baptism of John only. When he said this, I asked him to explain how it was written that Jesus baptized more disciples than John, though Jesus Himself baptized not, but His disciples, that is to say, baptized by means of His disciples? How could they give what they had not received (a question often used by the Donatists themselves)? Did Christ baptize with the baptism of John? I was prepared to ask many other questions in connection with this opinion of Fortunius; such as—how John himself was interrogated as to the Lord’s baptizing, and replied that He had the bride, and was the Bridegroom? Was it, then, lawful for the Bridegroom to baptize with the baptism of him who was but a friend or servant? Again, how could they receive the Eucharist if not previously baptized? or how could the Lord in that case have said in reply to Peter, who was willing to be wholly washed by Him, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit”? For perfect cleansing is by the baptism, not of John, but of the Lord, if the person receiving it be worthy; if, however, he be unworthy, the sacraments abide in him, not to his salvation, but to his perdition. When I was about to put these questions, Fortunius himself saw that he ought not to have mooted the subject of the baptism of the disciples of the Lord.

11. From this we passed to something else, many on both sides discoursing to the best of their ability. Among other things it was alleged that our party was still intending to persecute them; and he [Fortunius] said that he would like to see how I would act in the event of such persecution, whether I would consent to such cruelty, or withhold from it all countenance. I said that God saw my heart, which was unseen by them; also that they had hitherto had no ground for apprehending such persecution, which if it did take place would be the work of bad men, who were, however, not so bad as some of their own party; but that it was not incumbent on us to withdraw ourselves from communion with the Catholic Church on the ground of anything done against our will, and even in spite of our opposition (if we had an opportunity of testifying against it), seeing that we had learned that toleration for the sake of peace which the apostle prescribes in the words: “Forbearing one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I affirmed that they had not preserved this peace and forbearance, when they had caused a schism, within which, moreover, the more moderate among them now tolerated more serious evils, lest that which was already a fragment should be broken again, although they did not, in order to preserve unity, consent to exercise forbearance in smaller things. I also said that in the ancient economy the peace of unity and forbearance had not been so fully declared and commended as it is now by the example of the Lord and the charity of the New Testament; and yet prophets and holy men were wont to protest against the sins of the people, without endeavouring to separate themselves from the unity of the Jewish people, and from communion in partaking along with them of the sacraments then appointed.

12. After that, mention was made, I know not in what connection, of Genethlius of blessed memory, the predecessor of Aurelius in the see of Carthage, because he had suppressed some edict granted against the Donatists, and had not suffered it to be carried into effect. They were all praising and commending him with the utmost kindness. I interrupted their commendatory speeches with the remark that, for all this, if Genethlius himself had fallen into their hands, it would have been declared necessary to baptize him a second time. (We were by this time all standing, as the time of our going away was at hand.) On this the old man said plainly, that a rule had now been made, according to which every believer who went over from us to them must be baptized; but he said this with the most manifest reluctance and sincere regret. When he himself most frankly bewailed many of the evil deeds of his party, making evident, as was further proved by the testimony of the whole community, how far he was from sharing in such transactions, and told us what he was wont to say in mild expostulation to those of his own party; when also I had quoted the words of Ezekiel—”As the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth it shall die”—it which it is written that the son’s fault is not to be reckoned to his father, nor the father’s fault reckoned to his son, it was agreed by all that in such discussions the excesses of bad men ought not to be brought forward by either party against the other. There remained, therefore, only the question as to schism. I therefore exhorted him again and again that he should with tranquil and undisturbed mind join me in an effort to bring to a satisfactory end, by diligent research, the examination of so important a matter. When he kindly replied that I myself sought this with a single eye, but that others who were on my side were averse to such examination of the truth, I left him with this promise, that I would bring to him more of my colleagues, ten at least, who desire this question to be sifted with the same good-will and calmness and pious care which I saw that he had discovered and now commended in myself. He gave me a similar promise regarding a like number of his colleagues.

Chap. VI

13. Wherefore I exhort you, and by the blood of the Lord implore you, to put him in mind of his promise, and to insist urgently that what has been begun, and is now, as you see, nearly finished, may be concluded. For, in my opinion, you will have difficulty in finding among your bishops another whose judgment and feelings are so sound as we have seen that old man’s to be. The next day he came to me himself, and we began to discuss the matter again. I could not, however, remain long with him, as the ordination of a bishop required my departing from the place. I had already sent a messenger to the chief man of the Coelicolae, of whom I had heard that he had introduced a new baptism among them, and had by this impiety led many astray, intending, so far as my limited time permitted, to confer with him. Fortunius, when he learned that he was coming, perceiving that I was to be otherwise engaged, and having himself some other duty calling him from home, bade me a kind and friendly farewell.

14. It seems to me that if we would avoid the attendance of a noisy crowd, rather hindering than helping the debate, and if we wish to complete by the Lord’s help so great a work begun in a spirit of unfeigned good-will and peace, we ought to meet in some small village in which neither party has a church, and which is inhabited by persons belonging to both churches, such as Titia. Let this or any other such place be agreed upon in the region of Tubursi or of Thagaste, and let us take care to have the canonical books at hand for reference. Let any other documents be brought thither which either party may judge useful; and laying all other things aside, uninterrupted, if it please God, by other cares, devoting our time for as many days as we can to this one work, and each imploring in private the Lord’s guidance, we may, by the help of Him to whom Christian peace is most sweet, bring to a happy termination the inquiry which has been in such a good spirit opened. Do not fail to write in reply what you or Fortunius think of this.

A short letter to Paulinus and Therasia repeating the request made in Letter XLII., and again complaining of the long silence of his friend.

A letter propounding several cases of conscience.

To My Beloved and Venerable Father the Bishop Augustin, Publicola Sends Greeting.

It is written: “Ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” I have therefore judged it right to “seek the law at the mouth of the priest” in regard to a certain case which I shall state in this letter, desiring at the same time to be instructed in regard to several other matters. I have distinguished the several questions by stating each in a separate paragraph, and I beg you kindly to give an answer to each in order.

I. In the country of the Arzuges it is customary, as I have heard, for the barbarians to take an oath, swearing by their false gods, in the presence of the decurion stationed on the frontier or of the tribune, when they have come under engagement to carry baggage to any part, or to protect the crops from depredation; and when the decurion certifies in writing that this oath has been taken, the owners or farmers of land employ them as watchmen of their crops; or travellers who have occasion to pass through their country hire them, as if assured of their now being trustworthy. Now a doubt has arisen in my mind whether the landowner who thus employs a barbarian, of whose fidelity he is persuaded in consequence of such an oath, does not make himself and the crops committed to that man’s charge to share the defilement of that sinful oath; and so also with the traveller who may employ his services. I should mention, however, that in both cases the barbarian is rewarded for his services with money. Nevertheless in both transactions there comes in, besides the pecuniary remuneration, this oath before the decurion or tribune involving mortal sin. I am concerned as to whether this sin does not defile either him who accepts the oath of the barbarian, or at least the things which are committed to the barbarian’s keeping. For whatever other terms be in the arrangement, even such as the payment of gold, and giving of hostages in security, nevertheless this sinful oath has been a real part of the transaction. Be pleased to resolve my doubts definitely and positively. For if your answer indicate that you are in doubt yourself, I may fall into greater perplexity than before.

II. I have also heard that my own land-stewards receive from the barbarians hired to protect the crops an oath in which they appeal to their false gods. Does not this oath so defile these crops, that if a Christian uses them or takes the money realized by their sale, he is himself defiled? Do answer this.

III. Again, I have heard from one person that no oath was taken by the barbarian in making agreement with my steward, but another has said to me that such an oath was taken. Suppose now that the latter statement were false, tell me if I am bound to forbear from using these crops, or the money obtained for them, merely because I have heard the statement made, according to the scriptural rule: “If any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not, for his sake that showed it.” Is this case parallel to the case of meat offered to idols; and if it is, what am I to do with the crops, or with the price of them?

IV. In this case ought I to examine both him who said that no oath was taken before my steward, and the other who said that the oath was taken, and bring witnesses to prove which of the two spoke truly, leaving the crops or their price untouched so long as there is uncertainty in the matter?

V. If the barbarian who swears this sinful oath were to require of the steward or of the tribune stationed on the frontier, that he, being a Christian, should give him assurance of his faithfulness to his part of the engagement about watching the crops, by the same oath which he himself has taken, involving mortal sin, does the oath pollute only that Christian man? Does it not also pollute the things regarding which he took the oath? Or if a pagan who has authority on the frontier thus give to a barbarian this oath in token of acting faithfully to him, does he not involve in the defilement of his own sin those in whose interest he swears? If I send a man to the Arzuges, is it lawful for him to take from a barbarian that sinful oath? Is not the Christian who takes such an oath from him also defiled by his sin?

VI. Is it lawful for a Christian to use wheat or beans from the threshing-floor, wine or oil from the press, if, with his knowledge, some part of what has been taken thence was offered in sacrifice to a false god?

VII. May a Christian use for any purpose wood which he knows to have been taken from one of their idols’ groves?

VIII. If a Christian buy in the market meat which has not been offered to idols, and have in his mind conflicting doubts as to whether it has been offered to idols or not, but eventually adopt the opinion that it was not, does he sin if he partake of this meat?

IX. If a man does an action good in itself, about which he has some misgivings as to whether it is good or bad, can it be reckoned as a sin to him if he does it believing it to be good, although formerly he may have thought it bad?

X. If any one has falsely said that some meat has been offered to idols, and afterwards confess that it was a falsehood, and this confession is believed, may a Christian use the meat regarding which he heard that statement, or sell it, and use the price obtained?

XI. If a Christian on a journey, overpowered by want, having fasted for one, two, or several days, so that he can no longer endure the privation, should by chance, when in the last extremity of hunger, and when he sees death close at hand, find food placed in an idol’s temple, where there is no man near him, and no other food to be found; whether should he die or partake of that food?

XII. If a Christian is on the point of being killed by a barbarian or a Roman, ought he to kill the aggressor to save his own life? or ought he even, without killing the assailant, to drive him back and fight with him, seeing it has been said, “Resist not evil”?

XIII. May a Christian put a wall for defence against an enemy round his property? and if some use that wall as a place from which to fight and kill the enemy, is the Christian the cause of the homicide?

XIV. May a Christian drink at a fountain or well into which anything from a sacrifice has been cast? May he drink from a well found in a deserted temple? If there be in a temple where an idol is worshipped a well or fountain which nothing has defiled, may he draw water thence, and drink of it?

XV. May a Christian use baths in places in which sacrifice is offered to images? May he use baths which are used by pagans on a feastday, either while they are there or after they have left?

XVI. May a Christian use the same sedanchair as has been used by pagans coming down from their idols on a feastday, if in that chair they have performed any part of their idolatrous service, and the Christian is aware of this?

XVII. If a Christian, being the guest of another, has forborne from using meat set before him, concerning which it was said to him that it had been offered in sacrifice, but afterwards by some accident finds the same meat for sale and buys it, or has it presented to him at another man’s table, and then eat of it, without knowing that it is the same, is he guilty of sin?

XVIII. May a Christian buy and use vegetables or fruit which he knows to have been brought from the garden of a temple or of the priests of an idol? That you may not be put to trouble in searching the Scriptures concerning the oath of which I have spoken and the idols, I resolved to set before you those texts which, by the Lord’s help, I have found; but if you have found anything better or more to the purpose in Scripture, be so good as let me know. For example, when Laban said to Jacob, “The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor judge betwixt us,” Scripture does not declare which god is meant. Again, when Abimelech came to Isaac, and he and those who were with him sware to Isaac, we are not told what kind of oath it was. As to the idols, Gideon was commanded by the Lord to make a whole burnt-offering of the bullock which he killed. And in the book of Joshua the son of Nun, it is said of Jericho that all the silver, and gold, and brass should be brought into the treasures of the Lord, and the things found in the accursed city were called sacred. Also we read in Deuteronomy: “Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a cursed thing like it.”

May the Lord preserve thee. I salute thee. Pray for me.

To the Honourable Publicola, My Much Beloved Son, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Your perplexities have, since I learned them by your letter, become mine also, not because all those things by which you tell me that you are disturbed, disturb my mind: but I have been much perplexed, I confess, by the question how your perplexities were to be removed; especially since you require me to give a conclusive answer, lest you should fall into greater doubts than you had before you applied to me to have them resolved. For I see that I cannot give this, since, though I may write things which appear to me most certain, if I do not convince you, you must be beyond question more at a loss than before; and though it is in my power to use arguments which weigh with myself, I may fail of convincing another by these. However, lest I should refuse the small service which your love claims, I have resolved after some consideration to write in reply.

2. One of your doubts is as to using the services of a man who has guaranteed his fidelity by swearing by his false gods. In this matter I beg you to consider whether, in the event of a man failing to keep his word after having pledged himself by such an oath, you would not regard him as guilty of a twofold sin. For if he kept the engagement which he had confirmed by this oath, he would be pronounced guilty in this only, that he swore by such deities; but no one would justly blame him for keeping his engagement. But in the case supposed, seeing that he both swore by those whom he should not worship, and did, notwithstanding his promise, what he should not have done, he was guilty of two sins: whence it is obvious that in using, not for an evil work, but for some good and lawful end, the service of a man whose fidelity is known to have been confirmed by an oath in the name of false gods, one participates, not in the sin of swearing by the false gods, but in the good faith with which he keeps his promise. The faith which I here speak of as kept is not that on account of which those who are baptized in Christ are called faithful: that is entirely different and far removed from the faith desiderated in regard to the arrangements and compacts of men. Nevertheless it is, beyond all doubt, worse to swear falsely by the true God than to swear truly by the false gods; for the greater the holiness of that by which we swear, the greater is the sin of perjury. It is therefore a different question whether he is not guilty who requires another to pledge himself by taking an oath in the name of his gods, seeing that he worships false gods. In answering this question, we may accept as decisive those examples which you yourself quoted of Laban and of Abimelech (if Abimelech did swear by his gods, as Laban swore by the god of Nahor). This is, as I have said, another question, and one which would perchance perplex me, were it not for those examples of Isaac and Jacob, to which, for aught I know, others might be added. It may be that some scruple might yet be suggested by the precept in the New Testament, “Swear not at all;” words which were in my opinion spoken, not because it is a sin to swear a true oath, but because it is a heinous sin to forswear oneself: from which crime our Lord would have us keep at a great distance, when He charged us not to swear at all. I know, however, that our opinion is different: wherefore it should not be discussed at present; let us rather treat of that about which you have thought of asking my advice. On the same ground on which you forbear from swearing yourself, you may, if such be your opinion, regard it as forbidden to exact an oath from another, although it is expressly said, Swear not; but I do not remember reading anywhere in Holy Scripture that we are not to take another’s oath. The question whether we ought to take advantage of the concord which is established between other parties by their exchange of oaths is entirely different. If we answer this in the negative, I know not whether we could find any place on earth in which we could live. For not only on the frontier, but throughout all the provinces, the security of peace rests on the oaths of barbarians. And from this it would follow, that not only the crops which are guarded by men who have sworn fidelity in the name of their false gods, but all things which enjoy the protection secured by the peace which a similar oath has ratified, are defiled. If this be admitted by you to be a complete absurdity, dismiss with it your doubts on the cases which you named.

3. Again, if from the threshing-floor or wine-press of a Christian anything be taken, with his knowledge, to be offered to false gods, he is guilty in permitting this to be done, if it be in his power to prevent it. If he finds that it has been done, or has not the power to prevent it, he uses without scruple the rest of the grain or wine, as uncontaminated, just as we use fountains from which we know that water has been taken to be used in idol-worship. The same principle decides the question about baths. For we have no scruple about inhaling the air into which we know that the smoke from all the altars and incense of idolaters ascends. From which it is manifest, that the thing forbidden is our devoting anything to the honour of the false gods, or appearing to do this by so acting as to encourage in such worship those who do not know our mind, although in our heart we despise their idols. And when temples, idols, groves, etc., are thrown down by permission from the authorities, although our taking part in this work is a clear proof of our not honouring, but rather abhorring, these things, we must nevertheless forbear from appropriating any of them to our own personal and private use; so that it may be manifest that in overthrowing these we are influenced, not by greed, but by piety. When, however, the spoils of these places are applied to the benefit of the community or devoted to the service of God, they are dealt with in the same manner as the men themselves when they are turned from impiety and sacrilege to the true religion. We understand this to be the will of God from the examples quoted by yourself: the grove of the false gods from which He commanded wood to be taken [by Gideon] for the burnt-offering; and Jericho, of which all the gold, silver, and brass was to be brought into the Lord’s treasury. Hence also the precept in Deuteronomy: “Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein; for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou become a cursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.” From which it appears plainly, that either the appropriation of such spoils to their own private use was absolutely forbidden, or they were forbidden to carry anything of that kind into their own houses with the intention of giving to it honour; for then this would be an abomination and accursed in the sight of God; whereas the honour impiously given to such idols is, by their public destruction, utterly abolished.

4. As to meats offered to idols, I assure you we have no duty beyond observing what the apostle taught concerning them. Study, therefore, his words on the subject, which, if they were obscure to you, I would explain as well as I could. He does not sin who, unwittingly, afterwards partakes of food which he formerly refused because it had been offered to an idol. A kitchen-herb, or any other fruit of the ground, belongs to Him who created it; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof,” and “every creature of God is good.” But if that which the earth has borne is consecrated or offered to an idol, then we must reckon it among the things offered to idols. We must beware lest, in pronouncing that we ought not to eat the fruits of a garden belonging to an idol-temple, we be involved in the inference that it was wrong for the apostle to take food in Athens, since that city belonged to Minerva, and was consecrated to her as the guardian deity. The same answer I would give as to the well or fountain enclosed in a temple, though my scruples would be somewhat more awakened if some part of the sacrifices be thrown into the said well or fountain. But the case is, as I have said before, exactly parallel to our using of the air which receives the smoke of these sacrifices; or, if this be thought to make a difference, that the sacrifice, the smoke whereof mingles with the air, is not offered to the air itself, but to some idol or false god, whereas sometimes offerings are cast into the water with the intention of sacrificing to the waters themselves, it is enough to say that the same principle would preclude us from using the light of the sun, because wicked men continually worship that luminary wherever they are tolerated in doing so. Sacrifices are offered to the winds, which we nevertheless use for our convenience, although they seem, as it were, to inhale and swallow greedily the smoke of these sacrifices. If any one be in doubt regarding meat, whether it has been offered to an idol or not, and the fact be that it has not, when he eats that meat under the impression that it has not been offered to an idol, he by no means does wrong; because neither in fact, nor now in his judgment, is it food offered to an idol, although he formerly thought it was. For surely it is lawful to correct false impressions by others that are true. But if any one believes that to be good which is evil, and acts accordingly, he sins in entertaining that belief; and these are all sins of ignorance, in which one thinks that to be right which it is wrong for him to do.

5. As to killing others in order to defend one’s own life, I do not approve of this, unless one happen to be a soldier or public functionary acting, not for himself, but in defence of others or of the city in which he resides, if he act according to the commission lawfully given him, and in the manner becoming his office. When, however, men are prevented, by being alarmed, from doing wrong, it may be said that a real service is done to themselves. The precept, “Resist not evil,” was given to prevent us from taking pleasure in revenge, in which the mind is gratified by the sufferings of others, but not to make us neglect the duty of restraining men from sin. From this it follows that one is not guilty of homicide, because he has put up a wall round his estate, if any one is killed by the wall falling upon him when he is throwing it down. For a Christian is not guilty of homicide though his ox may gore or his horse kick a man, so that he dies. On such a principle, the oxen of a Christian should have no horns, and his horses no hoofs, and his dogs no teeth. On such a principle, when the Apostle Paul took care to inform the chief captain that an ambush was laid for him by certain desperadoes, and received in consequence an armed escort, if the villains who plotted his death had thrown themselves on the weapons of the soldiers, Paul would have had to acknowledge the shedding of their blood as a crime with which he was chargeable. God forbid that we should be blamed for accidents which, without our desire, happen to others through things done by us or found in our possession, which are in themselves good and lawful. In that event, we ought to have no iron implements for the house or the field, lest some one should by them lose his own life or take another’s; no tree or rope on our premises, lest some one hang himself; no window in our house, lest some one throw himself down from it. But why mention more in a list which must be interminable? For what good and lawful thing is there in use among men which may not become chargeable with being an instrument of destruction?

6. I have now only to notice (unless I am mistaken) the case which you mentioned of a Christian on a journey overcome by the extremity of hunger; whether, if he could find nothing to eat but meat placed in an idol’s temple, and there was no man near to relieve him, it would be better for him to die of starvation than to take that food for his nourishment? Since in this question it is not assumed that the food thus found was offered to the idol (for it might have been left by mistake or designedly by persons who, on a journey, had turned aside there to take refreshment; or it might have been put there for some other purpose), I answer briefly thus: Either it is certain that this food was offered to the idol, or it is certain that it was not, or neither of these things is known. If it is certain, it is better to reject it with Christian fortitude. In either of the other alternatives, it may be used for his necessity without any conscientious scruple.

To My Lord Eudoxius, My Brother and Fellow-Presbyter, Beloved and Longed For, and to the Brethren Who are with Him, Augustin and the Brethren Who are Here Send Greeting.

1. When we reflect upon the undisturbed rest which you enjoy in Christ, we also, although engaged in labours manifold and arduous, find rest with you, beloved. We are one body under one Head, so that you share our toils, and we share your repose: for “if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or if one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Therefore we earnestly exhort and beseech you, by the deep humility and most compassionate majesty of Christ, to be mindful of us in your holy intercessions; for we believe you to be more lively and undistracted in prayer than we can be, whose prayers are often marred and weakened by the darkness and confusion arising from secular occupations: not that we have these on our own account, but we can scarcely breathe for the pressure of such duties imposed upon us by men compelling us, so to speak, to go with them one mile, with whom we are commanded by our Lord to go farther than they ask. We believe, nevertheless, that He before whom the sighing of the prisoner comes will look on us persevering in the ministry in which He was pleased to put us, with promise of reward, and, by the assistance of your prayers, will set us free from all distress.

2. We exhort you in the Lord, brethren, to be stedfast in your purpose, and persevere to the end; and if the Church, your Mother, calls you to active service, guard against accepting it, on the one hand, with too eager elation of spirit, or declining it, on the other, under the solicitations of indolence; and obey God with a lowly heart, submitting yourselves in meekness to Him who governs you, who will guide the meek in judgment, and will teach them His way. Do not prefer your own ease to the claims of the Church; for if no good men were willing to minister to her in her bringing forth of her spiritual children, the beginning of your own spiritual life would have been impossible. As men must keep the way carefully in walking between fire and water, so as to be neither burned nor drowned, so must we order our steps between the pinnacle of pride and the whirlpool of indolence; as it is written, “declining neither to the right hand nor to the left.” For some, while guarding too anxiously against being lifted up and raised, as it were, to the dangerous heights on the right hand, have fallen and been engulphed in the depths on the left. Again, others, while turning too eagerly from the danger on the left hand of being immersed in the torpid effeminacy of inaction, are, on the other hand, so destroyed and consumed by the extravagance of self-conceit, that they vanish into ashes and smoke. See then, beloved, that in your love of ease you restrain yourselves from all mere earthly delight, and remember that there is no place where the fowler who fears lest we fly back to God may not lay snares for us; let us account him whose captives we once were to be the sworn enemy of all good men; let us never consider ourselves in possession of perfect peace until iniquity shall have ceased, and “judgment shall have returned unto righteousness.”

3. Moreover, when you are exerting yourselves with energy and fervour, whatever you do, whether labouring diligently in prayer, fasting, or almsgiving, or distributing to the poor, or forgiving injuries, “as God also for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us,” or subduing evil habits, and chastening the body and bringing it into subjection, or bearing tribulation, and especially bearing with one another in love (for what can he bear who is not patient with his brother?), or guarding against the craft and wiles of the tempter, and by the shield of faith averting and extinguishing his fiery darts, or “singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts,” or with voices in harmony with your hearts;—whatever you do, I say, “do all to the glory of God,” who “worketh all in all,” and be so “fervent in Spirit” that your “soul may make her boast in the Lord.” Such is the course of those who walk in the “straight way,” whose “eyes are ever upon the Lord, for He shall pluck their feet out of the net.” Such a course is neither interrupted by business, nor benumbed by leisure, neither boisterous nor languid, neither presumptuous nor desponding, neither reckless nor supine. “These things do, and the God of peace shall be with you.”

4. Let your charity prevent you from accounting me forward in wishing to address you by letter. I remind you of these things, not because I think you come short in them, but because I thought that I would be much commended unto God by you, if, in doing your duty to Him, you do it with a remembrance of my exhortation. For good report, even before the coming of the brethren Eustasius and Andreas from you, had brought to us, as they did, the good savour of Christ, which is yielded by your holy conversation. Of these, Eustasius has gone before us to that land of rest, on the shore of which beat no rude waves such as those which encompass your island home, and in which he does not regret Caprera, for the homely raiment with which it furnished him he wears no more.

This letter, written to Honoratus, a Donatist bishop, contains nothing on the Donatist schism which is not already found in Letters XLIII. and XLIV., or supplied in Letter LIII.

To the Magistrates and Leading Men, or Elders, of the Colony of Suffectum, Bishop Augustin Sends Greeting.

Earth reels and heaven trembles at the report of the enormous crime and unprecedented cruelty which has made your streets and temples run red with blood, and ring with the shouts of murderers. You have buried the laws of Rome in a dishonoured grave, and trampled in scorn the reverence due to equitable enactments. The authority of emperors you neither respect nor fear. In your city there has been shed the innocent blood of sixty of our brethren; and whoever approved himself most active in the massacre, was rewarded with your applause, and with a high place in your Council. Come now, let us arrive at the chief pretext for this outrage. If you say that Hercules belonged to you, by all means we will make good your loss: we have metals at hand, and there is no lack of stone; nay, we have several varieties of marble, and a host of artisans. Fear not, your god is in the hands of his makers, and shall be with all diligence hewn out and polished and ornamented. We will give in addition some red ochre, to make him blush in such a way as may well harmonize with your devotions. Or if you say that the Hercules must be of your own making, we will raise a subscription in pennies, and buy a god from a workman of your own for you. Only do you at the same time make restitution to us; and as your god Hercules is given back to you, let the lives of the many men whom your violence has destroyed be given back to us.

An invitation to Crispinus, Donatist bishop at Calama, to discuss the whole question of the Donatist schism.

(No salutation at the beginning of the letter.)

1. I have adopted this plan in regard to the heading of this letter, because your party are offended by the humility which I have shown in the salutations prefixed to others. I might be supposed to have done it as an insult to you, were it not that I trust that you will do the same in your reply to me. Why should I say much regarding your promise at Carthage, and my urgency to have it fulfilled? Let the manner in which we then acted to each other be forgotten with the past, lest it should obstruct future conference. Now, unless I am mistaken, there is, by the Lord’s help, no obstacle in the way: we are both in Numidia, and located at no great distance from each other. I have heard it said that you are still willing to examine, in debate with me, the question which separates us from communion with each other. See how promptly all ambiguities may be cleared away: send me an answer to this letter if you please, and perhaps that may be enough, not only for us, but for those also who desire to hear us; or if it is not, let us exchange letters again and again until the discussion is exhausted. For what greater benefit could be secured to us by the comparative nearness of the towns which we inhabit? I have resolved to debate with you in no other way than by letters, in order both to prevent anything that is said from escaping from our memory, and to secure that others interested in the question, but unable to be present at a debate, may not forfeit the instruction. You are accustomed, not with any intention of falsehood, but by mistake, to reproach us with charges such as may suit your purpose, concerning past transactions, which we repudiate as untrue. Therefore, if you please, let us weigh the question in the light of the present, and let the past alone. You are doubtless aware that in the Jewish dispensation the sin of idolatry was committed by the people, and once the book of the prophet of God was burned by a defiant king; the punishment of the sin of schism would not have been more severe than that with which these two were visited, had not the guilt of it been greater. You remember, of course, how the earth opening swallowed up alive the leaders of a schism, and fire from heaven breaking forth destroyed their accomplices. Neither the making and worshipping of an idol, nor the burning of the Holy Book, was deemed worthy of such punishment.

2. You are wont to reproach us with a crime, not proved against us, indeed, though proved beyond question against some of your own party,—the crime, namely, of yielding up, through fear of persecution, the Scriptures to be burned. Let me ask, therefore, why you have received back men whom you condemned for the crime of schism by the “unerring voice of your plenary Council” (I quote from the record), and replaced them in the same episcopal sees as they were in at the time when you passed sentence against them? I refer to Felicianus of Musti and Praetextatus of Assuri. These were not, as you would have the ignorant believe, included among those to whom your Council appointed and intimated a certain time, after the lapse of which, if they had not returned to your communion, the sentence would become final; but they were included among the others whom you condemned, without delay, on the day on which you gave to some, as I have said, a respite. I can prove this, if you deny it. Your own Council is witness. We have also the proconsular Acts, in which you have not once, but often, affirmed this. Provide, therefore, some other line of defence if you can, lest, denying what I can prove, you cause loss of time. If, then, Felicianus and Praetextatus were innocent, why were they thus condemned? If they were guilty, why were they thus restored? If you prove them to have been innocent, can you object to our believing that it was possible for innocent men, falsely charged with being traditors, to be condemned by a much smaller number of your predecessors, if it is found possible for innocent men, falsely charged with being schismatics, to be condemned by three hundred and ten of their successors, whose decision is magniloquently described as proceeding from “the unerring voice of a plenary Council”? If, however, you prove them to have been justly condemned, what can you plead in defence of their being restored to office in the same episcopal sees, unless, magnifying the importance and benefit of peace, you maintain that even such things as these should be tolerated in order to preserve unbroken the bond of unity? Would to God that you would urge this plea, not with the lips only, but with the whole heart! You could not fail then to perceive that no calumnies whatever could justify the breaking up of the peace of Christ throughout the world, if it is lawful in Africa for men, once condemned for impious schism, to be restored to the same office which they held, rather than break up the peace of Donatus and his party.

3. Again, you are wont to reproach us with persecuting you by the help of the civil power. In regard to this, I do not draw an argument either from the demerit involved in the enormity of so great an impiety, nor from the Christian meekness moderating the severity of our measures. I take up this position: if this be a crime, why have you harshly persecuted the Maximianists by the help of judges appointed by those emperors whose spiritual birth by the gospel was due to our Church? Why have you driven them, by the din of controversy, the authority of edicts, and the violence of soldiery, from those buildings for worship which they possessed, and in which they were when they seceded from you? The wrongs endured by them in that struggle in every place are attested by the existing traces of events so recent. Documents declare the orders given. The deeds done are notorious throughout regions in which also the sacred memory of your leader Optatus is mentioned with honour.

4. Again, you are wont to say that we have not the baptism of Christ, and that beyond your communion it is not to be found. On this I would enter into a more lengthened argument; but in dealing with you this is not necessary, seeing that, along with Felicianus and Praetextatus, you admitted also the baptism of the Maximianists as valid. For all whom these bishops baptized so long as they were in communion with Maximianus, while you were doing your utmost in a protracted contest in the civil courts to expel these very men [Felicianus and Praetextatus] from their churches, as the Acts testify,—all those, I say, whom they baptized during that time, they now have in fellowship with them and with you; and though these were baptized by them when excommunicated and in the guilt of schism, not only in cases of extremity through dangerous sickness, but also at the Easter services, in the large number of churches belonging to their cities, and in these important cities themselves,—in the case of none of them has the rite of baptism been repeated. And I wish you could prove that those whom Felicianus and Praetextatus had baptized, as it were, in vain, when they were excommunicated and in the guilt of schism, were satisfactorily baptized again by them when they were restored. For if the renewal of baptism was necessary for the people, the renewal of ordination was not less necessary for the bishops. For they had forfeited their episcopal office by leaving you, if they could not baptize beyond your communion; because, if they had not forfeited their episcopal office by leaving you, they could still baptize. But if they had forfeited their episcopal office, they should have received ordination when they returned, so that what they had lost might be restored. Let not this, however, alarm you. As it is certain that they returned with the same standing as bishops with which they had gone forth from you, so is it also certain that they brought back with themselves to your communion, without any repetition of their baptism, all those whom they had baptized in the schism of Maximianus.

5. How can we weep enough when we see the baptism of the Maximianists acknowledged by you, and the baptism of the Church universal despised? Whether it was with or without hearing their defence, whether it was justly or unjustly, that you condemned Felicianus and Praetextatus, I do not ask; but tell me what bishop of the Corinthian Church ever defended himself at your bar, or received sentence from you? or what bishop of the Galatians has done so, or of the Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, Thessalonians, or of any of the other cities included in the promise: “All the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee”? Yet you accept the baptism of the former, while that of the latter is despised; whereas baptism belongs neither to the one nor to the other, but to Him of whom it was said: “This same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” I do not, however, dwell on this in the meantime: take notice of the things which are beside us—behold what might make an impression even on the blind! Where do we find the baptism which you acknowledge? With those, forsooth, whom you have condemned, but not with those who were never even tried at your bar!—with those who were denounced by name, and cast forth from you for the crime of schism, but not with those who, unknown to you, and dwelling in remote lands, never were accused or condemned by you!—with those who are but a fraction of the inhabitants of a fragment of Africa, but not with those from whose country the gospel first came to Africa! Why should I add to your burden? Let me have an answer to these things. Look to the charge made by your Council against the Maximianists as guilty of impious schism: look to the persecutions by the civil courts to which you appealed against them: look to the fact that you restored some of them without re-ordination, and accepted their baptism as valid: and answer, if you can, whether it is in your power to hide, even from the ignorant, the question why you have separated yourselves from the whole world, in a schism much more heinous than that which you boast of having condemned in the Maximianists? May the peace of Christ triumph in your heart! Then all shall be well.

This letter to his kinsman Severinus, exhorting him to withdraw from the Donatists, contains no new argument.

To Generosus, Our Most Loved and Honourable Brother, Fortunatus, Alypius, and Augustin Send Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. Since you were pleased to acquaint us with the letter sent to you by a Donatist presbyter, although, with the spirit of a true Catholic, you regarded it with contempt, nevertheless, to aid you in seeking his welfare if his folly be not incurable, we beg you to forward to him the following reply. He wrote that an angel had enjoined him to declare to you the episcopal succession of the Christianity of your town; to you, forsooth, who hold the Christianity not of your own town only, nor of Africa only, but of the whole world, the Christianity which has been published, and is now published to all nations. This proves that they think it a small matter that they themselves are not ashamed of being cut off, and are taking no measures, while they may, to be engrafted anew; they are not content unless they do their utmost to cut others off, and bring them to share their own fate, as withered branches fit for the flames. Wherefore, even if you had yourself been visited by that angel whom he affirms to have appeared to him,—a statement which we regard as a cunning fiction; and if the angel had said to you the very words which he, on the warrant of the alleged command, repeated to you,—even in that case it would have been your duty to remember the words of the apostle: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” For to you it was proclaimed by the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that His “gospel shall be preached unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” To you it has moreover been proclaimed by the writings of the prophets and of the apostles, that the promises were given to Abraham and to his seed, which is Christ, when God said unto him: “In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.” Having then such promises, if an angel from heaven were to say to thee, “Let go the Christianity of the whole earth, and cling to the faction of Donatus, the episcopal succession of which is set forth in a letter of their bishop in your town,” he ought to be accursed in your estimation; because he would be endeavouring to cut you off from the whole Church, and thrust you into a small party, and make you forfeit your interest in the promises of God.

2. For if the lineal succession of bishops is to be taken into account, with how much more certainty and benefit to the Church do we reckon back till we reach Peter himself, to whom, as bearing in a figure the whole Church, the Lord said: “Upon this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!” The successor of Peter was Linus, and his successors in unbroken continuity were these:—Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Sixtus, Telesphorus, Iginus, Anicetus, Pius, Soter, Eleutherius, Victor, Zephirinus, Calixtus, Urbanus, Pontianus, Antherus, Fabianus, Cornelius, Lucius, Stephanus, Xystus, Dionysius, Felix, Eutychianus, Gaius, Marcellinus, Marcellus, Eusebius, Miltiades, Sylvester, Marcus, Julius, Liberius, Damasus, and Siricius, whose successor is the present Bishop Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop is found. But, reversing the natural course of things, the Donatists sent to Rome from Africa an ordained bishop, who, putting himself at the head of a few Africans in the great metropolis, gave some notoriety to the name of “mountain men,” or Cutzupits, by which they were known.

3. Now, even although some traditor had in the course of these centuries, through inadvertence, obtained a place in that order of bishops, reaching from Peter himself to Anastasius, who now occupies that see,—this fact would do no harm to the Church and to Christians having no share in the guilt of another; for the Lord, providing against such a case, says, concerning officers in the Church who are wicked: “All whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Thus the stability of the hope of the faithful is secured, inasmuch as being fixed, not in man, but in the Lord, it never can be swept away by the raging of impious schism; whereas they themselves are swept away who read in the Holy Scriptures the names of churches to which the apostles wrote, and in which they have no bishop. For what could more clearly prove their perversity and their folly, than their saying to their clergy, when they read these letters, “Peace be with thee,” at the very time that they are themselves disjoined from the peace of those churches to which the letters were originally written?

Chap. II

4. Lest, however, he should congratulate himself too much on the succession of bishops in Constantina, your own city, read to him the records of proceedings before Munatius Felix, the resident Flamen [heathen priest], who was governor of your city in the consulship of Diocletian for the eighth time, and Maximian for the seventh, on the eleventh day before the calends of June. By these records it is proved that the bishop Paulus was a traditor; the fact being that Sylvanus was then one of his sub-deacons, and, along with him, produced and surrendered certain things belonging to the Lord’s house, which had been most carefully concealed, namely a box and a lamp of silver, upon seeing which a certain Victor is reported to have said, “You would have been put to death if you had not found these.” Your Donatist priest makes great account of this Sylvanus, this clearly convicted traditor, in the letter which he writes you, mentioning him as then ordained to the office of bishop by the Primate Secundus of Tigisis. Let them keep their proud tongues silent, let them admit the charges which may truly be brought against themselves, and not utter foolish calumnies against others. Read to him also, if he permits it, the ecclesiastical records of the proceedings of this same Secundus of Tigisis in the house of Urbanus Donatus, in which he remitted to God, as judge, men who confessed themselves to have been traditors—Donatus of Masculi, Marinns of Aquae Tibilitanae, Donatus of Calama, with whom as his colleagues, though they were confessed traditors, he ordained their bishop Sylvanus, of whose guilt in the same matter I have given the history above. Read to him also the proceedings before Zenophilus, a man of consular rank, in the course of which a certain deacon of theirs, Nundinarius, being angry with Sylvanus for having excommunicated him, brought all these facts into court, proving them incontestably by authentic documents, and the questioning of witnesses, and the reading of public records and many letters.

5. There are many other things which you might read in his hearing, if he is disposed not to dispute angrily, but to listen prudently, such as: the petition of the Donatists to Constantine, begging him to send from Gaul bishops who should settle this controversy which divided the African bishops; the Acts recording what took place in Rome, when the case was taken up and decided by the bishops whom he sent thither: also you might read in other letters how the Emperor aforesaid states that they had made a complaint to him against the decision of their peers—the bishops, namely, whom he had sent to Rome; how he appointed other bishops to try the case over again at Arles; how they appealed from that tribunal also to the Emperor again; how at last he himself investigated the matter; and how he most emphatically declares that they were vanquished by the innocence of Caecilianus. Let him listen to these things if he be willing, and he will be silent and desist from plotting against the truth.

Chap. III

6. We rely, however, not so much on these documents as on the Holy Scriptures, wherein a dominion extending to the ends of the earth among all nations is promised as the heritage of Christ, separated from which by their sinful schism they reproach us with the crimes which belong to the chaff in the Lord’s threshing-floor, which must be permitted to remain mixed with the good grain until the end come, until the whole be winnowed in the final judgment. From which it is manifest that, whether these charges be true or false, they do not belong to the Lord’s wheat, which must grow until the end of the world throughout the whole field, i.e. the whole earth; as we know, not by the testimony of a false angel such as confirmed your correspondent in his error, but from the words of the Lord in the Gospel. And because these unhappy Donatists have brought the reproach of many false and empty accusations against Christians who were blameless, but who are throughout the world mingled with the chaff or tares, i.e. with Christians unworthy of the name, therefore God has, in righteous retribution, appointed that they should, by their universal Council, condemn as schismatics the Maximianists, because they had condemned Primianus, and baptized while not in communion with Primianus, and rebaptized those whom he had baptized, and then after a short interval should, under the coercion of Optatus the minion of Gildo, reinstate in the honours of their office two of these, the bishops Felicianus of Musti and Praetextatus of Assuri, and acknowledge the baptism of all whom they, while under sentence and excommunicated, had baptized. If, therefore, they are not defiled by communion with the men thus restored again to their office,—men whom with their own mouth they had condemned as wicked and impious, and whom they compared to those first heretics whom the earth swallowed up alive,—let them at last awake and consider how great is their blindness and folly in pronouncing the whole world defiled by unknown crimes of Africans, and the heritage of Christ (which according to the promise has been shown unto all nations) destroyed through the sins of these Africans by the maintenance of communion with them; while they refuse to acknowledge themselves to be destroyed and defiled by communicating with men whose crimes they had both known and condemned.

7. Wherefore, since the Apostle Paul says in another place, that even Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and that therefore it is not strange that his servants should assume the guise of ministers of righteousness: if your correspondent did indeed see an angel teaching him error, and desiring to separate Christians from the Catholic unity, he has met with an angel of Satan transforming himself into an angel of light. If, however, he has lied to you, and has seen no such vision, he is himself a servant of Satan, assuming the guise of a minister of righteousness. And yet, if he be not incorrigibly obstinate and perverse, he may, by considering all the things now stated, be delivered both from misleading others, and from being himself misled. For, embracing the opportunity which you have given, we have met him without any rancour, remembering in regard to him the words of the apostle: “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” If, therefore, we have said anything severe, let him know that it arises not from the bitterness of controversy, but from love vehemently desiring his return to the right path. May you live safe in Christ, most beloved and honourable brother!

Styled also Book I. of Replies to Questions of Januarius.

To His Beloved Son Januarius, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. In regard to the questions which you have asked me, I would like to have known what your own answers would have been; for thus I might have made my reply in fewer words, and might most easily confirm or correct your opinions, by approving or amending the answers which you had given. This I would have greatly preferred. But desiring to answer you at once, I think it better to write a long letter than incur loss of time. I desire you therefore, in the first place, to hold fast this as the fundamental principle in the present discussion, that our Lord Jesus Christ has appointed to us a “light yoke” and an “easy burden,” as He declares in the Gospel: in accordance with which He has bound His people under the new dispensation together in fellowship by sacraments, which are in number very few, in observance most easy, and in significance most excellent, as baptism solemnized in the name of the Trinity, the communion of His body and blood, and such other things as are prescribed in the canonical Scriptures, with the exception of those enactments which were a yoke of bondage to God’s ancient people, suited to their state of heart and to the times of the prophets, and which are found in the five books of Moses. As to those other things which we hold on the authority, not of Scripture, but of tradition, and which are observed throughout the whole world, it may be understood that they are held as approved and instituted either by the apostles themselves, or by plenary Councils, whose authority in the Church is most useful, e.g. the annual commemoration, by special solemnities, of the Lord’s passion, resurrection, and ascension, and of the descent of the Holy Spirit from heaven, and whatever else is in like manner observed by the whole Church wherever it has been established.

Chap. II

2. There are other things, however, which are different in different places and countries: e.g., some fast on Saturday, others do not; some partake daily of the body and blood of Christ, others receive it on stated days: in some places no day passes without the sacrifice being offered; in others it is only on Saturday and the Lord’s day, or it may be only on the Lord’s day. In regard to these and all other variable observances which may be met anywhere, one is at liberty to comply with them or not as he chooses; and there is no better rule for the wise and serious Christian in this matter, than to conform to the practice which he finds prevailing in the Church to which it may be his lot to come. For such a custom, if it is clearly not contrary to the faith nor to sound morality, is to be held as a thing indifferent, and ought to be observed for the sake of fellowship with those among whom we live.

3. I think you may have heard me relate before, what I will nevertheless now mention. When my mother followed me to Milan, she found the Church there not fasting on Saturday. She began to be troubled, and to hesitate as to what she should do; upon which I, though not taking a personal interest then in such things, applied on her behalf to Ambrose, of most blessed memory, for his advice. He answered that he could not teach me anything but what he himself practised, because if he knew any better rule, he would observe it himself. When I supposed that he intended, on the ground of his authority alone, and without supporting it by any argument, to recommend us to give up fasting on Saturday, he followed me, and said: “When I visit Rome, I fast on Saturday; when I am here, I do not fast. On the same principle, do you observe the custom prevailing in whatever Church you come to, if you desire neither to give offence by your conduct, nor to find cause of offence in another’s.” When I reported this to my mother, she accepted it gladly; and for myself, after frequently reconsidering his decision, I have always esteemed it as if I had received it by an oracle from heaven. For often have I perceived, with extreme sorrow, many disquietudes caused to weak brethren by the contentious pertinacity or superstitious vacillation of some who, in matters of this kind, which do not admit of final decision by the authority of Holy Scripture, or by the tradition of the universal Church or by their manifest good influence on manners raise questions, it may be, from some crotchet of their own, or from attachment to the custom followed in one’s own country, or from preference for that which one has seen abroad, supposing that wisdom is increased in proportion to the distance to which men travel from home, and agitate these questions with such keenness, that they think all is wrong except what they do themselves.

Chap. III

4. Some one may say, “The Eucharist ought not to be taken every day.” You ask, “On what grounds?” He answers, “Because, in order that a man may approach worthily to so great a sacrament, he ought to choose those days upon which he lives in more special purity and self-restraint; for whosoever eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.’“ Another answers, “Certainly; if the wound inflicted by sin and the violence of the soul’s distemper be such that the use of these remedies must be put off for a time, every man in this case should be, by the authority of the bishop, forbidden to approach the altar, and appointed to do penance, and should be afterwards restored to privileges by the same authority; for this would be partaking unworthily, if one should partake of it at a time when he ought to be doing penance, and it is not a matter to be left to one’s own judgment to withdraw himself from the communion of the Church, or restore himself, as he pleases. If, however, his sins are not so great as to bring him justly under sentence of excommunication, he ought not to withdraw himself from the daily use of the Lord’s body for the healing of his soul.” Perhaps a third party interposes with a more just decision of the question, reminding them that the principal thing is to remain united in the peace of Christ, and that each should be free to do what, according to his belief, he conscientiously regards as his duty. For neither of them lightly esteems the body and blood of the Lord; on the contrary, both are contending who shall most highly honour the sacrament fraught with blessing. There was no controversy between those two mentioned in the Gospel, Zacchaeus and the Centurion; nor did either of them think himself better than the other, though, whereas the former received the Lord joyfully into his house, the latter said, “I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof,”—both honouring the Saviour, though in ways diverse and, as it were, mutually opposed; both miserable through sin, and both obtaining the mercy they required. We may further borrow an illustration here, from the fact that the manna given to the ancient people of God tasted in each man’s mouth as he desired that it might. It is the same with this world-subduing sacrament in the heart of each Christian. For he that dares not take it every day, and he who dares not omit it any day, are both alike moved by a desire to do it honour. That sacred food will not submit to be despised, as the manna could not be loathed with impunity. Hence the apostle says that it was unworthily partaken of by those who did not distinguish between this and all other meats, by yielding to it the special veneration which was due; for to the words quoted already, “eateth and drinketh judgment to himself,” he has added these, “not discerning the Lord’s body;” and this is apparent from the whole of that passage in the first Epistle to the Corinthians, if it be carefully studied.

Chap. IV

5. Suppose some foreigner visit a place in which during Lent it is customary to abstain from the use of the bath, and to continue fasting on Thursday. “I will not fast today,” he says. The reason being asked, he says, “Such is not the custom in my own country.” Is not he, by such conduct, attempting to assert the superiority of his custom over theirs? For he cannot quote a decisive passage on the subject from the Book of God; nor can he prove his opinion to be right by the unanimous voice of the universal Church, wherever spread abroad; nor can he demonstrate that they act contrary to the faith, and he according to it, or that they are doing what is prejudicial to sound morality, and he is defending its interests. Those men injure their own tranquillity and peace by quarrelling on an unnecessary question. I would rather recommend that, in matters of this kind, each man should, when sojourning in a country in which he finds a custom different from his own consent to do as others do. If, on the other hand, a Christian, when travelling abroad in some region where the people of God are more numerous, and more easily assembled together, and more zealous in religion, has seen, e.g., the sacrifice twice offered, both morning and evening, on the Thursday of the last week in Lent, and therefore, on his coming back to his own country, where it is offered only at the close of the day, protests against this as wrong and unlawful, because he has himself seen another custom in another land, this would show a childish weakness of judgment against which we should guard ourselves, and which we must bear with in others, but correct in all who are under our influence.

Chap. V

6. Observe now to which of these three classes the first question in your letter is to be referred. You ask, “What ought to be done on the Thursday of the last week of Lent? Ought we to offer the sacrifice in the morning, and again after supper, on account of the words in the Gospel, Likewise also . . . after supper’? Or ought we to fast and offer the sacrifice only after supper? Or ought we to fast until the offering has been made, and then take supper as we are accustomed to do?” I answer, therefore, that if the authority of Scripture has decided which of these methods is right, there is no room for doubting that we should do according to that which is written; and our discussion must be occupied with a question, not of duty, but of interpretation as to the meaning of the divine institution. In like manner, if the universal Church follows any one of these methods, there is no room for doubt as to our duty; for it would be the height of arrogant madness to discuss whether or not we should comply with it. But the question which you propose is not decided either by Scripture or by universal practice. It must therefore be referred to the third class—as pertaining, namely, to things which are different in different places and countries. Let every man, therefore, conform himself to the usage prevailing in the Church to which he may come. For none of these methods is contrary to the Christian faith or the interests of morality, as favoured by the adoption of one custom more than the other. If this were the case, that either the faith or sound morality were at stake, it would be necessary either to change what was done amiss, or to appoint the doing of what had been neglected. But mere change of custom, even though it may be of advantage in some respects, unsettles men by reason of the novelty: therefore, if it brings no advantage, it does much harm by unprofitably disturbing the Church.

7. Let me add, that it would be a mistake to suppose that the custom prevalent in many places, of offering the sacrifice on that day after partaking of food, is to be traced to the words, “Likewise after supper,” etc. For the Lord might give the name of supper to what they had received, in already partaking of His body, so that it was after this that they partook of the cup: as the apostle says in another place, “When ye come together into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,” giving to the receiving of the Eucharist to that extent (i.e. the eating of the bread) the name of the Lord’s Supper.

Chap. VI

As to the question whether upon that day it is right to partake of food before either offering or partaking of the Eucharist, these words in the Gospel might go far to decide our minds, “As they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it;” taken in connection with the words in the preceding context, “When the even was come, He sat down with the twelve: and as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.” For it was after that that He instituted the sacrament; and it is clear that when the disciples first received the body and blood of the Lord, they had not been fasting.

8. Must we therefore censure the universal Church because the sacrament is everywhere partaken of by persons fasting? Nay, verily, for from that time it pleased the Holy Spirit to appoint, for the honour of so great a sacrament, that the body of the Lord should take the precedence of all other food entering the mouth of a Christian; and it is for this reason that the custom referred to is universally observed. For the fact that the Lord instituted the sacrament after other food had been partaken of, does not prove that brethren should come together to partake of that sacrament after having dined or supped, or imitate those whom the apostle reproved and corrected for not distinguishing between the Lord’s Supper and an ordinary meal. The Saviour, indeed, in order to commend the depth of that mystery more affectingly to His disciples, was pleased to impress it on their hearts and memories by making its institution His last act before going from them to His Passion. And therefore He did not prescribe the order in which it was to be observed, reserving this to be done by the apostles, through whom He intended to arrange all things pertaining to the Churches. Had He appointed that the sacrament should be always partaken of after other food, I believe that no one would have departed from that practice. But when the apostle, speaking of this sacrament, says, “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another: and if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation,” he immediately adds, “and the rest will I set in order when I come.” Whence we are given to understand that, since it was too much for him to prescribe completely in an epistle the method observed by the universal Church throughout the world, it was one of the things set in order by him in person, for we find its observance uniform amid all the variety of other customs.

Chap. VII

9. There are, indeed, some to whom it has seemed right (and their view is not unreasonable), that it is lawful for the body and blood of the Lord to be offered and received after other food has been partaken of, on one fixed day of the year, the day on which the Lord instituted the Supper, in order to give special solemnity to the service on that anniversary. I think that, in this case, it would be more seemly to have it celebrated at such an hour as would leave it in the power of any who have fasted to attend the service before the repast which is customary at the ninth hour. Wherefore we neither compel nor do we dare to forbid any one to break his fast before the Lord’s Supper on that day. I believe, however, that the real ground upon which this custom rests is, that many, nay, almost all, are accustomed in most places to use the bath on that day. And because some continue to fast, it is offered in the morning, for those who take food, because they cannot bear fasting and the use of the bath at the same time; and in the evening, for those who have fasted all day.

10. If you ask me whence originated the custom of using the bath on that day, nothing occurs to me, when I think of it, as more likely than that it was to avoid the offence to decency which must have been given at the baptismal font, if the bodies of those to whom that rite was to be administered were not washed on some preceding day from the uncleanness consequent upon their strict abstinence from ablutions during Lent; and that this particular day was chosen for the purpose because of its being the anniversary of the institution of the Supper. And this being granted to those who were about to receive baptism, many others desired to join them in the luxury of a bath, and in relaxation of their fast.

Having discussed these questions to the best of my ability, I exhort you to observe, in so far as you may be able, what I have laid down, as becomes a wise and peace-loving son of the Church. The remainder of your questions I purpose, if the Lord will, to answer at another time.

Or Book II. of Replies to Questions of Januarius.

Chap. I

1. Having read the letter in which you have put me in mind of my obligation to give answers to the remainder of those questions which you submitted to me a long time ago, I cannot bear to defer any longer the gratification of that desire for instruction which it gives me so much pleasure and comfort to see in you; and although encompassed by an accumulation of engagements, I have given the first place to the work of supplying you with the answers desired. I will make no further comment on the contents of your letter, lest my doing so should prevent me from paying at length what I owe.

2. You ask, “Wherefore does the anniversary on which we celebrate the Passion of the Lord not fall, like the day which tradition has handed down as the day of His birth, on the same day every year?” and you add, “If the reason of this is connected with the week and the month, what have we to do with the day of the week or the state of the moon in this solemnity?” The first thing which you must know and remember here is, that the observance of the Lord’s natal day is not sacramental, but only commemorative of His birth, and that therefore no more was in this case necessary, than that the return of the day on which the event took place should be marked by an annual religious festival. The celebration of an event becomes sacramental in its nature, only when the commemoration of the event is so ordered that it is understood to be significant of something which is to be received with reverence as sacred. Therefore we observe Easter in such a manner as not only to recall the facts of the death and resurrection of Christ to remembrance, but also to find a place for all the other things which, in connection with these events, give evidence as to the import of the sacrament. For since, as the apostle wrote, “He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” a certain transition from death to life has been consecrated in that Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. For the word Pascha itself is not, as is commonly thought, a Greek word: those who are acquainted with both languages affirm it to be a Hebrew word. It is not derived, therefore, from the Passion, because of the Greek word paschein, signifying to suffer, but it takes its name from the transition, of which I have spoken, from death to life; the meaning of the Hebrew word Pascha being, as those who are acquainted with it assure us, a passing over or transition. To this the Lord Himself designed to allude, when He said,” He that believeth in Me is passed from death to life.” And the same evangelist who records that saying is to be understood as desiring to give emphatic testimony to this, when, speaking of the Lord as about to celebrate with His disciples the passover, at which He instituted the sacramental supper, he says, “When Jesus knew that His hour was come, that He should depart from this world unto the Father.” This passing over from this mortal life to the other, the immortal life, that is, from death to life, is set forth in the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord.

Chap. II

3. This passing from death to life is meanwhile wrought in us by faith, which we have for the pardon of our sins and the hope of eternal life, when we love God and our neighbour; “for faith worketh by love,” and “the just shall live by his faith;” “and hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” According to this faith and hope and love, by which we have begun to be “under grace,” we are already dead together with Christ, and buried together with Him by baptism into death; as the apostle hath said, “Our old man is crucified with Him;” and we have risen with Him, for “He hath raised us up together, and made us sit with Him in heavenly places.” Whence also he gives this exhortation: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” In the next words, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory,” he plainly gives us to understand that our passing in this present time from death to life by faith is accomplished in the hope of that future final resurrection and glory, when “this corruptible,” that is, this flesh in which we now groan, “shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.” For now, indeed, we have by faith “the first-fruits of the Spirit;” but still we “groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body: for we are saved by hope.” While we are in this hope, “the body indeed is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” Now mark what follows: “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” The whole Church, therefore, while here in the conditions of pilgrimage and mortality, expects that to be accomplished in her at the end of the world which has been shown first in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the first-begotten from the dead,” seeing that the body of which He is the Head is none other than the Church.

Chap. III

4. Some, indeed, studying the words so frequently used by the apostle, about our being dead with Christ and raised together with Him, and misunderstanding the sense in which they are used, have thought that the resurrection is already past, and that no other is to be hoped for at the end of time: “Of whom,” he says, “are Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.” The same apostle who thus reproves and testifies against them, teaches nevertheless that we are risen with Christ. How is the apparent contradiction to be removed, unless he means that this is accomplished in us by faith and hope and love, according to the first-fruits of the Spirit? But because “hope which is seen is not hope,” and therefore “if we hope for that we see not, we do with patience wait for it,” it is beyond question that there remains, as still future, the redemption of the body, in longing for which we “groan within ourselves.” Hence also that saying, “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation.”

5. This renewal, therefore, of our life is a kind of transition from death to life which is made first by faith, so that we rejoice in hope and are patient in tribulation, while still “our outward man perisheth, but the inward man is renewed day by day.” It is because of this beginning of a new life, because of the new man which we are commanded to put on, putting off the old man, “purging out the old leaven, that we may be a new lump, because Christ our passover is sacrificed for us;” it is, I say, because of this newness of life in us, that the first of the months of the year has been appointed as the season of this solemnity. This very name is given to it, the month Abib, or beginning of months. Again, the resurrection of the Lord was upon the third day, because with it the third epoch of the world began. The first Epoch was before the Law, the second under the Law, the third under Grace, in which there is now the manifestation of the mystery, which was formerly hidden under dark prophetic sayings. This is accordingly signified also in the part of the month appointed for the celebration; for, since the number seven is usually employed in Scripture as a mystical number, indicating perfection of some kind, the day of the celebration of Easter is within the third week of the month, namely, between the fourteenth and the twenty-first day.

Chap. IV

6. There is in this another mystery, and you are not to be distressed if perhaps it be not so readily perceived by you, because of your being less versed in such studies; nor are you to think me any better than you, because I learned these things in early years: for the Lord saith, “Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord.” Some men who give attention to such studies, have investigated many things concerning the numbers and motions of the heavenly bodies. And those who have done this most ably have found that the waxing and waning of the moon are due to the turning of its globe, and not to any such actual addition to or diminution of its substance as is supposed by the foolish Manichaeans, who say that as a ship is filled, so the moon is filled with a fugitive portion of the Divine Being, which they, with impious heart and lips, do not hesitate to believe and to declare to have become mingled with the rulers of darkness, and contaminated with their pollution. And they account for the waxing of the moon by saying that it takes place when that lost portion of the Deity, being purified from contamination by great labours, escaping from the whole world, and from all foul abominations, is restored to the Deity, who mourns till it returns; that by this the moon is filled up till the middle of the month, and that in the latter half of the month this is poured back into the sun as into another ship. Amid these execrable blasphemies, they have never succeeded in devising any way of explaining why the moon in the beginning or end of its brightness shines with its light in the shape of a horn, or why it begins at the middle of the month to wane, and does not go on full until it pour back its increase into the sun.

7. Those, however, to whom I refer have inquired into these things with trustworthy calculations, so that they can not only state the reason of eclipses, both solar and lunar, but also predict their occurrence long before they take place, and are able to determine by mathematical computation the precise intervals at which these must happen, and to state the results in treatises, by reading and understanding which any others may foretell as well as they the coming of these eclipses, and find their prediction verified by the event. Such men,—and they deserve censure, as Holy Scripture teaches, because “though they had wisdom enough to measure the periods of this world, they did not much more easily come,” as by humble piety they might have done, “to the knowledge of its Lord,”—such men, I say, have inferred from the horns of the moon, which both in waxing and in waning are turned from the sun, either that the moon is illuminated by the sun, and that the farther it recedes from the sun the more fully does it lie exposed to its rays on the side which is visible from the earth; but that the more it approaches the sun, after the middle of the month, on the other half of its orbit, it becomes more fully illuminated on the upper part, and less and less open to receive the sun’s rays on the side which is turned to the earth, and seems to us accordingly to decrease: or, that if the moon has light in itself, it has this light in the hemisphere on one side only, which side it gradually turns more to the earth as it recedes from the sun, until it is fully displayed, thereby exhibiting an apparent increase, not by the addition of what was deficient, but by disclosing what was already there; and that, in like manner, going towards the sun, the moon again gradually turns from our view that which had been disclosed, and so appears to decrease. Whichever of these two theories be correct, this at least is plain, and is easily discovered by any careful observer, that the moon does not to our eyes increase except when it is receding from the sun, nor decrease except when returning towards the sun.

Chap. V

8. Now mark what is said in Proverbs: “The wise man is fixed like the sun; but the fool changes like the moon.” And who is the wise that has no changes, but that Sun of Righteousness of whom it is said, “The Sun of righteousness has risen upon me,” and of which the wicked shall say, when mourning in the day of judgment that it has not risen upon them, “The light of righteousness hath not shone upon us, and the sun hath not risen upon us”? For that sun which is visible to the eye of sense, God makes to rise upon the evil and the good alike, as He sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust; but apt similitudes are often borrowed from things visible to explain things invisible. Again, who is the “fool” who “changes like the moon,” if not Adam, in whom all have sinned? For the soul of man, receding from the Sun of righteousness, that is to say, from the internal contemplation of unchangeable truth, turns all its strength towards external things, and becomes more and more darkened in its deeper and nobler powers; but when the soul begins to return to that unchangeable wisdom, the more it draws near to it with pious desire, the more does the outward man perish, but the inward man is renewed day by day, and all that light of the soul which was inclining to things that are beneath is turned to the things that are above, and is thus withdrawn from the things of earth; so that it dies more and more to this world, and its life is hid with Christ in God.

9. It is therefore for the worse that the soul is changed when it moves in the direction of external things, and throws aside that which pertains to the inner life; and to the earth, i.e. to those who mind earthly things, the soul looks better in such a case, for by them the wicked is commended for his heart’s desire, and the unrighteous is blessed. But it is for the better that the soul is changed, when it gradually turns away its aims and ambition from earthly things, which appear important in this world, and directs them to things nobler and unseen; and to the earth, i.e. to men who mind earthly things, the soul in such a case seems worse. Hence those wicked men who at last shall in vain repent of their sins, will say this among other things: “These are the men whom once we derided and reproached; we in our folly esteemed their way of life to be madness.” Now the Holy Spirit, drawing a comparison from things visible to things invisible, from things corporeal to spiritual mysteries, has been pleased to appoint that the feast symbolical of the passing from the old life to the new, which is signified by the name Pascha, should be observed between the 14th and 21st days of the month,—after the 14th, in order that a twofold illustration of spiritual realities might be gained, both with respect to the third epoch of the world, which is the reason of its occurrence in the third week, as I have already said, and with respect to the turning of the soul from external to internal things,—a change corresponding to the change in the moon when on the wane; not later than the 21st, because of the number 7 itself, which is often used to represent the notion of the universe, and is also applied to the Church on the ground of her likeness to the universe.

Chap. VI

10. For this reason the Apostle John writes in the Apocalypse to seven churches. The Church, moreover, while it remains under the conditions of our mortal life in the flesh, is, on account of her liability to change, spoken of Scripture by the name of the moon; e.g., “They have made ready their arrows in the quiver, that they may, while the moon is obscured, wound those who are upright in heart.” For before that comes to pass of which the apostle says, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory,” the Church seems in the time of her pilgrimage obscured, groaning under many iniquities; and at such a time, the snares of those who deceive and lead astray are to be feared, and these are intended by the word “arrows” in this passage. Again, we have another instance in Psalm lxxxix., where, because of the faithful witnesses which she everywhere brings forth on the side of truth, the Church is called “the moon, a faithful witness in heaven.” And when the Psalmist sang of the Lord’s kingdom, he said, “In His days shall be righteousness and abundance of peace, until the moon be destroyed;” i.e. abundance of peace shall increase so greatly, until He shall at length take away all the changeableness incidental to this mortal condition. Then shall death, the last enemy, be destroyed; and whatever obstacle to the perfection of our peace is due to the infirmity of our flesh shall be utterly consumed when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality. We have another instance in this, that the walls of the town named Jericho—which in the Hebrew tongue is said to signify “moon”—fell when they had been compassed for the seventh time by the ark of the covenant borne round the city. For what else is conveyed by the promise of the coming of the heavenly kingdom, which was symbolized in the carrying of the ark round Jericho, than that all the strongholds of this mortal life, i.e. every hope pertaining to this world which resists the hope of the world to come, must be destroyed, with the soul’s free consent, by the sevenfold gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it was, that when the ark was going round, those walls fell, not by violent assault, but of themselves. There are, besides these, other passages in Scripture which, speaking of the moon, impress upon us under that figure the condition of the Church while here, amid cares and labours, she is a pilgrim under the lot of mortality, and far from that Jerusalem of which the holy angels are the citizens.

11. These foolish men who refuse to be changed for the better have no reason, however, to imagine that worship is due to those heavenly luminaries because a similitude is occasionally borrowed from them for the representation of divine mysteries; for such are borrowed from every created thing. Nor is there any reason for our incurring the sentence of condemnation which is pronounced by the apostle on some who worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. We do not adore sheep or cattle, although Christ is called both a Lamb, and by the prophet a young bullock; nor any beast of prey, though He is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah; nor a stone, although Christ is called a Rock; nor Mount Zion, though in it there was a type of the Church. And, in like manner, we do not adore the sun or the moon, although, in order to convey instruction in holy mysteries, figures of sacred things are borrowed from these celestial works of the Creator, as they are also from many of the things which He hath made on earth.

Chap. VII

12. We are therefore bound to denounce with abhorrence and contempt the ravings of the astrologers, who, when we find fault with the empty inventions by which they cast other men down into the delusions where into they themselves have fallen, imagine that they answer well when they say, “Why, then, do you regulate the time of the observance of Easter by calculation of the positions of the sun and moon?”—as if that with which we find fault was the arrangements of the heavenly bodies, or the succession of the seasons, which are appointed by God in His infinite power and goodness, and not their perversity in abusing, for the support of the most absurd opinions, those things which God has ordered in perfect wisdom. If the astrologer may on this ground forbid us from drawing comparisons from the heavenly bodies for the mystical representation of sacramental realities, then the augurs may with equal reason prevent the use of these words of Scripture, “Be harmless as doves;” and the snake-charmers may forbid that other exhortation, “Be wise as serpents;” while the play-actors may interfere with our mentioning the harp in the book of Psalms. Let them therefore say, if they please, that, because similitudes for the exhibition of the mysteries of God’s word are taken from the things which I have named, we are chargeable either with consulting the omens given by the flight of birds, or with concocting the poisons of the charmer, or with taking pleasure in the excesses of the theatre,—a statement which would be the clime of absurdity.

13. We do not forecast the issues of our enterprises by studying the sun and moon, and the times of the year or of the month, lest in the most trying emergencies of life, we, being dashed against the rocks of a wretched bondage, shall make shipwreck of our freedom of will; but with the most pious devoutness of spirit, we accept similitudes adapted to the illustration of holy things, which these heavenly bodies furnish, just as from all other works of creation, the winds, the sea, the land, birds, fishes, cattle, trees, men, etc., we borrow in our discourses manifold figures; and in the celebration of sacraments, the very few things which the comparative liberty of the Christian dispensation has prescribed, such as water, bread, wine, and oil. Under the bondage, however, of the ancient dispensation many rites were prescribed, which are made known to us only for our instruction as to their meaning. We do not now observe years, and months, and seasons, lest the words of the apostle apply to us, “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” For he blames those who say, “I will not set out to-day, because it is an unlucky day, or because the moon is so and so;” or, “I will go to-day, that things may prosper with me, because the position of the stars is this or that; I will do no business this month, because a particular star rules it;” or, “I will do business, because another star has succeeded in its place; I will not plant a vineyard this year, because it is leap year.” No man of ordinary sense would, however, suppose that those men deserve reproof for studying the seasons, who say, e.g., “I will not set out to-day, because a storm has begun;” or, “I will not put to sea, because the winter is not yet past;” or, “It is time to sow my seed, for the earth has been saturated with the showers of autumn;” and so on, in regard to any other natural effects of the motion and moisture of the atmosphere which have been observed in connection with that consummately ordered revolution of the heavenly bodies concerning which it was said when they were made, “Let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years.” And in like manner, whensoever illustrative symbols are borrowed, for the declaration of spiritual mysteries, from created things, not only from the heaven and its orbs, but also from meaner creatures, this is done to give to the doctrine of salvation an eloquence adapted to raise the affections of those who receive it from things seen, corporeal and temporal, to things unseen, spiritual and eternal.

Chap. VIII

14. None of us gives any consideration to the circumstance that, at the time at which we observe Easter, the sun is in the Ram, as they call a certain region of the heavenly bodies, in which the sun is, in fact, found at the beginning of the months; but whether they, choose to call that part of the heavens the Ram or anything else, we have learned this from the Sacred Scriptures, that God made all the heavenly bodies, and appointed their places as it pleased Him; and whatever the parts may be into which astronomers divide the regions set apart and ordained for the different constellations, and whatever the names by which they distinguish them, the place occupied by the sun in the first month is that in which the celebration of this sacrament behoved to find that luminary, because of the illustration of a holy mystery in the renovation of life, of which I have already spoken sufficiently. If, however, the name of Ram could be given to that portion of the heavenly bodies because of some correspondence between their form and the name, the word of God would not hesitate to borrow from anything of this kind an illustration of a holy mystery, as it has done not only from other celestial bodies, but also from terrestrial things, e.g. from Orion and the Pleiades, Mount Zion, Mount Sinai, and the rivers of which the names are given, Gihon, Pison, Tigris, Euphrates, and particularly from the river Jordan, which is so often named in the sacred mysteries.

15. But who can fail to perceive how great is the difference between useful observations of the heavenly bodies in connection with the weather, such as farmers or sailors make; or in order to mark the part of the world in which they are, and the course which they should follow, such as are made by pilots of ships or men going through the trackless sandy deserts of southern Africa; or in order to present some useful doctrine under a figure borrowed from some facts concerning heavenly bodies;—and the vain hallucinations of men who observe the heavens not to know the weather, or their course, or to make scientific calculations, or to find illustrations of spiritual things, but merely to pry into the future and learn now what fate has decreed?

Chap. IX

16. Let us now direct our minds to observe the reason why, in the celebration of Easter, care is taken to appoint the day so that Saturday precedes it: for this is peculiar to the Christian religion. The Jews keep the Passover from the 14th to the 21st of the first month, on whatever day that week begins. But since at the Passover at which the Lord suffered, it was the case that the Jewish Sabbath came in between His death and His resurrection, our fathers have judged it right to add this specialty to their celebration of Easter, both that our feast might be distinguished from the Jewish Passover, and that succeeding generations might retain in their annual commemoration of His Passion that which we must believe to have been done for some good reason, by Him who is before the times, by whom also the times have been made, and who came in the fulness of the times, and who when He said, Mine hour is not yet come, had the power of laying down His life and taking it again, and was therefore waiting for an hour not fixed by blind fate, but suitable to the holy mystery which He had resolved to commend to our observation.

17. That which we here hold in faith and hope, and to which by love we labour to come, is, as I have said above, a certain holy and perpetual rest from the whole burden of every kind of care; and from this life unto that rest we make a transition which our Lord Jesus Christ condescended to exemplify and consecrate in His Passion. This rest, however, is not a slothful inaction, but a certain ineffable tranquillity caused by work in which there is no painful effort. For the repose on which one enters at the end of the toils of this life is of such a nature as consists with lively joy in the active exercises of the better life. Forasmuch, however, as this activity is exercised in praising God without bodily toil or mental anxiety, the transition to that activity is not made through a repose which is to be followed by labour, i.e. a repose which, at the point where activity begins, ceases to be repose: for in these exercises there is no return to toil and care; but that which constitutes rest—namely, exemption from weariness in work and from uncertainty in thought—is always found in them. Now, since through rest we get back to that original life which the soul lost by sin, the emblem of this rest is the seventh day of the week. But that original life itself which is restored to those who return from their wanderings, and receive in token of welcome the robe which they had at first, is represented by the first day of the week, which we call the Lord’s day. If, in reading Genesis, you search the record of the seven days, you will find that there was no evening of the seventh day, which signified that the rest of which it was a type was eternal. The life originally bestowed was not eternal, because man sinned; but the final rest, of which the seventh day was an emblem, is eternal, and hence the eighth day also will have eternal blessedness, because that rest, being eternal, is taken up by the eighth day, not destroyed by it; for if it were thus destroyed, it would not be eternal. Accordingly the eighth day, which is the first day of the week, represents to us that original life, not taken away, but made eternal.

Chap. X

18. Nevertheless the seventh day was appointed to the Jewish nation as a day to be observed by rest of the body, that it might be a type of sanctification to which men attain through rest in the Holy Spirit. We do not read of sanctification in the history given in Genesis of all the earlier days: of the Sabbath alone it is said that “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” Now the souls of men, whether good or bad, love rest, but how to attain to that which they love is to the greater part unknown: and that which bodies seek for their weight, is precisely what souls seek for their love, namely, a resting-place. For as, according to its specific gravity, a body descends or rises until it reaches a place where it can rest,—oil, for example, falling if poured into the air, but rising if poured into water,—so the soul of man struggles towards the things which it loves, in order that, by reaching them, it may rest. There are indeed many things which please the soul through the body, but its rest in these is not eternal, nor even long continued; and therefore they rather debase the soul and weigh it down, so as to be a drag upon that pure imponderability by which it tends towards higher things. When the soul finds pleasure from itself, it is not yet seeking delight in that which is unchangeable; and therefore it is still proud, because it is giving to itself the highest place, whereas God is higher. In such sin the soul is not left unpunished, for “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” When, however, the soul delights in God, there it finds the true, sure, and eternal rest, which in all other objects was sought in vain. Therefore the admonition is given in the book of Psalms, “Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

19. Because, therefore, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us,” sanctification was associated with the seventh day, the day in which rest was enjoined. But inasmuch as we neither are able to do any good work, except as helped by the gift of God, as the apostle says, “For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure,” nor will be able to rest, after all the good works which engage us in this life, except as sanctified and perfected by the same gift to eternity; for this reason it is said of God Himself, that when He had made all things “very good,” He rested “on the seventh day from all His works which He had made.” For He, in so doing, presented a type of that future rest which He purposed to bestow on us men after our good works are done. For as in our good works He is said to work in us, by whose gift we are enabled to work what is good, so in our rest He is said to rest by whose gift we rest.

Chap. XI

20. This, moreover, is the reason why the law of the Sabbath is placed third among the three commandments of the Decalogue which declare our duty to God (for the other seven relate to our neighbour, that is, to man; the whole law hanging on these two commandments). The first commandment, in which we are forbidden to worship any likeness of God made by human contrivance, we are to understand as referring to the Father: this prohibition being made, not because God has no image, but because no image of Him but that One which is the same with Himself, ought to be worshipped; and this One not in His stead, but along with Him. Then, because a creature is mutable, and therefore it is said, “The whole creation is subject to vanity,” since the nature of the whole is manifested also in any part of it, lest any one should think that the Son of God, the Word by whom all things were made, is a creature, the second commandment is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” And because God sanctified the seventh day, on which He rested, the Holy Spirit—in whom is given to us that rest which we love everywhere, but find only in loving God, when “His love is shed abroad in us, by the Holy Ghost given unto us”—is presented to our minds in the third commandment, which was written concerning the observance of the Sabbath, not to make us suppose that we attain to rest in this present life, but that all our labours in what is good may point towards nothing else than that eternal rest. For I would specially charge you to remember the passage quoted above: “We are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope.”

21. For the feeding and fanning of that ardent love by which, under a law like that of gravitation, we are borne upwards or inwards to rest, the presentation of truth by emblems has a great power: for, thus presented, things move and kindle our affection much more than if they were set forth in bald statements, not clothed with sacramental symbols. Why this should be, it is hard to say; but it is the fact that anything which we are taught by allegory or emblem affects and pleases us more, and is more highly esteemed by us, than it would be if most clearly stated in plain terms. I believe that the emotions are less easily kindled while the soul is wholly involved in earthly things; but if it be brought to those corporeal things which are emblems of spiritual things, and then taken from these to the spiritual realities which they represent, it gathers strength by the mere act of passing from the one to the other, and, like the flame of a lighted torch, is made by the motion to burn more brightly, and is carried away to rest by a more intensely glowing love.

Chap. XII

22. It is also for this reason, that of all the ten commandments, that which related to the Sabbath was the only one in which the thing commanded was typical; the bodily rest enjoined being a type which we have received as a means of our instruction, but not as a duty binding also upon us. For while in the Sabbath a figure is presented of the spiritual rest, of which it is said in the Psalm, “Be still, and know that I am God,” and unto which men are invited by the Lord Himself in the words, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: so shall ye find rest unto your souls;” as to all the things enjoined in the other commandments, we are to yield to them an obedience in which there is nothing typical. For we have been taught literally not to worship idols; and the precepts enjoining us not to take God’s name in vain, to honour our father and mother, not to commit adultery, or kill, or steal, or bear false witness, or covet our neighbour’s wife, or covet anything that is our neighbour’s, are all devoid of typical or mystical meaning, and are to be literally observed. But we are not commanded to observe the day of the Sabbath literally, in resting from bodily labour, as it is observed by the Jews; and even their observance of the rest as prescribed is to be deemed worthy of contempt, except as signifying another, namely, spiritual rest. From this we may reasonably conclude, that all those things which are figuratively set forth in Scripture, are powerful in stimulating that love by which we tend towards rest; since the only figurative or typical precept in the Decalogue is the one in which that rest is commended to us, which is desired everywhere, but is found sure and sacred in God alone.

Chap. XIII

23. The Lord’s day, however, has been made known not to the Jews, but to Christians, by the resurrection of the Lord, and from Him it began to have the festive character which is proper to it. For the souls of the pious dead are, indeed, in a state of repose before the resurrection of the body, but they are not engaged in the same active exercises as shall engage the strength of their bodies when restored. Now, of this condition of active exercise the eighth day (which is also the first of the week) is a type, because it does not put an end to that repose, but glorifies it. For with the reunion of the body no hindrance of the soul’s rest returns, because in the restored body there is no corruption: for “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Wherefore, although the sacramental import of the 8th number, as signifying the resurrection, was by no means concealed from the holy men of old who were filled with the spirit of prophecy (for in the title of Psalms [vi. and xii.] we find the words “for the eighth,” and infants were circumcised on the eighth day; and in Ecclesiastes it is said, with allusion to the two covenants, “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight” ); nevertheless before the resurrection of the Lord, it was reserved and hidden, and the Sabbath alone was appointed to be observed, because before that event there was indeed the repose of the dead (of which the Sabbath rest was a type), but there was not any instance of the resurrection of one who, rising from the dead, was no more to die, and over whom death should no longer have dominion; this being done in order that, from the time when such a resurrection did take place in the Lord’s own body (the Head of the Church being the first to experience that which His body, the Church, expects at the end of time), the day upon which He rose, the eighth day namely (which is the same with the first of the week), should begin to be observed as the Lord’s day. The same reason enables us to understand why, in regard to the day of keeping the passover, on which the Jews were commanded to kill and eat a lamb, which was most clearly a foreshadowing of the Lord’s Passion, there was no injunction given to them that they should take the day of the week into account, waiting until the Sabbath was past, and making the beginning of the third week of the moon coincide with the beginning of the third week of the first month; the reason being, that the Lord might rather in His own Passion declare the significance of that day, as He had come also to declare the mystery of the day now known as the Lord’s day, the eighth namely, which is also the first of the week.

Chap. XIV

24. Consider now with attention these three most sacred days, the days signalized by the Lord’s crucifixion, rest in the grave, and resurrection. Of these three, that of which the cross is the symbol is the business of our present life: those things which are symbolized by His rest in the grave and His resurrection we hold by faith and hope. For now the command is given to each man, “Take up thy cross, and follow me.” But the flesh is crucified, when our members which are upon the earth are mortified, such as fornication, uncleanness, luxury, avarice, etc., of which the apostle says in another passage: “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Hence also he says of himself: “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” And again: “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” The period during which our labours tend to the weakening and destruction of the body of sin, during which the outward man is perishing, that the inward man may be renewed day by day,—that is the period of the cross.

25. These are, it is true, good works, having rest for their recompense, but they are meanwhile laborious and painful: therefore we are told to be “rejoicing in hope,” that while we contemplate the future rest, we may labour with cheerfulness in present toil. Of this cheerfulness the breadth of the cross in the transverse beam to which the hands were nailed is an emblem: for the hands we understand to be symbolical of working, and the breadth to be symbolical of cheerfulness in him who works, for sadness straitens the spirit. In the height of the cross, against which the head is placed, we have an emblem of the expectation of recompense from the sublime justice of God, “who will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life.” Therefore the length of the cross, along which the whole body is extended, is an emblem of that patient continuance in the will of God, on account of which those who are patient are said to be long-suffering. The depth also, i.e. the part which is fixed in the ground, represents the occult nature of the holy mystery. For you remember, I suppose, the words of the apostle, which in this description of the cross I aim at expounding: “That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.”

Those things which we do not yet see or possess, but hold in faith and hope, are the things represented in the events by which the second and third of the three memorable days above mentioned were signalized [viz. the Lord’s rest in the grave, and His resurrection]. But the things which keep us occupied in this present life, while we are held fast in the fear of God by the commandments, as by nails driven through the flesh (as it is written, “Make my flesh fast with nails by fear of Thee” ), are to be reckoned among things necessary, not among those which are for their own sakes to be desired and coveted. Hence Paul says that he desired, as something far better, to depart and to be with Christ: “nevertheless,” he adds, “to remain in the flesh is expedient for you”—necessary for your welfare. This departing and being with Christ is the beginning of the rest which is not interrupted, but glorified by the resurrection; and this rest is now enjoyed by faith, “for the just shall live by faith.” “Know ye not,” saith the same apostle, “that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death.” How? By faith. For this is not actually completed in us so long as we are still “groaning within ourselves, and waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body: for we are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.”

26. Remember how often I repeat this to you, that we are not to think that we ought to be made happy and free from all difficulties in this present life, and are therefore at liberty to murmur profanely against God when we are straitened in the things of this world, as if He were not performing what He promised. He hath indeed promised the things which are necessary for this life, but the consolations which mitigate the misery of our present lot are very different from the joys of those who are perfect in blessedness. “In the multitude of my thoughts within me,” saith the believer, “Thy comforts, O Lord, delight my soul.” Let us not therefore murmur because of difficulties; let us not lose that breadth of cheerfulness, of which it is written, “Rejoicing in hope,” because this follows,—”patient in tribulation.” The new life, therefore, is meanwhile begun in faith, and maintained by hope: for it shall only then be perfect when this mortal shall be swallowed up in life, and death swallowed up in victory; when the last enemy, death, shall be destroyed; when we shall be changed, and made like the angels: for “we shall all rise again, but we shall not all be changed.” Again, the Lord saith, “They shall be equal unto the angels.” We now are apprehended by Him in fear by faith: then we shall apprehend Him in love by sight. For “whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Hence the apostle himself, who says, “I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus,” confesses frankly that he has not attained to it. “Brethren,” he says, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” Since, however, our hope is sure, because of the truth of the promise, when he said elsewhere, “Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death,” he adds these words, “that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” We walk, therefore, in actual labour, but in hope of rest, in the flesh of the old life, but in faith of the new. For he says again: “The body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

27. Both the authority of the Divine Scriptures and the consent of the whole Church spread throughout the world have combined to ordain the annual commemoration of these things at Easter, by observances which are, as you now see, full of spiritual significance. From the Old Testament Scriptures we are not taught as to the precise day of holding Easter, beyond the limitation to the period between the 14th and 21st days of the first month; but because we know from the Gospel beyond doubt which days of the week were signalized in succession by the Lord’s crucifixion, His resting in the grave, and His resurrection, the observance of these days has been enjoined in addition by Councils of the Fathers, and the whole Christian world has arrived unanimously at the persuasion that this is the proper mode of observing Easter.

Chap. XV

28. The Fast of Forty Days has its warrant both in the Old Testament, from the fasting of Moses and of Elijah, and in the Gospel from the fact that our Lord fasted the same number of days; proving thereby that the Gospel is not at variance with the Law and the Prophets. For the Law and the Prophets are represented in the persons of Moses and Elijah respectively; between whom also He appeared in glory on the Mount, that what the apostle says of Him, that He is “witnessed unto both by the Law and the Prophets,” might be made more clearly manifest. Now, in what part of the year could the observance of the Fast of Forty Days be more appropriately placed, than in that which immediately precedes and borders on the time of the Lord’s Passion? For by it is signified this life of toil, the chief work in which is to exercise self-control, in abstaining from the world’s friendship, which never ceases deceitfully caressing us, and scattering profusely around us its bewitching allurements. As to the reason why this life of toil and self-control is symbolized by the number 40, it seems to me that the number ten (in which is the perfection of our blessedness, as in the number eight, because it returns to the unit) has a like place in this number [as the unit has in giving its significance to eight]; and therefore I regard the number forty as a fit symbol for this life, because in it the creature (of which the symbolical number is seven) cleaves to the Creator, in whom is revealed that unity of the Trinity which is to be published while time lasts throughout this whole world,—a world swept by four winds, constituted of four elements, and experiencing the changes of four seasons in the year. Now four times ten [seven added to three] are forty; but the number forty reckoned in along with [one of] its parts adds the number ten, [as seven reckoned in along with one of its parts adds the unit,] and the total is fifty,—the symbol, as it were, of the reward of the toil and self-control. For it is not without reason that the Lord Himself continued for forty days on this earth and in this life in fellowship with His disciples after His resurrection, and, when He ascended into heaven, sent the promised Holy Spirit, after an interval of ten days more, when the day of Pentecost was fully come. This fiftieth day, moreover, has wrapped up in it another holy mystery: for 7 times 7 days are 49. And when we return to the beginning of another seven, and add the eighth, which is also the first day of the week, we have the 50 days complete; which period of fifty days we celebrate after the Lord’s resurrection, as representing not toil, but rest and gladness. For this reason we do not fast in them; and in praying we stand upright, which is an emblem of resurrection. Hence, also, every Lord’s day during the fifty days, this usage is observed at the altar, and the Alleluia is sung, which signifies that our future exercise shall consist wholly in praising God, as it is written: “Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house, O Lord: they will be still (i.e. eternally) praising Thee.”

Chap. XVI

29. The fiftieth day is also commended to us in Scripture; and not only in the Gospel, by the fact that on that day the Holy Spirit descended, but also in the books of the Old Testament. For in them we learn, that after the Jews observed the first passover with the slaying of the lamb as appointed, 50 days intervened between that day and the day on which upon Mount Sinai there was given to Moses the Law written with the finger of God; and this “finger of God” is in the Gospels most plainly declared to signify the Holy Spirit: for where one evangelist quotes our Lord’s words thus, “I with the finger of God cast out devils,” another quotes them thus, “I cast out devils by the Spirit of God.” Who would not prefer the joy which these divine mysteries impart, when the light of healing truth beams from them on the soul to all the kingdoms of this world, even though these were held in perfect prosperity and peace? May we not say, that as the two seraphim answer each other in singing the praise of the Most High, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of Hosts,” so the Old Testament and the New, in perfect harmony, give forth their testimony to sacred truth? The lamb is slain, the passover is celebrated, and after 50 days the Law is given, which inspires fear, written by the finger of God. Christ is slain, being led as a lamb to the slaughter as Isaiah testifies; the true Passover is celebrated; and after 50 days is given the Holy Spirit, who is the finger of God, and whose fruit is love, and who is therefore opposed to men who seek their own, and consequently bear a grievous yoke and heavy burden, and find no rest for their souls; for love “seeketh not her own.” Therefore there is no rest in the unloving spirit of heretics, whom the apostle declares guilty of conduct like that of the magicians of Pharaoh, saying, “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as theirs also was.” For because through this corruptness of mind they were utterly disquieted, they failed at the third miracle, confessing that the Spirit of God which was in Moses was opposed to them: for in owning their failure, they said, “This is the finger of God.” The Holy Spirit, who shows Himself reconciled and gracious to the meek and lowly in heart, and gives them rest, shows Himself an inexorable adversary to the proud and haughty, and vexes them with disquiet. Of this disquiet those despicable insects were a figure, under which Pharaoh’s magicians owned themselves foiled, saying, “This is the finger of God.”

30. Read the book of Exodus, and observe the number of days between the first passover and the giving of the Law. God speaks to Moses in the desert of Sinai on the first day of the third month. Mark, then, this as one day of the month, and then observe what (among other things) the Lord said on that day: “Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day; for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon Mount Sinai.” The Law was accordingly given on the third day of the month. Now reckon the days between the 14th day of the first month, the day of the passover, and the 3d day of the third month, and you have 17 days of the first month, 30 of the second, and 3 of the third—50 in all. The Law in the Ark of the Testimony represents holiness in the Lord’s body, by whose resurrection is promised to us the future rest; for our receiving of which, love is breathed into us by the Holy Spirit. But the Spirit had not then been given, for Jesus had not yet been glorified. Hence that prophetic song, “Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest, Thou and the ark of Thy strength” [holiness, LXX.]. Where there is rest, there is holiness. Wherefore we have now received a pledge of it, that we may love and desire it. For to the rest belonging to the other life, whereunto we are brought by that transition from this life of which the passover is a symbol, all are now invited in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Chap. XVII

31. Hence also, in the number of the large fishes which our Lord after His resurrection, showing this new life, commanded to be taken on the right side of the ship, there is found the number 50 three times multiplied, with the addition of three more [the symbol of the Trinity] to make the holy mystery more apparent; and the disciples’ nets were not broken, because in that new life there shall be no schism caused by the disquiet of heretics. Then [in this new life] man, made perfect and at rest, purified in body and in soul by the pure words of God, which are like silver purged from its dross, seven times refined, shall receive his reward, the denarius; so that with that reward the numbers 10 and 7 meet in him. For in this number there is found, as in other numbers representing a combination of symbols, a wonderful mystery. Nor is it without good reason that the seventeenth Psalm is the only one which is given complete in the book of Kings, because it signifies that kingdom in which we shall have no enemy. For its title is, “A Psalm of David, in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” For of whom is David the type, but of Him who, according to the flesh, was born of the seed of David? He in His Church, that is, in His body, still endures the malice of enemies. Therefore the words which from heaven fell upon the ear of that persecutor whom Jesus slew by His voice, and whom He transformed into a part of His body (as the food which we use becomes a part of ourselves), were these, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And when shall this His body be finally delivered from enemies? Is it not when the last enemy, Death, shall be destroyed? It is to that time that the number of the 153 fishes pertains. For if the number 17 itself be the side of an arithmetical triangle, formed by placing above each other rows of units, increasing in number from 1 to 17, the whole sum of these units is 153: since 1 and 2 make 3; 3 and 3, 6; 6 and 4, 10; 10 and 5, 15; 15 and 6, 21; and so on: continue this up to 17, the total is 153.

32. The celebration of Easter and Pentecost is therefore most firmly based on Scripture. As to the observance of the forty days before Easter, this has been confirmed by the practice of the Church; as also the separation of the eight days of the neophytes, in such order that the eighth of these coincides with the first. The custom of singing the Alleluia on those 50 days only in the Church is not universal; for in other places it is sung also at various other times, but on these days it is sung everywhere. Whether the custom of standing at prayer on these days and on all the Lord’s days, is everywhere observed or not, I do not know; nevertheless, I have told you what guides the Church in this usage, and it is in my opinion sufficiently obvious.

Chap. XVIII

33. As to the feet-washing, since the Lord recommended this because of its being an example of that humility which He came to teach, as He Himself afterwards explained, the question has arisen at what time it is best, by literal performance of this work, to give public instruction in the important duty which it illustrates, and this time [of Lent] was suggested in order that the lesson taught by it might make a deeper and more serious impression. Many, however, have not accepted this as a custom, lest it should be thought to belong to the ordinance of baptism; and some have not hesitated to deny it any place among our ceremonies. Some, however, in order to connect its observance with the more sacred associations of this solemn season, and at the same time to prevent its being confounded with baptism in any way, have selected for this ceremony either the eighth day itself, or that on which the third eighth day occurs, because of the great significance of the number three in many holy mysteries.

34. I am surprised at your expressing a desire that I should write anything in regard to those ceremonies which are found different in different countries, because there is no necessity for my doing this; and, moreover, one most excellent rule must be observed in regard to these customs, when they do not in any way oppose either true doctrine or sound morality, but contain some incentives to the better life, viz., that wherever we see them observed, or know them to be established, we should not only refrain from finding fault with them, but even recommend them by our approval and imitation, unless restrained by fear of doing greater harm than good by this course, through the infirmity of others. We are not, however, to be restrained by this, if more good is to be expected from our consenting with those who are zealous for the ceremony, than loss to be feared from our displeasing those who protest against it. In such a case we ought by all means to adopt it, especially if it be something in defence of which Scripture can be alleged: as in the singing of hymns and psalms, for which we have on record both the example and the precepts of the Lord and of His apostles. In this religious exercise, so useful for inducing a devotional frame of mind and inflaming the strength of love to God, there is diversity of usage, and in Africa the members of the Church are rather too indifferent in regard to it; on which account the Donstists reproach us with our grave chanting of the divine songs of the prophets in our churches, while they inflame their passions in their revels by the singing of psalms of human composition, which rouse them like the stirring notes of the trumpet on the battle-field. But when brethren are assembled in the church, why should not the time be devoted to singing of sacred songs, excepting of course while reading or preaching is going on, or while the presiding minister prays aloud, or the united prayer of the congregation is led by the deacon’s voice? At the other intervals not thus occupied, I do not see what could be a more excellent, useful, and holy exercise for a Christian congregation.

Chap. XIX

35. I cannot, however, sanction with my approbation those ceremonies which are departures from the custom of the Church, and are instituted on the pretext of being symbolical of some holy mystery; although, for the sake of avoiding offence to the piety of some and the pugnacity of others, I do not venture to condemn severely many things of this kind. But this I deplore, and have too much occasion to do so, that comparatively little attention is paid to many of the most wholesome rites which Scripture has enjoined; and that so many false notions everywhere prevail, that more severe rebuke would be administered to a man who should touch the ground with his feet bare during the octaves (before his baptism), than to one who drowned his intellect in drunkenness. My opinion therefore is, that wherever it is possible, all those things should be abolished without hesitation, which neither have warrant in Holy Scripture, nor are found to have been appointed by councils of bishops, nor are confirmed by the practice of the universal Church, but are so infinitely various, according to the different customs of different places, that it is with difficulty, if at all, that the reasons which guided men in appointing them can be discovered. For even although nothing be found, perhaps, in which they are against the true faith; yet the Christian religion, which God in His mercy made free, appointing to her sacraments very few in number, and very easily observed, is by these burdensome ceremonies so oppressed, that the condition of the Jewish Church itself is preferable: for although they have not known the time of their freedom, they are subjected to burdens imposed by the law of God, not by the vain conceits of men. The Church of God, however, being meanwhile so constituted as to enclose much chaff and many tares, bears with many things; yet if anything be contrary to faith or to holy life, she does not approve of it either by silence or by practice.

Chap. XX

36. Accordingly, that which you wrote as to certain brethren abstaining from the use of animal food, on the ground of its being ceremonially unclean, is most clearly contrary to the faith and to sound doctrine. If I were to enter on anything like a full discussion of this matter, it might be thought by some that there was some obscurity in the precepts of the apostle in this matter whereas he, among many other things which he said on this subject, expressed his abhorrence of this opinion of the heretics in these words: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Again, in another place, he says, concerning these things: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.” Read the rest for yourself, and read these passages to others—to as many as you can—in order that, seeing that they have been called to liberty, they may not make void the grace of God toward them; only let them not use their liberty for an occasion to serve the flesh: let them not refuse to practise the purpose of curbing carnal appetite, abstinence from some kinds of food, on the pretext that it is unlawful to do so under the promptings of superstition or unbelief.

37. As to those who read futurity by taking at random a text from the pages of the Gospels, although it is better that they should do this than go to consult spirits of divination, nevertheless it is, in my opinion, a censurable practice to try to turn to secular affairs and the vanity of this life those divine oracles which were intended to teach us concerning the higher life.

Chap. XXI

38. If you do not consider that I have now written enough in answer to your questions, you must have little knowledge of my capacities or of my engagements. For so far am I from being, as you have thought, acquainted with everything, that I read nothing in your letter with more sadness than this statement, both because it is most manifestly untrue, and because I am surprised that you should not be aware, that not only are many things unknown to me in countless other departments, but that even in the Scriptures themselves the things which I do not know are many more than the things which I know. But I cherish a hope in the name of Christ, which is not without its reward, because I have not only believed the testimony of my God that “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets;” but I have myself proved it, and daily prove it, by experience. For there is no holy mystery, and no difficult passage of the word of God, in which, when it is opened up to me, I do not find these same commandments: for “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned;” and “love is the fulfilling of the law.”

39. I beseech you therefore also, my dearly beloved, whether studying these or other writings, so to read and so to learn as to bear in mind what hath been most truly said, “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth;” but charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up. Let knowledge therefore be used as a kind of scaffolding by which may be erected the building of charity, which shall endure for ever when knowledge faileth. Knowledge, if applied as a means to charity, is most useful; but apart from this high end, it has been proved not only superfluous, but even pernicious. I know, however, how holy meditation keeps you safe under the shadow of the wings of our God. These things I have stated, though briefly, because I know that this same charity of yours, which “vaunteth not itself,” will prompt you to lend and read this letter to many.

Are addressed to Celer, exhorting him to forsake the Donatist schismatics. They may be omitted, being brief, and containing no new argument.

To My Noble and Worthy Lord Pammachius, My Son, Dearly Beloved in the Bowels of Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. The good works which spring from the grace of Christ in you have given you a claim to be esteemed by us His members, and have made you as truly known and as much beloved by us as you could be. For even were I daily seeing your face, this could add nothing to the completeness of the acquaintance with you which I now have, when in the shining light of one of your actions I have seen your inner being, fair with the loveliness of peace, and beaming with the brightness of truth. Seeing this has made me know you, and knowing you has made me love you; and therefore, in addressing you, I write to one who, notwithstanding our distance from each other, has become known to me, and is my beloved friend. The bond which binds us together is indeed of earlier date, and we were living united under One Head: for had you not been rooted in His love, the Catholic unity would not have been so dear to you, and you would not have dealt as you have done with your African tenants settled in the midst of the consular province of Numidia, the very country in which the folly of the Donatists began, addressing them in such terms, and encouraging them with such enthusiasm, as to persuade them with unhesitating devotion to choose that course which they believed that a man of your character and position would not adopt on other grounds than truth ascertained and acknowledged, and to submit themselves, though so remote from you, to the same Head; so that along with yourself they are reckoned for ever as members of Him by whose command they are for the time dependent upon you.

2. Embracing you, therefore, as known to me by this transaction, I am moved by joyful feelings to congratulate you in Christ Jesus our Lord, and to send you this letter as a proof of my heart’s love towards you; for I cannot do more. I beseech you, however, not to measure the amount of my love by this letter; but by means of this letter, when you have read it, pass on by the unseen inner passage which thought opens up into my heart, and see what is there felt towards you. For to the eye of love that sanctuary of love shall be unveiled which we shut against the disquieting trifles of this world when there we worship God; and there you will see the ecstasy of my joy in your good work, an ecstasy which I cannot describe with tongue or pen, glowing and burning in the offering of praise to Him by whose inspiration you were made willing, and by whose help you were made able to serve Him in this way. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!”

3. Oh how we desire in Africa to see such work as this by which you have gladdened us done by many, who are, like yourself, senators in the State, and sons of the holy Church! It is, however, hazardous to give them this exhortation: they may refuse to follow it, and the enemies of the Church will take advantage of this to deceive the weak, as if they had gained a victory over us in the minds of those who disregarded our counsel. But it is safe for me to express gratitude to you; for you have already done that by which, in the emancipation of those who were weak, the enemies of the Church are confounded. I have therefore thought it sufficient to ask you to read this letter with friendly boldness to any to whom you can do so on the ground of their Christian profession. For thus learning what you have achieved, they will believe that that, about which as an impossibility they are now indifferent, can be done in Africa. As to the snares which these heretics contrive in the perversity of their hearts, I have resolved not to speak of them in this letter, because I have been only amused at their imagining that they could gain any advantage over your mind, which Christ holds as His possession. You will hear them, however, from my brethren, whom I earnestly commend to your Excellency: they fear lest you should disdain some things which to you might seem unnecessary in connection with the great and unlooked for salvation of those men over whom, in consequence of your work, their Catholic Mother rejoices.

To My Most Blessed Lord and Venerable Father Victorinus, My Brother in the Priesthood, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Your summons to the Council reached me on the fifth day before the Ides of November, in the evening, and found me very much indisposed, so that I could not possibly attend. However, I submit to your pious and wise judgment whether certain perplexities which the summons occasioned were due to my own ignorance or to sufficient grounds. I read in that summons that it was written also to the districts of Mauritania, which, as we know, have their own primates. Now, if these provinces were to be represented in a Council held in Numidia, it was by all means proper that the names of some of the more eminent bishops who are in Mauritania should be attached to the circular letter; and not finding this, I have been greatly surprised. Moreover, to the bishops of Numidia it has been addressed in such a confused and careless manner, that my own name I find in the third place, although I know my proper order to be much further down in the roll of bishops. This wrongs others, and grieves me. Moreover, our venerable father and colleague, Xantippus of Tagosa, says that the primacy belongs to him, and by very many he is regarded as the primate, and he issues such letters as you have sent. Even supposing that this be a mistake, which your Holiness can easily discover and correct, certainly his name should not have been omitted in the summons which you have issued. If his name had been placed in the middle of the list, and not in the first line, I would have wondered much; how much greater, then, is my surprise, when I find in it no mention whatever made of him who, above all others, behoved to be present in the Council, that by the bishops of all the Numidian churches this question of the order of the primacy might be debated before any other!

2. For these reasons, I might even hesitate to come to the Council, lest the summons in which so many flagrant mistakes are found should be a forgery; even were I not hindered both by the shortness of the notice, and manifold other important engagements standing in the way. I therefore beg you, most blessed prelate, to excuse me, and to be pleased to give attention, in the first instance, to bring about between your Holiness and the aged Xantippus a cordial mutual understanding as to the question which of you ought to summon the Council; or at least, as I think would be still better, let both of you, without prejudging the claim of either, conjointly call together our colleagues, especially those who have been nearly as long in the episcopate as yourselves, who may easily discover and decide which of you has truth on his side, that this question may be settled first among a few of you; and then, when the mistake has been rectified, let the younger bishops be gathered together, who, having no others whom it would be either possible or right for them to accept as witnesses in this matter but yourselves, are meanwhile at a loss to know to which of you the preference is to be given.

I have sent this letter sealed with a ring which represents a man’s profile.

To Father Aurelius, My Lord Most Blessed, and Revered with Most Justly Merited Respect, My Brother in the Priesthood, Most Sincerely Beloved, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I have received no letter from your Holiness since we parted; but I have now read a letter of your Grace concerning Donatus and his brother, and I have long hesitated as to the reply which I ought to give. After frequently reconsidering what is in such a case conducive to the welfare of those whom we serve in Christ, and seek to nourish in Him, nothing has occurred to me which would alter my opinion that it is not right to give occasion for God’s servants to think that promotion to a better position is more readily given to those who have become worse. Such a rule would make monks less careful of falling, and a most grievous wrong would be done to the order of clergy, if those who have deserted their duty as monks be chosen to serve as clergy, seeing that our custom is to select for that office only the more tried and superior men of those who continue faithful to their calling as monks; unless, perchance, the common people are to be taught to joke at our expense, saying “a bad monk makes a good clerk,” as they are wont to say that “a poor flute-player makes a good singer.” It would be an intolerable calamity if we were to encourage the monks to such fatal pride, and were to consent to brand with so grievous disgrace the clerical order to which we ourselves belong: seeing that sometimes even a good monk is scarcely qualified to be a good clerk; for though he be proficient in self-denial, he may lack the necessary instruction, or be disqualified by some personal defect.

2. I believe, however, that your Holiness understood these monks to have left the monastery with my consent, in order that they might rather be useful to the people of their own district; but this was not the case: of their own accord they departed, of their own accord they deserted us, notwithstanding my resisting, from a regard to their welfare, to the utmost of my power. As to Donatus, seeing that he has obtained ordination before we could arrive at any decision in the Council as to his case, do as your wisdom may guide you; it may be that his proud obstinacy has been subdued. But as to his brother, who was the chief cause of Donatus leaving the monastery, I know not what to write, since you know what I think of him. I do not presume to oppose what may seem best to one of your wisdom, rank, and piety; and I hope with all my heart that you will do whatever you judge most profitable for the members of the Church.

To His well-Beloved and honourable Brother Theodorus, Bishop Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I have resolved to commit to writing in this letter what I said when you and I were conversing together as to the terms on which we would welcome clergy of the party of Donatus desiring to become Catholics, in order that, if any one asked you what are our sentiments and practice in regard to this, you might exhibit these by producing what I have written with my own hand. Be assured, therefore, that we detest nothing in the Donatist clergy but that which renders them schismatics and heretics, namely, their dissent from the unity and truth of the Catholic Church, in their not remaining in peace with the people of God, which is spread abroad throughout the world, and in their refusing to recognise the baptism of Christ in those who have received it. This their grievous error, therefore, we reject; but the good name of God which they bear, and His sacrament which they have received, we acknowledge in them, and embrace it with reverence and love. But for this very reason we grieve over their wandering, and long to gain them for God by the love of Christ, that they may have within the peace of the Church that holy sacrament for their salvation, which they meanwhile have beyond the pale of the Church for their destruction. If, therefore, there be taken away from between us the evil things which proceed from men, and if the good which comes from God and belongs to both parties in common be duly honoured, there will ensue such brotherly concord, such amiable peace, that the love of Christ shall gain the victory in men’s hearts over the temptation of the devil.

2. When, therefore, any come to us from the party of Donatus, we do not welcome the evil which belongs to them, viz. their error and schism: these, the only obstacles to our concord, are removed from between us, and we embrace our brethren, standing with them, as the apostle says, in “the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace,” and acknowledging in them the good things which are divine, as their holy baptism, the blessing conferred by ordination, their profession of self-denial, their vow of celibacy, their faith in the Trinity, and such like; all which things were indeed theirs before, but “profited them nothing, because they had not charity.” For what truth is there in the profession of Christian charity by him who does not embrace Christian unity? When, therefore, they come to the Catholic Church, they gain thereby not what they already possessed, but something which they had not before,—namely, that those things which they possessed begin then to be profitable to them. For in the Catholic Church they obtain the root of charity in the bond of peace and in the fellowship of unity: so that all the sacraments of truth which they hold serve not to condemn, but to deliver them. The branches ought not to boast that their wood is the wood of the vine, not of the thorn; for if they do not live by union to the root, they shall, notwithstanding their outward appearance, be cast into the fire. But of some branches which were broken off the apostle says that “God is able to graft them in again.” Wherefore, beloved brother, if you see any one of the Donatist party in doubt as to the place into which they shall be welcomed by us, show them this writing in my own hand, which is familiar to you, and let them have it to read if they desire it; for “I call God for a record upon my soul,” that I will welcome them on such terms as that they shall retain not only the baptism of Christ which they have received, but also the honour due to their vow of holiness and to their self-denying virtue.

Alypius, Augustin, and Samsucius, and the Brethren Who are with Them, Send Greeting in the Lord to Severus, Their Lord Most Blessed, and with All Reverence Most Beloved, Their Brother in Truth, and Partner in the Priestly Office, and to All the Brethren Who are with Him.

1. When we came to Subsana, and inquired into the things which had been done there in our absence and against our will, we found some things exactly as we had heard reported, and some things otherwise, but all things calling for lamentation and forbearance; and we endeavoured, in so far as the Lord gave His help, to put them right by reproof, admonition, and prayer. What distressed us most, since your departure from the place, was that the brethren who went thence to you were allowed to go without a guide, which we beg you to excuse, as having taken place not from malice, but from an excessive caution. For, believing as they did that these men were sent by our son Timotheus in order to move you to be displeased with us, and being anxious to reserve the whole matter untouched until we should come (when they hoped to see you along with us), they thought that the departure of these men would be prevented if they were not furnished with a guide. That they did wrong in thus attempting to detain the brethren we admit,—nay, who could doubt it? Hence also arose the story which was told to Fossor, that Timotheus had already gone to you with these same brethren. This was wholly false, but the statement was not made by the presbyter; and that Carcedonius our brother was wholly unaware of all these things, was most clearly proved to us by all the ways in which such things are susceptible of proof.

2. But why spend more time on these circumstances! Our son Timotheus, being greatly disturbed because he found himself, altogether in spite of his own wish, in such unlooked for perplexity, informed us that, when you were urging him to serve God at Subsana, he broke forth vehemently, and swore that he would never on any account leave you. And when we questioned him as to his present wish, he replied that by this oath he was precluded from going to the place which we had previously wished him to occupy, even though his mind were set at rest by the evidence given as to his freedom from restraint. When we showed him that he would not be guilty of violating his oath if a bar was put in the way of his being with you, not by him, but by you, in order to avoid a scandal; seeing that he could by his oath bind only his own will, not yours, and he admitted that you had not bound yourself reciprocally by your oath; at last he said, as it became a servant of God and a son of the Church to say, that he would without hesitation agree to whatever should seem good to us, along with your Holiness, to appoint concerning him. We therefore ask, and by the love of Christ implore you, in the exercise of your sagacity, to remember all that we spoke to each other in this matter, and to make us glad by your reply to this letter. For “we that are strong” (if, indeed, amid so great and perilous temptations, we may presume to claim this title) are bound, as the apostle says, to “bear the infirmities of the weak.” Our brother Timotheus has not written to your Holiness, because your venerable brother has reported to all you. May you be joyful in the Lord, and remember us, our lord most blessed, and with all reverence most beloved, our brother in sincerity.

To Severus, My lord Most Blessed and Venerable, a Brother Worthy of Being Embraced with Unfeigned Love, and Partner in the Priestly Office, and to the Brethren that are With Him, Augustin and the Brethren with Him Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. If I frankly say all that this case compels me to say, you may perhaps ask me where is my concern for the preservation of charity but if I may not thus say all that the case demands, may I not ask you where is the liberty conceded to friendship? Hesitating between these two alternatives, I have chosen to write so much as may justify me without accusing you. You wrote that you were surprised that we, notwithstanding our great grief at what was done, acquiesced in it, when it might have been remedied by our correction; as if when things wrongly done have been afterwards, so far as possible, corrected, they are no longer to be deplored; and more particularly, as if it were absurd for us to acquiesce in that which, though wrongly done, it is impossible for us to undo. Wherefore, my brother, sincerely esteemed as such, your surprise may cease. For Timotheus was ordained a subdeacon at Subsana against my advice and desire, at the time when the decision of his case was still pending as the subject of deliberation and conference between us. Behold me still grieving over this, although he has now returned to you; and we do not regret that in our consenting to his return we obeyed your will.

2. May it please you to hear how, by rebuke, admonition, and prayer, we had, even before he went away from this place, corrected the wrong which had been done, lest it should appear to you that up to that time nothing had been corrected by us because he had not returned to you. By rebuke, addressing ourselves first to Timotheus himself, because he did not obey you, but went away to your Holiness without consulting our brother Carcedonius, to which act of his the origin of this affliction is to be traced; and afterwards censuring the presbyter (Carcedonius) and Verinus, through whom we found that the ordination of Timotheus had been managed. When all of these admitted, under our rebuke, that in all the things alleged they had done wrong and begged forgiveness, we would have acted with undue haughtiness if we had refused to believe that they were sufficiently corrected. For they could not make that to be not done which had been done; and we by our rebuke were not expecting or desiring to do more than bring them to acknowledge their faults, and grieve over them. By admonition: first, in warning all never to dare again to do such things, lest they should incur God’s wrath; and then especially charging Timotheus, who said that he was bound only by his oath to go to your Grace, that if your Holiness, considering all that we had spoken together on the matter, should, as we hoped might be the case, decide not to have him with you, out of regard for the weak for whom Christ died, who might be offended, and for the discipline of the Church, which it is perilous to disregard, seeing that he had begun to be a reader in this diocese,—he should then, being free from the bond of his oath, devote himself with undisturbed mind to the service of God, to whom we are to give an account of all our actions. By such admonitions as we were able to give, we had also persuaded our brother Carcedonius to submit with perfect resignation to whatever might be seen to be necessary in regard to him for the preservation of the discipline of the Church. By prayer, moreover, we had laboured to correct ourselves, commending both the guidance and the issues of our counsels to the mercy of God, and seeking that if any sinful anger had wounded us, we might be cured by taking refuge under His healing right hand. Behold how much we had corrected by rebuke, admonition, and prayer!

3. And now, considering the bond of charity, that we may not be possessed by Satan,—for we are not ignorant of his devices,—what else ought we to have done than obey your wish, seeing that you thought that what had been done could be remedied in no other way than by our giving back to your authority him in whose person you complained that wrong had been done to you. Even our brother Carcedonius himself consented to this, not indeed without much distress of spirit, on account of which I entreat you to pray for him, but eventually without opposition, believing that he submitted to Christ in submitting to you. Nay, even when I still thought it might be our duty to consider whether I should not write a second letter to you, my brother, while Timotheus still remained here, he himself, with filial reverence, feared to displease you, and cut my deliberations short by not only consenting, but even urging, that Timotheus should be restored to you.

4. I therefore, brother Severus, leave my case to be decided by you. For I am sure that Christ dwells in your heart, and by Him I beseech you to ask counsel from Him, submitting your mind to His direction regarding the question whether, when a man had begun to be a Reader in the Church confided to my care, having read, not once only, but a second and a third time, at Subsana, and in company with the presbyter of the Church of Subsana had done the same also at Turres and Ciza and Verbalis, it is either possible or right that he be pronounced to have never been a Reader. And as we have, in obedience to God, corrected that which was afterwards done contrary to our will, do you also, in obedience to Him, correct in like manner that which was formerly, through your not knowing the facts of the case, wrongly done. For I have no fear of your failing to perceive what a door is opened for breaking down the discipline of the Church, if, when a clergyman of any church has sworn to one of another church that he will not leave him, that other encourage him to remain with him, alleging that he does so that he may not be the occasion of the breaking of an oath; seeing that he who forbids this, and declines to allow the other to remain with him (because that other could by his vow bind only his own conscience), unquestionably preserves the order which is necessary to peace in a way which none can justly censure.

To My Lord Quintianus, My Most Beloved Brother and Fellow-Presbyter, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. We do not disdain to look upon bodies which are defective in beauty, especially seeing that our souls themselves are not yet so beautiful as we hope that they shall be when He who is of ineffable beauty shall have appeared, in whom, though now we see Him not, we believe; for then “we shall be like Him,” when “we shall see Him as He is.” If you receive my counsel in a kindly and brotherly spirit, I exhort you to think thus of your soul, as we do of our own, and not presumptuously imagine that it is already perfect in beauty; but, as the apostle enjoins, “rejoice in hope,” and obey the precept which he annexes to this, when he says, “Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation:” “for we are saved by hope,” as he says again; “but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Let not this patience be wanting in thee, but with a good conscience “wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

2. It is, of course, obvious that if you come to us while debarred from communion with the venerable bishop Aurelius, you cannot be admitted to communion with us; but we would act towards you with that same charity which we are assured shall guide his conduct. Your coming to us, however, should not on this account be embarrassing to us, because the duty of submission to this, out of regard to the discipline of the Church, ought to be felt by yourself, especially if you have the approval of your own conscience, which is known to yourself and to God. For if Aurelius has deferred the examination of your case, he has done this not from dislike to you, but from the pressure of other engagements; and if you knew his circumstances as well as you know your own, the delay would cause you neither surprise nor sorrow. That it is the same with myself, I entreat you to believe on my word, as you are equally unable to know how I am occupied. But there are other bishops older than I am, and both in authority more worthy and in place more convenient, by whose help you may more easily expedite the affairs now pending in the Church committed to your charge. I have not, however, failed to make mention of your distress, and of the complaint in your letter to my venerable brother and colleague the aged Aurelius, whom I esteem with the respect due to his worth; I took care to acquaint him with your innocence of the things laid to your charge, by sending him a copy of your letter. It was not until a day, or at the most two, before Christmas, that I received the letter in which you informed me of his intention to visit the Church at Badesile, by which you fear lest the people be disturbed and influenced against you. I do not therefore presume to address by letter your people; for I could write a reply to any who had written to me, but how could I put myself forward unasked to write to a people not committed to my care?

3. Nevertheless, what I now say to you, who alone have written to me, may, through you, reach others who should hear it. I charge you then, in the first place, not to bring the Church into reproach by reading in the public assemblies those writings which the Canon of the Church has not acknowledged; for by these, heretics, and especially the Manichaeans (of whom I hear that some are lurking, not without encouragement, in your district), are accustomed to subvert the minds of the inexperienced. I am amazed that a man of your wisdom should admonish me to forbid the reception into the monastery of those who have come from you to us, in order that a decree of the Council may be obeyed, and at the same time should forget another decree of the same Council, declaring what are the canonical Scriptures which ought to be read to the people. Read again the proceedings of the Council, and commit them to memory: you will there find that the Canon which you refer to as prohibiting the indiscriminate reception of applicants for admission to a monastery, was not framed in regard to laymen, but applies to the clergy alone. It is true there is no mention of monasteries in the canon; but it is laid down in general, that no one may receive a clergyman belonging to another diocese [except in such a way as upholds the discipline of the Church]. Moreover, it has been enacted in a recent Council, that any who desert a monastery, or are expelled from one, shall not be elsewhere admitted either to clerical office or to the charge of a monastery. If, therefore, you are in any measure disturbed regarding Privatio, let me inform you that he has not yet been received by us into the monastery; but that I have submitted his case to the aged Aurelius, and will act according to his decision. For it seems strange to me, if a man can be reckoned a Reader who has read only once in public, and on that occasion read writings which are not canonical. If for this reason he is regarded as an ecclesiastical reader, it follows that the writing which he read must be esteemed as sanctioned by the Church. But if the writing be not sanctioned by the Church as canonical, it follows that, although a man may have read it to a congregation, he is not thereby made an ecclesiastical reader, [but is, as before, a layman]. Nevertheless I must, in regard to the young man in question, abide by the decision of the arbiter whom I have named.

4. As to the people of Vigesile, who are to us as well as to you beloved in the bowels of Christ, if they have refused to accept a bishop who has been deposed by a plenary Council in Africa, they act wisely, and cannot be compelled to yield, nor ought to be. And whoever shall attempt to compel them by violence to receive him, will show plainly what is his character, and will make men well understand what his real character was at an earlier time, when he would have had them believe no evil of him. For no one more effectually discovers the worthlessness of his cause, than the man who, employing the secular power, or any other kind of violent means, endeavours by agitating and complaining to recover the ecclesiastical rank which he has forfeited. For his desire is not to yield to Christ service which He claims, but to usurp over Christians an authority which they disown. Brethren, be cautious; great is the craft of the devil, but Christ is the wisdom of God.

To the Aged Xantippus, My Lord Most Blessed and Worthy of Veneration, and My Father and Colleague in the Priestly Office, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Saluting your Excellency with the respect due to your worth, and earnestly seeking an interest in your prayers, I beg to submit to the consideration of your wisdom the case of a certain Abundantius, ordained a presbyter in the domain of Strabonia, belonging to my diocese. He had begun to be unfavourably reported of, through his not walking in the way which becomes the servants of God; and I being on this account alarmed, though not believing the rumours without examination, was made more watchful of his conduct, and devoted some pains to obtain, if possible, indisputable evidences of the evil courses with which he was charged. The first thing which I ascertained was, that he had embezzled the money of a countryman, entrusted to him for religious purposes, and could give no satisfactory account of his stewardship. The next thing proved against him, and admitted by his own confession, was, that on Christmas day, on which the fast was observed by the Church of Gippe as by all the other Churches, after taking leave of his colleague the presbyter of Gippe, as if going to his own church about 11 A.M., he remained, without having any ecclesiastic in his company, in the same parish, and dined, supped, and spent the night in the house of a woman of ill fame. It happened that lodging in the same place was one of our clergy of Hippo, who had gone thither; and as the facts were known beyond dispute to this witness, Abundantius could not deny the charge. As to the things which he did deny, I left them to the divine tribunal, passing sentence upon him only in regard to those things which he had not been permitted to conceal. I was afraid to leave him in charge of a Church, especially of one placed as his was, in the very midst of rabid and barking heretics. And when he begged me to give him a letter with a statement of his case to the presbyter of the parish of Armema, in the district of Bulla, from which he had come to us, so as to prevent any exaggerated suspicion there of his character, and in order that he might there live, if possible, a more consistent life, having no duties as a presbyter, I was moved by compassion to do as he desired. At the same time, it was very specially incumbent on me to submit to your wisdom these facts, lest any deception should be practised upon you.

2. I pronounced sentence in his case one hundred days before Easter Sunday, which falls this year on the 7th of April. I have taken care to acquaint you with the date, because of the decree of Council, which I also did not conceal from him, but explained to him the law of the Church, that if he thought anything could be done to reverse my decision, unless he began proceedings with this view within a year, no one would, after the lapse of that time, listen to his pleading. For my own part, my lord most blessed, and father worthy of all veneration, I assure you that if I did not think that these instances of vicious conversation in an ecclesiastic, especially when accompanied with an evil reputation, deserved to be visited with the punishment appointed by the Council, I would be compelled now to attempt to sift things which cannot be known, and either to condemn the accused upon doubtful evidence, or acquit him for want of proof. When a presbyter, upon a day of fasting which was observed as such also in the place in which he was, having taken leave of his colleague in the ministry in that place, and being unattended by any ecclesiastic, ventured to tarry in the house of a woman of ill fame, and to dine and sup and spend the night there, it seemed to me, whatever others might think, that he behoved to be deposed from his office, as I durst not commit to his charge a Church of God. If it should so happen that a different opinion be held by the ecclesiastical judges to whom he may appeal, seeing that it has been decreed by the Council that the decision of six bishops be final in the case of a presbyter, let who will commit to him a Church within his jurisdiction, I confess, for my own part, that I fear to entrust any congregation whatever to persons like him, especially when nothing in the way of general good character can be alleged as a reason for excusing these delinquencies; lest, if he were to break forth into some more ruinous wickedness, I should be compelled with sorrow to blame myself for the harm done by his crime.

Addressed, Without Salutation, to Crispinus, the Donatist Bishop of Calama.

1. You ought to have been influenced by the fear of God; but since, in your work of rebaptizing the Mappalians, you have chosen to take advantage of the fear with which as man you could inspire them, let me ask you what hinders the order of the sovereign from being carried out in the province, when the order of the governor of the province has been so fully enforced in a village? If you compare the persons concerned, you are but a vassal in possession; he is the Emperor. If you compare the positions of both, you are in a property, he is on a throne; if you compare the causes maintained by both, his aim is to heal division, and yours is to rend unity in twain. But we do not bid you stand in awe of man: though we might take steps to compel you to pay, according to the imperial decree, ten pounds of gold as the penalty of your outrage. Perhaps you might be unable to pay the fine imposed upon those who rebaptize members of the Church, having been involved in so much expense in buying people whom you might compel to submit to the rite. But, as I have said, we do not bid you be afraid of man: rather let Christ fill you with fear. I should like to know what answer you could give Him, if He said to you: “Crispinus, was it a great price which you paid in order to buy the fear of the Mappalian peasantry; and does My death, the price paid by Me to purchase the love of all nations, seem little in your eyes? Was the money which was counted out from your purse in acquiring these serfs in order to their being rebaptized, a more costly sacrifice than the blood which flowed from My side in redeeming the nations in order to their being baptized?” I know that, if you would listen to Christ, you might hear many more such appeals, and might, even by the possession which you have obtained, be warned how impious are the things which you have spoken against Christ. For if you think that your title to hold what you have bought with money is sure by human law, how much more sure, by divine law, is Christ’s title to that which He hath bought with His own blood! And it is true that He of whom it is written, “He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” shall hold with invincible might all which He has purchased; but how can you expect with any assurance to retain that which you think you have made your own by purchase in Africa, when you affirm that Christ has lost the whole world, and been left with Africa alone as His portion?

2. But why multiply words? If these Mappalians have passed of their own free will into your communion, let them hear both you and me on the question which divides us,—the words of each of us being written down, and translated into the Punic tongue after having been attested by our signatures; and then, all pressure through fear of their superior being removed, let these vassals choose what they please. For by the things which we shall say it will be made manifest whether they remain in error under coercion, or hold what they believe to be truth with their own consent. They either understand these matters, or they do not: if they do not, how could you dare to transfer them in their ignorance to your communion? and if they do, let them, as I have said, hear both sides, and act freely for themselves. If there be any communities that have passed over from you to us, which you believe to have yielded to the pressure of their superiors, let the same be done in their case; let them hear both sides, and choose for themselves. Now, if you reject this proposal, who can fail to be convinced that your reliance is not upon the force of truth? But you ought to beware of the wrath of God both here and hereafter. I adjure you by Christ to give a reply to what I have written.

To My Lord Most Beloved and Longed For, My Honoured Brother in Christ, and Fellow-Presbyter, Jerome, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. I have heard that my letter has come to your hand. I have not yet received a reply, but I do not on this account question your affection; doubtless something has hitherto prevented you. Wherefore I know and avow that my prayer should be, that God would put it in your power to forward your reply, for He has already given you power to prepare it, seeing that you can do so with the utmost ease if you feel disposed.

Chap. II

2. I have hesitated whether to give credence or not to a certain report which has reached me; but I felt that I ought not to hesitate as to writing a few lines to you regarding the matter. To be brief, I have heard that some brethren have told your Charity that I have written a book against you and have sent it to Rome. Be assured that this is false: I call God to witness that I have not done this. But if perchance there be some things in some of my writings in which I am found to have been of a different opinion from you, I think you ought to know, or if it cannot be certainly known, at least to believe, that such things have been written not with a view of contradicting you, but only of stating my own views. In saying this, however, let me assure you that not only am I most ready to hear in a brotherly spirit the objections which you may entertain to anything in my writings which has displeased you, but I entreat, nay implore you, to acquaint me with them; and thus I shall be made glad either by the correction of my mistake, or at least by the expression of your goodwill.

3. Oh that it were in my power, by our living near each other, if not under the same roof, to enjoy frequent and sweet conference with you in the Lord! Since, however, this is not granted, I beg you to take pains that this one way in which we can be together in the Lord be kept up; nay more, improved and perfected. Do not refuse to write me in return, however seldom.

Greet with my respects our holy brother Paulinianus, and all the brethren who with you, and because of you, rejoice in the Lord. May you, remembering us, be heard by the Lord in regard to all your holy desires, my lord most beloved and longed for, my honoured brother in Christ.

To Augustin, My Lord, Truly Holy and Most Blessed Father, Jerome Sends Greeting in Christ.

1. When my kinsman, our holy son Asterius, subdeacon, was just on the point of beginning his journey, the letter of your Grace arrived, in which you clear yourself of the charge of having sent to Rome a book written against your humble servant. I had not heard that charge; but by our brother Sysinnius, deacon, copies of a letter addressed by some one apparently to me have come hither. In the said letter I am exhorted to sing the palinodia, confessing mistake in regard to a paragraph of the apostle’s writing, and to imitate Stesichorus, who, vacillating between disparagement and praises of Helen, recovered, by praising her, the eyesight which he had forfeited by speaking against her. Although the style and the method of argument appeared to be yours, I must frankly confess to your Excellency that I did not think it right to assume without examination the authenticity of a letter of which I had only seen copies, lest perchance, if offended by my reply, you should with justice complain that it was my duty first to have made sure that you were the author, and only after that was ascertained, to address you in reply. Another reason for my delay was the protracted illness of the pious and venerable Paula. For, while occupied long in attending upon her in severe illness, I had almost forgotten your letter, or more correctly, the letter written in your name, remembering the verse, “Like music in the day of mourning is an unseasonable discourse.” Therefore, if it is your letter, write me frankly that it is so, or send me a more accurate copy, in order that without any passionate rancour we may devote ourselves to discuss scriptural truth; and I may either correct my own mistake, or show that another has without good reason found fault with me.

2. Far be it from me to presume to attack anything which your Grace has written. For it is enough for me to prove my own views without controverting what others hold. But it is well known to one of your wisdom, that every one is satisfied with his own opinion, and that it is puerile self-sufficiency to seek, as young men have of old been wont to do, to gain glory to one’s own name by assailing men who have become renowned. I am not so foolish as to think myself insulted by the fact that you give an explanation different from mine; since you, on the other hand, are not wronged by my views being contrary to those which you maintain. But that is the kind of reproof by which friends may truly benefit each other, when each, not seeing his own bag of faults, observes, as Persius has it, the wallet borne by the other. Let me say further, love one who loves you, and do not because you are young challenge a veteran in the field of Scripture. I have had my time, and have run my course to the utmost of my strength. It is but fair that I should rest, while you in your turn run and accomplish great distances; at the same time (with your leave, and without intending any disrespect), lest it should seem that to quote from the poets is a thing which you alone can do, let me remind you of the encounter between Dares and Entellus, and of the proverb, “The tired ox treads with a firmer step.” With sorrow I have dictated these words. Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!

3. With his usual effrontery, Calphurnius, surnamed Lanarius, has sent me his execrable writings, which I understand that he has been at pains to disseminate in Africa also. To these I have replied in past, and shortly; and I have sent you a copy of my treatise, intending by the first opportunity to send you a larger work, when I have leisure to prepare it. In this treatise I have been careful not to offend Christian feeling in any, but only to confute the lies and hallucinations arising from his ignorance and madness.

Remember me, holy and venerable father. See how sincerely I love thee, in that I am unwilling, even when challenged, to reply, and refuse to believe you to be the author of that which in another I would sharply rebuke. Our brother Communis sends his respectful salutation.

To Their Justly Beloved Lord Castorius, Their Truly Welcomed and Worthily Honoured Son, Alypius and Augustin Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. An attempt was made by the enemy of Christians to cause, by occasion of our very dear and sweet son your brother, the agitation of a most dangerous scandal within the Catholic Church, which as a mother welcomed you to her affectionate embrace when you fled from a disinherited and separated fragment into the heritage of Christ; the desire of that enemy being evidently to becloud with unseemly melancholy the calm beauty of joy which was imparted to us by the blessing of your conversion. But the Lord our God, who is compassionate and merciful, who comforteth them that are cast down, nourishing the infants, and cherishing the infirm, permitted him to gain in some measure success in this design, only to make us rejoice more over the prevention of the calamity than we grieved over the danger. For it is a far more magnanimous thing to have resigned the onerous responsibilities of the bishop’s dignity in order to save the Church from danger, than to have accepted these in order to have a share in her government. He truly proves that he was worthy of holding that office, had the interests of peace permitted him to do so, who does not insist upon retaining it when he cannot do so without endangering the peace of the Church. It has accordingly pleased God to show, by means of your brother, our beloved son Maximianus, unto the enemies of His Church, that there are within her those who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ. For in laying down that ministry of stewardship of the mysteries of God, he was not deserting his duty under the pressure of some worldly desire, but acting under the impulse of a pious love of peace, lest, on account of the honour conferred upon him, there should arise among the members of Christ an unseemly and dangerous, perhaps even fatal, dissension. For could anything have been more infatuated and worthy of utter reprobation, than to forsake schismatics because of the peace of the Catholic Church, and then to trouble that same Catholic peace by the question of one’s own rank and preferment? On the other hand, could anything be more praiseworthy, and more in accordance with Christian charity, than that, after having forsaken the frenzied pride of the Donatists, he should, in the manner of his cleaving to the heritage of Christ, give such a signal proof of humility under the power of love for the unity of the Church? As for him, therefore, we rejoice indeed that he has been proved of such stability that the storm of this temptation has not cast down what divine truth had built in his heart; and therefore we desire and pray the Lord to grant that, by his life and conversation in the future, he may make it more and more manifest how well he would have discharged the responsibilities of that office which he would have accepted if that had been his duty. May that eternal peace which is promised to the Church be given in recompense to him, who discerned that the things which were not compatible with the peace of the Church were not expedient for him!

2. As for you, our dear son, in whom we have great joy, since you are not restrained from accepting the office of bishop by any such considerations as have guided your brother in declining it, it becomes one of your disposition to devote to Christ that which is in you by His own gift. Your talents, prudence, eloquence, gravity, self-control, and everything else which adorns your conversation, are the gifts of God. To what service can they be more fittingly devoted than to His by whom they were bestowed, in order that they may be preserved, increased, perfected, and rewarded by Him? Let them not be devoted to the service of this world, lest with it they pass away and perish. We know that, in dealing with you, it is not necessary to insist much on your reflecting, as you may so easily do, upon the hopes of vain men, their insatiable desires, and the uncertainty of life. Away, therefore, with every expectation of deceptive and earthly felicity which your mind had grasped: labour in the vineyard of God, where the fruit is sure, where so many promises have already received so large measure of fulfilment, that it would be the height of madness to despair as to those which remain. We beseech you by the divinity and humanity of Christ, and by the peace of that heavenly city where we receive eternal rest after labouring for the time of our pilgrimage, to take the place as the bishop of the Church of Vagina which your brother has resigned, not under ignominious deposition, but by magnanimous concession. Let that people for whom we expect the richest increase of blessings through your mind and tongue, endowed and adorned by the gifts of God,—let that people, we say, perceive through you, that in what your brother has done, he was consulting not his own indolence, but their peace.

We have given orders that this letter be not read to you until those to whom you are necessary hold you in actual possession. For we hold you in the bond of spiritual love, because to us also you are very necessary as a colleague. Our reason for not coming in person to you, you shall afterwards learn.

This letter is addressed by Alypius and Augustin to Naucelio, a person through whom they had discussed the question of the Donatist schism with Clarentius, an aged Donatist bishop (probably the same with the Numidian bishop of Tabraca, who took part in the Conference at Carthage in 411 a.d.). The ground traversed in the letter is the same as in pages 296 and 297, in Letter LI., regarding the inconsistencies of the Donatists in the case of Felicianus of Musti. We therefore leave it untranslated.

To My Venerable Lord Jerome, My Esteemed and Holy Brother and Fellow-Presbyter, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. Never since I began to write to you, and to long for your writing in return, have I met with a better opportunity for our exchanging communications than now, when my letter is to be carried to you by a most faithful servant and minister of God, who is also a very dear friend of mine, namely, our son Cyprian, deacon. Through him I expect to receive a letter from you with all the certainty which is in a matter of this kind possible. For the son whom I have named will not be found wanting in respect of zeal in asking, or persuasive influence in obtaining a reply from you; nor will he fail in diligently keeping, promptly bearing, and faithfully delivering the same. I only pray that if I be in any way worthy of this, the Lord may give His help and favour to your heart and to my desire, so that no higher will may hinder that which your brotherly goodwill inclines you to do.

2. As I have sent you two letters already to which I have received no reply, I have resolved to send you at this time copies of both of them, for I suppose that they never reached you. If they did reach you, and your replies have failed, as may be the case, to reach me, send me a second time the same as you sent before, if you have copies of them preserved: if you have not, dictate again what I may read, and do not refuse to send to these former letters the answer for which I have been waiting so long. My first letter to you, which I had prepared while I was a presbyter, was to be delivered to you by a brother of ours, Profuturus, who afterwards became my colleague in the episcopate, and has since then departed from this life; but he could not then bear it to you in person, because at the very time when he intended to begin his journey, he was prevented by his ordination to the weighty office of bishop, and shortly afterwards he died. This letter I have resolved also to send at this time, that you may know how long I have cherished a burning desire for conversation with you, and with what reluctance I submit to the remote separation which prevents my mind from having access to yours through our bodily senses, my brother, most amiable and honoured among the members of the Lord.

Chap. II

3. In this letter I have further to say, that I have since heard that you have translated Job out of the original Hebrew, although in your own translation of the same prophet from the Greek tongue we had already a version of that book. In that earlier version you marked with asterisks the words found in the Hebrew but wanting in the Greek, and with obelisks the words found in the Greek but wanting in the Hebrew; and this was done with such astonishing exactness, that in some places we have every word distinguished by a separate asterisk, as a sign that these words are in the Hebrew, but not in the Greek. Now, however, in this more recent version from the Hebrew, there is not the same scrupulous fidelity as to the words; and it perplexes any thoughtful reader to understand either what was the reason for marking the asterisks in the former version with so much care that they indicate the absence from the Greek version of even the smallest grammatical particles which have not been rendered from the Hebrew, or what is the reason for so much less care having been taken in this recent version from the Hebrew to secure that these same particles be found in their own places. I would have put down here an extract or two in illustration of this criticism; but at present I have not access to the Ms. of the translation from the Hebrew. Since, however, your quick discernment anticipates and goes beyond not only what I have said, but also what I meant to say, you already understand, I think, enough to be able, by giving the reason for the plan which you have adopted, to explain what perplexes me.

4. For my part, I would much rather that you would furnish us with a translation of the Greek version of the canonical Scriptures known as the work of the Seventy translators. For if your translation begins to be more generally read in many churches, it will be a grievous thing that, in the reading of Scripture, differences must arise between the Latin Churches and the Greek Churches, especially seeing that the discrepancy is easily condemned in a Latin version by the production of the original in Greek, which is a language very widely known; whereas, if any one has been disturbed by the occurrence of something to which he was not accustomed in the translation taken from the Hebrew, and alleges that the new translation is wrong, it will be found difficult, if not impossible, to get at the Hebrew documents by which the version to which exception is taken may be defended. And when they are obtained, who will submit to have so many Latin and Greek authorities pronounced to be in the wrong? Besides all this, Jews, if consulted as to the meaning of the Hebrew text, may give a different opinion from yours: in which case it will seem as if your presence were indispensable, as being the only one who could refute their view; and it would be a miracle if one could be found capable of acting as arbiter between you and them.

Chap. III

5. A certain bishop, one of our brethren, having introduced in the church over which he presides the reading of your version, came upon a word in the book of the prophet Jonah, of which you have given a very different rendering from that which had been of old familiar to the senses and memory of all the worshippers, and had been chanted for so many generations in the church. Thereupon arose such a tumult in the congregation, especially among the Greeks, correcting what had been read, and denouncing the translation as false, that the bishop was compelled to ask the testimony of the Jewish residents (it was in the town of Oea). These, whether from ignorance or from spite, answered that the words in the Hebrew Mss. were correctly rendered in the Greek version, and in the Latin one taken from it. What further need I say? The man was compelled to correct your version in that passage as if it had been falsely translated, as he desired not to be left without a congregation,—a calamity which he narrowly escaped. From this case we also are led to think that you may be occasionally mistaken. You will also observe how great must have been the difficulty if this had occurred in those writings which cannot be explained by comparing the testimony of languages now in use.

Chap. IV

6. At the same time, we are in no small measure thankful to God for the work in which you have translated the Gospels from the original Greek, because in almost every passage we have found nothing to object to, when we compared it with the Greek Scriptures. By this work, any disputant who supports an old false translation is either convinced or confuted with the utmost ease by the production and collation of Mss. And if, as indeed very rarely happens, something be found to which exception may be taken, who would be so unreasonable as not to excuse it readily in a work so useful that it cannot be too highly praised? I wish you would have the kindness to open up to me what you think to be the reason of the frequent discrepancies between the text supported by the Hebrew codices and the Greek Septuagint version. For the latter has no mean authority, seeing that it has obtained so wide circulation, and was the one which the apostles used, as is not only proved by looking to the text itself, but has also been, as I remember, affirmed by yourself. You would therefore confer upon us a much greater boon if you gave an exact Latin translation of the Greek Septuagint version: for the variations found in the different codices of the Latin text are intolerably numerous; and it is so justly open to suspicion as possibly different from what is to be found in the Greek, that one has no confidence in either quoting it or proving anything by its help.

I thought that this letter was to be a short one, but it has somehow been as pleasant to me to go on with it as if I were talking with you. I conclude with entreating you by the Lord kindly to send me a full reply, and thus give me, so far as is in your power, the pleasure of your presence.

To Augustin, My Lord Truly Holy, and Most Blessed Father, Jerome Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. You are sending me letter upon letter, and often urging me to answer a certain letter of yours, a copy of which, without your signature, had reached me through our brother Sysinnius, deacon, as I have already written, which letter you tell me that you entrusted first to our brother Profuturus, and afterwards to some one else; but that Profuturus was prevented from finishing his intended journey, and having been ordained a bishop, was removed by sudden death; and the second messenger, whose name you do not give, was afraid of the perils of the sea, and gave up the voyage which he had intended. These things being so, I am at a loss to express my surprise that the same letter is reported to be in the possession of most of the Christians in Rome, and throughout Italy, and has come to every one but myself, to whom alone it was ostensibly sent. I wonder at this all the more, because the brother Sysinnius aforesaid tells me that he found it among the rest of your published works, not in Africa, not in your possession, but in an island of the Adriatic some five years ago.

2. True friendship can harbour no suspicion; a friend must speak to his friend as freely as to his second self. Some of my acquaintances, vessels of Christ, of whom there is a very large number in Jerusalem and in the holy places, suggested to me that this had not been done by you in a guileless spirit, but through desire for praise and celebrity, and eclat in the eyes of the people, intending to become famous at my expense; that many might know that you challenged me, and I feared to meet you; that you had written as a man of learning, and I had by silence confessed my ignorance, and had at last found one who knew how to stop my garrulous tongue. I, however, let me say it frankly, refused at first to answer your Excellency, because I did not believe that the letter, or as I may call it (using a proverbial expression), the honeyed sword, was sent from you. Moreover, I was cautious lest I should seem to answer uncourteously a bishop of my own communion, and to censure anything in the letter of one who censured me, especially as I judged some of its statements to be tainted with heresy. Lastly, I was afraid lest you should have reason to remonstrate with me, saying, “What! had you seen the letter to be mine,—had you discovered in the signature attached to it the autograph of a hand well known to you, when you so carelessly wounded the feelings of your friend, and reproached me with that which the malice of another had conceived?”

Chap. II

3. Wherefore, as I have already written, either send me the identical letter in question subscribed with your own hand, or desist from annoying an old man, who seeks retirement in his monastic cell. If you wish to exercise or display your learning, choose as your antagonists, young, eloquent, and illustrious men, of whom it is said that many are found in Rome, who may be neither unable nor afraid to meet you, and to enter the lists with a bishop in debates concerning the Sacred Scriptures. As for me, a soldier once, but a retired veteran now, it becomes me rather to applaud the victories won by you and others, than with my worn-out body to take part in the conflict; beware lest, if you persist in demanding a reply, I call to mind the history of the way in which Quintus Maximus by his patience defeated Hannibal, who was, in the pride of youth, confident of success.

“Omnia fert aetas, animum quoque. Saepe ego longos

Cantando puerum memini me condere soles;

Nunc oblita mihi tot carmina: vox quoque Moerin

Jam fugit ipsa.”

Or rather, to quote an instance from Scripture: Barzillai of Gilead, when he declined in favour of his youthful son the kindnesses of King David and all the charms of his court, taught us that old age ought neither to desire these things, nor to accept them when offered.

4. As to your calling God to witness that you had not written a book against me, and of course had not sent to Rome what you had never written, adding that, if perchance some things were found in your works in which a different opinion from mine was advanced, no wrong had thereby been done to me, because you had, without any intention of offending me, written only what you believed to be right; I beg you to hear me with patience. You never wrote a book against me: how then has there been brought to me a copy, written by another hand, of a treatise containing a rebuke administered to me by you? How comes Italy to possess a treatise of yours which you did not write? Nay, how can you reasonably ask me to reply to that which you solemnly assure me was never written by you? Nor am I so foolish as to think that I am insulted by you, if in anything your opinion differs from mine. But if, challenging me as it were to single combat, you take exception to my views, and demand a reason for what I have written, and insist upon my correcting what you judge to be an error, and call upon me to recant it in a humble palinodi’a, and speak of your curing me of blindness; in this I maintain that friendship is wounded, and the laws of brotherly union are set at nought. Let not the world see us quarrelling like children, and giving material for angry contention between those who may become our respective supporters or adversaries. I write what I have now written, because I desire to cherish towards you pure and Christian love, and not to hide in my heart anything which does not agree with the utterance of my lips. For it does not become me, who have spent my life from youth until now, sharing the arduous labours of pious brethren in an obscure monastery, to presume to write anything against a bishop of my own communion, especially against one whom I had begun to love before I knew him, who also sought my friendship before I sought his, and whom I rejoiced to see rising as a successor to myself in the careful study of the Scriptures. Wherefore either disown that book, if you are not its author, and give over urging me to reply to that which you never wrote; or if the book is yours, admit it frankly; so that if I write anything in self-defence, the responsibility may lie on you who gave, not on me who am forced to accept, the challenge.

Chap. III

5. You say also, that if there be anything in your writings which has displeased me, and which I would wish to correct, you are ready to receive my criticism as a brother; and you not only assure me that you would rejoice in such proof of my goodwill toward you, but you earnestly ask me to do this. I tell you again, without reserve, what I feel: you are challenging an old man, disturbing the peace of one who asks only to be allowed to be silent, and you seem to desire to display your learning. It is not for one of my years to give the impression of enviously disparaging one whom I ought rather to encourage by approbation. And if the ingenuity of perverse men finds something which they may plausibly censure in the writings even of evangelists and prophets, are you amazed if, in your books, especially in your exposition of passages in Scripture which are exceedingly difficult of interpretation, some things be found which are not perfectly correct? This I say, however, not because I can at this time pronounce anything in your works to merit censure. For, in the first place, I have never read them with attention; and in the second place, we have not beside us a supply of copies of what you have written, excepting the books of Soliloquies and Commentaries on some of the Psalms; which, if I were disposed to criticise them, I could prove to be at variance, I shall not say with my own opinion, for I am nobody, but with the interpretations of the older Greek commentators.

Farewell, my very dear friend, my son in years, my father in ecclesiastical dignity; and to this I most particularly request your attention, that henceforth you make sure that I be the first to receive whatever you may write to me.

To Jerome, My Venerable and Most Esteemed Brother and Fellow-Presbyter Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. Although I suppose that, before this reaches you, you have received through our son the deacon Cyprian, a servant of God, the letter which I sent by him, from which you would be apprised with certainty that I wrote the letter of which you mentioned that a copy had been brought to you; in consequence of which I suppose that I have begun already, like the rash Dares, to be beaten and belaboured by the missiles and the merciless fists of a second Entellus in the reply which you have written; nevertheless I answer in the meantime the letter which you have deigned to send me by our holy son Asterius, in which I have found many proofs of your most kind goodwill to me, and at the same time some signs of your having in some measure felt agrieved by me. In reading it, therefore, I was no sooner soothed by one sentence than I was buffeted in another; my wonder being especially called forth by this, that after alleging, as your reason for not rashly accepting as authentic the letter from me of which you had a copy, the fact that, offended by your reply, I might justly remonstrate with you, because you ought first to have ascertained that it was mine before answering it, you go on to command me to acknowledge the letter frankly if it is mine, or send a more reliable copy of it, in order that we may, without any bitterness of feeling, address ourselves to the discussion of scriptural doctrine. For how can we engage in such discussion without bitterness of feeling, if you have made up your mind to offend me? or, if your mind is not made up to this, what reason could I have had, when you did not offend me, for justly complaining as having been offended by you, that you ought first to have made sure that the letter was mine, and only then to have replied, that is to say, only then to have offended me? For if there had been nothing to offend me in your reply, I could have had no just ground of complaint. Accordingly, when you write such a reply to that letter as must offend me, what hope is left of our engaging without any bitterness in the discussion of scriptural doctrine? Far be it from me to take offence if you are willing and able to prove, by incontrovertible argument, that you have apprehended more correctly than I have the meaning of that passage in Paul’s Epistle [to the Galatians], or of any other text in Holy Scripture: nay, more, far be it from me to count it aught else than gain to myself, and cause of thankfulness to you, if in anything I am either informed by your teaching or set right by your correction.

2. But, my very dear brother, you could not think that I could be offended by your reply, had you not thought that you were offended by what I had written. For I could never have entertained concerning you the idea that you had not felt yourself offended by me if you so framed your reply as to offend me in return. If, on the other hand, I have been supposed by you to be capable of such preposterous folly as to take offence when you had not written in such a way as to give me occasion, you have in this already wronged me, that you have entertained such an opinion of me. But surely you who are so cautious, that although you recognised my style in the letter of which you had a copy, you refused to believe its authenticity, would not without consideration believe me to be so different from what your experience has proved me to be. For if you had good reason for seeing that I might justly complain had you hastily concluded that a letter not written by me was mine, how much more reasonably may I complain if you form, without consideration, such an estimate of myself as is contradicted by your own experience! You would not therefore go so far astray in your judgment as to believe, when you had written nothing by which I could be offended, that I would nevertheless be so foolish as to be capable of being offended by such a reply.

Chap. II

3. There can therefore be no doubt that you were prepared to reply in such a way as would offend me, if you had only indisputable evidence that the letter was mine. Accordingly, since I do not believe that you would think it right to offend me unless you had just cause, it remains for me to confess, as I now do, my fault as having been the first to offend by writing that letter which I cannot deny to be mine. Why should I strive to swim against the current, and not rather ask pardon? I therefore entreat you by the mercy of Christ to forgive me wherein I have injured you, and not to render evil for evil by injuring me in return. For it will be an injury to me if you pass over in silence anything which you find wrong in either word or action of mine. If, indeed, you rebuke in me that which merits no rebuke, you do wrong to yourself, not to me; for far be it from one of your life and holy vows to rebuke merely from a desire to give offence, using the tongue of malice to condemn in me that which by the truth-revealing light of reason you know to deserve no blame. Therefore either rebuke kindly him whom, though he is free from fault, you think to merit rebuke; or with a father’s kindness soothe him whom you cannot bring to agree with you. For it is possible that your opinion may be at variance with the truth, while notwithstanding your actions are in harmony with Christian charity: for I also shall most thankfully receive your rebuke as a most friendly action, even though the thing censured be capable of defence, and therefore ought not to have been censured; or else I shall acknowledge both your kindness and my fault, and shall be found, so far as the Lord enables me, grateful for the one, and corrected in regard to the other.

4. Why, then, shall I fear your words, hard, perhaps, like the boxing-gloves of Entellus, but certainly fitted to do me good? The blows of Entellus were intended not to heal, but to harm, and therefore his antagonist was conquered, not cured. But I, if I receive your correction calmly as a necessary medicine, shall not be pained by it. If, however, through weakness, either common to human nature or peculiar to myself, I cannot help feeling some pain from rebuke, even when I am justly reproved, it is far better to have a tumour in one’s head cured, though the lance cause pain, than to escape the pain by letting the disease go on. This was clearly seen by him who said that, for the most part, our enemies who expose our faults are more useful than friends who are afraid to reprove us. For the former, in their angry recriminations, sometimes charge us with what we indeed require to correct; but the latter, through fear of destroying the sweetness of friendship, show less boldness on behalf of right than they ought. Since, therefore, you are, to quote your own comparison, an ox worn out, perhaps, as to your bodily strength by reason of years, but unimpaired in mental vigour, and toiling still assiduously and with profit in the Lord’s threshing-floor; here am I, and in whatever I have spoken amiss, tread firmly on me: the weight of your venerable age should not be grievous to me, if the chaff of my fault be so bruised under foot as to be separated from me.

5. Let me further say, that it is with the utmost affectionate yearning that I read or recollect the words at the end of your letter, “Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning.” For my part, I say,—Would that we were even dwelling in parts of the earth less widely separated; so that if we could not meet for converse, we might at least have a more frequent exchange of letters. For as it is, so great is the distance by which we are prevented from any kind of access to each other through the eye and ear, that I remember writing to your Holiness regarding these words in the Epistle to the Galatians when I was young; and behold I am now advanced in age, and have not yet received a reply, and a copy of my letter has reached you by some strange accident earlier than the letter itself, about the transmission of which I took no small pains. For the man to whom I entrusted it neither delivered it to you nor returned it to me. So great in my esteem is the value of those of your writings which we have been able to procure, that I should prefer to all other studies the privilege, if it were attainable by me, of sitting by your side and learning from you. Since I cannot do this myself, I propose to send to you one of my sons in the Lord, that he may for my benefit be instructed by you, in the event of my receiving from you a favourable reply in regard to the matter. For I have not now, and I can never hope to have, such knowledge of the Divine Scriptures as I see you possess. Whatever abilities I may have for such study, I devote entirely to the instruction of the people whom God has entrusted to me; and I am wholly precluded by my ecclesiastical occupations from having leisure for any further prosecution of my studies than is necessary for my duty in public teaching.

Chap. III

6. I am not acquainted with the writings speaking injuriously of you, which you tell me have come into Africa. I have, however, received the reply to these which you have been pleased to send. After reading it, let me say frankly, I have been exceedingly grieved that the mischief of such painful discord has arisen between persons once so loving and intimate, and formerly united by the bond of a friendship which was well known in almost all the Churches. In that treatise of yours, any one may see how you are keeping yourself under restraint, and holding back the stinging keenness of your indignation, lest you should render railing for railing. If, however, even in reading this reply of yours, I fainted with grief and shuddered with fear, what would be the effect produced in me by the things which he has written against you, if they should come into my possession! “Woe unto the world because of offences!” Behold the complete fulfilment of which He who is Truth foretold: “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” For what trusting hearts can now pour themselves forth with any assurance of their confidence being reciprocated? Into whose breast may confiding love now throw itself without reserve? In short, where is the friend who may not be feared as possibly a future enemy, if the breach that we deplore could arise between Jerome and Rufinus? Oh, sad and pitiable is our portion! Who can rely upon the affection of his friends because of what he knows them to be now, when he has no foreknowledge of what they shall afterwards become? But why should I reckon it cause for sorrow, that one man is thus ignorant of what another may become, when no man knows even what he himself is afterwards to be? The utmost that he knows, and that he knows but imperfectly, is his present condition; of what he shall hereafter become he has no knowledge.

7. Do the holy and blessed angels possess not only this knowledge of their actual character, but also a foreknowledge of what they shall afterward become? If they do, I cannot see how it was possible for Satan ever to have been happy, even while he was still a good angel, knowing, as in this case he must have known, his future transgression and eternal punishment. I would wish to hear what you think as to this question, if indeed it be one which it would be profitable for us to be able to answer. But mark here what I suffer from the lands and seas which keep us, so far as the body is concerned, distant from each other. If I were myself the letter which you are now reading, you might have told me already what I have just asked; but now, when will you write me a reply? when will you get it sent away? when will it come here? when shall I receive it? And yet, would that I were sure that it would come at last, though meanwhile I must summon all the patience which I can command to endure the unwelcome but unavoidable delay! Wherefore I come back to those most delightful words of your letter, filled with your holy longing, and I in turn appropriate them as my own: “Would that I might receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning,”—if indeed there be any sense in which I could possibly impart instruction to you.

8. When by these words, now mine not less than yours, I am gladdened and refreshed, and when I am comforted not a little by the fact that in both of us a desire for mutual fellowship exists, though meanwhile unsatisfied, it is not long before I am pierced through by darts of keenest sorrow when I consider Rufinus and you, to whom God had granted in fullest measure and for a length of time that which both of us have longed for, so that in most close and endearing fellowship you feasted together on the honey of the Holy Scriptures, and think how between you the blight of such exceeding bitterness has found its way, constraining us to ask when, where, and in whom the same calamity may not be reasonably feared; seeing that it has befallen you at the very time when, unencumbered, having cast away secular burdens, you were following the Lord and were living together in that very land which was trodden by the feet of our Lord, when He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you;” being, moreover, men of mature age, whose life was devoted to the study of the word of God. Truly “man’s life on earth is a period of trial.” If I could anywhere meet you both together—which, alas, I cannot hope to do—so strong are my agitation, grief, and fear, that I think I would cast myself at your feet, and there weeping till I could weep no more, would, with all the eloquence of love, appeal first to each of you for his own sake, then to both for each other’s sake, and for the sake of those, especially the weak, “for whom Christ died,” whose salvation is in peril, as they look on you who occupy a place so conspicuous on the stage of time; imploring you not to write and scatter abroad these hard words against each other, which, if at any time you who are now at variance were reconciled, you could not destroy, and which you could not then venture to read lest strife should be kindled anew.

9. But I say to your Charity, that nothing has made me tremble more than your estrangement from Rufinus, when I read in your letter some of the indications of your being displeased with me. I refer not so much to what you say of Entellus and of the wearied ox, in which you appear to me to use genial pleasantry rather than angry threat, but to that which you have evidently written in earnest, of which I have already spoken perhaps more than was fitting, but not more than my fears compelled me to do,—namely, the words, “lest perchance, being offended, you should have reason to remonstrate with me.” If it be possible for us to examine and discuss anything by which our hearts may be nourished, without any bitterness of discord I entreat you let us address ourselves to this. But if it is not possible for either of us to point out what he may judge to demand correction in the other’s writings, without being suspected of envy and regarded as wounding friendship, let us, having regard to our spiritual life and health, leave such conference alone. Let us content ourselves with smaller attainments in that [knowledge] which puffeth up, if we can thereby preserve unharmed that [charity] which edifieth. I feel that I come far short of that perfection of which it is written, “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man;” but through God’s mercy I truly believe myself able to ask your forgiveness for that in which I have offended you: and this you ought to make plain to me, that through my hearing you, you may gain your brother. Nor should you make it a reason for leaving me in error, that the distance between us on the earth’s surface makes it impossible for us to meet face to face. As concerns the subjects into which we inquire, if I know, or believe, or think that I have got hold of the truth in a matter in which your opinion is different from mine, I shall by all means endeavour, as the Lord may enable me, to maintain my view without injuring you. And as to any offence which I may give to you, so soon as I perceive your displeasure, I shall unreservedly beg your forgiveness.

10. I think, moreover, that your reason for being displeased with me can only be, that I have either said what I ought not, or have not expressed myself in the manner in which I ought: for I do not wonder that we are less thoroughly known to each other than we are to our most close and intimate friends. Upon the love of such friends I readily cast myself without reservation, especially when chafed and wearied by the scandals of this world; and in their love I rest without any disturbing care: for I perceive that God is there, on whom I confidingly cast myself, and in whom I confidingly rest. Nor in this confidence am I disturbed by any fear of that uncertainty as to the morrow which must be present when we lean upon human weakness, and which I have in a former paragraph bewailed. For when I perceive that a man is burning with Christian love, and feel that thereby he has been made a faithful friend to me, whatever plans or thoughts of mine I entrust to him I regard as entrusted not to the man, but to Him in whom his character makes it evident that he dwells: for “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him;” and if he cease to dwell in love, his forsaking it cannot but cause as much pain as his abiding in it caused joy. Nevertheless, in such a case, when one who was an intimate friend has become an enemy, it is better that he should search out what ingenuity may help him to fabricate to our prejudice, than that he should find what anger may provoke him to reveal. This every one most easily secures, not by concealing what he does, but by doing nothing which he would wish to conceal. And this the mercy of God grants to good and pious men: they go out and in among their friends in liberty and without fear, whatever these friends may afterwards become: the sins which may have been committed by others within their knowledge they do not reveal, and they themselves avoid doing what they would fear to see revealed. For when any false charge is fabricated by a slanderer, either it is disbelieved, or, if it is believed, our reputation alone is injured, our spiritual wellbeing is not affected. But when, any sinful action is committed, that action becomes a secret enemy, even though it be not revealed by the thoughtless or malicious talk of one acquainted with our secrets. Wherefore any person of discernment may see in your own example how, by the comfort of a good conscience, you bear what would otherwise be insupportable—the incredible enmity of one who was formerly your most intimate and beloved friend; and how even what he utters against you, even what may to your disadvantage be believed by some, you turn to good account as the armour of righteousness on the left hand, which is not less useful than armour on the right hand in our warfare with the devil. But truly I would rather see him less bitter in his accusations, than see you thus more fully armed by them. This is a great and a lamentable wonder, that you should have passed from such amity to such enmity: it would be a joyful and a much greater event, should you come back from such enmity to the friendship of former days.

To My Lord Praesidius, Most Blessed, My Brother and Partner in the Priestly Office, Truly Esteemed, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I write to remind you of the request which I made to you as a sincere friend when you were here, that you would not refuse to send a letter of mine to our holy brother and fellow-presbyter Jerome; in order, moreover, to let your Charity know in what terms you ought to write to him on my behalf. I have sent a copy of my letter to him, and of his to me, by reading which your pious wisdom may easily see both the moderation of tone which I have been careful to preserve, and the vehemence on his part by which I have been not unreasonably filled with fear. If, however, I have written anything which I ought not to have written, or have expressed myself in an unbecoming way, let it not be to him, but to myself, in brotherly love, that you send your opinion of what I have done, in order that, if I am convinced of my fault by your rebuke, I may ask his forgiveness.

Jerome’s answer to Letters XXVIII., XL., and LXXI.

To Augustin, My Lord Truly Holy, and Most Blessed Father, Jerome Sends Greeting in Christ.

Chap. I

1. I have received by Cyprian, deacon, three letters, or rather three little books, at the same time, from your Excellency, containing what you call sundry questions, but what I feel to be animadversions on opinions which I have published, to answer which, if I were disposed to do it, would require a pretty large volume. Nevertheless I shall attempt to reply without exceeding the limits of a moderately long letter, and without causing delay to our brother, now in haste to depart, who only three days before the time fixed for his journey asked earnestly for a letter to take with him, in consequence of which I am compelled to pour out these sentences, such as they are, almost without premeditation, answering you in a rambling effusion, prepared not in the leisure of deliberate composition, but in the hurry of extemporaneous dictation, which usually produces a discourse that is more the offspring of chance than the parent of instruction; just as unexpected attacks throw into confusion even the bravest soldiers, and they are compelled to take to flight before they can gird on their armour.

2. But our armour is Christ; it is that which the Apostle Paul prescribes when, writing to the Ephesians, he says, “Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day;” and again, “Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked: and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Armed with these weapons, King David went forth in his day to battle; and taking from the torrent’s bed five smooth rounded stones, he proved that, even amidst all the eddying currents of the world, his feelings were free both from roughness and from defilement; drinking of the brook by the way, and therefore lifted up in spirit, he cut off the head of Goliath, using the proud enemy’s own sword as the fittest instrument of death, smiting the profane boaster on the forehead and wounding him in the same place in which Uzziah was smitten with leprosy when he presumed to usurp the priestly office; the same also in which shines the glory that makes the saints rejoice in the Lord, saying, “The light of Thy countenance is sealed upon us, O Lord.” Let us therefore also say, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise: awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp; I myself will awake early;” that in us may be fulfilled that word, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it;” and, “The Lord shall give the word with great power to them that publish it.” I am well assured that your prayer as well as mine is, that in our contendings the victory may remain with the truth. For you seek Christ’s glory, not your own: if you are victorious, I also gain a victory if I discover my error. On the other hand, if I win the day, the gain is yours; for “the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.” We read, moreover, in Chronicles, that the children of Israel went to battle with their minds set upon peace, seeking even amid swords and bloodshed and the prostrate slain a victory not for themselves, but for peace. Let me therefore, if it be the will of Christ, give an answer to all that you have written, and attempt in a short dissertation to solve your numerous questions. I pass by the conciliatory phrases in your courteous salutation: I say nothing of the compliments by which you attempt to take the edge off your censure: let me come at once to the matters in debate.

Chap. II

3. You say that you received from some brother a book of mine, in which I have given a list of ecclesiastical writers, both Greek and Latin, but which had no title; and that when you asked the brother aforesaid (I quote your own statement) why the title-page had no inscription, or what was the name by which the book was known, he answered that it was called “Epitaphium,” i.e. “Obituary Notices:” upon which you display your reasoning powers, by remarking that the name Epitaphium would have been properly given to the book if the reader had found in it an account of the lives and writings of deceased authors, but that inasmuch as mention is made of the works of many who were living when the book was written, and are at this day still living, you wonder why I should have given the book a title so inappropriate. I think that it must be obvious to your own common sense, that you might have discovered the title of that book from its contents, without any other help. For you have read both Greek and Latin biographies of eminent men, and you know that they do not give to works of this kind the title Epitaphium, but simply “Illustrious Men,” e.g. “Illustrious Generals,” or “philosophers, orators, historians, poets,” etc., as the case may be. An Epitaphium is a work written concerning the dead; such as I remember having composed long ago after the decease of the presbyter Nepotianus, of blessed memory. The book, therefore, of which you speak ought to be entitled, “Concerning Illustrious Men,” or properly, “Concerning Ecclesiastical Writers,” although it is said that by many who were not qualified to make any correction of the title, it has been called “Concerning Authors.”

Chap. III

4. You ask, in the second place, my reason for saying, in my commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, that Paul could not have rebuked Peter for that which he himself had done, and could not have censured in another the dissimulation of which he was himself confessedly guilty; and you affirm that that rebuke of the apostle was not a manoeuvre of pious policy, but real; and you say that I ought not to teach falsehood, but that all things in Scripture are to be received literally as they stand.

To this I answer, in the first place, that your wisdom ought to have suggested the remembrance of the short preface to my commentaries, saying of my own person, “What then? Am I so foolish and bold as to promise that which he could not accomplish? By no means; but I have rather, as it seems to me, with more reserve and hesitation, because feeling the deficiency of my strength, followed the commentaries of Origen in this matter. For that illustrious man wrote five volumes on the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, and has occupied the tenth volume of his Stromata with a short treatise upon his explanation of the epistle. He also composed several treatises and fragmentary pieces upon it, which, if they even had stood alone, would have sufficed. I pass over my revered instructor Didymus (blind, it is true, but quick-sighted in the discernment of spiritual things), and the bishop of Laodicea, who has recently left the Church, and the early heretic Alexander, as well as Eusebius of Emesa and Theodorus of Heraclea, who have also left some brief disquisitions upon this subject. From these works if I were to extract even a few passages, a work which could not be altogether despised would be produced. Let me therefore frankly say that I have read all these; and storing up in my mind very many things which they contain, I have dictated to my amanuensis sometimes what was borrowed from other writers, sometimes what was my own, without distinctly remembering the method, or the words, or the opinions which belonged to each. I look now to the Lord in His mercy to grant that my want of skill and experience may not cause the things which others have well spoken to be lost, or to fail of finding among foreign readers the acceptance with which they have met in the language in which they were first written. If, therefore, anything in my explanation has seemed to you to demand correction, it would have been seemly for one of your learning to inquire first whether what I had written was found in the Greek writers to whom I have referred; and if they had not advanced the opinion which you censured, you could then with propriety condemn me for what I gave as my own view, especially seeing that I have in the preface openly acknowledged that I had followed the commentaries of Origen, and had dictated sometimes the view of others, sometimes my own, and have written at the end of the

Chapter with which you find fault: “If any one be dissatisfied with the interpretation here given, by which it is shown that neither did Peter sin, nor did Paul rebuke presumptuously a greater than himself, he is bound to show how Paul could consistently blame in another what he himself did.” By which I have made it manifest that I did not adopt finally and irrevocably that which I had read in these Greek authors, but had propounded what I had read, leaving to the reader’s own judgment whether it should be rejected or approved

5. You, however, in order to avoid doing what I had asked, have devised a new argument against the view proposed; maintaining that the Gentiles who had believed in Christ were free from the burden of the ceremonial law, but that the Jewish converts were under the law, and that Paul, as the teacher of the Gentiles, rightly rebuked those who kept the law; whereas Peter, who was the chief of the “circumcision,” was justly rebuked for commanding the Gentile converts to do that which the converts from among the Jews were alone under obligation to observe. If this is your opinion, or rather since it is your opinion, that all from among the Jews who believe are debtors to do the whole law, you ought, as being a bishop of great fame in the whole world, to publish your doctrine, and labour to persuade all other bishops to agree with you. As for me in my humble cell, along with the monks my fellow-sinners, I do not presume to dogmatize in regard to things of great moment; I only confess frankly that I read the writings of the Fathers, and, complying with universal usage, put down in my commentaries a variety of explanations, that each may adopt from the number given the one which pleases him. This method, I think, you have found in your reading, and have approved in connection with both secular literature and the Divine Scriptures.

6. Moreover, as to this explanation which Origen first advanced, and which all the other commentators after him have adopted, they bring forward, chiefly for the purpose of answering, the blasphemies of Porphyry, who accuses Paul of presumption because he dared to reprove Peter and rebuke him to his face, and by reasoning convict him of having done wrong; that is to say, of being in the very fault which he himself, who blamed another for transgressing, had committed. What shall I say also of John, who has long governed the Church of Constantinople, and holding pontifical rank, who has composed a very large book upon this paragraph, and has followed the opinion of Origen and of the old expositors? If, therefore, you censure me as in the wrong, suffer me, I pray you, to be mistaken in company with such men; and when you perceive that I have so many companions in my error, you will require to produce at least one partisan in defence of your truth. So much on the interpretation of one paragraph of the Epistle to the Galatians.

7. Lest, however, I should seem to rest my answer to your reasoning wholly on the number of witnesses who are on my side, and to use the names of illustrious men as a means of escaping from the truth, not daring to meet you in argument, I shall briefly bring forward some examples from the Scriptures.

In the Acts of the Apostles, a voice was heard by Peter, saying unto him, “Rise, Peter, slay and eat,” when all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things, and birds of the air, were presented before him; by which saying it is proved that no man is by nature [ceremonially] unclean, but that all men are equally welcome to the gospel of Christ. To which Peter answered, “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice spake unto him again the second time, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Therefore he went to Caesarea, and having entered the house of Cornelius, “he opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.” Thereafter “the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word; and they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” To whom he gave a full explanation of the reasons of his conduct, and concluded with these words: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Again, when, long after this, Paul and Barnabas had come to Antioch, and “having gathered the Church together, rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how He had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles, certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And when they were come to Jerusalem, there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, with his wonted readiness, “and said, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence;” and to his opinion the Apostle James, and all the elders together, gave consent.

8. These quotations should not be tedious to the reader, but useful both to him and to me, as proving that, even before the Apostle Paul, Peter had come to know that the law was not to be in force after the gospel was given; nay more, that Peter was the prime mover in issuing the decree by which this was affirmed. Moreover, Peter was of so great authority, that Paul has recorded in his epistle: “Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.” In the following context, again, he adds: “Then, fourteen years after, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles;” proving that he had not had confidence in his preaching of the gospel if he had not been confirmed by the consent of Peter and those who were with him. The next words are, “but privately to them that were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Why did he this privately rather than in public? Lest offence should be given to the faith of those who from among the Jews had believed, since they thought that the law was still in force, and that they ought to join observance of the law with faith in the Lord as their Saviour. Therefore also, when at that time Peter had come to Antioch (although the Acts of the Apostles do not mention this, but we must believe Paul’s statement), Paul affirms that he “withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For, before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew, and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw,” he says, “that they walked not up-rightly, according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” etc. No one can doubt, therefore, that the Apostle Peter was himself the author of that rule with deviation from which he is charged. The cause of that deviation, moreover, is seen to be fear of the Jews. For the Scripture says, that “at first he did eat with the Gentiles, but that when certain had come from James he withdrew, and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” Now he feared the Jews, to whom he had been appointed apostle, lest by occasion of the Gentiles they should go back from the faith in Christ; imitating the Good Shepherd in his concern lest he should lose the flock committed to him.

9. As I have shown, therefore, that Peter was thoroughly aware of the abrogation of the law of Moses, but was compelled by fear to pretend to observe it, let us now see whether Paul, who accuses another, ever did anything of the same kind himself. We read in the same book: “Paul passed through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and he took and circumcised him, because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.” O blessed Apostle Paul, who hadst rebuked Peter for dissimulation, because he withdrew himself from the Gentiles through fear of the Jews who came from James, why art thou, notwithstanding thine own doctrine, compelled to circumcise Timothy, the son of a Gentile, nay more, a Gentile himself (for he was not a Jew, having not been circumcised)? Thou wilt answer, “Because of the Jews which are in these quarters?” If, then, thou forgiveth thyself the circumcision of a disciple coming from the Gentiles, forgive Peter also, who has precedence above thee, his doing some things of the same kind through fear of the believing Jews. Again, it is written: “Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea, for he had a vow.” Be it granted that he was compelled through fear of the Jews in the other case to do what he was unwilling to do; wherefore did he let his hair grow in accordance with a vow of his own making, and afterwards, when in Cenchrea, shave his head according to the law, as the Nazarites, who had given themselves by vow to God, were wont to do, according to the law of Moses?

10. But these things are small when compared with what follows. The sacred historian Luke further relates: “And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly;” and the day following, James, and all the elders who were with him, having expressed their approbation of his gospel, said to Paul: “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? The multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them, entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an offering should be offered for every one of them.” O Paul, here again let me question thee: Why didst thou shave thy head, why didst thou walk barefoot according to Jewish ceremonial law, why didst thou offer sacrifices, why were victims slain for thee according to the law? Thou wilt answer, doubtless, “To avoid giving offence to those of the Jews who had believed.” To gain the Jews, thou didst pretend to be a Jew; and James and all the other elders taught thee this dissimulation. But thou didst not succeed in escaping, after all. For when thou wast on the point of being killed in a tumult which had arisen, thou wast rescued by the chief captain of the band, and was sent by him to Caesarea, guarded by a careful escort of soldiers, lest the Jews should kill thee as a dissembler, and a destroyer of the law; and from Caesarea coming to Rome, thou didst, in thine own hired house, preach Christ to both Jews and Gentiles, and thy testimony was sealed under Nero’s sword.

11. We have learned, therefore, that through fear of the Jews both Peter and Paul alike pretended that they observed the precepts of the law. How could Paul have the assurance and effrontery to reprove in another what he had done himself? I at least, or, I should rather say, others before me, have given such explanation of the matter as they deemed best, not defending the use of falsehood in the interest of religion, as you charge them with doing, but teaching the honourable exercise of a wise discretion; seeking both to show the wisdom of the apostles, and to restrain the shameless blasphemies of Porphyry, who says that Peter and Paul quarrelled with each other in childish rivalry, and affirms that Paul had been inflamed with envy on account of the excellences of Peter, and had written boastfully of things which he either had not done, or, if he did them, had done with inexcusable presumption, reproving in another that which he himself had done. They, in answering him, gave the best interpretation of the passage which they could find; what interpretation have you to propound? Surely you must intend to say something better than they have said, since you have rejected the opinion of the ancient commentators.

Chap. IV

12. You say in your letter: “You do not require me to teach you in what sense the apostle says, To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews;’ and other such things in the same passage, which are to be ascribed to the compassion of pitying love, not to the artifices of intentional deceit. For he that ministers to the sick becomes as if he were sick himself, not indeed falsely pretending to be under the fever, but considering with the mind of one truly sympathizing what he would wish done for himself if he were in the sick man’s place. Paul was indeed a Jew; and when he had become a Christian, he had not abandoned those Jewish sacraments which that people had received in the right way, and for a certain appointed time. Therefore, even when he was an apostle of Christ, he took part in observing these, but with this view, that he might show that they were in no wise hurtful to those who, even after they had believed in Christ, desired to retain the ceremonies which by the law they had learned from their fathers; provided only that they did not build on these their hope of salvation, since the salvation which was fore-shadowed in these has now been brought in by the Lord Jesus.” The sum of your whole argument, which you have expanded into a most prolix dissertation, is this, that Peter did not err in supposing that the law was binding on those who from among the Jews had believed, but departed from the right course in this, that he compelled the Gentile converts to conform to Jewish observances. Now, if he compelled them, it was not by use of authority as a teacher, but by the example of his own practice. And Paul, according to your view, did not protest against what Peter had done personally, but asked wherefore Peter would compel those who were from among the Gentiles to conform to Jewish observances.

13. The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this: that since the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as all the Jews have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy of Cerinthus and Ebion, who, though believing in Christ, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of Christ, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old. Why do I speak of the Ebionites, who make pretensions to the name of Christian? In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other. I therefore beseech you, who think that you are called upon to heal my slight wound, which is no more, so to speak, than a prick or scratch from a needle, to devote your skill in the healing art to this grievous wound, which has been opened by a spear driven home with the impetus of a javelin. For there is surely no proportion between the culpability of him who exhibits the various opinions held by the fathers in a commentary on Scripture, and the guilt of him who reintroduces within the Church a most pestilential heresy. If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law; if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the Churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practise in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews.

14. For what Christian will submit to hear what is said in your letter? “Paul was indeed a Jew; and when he had become a Christian, he had not abandoned those Jewish sacraments which that people had received in the right way, and for a certain appointed time. Therefore, even when he was an apostle of Christ, he took part in observing these; but with this view, that he might show that they were in no wise hurtful to those who, even after they had believed in Christ, desired to retain the ceremonies which by the law they had learned from their fathers.” Now I implore you to hear patiently my complaint. Paul, even when he was an apostle of Christ, observed Jewish ceremonies; and you affirm that they are in no wise hurtful to those who wish to retain them as they had received them from their fathers by the law. I, on the contrary, shall maintain, and, though the world were to protest against my view, I may boldly declare that the Jewish ceremonies are to Christians both hurtful and fatal; and that whoever observes them, whether he be Jew or Gentile originally, is cast into the pit of perdition. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” that is, to both Jew and Gentile; for if the Jew be excepted, He is not the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Moreover, we read in the Gospel, “The law and the prophets were until John the Baptist.” Also, in another place: “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” Again: “Of His fulness have all we received, and grace for grace; for the law was given Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Instead of the grace of the law which has passed away, we have received the grace of the gospel which is abiding; and instead of the shadows and types of the old dispensation, the truth has come by Jesus Christ. Jeremiah also prophesied thus in God’s name: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” Observe what the prophet says, not to Gentiles, who had not been partakers in any former covenant, but to the Jewish nation. He who has given them the law by Moses, promises in place of it the new covenant of the gospel, that they might no longer live in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit. Paul himself, moreover, in connection with whom the discussion of this question has arisen, delivers such sentiments as these frequently, of which I subjoin only a few, as I desire to be brief: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” Again: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” Again: “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” From which it is evident that he has not the Holy Spirit who submits to the law, not, as our fathers affirmed the apostles to have done, feignedly, under the promptings of a wise discretion, but, as you suppose to have been the case, sincerely. As to the quality of these legal precepts, let us learn from God’s own teaching: “I gave them,” He says, “statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live.” I say these things, not that I may, like Manichaeus and Marcion, destroy the law, which I know on the testimony of the apostle to be both holy and spiritual; but because when “faith came,” and the fulness of times, “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” and might live no longer under the law as our schoolmaster, but under the Heir, who has now attained to full age, and is Lord.

15. It is further said in your letter: “The thing, therefore, which he rebuked in Peter was not his observing the customs handed down from his fathers, which Peter, if he wished, might do without being chargeable with deceit or inconsistency.” Again I say: Since you are a bishop, a teacher in the Churches of Christ, if you would prove what you assert, receive any Jew who, after having become a Christian, circumcises any son that may be born to him, observes the Jewish Sabbath, abstains from meats which God has created to be used with thanksgiving, and on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month slays a paschal lamb; and when you have done this, or rather, have refused to do it (for I know that you are a Christian, and will not be guilty of a profane action), you will be constrained, whether willingly or unwillingly, to renounce your opinion; and then you will know that it is a more difficult work to reject the opinion of others than to establish your own. Moreover, lest perhaps we should not believe your statement, or, I should rather say, understand it (for it is often the case that a discourse unduly extended is not intelligible, and is less censured by the unskilled in discussion because its weakness is not so easily perceived), you inculcate your opinion by reiterating the statement in these words: “Paul had forsaken everything peculiar to the Jews that was evil, especially this, that being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they had not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.’ In this, moreover, he differed from them, that after the passion and resurrection of Christ, in whom had been given and made manifest the mystery of grace, according to the order of Melchizedek, they still considered it binding on them to celebrate, not out of mere reverence for old customs, but as necessary to salvation, the sacraments of the old dispensation; which were indeed at one time necessary, else had it been unprofitable and vain for the Maccabees to suffer martyrdom as they did for their adherence to them. Lastly, in this also Paul differed from the Jews, that they persecuted the Christian preachers of grace as enemies of the law. These, and all similar errors and sins, he declares that he counted but loss and dung, that he might win Christ.”

16. We have learned from you what evil things peculiar to the Jews Paul had abandoned; let us now learn from your teaching what good things which were Jewish he retained. You will reply: “The ceremonial observances in which they continued to follow the practice of their fathers, in the way in which these were complied with by Paul himself, without believing them to be at all necessary to salvation.” I do not fully understand what you mean by the words, “without believing them to be at all necessary to salvation.” For if they do not contribute to salvation, why are they observed? And if they must be observed, they by all means contribute to salvation; especially seeing that, because of observing them, some have been made martyrs: for they would not be observed unless they contributed to salvation. For they are not things indifferent—neither good nor bad, as philosophers say. Self-control is good, self-indulgence is bad: between these, and indifferent, as having no moral quality, are such things as walking, blowing one’s nose, expectorating phlegm, etc. Such an action is neither good nor bad; for whether you do it or leave it undone, it does not affect your standing as righteous or unrighteous. But the observance of legal ceremonies is not a thing indifferent; it is either good or bad. You say it is good. I affirm it to be bad, and bad not only when done by Gentile converts, but also when done by Jews who have believed. In this passage you fall, if I am not mistaken, into one error while avoiding another. For while you guard yourself against the blasphemies of Porphyry, you become entangled in the snares of Ebion; pronouncing that the law is binding on those who from among the Jews have believed. Perceiving, again, that what you have said is a dangerous doctrine, you attempt to qualify it by words which are only superfluous: viz., “The law must be observed not from any belief, such as prompted the Jews to keep it, that this is necessary to salvation, and not in any misleading dissimulation such as Paul reproved in Peter.”

17. Peter therefore pretended to keep the law; but this censor of Peter boldly observed the things prescribed by the law. The next words of your letter are these: “For if Paul observed these sacraments in order, by pretending to be a Jew, to gain the Jews, why did he not also take part with the Gentiles in heathen sacrifices, when to them that were without law he became as without law, that he might gain them also? The explanation is found in this, that he took part in the Jewish rites as being himself a Jew; and that when he said all this which I have quoted, he meant not that he pretended to be what he was not, but that he felt with true compassion that he must bring such help to them as would be needful for himself if he were involved in their error. Herein he exercised not the subtlety of a deceiver, but the sympathy of a compassionate deliverer.” A triumphant vindication of Paul! You prove that he did not pretend to share the error of the Jews, but was actually involved in it; and that he refused to imitate Peter in a course of deception, dissembling through fear of the Jews what he really was, but without reserve freely avowed himself to be a Jew. Oh, unheard of compassion of the apostle! In seeking to make the Jews Christians, he himself became a Jew! For he could not have persuaded the luxurious to become temperate if he had not himself become luxurious like them; and could not have brought help, in his compassion, as you say, to the wretched, otherwise than by experiencing in his own person their wretchedness! Truly wretched, and worthy of most compassionate lamentation, are those who, carried away by vehemence of disputation, and by love for the law which has been abolished, have made Christ’s apostle to be a Jew. Nor is there, after all, a great difference between my opinion and yours: for I say that both Peter and Paul, through fear of the believing Jews, practised, or rather pretended to practise, the precepts of the Jewish law; whereas you maintain that they did this out of pity, “not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the sympathy of a compassionate deliverer.” But by both this is equally admitted, that (whether from fear or from pity) they pretended to be what they were not. As to your argument against our view, that he ought to have become to the Gentiles a Gentile, if to the Jews he became a Jew, this favours our opinion rather than yours: for as he did not actually become a Jew, so he did not actually become a heathen; and as he did not actually become a heathen, so he did not actually become a Jew. His conformity to the Gentiles consisted in this, that he received as Christians the uncircumcised who believed in Christ, and left them free to use without scruple meats which the Jewish law prohibited; but not, as you suppose, in taking part in their worship of idols. For “in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”

18. I ask you, therefore, and with all urgency press the request, that you forgive me this humble attempt at a discussion of the matter; and wherein I have transgressed, lay the blame upon yourself who compelled me to write in reply, and who made me out to be as blind as Stesichorus. And do not bring the reproach of teaching the practice of lying upon me who am a follower of Christ, who said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” It is impossible for me, who am a worshipper of the Truth, to bow under the yoke of falsehood. Moreover, refrain from stirring up against me the unlearned crowd who esteem you as their bishop, and regard with the respect due the priestly office the orations which you deliver in the church, but who esteem lightly an old decrepit man like me, courting the retirement of a monastery far from the busy haunts of men; and seek others who may be more fitly instructed or corrected by you. For the sound of your voice can scarcely reach me, who am so far separated from you by sea and land. And if you happen to write me a letter, Italy and Rome are sure to be acquainted with its contents long before it is brought to me, to whom alone it ought to be sent.

Chap. V

19. In another letter you ask why a former translation which I made of some of the canonical books was carefully marked with asterisks and obelisks, whereas I afterwards published a translation without these. You must pardon my saying that you seem to me not to understand the matter: for the former translation is from the Septuagint; and wherever obelisks are placed, they are designed to indicate that the Seventy have said more than is found in the Hebrew. But the asterisks indicate what has been added by Origen from the version of Theodotion. In that version I was translating from the Greek: but in the later version, translating from the Hebrew itself, I have expressed what I understood it to mean, being careful to preserve rather the exact sense than the order of the words. I am surprised that you do not read the books of the Seventy translators in the genuine form in which they were originally given to the world, but as they have been corrected, or rather corrupted, by Origen, with his obelisks and asterisks; and that you refuse to follow the translation, however feeble, which has been given by a Christian man, especially seeing that Origen borrowed the things which he has added from the edition of a man who, after the passion of Christ, was a Jew and a blasphemer. Do you wish to be a true admirer and partisan of the Seventy translators? Then do not read what you find under the asterisks; rather erase them from the volumes, that you may approve yourself indeed a follower of the ancients. If, however, you do this, you will be compelled to find fault with all the libraries of the Churches; for you will scarcely find more than one Ms. here and there which has not these interpolations.

Chap. VI

20. A few words now as to your remark that I ought not to have given a translation, after this had been already done by the ancients; and the novel syllogism which you use: “The passages of which the Seventy have given an interpretation were either obscure or plain. If they were obscure, it is believed that you are as likely to have been mistaken as the others; if they were plain, it is not believed that the Seventy could have been mistaken.”

All the commentators who have been our predecessors in the Lord in the work of expounding the Scriptures, have expounded either what was obscure or what was plain. If some passages were obscure, how could you, after them, presume to discuss that which they were not able to explain? If the passages were plain, it was a waste of time for you to have undertaken to treat of that which could not possibly have escaped them. This syllogism applies with peculiar force to the book of Psalms, in the interpretation of which Greek commentators have written many volumes: viz. 1st, Origen: 2d, Eusebius of Caesarea; 3d, Theodorus of Heraclea; 4th, Asterius of Scythopolis; 5th, Apollinaris of Laodicea; and, 6th, Didymus of Alexandria. There are said to be minor works on selections from the Psalms, but I speak at present of the whole book. Moreover, among Latin writers the bishops Hilary of Poitiers, and Eusebius of Verceil, have translated Origen and Eusebius of Caesarea, the former of whom has in some things been followed by our own Ambrose. Now, I put it to your wisdom to answer why you, after all the labours of so many and so competent interpreters, differ from them in your exposition of some passages? If the Psalms are obscure, it must be believed that you are as likely to be mistaken as others; if they are plain, it is incredible that these others could have fallen into mistake. In either case, your exposition has been, by your own showing, an unnecessary labour; and on the same principle, no one would ever venture to speak on any subject after others have pronounced their opinion, and no one would be at liberty to write anything regarding that which another has once handled, however important the matter might be.

It is, however, more in keeping with your enlightened judgment, to grant to all others the liberty which you tolerate in yourself for in my attempt to translate into Latin, for the benefit of those who speak the same language with myself, the corrected Greek version of the Scriptures, I have laboured not to supersede what has been long esteemed, but only to bring prominently forward those things which have been either omitted or tampered with by the Jews, in order that Latin readers might know what is found in the original Hebrew. If any one is averse to reading it, none compels him against his will. Let him drink with satisfaction the old wine, and despise my new wine, i.e. the sentences which I have published in explanation of former writers, with the design of making more obvious by my remarks what in them seemed to me to be obscure.

As to the principles which ought to be followed in the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, they are stated in the book which I have written, and in all the introductions to the divine books which I have in my edition prefixed to each; and to these I think it sufficient to refer the prudent reader. And since you approve of my labours in revising the translation of the New Testament, as you say,—giving me at the same time this as your reason, that very many are acquainted with the Greek language, and are therefore competent judges of my work,—it would have been but fair to have given me credit for the same fidelity in the Old Testament; for I have not followed my own imagination, but have rendered the divine words as I found them understood by those who speak the Hebrew language. If you have any doubt of this in any passage, ask the Jews what is the meaning of the original.

21. Perhaps you will say, “What if the Jews decline to answer, or choose to impose upon us?” Is it conceivable that the whole multitude of Jews will agree together to be silent if asked about my translation, and that none shall be found that has any knowledge of the Hebrew language? Or will they all imitate those Jews whom you mention as having, in some little town, conspired to injure my reputation? For in your letter you put together the following story:—”A certain bishop, one of our brethren, having introduced in the Church over which he presides the reading of your version, came upon a word in the book of the prophet Jonah, of which you have given a very different rendering from that which had been of old familiar to the senses and memory of all the worshippers, and had been chanted for so many generations in the Church. Thereupon arose such a tumult in the congregation, especially among the Greeks, correcting what had been read, and denouncing the translation as false, that the bishop was compelled to ask the testimony of the Jewish residents (it was in the town of Oea). These, whether from ignorance or from spite, answered that the words in the Hebrew Mss. were correctly rendered in the Greek version, and in the Latin one taken from it. What further need I say? The man was compelled to correct your version in that passage as if it had been falsely translated, as he desired not to be left without a congregation,—a calamity which he narrowly escaped. From this case we also are led to think that you may be occasionally mistaken.”

Chap. VII

22. You tell me that I have given a wrong translation of some word in Jonah, and that a worthy bishop narrowly escaped losing his charge through the clamorous tumult of his people, which was caused by the different rendering of this one word. At the same time, you withhold from me what the word was which I have mistranslated; thus taking away the possibility of my saying anything in my own vindication, lest my reply should be fatal to your objection. Perhaps it is the old dispute about the gourd which has been revived, after slumbering for many long years since the illustrious man, who in that day combined in his own person the ancestral honours of the Cornelii and of Asinius Pollio, brought against me the charge of giving in my translation the word “ivy” instead of “gourd.” I have already given a sufficient answer to this in my commentary on Jonah. At present, I deem it enough to say that in that passage, where the Septuagint has “gourd,” and Aquila and the others have rendered the word “ivy” (kissos), the Hebrew Ms. has “ciceion,” which is in the Syriac tongue, as now spoken, “ciceia.” It is a kind of shrub having large leaves like a vine, and when planted it quickly springs up to the size of a small tree, standing upright by its own stem, without requiring any support of canes or poles, as both gourds and ivy do. If, therefore, in translating word for word, I had put the word “ciceia,” no one would know what it meant; if I had used the word “gourd,” I would have said what is not found in the Hebrew. I therefore put down “ivy,” that I might not differ from all other translators. But if your Jews said, either through malice or ignorance, as you yourself suggest, that the word is in the Hebrew text which is found in the Greek and Latin versions, it is evident that they were either unacquainted with Hebrew, or have been pleased to say what was not true, in order to make sport of the gourd-planters.

In closing this letter, I beseech you to have some consideration for a soldier who is now old and has long retired from active service, and not to force him to take the field and again expose his life to the chances of war. Do you, who are young, and who have been appointed to the conspicuous seat of pontifical dignity, give yourself to teaching the people, and enrich Rome with new stores from fertile Africa. I am contented to make but little noise in an obscure corner of a monastery, with one to hear me or read to me.

1. Hear, O Donatists, what the Catholic Church says to you: “O ye sons of men, how long will ye be slow of heart? why will ye love vanity, and follow after lies?” Why have you severed yourselves, by the heinous impiety of schism, from the unity of the whole world? You give heed to the falsehoods concerning the surrendering of the divine books to persecutors, which men who are either deceiving you, or are themselves deceived, utter in order that you may die in a state of heretical separation: and you do not give heed to what these divine books themselves proclaim, in order that you may live in the peace of the Catholic Church. Wherefore do you lend an open ear to the words of men who tell you things which they have never been able to prove, and are deaf to the voice of God speaking thus: “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession”? “To Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed,’ which is Christ.” And the promise to which the apostle refers is this: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Therefore lift up the eyes of your souls, and see how in the whole world all nations are blessed in Abraham’s seed. Abraham, in his day, believed what was not yet seen; but you who see it refuse to believe what has been fulfilled. The Lord’s death was the ransom of the world; He paid the price for the whole world; and you do not dwell in concord with the whole world, as would be for your advantage, but stand apart and strive contentiously to destroy the whole world, to your own loss. Hear now what is said in the Psalm concerning this ransom: “They pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Wherefore will you be guilty of dividing the garments of the Lord, and not hold in common with the whole world that coat of charity, woven from above throughout, which even His executioners did not rend? In the same Psalm we read that the whole world holds this, for he says: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Thee; for the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He is the Governor among the nations.” Open the ears of your soul, and hear: “The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth, from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof; out of Zion, the perfection of beauty.” If you do not wish to understand this, hear the gospel from the Lord’s own lips, how He said: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Him; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” The words in the Psalm, “the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof,” correspond to these in the Gospel, “among all nations;” and as He said in the Psalm, “from Zion, the perfection of beauty,” He has said in the Gospel, “beginning at Jerusalem.”

2. Your imagination that you are separating yourselves, before the time of the harvest, from the tares which are mixed with the wheat, proves that you are only tares. For if you were wheat, you would bear with the tares, and not separate yourselves from that which is growing in Christ’s field. Of the tares, indeed, it has been said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;” but of the wheat it is said, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” What grounds have you for believing that the tares have increased and filled the world, and that the wheat has decreased, and is found now in Africa alone? You claim to be Christians, and you disclaim the authority of Christ. He said, “Let both grow together till the harvest;” He said not, “Let the wheat decrease, and let the tares multiply.” He said, “The field is the world;” He said not, “The field is Africa.” He said, “The harvest is the end of the world;” He said not, “The harvest is the time of Donatus.” He said, “The reapers are the angels;” He said not, “The reapers are the captains of the Circumcelliones.” But you, by charging the good wheat with being tares, have proved yourselves to be tares; and what is worse, you have prematurely separated yourselves from the wheat. For some of your predecessors, in whose impious schism you obstinately remain, delivered up to persecutors the sacred Mss. and the vessels of the Church (as may be seen in municipal records ); others of them passed over the fault which these men confessed, and remained in communion with them; and both parties having come together to Carthage as an infatuated faction, condemned others without a hearing, on the charge of that fault which they had agreed, so far as they themselves were concerned, to forgive, and then set up a bishop against the ordained bishop, and erected an altar against the altar already recognised. Afterwards they sent to the Emperor Constantine a letter begging that bishops of churches beyond the sea should be appointed to arbitrate between the bishops of Africa. When the judges whom they sought were granted, and at Rome had given their decision, they refused to submit to it, and complained to the Emperor or against the bishops as having judged unrighteously. From the sentence of another bench of bishops sent to Arles to try the case, they appealed to the Emperor himself. When he had heard them, and they had been proved guilty of calumny, they still persisted in their wickedness. Awake to the interest of your salvation! love peace, and return to unity! Whensoever you desire it, we are ready to recite in detail the events to which we have referred.

3. He is the associate of wicked men who consents to the deeds of wicked men; not he who suffers the tares to grow in the Lord’s field unto the harvest, or the chaff to remain until the final winnowing time. If you hate those who do evil, shake yourselves free from the crime of schism. If you really feared to associate with the wicked, you would not for so many years have permitted Optatus to remain among you when he was living in the most flagrant sin. And as you now give him the name of martyr, you must, if you are consistent, give him for whom he died the name of Christ. Finally, wherein has the Christian world offended you, from which you have insanely and wickedly cut yourselves off? and what claim upon your esteem have those followers of Maximianus, whom you have received back with honour after they had been condemned by you, and violently cast forth by warrant of the civil authorities from their churches? Wherein has the peace of Christ offended you, that you resist it by separating yourselves from those whom you calumniate? and wherein has the peace of Donatus earned your favour, that to promote it you receive back those whom you condemned? Felicianus of Musti is now one of you. We have read concerning him, that he was formerly condemned by your council, and afterwards accused by you at the bar of the proconsul, and in the town of Musti was attacked as is stated in the municipal records.

4. If the surrendering of the sacred books to destruction is a crime which, in the case of the king who burned the book of Jeremiah, God punished with death as a prisoner of war, how much greater is the guilt of schism! For those authors of schism to whom you have compared the followers of Maximianus, the earth opening, swallowed up alive. Why, then, do you object against us the charge of surrendering the sacred books which you do not prove, and at the same time both condemn and welcome back those among yourselves who are schismatics? If you are proved to be in the right by the fact that you have suffered persecution from the Emperor, a still stronger claim than yours must be that of the followers of Maximianus, whom you have yourselves persecuted by the help of judges sent to you by Catholic emperors. If you alone have baptism, what weight do you attach to the baptism administered by followers of Maximianus in the case of those whom Felicianus baptized while he was under your sentence of condemnation, who came along with him when he was afterwards restored by you? Let your bishops answer these questions to your laity at least, if they will not debate with us; and do you, as you value your salvation, consider what kind of doctrine that must be about which they refuse to enter into discussion with us. If the wolves have prudence enough to keep out of the way of the shepherds, why have the flock so lost their prudence, that they go into the dens of the wolves?

To Felix and Hilarinus, My Lords most Beloved, and Brethren Worthy of All Honour, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I do not wonder to see the minds of believers disturbed by Satan, whom resist, continuing in the hope which rests on the promises of God, who cannot lie, who has not only condescended to promise in eternity rewards to us who believe and hope in Him, and who persevere in love unto the end, but has also foretold that in time offences by which our faith must be tried and proved shall not be wanting; for He said, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold;” but He added immediately, “and he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.” Why, therefore, should it seem strange that men bring calumnies against the servants of God, and being unable to turn them aside from an upright life, endeavour to blacken their reputation, seeing that they do not cease uttering blasphemies daily against God, the Lord of these servants, if they are displeased by anything in which the execution of His righteous and secret counsel is contrary to their desire? Wherefore I appeal to your wisdom, my lords most beloved, and brethren worthy of all honour, and exhort you to exercise your minds in the way which best becomes Christians, setting over against the empty calumnies and groundless suspicions of men the written word of God, which has foretold that these things should come, and has warned us to meet them with fortitude.

2. Let me therefore say in a few words to your Charity, that the presbyter Boniface has not been discovered by me to be guilty of any crime, and that I have never believed, and do not yet believe, any charge brought against him. How, then, could I order his name to be deleted from the roll of presbyters, when filled with alarm by that word of our Lord in the gospel: “With what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged”? For, seeing that the dispute which has arisen between him and Spes has by their consent been submitted to divine arbitration in a way which, if you desire it, can be made known to you, who am I, that I should presume to anticipate the divine award by deleting or passing over his name? As a bishop, I ought not rashly to suspect him; and as being only a man, I cannot decide infallibly concerning things which are hidden from me. Even in secular matters, when an appeal has been made to a higher authority, all procedure is sisted while the case awaits the decision from which there is no appeal; because if anything were changed while the matter is depending on his arbitration, this would be an insult to the higher tribunal. And how great the distance between even the highest human authority and the divine!

May the mercy of the Lord our God never forsake you, my lords most beloved, and brethren worthy of all honour.

To My Most Beloved Brethren, the Clergy, Elders, and People of the Church of Hippo, Whom I Serve in the Love of Christ, I, Augustin, Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. Would that you, giving earnest heed to the word of God, did not require counsel of mine to support you under whatsoever offences may arise! Would that your comfort rather came from Him by whom we also are comforted; who has foretold not only the good things which He designs to give to those who are holy and faithful, but also the evil things in which this world is to abound; and has caused these to be written, in order that we may expect the blessings which are to follow the end of this world with a certainty not less complete than that which attends our present experience of the evils which had been predicted as coming before the end of the world! Wherefore also the apostle says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” And wherefore did our Lord Himself judge it necessary not only to say, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” which shall come to pass after the end of the world, but also to exclaim, “Woe unto the world because of offences!” if not to prevent us from flattering ourselves with the idea that we can reach the mansions of eternal felicity, unless we have overcome the temptation to yield when exercised by the afflictions of time? Why was it necessary for Him to say, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,” if not in order that those of whom He spoke in the next sentence, “but he that shall endure to the end shall be saved,” might, when they saw love waxing cold through abounding iniquity, be saved from being put to confusion, or filled with fear, or crushed with grief about such things, as if they were strange and unlooked for, and might rather, through witnessing the events which had been predicted as appointed to occur before the end, be assisted in patiently enduring unto the end, so as to obtain after the end the reward of reigning in peace in that life which has no end?

2. Wherefore, beloved, in regard to that scandal by which some are troubled concerning the presbyter Boniface, I do not say to you that you are not to be grieved for it; for in men who do not grieve for such things the love of Christ is not, whereas those who take pleasure in such things are filled with the malice of the devil. Not, however, that anything has come to our knowledge which deserves censure in the presbyter aforesaid, but that two in our house are so situated that one of them must be regarded as beyond all doubt wicked; and though the conscience of the other be not defiled, his good name is forfeited in the eyes of some, and suspected by others. Grieve for these things, for they are to be lamented; but do not so grieve as to let your love grow cold, and yourselves be indifferent to holy living. Let it rather burn the more vehemently in the exercise of prayer to God, that if your presbyter is guiltless (which I am the more inclined to believe, because, when he had discovered the immoral and vile proposal of the other, he would neither consent to it nor conceal it), a divine decision may speedily restore him to the exercise of his official duties with his innocence vindicated; and that if, on the other hand, knowing himself to be guilty, which I dare not suspect, he has deliberately tried to destroy the good name of another when he could not corrupt his morals, as he charges his accuser with having done, God may not permit him to hide his wickedness, so that the thing which men cannot discover may be revealed by the judgment of God, to the conviction of the one or of the other.

3. For when this case had long disquieted me, and I could find no way of convicting either of the two as guilty, although I rather inclined to believe the presbyter innocent, I had at first resolved to leave both in the hand of God, without deciding the case, until something should be done by the one of whom I had suspicion, giving just and unquestionable reasons for his expulsion from our house. But when he was labouring most earnestly to obtain promotion to the rank of the clergy, either on the spot from myself, or elsewhere through letter of recommendation from me, and I could on no account be induced either to lay hands in the act of ordination upon one of whom I thought so ill, or to consent to introduce him through commendation of mine to any brother for the same purpose, he began to act more violently demanding that if he was not to be promoted to clerical orders, Boniface should not be permitted to retain his status as a presbyter. This demand having been made, when I perceived that Boniface was unwilling that, through doubts as to his holiness of life, offence should be given to any who were weak and inclined to suspect him, and that he was ready to suffer the loss of his honour among men rather than vainly persist even to the disquieting of the Church in a contention the very nature of which made it impossible for him to prove his innocence (of which he was conscious) to the satisfaction of those who did not know him, or were in doubt or prone to suspicion in regard to him, I fixed upon the following as a means of discovering the truth. Both pledged themselves in a solemn compact to go to a holy place, where the more awe-inspiring works of God might much more readily make manifest the evil of which either of them was conscious, and compel the guilty to confess, either by judgment or through fear of judgment. God is everywhere, it is true, and He that made all things is not contained or confined to dwell in any place; and He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth by His true worshippers, in order that, as He heareth in secret, He may also in secret justify and reward. But in regard to the answers to prayer which are visible to men, who can search out His reasons for appointing some places rather than others to be the scene of miraculous interpositions? To many the holiness of the place in which the body of the blessed Felix is buried is well known, and to this place I desired them to repair; because from it we may receive more easily and more reliably a written account of whatever may be discovered in either of them by divine interposition. For I myself knew how, at Milan, at the tomb of the saints, where demons are brought in a most marvellous and awful manner to confess their deeds, a thief who had come thither intending to deceive by perjuring himself, was compelled to own his theft, and to restore what he had taken away; and is not Africa also full of the bodies of holy martyrs? Yet we do not know of such things being done in any place here. Even as the gift of healing and the gift of discerning of spirits are not given to all saints, as the apostle declares; so it is not at all the tombs of the saints that it has pleased Him who divideth to each severally as He will, to cause such miracles to be wrought.

4. Wherefore, although I had purposed not to let this most heavy burden on my heart come to your knowledge, lest I should disquiet you by a painful but useless vexation, it has pleased God to make it known to you, perhaps for this reason, that you may along with me devote yourselves to prayer, beseeching Him to condescend to reveal that which He knoweth, but which we cannot know in this matter. For I did not presume to suppress or erase from the roll of his colleagues the name of this presbyter, lest I should seem to insult the Divine Majesty, upon whose arbitration the case now depends, if I were to forestall His decision by any premature decision of mine: for even in secular affairs, when a perplexing case is referred to a higher authority, the inferior judges do not presume to make any change while the reference is pending. Moreover, it was decreed in a Council of bishops that no clergyman who has not yet been proved guilty be suspended from communion, unless he fail to present himself for the examination of the charges against him. Boniface, however, humbly agreed to forego his claim to a letter of commendation, by the use of which on his journey he might have secured the recognition of his rank, preferring that both should stand on a footing of equality in a place where both were alike unknown. And now if you prefer that his name should not be read that we “may cut off occasion,” as the apostle says, from those that desire occasion to justify their unwillingness to come to the Church, this omission of his name shall be not our deed, but theirs on whose account it may be done. For what does it harm any man, that men through ignorance refuse to have his name read from that tablet, so long as a guilty conscience does not blot his name out of the Book of Life?

5. Wherefore, my brethren who fear God, remember what the Apostle Peter says: Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” When he cannot devour a man through seducing him into iniquity, he attempts to injure his good name, that if it be possible, he may give way under the reproaches of men and the calumnies of slandering tongues, and may thus fall into his jaws. If, however, he be unable even to sully the good name of one who is innocent, he tries to persuade him to cherish unkindly suspicions of his brother, and judge him harshly, and so become entangled, and be an easy prey. And who is able to know or to tell all his snares and wiles? Nevertheless, in reference to those three, which belong more especially to the case before us; in the first place, lest you should be turned aside to wickedness through following bad examples, God gives you by the apostle these warnings: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what communion, hath light with darkness?” and in another place: “Be not deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners: awake to righteousness, and sin not.” Secondly, that ye may not give way under the tongues of slanderers, He saith by the prophet, “Hearken unto Me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law: fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but My righteousness shall be for ever.” And thirdly, lest you should be undone through groundless and malevolent suspicions concerning any servants of God, remember that word of the apostle, “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 this also, “The things which are revealed belong to you, but the secret things belong unto the Lord your God.”

6. It is indeed manifest that such things do not take place in the Church without great sorrow on the part of saints and believers; but let Him be our Comforter who hath foretold all these events, and has warned us not to become cold in love through abounding iniquity, to endure to the end that we may be saved. For, as far as I am concerned, if there be in me a spark of the love of Christ, who among you is weak, and I am not weak? who among you is offended, and I burn not? Do not therefore add to my distresses, by your yielding either by groundless suspicions or by occasion of other men’s sins. Do not, I beseech you, lest I say of you, “They have added to the pain of my wounds.” For it is much more easy to bear the reproach of those who take open pleasure in these our pains, of whom it was foretold in regard to Christ Himself, “They that sit in the gate speak against Me, and I was the song of the drunkards,” for whom also we have been taught to pray, and to seek their welfare. For why do they sit at the gate, and what do they watch for, if it be not for this, that so soon as any bishop or clergyman or monk or nun has fallen, they may have ground for believing, and boasting, and maintaining that all are the same as the one that has fallen, but that all cannot be convicted and unmasked? Yet these very men do not straightway cast forth their wives, or bring accusation against their mothers, if some married woman has been discovered to be an adulteress. But the moment that any crime is either falsely alleged or actually proved against any one who makes a profession of piety, these men are incessant and unwearied in their efforts to make this charge be believed against all religious men. Those men, therefore, who eagerly find what is sweet to their malicious tongues in the things which grieve us, we may compare to those dogs (if, indeed, they are to be understood as increasing his misery) which licked the sores of the beggar who lay before the rich man’s gate, and endured with patience every hardship and indignity until he should come to rest in Abraham’s bosom.

7. Do not add to my sorrows, O ye who have some hope toward God. Let not the wounds which these lick be multiplied by you, for whom we are in jeopardy every hour, having fightings without and fears within, and perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils by the heathen, and perils by false brethren. I know that you are grieved, but is your grief more poignant than mine? I know that you are disquieted, and I fear lest by the tongues of slanderers some weak one for whom Christ died should perish. Let not my grief be increased by you, for it is not through my fault that this grief was made yours. For I used the utmost precautions to secure, if it were possible, both that the steps necessary for the prevention of this evil should not be neglected, and that it should not be brought to your knowledge, since this could only cause unavailing vexation to the strong, and dangerous disquietude to the weak, among you. But may He who hath permitted you to be tempted by knowing this, give you strength to bear the trial, and “teach you out of His law, and give you rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.”

8. I hear that some of you are more cast down with sorrow by this event, than by the fall of the two deacons who had joined us from the Donatist party, as if they had brought reproach upon the discipline of Proculeianus; whereas this checks your boasting about me, that under my discipline no such inconsistency among the clergy had taken place. Let me frankly say to you, whoever you are that have done this, you have not done well. Behold, God hath taught you, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord;” and ye ought to bring no reproach against heretics but this, that they are not Catholics. Be not like these heretics, who, because they have nothing to plead in defence of their schism, attempt nothing beyond heaping up charges against the men from whom they are separated, and most falsely boast that in these we have an unenviable pre-eminence, in order that since they can neither impugn nor darken the truth of the Divine Scripture, from which the Church of Christ spread abroad everywhere receives its testimony, they may bring into disfavour the men by whom it is preached, against whom they are capable of affirming anything—whatever comes into their mind. “But ye have not so learned Christ, if so be that ye have heard Him, and have been taught by Him.” For He Himself has guarded His believing people from undue disquietude concerning wickedness, even in stewards of the divine mysteries, as doing evil which was their own, but speaking good which was His. “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” Pray by all means for me, lest perchance “when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway;” but when you glory, glory not in me, but in the Lord. For however watchful the discipline of my house may be, I am but a man, and I live among men; and I do not presume to pretend that my house is better than the ark of Noah, in which among eight persons one was found a castaway; or better than the house of Abraham, regarding which it was said, “Cast out the bondwoman and her son;” or better than the house of Isaac, regarding whose twin sons it was said, “I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau;” or better than the house of Jacob himself, in which Reuben defiled his father’s bed; or better than the house of David, in which one son wrought folly with his sister, and another rebelled against a father of such holy clemency; or better than the band of companions of Paul the apostle, who nevertheless would not have said, as above quoted, “Without are fightings, and within are fears,” if he had dwelt with none but good men; nor would have said, in speaking of the holiness and fidelity of Timothy, “I have no man like-minded who will naturally care for your state; for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s;” or better than the band of the disciples of the Lord Christ Himself, in which eleven good men bore with Judas, who was a thief and a traitor; or, finally, better than heaven itself, from which the angels fell.

9. I frankly avow to your Charity, before the Lord our God, whom I have taken, since the time when I began to serve Him, as a witness upon my soul, that as I have hardly found any men better than those who have done well in monasteries, so I have not found any men worse than monks who have fallen; whence I suppose that to them applies the word written in the Apocalypse, “He that is righteous, let him be still more righteous; and he that is filthy, let him be still more filthy.” Wherefore, if we be grieved by some foul blemishes, we are comforted by a much larger proportion of examples of an opposite kind. Let not, therefore, the dregs which offend your eyes cause you to hate the oil-presses whence the Lord’s storehouses are supplied to their profit with a more brightly illuminating oil.

May the mercy of our Lord keep you in His peace, safe from all the snares of the enemy, my dearly beloved brethren.

A short and stern challenge to some Manichaean teacher who had succeeded Fortunatus (supposed to be Felix).

Your attempts at evasion are to no purpose: your real character is patent even a long way off. My brethren have reported to me their conversation with you. You say that you do not fear death; it is well: but you ought to fear that death which you are bringing upon yourself by your blasphemous assertions concerning God. As to your understanding that the visible death which all men know is a separation between soul and body, this is a truth which demands no great grasp of intellect. But as to the statement which you annex to this, that death is a separation between good and evil, do you not see that, if the soul be good and the body be evil, he who joined them together, is not good? But you affirm that the good God has joined them together; from which it follows that He is either evil, or swayed by fear of one who is evil. Yet you boast of your having no fear of man, when at the same time you conceive God to be such that, through fear of Darkness, He would join together good and evil. Be not uplifted, as your writing shows you to be, by supposing that I magnify you, by my resolving to check the out-flowing of your poison, lest its insidious and pestilential power should do harm: for the apostle does not magnify those whom he calls “dogs,” saying to the Philippians, “Beware of dogs;” nor does he magnify those of whom he says that their word doth eat as a canker. Therefore, in the name of Christ, I demand of you to answer, if you are able, the question which baffled your predecessor Fortunatus. For he went from the scene of our discussion declaring that he would not return, unless, after conferring with his party, he found something by which he could answer the arguments used by our brethren. And if you are not prepared to do this, begone from this place, and do not pervert the right ways of the Lord, ensnaring and infecting with your poison the minds of the weak, lest, by the Lord’s right hand helping me, you be put to confusion in a way which you did not expect.

A letter to Paulinus, asking him to explain more fully how we may know what is the will of God and rule of our duty in the ordinary course of providence. This letter may be omitted as merely propounding a question, and containing nothing specially noticeable.

To Augustin, My Lord Truly Holy, and Most Blessed Father, Jerome Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Having anxiously inquired of our holy brother Firmus regarding your state, I was glad to hear that you are well. I expected him to bring, or, I should rather say, I insisted upon his giving me, a letter from you; upon which he told me that he had set out from Africa without communicating to you his intention. I therefore send to you my respectful salutations through this brother, who clings to you with a singular warmth of affection; and at the same time, in regard to my last letter, I beg you to forgive the modesty which made it impossible for me to refuse you, when you had so long required me to write you in reply. That letter, moreover, was not an answer from me to you, but a confronting of my arguments with yours. And if it was a fault in me to send a reply (I beseech you hear me patiently), the fault of him who insisted upon it was still greater. But let us be done with such quarrelling; let there be sincere brotherliness between us; and henceforth let us exchange letters, not of controversy, but of mutual charity. The holy brethren who with me serve the Lord send you cordial salutations. Salute from us the holy brethren who with you bear Christ’s easy yoke; especially I beseech you to convey my respectful salutation to the holy father Alypius, worthy of all esteem. May Christ, our almighty God, preserve you safe, and not unmindful of me, my lord truly holy, and most blessed father. If you have read my commentary on Jonah, I think you will not recur to the ridiculous gourd-debate. If, moreover, the friend who first assaulted me with his sword has been driven back by my pen, I rely upon your good feeling and equity to lay blame on the one who brought, and not on the one who repelled, the accusation. Let us, if you please, exercise ourselves in the field of Scripture without wounding each other.

A Reply to Letters LXXII., LXXV., and LXXXI.

Chap. I

To Jerome, My Lord Beloved and Honoured in the Bowels of Christ, My Holy Brother and Fellow-Presbyter, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Long ago I sent to your Charity a long letter in reply to the one which you remember sending to me by your holy son Asterius, who is now not only my brother, but also my colleague. Whether that reply reached you or not I do not know, unless I am to infer this from the words in your letter brought to me by our most sincere friend Firmus, that if the one who first assaulted you with his sword has been driven back by your pen, you rely upon my good feeling and equity to lay blame on the one who brought, not on the one who repelled, the accusation. From this one indication, though very slight, I infer that you have read my letter. In that letter I expressed indeed my sorrow that so great discord had arisen between you and Rufinus, over the strength of whose former friendship brotherly love was wont to rejoice in all parts to which the fame of it had come; but I did not in this intend to rebuke you, my brother, whom I dare not say that I have found blameable in that matter. I only lamented the sad lot of men in this world, in whose friendships, depending as they do on the continuance of mutual regard, there is no stability, however great that regard may sometimes be. I would rather, however, have been informed by your letter whether you have granted me the pardon which I begged, of which I now desire you to give me more explicit assurance; although the more genial and cheerful tone of your letter seems to signify that I have obtained what I asked in mine, if indeed it was despatched after mine had been read by you, which is, as I have said, not clearly indicated.

2. You ask, or rather you give a command with the confiding boldness of charity, that we should amuse ourselves in the field of Scripture without wounding each other. For my part, I am by all means disposed to exercise myself in earnest much rather than in mere amusement on such themes. If, however, you have chosen this word because of its suggesting easy exercise, let me frankly say that I desire something more from one who has, as you have, great talents under the control of a benignant disposition, together with wisdom enlightened by erudition, and whose application to study, hindered by no other distractions, is year after year impelled by enthusiasm and guided by genius: the Holy Spirit not only giving you all these advantages, but expressly charging you to come with help to those who are engaged in great and difficult investigations; not as if, in studying Scripture, they were amusing themselves on a level plain, but as men punting and toiling up a steep ascent. If, however, perchance, you selected the expression “ludamus” [let us amuse ourselves] because of the genial kindliness which befits discussion between loving friends, whether the matter debated be obvious and easy, or intricate and difficult, I beseech you to teach me how I may succeed in securing this; so that when I am dissatisfied with anything which, not through want of careful attention, but perhaps through my slowness of apprehension, has not been demonstrated to me, if I should, in attempting to make good an opposite opinion, express myself with a measure of unguarded frankness, I may not fall under the suspicion of childish conceit and forwardness, as if I sought to bring my own name into renown by assailing illustrious men; and that if, when something harsh has been demanded by the exigencies of argument, I attempt to make it less hard to bear by stating it in mild and courteous phrases, I may not be pronounced guilty of wielding a “honeyed sword.” The only way which I can see for avoiding both these faults, or the suspicion of either of them, is to consent that when I am thus arguing with a friend more learned than myself, I must approve of everything which he says, and may not, even for the sake of more accurate information, hesitate before accepting his decisions.

3. On such terms we might amuse ourselves without fear of offending each other in the field of Scripture, but I might well wonder if the amusement was not at my expense. For I confess to your Charity that I have learned to yield this respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error. And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything which appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the Ms. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it. As to all other writings, in reading them, however great the superiority of the authors to myself in sanctity and learning, I do not accept their teaching as true on the mere ground of the opinion being held by them; but only because they have succeeded in convincing my judgment of its truth either by means of these canonical writings themselves, or by arguments addressed to my reason. I believe, my brother, that this is your own opinion as well as mine. I do not need to say that I do not suppose you to wish your books to be read like those of prophets or of apostles, concerning which it would be wrong to doubt that they are free from error. Far be such arrogance from that humble piety and just estimate of yourself which I know you to have, and without which assuredly you would not have said, “Would that I could receive your embrace, and that by converse we might aid each other in learning!”

Chap. II

4. Now if, knowing as I do your life and conversation, I do not believe in regard to you that you have spoken anything with an intention of dissimulation and deceit, how much more reasonable is it for me to believe, in regard to the Apostle Paul, that he did not think one thing and affirm another when he wrote of Peter and Barnabas: “When I saw that they walked not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as to the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?’“ For whom can I confide in, as assuredly not deceiving me by spoken or written statements, if the apostle deceived his own “children,” for whom he “travailed in birth again until Christ (who is the Truth) were formed in them”? After having previously said to them, “The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not,” could he in writing to these same persons state what was not true, and deceive them by a fraud which was in some way sanctioned by expediency, when he said that he had seen Peter and Barnabas not walking uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, and that he had withstood Peter to the face because of this, that he was compelling the Gentiles to live after the manner of the Jews?

5. But you will say it is better to believe that the Apostle Paul wrote what was not true, than to believe that the Apostle Peter did what was not right. On this principle, we must say (which far be it from us to say), that it is better to believe that the gospel history is false, than to believe that Christ was denied by Peter; and better to charge the book of Kings [second book of Samuel] with false statements, than believe that so great a prophet, and one so signally chosen by the Lord God as David was, committed adultery in lusting after and taking away the wife of another, and committed such detestable homicide in procuring the death of her husband. Better far that I should read with certainty and persuasion of its truth the Holy Scripture, placed on the highest (even the heavenly) pinnacle of authority, and should, without questioning the trustworthiness of its statements, learn from it that men have been either commended, or corrected, or condemned, than that, through fear of believing that by men, who, though of most praiseworthy excellence, were no more than men, actions deserving rebuke might sometimes be done, I should admit suspicions affecting the trustworthiness of the whole “oracles of God.”

6. The Manichaeans maintain that the greater part of the Divine Scripture, by which their wicked error is in the most explicit terms confuted, is not worthy of credit, because they cannot pervert its language so as to support their opinions; yet they lay the blame of the alleged mistake not upon the apostles who originally wrote the words, but upon some unknown corrupters of the manuscripts. Forasmuch, however, as they have never succeeded in proving this by more numerous and by earlier manuscripts, or by appealing to the original language from which the Latin translations have been drawn, they retire from the arena of debate, vanquished and confounded by truth which is well known to all. Does not your holy prudence discern how great scope is given to their malice against the truth, if we say not (as they do) that the apostolic writings have been tampered with by others, but that the apostles themselves wrote what they knew to be untrue?

7. You say that it is incredible that Paul should have rebuked in Peter that which Paul himself had done. I am not at present inquiring about what Paul did, but about what he wrote. This is most pertinent to the matter which I have in hand,—namely, the confirmation of the universal and unquestionable truth of the Divine Scriptures, which have been delivered to us for our edification in the faith, not by unknown men, but by the apostles, and have on this account been received as the authoritative canonical standard. For if Peter did on that occasion what he ought to have done, Paul falsely affirmed that he saw him walking not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel. For whoever does what he ought to do, walks uprightly. He therefore is guilty of falsehood who, knowing that another has done what he ought to have done, says that he has not done uprightly. If, then, Paul wrote what was true, it is true that Peter was not then walking uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel. He was therefore doing what he ought not to have done; and if Paul had himself already done something of the same kind, I would prefer to believe that, having been himself corrected, he could not omit the correction of his brother apostle, than to believe that he put down any false statement in his epistle; and if in any epistle of Paul this would be strange, how much more in the one in the preface of which he says, “The things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not”!

8. For my part, I believe that Peter so acted on this occasion as to compel the Gentiles to live as Jews: because I read that Paul wrote this, and I do not believe that he lied. And therefore Peter was not acting uprightly. For it was contrary to the truth of the gospel, that those who believed in Christ should think that without those ancient ceremonies they could not be saved. This was the position maintained at Antioch by those of the circumcision who had believed; against whom Paul protested constantly and vehemently. As to Paul’s circumcising of Timothy, performing a vow at Cenchrea, and undertaking on the suggestion of James at Jerusalem to share the performance of the appointed rites with some who had made a vow, it is manifest that Paul’s design in these things was not to give to others the impression that he thought that by these observances salvation is given under the Christian dispensation, but to prevent men from believing that he condemned as no better than heathen idolatrous worship, those rites which God had appointed in the former dispensation as suitable to it, and as shadows of things to come. For this is what James said to him, that the report had gone abroad concerning him that he taught men “to forsake Moses.” This would be by all means wrong for those who believe in Christ, to forsake him who prophesied of Christ, as if they detested and condemned the teaching of him of whom Christ said, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me; for he wrote of Me.”

9. For mark, I beseech you, the words of James: “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. As touching the Gentiles which have believed, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.” It is, in my opinion, very clear that the reason why James gave this advice was, that the falsity of what they had heard concerning him might be known to those Jews, who, though they had believed in Christ, were jealous for the honour of the law, and would not have it thought that the institutions which had been given by Moses to their fathers were condemned by the doctrine of Christ as if they were profane, and had not been originally given by divine authority. For the men who had brought this reproach against Paul were not those who understood the right spirit in which observance of these ceremonies should be practised under the Christian dispensation by believing Jews,—namely, as a way of declaring the divine authority of these rites, and their holy use in the prophetic dispensation, and not as a means of obtaining salvation, which was to them already revealed in Christ and ministered by baptism. On the contrary, the men who had spread abroad this report against the apostle were those who would have these rites observed, as if without their observance there could be no salvation to those who believed the gospel. For these false teachers had found him to be a most zealous preacher of free grace, and a most decided opponent of their views, teaching as he did that men are not justified by these things, but by the grace of Jesus Christ, which these ceremonies of the law were appointed to foreshadow. This party, therefore, endeavouring to raise odium and persecution against him, charged him with being an enemy of the law and of the divine institutions; and there was no more fitting way in which he could turn aside the odium caused by this false accusation, than by himself celebrating those rites which he was supposed to condemn as profane, and thus showing that, on the one hand, the Jews were not to be debarred from them as if they were unlawful, and on the other hand, that the Gentiles were not to be compelled to observe them as if they were necessary.

10. For if he did in truth condemn these things in the way in which he was reported to have done, and undertook to perform these rites in order that he might, by dissembling, disguise his real sentiments, James would not have said to him, “and all shall know,” but, “all shall think that those things whereof they were informed concerning thee are nothing;” especially seeing that in Jerusalem itself the apostles had already decreed that no one should compel the Gentiles to adopt Jewish ceremonies, but had not decreed that no one should then prevent the Jews from living according to their customs, although upon them also Christian doctrine imposed no such obligation. Wherefore, if it was after the apostle’s decree that Peter’s dissimulation at Antioch took place, whereby he was compelling the Gentiles to live after the manner of the Jews, which he himself was not compelled to do, although he was not forbidden to use Jewish rites in order to declare the honour of the oracles of God which were committed to the Jews;—if this, I say, were the case, was it strange that Paul should exhort him to declare freely that decree which he remembered to have framed in conjunction with the other apostles at Jerusalem?

11. If, however, as I am more inclined to think, Peter did this before the meeting of that council at Jerusalem, in that case also it is not strange that Paul wished him not to conceal timidly, but to declare boldly, a rule of practice in regard to which he already knew that they were both of the same mind; whether he was aware of this from having conferred with him as to the gospel which both preached, or from having heard that, at the calling of the centurion Cornelius, Peter had been divinely instructed in regard to this matter, or from having seen him eating with Gentile converts before those whom he feared to offend had come to Antioch. For we do not deny that Peter was already of the same opinion in regard to this question as Paul himself was. Paul, therefore, was not teaching Peter what was the truth concerning that matter, but was reproving his dissimulation as a thing by which the Gentiles were compelled to act as Jews did; for no other reason than this, that the tendency of all such dissembling was to convey or confirm the impression that they taught the truth who held that believers could not be saved without circumcision and other ceremonies, which were shadows of things to come.

12. For this reason also he circumcised Timothy, lest to the Jews, and especially to his relations by the mother’s side, it should seem that the Gentiles who had believed in Christ abhorred circumcision as they abhorred the worship of idols; whereas the former was appointed by God, and the latter invented by Satan. Again, he did not circumcise Titus, lest he should give occasion to those who said that believers could not be saved without circumcision, and who, in order to deceive the Gentiles, openly declared that this was the view held by Paul. This is plainly enough intimated by himself, when he says: “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Here we see plainly what he perceived them to be eagerly watching for, and why it was that he did not do in the case of Titus as he had done in the case of Timothy, and as he might otherwise have done in the exercise of that liberty, by which he had shown that these observances were neither to be demanded as necessary to salvation, nor denounced as unlawful.

13. You say, however, that in this discussion we must beware of affirming, with the philosophers, that some of the actions of men lie in a region between right and wrong, and are to be reckoned, accordingly, neither among good actions nor among the opposite; and it is urged in your argument that the observance of legal ceremonies cannot be a thing indifferent, but either good or bad; so that if I affirm it to be good, I acknowledge that we also are bound to observe these ceremonies; but if I affirm it to be bad, I am bound to believe that the apostles observed them not sincerely, but in a way of dissimulation. I, for my part, would not be so much afraid of defending the apostles by the authority of philosophers, since these teach some measure of truth in their dissertations, as of pleading on their behalf the practice of advocates at the bar, in sometimes serving their clients’ interests at the expense of truth. If, as is stated in your exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians, this practice of barristers may be in your opinion with propriety quoted as resembling and justifying dissimulation on the part of Peter and Paul, why should I fear to allege to you the authority of philosophers whose teaching we account worthless, not because everything which they say is false, but because they are in most things mistaken, and wherein they are found affirming truth, are notwithstanding strangers to the grace of Christ, who is the Truth?

14. But why may I not say regarding these institutions of the old economy, that they are neither good nor bad: not good, since men are not by them justified, they having been only shadows predicting the grace by which we are justified; and not bad, since they were divinely appointed as suitable both to the time and to the people? Why may I not say this, when I am supported by that saying of the prophet, that God gave unto His people “statutes that were not good”? For we have in this perhaps the reason of his not calling them “bad,” but calling them “not good,” i.e. not such that either by them men could be made good, or that without them men could not possibly become good. I would esteem it a favour to be informed by your Sincerity, whether any saint, coming from the East to Rome, would be guilty of dissimulation if he fasted on the seventh day of each week, excepting the Saturday before Easter. For if we say that it is wrong to fast on the seventh day, we shall condemn not only the Church of Rome, but also many other churches, both neighbouring and more remote, in which the same custom continues to be observed. If, on the other hand, we pronounce it wrong not to fast on the seventh day, how great is our presumption in censuring so many churches in the East, and by far the greater part of the Christian world! Or do you prefer to say of this practice, that it is a thing indifferent in itself, but commendable in him who conforms with it, not as a dissembler, but from a seemly desire for the fellowship and deference for the feelings of others? No precept, however, concerning this practice is given to Christians in the canonical books. How much more, then, may I shrink from pronouncing that to be bad which I cannot deny to be of divine institution!—this fact being admitted by me in the exercise of the same faith by which I know that not through these observances, but by the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, I am justified.

15. I maintain, therefore, that circumcision, and other things of this kind, were, by means of what is called the Old Testament, given to the Jews with divine authority, as signs of future things which were to be fulfilled in Christ; and that now, when these things have been fulfilled, the laws concerning these rights remained only to be read by Christians in order to their understanding the prophecies which had been given before, but not to be of necessity practised by them, as if the coming of that revelation of faith which they prefigured was still future. Although, however, these rites were not to be imposed upon the Gentiles, the compliance with them, to which the Jews had been accustomed, was not to be prohibited in such a way as to give the impression that it was worthy of abhorrence and condemnation. Therefore slowly, and by degrees, all this observance of these types was to vanish away through the power of the sound preaching of the truth of the grace of Christ, to which alone believers would be taught to ascribe their justification and salvation, and not to those types and shadows of things which till then had been future, but which were now newly come and present, as at the time of the calling of those Jews whom the personal coming of our Lord and the apostolic times had found accustomed to the observance of these ceremonial institutions. The toleration, for the time, of their continuing to observe these was enough to declare their excellence as things which, though they were to be given up, were not, like the worship of idols, worthy of abhorrence; but they were not to be imposed upon others, lest they should be thought necessary, either as means or as conditions of salvation. This was the opinion of those heretics who, while anxious to be both Jews and Christians, could not be either the one or the other. Against this opinion you have most benevolently condescended to warn me, although I never entertained it. This also was the opinion with which, through fear, Peter fell into the fault of pretending to yield concurrence, though in reality he did not agree with it; for which reason Paul wrote most truly of him, that he saw him not walking uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, and most truly said of him that he was compelling the Gentiles to live as did the Jews. Paul did not impose this burden on the Gentiles through his sincerely complying, when it was needful, with these ceremonies, with the design of proving that they were not to be utterly condemned (as idol-worship ought to be); for he nevertheless constantly preached that not by these things, but by the grace revealed to faith, believers obtain salvation, lest he should lead any one to take up these Jewish observances as necessary to salvation. Thus, therefore, I believe that the Apostle Paul did all these things honestly, and without dissimulation; and yet if any one now leave Judaism and become a Christian, I neither compel nor permit him to imitate Paul’s example, and go on with the sincere observance of Jewish rites, any more than you, who think that Paul dissembled when he practised these rites, would compel or permit such an one to follow the apostle in that dissimulation.

16. Shall I also sum up “the matter in debate, or rather your opinion concerning it” (to quote your own expression)? It seems to me to be this: that after the gospel of Christ has been published, the Jews who believe do rightly if they offer sacrifices as Paul did, if they circumcise their children as Paul circumcised Timothy, and if they observe the “seventh day of the week, as the Jews have always done, provided only that they do all this as dissemblers and deceivers.” If this is your doctrine, we are now precipitated, not into the heresy of Ebion, or of those who are commonly called Nazarenes, or any other known heresy, but into some new error, which is all the more pernicious because it originates not in mistake, but in deliberate and designed endeavour to deceive. If, in order to clear yourself from the charge of entertaining such sentiments, you answer that the apostles were to be commended for dissimulation in these instances, their purpose being to avoid giving offence to the many weak Jewish believers who did not yet understand that these things were to be rejected, but that now, when the doctrine of Christ’s grace has been firmly established throughout so many nations, and when, by the reading of the Law and the Prophets throughout all the churches of Christ, it is well known that these are not read for our observance, but for our instruction, any man who should propose to feign compliance with these rites would be regarded as a madman. What objection can there be to my affirming that the Apostle Paul, and other sound and faithful Christians, were bound sincerely to declare the worth of these old observances by occasionally honouring them, lest it should be thought that these institutions, originally full of prophetic significance, and cherished sacredly by their most pious forefathers, were to be abhorred by their posterity as profane inventions of the devil? For now, when the faith had come, which, previously foreshadowed by these ceremonies, was revealed after the death and resurrection of the Lord, they became, so far as their office was concerned, defunct. But just as it is seemly that the bodies of the deceased be carried honourably to the grave by their kindred, so was it fitting that these rites should be removed in a manner worthy of their origin and history, and this not with pretence of respect, but as a religious duty, instead of being forsaken at once, or cast forth to be torn in pieces by the reproaches of their enemies, as by the teeth of dogs. To carry the illustration further, if now any Christian (though he may have been converted from Judaism) were proposing to imitate the apostles in the observance of these ceremonies, like one who disturbs the ashes of those who rest, he would be not piously performing his part in the obsequies, but impiously violating the sepulchre.

17. I acknowledge that in the statement contained in my letter, to the effect that the reason why Paul undertook (although he was an apostle of Christ) to perform certain rites, was that he might show that these ceremonies were not pernicious to those who desired to continue that which they had received by the Law from their fathers, I have not explicitly enough qualified the statement, by adding that this was the case only in that time in which the grace of faith was at first revealed; for at that time this was not pernicious. These observances were to be given up by all Christians step by step, as time advanced; not all at once, lest, if this were done, men should not perceive the difference between what God by Moses appointed to His ancient people, and the rites which the unclean spirit taught men to practise in the temples of heathen deities. I grant, therefore, that in this your censure is justifiable, and my omission deserved rebuke. Nevertheless, long before the time of my receiving your letter, when I wrote a treatise against Faustus the Manichaean, I did not omit to insert the qualifying clause which I have just stated, in a short exposition which I gave of the same passage, as you may see for yourself if you kindly condescend to read that treatise; or you may be satisfied in any other way that you please by the bearer of this letter, that I had long ago published this restriction of the general affirmation. And I now, as speaking in the sight of God, beseech you by the law of charity to believe me when I say with my whole heart, that it never was my opinion that in our time, Jews who become Christians were either required or at liberty to observe in any manner, or from any motive whatever, the ceremonies of the ancient dispensation; although I have always held, in regard to the Apostle Paul, the opinion which you call in question, from the time that I became acquainted with his writings. Nor can these two things appear incompatible to you; for you do not think it is the duty of any one in our day to feign compliance with these Jewish observances, although you believe that the apostles did this.

18. Accordingly, as you in opposing me affirm, and, to quote your own words, “though the world were to protest against it, boldly declare that the Jewish ceremonies are to Christians both hurtful and fatal, and that whoever observes them, whether he was originally Jew or Gentile, is on his way to the pit of perdition,” I entirely indorse that statement, and add to it, “Whoever observes these ceremonies, whether he was originally Jew or Gentile, is on his way to the pit of perdition, not only if he is sincerely observing them, but also if he is observing them with dissimulation.” What more do you ask? But as you draw a distinction between the dissimulation which you hold to have been practised by the apostles, and the rule of conduct befitting the present time, I do the same between the course which Paul, as I think, sincerely followed in all these examples then, and the matter of observing in our day these Jewish ceremonies, although it were done, as by him, without any dissimulation, since it was then to be approved, but is now to be abhorred. Thus, although we read that “the law and the prophets were until John,” and that “therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God,” and that “we have received grace for grace for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;” and although it was promised by Jeremiah that God would make a new covenant with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant which He made with their fathers; nevertheless I do not think that the Circumcision of our Lord by His parents was an act of dissimulation. If any one object that He did not forbid this because He was but an infant, I go on to say that I do not think that it was with intention to deceive that He said to the leper, “Offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them,”—thereby adding His own precept to the authority of the law of Moses regarding that ceremonial usage. Nor was there dissimulation in His going up to the feast, as there was also no desire to be seen of men; for He went up, not openly, but secretly.

19. But the words of the apostle himself may be quoted against me: “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” It follows from this that he deceived Timothy, and made Christ profit him nothing, for he circumcised Timothy. Do you answer that this circumcision did Timothy no harm, because it was done with an intention to deceive? I reply that the apostle has not made any such exception. He does not say, If ye be circumcised without dissimulation, any more than, If ye be circumcised with dissimulation. He says unreservedly, “If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.” As, therefore, you insist upon finding room for your interpretation, by proposing to supply the words, “unless it be done as an act of dissimulation,” I make no unreasonable demand in asking you to permit me to understand the words, “if ye be circumcised,” to be in that passage addressed to those who demanded circumcision, for this reason, that they thought it impossible for them to be otherwise saved by Christ. Whoever was then circumcised because of such persuasion and desire, and with this design, Christ assuredly profited him nothing, as the apostle elsewhere expressly affirms, “If righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain. The same is affirmed in words which you have quoted: “Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you is justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” His rebuke, therefore, was addressed to those who believed that they were to be justified by the law,—not to those who, knowing well the design with which the legal ceremonies were instituted as foreshadowing truth, and the time for which they were destined to be in force, observed them in order to honour Him who appointed them at first. Wherefore also he says elsewhere, “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law,”—a passage from which you infer, that evidently “he has not the Holy Spirit who submits to the Law, not, as our fathers affirmed the apostles to have done, feignedly under the promptings of a wise discretion, but”—as I suppose to have been the case—”sincerely.”

20. It seems to me important to ascertain precisely what is that submission to the law which the apostle here condemns; for I do not think that he speaks here of circumcision merely, or of the sacrifices then offered by our fathers, but now not offered by Christians, and other observances of the same nature. I rather hold that he includes also that precept of the law, “Thou shalt not covet,” which we confess that Christians are unquestionably bound to obey, and which we find most fully proclaimed by the light which the Gospel has shed upon it. “The law,” he says, “is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good;” and then adds, “Was, then, that which is good made death unto me? God forbid.” “But sin, that it might appear sin, wrought death in me by that which is good; that sin, by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful.” As he says here, “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful,” so elsewhere, “The law entered that the offence might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Again, in another place, after affirming, when speaking of the dispensation of grace, that grace alone justifies, he asks, “Wherefore then serveth the law?” and answers immediately, “It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come to whom the promises were made.” The persons, therefore, whose submission to the law the apostle here pronounces to be the cause of their own condemnation, are those whom the law brings in guilty, as not fulfilling its requirements, and who, not understanding the efficacy of free grace, rely with self-satisfied presumption on their own strength to enable them to keep the law of God; for “love is the fulfilling of the law.” Now “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts,” not by our own power, but “by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” The satisfactory discussion of this, however, would require too long a digression, if not a separate volume. If, then, that precept of the law, “Thou shalt not covet,” holds under it as guilty the man whose human weakness is not assisted by the grace of God, and instead of acquitting the sinner, condemns him as a transgressor, how much more was it impossible for those ordinances which were merely typical, circumcision and the rest, which were destined to be abolished when the revelation of grace became more widely known, to be the means of justifying any man! Nevertheless they were not on this ground to be immediately shunned with abhorrence, like the diabolical impieties of heathenism, from the first beginning of the revelation of the grace which had been by these shadows prefigured; but to be for a little while tolerated, especially among those who joined the Christian Church from that nation to whom these ordinances had been given. When, however, they had been, as it were, honourably buried, they were thenceforward to be finally abandoned by all Christians.

21. Now, as to the words which you use, “non dispensative, ut nostri voluere majores,”—”not in a way justifiable by expediency, the ground on which our fathers were disposed to explain the conduct of the apostles,”—pray what do these words mean? Surely nothing else than that which I call “officiosum mendacium,” the liberty granted by expediency being equivalent to a call of duty to utter a falsehood with pious intention. I at least can see no other explanation, unless, of course, the mere addition of the words “permitted by expediency” be enough to make a lie cease to be a lie; and if this be absurd, why do you not openly say that a lie spoken in the way of duty is to be defended? Perhaps the name offends you, because the word “officium” is not common in ecclesiastical books; but this did not deter our Ambrose from its use, for he has chosen the title “De Officiis” for some of his books that are full of useful rules. Do you mean to say, that whoever utters a lie from a sense of duty is to be blamed, and whoever does the same on the ground of expediency is to be approved? I beseech you, consider that the man who thinks this may lie whenever he thinks fit, because this involves the whole important question whether to say what is false be at any time the duty of a good man, especially of a Christian man, to whom it has been said, “Let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay, lest ye fall into condemnation,” and who believes the Psalmist’s word, “Thou wilt destroy all them that speak lies.”

22. This, however, is, as I have said, another and a weighty question; I leave him who is of this opinion to judge for himself the circumstances in which he is at liberty to utter a lie: provided, however, that it be most assuredly believed and maintained that this way of lying is far removed from the authors who were employed to write holy writings, especially the canonical Scriptures; lest those who are the stewards of Christ, of whom it is said, “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful,” should seem to have proved their fidelity by learning as an important lesson to speak what is false when this is expedient for the truth’s sake, although the word fidelity itself, in the Latin tongue, is said to signify originally a real correspondence between what is said and what is done. Now, where that which is spoken is actually done, there is assuredly no room for falsehood. Paul therefore, as a “faithful steward” doubtless is to be regarded as approving his fidelity in his writings; for he was a steward of truth, not of falsehood. Therefore he wrote the truth when he wrote that he had seen Peter walking not uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, and that he had withstood him to the face because he was compelling the Gentiles to live as the Jews did. And Peter himself received, with the holy and loving humility which became him, the rebuke which Paul, in the interests of truth, and with the boldness of love, administered. Therein Peter left to those that came after him an example, that, if at any time they deviated from the right path, they should not think it beneath them to accept correction from those who were their juniors,—an example more rare, and requiring greater piety, than that which Paul’s conduct on the same occasion left us, that those who are younger should have courage even to withstand their seniors if the defence of evangelical truth required it, yet in such a way as to preserve unbroken brotherly love. For while it is better for one to succeed in perfectly keeping the right path, it is a thing much more worthy of admiration and praise to receive admonition meekly, than to admonish a transgressor boldly. On that occasion, therefore, Paul was to be praised for upright courage, Peter was to be praised for holy humility; and so far as my judgment enables me to form an opinion, this ought rather to have been asserted in answer to the calumnies of Porphyry, than further occasion given to him for finding fault, by putting it in his power to bring against Christians this much more damaging accusation, that either in writing their letters or in complying with the ordinances of God they practised deceit.

Chap. III

23. You call upon me to bring forward the name of even one whose opinion I have followed in this matter, and at the same time you have quoted the names of many who have held before you the opinion which you defend. You also say that if I censure you for an error in this, you beg to be allowed to remain in error in company with such great men. I have not read their writings; but although they are only six or seven in all, you have yourself impugned the authority of four of them. For as to the Laodicean author, whose name you do not give, you say that he has lately forsaken the Church; Alexander you describe as a heretic of old standing; and as to Origen and Didymus, I read in some of your more recent works, censure passed on their opinions, and that in no measured terms, nor in regard to insignificant questions, although formerly you gave Origen marvellous praise. I suppose, therefore, that you would not even yourself be contented to be in error with these men; although the language which I refer to is equivalent to an assertion that in this matter they have not erred. For who is there that would consent to be knowingly mistaken, with whatever company he might share his errors? Three of the seven therefore alone remain, Eusebius of Emesa, Theodorus of Heraclea, and John, whom you afterwards mention, who formerly presided as pontiff over the Church of Constantinople.

24. However, if you inquire or recall to memory the opinion of our Ambrose, and also of our Cyprian, on the point in question, you will perhaps find that I also have not been without some whose footsteps I follow in that which I have maintained. At the same time, as I have said already, it is to the canonical Scriptures alone that I am bound to yield such implicit subjection as to follow their teaching, without admitting the slightest suspicion that in them any mistake or any statement intended to mislead could find a place. Wherefore, when I look round for a third name that I may oppose three on my side to your three, I might indeed easily find one, I believe, if my reading had been extensive; but one occurs to me whose name is as good as all these others, nay, of greater authority—I mean the Apostle Paul himself. To him I betake myself; to himself I appeal from the verdict of all those commentators on his writings who advance an opinion different from mine. I interrogate him, and demand from himself to know whether he wrote what was true, or under some plea of expediency wrote what he knew to be false, when he wrote that he saw Peter not walking uprightly, according to the truth of the gospel, and withstood him to his face because by that dissimulation he was compelling the Gentiles to live after the manner of the Jews. And I hear him in reply proclaiming with a solemn oath in an earlier part of the epistle, where he began this narration, “The things that I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.”

25. Let those who think otherwise, however great their names, excuse my differing from them. The testimony of so great an apostle using, in his own writings, an oath as a confirmation of their truth, is of more weight with me than the opinion of any man, however learned, who is discussing the writings of another. Nor am I afraid lest men should say that, in vindicating Paul from the charge of pretending to conform to the errors of Jewish prejudice, I affirm him to have actually so conformed. For as, on the one hand, he was not guilty of pretending conformity to error when, with the liberty of an apostle, such as was suitable to that period of transition, he did, by practising those ancient holy ordinances, when it was necessary to declare their original excellence as appointed not by the wiles of Satan to deceive men, but by the wisdom of God for the purpose of typically foretelling things to come; so, on the other hand, he was not guilty of real conformity to the errors of Judaism, seeing that he not only knew, but also preached constantly and vehemently, that those were in error who thought that these ceremonies were to be imposed upon the Gentile converts, or were necessary to the justification of any who believed.

26. Moreover, as to my saying that to the Jews he became as a Jew, and to the Gentiles as a Gentile, not with the subtlety of intentional deceit, but with the compassion of pitying love, it seems to me that you have not sufficiently considered my meaning in the words; or rather, perhaps, I have not succeeded in making it plain. For I did not mean by this that I supposed him to have practised in either case a feigned conformity; but I said it because his conformity was sincere, not less in the things in which he became to the Jews as a Jew, than in those in which he became to the Gentiles as a Gentile,—a parallel which you yourself suggested, and by which I thankfully acknowledge that you have materially assisted my argument. For when I had in my letter asked you to explain how it could be supposed that Paul’s becoming to the Jews as a Jew involved the supposition that he must have acted deceitfully in conforming to the Jewish observances, seeing that no such deceptive conformity to heathen customs was involved in his becoming as a Gentile to the Gentiles; your answer was, that his becoming to the Gentiles as a Gentile meant no more than his receiving the uncircumcised, and permitting the free use of those meats which were pronounced unclean by Jewish law. If, then, when I ask whether in this also he practised dissimulation, such an idea is repudiated as palpably most absurd and false: it is an obvious inference, that in his performing those things in which he became as a Jew to the Jews, he was using a wise liberty, not yielding to a degrading compulsion, nor doing what would be still more unworthy of him, viz. stooping from integrity to fraud out of a regard to expediency.

27. For to believers, and to those who know the truth, as the apostle testifies (unless here too, perhaps, he is deceiving his readers), “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.” Therefore to Paul himself, not only as a man, but as a steward eminently faithful, not only as knowing, but also as a teacher of the truth, every creature of God which is used for food was not feignedly but truly good. If, then, to the Gentiles he became as a Gentile, by holding and teaching the truth concerning meats and circumcision although he feigned no conformity to the rites and ceremonies of the Gentiles, why say that it was impossible for him to become as a Jew to the Jews, unless he practised dissimulation in performing the rites of their religion? Why did he maintain the true faithfulness of a steward towards the wild olive branch that was engrafted, and yet hold up a strange veil of dissimulation, on the plea of expediency, before those who were the natural and original branches of the olive tree? Why was it that, in becoming as a Gentile to the Gentiles, his teaching and his conduct are in harmony with his real sentiments; but that, in becoming as a Jew to the Jews, he shuts up one thing in his heart, and declares something wholly different in his words, deeds, and writings? But far be it from us to entertain such thoughts of him. To both Jews and Gentiles he owed “charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned;” and therefore he became all things to all men, that he might gain all, not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the love of one filled with compassion; that is to say, not by pretending himself to do all the evil things which other men did, but by using the utmost pains to minister with all compassion the remedies required by the evils under which other men laboured, as if their case had been his own.

28. When, therefore, he did not refuse to practise some of these Old Testament observances, he was not led by his compassion for Jews to feign this conformity, but unquestionably was acting sincerely; and by this course of action declaring his respect for those things which in the former dispensation had been for a time enjoined by God, he distinguished between them and the impious rites of heathenism. At that time, moreover, not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the love of one moved by compassion, he became to the Jews as a Jew, when, seeing them to be in error, which either made them unwilling to believe in Christ, or made them think that by these old sacrifices and ceremonial observances they could be cleansed from sin and made partakers of salvation, he desired so to deliver them from that error as if he saw not them, but himself, entangled in it; thus truly loving his neighbour as himself, and doing to others as he would have others do to him if he required their help,—a duty to the statement of which our Lord added these words, “This is the law and the prophets.”

29. This compassionate affection Paul recommends in the same Epistle to the Galatians, saying: “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” See whether he has not said, “Make thyself as he is, that thou mayest gain him.” Not, indeed, that one should commit or pretend to have committed the same fault as the one who has been overtaken, but that in the fault of that other he should consider what might happen to himself, and so compassionately render assistance to that other, as he would wish that other to do to him if the case were his; that is, not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the love of one filled with compassion. Thus, whatever the error or fault in which Jew or Gentile or any man was found by Paul, to all men he became all things,—not by feigning what was not true, but by feeling, because the case might have been his own, the compassion of one who put himself in the other’s place,—that he might gain all.

Chap. IV

30. I beseech you to look, if you please, for a little into your own heart,—I mean, into your own heart as it stands affected towards myself,—and recall, or if you have it in writing beside you, read again, your own words in that letter (only too brief) which you sent to me by Cyprian our brother, now my colleague. Read with what sincere brotherly and loving earnestness you have added to a serious complaint of what I had done to you these words: “In this friendship is wounded, and the laws of brotherly union are set at nought. Let not the world see us quarrelling like children, and giving material for angry contention between those who may become our respective supporters or adversaries.” These words I perceive to be spoken by you from the heart, and from a heart kindly seeking to give me good advice. Then you add, what would have been obvious to me even without your stating it: “I write what I have now written, because I desire to cherish towards you pure and Christian love, and not to hide in my heart anything which does not agree with the utterance of my lips.” O pious man, beloved by me, as God who seeth my soul is witness, with a true heart I believe your statement; and just as I do not question the sincerity of the profession which you have thus made in a letter to me, so do I by all means believe the Apostle Paul when he makes the very same profession in his letter, addressed not to any one individual, but to Jews and Greeks, and all those Gentiles who were his children in the gospel, for whose spiritual birth he travailed, and after them to so many thousands of believers in Christ, for whose sake that letter has been preserved. I believe, I say, that he did not “hide in his heart anything which did not agree with the utterance of his lips.”

31. You have indeed yourself done towards me this very thing,—becoming to me as I am,—”not with the subtlety of deception, but with the love of compassion,” when you thought that it behoved you to take as much pains to prevent me from being left in a mistake, in which you believed me to be, as you would have wished another to take for your deliverance if the case had been your own. Wherefore, gratefully acknowledging this evidence of your goodwill towards me, I also claim that you also be not displeased with me, if, when anything in your treatises disquieted me, I acquainted you with my distress, desiring the same course to be followed by all towards me as I have followed towards you, that whatever they think worthy of censure in my writings, they would neither flatter me with deceitful commendation nor blame me before others for that of which they are silent towards myself; thereby, as it seems to me, more seriously “wounding friendship and setting at nought the laws of brotherly union.” For I would hesitate to give the name of Christian to those friendships in which the common proverb, “Flattery makes friends, and truth makes enemies,” is of more authority than the scriptural proverb, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

32. Wherefore let us rather do our utmost to set before our beloved friends, who most cordially wish us well in our labours, such an example that they may know that it is possible for the most intimate friends to differ so much in opinion, that the views of the one may be contradicted by the other without any diminution of their mutual affection, and without hatred being kindled by that truth which is due to genuine friendship, whether the contradiction be in itself in accordance with truth, or at least, whatever its intrinsic value is, be spoken from a sincere heart by one who is resolved not “to hide in his heart anything which does not agree with the utterance of his lips.” Let therefore our brethren, your friends, of whom you bear testimony that they are vessels of Christ, believe me when I say that it was wholly against my will that my letter came into the hands of many others before it reached your own, and that my heart is filled with no small sorrow for this mistake. How it happened would take long to tell, and this is now, if I am not mistaken, unnecessary; since, if my word is to be taken at all in regard to this, it suffices for me to say that it was not done by me with the sinister intention which is supposed by some, and that it was not by my wish, or arrangement, or consent, or design that this has taken place. If they do not believe this, which I affirm in the sight of God, I can do no more to satisfy them. Far be it, however, from me to believe that they made this suggestion to your Holiness with the malicious desire to kindle enmity between you and me, from which may God in His mercy defend us! Doubtless, without any intention of doing me wrong, they readily suspected me, as a man, to be capable of failings common to human nature. For it is right for me to believe this concerning them, if they be vessels of Christ appointed not to dishonour, but to honour, and made meet by God for every good work in His great house. If, however, this my solemn protestation come to their knowledge, and they still persist in the same opinion of my conduct, you will yourself see that in this they will do wrong.

33. As to my having written that I had never sent to Rome a book against you, I wrote this because, in the first place, I did not regard the name “book” as applicable to my letter, and therefore was under the impression that you had heard of something else entirely different from it; in the second place, I had not sent the letter in question to Rome, but to you; and in the third place, I did not consider it to be against you, because I knew that I had been prompted by the sincerity of friendship, which should give liberty for the exchange of suggestions and corrections between us. Leaving out of sight for a little while your friends of whom I have spoken, I implore yourself, by the grace whereby we have been redeemed, not to suppose that I have been guilty of artful flattery in anything which I have said in my letters concerning the good gifts which have been by the Lord’s goodness bestowed on you. If, however, I have in anything wronged you, forgive me. As to that incident in the life of some forgotten bard, which, with perhaps more pedantry than good taste, I quoted from classic literature, I beg you not to carry the application of it to yourself further than my words warranted for I immediately added: “I do not say this in order that you may recover the faculty of spiritual sight—far be it from me to say that you have lost it!—but that, having eyes both clear and quick in discernment, you may turn them to this matter.” I thought a reference to that incident suitable exclusively in connection with the palinodia, in which we ought all to imitate Stesichorus if we have written anything which it becomes our duty to correct in a writing of later date, and not at all in connection with the blindness of Stesichorus, which I neither ascribed to your mind, nor feared as likely to befall you. And again, I beseech you to correct boldly whatever you see needful to censure in my writings. For although, so far as the titles of honour which prevail in the Church are concerned, a bishop’s rank is above that of a presbyter, nevertheless in many things Augustin is in inferior to Jerome; albeit correction is not to be refused nor despised, even when it comes from one who in all respects may be an inferior.

Chap. V

34. As to your translation, you have now convinced me of the benefits to be secured by your proposal to translate the Scriptures from the original Hebrew, in order that you may bring to light those things which have been either omitted or perverted by the Jews. But I beg you to be so good as state by what Jews this has been done, whether by those who before the Lord’s advent translated the Old Testament—and if so, by what one or more of them—or by the Jews of later times, who may be supposed to have mutilated or corrupted the Greek Mss., in order to prevent themselves from being unable to answer the evidence given by these concerning the Christian faith. I cannot find any reason which should have prompted the earlier Jewish translators to such unfaithfulness. I beg of you, moreover, to send us your translation of the Septuagint, which I did not know that you had published. I am also longing to read that book of yours which you named De optimo genere interpretandi, and to know from it how to adjust the balance between the product of the translator’s acquaintance with the original language, and the conjectures of those who are able commentators on the Scripture, who, notwithstanding their common loyalty to the one true faith, must often bring forward various opinions on account of the obscurity of many passages; although this difference of interpretation by no means involves departure from the unity of the faith; just as one commentator may himself give, in harmony with the faith which he holds, two different interpretations of the same passage, because the obscurity of the passage makes both equally admissible.

35. I desire, moreover, your translation of the Septuagint, in order that we may be delivered, so far as is possible, from the consequences of the notable incompetency of those who, whether qualified or not, have attempted a Latin translation; and in order that those who think that I look with jealousy on your useful labours, may at length, if it be possible, perceive that my only reason for objecting to the public reading of your translation from the Hebrew in our churches was, lest, bringing forward anything which was, as it were, new and opposed to the authority of the Septuagint version, we should trouble by serious cause of offence the flocks of Christ, whose ears and hearts have become accustomed to listen to that version to which the seal of approbation was given by the apostles themselves. Wherefore, as to that shrub in the book of Jonah, if in the Hebrew it is neither “gourd” nor “ivy,” but something else which stands erect, supported by its own stem without other props, I would prefer to call it “gourd” in all our Latin versions; for I do not think that the Seventy would have rendered it thus at random, had they not known that the plant was something like a gourd.

36. I think I have now given a sufficient answer (perhaps more than sufficient) to your three letters; of which I received two by Cyprian, and one by Firmus. In replying, send whatever you think likely to be of use in instructing me and others. And I shall take more care, as the Lord may help me, that any letter which I may write to you shall reach yourself before it falls into the hand of any other, by whom its contents may be published abroad; for I confess that I would not like any letter of yours to me to meet with the fate of which you justly complain as having befallen my letter to you. Let us, however, resolve to maintain between ourselves the liberty as well as the love of friends; so that in the letters which we exchange, neither of us shall be restrained from frankly stating to the other whatever seems to him open to correction, provided always that this be done in the spirit which does not, as inconsistent with brotherly love, displease God. If, however, you do not think that this can be done between us without endangering that brotherly love, let us not do it: for the love which I should like to see maintained between us is assuredly the greater love which would make this mutual freedom possible; but the smaller measure of it is better than none at all.

To My Lord Alypius Most Blessed, My Brother and Colleague, Beloved and Longed for With Sincere Veneration, and to the Brethren that are with Him, Augustin and the Brethren with Him Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. The sorrow of the members of the Church at Thiave prevents my heart from having any rest until I hear that they have been brought again to be of the same mind towards you as they formerly were; which must be accomplished without delay. For if the apostle was concerned about one individual, “lest perhaps such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow,” adding in the same context the words, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices,” how much more does it become us to act with caution, lest we cause similar grief to a whole flock, and especially one composed of persons who have lately been reconciled to the Catholic Church, and whom I can upon no account forsake! As, however, the short time at our disposal did not permit us so to take counsel together as to arrive at a mature and satisfactory decision, may it please your Holiness to accept in this letter the finding which commended itself most to me when I had long reflected upon the matter since we parted; and if you approve of it, let the enclosed letter, which I have written to them in the name of both of us, be sent to them without delay.

2. You proposed that they should have the one half [of the property left by Honoratus], and that the other half should be made up to them by me from such resources as might be at my disposal. I think, however, that if the whole property had been taken from them, men might reasonably have said that we had taken the great pains in this matter which we have done, for the sake of justice, not for pecuniary advantage. But when we concede to them one half, and in that way settle with them by a compromise, it will be manifest that our anxiety has been only about the money; and you see what harm must follow from this. For, on the one hand, we shall be regarded by them as having taken away one half of a property to which we had no claim; and, on the other hand, they will be regarded by us as dishonourably and unjustly consenting to accept aid from one half of a property of which the whole belonged to the poor. For your remark, “We must beware lest, in our efforts to obtain a right adjustment of a difficult question, we cause more serious wounds,” applies with no less force if the half be conceded to them. For those whose turning from the world to monastic life we desire to secure, will, for the sake of this half of their private estates, be disposed to find some excuse for putting off the sale of these, in order that their case may be dealt with according to this precedent. Moreover, would it not be strange, if, in a question like this, where much may be said on both sides, a whole community should, through our not avoiding the appearance of evil, be offended by the impression that their bishops, whom they hold in high esteem, are smitten with sordid avarice?

3. For when any one is turned to adopt the life of a monk, if he is adopting it with a true heart, he does not think of that which I have just mentioned, especially if he be admonished of the sinfulness of such conduct. But if he be a deceiver, and is seeking “his own things, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s,” he has not charity; and without this, what does it profit him, “though he bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned”? Moreover, as we agreed when conversing together, this may be henceforth avoided, and an arrangement made with each individual who is disposed to enter a monastery, if he cannot be admitted to the society of the brethren before he has relieved himself of all these encumbrances, and comes as one at leisure from all business, because the property which belonged to him has ceased to be his. But there is no other way in which this spiritual death of weak brethren, and grievous obstacle to the salvation of those for whose reconciliation with the Catholic Church we so earnestly labour, can be avoided, than by our giving them most clearly to understand that we are by no means anxious about money in such cases as this. And this they cannot be made to understand, unless we leave to their use the estate which they always supposed to belong to their late presbyter; because, even if it was not his, they ought to have known this from the beginning.

4. It seems to me, therefore, that in matters of this kind, the rule which ought to hold is, that whatever belonged, according to the ordinary civil laws regarding property, to him who is an ordained clergyman in any place, belongs after his death to the Church over which he was ordained. Now, by civil law, the property in question belonged to the presbyter Honoratus; so that not only on account of his being ordained elsewhere, but even had he remained in the monastery of Thagaste, if he had died without having either sold his estate or handed it over by express deed of gift to any one, the right of succession to it would belong only to his heirs: as brother AEmilianus inherited those thirty shillings left by the brother Privatus. This, therefore, behoved to be considered and provided for in time; but if no provision was made for it, we must, in the disposal of the estate, comply with the laws which have been appointed to regulate in civil society the holding or not holding of property; that we may, so far as is in our power, abstain not only from the reality, but also from all appearance of evil, and preserve that good name which is so necessary to our office as stewards. How truly this procedure has the appearance of evil, I beseech your wisdom to observe. For having heard of their sorrow, which we ourselves witnessed at Thiave, fearing lest, as frequently happens, I should myself be mistaken through partiality for my own opinion, I stated the facts of the case to our brother and colleague Samsucius, without telling him at the time my present view of the matter, but rather stating the view taken up by both of us when we were resisting their demands. He was exceedingly shocked, and wondered that we had entertained such a view; being moved by nothing else but the ugly appearance of the transaction, as one wholly unworthy not only of us, but of any man.

5. Wherefore I implore you to subscribe and transmit without delay the letter which I have written to them in name of both of us. And even if, perchance, you discern the other course to be a just one in the matter, let not these brethren who are weak be compelled to learn now what I myself cannot understand; rather let this word of the Lord be remembered in dealing with them: “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” For He Himself, out of condescension to such weakness, said on another occasion (it was in reference to the payment of tribute), “Then are the children free; notwithstanding lest we offend them,” etc.; and sent Peter to pay the didrachmae which were then exacted. For He knew another law according to which he was not bound to make any such payment; but He made the payment which was imposed upon Him by that law according to which, as I have said, succession to the estate of Honoratus behoved to be regulated, if he died before either giving away or selling his property. Nay, even in regard to the law of the Church, Paul showed forbearance towards the weak, and did not insist upon his receiving the money due to him, although fully persuaded in his conscience that he might with perfect justice insist upon it; waiving his claim, however, only because he thereby avoided a suspicion of his motives which would mar the sweet savour of Christ among them, and abstained from the appearance of evil in a region in which he knew that this was his duty, and probably even before he had known by experience the sorrow which it would occasion. Let us now, though we are somewhat behind-hand, and have been admonished by experience, correct that which we ought to have foreseen.

6. I remember that you proposed when we parted that the brethren at Thagaste should hold me responsible to make up the half of the sum claimed; let me say in conclusion, that as I fear everything which may make my attempt unsuccessful, if you clearly perceive that proposal to be a just one, I do not refuse to comply with it on this condition, however, that I am to pay the amount only when I have it in my power, i.e. when something so considerable falls to our monastery at Hippo that this can be done without unduly straitening us,—the amount remaining after the subtraction of so large a sum being still such as to provide for our monastery here an equal share in proportion to the number of resident brethren.

To My Lord Novatus, Most Blessed, My Brother and Partner in the Priestly Office, Esteemed and Longed For, and to the Brethren Who are with Him, Augustin and the Brethren with Him Send Greeting in the Lord.

1. I myself feel how hard-hearted I must appear to you, and I can scarcely excuse to myself my conduct in not consenting to send to your Holiness my son the deacon Lucillus, your own brother. But when your own time comes to surrender to the claims of Churches in remote places some of those whom you have educated, and who are most dear and sweet to you, then, and not till then, will you know the pangs of longing which pierce me through and through for some who, once united to me in the strongest and most pleasing intimacy, are no more beside me. Let me submit to your thoughts the case of one who is far away. However strong be the bond of kindred between brothers, it does not surpass the bond by which my brother Severus and I are united to each other, and yet you know how rarely I have the happiness of seeing him. And this has been caused neither by his wish nor by mine, but because of our giving to the claims of our mother the Church precedency above the claims of this present world, out of regard to that coming eternity in which we shall dwell together and part no more. How much more reasonable, therefore, is it for you to submit for the sake of the Church’s welfare to the absence of that brother, with whom you have not shared the food which the Lord our Shepherd provides for nearly so long a period as I did with my most amiable fellow-townsman Severus, who now only with an effort and at long intervals converses with me by means of brief letters,—letters, moreover, which are for the most part burdened with the cares and affairs of other men, instead of bearing to me any reminiscence of those green pastures in which we were wont to lie down under Christ’s loving care!

5. You will perhaps reply, “What then? May not my brother be of service to the Church here also? Is it for any other end than usefulness to the Church that I desire to have him with me?” Truly, if his being beside you seemed to me to be as important for the gathering in or ruling of the Lord’s flock as his presence here is for these ends, every one might justly blame me for being not merely hard-hearted, but unjust. But since he is conversant with the Punic language, through want of which the preaching of the gospel is greatly hindered in these parts, whereas the use of that language is general with you, do you think that we would be doing our duty in consulting for the welfare of the Lord’s flocks, if we were to send this talent to a place where it is not specially needful, and remove it from this region, where we thirst for it with such parched spirits? Forgive me, therefore, when I do, not only against your will, but also against my own feeling, what the care of the burden imposed upon me compels me to do. The Lord, to whom you have given your heart, will grant you such aid in your labours that you shall be recompensed for this kindness; for we acknowledge that you have with a good grace rather than of necessity conceded the deacon Lucillus to the burning thirst of the regions in which our lot is cast. For you will do me no small favour if you do not burden me with any further request upon this subject, lest I should have occasion to appear anything more than somewhat hard-hearted to you, whom I revere for your holy benignity of disposition.

To My Lord Paulus, Most Beloved, My Brother and Colleague in the Priesthood, Whose Highest Welfare is Sought by All My Prayers, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. You would not call me so inexorable if you did not think me also a dissembler. For what else do you believe concerning my spirit, if I am to judge by what you have written, than that I cherish towards you dislike and antipathy which merit blame and detestation; as if in a matter about which, there could be but one opinion I was not careful lest, while warning others, I myself should deserve reproof, or were wishing to cast the mote out of your eye while retaining and fostering the beam in my own? It is by no means as you suppose. Behold! I repeat this, and call God to witness, that if you were only to desire for yourself what I desire on your behalf, you would now be living in Christ free from all disquietude, and would make the whole Church rejoice in glory brought by you to His name. Observe, I pray you, that I have addressed you not only as my brother, but also as my colleague. For it cannot be that any bishop whatsoever of the Catholic Church should cease to be my colleague, so long as he has not been condemned by any ecclesiastical tribunal. As to my refusing to hold communion with you, the only reason for this is that I cannot flatter you. For inasmuch as I have begotten you in Christ, I am under very special obligation to render to you the salutary severity of love in faithful admonition and reproof. It is true that I rejoice in the numbers who have been, by God’s blessing on your work, gathered into the Catholic Church; but this does not make me less bound to weep that a greater number are being by you scattered from the Church. For you have so wounded the Church of Hippo, that unless the Lord make you disengage yourself from all secular cares and burdens, and recall you to the manner of living and deportment which become the true bishop, the wound may soon be beyond remedy.

2. Seeing, however, that you continue to involve yourself more and more deeply in these affairs, and have, notwithstanding your vow of renunciation, entangled yourself again with the things which you had solemnly laid aside,—a step which could not be justified even by the laws of ordinary human affairs; seeing also that you are reported to be living in a style of extravagance which cannot be maintained by the slender income of your church,—why do you insist upon communion with me, while you refuse to hear my rebuke of your faults? Is it that men whose complaints I cannot bear, may justly blame me for whatever you do? You are, moreover, mistaken in suspecting that those who find fault with you are persons who have always been against you even in your earlier life. It is not so: and you have no reason to be surprised that many things escape your observation. But even were this the case, it is your duty to secure that they find nothing in your conduct which they might reasonably blame, and for which they might bring reproach against the Church. Perhaps you think that my reason for saying these things is, that I have not accepted what you urged in your defence. Nay, rather my reason is, that if I were to say nothing regarding these things, I would be guilty of that for which I could urge nothing in my defence before God. I know your abilities; but even a man of dull mind is kept from disquietude if he sets his affections on heavenly things, whereas a man of acute mind has this gift in vain if he set his affections on earthly things. The office of a bishop is not designed to enable one to spend a life of vanity. The Lord God, who has closed against you all the ways by which you were disposed to make Him minister to your gain, in order that He may guide you, if you but understand Him, into that way, with a view to the pursuit of which that holy responsibility was laid upon you, will Himself teach you what I now say.

To My Noble Lord Caecilianus, My Son Truly and Justly Honourable and Esteemed in the Love of Christ, Augustin, Bishop, Sends Greeting in the Lord.

The renown of your administration and the fame of your virtues, as well as the praiseworthy zeal and faithful sincerity of your Christian piety,—gifts of God which make you rejoice in Him from whom they came, and from whom you hope to receive yet greater things,—have moved me to acquaint your Excellency by this letter with the cares which agitate my mind. As our joy is great that throughout the rest of Africa you have taken measures with remarkable success on behalf of Catholic unity, our sorrow is proportionately great because the district of Hippo and the neighbouring regions on the borders of Numidia have not enjoyed the benefit of the vigour with which as a magistrate you have enforced your proclamation, my noble lord, and my son truly and justly honourable and esteemed in the love of Christ. Lest this should be regarded rather as due to the neglect of duty by me who bear the burden of the episcopal office at Hippo, I have considered myself bound to mention it to your Excellency. If you condescend to acquaint yourself with the extremities to which the effrontery of the heretics has proceeded in the region of Hippo, as you may do by questioning my brethren and colleagues, who are able to furnish your Excellency with information, or the presbyter whom I have sent with this letter, I am sure you will so deal with this tumour of impious presumption, that it shall be healed by warning rather than painfully removed afterwards by punishment.

To His Brother Emeritus, Beloved and Longed For, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. I know that it is not on the possession of good talents and a liberal education that the salvation of the soul depends; but when I hear of any one who is thus endowed holding a different view from that which truth imperatively insists upon on a point which admits of very easy examination, the more I wonder at such a man, the more I burn with desire to make his acquaintance, and to converse with him; or if that be impossible, I long to bring his mind and mine into contact by exchanging letters, which wing their flight even between places far apart. As I have heard that you are such a man as I have spoken of, I grieve that you should be severed and shut out from the Catholic Church, which is spread abroad throughout the whole world, as was foretold by the Holy Spirit. What your reason for this separation is I do not know. For it is not disputed that the party of Donatus is wholly unknown to a great part of the Roman world, not to speak of the barbarian nations (to whom also the apostle said that he was a debtor ) whose communion in the Christian faith is joined with ours, and that in fact they do not even know at all when or upon what account the dissension began. Now, unless you admit these Christians to be innocent of those crimes with which you charge the Christians of Africa, you must confess that all of you are defiled by participation in the wicked actions of all worthless characters, so long as they succeed (to put the matter mildly) in escaping detection among you. For you do occasionally expel a member from your communion, in which case his expulsion takes place only after he has committed the crime for which he merited expulsion. Is there not some intervening time during which he escapes detection before he is discovered, convicted, and condemned by you? I ask, therefore, whether he involved you in his defilement so long as he was not discovered by you? You answer, “By no means.” If, then, he were not to be discovered at all, he would in that case never involve you in his defilement; for it sometimes happens that the crimes committed by men come to light only after their death, yet this does not bring guilt upon those Christians who communicated with them while they were alive. Why, then, have you severed yourselves by so rash and profane schism from the communion of innumerable Eastern Churches, in which all that you truly or falsely affirm to have been done in Africa has been and still is utterly unknown?

2. For it is quite another question whether or not there be truth in the assertions made by you. These assertions we disprove by documents much more worthy of credit than those which you bring forward, and we further find in your own documents more abundant proof of those positions which you assail. But this is, as I have said, another question altogether, to be taken up and discussed when necessary. Meanwhile, let your mind give special attention to this: that no one can be involved in the guilt of unknown crimes committed by persons unknown to him. Whence it is manifest that you have been guilty of impious schism in separating yourselves from the communion of the whole world, to which the things charged, whether truly or falsely, by you against some men in Africa, have been and still are wholly unknown; although this also should not be forgotten, that even when known and discovered, bad men do not harm the good who are in a Church, if either the power of restraining them from communion be wanting, or the interests of the Church’s peace forbid this to be done. For who were those who, according to the prophet Ezekiel, obtained the reward of being marked before the destruction of the wicked, and of escaping unhurt when they were destroyed, but those who sighed and cried for the sins and iniquities of the people of God which were done in the midst of them? Now who sighs and cries for that which is unknown to him? On the same principle, the Apostle Paul bears with false brethren. For it is not of persons unknown to him that he says, “All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s;” yet these persons he shows plainly to have been beside him. And to what class do the men belong who have chosen rather to burn incense to idols or surrender the divine books than to suffer death, if not to those who “seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ”?

3. I omit many proofs which I might give from Scripture, that I may not make this letter longer than is needful; and I leave many more things to be considered by yourself in the light of your own learning. But I beseech you mark this, which is quite enough to decide the whole question: If so many transgressors in the one nation, which was then the Church of God, did not make those who were associated with them to be guilty like themselves; if that multitude of false brethren did not make the Apostle Paul, who was a member of the same Church with them, a seeker not of the things of Jesus Christ, but of his own,—it is manifest that a man is not made wicked by the wickedness of any one with whom he goes to the altar of Christ, even though he be not unknown to him, provided only that he do not encourage him in his wickedness, but by a good conscience disallowing his conduct keep himself apart from him. It is therefore obvious that, to be art and part with a thief, one must either help him in the theft, or receive with approbation what he has stolen. This I say in order to remove out of the way endless and unnecessary questions concerning the conduct of men, which are wholly irrelevant when advanced against our position.

4. If, however, you do not agree with what I have said, you involve the whole of your party in the reproach of being such men as Optatus was, while, notwithstanding your knowledge of his crimes, he was tolerated in communion with you; and far be it from me to say this of such a man as Emeritus, and of others of like integrity among you, who are, I am sure, wholly averse to such deeds as disgraced him. For we do not lay any charge against you but the one of schism, which by your obstinate persistence in it you have now made heresy. How great this crime is in the judgment of God Himself, you may see by reading what without doubt you have read ere now. You will find that Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up by an opening of the earth beneath them, and that all the others who had conspired with them were devoured by fire breaking forth in the midst of them. As a warning to men to shun this crime, the Lord God signalized its commission with this immediate punishment, that He might show what He reserves for the final recompense of persons guilty of a similar transgression, whom His great forbearance spares for a time. We do not, indeed, find fault with the reasons by which you excuse your tolerating Optatus among you. We do not blame you, because at the time when he was denounced for his furious conduct in the mad abuse of power, when he was impeached by the groans of all Africa,—groans in which you also shared, if you are what good report declares you to be,—a report which, God knows, I most willingly believe,—you forbore from excommunicating him, lest he should under such sentence draw away many with him, and rend your communion asunder with the frenzy of schism. But this is the thing which is itself an indictment against you at the bar of God, O brother Emeritus, that although you saw that the division of the party of Donators was so great an evil, that it was thought better that Optatus should be tolerated in your communion than that division should be introduced among you, you nevertheless perpetuate the evil which was wrought in the division of the Church of Christ by your forefathers.

5. Here perhaps you will be disposed, under the exigencies of debate, to attempt to defend Optatus. Do not so, I beseech you; do not so, my brother: it would not become you; and if it would perchance be seemly for any one to do it (though, in fact, nothing is seemly which is wrong), it assuredly would be unseemly for Emeritus to defend Optatus. Perhaps you reply that it would as little become you to accuse him. Granted, by all means. Take, then, the course which lies between defending and accusing him. Say, “Every man shall bear his own burden;” “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?” If, then, notwithstanding the testimony of all Africa,—nay more, of all regions to which the name of Gildo was carried, for Optatus was not less notorious than he,—you have not dared to pronounce judgment concerning Optatus, lest you should rashly decide in regard to one unknown to you, is it, I ask, either possible or right for us, proceeding solely on your testimony, to pronounce sentence rashly upon persons whom we do not know? Is it not enough that you should charge them with things of which you have no certain knowledge, without our pronouncing them guilty of things of which we know as little as yourselves? For even though Optatus were in peril through the falsehood of detractors, you defend not him, but yourself, when you say, “I do not know what his character was.” How much more obvious, then, is it that the Eastern world knows nothing of the character of those Africans with whom, though much less known to you than Optatus, you find fault! Yet you are disjoined by scandalous schism from Churches in the East, the names of which you have and you read in the sacred books. If your most famous and most scandalously notorious Bishop of Thamugada was at that very time not known to his colleague, I shall not say in Caesarea, but in Sitifa, so close at hand, how was it possible for the Churches of Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, Thessalonica, Antioch, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and others which were founded in Christ by the apostles, to know the case of these African traditors, whoever they were; or how was it consistent with justice that they should be condemned by you for not knowing it? Yet with these Churches you hold no communion. You say they are not Christian, and you labour to rebaptize their members. What need I say? What complaint, what protest is necessary here? If I am addressing a right-hearted man, I know that with you I share the keenness of the indignation which I feel. For you doubtless see at once what I might say if I would.

6. Perhaps, however, your forefathers formed of themselves a council, and placed the whole Christian world except themselves under sentence of excommunication. Have you come so to judge of things, as to affirm that the council of the followers of Maximianus who were cut off from you, as you were cut off from the Church, was of no authority against you, because their number was small compared with yours; and yet claim for your council an authority against the nations, which are the inheritance of Christ, and the ends of the earth, which are His possession? I wonder if the man who does not blush at such pretensions has any blood in his body. Write me, I beseech you, in reply to this letter; for I have heard from some, on whom I could not but rely, that you would write me an answer if I were to address a letter to you. Some time ago, moreover, I sent you a letter; but I do not know whether you received it or answered it, and perhaps your reply did not reach me. Now, however, I beg you not to refuse to answer this letter, and state what you think. But do not occupy yourself with other questions than the one which I have stated, for this is the leading point of a well-ordered discussion of the origin of the schism.

7. The civil powers defend their conduct in persecuting schismatics by the rule which the apostle laid down: “Whoso resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” The whole question therefore is, whether schism be not an evil work, or whether you have not caused schism, so that your resistance of the powers that be is in a good cause and not in an evil work, whereby you would bring judgment on yourselves. Wherefore with infinite wisdom the Lord not merely said, “Blessed are they who are persecuted,” but added, “for righteousness’ sake.” I desire therefore to know from you, in the light of what I have said above, whether it be a work of righteousness to originate and perpetuate your state of separation from the Church. I desire also to know whether it be not rather a work of unrighteousness to condemn unheard the whole Christian world, either because it has not heard what you have heard, or because no proof has been furnished to it of charges which were rashly believed, or without sufficient evidence advanced by you, and to propose on this ground to baptize a second time the members of so many churches founded by the preaching and labours either of the Lord Himself while He was on earth, or of His apostles; and all this on the assumption that it is excusable for you either not to know the wickedness of your African colleagues who are living beside you, and are using the same sacraments with you, or even to tolerate their misdeeds when known, lest the party of Donatus should be divided, but that it is inexcusable for them, though they reside in most remote regions, to be ignorant of what you either know, or believe, or have heard, or imagine, concerning men in Africa. How great is the perversity of those who cling to their own unrighteousness, and yet find fault with the severity of the civil powers!

8. You answer, perhaps, that Christians ought not to persecute even the wicked. Be it so; let us admit that they ought not: but is it lawful to lay this objection in the way of the powers which are ordained for this very purpose? Shall we erase the apostle’s words? Or do your Mss. not contain the words which I mentioned a little while ago? But you will say that we ought not to communicate with such persons. What then? Did you withdraw, some time ago, from communion with the deputy Flavianus, on the ground of his putting to death, in his administration of the laws, those whom he found guilty? Again, you will say that the Roman emperors are incited against you by us. Nay, rather blame yourselves for this, seeing that, as was long ago foretold in the promise concerning Christ, “Yea, all kings shall fall down before him,” they are now members of the Church; and you have dared to wound the Church by schism, and still presume to insist upon rebaptizing her members. Our brethren indeed demand help from the powers which are ordained, not to persecute you, but to protect themselves against the lawless acts of violence perpetrated by individuals of your party, which you yourselves, who refrain from such things, bewail and deplore; just as, before the Roman Empire became Christian, the Apostle Paul took measures to secure that the protection of armed Roman soldiers should be granted him against the Jews who had conspired to kill him. But these emperors, whatever the occasion of their becoming acquainted with the crime of your schism might be, frame against you such decrees as their zeal and their office demand. For they bear not the sword in vain; they are the ministers of God to execute wrath upon those that do evil. Finally, if some of our party transgress the bounds of Christian moderation in this matter, it displeases us; nevertheless, we do not on their account forsake the Catholic Church because we are unable to separate the wheat from the chaff before the final winnowing, especially since you yourselves have not forsaken the Donatist party on account of Optatus, when you had not courage to excommunicate him for his crimes.

9. You say, however, “Why seek to have us joined to you, if we be thus stained with guilt?” I reply: Because you still live, and may, if you are willing, be restored. For when you join yourselves to us, i.e. to the Church of God, the heritage of Christ, who has the ends of the earth as his possession, you are restored so that you live in vital union with the Root. For the apostle says of the branches which were broken off: “God is able to graft them in again.” We exhort you to change, in so far as concerns your dissent from the Church; although, as to the sacraments which you had, we admit that they are holy, since they are the same in all. Wherefore we desire to see you changed from your obstinacy, that is, in order that you who have been cut off may be vitally united to the Root again. For the sacraments which you have not changed are approved by us as you have them; else, in our attempting to correct your sin, we should do impious wrong to those mysteries of Christ which have not been deprived of their worth by your unworthiness. For even Saul did not, with all his sins, destroy the efficacy of the anointing which he received; to which anointing David, that pious servant of God, showed so great respect. We therefore do not insist upon rebaptizing you, because we only wish to restore to you connection with the Root: the form of the branch which has been cut off we accept with approval, if it has not been changed; but the branch, however perfect in its form, cannot bear fruit, except it be united to the root. As to the persecution, so gentle and tempered with clemency, which you say you suffer at the hands of our party, while unquestionably your own party inflict greater harm in a lawless and irregular way upon us,—this is one question: the question concerning baptism is wholly distinct from it; in regard to it, we inquire not where it is, but where it profits. For wherever it is, it is the same; but it cannot be said of him who receives it, that wherever he is, he is the same. We therefore detest the impiety of which men as individuals are guilty in a state of schism; but we venerate everywhere the baptism of Christ. If deserters carry with them the imperial standards, these standards are welcomed back again as they were, if they have remained unharmed, when the deserters are either punished with a severe sentence, or, in the exercise of clemency, restored. If, in regard to this, any more particular inquiry is to be made, that is, as I have said another question; for in these things, the practice of the Church of God is the rule of our practice.

10. The question between us, however, is, whether your Church or ours is the Church of God. To resolve this, we must begin with the original inquiry, why you became schismatics. If you do not write me an answer, I believe that before the bar of God I shall be easily vindicated as having done my duty in this matter; because I have sent a letter in the interests of peace to a man of whom I have heard that, excepting only his adherence to schismatics, he is a good and well-educated man. Be it yours to consider how you shall answer Him whose forbearance now demands your praise, and His judgment shall in the end demand your fears. If, however, you write a reply to me with as much care as you see me to have bestowed upon this, I believe that, by the mercy of God, the error which now keeps us apart shall perish before the love of peace and the logic of truth. Observe that I have said nothing about the followers of Rogatus, who call you Firmiani, as you call us Macariani. Nor have I spoken of your bishop of Rucata (or Rusicada), who is said to have made an agreement with Firmus, promising, on condition of the safety of all his adherents, that the gates should be opened to him, and the Catholics given up to slaughter and pillage. Many other such things I pass unnoticed. Do you therefore in like manner desist from the commonplaces of rhetorical exaggeration concerning actions of men which you have either heard of or known; for you see how I am silent concerning deeds of your party, in order to confine the debate to the question upon which the whole matter hinges, namely, the origin of the schism.

My brother, beloved and longed for, may the Lord our God breathe into you thoughts tending towards reconciliation.

To Januarius, the Catholic Clergy of the District of Hippo Send the Following.

1. Your clergy and your Circumcelliones are venting against us their rage in a persecution of a new kind, and of unparalleled atrocity. Were we to render evil for evil, we should be transgressing the law of Christ. But now, when all that has been done, both on your side and on ours, is impartially considered, it is found that we are suffering what is written, “They rewarded me evil for good;” and (in another Psalm), “My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.” For, seeing that you have arrived at so great age, we suppose you to know perfectly well that the party of Donatus, which at first was called at Carthage the party of Majorinus, did of their own accord accuse Caecilianus, then bishop of Carthage, before the famous Emperor Constantine. Lest, however, you should have forgotten this, venerable sir, or should pretend not to know, or perhaps (which we scarcely think possible) may never have known it, we insert here a copy of the narrative of Anulinus, then proconsul, to whom the party of Majorinus appealed, requesting that by him as proconsul a statement of the charges which they brought against Caecilianus should be sent to the Emperor aforesaid:—

2. To Constantine Augustus, from Anulinus, a man of consular rank, proconsul of Africa, these:

The welcome and adored celestial writing sent by your Majesty to Caecilianus, and those over whom he presides, who are called clergy, have been, by the care of your Majesty’s most humble servant, engrossed in his Records; and he has exhorted these parties that, heartily agreeing among themselves, since they are seen to be exempted from all other burdens by your Majesty’s clemency, they should, preserving Catholic unity, devote themselves to their duties with the reverence due to the sanctity of law and to divine things. After a few days, however, there arose some persons to whom a crowd of people joined themselves, who thought that proceedings should be taken against Caecilianus, and presented to me a sealed packet wrapped in leather, and a small document without seal, and earnestly besought me to transmit them to your Majesty’s sacred and venerable court, which your Majesty’s most humble servant has taken care to do, Caecilianus continuing meanwhile as he was. The Acts pertaining to the case are subjoined, in order that your Majesty may be able to arrive at a decision concerning the whole matter. The documents sent are two: the one in a leathern envelope, with this title, “A document of the Catholic Church containing charges against Caecilianus, and furnished by the party of Majorinus;” the other attached without a seal to the same leathern envelope.

Given on the 17th day before the Calends of May, in the third consulship of our lord Constantine Augustus [i.e. April 15, a.d. 313].

3. After this report had been sent to him, the Emperor summoned the parties before a tribunal of bishops to be constituted at Rome. The ecclesiastical records show how the case was there argued and decided, and Caecilianus pronounced innocent. Surely now, after the peacemaking decision of the tribunal of bishops, all the pertinacity of strife and bitterness should have given way. Your forefathers, however, appealed again to the Emperor, and complained that the decision was not just, and that their case had not been fully heard. Accordingly, he appointed a second tribunal of bishops to meet in Aries, a town of Gaul, where, after sentence had been pronounced against your worthless and diabolical schism, many of your party returned to a good understanding with Caecilianus; some, however, who were most obstinate and contentious, appealed to the Emperor again. Afterwards, when, yielding to their importunity, he personally interposed in this dispute, which belonged properly to the bishops to decide, having heard the case, he gave sentence against your party, and was the first to pass a law that the properties of your congregations should be confiscated; of all which things we could insert the documentary evidence here, if it were not for making the letter too long. We must, however, by no means omit the investigation and decision in open court of the case of Felix of Aptunga, whom, in the Council of Carthage, under Secundus of Tigisis, primate, your fathers affirmed to be the original cause of all these evils. For the Emperor aforesaid, in a letter of which we annex a copy, bears witness that in this trial your party were before him as accusers and most strenuous prosecutors:—

4. The Emperors Flavius Constantinus, Maximus Caesar, and Valerius Licinius Caesar, to Probianus, proconsul of Africa:

Your predecessor AElianus, who acted as substitute for Verus, the superintendent of the prefects, when that most excellent magistrate was by severe illness laid aside in that part of Africa which is under our sway, considered it, and most justly, to be his duty, amongst other things, to bring again under his investigation and decision the matter of Caecilianus, or rather the odium which seems to have been stirred up against that bishop of the Catholic Church. Wherefore, having ordered the compearance of Superius, centurion, Caecilianus, magistrate of Aptunga, and Saturninus, the ex-president of police, and his successor in the office, Calibius the younger, and Solon, an official belonging to Aptunga, he heard the testimony of these witnesses; the result of which was, that whereas objection had been taken to Caecilianus on the ground of his ordination to the office of bishop by Felix, against whom it seemed that the charge of surrendering and burning the sacred books had been made, the innocence of Felix in this matter was clearly established. Moreover, when Maximus affirmed that Ingentius, a decurion of the town of Ziqua, had forged a letter of the ex-magistrate Caecilianus, we found, on examining the Acts which were before us, that this same Ingentius had been put on the rack for that offence, and that the infliction of torture on him was not, as alleged, on the ground of his affirming that he was a decurion of Ziqua. Wherefore we desire you to send under a suitable guard to the court of Augustus Constantine the said Ingentius, that in the presence and hearing of those who are now pleading in this case, and who day after day persist in their complaints, it may be made manifest and fully known that they labour in vain to excite odium against the bishop Caecilianus, and to clamour violently against him. This, we hope, will bring the people to desist, as they should do, from such contentions, and to devote themselves with becoming reverence to their religious duties, undistracted by dissension among themselves.

5. Since you see, therefore, that these things are so, why do you provoke odium against us on the ground of the imperial decrees which are in force against you, when you have yourselves done all this before we followed your example? If emperors ought not to use their authority in such cases, if care of these matters lies beyond the province of Christian emperors, who urged your forefathers to remit the case of Caecilianus, by the proconsul, to the Emperor, and a second time to bring before the Emperor accusations against a bishop whom you had somehow condemned in absence, and on his acquittal to invent and bring before the same Emperor other calumnies against Felix, by whom the bishop aforesaid had been ordained? And now, what other law is in force against your party than that decision of the elder Constantine, to which your forefathers of their own choice appealed, which they extorted from him by their importunate complaints, and which they preferred to the decision of an episcopal tribunal? If you are dissatisfied with the decrees of emperors, who were the first to compel the emperors to set these in array against you? For you have no more reason for crying out against the Catholic Church because of the decrees of emperors against you, than those men would have had for crying out against Daniel, who, after his deliverance, were thrown in to be devoured by the same lions by which they first sought to have him destroyed; as it is written: “The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion.” These slanderous enemies insisted that Daniel should be thrown into the den of lions: his innocence prevailed over their malice; he was taken from the den unharmed and they, being cast into it, perished. In like manner, your forefathers cast Caecilianus and his companions to be destroyed by the king’s wrath; and when, by their innocence, they were delivered from this, you yourselves now suffer from these kings what your party wished them to suffer; as it is written: “Whoso diggeth a pit for his neighbour, shall himself fall therein.”

6. You have therefore no ground for complaint against us: nay more, the clemency of the Catholic Church would have led us to desist from even enforcing these decrees of the emperors, had not your clergy and Circumcelliones, disturbing our peace, and destroying us by their most monstrous crimes and furious deeds of violence, compelled us to have these decrees revived and put in force again. For before these more recent edicts of which you complain had come into Africa, these desperadoes laid ambush for our bishops on their journeys, abused our clergy with savage blows, and assaulted our laity in the same most cruel manner, and set fire to their habitations. A certain presbyter who had of his own free choice preferred the unity of our Church, was for so doing dragged out of his own house, cruelly beaten without form of law, rolled over and over in a miry pond, covered with a matting of rushes, and exhibited as an object of pity to some and of ridicule to others, while his persecutors gloried in their crime; after which they carried him away where they pleased, and reluctantly set him at liberty after twelve days. When Proculeianus was challenged by our bishop concerning this outrage, at a meeting of the municipal courts, he at first endeavoured to evade inquiry into the matter by pretending that he knew nothing of it; and when the demand was immediately repeated, he publicly declared that he would say nothing more on the subject. And the perpetrators of that outrage are at this day among your presbyters, continuing moreover to keep us in terror, and to persecute us to the utmost of their power.

7. Our bishop, however, did not complain to the emperors of the wrongs and persecution which the Catholic Church in our district suffered in those days. But when a Council had been convened, it was agreed that you should be invited to meet our party peaceably, in order that, if it were possible, you [i.e. the bishops on both sides, for the letter is written by the clergy of Hippo] might have a conference, and the error being taken out of the way, brotherly love might rejoice in the bond of peace between us. You may learn from your own records the answer which Proculeianus made at first on that occasion, that you would call a Council together, and would there see what you ought to answer; and how afterwards, when he was again publicly reminded of his promise, he stated, as the Acts bear witness, that he refused to have any conference with a view to peace. After this, when the notorious atrocities of your clergy and Circumcelliones continued, a case was brought to trial; and Crispinus being condemned as a heretic, although he was through the forbearance of the Catholics exempted from the fine which the imperial edict imposed on heretics of ten pounds of gold, nevertheless thought himself warranted in appealing to the emperors. As to the answer which was made to that appeal, was it not extorted by the preceding wickedness of your party and by his own appeal? And yet, even after that answer was given, he was permitted to escape the infliction of that fine, through the intercession of our bishops with the Emperor on his behalf. From that Council, however, our bishops sent deputies to the court, who obtained a decree that not all your bishops and clergy should be held liable to this fine of ten pounds of gold, which the decree had imposed on all heretics, but only those in whose districts the Catholic Church suffered violence at the hands of your party. But by the time that the deputation came to Rome, the wounds of the Catholic bishop of Bagae, who had just then been dreadfully injured, had moved the Emperor to send such edicts as were actually sent. When these edicts came to Africa, seeing especially that strong pressure had begun to be brought upon you, not to any evil thing, but for your good, what should you have done but invited our bishops to meet you, as they had invited yours to meet them, that by a conference the truth might be brought to light?

8. Not only, however, have you failed to do this, but your party go on inflicting yet greater injuries upon us. Not contented with beating us with bludgeons and killing some with the sword, they even, with incredible ingenuity in crime, throw lime mixed with acid [? vitriol] into our people’s eyes to blind them. For pillaging our houses, moreover, they have fashioned huge and formidable implements, armed with which they wander here and there, breathing out threats of slaughter, rapine, burning of houses and blinding of our eyes; by which things we have been constrained in the first instance to complain to you, venerable sir, begging you to consider how, under these so-called terrible laws of Catholic emperors, many, nay all of you, who say that you are the victims of persecution, are settled in peace in the possessions which were your own, or which you have taken from others, while we suffer such unheard-of wrongs at the hands of your party. You say that you are persecuted, while we are killed with clubs and swords by your armed men. You say that you are persecuted, while our houses are pillaged by your armed robbers. You say that you are persecuted, while many of us have our eyesight destroyed by the lime and acid with which your men are armed for the purpose. Moreover, if their course of crime brings some of them to death, they make out that these deaths are justly the occasion of odium against us, and of glory to them. They take no blame to themselves for the harm which they do to us, and they lay upon us the blame of the harm which they bring upon themselves. They live as robbers, they die as Circumcelliones, they are honoured as martyrs! Nay, I do injustice to robbers in this comparison; for we have never heard of robbers destroying the eyesight of those whom they have plundered: they indeed take away those whom they kill from the light, but they do not take away the light from those whom they leave in life.

9. On the other hand, if at any time we get men of your party into our power, we keep them unharmed, showing great love towards them; and we tell them everything by which the error which has severed brother from brother is refuted. We do as the Lord Himself commanded us, in the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; say, Ye are our brethren, to those who hate you, and who cast you out, that the name of the Lord may be glorified, and that He may appear to them with joy; but let them be put to shame.” And thus some of them we persuade, through their considering the evidences of the truth and the beauty of peace, not to be baptized anew for this sign of allegiance to our king they have already received (though they were as deserters), but to accept that faith, and love of the Holy Spirit, and union to the body of Christ, which formerly they had not. For it is written, “Purifying their hearts by faith;” and again, “Charity covereth a multitude of sins.” If, however, either through too great obduracy, or through shame making them unable to bear the taunts of those with whom they were accustomed to join so frequently in falsely reproaching us and contriving evil against us, or perhaps more through fear lest they should come to share along with us such injuries as they were formerly wont to inflict on us,—if, I say, from any of these causes, they refuse to be reconciled to the unity of Christ, they are allowed to depart, as they were detained, without suffering any harm. We also exhort our laity as far as we can to detain them without doing them any harm, and bring them to us for admonition and instruction. Some of them obey us and do this, if it is in their power: others deal with them as they would with robbers, because they actually suffer from them such things as robbers are wont to do. Some of them strike their assailants in protecting their own bodies from their blows: while others apprehend them and bring them to the magistrates; and though we intercede on their behalf, they do not let them off, because they are very much afraid of their savage outrages. Yet all the while, these men, though persisting in the practices of robbers, claim to be honoured as martyrs when they receive the due reward of their deeds!

10. Accordingly our desire, which we lay before you, venerable sir, by this letter and by the brethren whom we have sent, is as follows. In the first place, if it be possible, let a peaceable conference be held with our bishops, so that an end may be put to the error itself, not to the men who embrace it, and men corrected rather than punished; and as you formerly despised their proposals for agreement, let them now proceed from your side. How much better for you to have such a conference between your bishops and ours, the proceedings of which may be written down and sent with signature of the parties to the Emperor, than to confer with the civil magistrates, who cannot do otherwise than administer the laws which have been passed against you! For your colleagues who sailed from this country said that they had come to have their case heard by the prefects. They also named our holy father the Catholic bishop Valentinus, who was then at court, saying that they wished to be heard along with him. This the judge could not concede, as he was guided in his judicial functions by the laws which were passed against you: the bishop, moreover, had not come on this footing, or with any such instructions from his colleagues. How much better qualified therefore will the Emperor himself be to decide regarding your case, when the report of that conference has been read before him, seeing that he is not bound by these laws, and has power to enact other laws instead of them; although it may be said to be a case upon which final decision was pronounced long ago! Yet, in wishing this conference with you, we seek not to have a second final decision, but to have it made known as already settled to those who meanwhile are not aware that it is so. If your bishops be willing to do this, what do you thereby lose? Do you not rather gain, inasmuch as your willingness for such conference will become known, and the reproach, hitherto deserved, that you distrust your own cause will be taken away? Do you, perchance, suppose that such conference would be unlawful? Surely you are aware that Christ our Lord spoke even to the devil concerning the law, and that by the Apostle Paul debates were held not only with Jews, but even with heathen philosophers of the sect of the Stoics and of the Epicureans. Is it, perchance, that the laws of the Emperor do not permit you to meet our bishops? If so, assemble together in the meantime your bishops in the region of Hippo, in which we are suffering such wrongs from men of your party. For how much more legitimate and open is the way of access to us for the writings which you might send to us, than for the arms with which they assail us!

11. Finally, we beg you to send back such writings by our brethren whom we have sent to you. If, however, you will not do this, at least hear us as well as those of your own party, at whose hands we suffer such wrongs. Show us the truth for which you allege that you suffer persecution, at the time when we are suffering so great cruelties from your side. For if you convict us of being in error, perhaps you will concede to us an exemption from being rebaptized by you, because we were baptized by persons whom you have not condemned; and you granted this exemption to those whom Felicianus of Musti, and Praetextatus of Assuri, had baptized during the long period in which you were attempting to cast them out of their churches by legal interdicts, because they were in communion with Maximianus, along with whom they were condemned explicitly and by name in the Council of Bagae. All which things we can prove by the judicial and municipal transactions, in which you brought forward the decisions of this same Council of yours, when you wished to show the judges that the persons whom you were expelling from your ecclesiastical buildings were persons by schism separated from you. Nevertheless, you who have by schism severed yourselves from the seed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth are blessed, refuse to be expelled from our ecclesiastical buildings, when the decree to this effect proceeds not from judges such as you employed in dealing with schismatics from your sect, but from the kings of the earth themselves, who worship Christ as the prophecy had foretold, and from whose bar you retired vanquished when you brought accusation against Caecilianus.

12. If, however, you will neither instruct us nor listen to us, come yourselves, or send into the district of Hippo some of your party, with some of us as their guides, that they may see your army equipped with their weapons; nay, more fully equipped than ever army was before, for no soldier when fighting against barbarians was ever known to add to his other weapons lime and acid to destroy the eyes of his enemies. If you refuse this also, we beg you at least to write to them to desist now from these things, and refrain from murdering, plundering, and blinding our people. We will not say, condemn them; for it is for yourselves to see how no contamination is brought to you by the toleration within your communion of those whom we prove to be robbers, while contamination is brought to us by our having members against whom you have never been able to prove that they were traditors. If, however, you treat all our remonstrances with contempt, we shall never regret that we desired to act in a peaceful and orderly way. The Lord will so plead for His Church, that you, on the other hand, shall regret that you despised our humble attempt at conciliation.

To Festus, My Lord Well Beloved, My Son Honourable and Worthy of Esteem, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. If, on behalf of error and inexcusable dissension, and falsehoods which have been in every way possible disproved, men are so presumptuous as to persevere in boldly assailing and threatening the Catholic Church, which seeks their salvation, how much more is it reasonable and right for those who maintain the truth of Christian peace and unity,—truth which commends itself even to those who profess to deny it or attempt to resist it,—to labour constantly and with energy, not only in the defence of those who are already Catholics, but also for the correction of those who are not yet within the Church! For if obstinacy aims at the possession and exercise of indomitable strength, how great should be the strength of constancy which devotes persevering and unwearied labours to a cause which it knows to be both pleasing to God, and beyond all question necessarily approved by the judgment of wise men!

2. Could there, moreover, be anything more lamentable as an instance of perversity, than for men not only to refuse to be humbled by the correction of their wickedness, but even to claim commendation for their conduct, as is done by the Donatists, when they boast that they are the victims of persecution; either through incredible blindness not knowing, or through inexcusable passion pretending not to know, that men are made martyrs not by the amount of their suffering, but by the cause in which they suffer? This I would say even were I opposing men who were only involved in the darkness of error, and suffering penalties on that account most truly merited, and who had not dared to assault any one with insane violence. But what shall I say against those whose fatal obstinacy is such that it is checked only by fear of losses, and is taught only by exile how universal (as had been foretold) is the diffusion of the Church, which they prefer to attack rather then to acknowledge? And if the things which they suffer under this most gentle discipline be compared with those things which they in reckless fury perpetrate, who does not see to which party the name of persecutors more truly belongs? Nay, even though wicked sons abstain from violence, they do, by their abandoned way of life, inflict upon their affectionate parents a much more serious wrong than their father and mother inflict upon them, when, with a sternness proportioned to the strength of their love, they endeavour without dissimulation to compel them to live uprightly.

3. There exist the strongest evidences in public documents, which you can read if you please, or rather, which I beseech and exhort you to read, by which it is proved that their predecessors, who originally separated themselves from the peace of the Church, did of their own accord dare to bring accusation against Caecilianus before the Emperor by means of Anulinus, who was proconsul at that time. Had they gained the day in that trial, what else would Caecilianus have suffered at the hands of the Emperor than that which, when they were defeated, he awarded to them? But truly, if they having accused him had prevailed, and Caecilianus and his colleagues had been expelled from their sees, or, through persisting in their conspiracy, had exposed themselves to severer punishments (for the imperial censure could not pass unpunished the resistance of persons who had been defeated in the civil courts), they would then have published as worthy of all praise the Emperor’s wise measures and anxious care for the good of the Church. But now, because they have themselves lost their case, being wholly unable to prove the charges which they advanced, if they suffer anything for their iniquity, they call it persecution; and not only set no bounds to their wicked violence, but also claim to be honoured as martyrs: as if the Catholic Christian emperors were following in their measures against their most obstinate wickedness any other precedent than the decision of Constantine, to whom they of their own accord appealed as the accusers of Caecilianus, and whose authority they so esteemed above that of all the bishops beyond the sea, that to him rather than to them they referred this ecclesiastical dispute. To him, again, they protested against the first judgment given against them by the bishops whom he had appointed to examine the case in Rome, and to him also they appealed against the second judgment given by the bishops at Arles: yet when at last they were defeated by his own decision, they remained unchanged in their perversity. I think that even the devil himself would not have had the assurance to persist in such a cause, if he had been so often overthrown by the authority of the judge to whom he had of his own will chosen to appeal.

4. It may be said, however, that these are human tribunals, and that they might have been cajoled, misguided, or bribed. Why, then, is the Christian world libelled and branded with the crime laid to the charge of some who are said to have surrendered to persecutors the sacred books? For surely it was neither possible for the Christian world, nor incumbent upon it, to do otherwise than believe the judges whom the plaintiffs had chosen, rather than the plaintiffs against whom these judges pronounced judgments. These judges are responsible to God for their opinion, whether just or unjust; but what has the Church, diffused throughout the world, done that it should be deemed necessary for her to be rebaptized by the Donatists upon no other ground than because, in a case in which she was not able to decide as to the truth, she has thought herself called upon to believe those who were in a position to judge it rightly, rather than those who, though defeated in the civil courts, refused to yield? O weighty indictment against all the nations to which God promised that they should be blessed in the seed of Abraham, and has now made His promise good! When they with one voice demand, Why do you wish to rebaptize us? the answer given is, Because you do not know what men in Africa were guilty of surrendering the sacred books; and being thus ignorant, accepted the testimony of the judges who decided the case as more worthy of credit than that of those by whom the accusation was brought. No man deserves to be blamed for the crime of another; what, then, has the whole world to do with the sin which some one in Africa may have committed? No man deserves to be blamed for a crime about which he knows nothing; and how could the whole world possibly know the crime in this case, whether the judges or the party condemned were guilty? Ye who have understanding, judge what I say. Here is the justice of heretics: the party of Donatus condemns the whole world unheard, because the whole world does not condemn a crime unknown. But for the world, truly, it suffices to have the promises of God, and to see fulfilled in itself what prophets predicted so long ago, and to recognise the Church by means of the same Scriptures by which Christ her King is recognised. For as in them are foretold concerning Christ the things which we read in gospel history to have been fulfilled in Him, so also in them have been foretold concerning the Church the things which we now behold fulfilled in the world.

5. Possibly some thinking people might be disturbed by what they are accustomed to say regarding baptism, viz. that it is the true baptism of Christ only when it is administered by a righteous man, were it not that on this subject the Christian world holds what is most manifestly evangelical truth as taught in the words of John: “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” Wherefore the Church calmly declines to place her hope in man, lest she fall under the curse pronounced in Scripture, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man,” but places her hope in Christ, who so took upon Him the form of a servant as not to lose the form of God, of whom it is said, “The same is He which baptizeth.” Therefore, whoever the man be, and whatever office he bear who administers the ordinance, it is not he who baptizes,—that is the work of Him upon whom the dove descended. So great is the absurdity in which the Donatists are involved in consequence of these foolish opinions, that they can find no escape from it. For when they admit the validity and reality of baptism when one of their sect baptizes who is a guilty man, but whose guilt is concealed, we ask them, Who baptizes in this case? and they can only answer, God; for they cannot affirm that a man guilty of sin (say of adultery) can sanctify any one. If, then, when baptism is administered by a man known to be righteous, he sanctifies the person baptized; but when it is administered by a wicked man, whose wickedness is hidden, it is not he, but God, who sanctifies. Those who are baptized ought to wish to be baptized rather by men who are secretly bad than by men manifestly good, for God sanctifies much more effectually than any righteous man can do. If it be palpably absurd that one about to be baptized ought to wish to be baptized by a hypocritical adulterer rather than by a man of known chastity, it follows plainly, that whoever be the minister that dispenses the rite, the baptism is valid, because He Himself baptizes upon whom the dove descended.

6. Notwithstanding the impression which truth so obvious should produce on the ears and hearts of men, such is the whirlpool of evil custom by which some have been engulfed, that rather than yield, they will resist both authority and argument of every kind. Their resistance is of two kinds—either with active rage or with passive immobility. What remedies, then, must the Church apply when seeking with a mother’s anxiety the salvation of them all, and distracted by the frenzy of some and the lethargy of others? Is it right, is it possible, for her to despise or give up any means which may promote their recovery? She must necessarily be esteemed burdensome by both, just because she is the enemy of neither. For men in frenzy do not like to be bound, and men in lethargy do not like to be stirred up; nevertheless the diligence of charity perseveres in restraining the one and stimulating the other, out of love to both. Both are provoked, but both are loved; both, while they continue under their infirmity, resent the treatment as vexatious; both express their thankfulness for it when they are cured.

7. Moreover, whereas they think and boast that we receive them into the Church just as they were, it is not so. We receive them completely changed, because they do not begin to be Catholics until they have ceased to be heretics. For their sacraments, which we have in common with them, are not the objects of dislike to us, because they are not human, but Divine. That which must be taken from them is the error, which is their own, and which they have wickedly imbibed; not the sacraments, which they have received like ourselves, and which they bear and have,—to their own condemnation, indeed, because they use them so unworthily; nevertheless, they truly have them. Wherefore, when their error is forsaken, and the perversity of schism corrected in them, they pass over from heresy into the peace of the Church, which they formerly did not possess, and without which all that they did possess was only doing them harm. If, however, in thus passing over they are not sincere, this is a matter not for us, but for God, to judge. And yet, some who were suspected of insincerity because they had passed over to us through fear, have been found in some subsequent temptations so faithful as to surpass others who had been originally Catholics. Therefore let it not be said that nothing is accomplished when strong measures are employed. For when the entrenchments of stubborn custom are stormed by fear of human authority, this is not all that is done, because at the same time faith is strengthened, and the understanding convinced, by authority and arguments which are Divine.

8. These things being so, be it known to your Grace that your men in the region of Hippo are still Donatists, and that your letter has had no influence upon them. The reason why it failed to move them I need not write; but send some one, either a servant or a friend of your own, whose fidelity you can entrust with the commission, and let him come not to them in the first place, but to us without their knowledge; and when he has carefully consulted with us as to what is best to be done, let him do it with the Lord’s help. For in these measures we are acting not only for their welfare, but also on behalf of our own men who have become Catholics, to whom the vicinity of these Donatists is so dangerous, that it cannot be looked upon by us as a small matter.

I could have written much more briefly; but I wished you to have a letter from me, by which you might not only be yourself informed of the reason of my solicitude, but also be provided with an answer to any one who might dissuade you from earnestly devoting your energies to the correction of the people who belong to you, and might speak against us for wishing you to do this. If in this I have done what was unnecessary, because you had yourself either learned or thought out these principles, or if I have been burdensome to you by inflicting so long a letter upon one so engrossed with public affairs, I beg you to forgive me. I only entreat you not to despise what I have brought before you and requested at your hands. May the mercy of God be your safeguard!

To My Noble Lord and Brother, Worthy of All Esteem, Bishop Augustin, Nectarius Sends Greeting.

I do not dwell upon the strength of the love men bear to their native land, for you know it. It is the only emotion which has a stronger claim than love of kindred. If there were any limit or time beyond which it would be lawful for right-hearted men to withdraw themselves from its control, I have by this time well earned exemption from the burdens which it imposes. But since love and gratitude towards our country gain strength every day, and the nearer one comes to the end of life, the more ardent is his desire to leave his country in a safe and prosperous condition, I rejoice, in beginning this letter, that I am addressing myself to a man who is versed in all kinds of learning, and therefore able to enter into my feelings.

There are many things in the colony of Calama which justly bind my love to it. I was born here, and I have (in the opinion of others) rendered great services to this community. Now, my lord most excellent and worthy of all esteem, this town has fallen disastrously by a grievous misdemeanour on the part of her citizens, which must be punished with very great severity, if we are dealt with according to the rigour of the civil law. But a bishop is guided by another law. His duty is to promote the welfare of men, to interest himself in any case only with a view to the benefit of the parties, and to obtain for other men the pardon of their sins at the hand of the Almighty God. Wherefore I beseech you with all possible urgency to secure that, if the matter is to be made the subject of a prosecution, the guiltless be protected, and a distinction drawn between the innocent and those who did the wrong. This, which, as you see, is a demand in accordance with your own natural sentiments, I pray you to grant. An assessment to compensate for the losses caused by the tumult can be easily levied. We only deprecate the severity of revenge. May you live in the more full enjoyment of the Divine favour, my noble lord, and brother worthy of all esteem.

To My Noble Lord and Justly Honoured Brother Nectarius, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. I do not wonder that, though your limbs are chilled by age, your heart still glows with patriotic fire. I admire this, and, instead of grieving, I rejoice to learn that you not only remember, but by your life and practice illustrate, the maxim that there is no limit either in measure or in time to the claims which their country has upon the care and service of right-hearted men. Wherefore we long to have you enrolled in the service of a higher and nobler country, through holy love, to which (up to the measure of our capacity) we are sustained amid the perils and toils which we meet with among those whose welfare we seek in urging them to make that country their own. Oh that we had you such a citizen of that country, that you would think that there ought to be no limit either in measure or in time to your efforts for the good of that small portion of her citizens who are on this earth pilgrims! This would be a better loyalty, because you would be responding to the claims of a better country; and if you resolved that in your time on earth your labours for her welfare should have no end, you would in her eternal peace be recompensed with joy that shall have no end.

2. But till this be done,—and it is not beyond hope that you should be able to gain, or should even now be most wisely considering that you ought to gain, that country to which your father has gone before you,—till this be done, I say, you must excuse us if, for the sake of that country which we desire never to leave, we cause some distress to that country which you desire to leave in the full bloom of honour and prosperity. As to the flowers which thus bloom in your country, if we were discussing this subject with one of your wisdom, we have no doubt that you would be easily convinced, or rather, would yourself readily perceive, in what way a commonwealth should flourish. The foremost of your poets has sung of certain flowers of Italy; but in your own country we have been taught by experience, not how it has blossomed with heroes, so much as how it has gleamed with weapons of war: nay, I ought to write how it has burned rather than how it has gleamed; and instead of the weapons of war, I should write the fires of incendiaries. If so great a crime were to remain unpunished, without any rebuke such as the miscreants have deserved, do you think that you would leave your country in the full bloom of honour and prosperity? O blooming flowers, yielding not fruit, but thorns! Consider now whether you would prefer to see your country flourish by the piety of its inhabitants, or by their escaping the punishment of their crimes; by the correction of their manners, or by outrages to which impunity emboldens them. Compare these things, I say, and judge whether or not you love your country more than we do; whether its prosperity and honour are more truly and earnestly sought by you or by us.

3. Consider for a little those books, De Republica, from which you imbibed that sentiment of a most loyal citizen, that there is no limit either in measure or in time to the claims which their country has upon the care and service of right-hearted men. Consider them, I beseech you, and observe how great are the praises there bestowed upon frugality, self-control, conjugal fidelity, and those chaste, honourable, and upright manners, the prevalence of which in any city entitles it to be spoken of as flourishing. Now the Churches which are multiplying throughout the world are, as it were, sacred seminaries of public instruction, in which this sound morality is inculcated and learned, and in which, above all, men are taught the worship due to the true and faithful God, who not only commands men to attempt, but also gives grace to perform, all those things by which the soul of man is furnished and fitted for fellowship with God, and for dwelling in the eternal heavenly kingdom. For this reason He hath both foretold and commanded the casting down of the images of the many false gods which are in the world. For nothing so effectually renders men depraved in practice, and unfit to be good members of society, as the imitation of such deities as are described and extolled in pagan writings.

4. In fact, those most learned men (whose beau ideal of a republic or commonwealth in this world was, by the way, rather investigated or described by them in private discussions, than established and realized by them in public measures) were accustomed to set forth as models for the education of youth the examples of men whom they esteemed eminent and praiseworthy, rather than the example given by their gods. And there is no question that the young man in Terence, who, beholding a picture upon the wall in which was portrayed the licentious conduct of the king of the gods, fanned the flame of the passion which mastered him, by the encouragement which such high authority gave to wickedness, would not have fallen into the desire, nor have plunged into the commission, of such a shameful deed if he had chosen to imitate Cato instead of Jupiter; but how could he make such a choice, when he was compelled in the temples to worship Jupiter rather than Cato? Perhaps it may be said that we should not bring forward from a comedy arguments to put to shame the wantonness and the impious superstition of profane men. But read or recall to mind how wisely it is argued in the books above referred to, that the style and the plots of comedies would never be approved by the public voice if they did not harmonize with the manners of those who approved them; wherefore, by the authority of men most illustrious and eminent in the commonwealth to which they belonged, and engaged in debating as to the conditions of a perfect commonwealth, our position is established, that the most degraded of men may be made yet worse if they imitate their gods,—gods, of course, which are not true, but false and invented.

5. You will perhaps reply, that all those things which were written long ago concerning the life and manners of the gods are to be far otherwise than literally understood and interpreted by the wise. Nay, we have heard within the last few days that such wholesome interpretations are now read to the people when assembled in the temples. Tell me, is the human race so blind to truth as not to perceive things so plain and palpable as these? When, by the art of painters, founders, hammermen, sculptors, authors, players, singers, and dancers, Jupiter is in so many places exhibited in flagrant acts of lewdness, how important it was that in his own Capitol at least his worshippers might have read a decree from himself prohibiting such crimes! If, through the absence of such prohibition, these monsters, in which shame and profanity culminate, are regarded with enthusiasm by the people, worshipped in their temples, and laughed at in their theatres; if, in order to provide sacrifices for them, even the poor must be despoiled of their flocks; if, in order to provide actors who shall by gesture and dance represent their infamous achievements, the rich squander their estates, can it be said of the communities in which these things are done, that they flourish? The flowers with which they bloom owe their birth not to a fertile soil, nor to a wealthy and bounteous virtue; for them a worthy parent is found in that goddess Flora, whose dramatic games are celebrated with a profligacy so utterly dissolute and shameless, that any one may infer from them what kind of demon that must be which cannot be appeased unless—not birds, nor quadrupeds, nor even human life—but (oh, greater villany!) human modesty and virtue, perish as sacrifices on her altars.

6. These things I have said, because of your having written that the nearer you come to the end of life, the greater is your desire to leave your country in a safe and flourishing condition. Away with all these vanities and follies, and let men be converted to the true worship of God, and to chaste and pious manners: then will you see your country flourishing, not in the vain opinion of fools, but in the sound judgment of the wise; when your fatherland here on earth shall have become a portion of that Fatherland into which we are born not by the flesh, but by faith, and in which all the holy and faithful servants of God shall bloom in the eternal summer, when their labours in the winter of time are done. We are therefore resolved, neither on the one hand to lay aside Christian gentleness, nor on the other to leave in your city that which would be a most pernicious example for all others to follow. For success in this dealing we trust to the help of God, if His indignation against the evil-doers be not so great as to make Him withhold His blessing. For certainly both the gentleness which we desire to maintain, and the discipline which we shall endeavour without passion to administer, may be hindered, if God in His hidden counsels order it otherwise, and either appoint that this so great wickedness be punished with a more severe chastisement, or in yet greater displeasure leave the sin without punishment in this world, its guilty authors being neither reproved nor reformed.

7. You have, in the exercise of your judgment, laid down the principles by which a bishop should be influenced; and after saying that your town has fallen disastrously by a grievous misdemeanour on the part of your citizens, which must be punished with great severity if they are dealt with according to the rigour of the civil law, you add: “But a bishop is guided by another law; his duty is to promote the welfare of men, to interest himself in any case only with a view to the benefit of the parties, and to obtain for other men the pardon of their sins at the hand of the Almighty God.” This we by all means labour to secure, that no one be visited with undue severity of punishment, either by us or by any other who is influenced by our interposition; and we seek to promote the true welfare of men, which consists in the blessedness of well-doing, not in the assurance of impunity in evil-doing. We do also seek earnestly, not for ourselves alone, but on behalf of others, the pardon of sin: but this we cannot obtain, except for those who have been turned by correction from the practice of sin. You add, moreover: “I beseech you with all possible urgency to secure that if the matter is to be made the subject of a prosecution, the guiltless be protected, and a distinction drawn between the innocent and those who did the wrong.”

8. Listen to a brief account of what was done, and let the distinction between innocent and guilty be drawn by yourself. In defiance of the most recent laws, certain impious rites were celebrated on the Pagan feast-day, the calends of June, no one interfering to forbid them, and with such unbounded effrontery that a most insolent multitude passed along the street in which the church is situated, and went on dancing in front of the building,—an outrage which was never committed even in the time of Julian. When the clergy endeavoured to stop this most illegal and insulting procedure, the church was assailed with stones. About eight days after that, when the bishop had called the attention of the authorities to the well-known laws on the subject, and they were preparing to carry out that which the law prescribed, the church was a second time assailed with stones. When, on the following day, our people wished to make such complaint as they deemed necessary in open court, in order to make these villains afraid, their rights as citizens were denied them. On the same day there was a storm of hailstones, that they might be made afraid, if not by men, at least by the divine power, thus requiting them for their showers of stones against the church; but as soon as this was over they renewed the attack for the third time with stones, and at last endeavoured to destroy both the buildings and the men in them by fire: one servant of God who lost his way and met them they killed on the spot, all the rest escaping or concealing themselves as they best could; while the bishop hid himself in some crevice into which he forced himself with difficulty, and in which he lay folded double while he heard the voices of the ruffians seeking him to kill him, and expressing their mortification that through his escaping them their principal design in this grievous outrage had been frustrated. These things went on from about the tenth hour until the night was far advanced. No attempt at resistance or rescue was made by those whose authority might have had influence on the mob. The only one who interfered was a stranger, through whose exertions a number of the servants of God were delivered from the hands of those who were trying to kill them, and a great deal of property was recovered from the plunderers by force: whereby it was shown how easily these riotous proceedings might have been either prevented wholly or arrested, if the citizens, and especially the leading men, had forbidden them, either from the first or after they had begun.

9. Accordingly you cannot in that community draw a distinction between innocent and guilty persons, for all are guilty; but perhaps you may distinguish degrees of guilt. Those are in a comparatively small fault, who, being kept back by fear, especially by fear of offending those whom they knew to have leading influence in the community and to be hostile to the Church, did not dare to render assistance to the Christians; but all are guilty who consented to these outrages, though they neither perpetrated them nor instigated others to the crime: more guilty are those who perpetrated the wrong, and most guilty are those who instigated them to it. Let us, however, suppose that the instigation of others to these crimes is a matter of suspicion rather than of certain knowledge, and let us not investigate those things which can be found out in no other way than by subjecting witnesses to torture. Let us also forgive those who through fear thought it better for them to plead secretly with God for the bishop and His other servants, than openly to displease the powerful enemies of the Church. What reason can you give for holding that those who remain should be subjected to no correction and restraint? Do you really think that a case of such cruel rage should be held up to the world as passing unpunished? We do not desire to gratify our anger by vindictive retribution for the past, but we are concerned to make provision in a truly merciful spirit for the future. Now, wicked men have something in respect to which they may be punished, and that by Christians, in a merciful way, and so as to promote their own profit and well-being. For they have these three things: the life and health of the body, the means of supporting that life, and the means and opportunities of living a wicked life. Let the two former remain untouched in the possession of those who repent of their crime: this we desire, and this we spare no pains to secure. But as to the third, upon it God will, if it please Him, inflict punishment in His great compassion, dealing with it as a decaying or diseased part, which must be removed with the pruning-knife. If, however, He be pleased either to go beyond this, or not to permit the punishment to go so far, the reason for this higher and doubtless more righteous counsel remains with Him: our duty is to devote pains and use our influence according to the light which is granted to us, beseeching His approval of our endeavours to do that which shall be most for the good of all, and praying Him not to permit us to do anything which He who knoweth all things much better than we do sees to be inexpedient both for ourselves and for His Church.

10. When I went recently to Calama, that under so grievous sorrow I might either comfort the downcast or soothe the indignant among our people, I used all my influence with the Christians to persuade them to do what I judged to be their duty at that time. I then at their own request admitted to an audience the Pagans also, the source and cause of all this mischief, in order that I might admonish them what they should do if they were wise, not only for the removal of present anxiety, but also for the obtaining of everlasting salvation. They listened to many things which I said, and they preferred many requests to me; but far be it from me to be such a servant as to find pleasure in being petitioned by those who do not humble themselves before my Lord to ask from Him. With your quick intelligence, you will readily perceive that our aim must be, while preserving Christian gentleness and moderation, to act so that we may either make others afraid of imitating their perversity, or have cause to desire others to imitate their profiling by correction. As for the loss sustained, this is either borne by the Christians or remedied by the help of their brethren. What concerns us is the gaining of souls, which even at the risk of life we are impatient to secure; and our desire is, that in your district we may have larger success, and that in other districts we may not be hindered by the influence of your example. May God in His mercy grant to us to rejoice in your salvation!

To the Noble and Justly Distinguished Lady Italica, a Daughter Worthy of Honour in the Love of Christ, Bishop Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I have learned, not only by your letter, but also by the statements of the person who brought it to me, that you earnestly solicit a letter from me, believing that you may derive from it very great consolation. What you may gain from my letter it is for yourself to judge; I at least felt that I should neither refuse nor delay compliance with your request. May your own faith and hope comfort you, and that love which is shed abroad in the hearts of the pious by the Holy Ghost, whereof we have now a portion as an earnest of the whole, in order that we may learn to desire its consummate fulness. For you ought not to consider yourself desolate while you have Christ dwelling in your heart by faith; nor ought you to sorrow as those heathens who have no hope, seeing that in regard to those friends, who are not lost, but only called earlier than ourselves to the country whither we shall follow them, we have hope, resting on a most sure promise, that from this life we shall pass into that other life, in which they shall be to us more beloved as they shall be better known, and in which our pleasure in loving them shall not be alloyed by any fear of separation.

2. Your late husband, by whose decease you are now a widow, was truly well known to you, but better known to himself than to you. And how could this be, when you saw his face, which he himself did not see, if it were not that the inner knowledge which we have of ourselves is more certain, since no man “knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in man”? but when the Lord cometh, “who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,” then shall nothing in any one be concealed from his neighbour; nor shall there be anything which any one might reveal to his friends, but keep hidden from strangers, for no stranger shall be there. What tongue can describe the nature and the greatness of that light by which all those things which are now in the hearts of men concealed shall be made manifest? who can with our weak faculties even approach it? Truly that Light is God Himself, for “God is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all;” but He is the Light of purified minds, not of these bodily eyes. And the mind shall then be, what meanwhile it is not, able to see that light.

3. But this the bodily eye neither now is, nor shall then be, able to see. For everything which can be seen by the bodily eye must be in some place, nor can be everywhere in its totality, but with a smaller part of itself occupies a smaller space, and with a larger part a larger space. It is not so with God, who is invisible and incorruptible, “who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen nor can see.” For He cannot be seen by men through the bodily organ by which men see corporeal things. For if He were inaccessible to the minds also of the saints, it would not be said, “They looked unto Him, and were lightened” [translated by Aug., “Draw near unto Him, and be enlightened”]; and if He was invisible to the minds of the saints, it would not be said, “We shall see Him as He is:” for consider the whole context there in that Epistle of John: “Beloved,” he says, “now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” We shall therefore see Him according to the measure in which we shall be like Him; because now the measure in which we do not see Him is according to the measure of our unlikeness to Him. We shall therefore see Him by means of that in which we shall be like Him. But who would be so infatuated as to assert that we either are or shall be in our bodies like unto God? The likeness spoken of is therefore in the inner man, “which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him.” And we shall become the more like unto Him, the more we advance in knowledge of Him and in love; because “though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day,” yet so as that, however far one may have become advanced in this life, he is far short of that perfection of likeness which is fitted for seeing God, as the apostle says, “face to face.” If by these words we were to understand the bodily face, it would follow that God has a face such as ours, and that between our face and His there must be a space intervening when we shall see Him face to face. And if a space intervene, this presupposes a limitation and a definite conformation of members and other things, absurd to utter, and impious even to think of, by which most empty delusions the natural man, which “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” is deceived.

4. For some of those who talk thus foolishly affirm, as I am informed, that we see God now by our minds, but shall then see Him by our bodies; yea, they even say that the wicked shall in the same manner see Him. Observe how far they have gone from bad to worse, when, unpunished for their foolish speaking, they talk at random, unrestrained by either fear or shame. They used to say at first, that Christ endowed only His own flesh with this faculty of seeing God with the bodily eye; then they added to this, that all the saints shall see God in the same way when they have received their bodies again in the resurrection; and now they have granted that the same thing is possible to the wicked also. Well, let them grant what gifts they please, and to whom they please: for who may say anything against men giving away that which is their own? for he that speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own. Be it yours, however, in common with all who hold sound doctrine, not to presume to take in this way from your own any of these errors; but when you read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” learn from it that the impious shall not see Him: for the impious are neither blessed nor pure in heart. Moreover, when you read, “Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face,” learn from this that we shall then see Him face to face by the same means by which we now see Him through a glass darkly. In both cases alike, the vision of God belongs to the inner man, whether when we walk in this pilgrimage still by faith, in which it uses the glass and the ainigma, or when, in the country which is our home, we shall perceive by sight, which vision the words “face to face” denote.

5. Let the flesh raving with carnal imaginations hear these words: “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” If this be the manner of worshipping Him, how much more of seeing Him! For who durst affirm that the Divine essence is seen in a corporal manner, when He has not permitted it to be worshipped in a corporal manner? They think, however, that they are very acute in saying and in pressing as a question for us to answer: Was Christ able to endow His flesh so as that He could with His eyes see the Father, or was He not? If we reply that He was not, they publish abroad that we have denied the omnipotence of God; if, on the other hand, we grant that He was able, they affirm that their argument is established by our reply. How much more excusable is the folly of those who maintain that the flesh shall be changed into the Divine substance, and shall be what God Himself is, in order that thus they may endow with fitness for seeing God that which is meanwhile removed by so great diversity of nature from likeness to Him! Yet I believe they reject from their creed, perhaps also refuse to hear, this error. Nevertheless, if they were in like manner pressed with the question above quoted, as to whether God can or cannot do this [viz. change our flesh into the Divine substance], which alternative will they choose? Will they limit His power by answering that He cannot; or if they concede that He can, will they by this concession grant that it shall be done? Let them get out of the dilemma which they have proposed to others as above, in the same way by which they get out of this dilemma proposed to others by them. Moreover, why do they contend that this gift is to be attributed only to the eyes, and not to all the other senses of Christ? Shall God then be a sound, that He may be perceived by the ear? and an exhalation, that He may be discerned by the sense of smell? and a liquid of some kind, that He may be also imbibed? and a solid body, that He may be also touched? No, they say. What then? we reply; can God be this, or can He not? If they say He cannot, why do they derogate from the omnipotence of God? If they say He can, but is not willing, why do they show favour to the eyes alone, and grudge the same honour to the other senses of Christ? Do they carry their folly just as far as they please? How much better is our course, who do not prescribe limits to their folly, but would fain prevent them from entering into it at all!

6. Many things may be brought forward for the confutation of that madness. Meanwhile, however, if at any time they assail your ears, read this letter to the supporters of such error, and do not count it too great a labour to write back to me as well as you can what they say in reply. Let me add that our hearts are purified by faith, because the vision of God is promised to us as the reward of faith. Now, if this vision of God were to be through the bodily eyes, in vain are the souls of saints exercised for receiving it; nay, rather, a soul which cherishes such sentiments is not exercised in itself, but is wholly in the flesh. For where will it dwell more resolutely and fixedly than in that by means of which it expects that it shall see God? How great an evil this would be I rather leave to your own intelligence to observe, than labour to prove by a long argument.

May your heart dwell always under the Lord’s keeping, noble and justly distinguished lady, and daughter worthy of honour in the love of Christ! Salute from me, with the respect due to your worth, your sons, who are along with yourself honourable, and to me dearly beloved in the Lord.

To Vincentius, My Brother Dearly Beloved, Augustin Sends Greeting.

Chap. I

1. I have received a letter which I believe to be from you to me: at least I have not thought this incredible, for the person who brought it is one whom I know to be a Catholic Christian, and who, I think, would not dare to impose upon me. But even though the letter may perchance not be from you, I have considered it necessary to write a reply to the author, whoever he may be. You know me now to be more desirous of rest, and earnest in seeking it, than when you knew me in my earlier years at Carthage, in the lifetime of your immediate predecessor Rogatus. But we are precluded from this rest by the Donatists, the repression and correction of whom, by the powers which are ordained of God, appears to me to be labour not in vain. For we already rejoice in the correction of many who hold and defend the Catholic unity with such sincerity, and are so glad to have been delivered from their former error, that we admire them with great thankfulness and pleasure. Yet these same persons, under some indescribable bondage of custom, would in no way have thought of being changed to a better condition, had they not, under the shock of this alarm, directed their minds earnestly to the study of the truth; fearing lest, if without profit, and in vain, they suffered hard things at the hands of men, for the sake not of righteousness, but of their own obstinacy and presumption, they should afterwards receive nothing else at the hand of God than the punishment due to wicked men who despised the admonition which He so gently gave and His paternal correction; and being by such reflection made teachable, they found not in mischievous or frivolous human fables, but in the promises of the divine books, that universal Church which they saw extending according to the promise throughout all nations: just as, on the testimony of prophecy in the same Scriptures, they believed without hesitation that Christ is exalted above the heavens, though He is not seen by them in His glory. Was it my duty to be displeased at the salvation of these men, and to call back my colleagues from a fatherly diligence of this kind, the result of which has been, that we see many blaming their former blindness? For they see that they were blind who believed Christ to have been exalted above the heavens although they saw Him not, and yet denied that His glory is spread over all the earth although they saw it; whereas the prophet has with so great plainness included both in one sentence, “Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.”

2. Wherefore, if we were so to overlook and forbear with those cruel enemies who seriously disturb our peace and quietness by manifold and grievous forms of violence and treachery, as that nothing at all should be contrived and done by us with a view to alarm and correct them, truly we would be rendering evil for evil. For if any one saw his enemy running headlong to destroy himself when he had become delirious through a dangerous fever, would he not in that case be much more truly rendering evil for evil if he permitted him to run on thus, than if he took measures to have him seized and bound? And yet he would at that moment appear to the other to be most vexatious, and most like an enemy, when, in truth, he had proved himself most useful and most compassionate; although, doubtless, when health was recovered, would he express to him his gratitude with a warmth proportioned to the measure in which he had felt his refusal to indulge him in his time of phrenzy. Oh, if I could but show you how many we have even from the Circumcelliones, who are now approved Catholics, and condemn their former life, and the wretched delusion under which they believed that they were doing in behalf of the Church of God whatever they did under the promptings of a restless temerity, who nevertheless would not have been brought to this soundness of judgment had they not been, as persons beside themselves, bound with the cords of those laws which are distasteful to you! As to another form of most serious distemper,—that, namely, of those who had not, indeed, a boldness leading to acts of violence, but were pressed down by a kind of inveterate sluggishness of mind, and would say to us: “What you affirm is true, nothing can be said against it; but it is hard for us to leave off what we have received, by tradition from our fathers,”—why should not such persons be shaken up in a beneficial way by a law bringing upon them inconvenience in worldly things, in order that they might rise from their lethargic sleep, and awake to the salvation which is to be found in the unity of the Church? How many of them, now rejoicing with us, speak bitterly of the weight with which their ruinous course formerly oppressed them, and confess that it was our duty to inflict annoyance upon them, in order to prevent them from perishing under the disease of lethargic habit, as under a fatal sleep!

3. You will say that to some these remedies are of no service. Is the art of healing, therefore, to be abandoned, because the malady of some is incurable? You look only to the case of those who are so obdurate that they refuse even such correction. Of such it is written, “In vain have I smitten your children: they received no correction:” and yet I suppose that those of whom the prophet speaks were smitten in love, not from hatred. But you ought to consider also the very large number over whose salvation we rejoice. For if they were only made afraid, and not instructed, this might appear to be a kind of inexcusable tyranny. Again, if they were instructed only, and not made afraid, they would be with more difficulty persuaded to embrace the way of salvation, having become hardened through the inveteracy of custom: whereas many whom we know well, when arguments had been brought before them, and the truth made apparent by testimonies from the word of God, answered us that they desired to pass into the communion of the Catholic Church, but were in fear of the violence of worthless men, whose enmity they would incur; which violence they ought indeed by all means to despise when it was to be borne for righteousness’ sake, and for the sake of eternal life. Nevertheless the weakness of such men ought not to be regarded as hopeless, but to be supported until they gain more strength. Nor may we forget what the Lord Himself said to Peter when he was yet weak: “Thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shall follow Me afterwards.” When, however, wholesome instruction is added to means of inspiring salutary fear, so that not only the light of truth may dispel the darkness of error, but the force of fear may at the same time break the bonds of evil custom, we are made glad, as I have said, by the salvation of many, who with us bless God, and render thanks to Him, because by the fulfilment of His covenant, in which He promised that the kings of the earth should serve Christ, He has thus cured the diseased and restored health to the weak.

Chap. II

4. Not every one who is indulgent is a friend; nor is every one an enemy who smites. Better are the wounds of a friend than the proffered kisses of an enemy. It is better with severity to love, than with gentleness to deceive. More good is done by taking away food from one who is hungry, if, through freedom from care as to his food, he is forgetful of righteousness, than by providing bread for one who is hungry, in order that, being thereby bribed, he may consent to unrighteousness. He who binds the man who is in a phrenzy, and he who stirs up the man who is in a lethargy, are alike vexatious to both, and are in both cases alike prompted by love for the patient. Who can love us more than God does? And yet He not only give us sweet instruction, but also quickens us by salutary fear, and this unceasingly. Often adding to the soothing remedies by which He comforts men the sharp medicine of tribulation, He afflicts with famine even the pious and devout patriarchs, disquiets a rebellious people by more severe chastisements, and refuses, though thrice besought, to take away the thorn in the flesh of the apostle, that He may make His strength perfect in weakness. Let us by all means love even our enemies, for this is right, and God commands us so to do, in order that we may be the children of our Father who is in heaven, “who maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” But as we praise these His gifts, lets us in like manner ponder His correction of those whom He loves.

5. You are of opinion that no one should be compelled to follow righteousness; and yet you read that the householder said to his servants, “Whomsoever ye shall find, compel them to come in.” You also read how he who was at first Saul, and afterwards Paul, was compelled, by the great violence with which Christ coerced him, to know and to embrace the truth; for you cannot but think that the light which your eyes enjoy is more precious to men than money or any other possession. This light, lost suddenly by him when he was cast to the ground by the heavenly voice, he did not recover until he became a member of the Holy Church. You are also of opinion that no coercion is to be used with any man in order to his deliverance from the fatal consequences of error; and yet you see that, in examples which cannot be disputed, this is done by God, who loves us with more real regard for our profit than any other can; and you hear Christ saying, “No man can come to me except the Father draw him,” which is done in the hearts of all those who, through fear of the wrath of God, betake themselves to Him. You know also that sometimes the thief scatters food before the flock that he may lead them astray, and sometimes the shepherd brings wandering sheep back to the flock with his rod.

6. Did not Sarah, when she had the power, choose rather to afflict the insolent bondwoman? And truly she did not cruelly hate her whom she had formerly by an act of her own kindness made a mother; but she put a wholesome restraint upon her pride. Moreover, as you well know, these two women, Sarah and Hagar, and their two sons Isaac and Ishmael, are figures representing spiritual and carnal persons. And although we read that the bondwoman and her son suffered great hardships from Sarah, nevertheless the Apostle Paul says that Isaac suffered persecution from Ishmael: “But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now;” whence those who have understanding may perceive that it is rather the Catholic Church which suffers persecution through the pride and impiety of those carnal men whom it endeavours to correct by afflictions and terrors of a temporal kind. Whatever therefore the true and rightful Mother does, even when something severe and bitter is felt by her children at her hands, she is not rendering evil for evil, but is applying the benefit of discipline to counteract the evil of sin, not with the hatred which seeks to harm, but with the love which seeks to heal. When good and bad do the same actions and suffer the same afflictions, they are to be distinguished not by what they do or suffer, but by the causes of each: e.g. Pharaoh oppressed the people of God by hard bondage; Moses afflicted the same people by severe correction when they were guilty of impiety: their actions were alike; but they were not alike in the motive of regard to the people’s welfare,—the one being inflated by the lust of power, the other inflamed by love. Jezebel slew prophets, Elijah slew false prophets; I suppose that the desert of the actors and of the sufferers respectively in the two cases was wholly diverse.

7. Look also to the New Testament times, in which the essential gentleness of love was to be not only kept in the heart, but also manifested openly: in these the sword of Peter is called back into its sheath by Christ, and we are taught that it ought not to be taken from its sheath even in Christ’s defence. We read, however, not only that the Jews beat the Apostle Paul, but also that the Greeks beat Sosthenes, a Jew, on account of the Apostle Paul. Does not the similarity of the events apparently join both; and, at the same time, does not the dissimilarity of the causes make a real difference? Again, God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all. Of the Son also it is said, “who loved me, and gave Himself for me;” and it is also said of Judas that Satan entered into him that he might betray Christ. Seeing, therefore, that the Father delivered up His Son, and Christ delivered up His own body, and Judas delivered up his Master, wherefore is God holy and man guilty in this delivering up of Christ, unless that in the one action which both did, the reason for which they did it was not the same? Three crosses stood in one place: on one was the thief who was to be saved; on the second, the thief who was to be condemned; on the third, between them, was Christ, who was about to save the one thief and condemn the other. What could be more similar than these crosses? what more unlike than the persons who were suspended on them? Paul was given up to be imprisoned and bound, but Satan is unquestionably worse than any gaoler: yet to him Paul himself gave up one man for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. And what say we to this? Behold, both deliver a man to bondage; but he that is cruel consigns his prisoner to one less severe, while he that is compassionate consigns his to one who is more cruel. Let us learn, my brother, in actions which are similar to distinguish the intentions of the agents; and let us not, shutting our eyes, deal in groundless reproaches, and accuse those who seek men’s welfare as if they did them wrong. In like manner, when the same apostle says that he had delivered certain persons unto Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme, did he render to these men evil for evil, or did he not rather esteem it a good work to correct evil men by means of the evil one?

8. If to suffer persecution were in all cases a praiseworthy thing, it would have sufficed for the Lord to say, “Blessed are they which are persecuted,” without adding “for righteousness’ sake.” Moreover, if to inflict persecution were in all cases blameworthy, it would not have been written in the sacred books, “Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I persecute [cut off, E.V.].” In some cases, therefore, both he that suffers persecution is in the wrong, and he that inflicts it is in the right. But the truth is, that always both the bad have persecuted the good, and the good have persecuted the bad: the former doing harm by their unrighteousness, the latter seeking to do good by the administration of discipline; the former with cruelty, the latter with moderation; the former impelled by lust, the latter under the constraint of love. For he whose aim is to kill is not careful how he wounds, but he whose aim is to cure is cautious with his lancet; for the one seeks to destroy what is sound, the other that which is decaying. The wicked put prophets to death; prophets also put the wicked to death. The Jews scourged Christ; Christ also scourged the Jews. The apostles were given up by men to the civil powers; the apostles themselves gave men up to the power of Satan. In all these cases, what is important to attend to but this: who were on the side of truth, and who on the side of iniquity; who acted from a desire to injure, and who from a desire to correct what was amiss?

Chap. III

9. You say that no example is found in the writings of evangelists and apostles, of any petition presented on behalf of the Church to the kings of the earth against her enemies. Who denies this? None such is found. But at that time the prophecy, “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth: serve the Lord with fear,” was not yet fulfilled. Up to that time the words which we find at the beginning of the same Psalm were receiving their fulfilment, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed.” Truly, if past events recorded in the prophetic books were figures of the future, there was given under King Nebuchadnezzar a figure both of the time which the Church had under the apostles, and of that which she has now. In the age of the apostles and martyrs, that was fulfilled which was prefigured when the aforesaid king compelled pious and just men to bow down to his image, and cast into the flames all who refused. Now, however, is fulfilled that which was prefigured soon after in the same king, when, being converted to the worship of the true God, he made a decree throughout his empire, that whosoever should speak against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, should suffer the penalty which their crime deserved. The earlier time of that king represented the former age of emperors who did not believe in Christ, at whose hands the Christians suffered because of the wicked; but the later time of that king represented the age of the successors to the imperial throne, now believing in Christ, at whose hands the wicked suffer because of the Christians.

10. It is manifest, however, that moderate severity, or rather clemency, is carefully observed towards those who, under the Christian name, have been led astray by perverse men, in the measures used to prevent them who are Christ’s sheep from wandering, and to bring them back to the flock, when by punishments, such as exile and fines, they are admonished to consider what they suffer, and wherefore, and are taught to prefer the Scriptures which they read to human legends and calumnies. For which of us, yea, which of you, does not speak well of the laws issued by the emperors against heathen sacrifices? In these, assuredly, a penalty much more severe has been appointed, for the punishment of that impiety is death. But in repressing and restraining you, the thing aimed at has been rather that you should be admonished to depart from evil, than that you should be punished for a crime. For perhaps what the apostle said of the Jews may be said of you: “bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge: for, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.” For what else than your own righteousness are you desiring to establish, when you say that none are justified but those who may have had the opportunity of being baptized by you? In regard to this statement made by the apostle concerning the Jews, you differ from those to whom it originally applied in this, that you have the Christian sacraments, of which they are still destitute. But in regard to the words, “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,” and “they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge,” you are exactly like them, excepting only those among you who know what is the truth, and who in the wilfulness of their perversity continue to fight against truth which is perfectly well known to them. The impiety of these men is perhaps even a greater sin than idolatry. Since, however, they cannot be easily convicted of this (for it is a sin which lies concealed in the mind), you are all alike restrained with a comparatively gentle severity, as being not so far alienated from us. And this I may say, both concerning all heretics without distinction, who, while retaining the Christian sacraments, are dissenters from the truth and unity of Christ, and concerning all Donatists without exception.

11. But as for you, who are not only, in common with these last, styled Donatists, from Donatus, but also specially named Rogatists, from Rogatus, you indeed seem to be more gentle in disposition, because you do not rage up and down with bands of these savage Circumcelliones: but no wild beast is said to be gentle if, because of its not having teeth and claws, it wounds no one. You say that you have no wish to be cruel: I think that power, not will is wanting to you. For you are in number so few, that even if you desire it, you dare not move against the multitudes which are opposed to you. Let us suppose, however, that you do not wish to do that which you have not strength to do; let us suppose that the gospel rule, “If any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also,” is so understood and obeyed by you that resistance to those who persecute you is unlawful, whether they have right or wrong on their side. Rogatus, the founder of your sect, either did not hold this view, or was guilty of inconsistency; for he fought with the keenest determination in a lawsuit about certain things which, according to your statement, belonged to you. If to him it had been said, Which of the apostles ever defended his property in a matter concerning faith by appeal to the civil courts? as you have put the question in your letter, “Which of the apostles ever invaded the property of other men in a matter concerning faith?” he could not find any example of this in the Divine writings; but he might perhaps have found some true defence if he had not separated himself from the true Church, and then audaciously claimed to hold in the name of the true Church the disputed possession.

Chap. IV

12. As to the obtaining or putting in force of edicts of the powers of this world against schismatics and heretics, those from whom you separated yourselves were very active in this matter, both against you, so far as we have heard, and against the followers of Maximianus, as we prove by the indisputable evidence of their own Records; but you had not yet separated yourselves from them at the time when in their petition they said to the Emperor Julian that “nothing but righteousness found a place with him,”—a man whom all the while they knew to be an apostate, and whom they saw to be so given over to idolatry, that they must either admit idolatry to be righteousness, or be unable to deny that they had wickedly lied when they said that nothing but righteousness had a place with him with whom they saw that idolatry had so large a place. Grant, however, that that was a mistake in the use of words, what say you as to the deed itself? If not even that which is just is to be sought by appeal to an emperor, why was that which was by you supposed to be just sought from Julian?

13. Do you reply that it is lawful to petition the Emperor in order to recover what is one’s own, but not lawful to accuse another in order that he may be coerced by the Emperor? I may remark, in passing, that in even petitioning for the recovery of what is one’s own, the ground covered by apostolic example is abandoned, because no apostle is found to have ever done this. But apart from this, when your predecessors brought before the Emperor Constantine, by means of the proconsul Anulinus, their accusations against Caecilianus, who was then bishop of Carthage, with whom as a guilty person they refused to have communion, they were not endeavouring to recover something of their own which they had lost, but were by calumnies assailing one who was, as we think, and as the issue of the judicial proceedings showed, an innocent man; and what more heinous crime could have been perpetrated by them than this? If, however, as you erroneously suppose, they did in his case deliver up to the judgment of the civil powers a man who was indeed guilty, why do you object to our doing that which your own party first presumed to do, and for doing which we would not find fault with them, if they had done it not with an envious desire to do harm, but with the intention of reproving and correcting what was wrong. But we have no hesitation in finding fault with you, who think that we are criminal in bringing any complaint before a Christian emperor against the enemies of our communion, seeing that a document given by your predecessors to Anulinus the proconsul, to be forwarded by him to the Emperor Constantine, bore this superscription: “Libellus Ecclesiae Catholicae, criminum Caeciliani, traditus a parte Majorini.” We find fault, moreover, with them more particularly, because when they had of their own accord gone to the Emperor with accusations against Caecilianus, which they ought by all means to have in the first place proved before those who were his colleagues beyond the sea, and when the Emperor, acting in a much more orderly way than they had done, referred to bishops the decision of this case pertaining to bishops which had been brought before him, they, even when defeated by a decision against them, would not come to peace with their brethren. Instead of this, they next accused at the bar of the temporal sovereign, not Caecilianus only, but also the bishops who had been appointed judges; and finally, from a second episcopal tribunal they appealed to the Emperor again. Nor did they consider it their duty to yield either to truth or to peace when he himself inquired into the case and gave his decision.

14. Now what else could Constantine have decreed against Caecilianus and his friends, if they had been defeated when your predecessors accused them, than the things decreed against the very men who, having of their own accord brought the accusations, and having failed to prove what they alleged, refused even when defeated to acquiesce in the truth? The Emperor, as you know, in that case decreed for the first time that the property of those who were convicted of schism and obstinately resisted the unity of the Church should be confiscated. If, however, the issue had been that your predecessors who brought the accusations had gained their case, and the Emperor had made some such decree against the communion to which Caecilianus belonged, you would have wished the emperors to be called the friends of the Church’s interests, and the guardians of her peace and unity. But when such things are decreed by emperors against the parties who, having of their own accord brought forward accusations, were unable to substantiate them, and who, when a welcome back to the bosom of peace was offered to them on condition of their amendment, refused the terms, an outcry is raised that this is an unworthy wrong, and it is maintained that no one ought to be coerced to unity, and that evil should not be requited for evil to any one. What else is this than what one of yourselves wrote: “What we wish is holy”? And in view of these things, it was not a great or difficult thing for you to reflect and discover how the decree and sentence of Constantine, which was published against you on the occasion of your predecessors so frequently bringing before the Emperor charges which they could not make good, should be in force against you; and how all succeeding emperors, especially those who are Catholic Christians, necessarily act according to it as often as the exigencies of your obstinacy make it necessary for them to take any measures in regard to you.

15. It was an easy thing for you to have reflected on these things, and perhaps some time to have said to yourselves: Seeing that Caecilianus either was innocent, or at least could not be proved guilty, what sin has the Christian Church spread so far and wide through the world committed in this matter? On what ground could it be unlawful for the Christian world to remain ignorant of that which even those who made it matter of accusation against others could not prove? Why should those whom Christ has sown in His field, that is, in this world, and has commanded to grow alongside of the tares until the harvest,—those many thousands of believers in all nations, whose multitude the Lord compared to the stars of heaven and the sand of the sea, to whom He promised of old, and has now given, the blessing in the seed of Abraham,—why, I ask, should the name of Christians be denied to all these, because, forsooth, in regard to this case, in the discussion of which they took no part, they preferred to believe the judges, who under grave responsibility gave their decision, rather than the plaintiffs, against whom the decision was given? Surely no man’s crime can stain with guilt another who does not know of its commission. How could the faithful, scattered throughout the world, be cognisant of the crime of surrendering the sacred books as committed by men, whose guilt their accusers, even if they knew it, were at least unable to prove? Unquestionably this one fact of ignorance on their part most easily demonstrates that they had no share in the guilt of this crime. Why then should the innocent be charged with crimes which they never committed, because of their being ignorant of crimes which, justly or unjustly, are laid to the charge of others? What room is left for innocence, if it is criminal for one to be ignorant of the crimes of others? Moreover, if the mere fact of their ignorance proves, as has been said, the innocence of the people in so many nations, how great is the crime of separation from the communion of these innocent people! For the deeds of guilty parties which either cannot be proved to those who are innocent, or cannot be believed by them, bring no stain upon any one, since, even when known, they are borne with in order to preserve fellowship with those who are innocent. For the good are not to be deserted for the sake of the wicked, but the wicked are to be borne with for the sake of the good; as the prophets bore with those against whom they delivered such testimonies, and did not cease to take part in the sacraments of the Jewish people; as also our Lord bore with guilty Judas, even until he met the end which he deserved, and permitted him to take part in the sacred supper along with the innocent disciples; as the apostles bore with those who preached Christ through envy,—a sin peculiarly satanic; as Cyprian bore with colleagues guilty of avarice, which, after the example of the apostle, he calls idolatry. In fine, whatever was done at that time among these bishops, although perhaps it was known by some of them, is, unless there be respect of persons in judgment, unknown to all: why, then, is not peace loved by all? These thoughts might easily occur to you; perhaps you already entertain them. But it would be better for you to be devoted to earthly possessions, through fear of losing which you might be proved to consent to known truth, than to be devoted to that worthless vainglory which you think you will by such consent forfeit in the estimation of men.

Chap. V

16. You now see therefore, I suppose, that the thing to be considered when any one is coerced, is not the mere fact of the coercion, but the nature of that to which he is coerced, whether it be good or bad: not that any one can be good in spite of his own will, but that, through fear of suffering what he does not desire, he either renounces his hostile prejudices, or is compelled to examine truth of which he had been contentedly ignorant; and under the influence of this fear repudiates the error which he was wont to defend, or seeks the truth of which he formerly knew nothing, and now willingly holds what he formerly rejected. Perhaps it would be utterly useless to assert this in words, if it were not demonstrated by so many examples. We see not a few men here and there, but many cities, once Donatist, now Catholic, vehemently detesting the diabolical schism, and ardently loving the unity of the Church; and these became Catholic under the influence of that fear which is to you so offensive by the laws of emperors, from Constantine, before whom your party of their own accord impeached Caecilianus, down to the emperors of our own time, who most justly decree that the decision of the judge whom your own party chose, and whom they preferred to a tribunal of bishops, should be maintained in force against you.

17. I have therefore yielded to the evidence afforded by these instances which my colleagues have laid before me. For originally my opinion was, that no one should be coerced into the unity of Christ, that we must act only by words, fight only by arguments, and prevail by force of reason, lest we should have those whom we knew as avowed heretics feigning themselves to be Catholics. But this opinion of mine was overcome not by the words of those who controverted it, but by the conclusive instances to which they could point. For, in the first place, there was set over against my opinion my own town, which, although it was once wholly on the side of Donatus, was brought over to the Catholic unity by fear of the imperial edicts, but which we now see filled with such detestation of your ruinous perversity, that it would scarcely be believed that it had ever been involved in your error. There were so many others which were mentioned to me by name, that, from facts themselves, I was made to own that to this matter the word of Scripture might be understood as applying: “Give opportunity to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser.” For how many were already, as we assuredly know, willing to be Catholics, being moved by the indisputable plainness of truth, but daily putting off their avowal of this through fear of offending their own party! How many were bound, not by truth—for you never pretended to that as yours—but by the heavy chains of inveterate custom, so that in them was fulfilled the divine saying: “A servant (who is hardened) will not be corrected by words; for though he understand, he will not answer”! How many supposed the sect of Donatus to be the true Church, merely because ease had made them too listless, or conceited, or sluggish, to take pains to examine Catholic truth! How many would have entered earlier had not the calumnies of slanderers, who declared that we offered something else than we do upon the altar of God, shut them out! How many, believing that it mattered not to which party a Christian might belong, remained in the schism of Donatus only because they had been born in it, and no one was compelling them to forsake it and pass over into the Catholic Church!

18. To all these classes of persons the dread of those laws in the promulgation of which kings serve the Lord in fear has been so useful, that now some say we were willing for this some time ago; but thanks be to God, who has given us occasion for doing it at once, and has cut off the hesitancy of procrastination! Others say: We already knew this to be true, but we were held prisoners by the force of old custom: thanks be to the Lord, who has broken these bonds asunder, and has brought us into the bond of peace! Others say: We knew not that the truth was here, and we had no wish to learn it; but fear made us become earnest to examine it when we became alarmed, lest, without any gain in things eternal, we should be smitten with loss in temporal things: thanks be to the Lord, who has by the stimulus of fear startled us from our negligence, that now being disquieted we might inquire into those things which, when at ease, we did not care to know! Others say: We were prevented from entering the Church by false reports, which we could not know to be false unless we entered it; and we would not enter unless we were compelled: thanks be to the Lord, who by His scourge took away our timid hesitation, and taught us to find out for ourselves how vain and absurd were the lies which rumour had spread abroad against His Church: by this we are persuaded that there is no truth in the accusations made by the authors of this heresy, since the more serious charges which their followers have invented are without foundation. Others say: We thought, indeed, that it mattered not in what communion we held the faith of Christ; but thanks to the Lord, who has gathered us in from a state of schism, and has taught us that it is fitting that the one God be worshipped in unity.

19. Could I therefore maintain opposition to my colleagues, and by resisting them stand in the way of such conquests of the Lord, and prevent the sheep of Christ which were wandering on your mountains and hills—that is, on the swellings of your pride—from being gathered into the fold of peace, in which there is one flock and one Shepherd? Was it my duty to obstruct these measures, in order, forsooth, that you might not lose what you call your own, and might without fear rob Christ of what is His: that you might frame your testaments according to Roman law, and might by calumnious accusations break the Testament made with the sanction of Divine law to the fathers, in which it was written, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed”: that you might have freedom in your transactions in the way of buying and selling, and might be emboldened to divide and claim as your own that which Christ bought by giving Himself as its price: that any gift made over by one of you to another might remain unchallenged, and that the gift which the God of gods has bestowed upon His children, called from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, might become invalid: that you might not be sent into exile from the land of your natural birth, and that you might labour to banish Christ from the kingdom bought with His blood, which extends from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth? Nay verily; let the kings of the earth serve Christ by making laws for Him and for His cause. Your predecessors exposed Caecilianus and his companions to be punished by the kings of the earth for crimes with which they were falsely charged: let the lions now be turned to break in pieces the bones of the calumniators, and let no intercession for them be made by Daniel when he has been proved innocent, and set free from the den in which they meet their doom; for he that prepareth a pit for his neighbour shall himself most justly fall into it.

Chap. VI

20. Save yourself therefore, my brother, while you have this present life, from the wrath which is to come on the obstinate and the proud. The formidable power of the authorities of this world, when it assails the truth, gives glorious opportunity of probation to the strong, but puts dangerous temptation before the weak who are righteous; but when it assists the proclamation of the truth, it is the means of profitable admonition to the wise, and of unprofitable vexation to the foolish among those who have gone astray. “For there is no power but of God: whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God; for rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” For if the power be on the side of the truth, and correct any one who was in error, he that is put right by the correction has praise from the power. If, on the other hand, the power be unfriendly to the truth, and cruelly persecute any one, he who is crowned victor in this contest receives praise from the power which he resists. But you do not that which is good, so as to avoid being afraid of the power; unless perchance this is good, to sit and speak against not one brother, but against all your brethren that are found among all nations, to whom the prophets, and Christ, and the apostles bear witness in the words of Scripture, “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;” and again, “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, a pure offering shall be offered unto My name; for My name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord.” Mark this: “saith the Lord;” not saith Donatus, or Rogatus, or Vincentius, or Ambrose, or Augustin, but “saith the Lord;” and again, “All tribes of the earth shall be blessed in Him, and all nations shall call Him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things; and blessed be His glorious name for ever, and the whole earth shall be filled with His glory: so let it be, so let it be.” And you sit at Cartennae, and with a remnant of half a score of Rogatists you say, “Let it not be! Let it not be!”

21. You hear Christ speaking thus in the Gospel: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me. Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” You read also in the Acts of the Apostles how this gospel began at Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit first filled those hundred and twenty persons, and went forth thence into Judaea and Samaria, and to all nations, as He had said unto them when He was about to ascend into heaven, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth;” for “their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” And you contradict the Divine testimonies so firmly established and so clearly revealed, and attempt to bring about such an absolute confiscation of Christ’s heritage, that although repentance is preached, as He said, in His name to all nations, whosoever may be in any part of the earth moved by that preaching, there is for him no possibility of remission of sins, unless he seek and discover Vincentius of Cartennae, or some one of his nine or ten associates, in their obscurity in the imperial colony of Mauritania. What will the arrogance of insignificant mortals not dare to do? To what extremities will the presumption of flesh and blood not hurry men? Is this your well-doing, on account of which you are not afraid of the power? You place this grievous stumbling-block in the way of your own mother’s son, for whom Christ died, and who is yet in feeble infancy, not ready to use strong meat, but requiring to be nursed on a mother’s milk; and you quote against me the works of Hilary, in order that you may deny the fact of the Church’s increase among all nations; even unto the end of the world, according to the promise which God, in order to subdue your unbelief, confirmed with an oath! And although you would by all means be most miserable if you stood against this when it was promised, you even now contradict it when the promise is fulfilled.

Chap. VII

22. You, however, through your profound erudition, have discovered something which you think worthy to be alleged as a great objection against the Divine testimonies. For you say, “If we consider the parts comprehended in the whole world, it is a comparatively small portion in which the Christian faith is known:” either refusing to see, or pretending not to know, to how many barbarous nations the gospel has already penetrated, within a space of time so short, that not even Christ’s enemies can doubt that in a little while that shall be accomplished which our Lord foretold, when, answering the question of His disciples concerning the end of the world, He said, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” Meanwhile do all you can to proclaim and to maintain, that even though the gospel be published in Persia and India, as indeed it has been for a long time, no one who hears it can be in any degree cleansed from his sins, unless he come to Cartennae, or to the neighbourhood of Cartennae! If you have not expressly said this, it is evidently through fear lest men should laugh at you; and yet when you do say this, do you refuse that men should weep for you?

23. You think that you make a very acute remark when you affirm the name Catholic to mean universal, not in respect to the communion as embracing the whole world, but in respect to the observance of all Divine precepts and of all the sacraments, as if we (even accepting the position that the Church is called Catholic because it honestly holds the whole truth, of which fragments here and there are found in some heresies) rested upon the testimony of this word’s signification, and not upon the promises of God, and so many indisputable testimonies of the truth itself, our demonstration of the existence of the Church of God in all nations. In fact, however, this is the whole which you attempt to make us believe, that the Rogatists alone remain worthy of the name Catholics, on the ground of their observing all the Divine precepts and all the sacraments; and that you are the only persons in whom the Son of man when He cometh shall find faith. You must excuse me for saying we do not believe a word of this. For although, in order to make it possible for that faith to be found in you which the Lord said that He would not find on the earth, you may perhaps presume even to say that you are to be regarded as in heaven, not on earth, we at least have profited by the apostle’s warning, wherein he has taught us that even an angel from heaven must be regarded as accursed if he were to preach to us any other gospel than that which we have received. But how can we be sure that we have indisputable testimony to Christ in the Divine Word, if we do not accept as indisputable the testimony of the same Word to the Church? For as, however ingenious the complex subtleties which one may contrive against the simple truth, and however great the mist of artful fallacies with which he may obscure it, any one who shall proclaim that Christ has not suffered, and has not risen from the dead on the third day, must be accursed—because we have learned in the truth of the gospel, “that it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead on the third day;”—on the very same grounds must that man be accursed who shall proclaim that the Church is outside of the communion which embraces all nations: for in the next words of the same passage we learn also that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem; and we are bound to hold firmly this rule, “If any preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

Chap. VIII

24. If, moreover, we do not listen to the claims of the entire sect of Donatists when they pretend to be the Church of Christ, seeing that they do not allege in proof of this anything from the Divine Books, how much less, I ask, are we called upon to listen to the Rogatists, who will not attempt to interpret; in the interest of their party the words of Scripture: “Where Thou feedest, where Thou dost rest in the south”! For if by this the southern part of Africa is to be understood,—the district, namely, which is occupied by Donatists, because it is under a more burning portion of the heavens,—the Maximianists must excel all the rest of your party, as the flame of their schism broke forth in Byzantium and in Tripoli. Let the Arzuges, if they please, dispute this point with them, and contest that to them more properly this text applies; but how shall the imperial province of Mauritania, lying rather to the west than to the south, since it refuses to be called Africa,—how shall it, I say, find in the word “the south” a ground for boasting, I do not say against the world, but against even that sect of Donatus from which the sect of Rogatus, a very small fragment of that other and larger fragment, has been broken off? For what else is it than superlative impudence for one to interpret in his own favour any allegorical statements, unless he has also plain testimonies, by the light of which the obscure meaning of the former may be made manifest.

25. With how much greater force, moreover, may we say to you what we are accustomed to say to all the Donatists: If any can have good grounds (which indeed none can have) for separating themselves from the communion of the whole world, and calling their communion the Church of Christ, because of their having withdrawn warrantably from the communion of all nations,—how do you know that in the Christian society, which is spread so far and wide, there may not have been some in a very remote place, from which the fame of their righteousness could not reach you, who had already, before the date of your separation, separated themselves for some just cause from the communion of the whole world? How could the Church in that case be found in your sect, rather than in those who were separated before you? Thus it comes to pass, that so long as you are ignorant of this, you cannot make with certainty any claim: which is necessarily the portion of all who, in defending the cause of their party, appeal to their own testimony instead of the testimony of God. For you cannot say, If this had happened, it could not have escaped our knowledge; for, not going beyond Africa itself, you cannot tell, when the question is put to you, how many subdivisions of the party of Donatus have occurred: in connection with which we must especially bear in mind that in your view the smaller the number of those who separate themselves, the greater is the justice of their cause, and this paucity of numbers makes them undoubtedly more likely to remain unnoticed. Hence, also, you are by no means sure that there may not be some righteous persons, few in number, and therefore unknown, dwelling in some place far remote from the south of Africa, who, long before the party of Donatus had withdrawn their righteousness from fellowship with the unrighteousness of all other men, had, in their remote northern region, separated themselves in the same way for some most satisfactory reason, and now are, by a claim superior to yours, the Church of God, as the spiritual Zion which preceded all your sects in the matter of warrantable secession, and who interpret in their favour the words of the Psalm, “Mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the Great King,” with much more reason than the party of Donatus interpret in their favour the words, “Where Thou feedest, where Thou dost rest in the south.”

26. You profess, nevertheless, to be afraid lest, when you are compelled by imperial edicts to consent to unity, the name of God be for a longer time blasphemed by the Jews and the heathen: as if the Jews were not aware how their own nation Israel, in the beginning of its history, wished to exterminate by war the two tribes and a half which had received possessions beyond Jordan, when they thought that these had separated themselves from the unity of their nation. As to the Pagans, they may indeed with greater reason reproach us for the laws which Christian emperors have enacted against idolaters; and yet many of these have thereby been, and are now daily, turned from idols to the living and true God. In fact, however, both Jews and Pagans, if they thought the Christians to be as insignificant in number as you are,—who maintain, forsooth, that you alone are Christians,—would not condescend to say anything against us, but would never cease to treat us with ridicule and contempt. Are you not afraid lest the Jews should say to you, “If your handful of men be the Church of Christ, what becomes of the statement of your Apostle Paul, that your Church is described in the words, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; breakforth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband;’ in which he plainly declares the multitude of Christians to surpass that of the Jewish Church?” Will you say to them, “We are the more righteous because our number is not large;” and do you expect them not to reply, “Whoever you claim to be, you are not those of whom it is said, She that was desolate hath many children,’ if you are reduced to so small a number”?

27. Perhaps you will quote against this the example of that righteous man, who along with his family was alone found worthy of deliverance when the flood came. Do you see then how far you still are from being righteous? Most assuredly we do not affirm you to be righteous on the ground of this instance until your associates be reduced to seven, yourself being the eighth person: provided always, however, that no other has, as I was saying, anticipated the party of Donatus in snatching up that righteousness, by having, in some far distant spot, withdrawn himself along with seven more, under pressure of some good reason, from communion with the whole world, and so saved himself from the flood by which it is overwhelmed. Seeing, therefore, that you do not know whether this may not have been done, and been as entirely unheard of by you as the name of Donatus is unheard of by many nations of Christians in remote countries, you are unable to say with certainty where the Church is to be found. For it must be in that place in which what you have now done may happen to have been at an earlier date done by others, if there could possibly be any just reason for your separating yourselves from the communion of the whole world.

Chap. IX

28. We, however, are certain that no one could ever have been warranted in separating himself from the communion of all nations, because every one of us looks for the marks of the Church not in his own righteousness, but in the Divine Scriptures, and beholds it actually in existence, according to the promises. For it is of the Church that it is said,”As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters;” which could be called on the one hand “thorns” only by reason of the wickedness of their manners, and on the other hand “daughters” by reason of their participation in the same sacraments. Again, it is the Church which saith, “From the end of the earth have I cried unto Thee when my heart was overwhelmed;” and in another Psalm, “Horror hath kept me back from the wicked that forsake Thy law;” and, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved.” It is the same which says to her Spouse: “Tell me where Thou feedest, where Thou dost rest at noon: for why should I be as one veiled beside the flocks of Thy companions?” This is the same as is said in another place: “Make known to me Thy right hand, and those who are in heart taught in wisdom;” in whom, as they shine with light and glow with love, Thou dost rest as in noontide; lest perchance, like one veiled, that is, hidden and unknown, I should run, not to Thy flock, but to the flocks of Thy companions, i.e. of heretics, whom the bride here calls companions, just as He called the thorns “daughters,” because of common participation in the sacraments: of which persons it is elsewhere said: “Thou wast a man, mine equal, my guide, my acquaintance, who didst take sweet food together with me; we walked unto the house of God in company. Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell,” like Dathan and Abiram, the authors of an impious schism.

29. It is to the Church also that the answer is given immediately after in the passage quoted above: “If thou know not thyself, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.” Oh, matchless sweetness of the Bridegroom, who thus replied to her question: “If thou knowest not thyself,” He says; as if He said, “Surely the city which is set upon a mountain cannot be hid; and therefore, Thou art not as one veiled, that thou shouldst run to the flocks of my companions.’ For I am the mountain established upon the top of the mountains, unto which all nations shall come. If thou knowest not thyself,’ by the knowledge which thou mayest gain, not in the words of false witnesses, but in the testimonies of My book; if thou knowest not thyself,’ from such testimony as this concerning thee: Lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes: for thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not, for thou shall not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shall not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more: for thy Maker is thine husband, the Lord of hosts is His name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called.’ If thou knowest not thyself,’ O thou fairest among women, from this which hath been said of thee, The King hath greatly desired thy beauty,’ and instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes upon the earth:’ if, therefore, thou know not thyself,’ go thy way forth: I do not cast thee forth, but go thy way forth,’ that of thee it may be said, They went out from us, but they were not of us.’ Go thy way forth’ by the footsteps of the flocks, not in My footsteps, but in the footsteps of the flocks; and not of the one flock, but of flocks divided and going astray. And feed thy kids,’ not as Peter, to whom it is said, Feed My sheep;’ but, Feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents,’ not beside the tent of the Shepherd, where there is one fold and one Shepherd.’“ But the church knows herself, and thereby escapes from that lot which has befallen those who did not know themselves to be in her.

30. The same [Church] is spoken of, when, in regard to the fewness of her numbers as compared with the multitude of the wicked, it is said: “Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” And again, it is of the same Church that it is said with respect to the multitude of her members: “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore.” For the same Church of holy and good believers is both small if compared with the number of the wicked, which is greater, and large if considered by itself; “for the desolate hath more sons than she which hath an husband,” and “many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God.” God, moreover, presents unto Himself a “numerous people, zealous of good works.” And in the Apocalypse, many thousands “which no man can number,” from every tribe and tongue, are seen clothed in white robes, and with palms of victory. It is the same Church which is occasionally obscured, and, as it were, beclouded by the multitude of offences, when sinners bend the bow that they may shoot under the darkened moon at the upright in heart. But even at such a time the Church shines in those who are most firm in their attachment to her. And if, in the Divine promise above quoted, any distinct application of its two clauses should be made, it is perhaps not without reason that the seed of Abraham was compared both to the “stars of heaven,” and to “the sand which is by the sea-shore:” that by “the stars” may be understood those who, in number fewer, are more fixed and more brilliant; and that by “the sand on the sea-shore” may be understood that great multitude of weak and carnal persons within the Church, who at one time are seen at rest and free while the weather is calm, but are at another time covered and troubled under the waves of tribulation and temptation.

31. Now, such a troublous time was the time at which Hilary wrote in the passage which you have thought fit artfully to adduce against so many Divine testimonies, as if by it you could prove that the Church has perished from the earth. You may just as well say that the numerous churches of Galatia had no existence at the time when the apostle wrote to them: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you,” that, “having begun in the Spirit, ye are now made perfect in the flesh?” For thus you would misrepresent that learned man, who (like the apostle) was sternly rebuking the slow of heart and the timid, for whom he was travailing in birth a second time, until Christ should be formed in them. For who does not know that many persons of weak judgment were at that time deluded by ambiguous phrases, so that they thought that the Arians believed the same doctrines as they themselves held; and that others, through fear, had yielded and feigned consent, not walking uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, to whom you would have denied that forgiveness which, when they had been turned from their error, was extended to them? But in refusing such pardon, you prove yourselves wholly ignorant of the word of God. For read what Paul has recorded concerning Peter, and what Cyprian has expressed as his view on the ground of that statement, and do not blame the compassion of the Church, which does not scatter the members of Christ when they are gathered together, but labours to gather His scattered members into one. It is true that those who then stood most resolute, and were able to understand the treacherous phrases used by the heretics, were few in number when compared with the rest; but some of them it is to be remembered were then bravely enduring sentence of banishment, and others were hiding themselves for safety in all parts of the world. And thus the Church, which is increasing throughout all nations, has been preserved as the Lord’s wheat, and shall be preserved unto the end, yea, until all nations, even the barbarous tribes, are within its embrace. For it is the Church which the Son of man has sown as good seed, and of which He has foretold that it should grow among the tares until the harvest. For the field is the world, and the harvest is the end of time.

32. Hilary, therefore, either was rebuking not the wheat, but the tares, in those ten provinces of Asia, or was addressing himself to the wheat, because it was endangered through some unfaithfulness, and spoke as one who thought that the rebuke would be useful in proportion to the vehemence with which it was given. For the canonical Scriptures contain examples of the same manner of rebuke in which what is intended for some is spoken as if it applied to all. Thus the apostle, when he says to the Corinthians, “How say some among you, that there is no resurrection of the dead?” proves clearly that all of them were not such; but he bears witness that those who were such were not outside of their communion, but among them. And shortly after, lest those who were of a different opinion should be led astray by them, he gave this warning: “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” But when he says, “Whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” he speaks as if it applied to all, and you see how grave a charge he makes. Wherefore, if it were not that we read in the same epistle, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in everything ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift,” we would think that all the Corinthians had been carnal and natural, not perceiving the things of the spirit of God, fond of strife, and full of envy, and “walking as men.” In like manner it is said, on the one hand, “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” because of the tares which are throughout the whole world; and, on the other hand, Christ “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” because of the wheat which is throughout the whole world.

33. The love of many, however, waxes cold because of offences, which abound increasingly the more that, within the communion of the sacraments of Christ, there are gathered to the glory of His name even those who are wicked, and who persist in the obstinacy of error; whose separation, however, as chaff from the wheat, is to be effected only in the final purging of the Lord’s threshing-floor. These do not destroy those who are the Lord’s wheat—few, indeed, when compared with the others, but in themselves a great multitude; they do not destroy the elect of God, who are to be gathered at the end of the world from the four winds, from the one end of heaven to the other. For it is from the elect that the cry comes, “Help, Lord! for the godly man ceaseth, for the faithful fail from among the children of men;” and it is of them that the Lord saith, “He that shall endure to the end (when iniquity shall abound), the same shall be saved.” Moreover, that the psalm quoted is the language not of one man, but of many, is shown by the following context: “Thou shalt keep us, O Lord; Thou shalt preserve us from this generation for ever.” On account of this abounding iniquity which the Lord foretold, it is said in another place: “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” This doubt expressed by Him who knoweth all things prefigured the doubts which in Him we entertain, when the Church, being often disappointed in many from whom much was expected, but who have proved very different from what they were supposed to be, is so alarmed in regard to her own members, that she is slow to believe good of any one. Nevertheless it would be wrong to cherish doubt that those whose faith He shall find on the earth are growing along with the tares throughout the whole field.

34. Therefore it is the same Church also which within the Lord’s net is swimming along with the bad fishes, but is in heart and in life separated from them, and departs from them, that she may be presented to her Lord a “glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle.” But the actual visible separation she looks for only on the sea-shore, i.e. at the end of the world,—meanwhile correcting as many as she can, and bearing with those whom she cannot correct; but she does not abandon the unity of the good because of the wickedness of those whom she finds incorrigible.

Chap. X

35. Wherefore, my brother, refrain from gathering together against divine testimonies so many, so perspicuous, and so unchallenged, the calumnies which may be found in the writings of bishops either of our communion, as Hilary, or of the undivided Church itself in the age preceding the schism of Donatus, as Cyprian or Agrippinus; because, in the first place, this class of writings must be, so far as authority is concerned, distinguished from the canon of Scripture. For they are not read by us as if a testimony brought forward from them was such that it would be unlawful to hold any different opinion, for it may be that the opinions which they held were different from those to which truth demands our assent. For we are amongst those who do not reject what has been taught us even by an apostle: “If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you; nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule,”—in that way, namely, which Christ is; of which way the Psalmist thus speaks: “God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us: that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations.”

36. In the next place, if you are charmed by the authority of that bishop and illustrious martyr St. Cyprian, which we indeed regard, as I have said, as quite distinct from the authority of canonical Scripture, why are you not charmed by such things in him as these: that he maintained with loyalty, and defended in debate, the unity of the Church in the world and in all nations; that he censured, as full of self-sufficiency and pride, those who wished to separate themselves as righteous from the Church, holding them up to ridicule for assuming to themselves that which the Lord did not concede even to apostles,—namely, the gathering of the tares before the harvest,—and for attempting to separate the chaff from the wheat, as if to them had been assigned the charge of removing the chaff and cleansing the threshing-floor; that he proved that no man can be stained with guilt by the sins of others, thus sweeping away the only ground alleged by the authors of schism for their separation; that in the very matter in regard to which he was of a different opinion from his colleagues, he did not decree that those who thought otherwise than he did should be condemned or excommunicated; that even in his letter to Jubaianus (which was read for the first time in the Council, the authority of which you are wont to plead in defence of the practice of rebaptizing), although he admits that in time past persons who had been baptized in other communions had been received into the Church without being a second time baptized, on which ground they were regarded by him as having had no baptism, nevertheless he considers the use and benefit of peace within the Church to be so great, that for its sake he holds that these persons (though in his judgment unbaptized) should not be excluded from office in the Church?

37. And by this you will very readily perceive (for I know the acuteness of your mind) that your cause is completely subverted and annihilated. For if, as you suppose, the Church which had been spread abroad throughout the world perished through her admitting sinners to partake in her sacraments (and this is the ground alleged for your separation), it had wholly perished long before,—at the time, namely, when, as Cyprian says, men were admitted into it without baptism,—and thus Cyprian himself had no Church within which to be born; and if so, how much more must this have been the case with one who, like Donatus, the author of your schism, and the father of your sect, belonged to a later age! But if at that time, although persons were being admitted into the Church without baptism, the Church nevertheless remained in being, so as to give birth to Cyprian and afterwards to Donatus, it is manifest that the righteous are not defiled by the sins of other men when they participate with them in the sacraments. And thus you have no excuse by which you can wash away the guilt of the schism whereby you have gone forth from the unity of the Church; and in you is fulfilled that saying of Holy Writ: “There is a generation that esteem themselves right, and have not cleansed themselves from the guilt of their going forth.”

38. The man who, out of regard to the sameness of the sacraments, does not presume to insist on the second administration of baptism even to heretics, is not, by thus avoiding Cyprian’s error, placed on a level with Cyprian in merit, any more than the man who does not insist upon the Gentiles conforming to Jewish ceremonies is thereby placed on a level in merit with the Apostle Peter. In Peter’s case, however, the record not only of his halting, but also of his correction, is contained in the canonical Scriptures; whereas the statement that Cyprian entertained opinions at variance with those approved by the constitution and practice of the Church is found, not in canonical Scripture, but in his own writings, and in those of a Council; and although it is not found in the same records that he corrected that opinion, it is nevertheless by no means an unreasonable supposition that he did correct it, and that this fact may perhaps have been suppressed by those who were too much pleased with the error into which he fell, and were unwilling to lose the patronage of so great a name. At the same time, there are not wanting some who maintain that Cyprian never held the view ascribed to him, but that this was an unwarrantable forgery passed off by liars under his name. For it was impossible for the integrity and authenticity of the writings of any one bishop, however illustrious, to be secured and preserved as the canonical Scriptures are through translation into so many languages, and through the regular and continuous manner in which the Church has used them in public worship. Even in the face of this, some have been found forging many things under the names of the apostles. It is true, indeed, that they made such attempts in vain, because the text of canonical Scripture was so well attested, and so generally used and known; but this effort of an unholy boldness, which has not forborne to assail writings which are defended by the strength of such notoriety, has proved what it is capable of essaying against writings which are not established upon canonical authority.

39. We, however, do not deny that Cyprian held the views ascribed to him: first, because his style has a certain peculiarity of expression by which it may be recognised; and secondly, because in this case our cause rather than yours is proved victorious, and the pretext alleged for your schism—namely, that you might not be defiled by the sins of other men—is in the most simple manner exploded; since it is manifest from the letters of Cyprian that participation in the sacraments was allowed to sinful men, when those who, in your judgment (and as you will have it, in his judgment also), were unbaptized were as such admitted to the Church, and that nevertheless the Church did not perish, but remained in the dignity belonging to her nature as the Lord’s wheat scattered throughout the world. And, therefore, if in your consternation you thus betake yourselves to Cyprian’s authority as to a harbour of refuge, you see the rock against which your error dashes itself in this course; if, on the other hand, you do not venture to flee thither, you are wrecked without any struggle for escape.

40. Moreover, Cyprian either did not hold at all the opinions which you ascribe to him, or did subsequently correct his mistake by the rule of truth, or covered this blemish, as we may call it, upon his otherwise spotless mind by the abundance of his love, in his most amply defending the unity of the Church growing throughout the whole world, and in his most stedfastly holding the bond of peace; for it is written, “Charity [love] covereth a multitude of sins.” To this was also added, that in him, as a most fruitful branch, the Father removed by the pruning-knife of suffering whatever may have remained in him requiring correction: “For every branch in me,” saith the Lord, “that beareth fruit He purgeth, that it may bring forth more fruit.” And whence this care of him, if not because, continuing as a branch in the far-spreading vine, he did not forsake the root of unity? “For though he gave his body to be burned, if he had not charity, it would profit him nothing.”

41. Attend now a little while to the letters of Cyprian, that you may see how he proves the man to be inexcusable who desires ostensibly on the ground of his own righteousness to withdraw himself from the unity of the Church (which God promised and has fulfilled in all nations), and that you may more clearly apprehend the truth of the text quoted by me shortly before: “There is a generation that esteem themselves righteous, and have not cleansed themselves from the guilt of their going forth.” In a letter which he wrote to Antonianus he discusses a matter very closely akin to that which we are now debating; but it is better for us to give his very words: “Some of our predecessors,” he says, “in the episcopal office in this province were of opinion that the peace of the Church should not be given to fornicators, and finally closed the door of repentance against those who had been guilty of adultery. They did not, however, withdraw themselves from fellowship with their colleagues in the episcopate; nor did they rend asunder the unity of the Catholic Church, by such harshness and obstinate perseverance in their censure as to separate themselves from the Church because others granted while they themselves refused to adulterers the peace of the Church. The bond of concord remaining unbroken, and the sacrament of the Church continuing undivided, each bishop arranges and orders his own conduct as one who shall give account of his procedure to his Lord.” What say you to that, brother Vincentius? Surely you must see that this great man, this peace-loving bishop and dauntless martyr, made nothing more earnestly his care than to prevent the sundering of the bond of unity. You see him travailing in birth for the souls of men, not only that they might, when conceived, be born in Christ, but also that, when born, they might not perish through their being shaken out of their mother’s bosom.

42. Now give attention, I pray you, further to this thing which he has mentioned in protesting against impious schismatics. If those who granted peace to adulterers, who repented of their sin, shared the guilt of adulterers, were those who did not so act defiled by fellowship with them as colleagues in office? If, again, it was a right thing, as truth asserts and the Church maintains, that peace should be given to adulterers who repented of their sin, those who utterly closed against adulterers the door of reconciliation through repentance were unquestionably guilty of impiety in refusing healing to the members of Christ, in taking away the keys of the Church from those who knocked for admission, and in opposing with heartless cruelty God’s most compassionate forbearance, which permitted them to live in order that, repenting, they might be healed by the sacrifice of a contrite spirit and broken heart. Nevertheless this their heartless error and impiety did not defile the others, compassionate and peace-loving men, when these shared with them in the Christian sacraments, and tolerated them within the net of unity, until the time when, brought to the shore, they should be separated from each other; or if this error and impiety of others did defile them, then the Church was already at that time destroyed, and there was no Church to give Cyprian birth. But if, as is beyond question, the Church continued in existence, it is also beyond question that no man in the unity of Christ can be stained by the guilt of the sins of other men if he be not consenting to the deeds of the wicked, and thus defiled by actual participation in their crimes, but only, for the sake of the fellowship of the good, tolerating the wicked, as the chaff which lies until the final purging of the Lord’s threshing-floor. These things being so, where is the pretext for your schism? Are ye not an “evil generation, esteeming yourselves righteous, yet not washed from the guilt of your going forth” [from the Church]?

43. If, now, I were disposed to quote anything against you from the writings of Tychonius, a man of your communion, who has written rather in defence of the Church and against you than the reverse, in vain disowning the communion of African Christians as traditors (by which one thing Parmenianus silences him), what else can you say in reply than what Tychonius himself said of you as I have shortly before reminded you: “That which is according to our will is holy”? For this Tychonius—a man, as I have said, of your communion—writes that a Council was held at Carthage by two hundred and seventy of your bishops; in which Council, after seventy-five days of deliberation, all past decisions on the matter being set aside, a carefully revised resolution was published, to the effect that to those who were guilty of a heinous crime as traditors, the privilege of communion should be granted as to blameless persons, if they refused to be baptized. He says further, that Deuterius of Macriana, a bishop of your party, added to the Church a whole crowd of traditors, without making any distinction between them and others, making the unity of the Church open to these traditors, in accordance with the decree of the Council held by these two hundred and seventy of your bishops, and that after that transaction Donatus continued unbroken his communion with the said Deuterius, and not only with him, but also with all the Mauritanian bishops for forty years, who, according to the statement of Tychonius, admitted the traditors to communion without insisting on their being rebaptized, up to the time of the persecution made by Macarius.

44. You will say, “What has that Tychonius to do with me?” It is true that Tychonius is the man whom Parmenianus checked by his reply, and effectually warned not to write such things; but he did not refute the statements themselves, but, as I have said above, silenced him by this one thing, that while saying such things concerning the Church which is diffused throughout the world, and while admitting that the faults of other men within its unity cannot defile one who is innocent, he nevertheless withdrew himself from the contagion of communion with African Christians because of their being traditors, and was an adherent of the party of Donatus. Parmenianus, indeed, might have said that Tychonius had in all these things spoken falsely; but, as Tychonius himself observes, many were still living at that time by whom these things might be proved to be most unquestionably true and generally known.

45. Of these things, however, I say no more: maintain, if you choose, that Tychonius spoke falsely; I bring you back to Cyprian, the authority which you yourself have quoted. If, according to his writings, every one in the unity of the Church is defiled by the sins of other members, then the Church had utterly perished before Cyprian’s time, and all possibility of Cyprian’s own existence (as a member of the Church) is taken away. If, however, the very thought of this is impiety, and it be beyond question that the Church continued in being, it follows that no one is defiled by the guilt of the sins of other men within the Catholic unity; and in vain do you, “an evil generation,” maintain that you are righteous, when you are “not washed from the guilt of your going forth.”

Chap. XI

46. You will say, “Why then do you seek us? Why do you receive those whom you call heretics?” Mark how simple and short is my reply. We seek you because you are lost, that we may rejoice over you when found, as over you while lost we grieved. Again we call you heretics; but the name applies to you only up to the time of your being turned to the peace of the Catholic Church, and extricated from the errors by which you have been ensnared. For when you pass over to us, you entirely abandon the position you formerly occupied, so that, as heretics no longer, you pass over to us. You will say, “Then baptize me.” I would, if you were not already baptized, or if you had received the baptism of Donatus, or of Rogatus only, and not of Christ. It is not the Christian sacraments, but the crime of schism, which makes you a heretic. The evil which has proceeded from yourself is not a reason for our denying the good that is permanent in you, but which you possess to your own harm if you have it not in that Church from which proceeds its power to do good. For from the Catholic Church are all the sacraments of the Lord, which you hold and administer in the same way as they were held and administered even before you went forth from her. The fact, however, that you are no longer in that Church from which proceeded the sacraments which you have, does not make it the less true that you still have them. We therefore do not change in you that wherein you are at one with ourselves, for in many things you are at one with us; and of such it is said, “For in many things they were with me:” but we correct those things in which you are not with us, and we wish you to receive those things which you have not where you now are. You are at one with us in baptism, in creed, and in the other sacraments of the Lord. But in the spirit of unity and bond of peace, in a word, in the Catholic Church itself, you are not with us. If you receive these things, the others which you already have will then not begin to be yours, but begin to be of use to you. We do not therefore, as you think, receive your men of your party as still belonging to you, but in the act of receiving them we incorporate with ourselves those who forsake you that they may be received by us; and in order that they may belong to us, their first step is to renounce their connection with you. Nor do we compel into union with us those who industriously serve an error which we abhor; but our reason for wishing those men to be united to us is, that they may no longer be worthy of our abhorrence.

47. But you will say, “The Apostle Paul baptized after John.” Did he then baptize after a heretic? If you do presume to call that friend of the Bridegroom a heretic, and to say that he was not in the unity of the Church, I beg that you will put this in writing. But if you believe that it would be the height of folly to think or to say so, it remains for your own wisdom to resolve the question why the Apostle Paul baptized after John. For if he baptized after one who was his equal, you ought all to baptize after one another. If after one who was greater than himself, you ought to baptize after Rogatus; if after one who was less than himself, Rogatus ought to have baptized after you those whom you, as a presbyter, had baptized. If, however, the baptism which is now administered is in all cases of equal value to those who receive it, however unequal in merit the persons may be by whom it is administered, because it is the baptism of Christ, not of those who administer the right, I think you must already perceive that Paul administered the baptism of Christ to certain persons because they had received the baptism of John only, and not of Christ; for it is expressly called the baptism of John, as the Divine Scripture bears witness in many passages, and as the Lord Himself calls it, saying: “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But the baptism which Peter administered was the baptism, not of Peter, but of Christ; that which Paul administered was the baptism, not of Paul, but of Christ; that which was administered by those who, in the apostle’s time, preached Christ not sincerely, but of contention, was not their own, but the baptism of Christ; and that which was administered by those who, in Cyprian’s time, either by artful dishonesty obtained their possessions, or by usury, at exorbitant interest, increased them, was not their own baptism, but the baptism of Christ. And because it was of Christ, therefore, although there was very great disparity in the persons by whom it was administered, it was equally useful to those by whom it was received. For if the excellency of baptism in each case is according to the excellency of the person by whom one is baptized, it was wrong in the apostle to give thanks that he had baptized none of the Corinthians, but Crispus, and Gaius, and the house of Stephanas; for the baptism of the converts in Corinth, if administered by himself, would have been so much more excellent as Paul himself was more excellent than other men. Lastly, when he says, “I have planted, and Apollos watered,” he seems to intimate that he had preached the gospel, and that Apollos had baptized. Is Apollos better than John? Why then did he, who baptized after John, not baptize after Apollos? Surely because, in the one case, the baptism, by whomsoever administered, was the baptism of Christ; and in the other case, by whomsoever administered, it was, although preparing the way for Christ, only the baptism of John.

48. It seems to you an odious thing to say that baptism was given to some after John had baptized them, and yet that baptism is not to be given to men after heretics have baptized them; but it may be said with equal justice to be an odious thing that baptism was given to some after John had baptized them, and yet that baptism is not to be given to men after intemperate persons have baptized them. I name this sin of intemperance rather than others, because those in whom it reigns are not able to hide it: and yet what man, even though he be blind, does not know how many addicted to this vice are to be found everywhere? And yet among the works of the flesh, of which it is said that they who do them shall not inherit the kingdom of God, the apostle places this in an enumeration in which heresies also are specified: “Now the works of the flesh,” he says, “are manifest, which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Baptism, therefore, although it was administered after John, is not administered after a heretic, on the very same principle according to which, though administered after John; it is not administered after an intemperate man: for both heresies and drunkenness are among the works which exclude those who do them from inheriting the kingdom of God. Does it not seem to you as if it were a thing intolerably unseemly, that although baptism was repeated after it had been administered by him who, not even moderately drinking wine, but wholly refraining from its use, prepared the way for the kingdom of God, and yet that it should not be repeated after being administered by an intemperate man, who shall not inherit the kingdom of God? What can be said in answer to this, but that the one was the baptism of John, after which the apostle administered the baptism of Christ; and that the other, administered by an intemperate man, was the baptism of Christ? Between John Baptist and an intemperate man there is a great difference, as of opposites; between the baptism of Christ and the baptism of John there is no contrariety, but a great difference. Between the apostle and an intemperate man there is a great difference; but there is none between the baptism of Christ administered by an apostle, and the baptism of Christ administered by an intemperate man. In like manner, between John and a heretic there is a great difference, as of opposites; and between the baptism of John and the baptism of Christ which a heretic administers there is no contrariety, but there is a great difference. But between the baptism of Christ which an apostle administers, and the baptism of Christ which a heretic administers, there is no difference. For the form of the sacrament is acknowledged to be the same even when there is a great difference in point of worth between the men by whom it is administered.

49. But pardon me, for I have made a mistake in wishing to convince you by arguing from the case of an intemperate man administering baptism; for I had forgotten that I am dealing with a Rogatist, not with one bearing the wider name of Donatist. For among your colleagues who are so few, and in the whole number of your clergy, perhaps you cannot find one addicted to this vice. For you are persons who hold that the name Catholic is given to the faith not because communion of those who hold it embraces the whole world, but because they observe the whole of the Divine precepts and the whole of the sacraments; you are the persons in whom alone the Son of man when He cometh shall find faith, when on the earth He shall find no faith, forasmuch as you are not earth and on the earth, but heavenly and dwelling in heaven! Do you not fear, or do you not observe that “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble”? Does not that very passage in the Gospel startle you, in which the Lord saith, “When the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith in the earth?” Immediately thereafter, as if foreseeing that some would proudly arrogate to themselves the possession of this faith, He spake to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, the parable of the two men who went up to the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The words which follow I leave for yourself to consider and to answer. Nevertheless examine more minutely your small sect, to see whether not so much as one who administers baptism is an intemperate man. For so widespread is the havoc wrought among souls by this plague, that I am greatly surprised if it has not reached even your infinitesimal flock, although it is your boast that already, before the coming of Christ, the one good Shepherd, you have separated between the sheep and the goats.

Chap. XII

50. Listen to the testimony which through me is addressed to you by those who are the Lord’s wheat, suffering meanwhile until the final winnowing, among the chaff in the Lord’s threshing-floor, i.e. throughout the whole world, because “God hath called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof,” and throughout the same wide field the “children praise Him.” We disapprove of every one who, taking advantage of this imperial edict, persecutes you, not with loving concern for your correction, but with the malice of an enemy. Moreover, although, since every earthly possession can be rightly retained only on the ground either of divine right, according to which all things belong to the righteous, or of human right, which is in the jurisdiction of the kings of the earth, you are mistaken in calling those things yours which you do not possess as righteous persons, and which you have forfeited by the laws of earthly sovereigns, and plead in vain, “We have laboured to gather them,” seeing that you may read what is written, “The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just;” nevertheless we disapprove of any one who, availing himself of this law which the kings of the earth, doing homage to Christ, have published in order to correct your impiety, covetously seeks to possess himself of your property. Also we disapprove of any one who, on the ground not of justice, but of avarice, seizes and retains the provision pertaining to the poor, or the chapels in which you meet for worship, which you once occupied in the name of the Church, and which are by all means the rightful property only of that Church which is the true Church of Christ. We disapprove of any one who receives a person that has been expelled by you for some disgraceful action or crime, on the same terms on which those are received who have lived among you chargeable with no other crime beyond the error through which you are separated from us. But these are things which you cannot easily prove; and although you can prove them, we bear with some whom we are unable to correct or even to punish; and we do not quit the Lord’s threshing-floor because of the chaff which is there, nor break the Lord’s net because of bad fishes enclosed therein, nor desert the Lord’s flock because of goats which are to be in the end separated from it, nor go forth from the Lord’s house because in it there are vessels destined to dishonour.

Chap. XIII

51. But, my brother, if you forbear seeking the empty honour which comes from men, and despise the reproach of fools, who will be ready to say, “Why do you now destroy what you once laboured to build up?” it seems to me to be beyond doubt that you will now pass over to the Church which I perceive that you acknowledge to be the true Church: the proofs of which sentiment on your part I find at hand. For in the beginning of your letter which I am now answering you have these words: “I knew you, my excellent friend, as a man devoted to peace and uprightness, when you were still far removed from the Christian faith, and were in these earlier days occupied with literary pursuits; but since your conversion at a more recent time to the Christian faith, you give your time and labour, as I am informed by the statements of many persons, to theological controversies.” These words are undoubtedly your own, if you were the person who sent me that letter. Seeing, therefore, that you confess that I have been converted to the Christian faith, although I have not been converted to the sect of the Donatists or of the Rogatists, you unquestionably uphold the truth that beyond the pale of Rogatists and Donatists the Christian faith exists. This faith therefore is, as we say, spread abroad throughout all nations, which are according to God’s testimony blessed in the seed of Abraham. Why therefore do you still hesitate to adopt what you perceive to be true, unless it be that you are humbled because at some former time you did not perceive what you now see, or maintained some different view, and so, while ashamed to correct an error, are not ashamed (where shame would be much more reasonable) of remaining wilfully in error?

52. Such conduct the Scripture has not passed over in silence; for we read, “There is a shame which bringeth sin, and there is a shame which is graceful and glorious.” Shame brings sin, when through its influence any one forbears from changing a wicked opinion, lest he be supposed to be fickle, or be held as by his own judgment convicted of having been long in error: such persons descend into the pit alive, that is, conscious of their perdition; whose future doom the death of Dathan and Abiram and Korah, swallowed up by the opening earth, long ago prefigured. But shame is graceful and glorious when one blushes for his own sin, and by repentance is changed to something better, which you are reluctant to do because overpowered by that false and fatal shame, fearing lest by men who know not whereof they affirm, that sentence of the apostle may be quoted against you: “If I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” If, however, this sentence admitted of application to those who, after being corrected, preach the truth which in their perversity they opposed, it might have been said at first against Paul himself, in regard to whom the churches of Christ glorified God when they heard that he now “preached the faith which once he destroyed.”

53. Do not, however, imagine that one can pass from error to truth, or from any sin, be it great or small, to the correction of his sin, without giving some proof of his repentance. It is, however, an error of intolerable impertinence for men to blame the Church, which is proved by so many Divine testimonies to be the Church of Christ, for dealing in one way with those who forsake her, receiving them back on condition of correcting this fault by some acknowledgment of their repentance, and in another way with those who never were within her pale, and are receiving welcome to her peace for the first time; her method being to humble the former more fully, and to receive the latter upon easier terms, cherishing affection for both, and ministering with a mother’s love to the health of both.

You have here perhaps a longer letter than you desired. It would have been much shorter if in my reply I had been thinking of you alone; but as it is, even though it should be of no use to yourself, I do not think that it can fail to be of use to those who shall take pains to read it in the fear of God, and without respect of persons. Amen.

A letter to Augustin from Paulinus and Therasia, the substance of which is sufficiently stated in the next letter, which contains the reply of Augustin to his friend’s questions concerning the present life, the nature of the bodies of the blessed in the life to come, and the functions of the members of the body after the resurrection.

To Brother Paulinus and Sister Therasia, Most Beloved and Sincere Saints Worthy of Affection and Veneration, Fellow-Disciples with Himself Under the Lord Jesus as Master, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. When brethren most closely united to us, towards whom along with us you are accustomed both to cherish and to express sentiments of regard which we all cordially reciprocate, have frequent occasions of visiting you, this benefit is one by which we are comforted under evil rather than made to rejoice in increase of good. For we strive to the utmost of our power to avoid the causes and emergencies which necessitate their journeys, and yet,—I know not how, unless it be as just retribution,—they cannot be dispensed with: but when they return to us and see us, that word of Scripture is fulfilled in our experience: “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul.” Accordingly, when you learn from our brother Possidius himself how sad is the occasion which has compelled him to go to Italy, you will know how true the remarks I have made are in regard to the joy which he has in meeting you; and yet, if any of us should cross the sea for the one purpose of enjoying a meeting with you, what more cogent or worthy reason could be found? This, however, would not be compatible with those obligations by which we are bound to minister to those who are languid through infirmity, and not to withdraw our bodily presence from them, unless their malady, assuming dangerous form, makes such departure imperative. Whether in these things we are receiving chastening or judgment I know not; but this I know, that He is not dealing with us according to our sins, nor requiting us according to our iniquities, who mingles so great comfort with our tribulation, and who, by remedies which fill us with wonder, secures that we shall not love the world, and shall not by it be made to fall away.

2. I asked in a former letter your opinion as to the nature of the future life of the saints; but you have said in your reply that we have still much to study concerning our condition in this present life, and you do well, except in this, that you have expressed your desire to learn from me that of which you are either equally ignorant or equally well-informed with myself, or rather, of which you know much more perhaps than I do; for you have said with perfect truth, that before we meet the dissolution of this mortal body, we must die, in a gospel sense, by a voluntary departure, withdrawing ourselves, not by death, but by deliberate resolution, from the life of this world. This course is a simple one, and is beset with no waves of uncertainty; because we are of opinion that we ought so to live in this mortal life that we may be in some measure fitted for immortality. The whole question, however, which, when discussed and investigated, perplexes men like myself, is this—how we ought to live among or for the welfare of those who have not yet learned to live by dying, not in the dissolution of the body, but by turning themselves with a certain mental resolution away from the attractions of mere natural things. For in most cases, it seems to us that unless we in some small degree conform to them in regard to those very things from which we desire to see them delivered, we shall not succeed in doing them any good. And when we do thus conform, a pleasure in such things steals upon ourselves, so that often we are pleased to speak and to listen to frivolous things, and not only to smile at them, but even to be completely overcome with laughter: thus burdening our souls with feelings which cleave to the dust, or even to the mire of this world, we experience greater difficulty and reluctance in raising ourselves to God that by dying a gospel-death we may live a gospel-life. And whensoever this state of mind is reached, immediately thereupon will follow the commendation, “Well done! well done!” not from men, for no man perceives in another the mental act by which divine things are apprehended, but in a certain inward silence there sounds I know not whence, “Well done! well done!” Because of this kind of temptation, the great apostle confesses that he was buffeted by the angel. Behold whence it comes that our whole life on earth is a temptation; for man is tempted even in that thing in which he is being conformed so far as he can be to the likeness of the heavenly life.

3. What shall I say as to the infliction or remission of punishment, in cases in which we have no other desire than to forward the spiritual welfare of those in regard to whom we judge that they ought or ought not to be punished? Also, if we consider not only the nature and magnitude of faults, but also what each may be able or unable to bear according to his strength of mind, how deep and dark a question it is to adjust the amount of punishment so as to prevent the person who receives it not only from getting no good, but also from suffering loss thereby! Besides, I know not whether a greater number have been improved or made worse when alarmed under threats of such punishment at the hands of men as is an object of fear. What, then, is the path of duty, seeing that it often happens that if you inflict punishment on one he goes to destruction; whereas, if you leave him unpunished, another is destroyed? I confess that I make mistakes daily in regard to this, and that I know not when and how to observe the rule of Scripture: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may fear;” and that other rule, “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone;” and the rule, “Judge nothing before the time;” “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (in which command the Lord has not added the words, “before the time”); and this saying of Scripture, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth: yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand;” by which words he makes it plain that he is speaking of those who are within the Church; yet, on the other hand, he commands them to be judged when he says, “What have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” But when this is necessary, how much care and fear is occasioned by the question to what extent it should be done, lest that happen which, in his second epistle to them, the apostle is found admonishing these persons to beware of in that very example, saying, “lest, perhaps, such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow;” adding, in order to prevent men from thinking this a thing not calling for anxious care, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” What trembling we feel in all these things, my brother Paulinus, O holy man of God! what trembling, what darkness! May we not think that with reference to these things it was said, “Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness.” And yet even in the wilderness perchance he still experienced it; for he adds, “I waited for Him who should deliver me from weakness and from tempest.” Truly, therefore, is the life of man upon the earth a life of temptation.

4. Moreover, as to the oracles of God, is it not true that they are lightly touched rather than grasped and handled by us, seeing that in by far the greater part of them we do not already possess opinions definite and ascertained, but are rather inquiring what our opinion ought to be? And this caution, though attended with abundant disquietude, is much better than the rashness of dogmatic assertion. Also, if a man is not carnally minded (which the apostle says is death), will he not be a great cause of offence to those who are still carnally minded, in many parts of Scripture in the exposition of which to say what you believe is most perilous, and to refrain from saying it is most grievous, and to say something else than what you believe is most pernicious? Nay more, when in the discourses or writings of those who are within the Church we find some things censurable, and do not conceal our disapprobation (supposing such correction to be according to the freedom of brotherly love), how great a sin is committed against us when we are suspected of being actuated in this by envy and not by goodwill! and how much do we sin against others, when we in like manner impute to those who find fault with our opinions a desire rather to wound than to correct us! Verily, there arise usually from this cause bitter enmities even between persons bound to each other by the greatest affection and intimacy, when, “thinking of men above that which is written, any one is puffed up for one against another;” and while they bite and devour one another, “there is reason to fear lest they be consumed one of another.” Therefore, “Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest.” For whether it be that the dangers by which one is beset seem to him greater than those of which he has no experience, or that my impressions are correct, I cannot help thinking that any amount of weakness and of tempest in the wilderness would be more easily borne than the things which we feel or fear in the busy world.

5. I therefore greatly approve of your saying that we should make the state in which men stand, or rather the course which they run, in this present life, the theme of our discussion. I add as another reason for our giving this subject the preference, that the finding and following of the course itself must come before our finding and possessing that towards which it leads. When, therefore, I asked your views on this, I acted as if, through holding and observing carefully the right rule of this life, we were already free from disquietude concerning its course, although I feel in so many things, and especially in those which I have mentioned, that I toil in the midst of very great dangers. Nevertheless, forasmuch as the cause of all this ignorance and embarrassment appears to me to be that, in the midst of a great variety of manners and of minds having inclinations and infirmities hidden altogether from our sight, we seek the interest of those who are citizens and subjects, not of Rome which is on earth, but of Jerusalem which is in heaven, it seemed to me more agreeable to converse with you about what we shall be, than about what we now are. For although we do not know the blessings which are to be enjoyed yonder, of one thing at least we are assured, and it is not a small thing, that yonder the evils which we experience here shall have no place.

6. Wherefore, as to the ordering of this present life in the way which we must follow in order to the attainment of eternal life, I know that our carnal appetites must be held in check, only so much concession being made to the gratification of the bodily senses as suffices for the support of this life and the active discharge of its duties, and that all the vexations of this life which come upon us in connection with the truth of God, and the eternal welfare of ourselves or of our neighbours, must be borne with patience and fortitude. I know also that with all the zeal of love we should seek the good of our neighbour, that he may rightly spend the present life so as to obtain life eternal. I know also that we ought to prefer spiritual to carnal, immutable to mutable things, and that all this a man is so much more or less enabled to do, according as he is more or less helped by the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. But I do not know the reason why one or another is more or less helped or not helped by that grace; this only I know, that God does this with perfect justice, and for reasons which to Himself are known as sufficient. In regard, however, to the things which I have mentioned above, as to the way in which we ought to live amongst men, if anything has become known to you through experience or meditation, I beseech you to give me instruction. And if these things perplex you not less than myself, make them the subject of conference with some judicious spiritual physician, whom you may find either where you reside, or in Rome, when you make your annual visit to the city, and thereafter write to me whatever the Lord may reveal to you through his instructions, or to you and him together when engaged in conversation on the subject.

7. As to the resurrection of the body, and the future offices of its members in the incorruptible and immortal state, since you have, in return for the questions which I put to you, inquired my views on these matters, listen to a brief statement which, if it be not sufficient, may afterwards, with the Lord’s help, be amplified by fuller discussion. It is to be held most firmly, as a doctrine in regard to which the testimony of Holy Scripture is true and unmistakable, that these visible and earthly bodies which are now called natural shall, in the resurrection of the faithful and just, be spiritual bodies. At the same time, I do not know how the quality of a spiritual body can be comprehended or stated by us, seeing that it lies beyond the range of our experience. There shall be, assuredly, in such bodies no corruption, and therefore they shall not require the perishable nourishment which is now necessary; yet though unnecessary, it will not be impossible for them at their pleasure to take and actually consume food; otherwise it would not have been taken after His resurrection by the Lord, who has given us such an example of the resurrection of the body, that the apostle argues from it: “If the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.” But He, when He appeared to His disciples, having all His members, and using them according to their functions, also pointed out to them the places where His wounds had been, regarding which I have always supposed that they were the scars, not the wounds themselves, and that they were there, not of necessity, but according to His free exercise of power. He gave at that time the clearest evidence of the ease with which He exercised this power, both by showing Himself in another form to the two disciples, and by His appearing, not as a spirit, but in His true body, to the disciples in the upper chamber, although the doors were shut.

8. From this arises the question as to angels, whether they have bodies adapted to their duties and their swift motions from place to place, or are only spirits? For if we say that they have bodies, we are met by the passage: “He maketh His angels spirits;” and if we say that they have not bodies, a still greater difficulty meets us in explaining how, if they are without bodily form, it is written that they appeared to the bodily senses of men, accepted offers of hospitality, permitted their feet to be washed, and used the meat and drink which was provided for them. For it seems to involve us in less difficulty, if we suppose that the angels are there called spirits in the same manner as men are called souls, e.g. in the statement that so many souls (not signifying that they had not bodies also) went down with Jacob into Egypt, than if we suppose that, without bodily form, all these things were done by angels. Again, a certain definite height is named in the Apocalypse as the stature of an angel, in dimensions which could apply only to bodies, proving that that which appeared to the eyes of men is to be explained, not as an illusion, but as resulting from the power which we have spoken of as easily put forth by spiritual bodies. But whether angels have bodies or not, and whether or not any one be able to show how without bodies they could do all these things, it is nevertheless certain, that in that city of the holy in which those of our race who have been redeemed by Christ shall be united for ever to thousands of angels, voices proceeding from organs of speech shall furnish expression to the thoughts of minds in which nothing is hidden; for in that divine fellowship it will not be possible for any thought in one to remain concealed from another, but there shall be complete harmony and oneness of heart in the praise of God, and this shall find utterance not only from the spirit, but through the spiritual body as its instrument; this, at least, is what I believe.

9. Meanwhile, if you have already found or can learn from other teachers anything more fully agreeing with the truth than this, I am most eagerly longing to be instructed therein by you. Study carefully, if you please, my letter, in regard to which, as you pled in excuse for your very hurried reply the haste of the deacon who brought it to me, I do not make any complaint, but rather remind you of it, in order that what was then omitted in your answer may now be supplied. Look over it again, and observe what I wished to learn from you, both regarding your opinion concerning Christian retirement as a means to the acquisition and discussion of the truths of Christian wisdom, and regarding that retirement in which I supposed that you had found leisure, but in which it is reported to me that you are engrossed with occupation to an incredible extent.

May you, in whom the holy God has given us great joy and consolation, live mindful of us, and in true felicity. (This sentence is added by another hand.)

To Olympius, My Lord Greatly Beloved, and My Son Worthy of Honour and Regard As a Member of Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting.

1. Whatever your rank may be in connection with the course of this world, I have the greatest confidence in addressing you as my much-loved, true-hearted Christian fellow-servant Olympius. For I know that this name, in your esteem, excels all other glorious and lofty titles. Reports have indeed reached me that you have obtained some promotion in worldly honour, but no information confirming the truth of the rumour had come to me up to the time when this opportunity of writing to you occurred. Since, however, I know that you have learned from the Lord not to mind high things, but to condescend to those who are lightly esteemed by men, whatever the pinnacle to which you may have been raised, we take for granted, my lord greatly beloved, and son worthy of honour and regard as a member of Christ, that you will still make a letter from me welcome, just as you were wont to do. And as to your worldly prosperity, I do not doubt that you will wisely use it for your eternal gain; so that the greater the influence which you acquire in the commonwealth on this earth, the more will you devote yourself to the interests of the heavenly city to which you owe your birth in Christ, forasmuch as this shall be more abundantly repaid to you in the land of the living, and in the true peace which yields sure and endless joys.

2. I again commend to your kind consideration the petition of my brother and colleague Boniface, in the hope that what could not be done before may be in your power now. He might perhaps, indeed, legally retain, without any further difficulty, that which his predecessor had acquired, though under another name than his own, and which he had begun to possess in name of the church; but we do not wish, since his predecessor was in debt to the public exchequer, to have this burden upon our conscience. For that act of fraud was none the less truly fraud because perpetrated at the expense of the public revenue. The same Paul (the predecessor of Boniface), when he was made bishop, being about to surrender all his effects because of the accumulated burden of arrears due to the public exchequer, having secured payment of a bond by which a certain sum of money was due to him, bought with it, as if for the church, in the name of a family then very powerful, these few fields by the produce of which he might support himself, in order that, in respect to these also, after his old practice, he might escape annoyance at the hands of the collectors of the revenue, although he was paying no tax. Boniface, however, when ordained over the same church, on his death, hesitated to take the fields which he had thus held; and although he might have contented himself with asking from the emperor no more than a remission of the fiscal arrears which his predecessor had incurred on this small property, he preferred to confess without reserve that Paul had bought the property at an auction with money of his own, at a time when he was bankrupt as a debtor to the public revenue, so that now the Church may, if possible, obtain possession of this, not through the secret fraud of her bishop, but by an open act of the Christian emperor’s liberality. And if this be impossible, the servants of God prefer to bear the hardship of want, rather than obtain the supply of that which they require under reproaches of conscience for dishonourable dealing.

3. I beg you to condescend to give your support to this petition, because he has resolved not to bring forward the decision in his favour which was formerly obtained, lest it should preclude him from the liberty of making a second application; for the answer then given fell short of what he desired. And now, since you are of the same kindly disposition that you formerly were, but possessed of greater influence, I do not despair of this being easily granted by the Lord’s help, in consideration of your claims on the emperor; and if even you were to ask the gift of the property in your own name, and present it to the church of which I have spoken, who would find fault with your request; nay, rather, who would not commend it, as dictated not by personal covetousness, but by Christian piety? May the mercy of the Lord our God shield you, and make you more and more happy in Christ, my lord and son.

To Olympius, My Excellent and Justly Distinguished Lord, and My Son Worthy of Much Honour in Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Although, when we heard recently of your having obtained merited promotion to the highest rank, we felt persuaded, however uncertain we still were in some degree as to the truth of the report, that towards the Church of which we rejoice to know that you are truly a son, there was no other feeling in your mind than that which you have now made patent to us in your letter, nevertheless, having now read that letter in which you have been pleased of your own accord to send to us, when we were full of backwardness and diffidence, a most gracious exhortation to use our humble efforts in pointing out to you how the Lord, by whose gift you are thus powerful, may from time to time, by means of your pious obedience, bring assistance to His Church, we write to you with the more abundant confidence, my excellent and justly distinguished lord, and my son worthy of much honour in Christ.

2. Many brethren, indeed, holy men who are my colleagues, have, by reason of the troubles of the church here, gone—I might almost say as fugitives—to the emperor’s most illustrious court; and these brethren you may have already seen, or may have received from Rome their letters, in connection with their respective occasions of appeal. I have not had it in my power to consult them before writing; nevertheless, I was unwilling to miss the opportunity of sending a letter by the bearer, my brother and fellow-presbyter, who has been compelled, though in mid-winter, to make the best of his way into those parts, under pressing necessity, in order to save the life of a fellow-citizen. I write, therefore, to salute you, and to charge you by the love which you have in Christ Jesus our Lord, to see that your good work be hastened on with the utmost diligence, in order that the enemies of the Church may know that those laws concerning the demolition of idols and the correction of heretics which were sent into Africa while Stilicho yet lived, were framed by the desire of our most pious and faithful emperor; for they either cunningly boast, or unwillingly imagine that this was done without his knowledge, or against his will, and thus they render the minds of the ignorant full of seditious violence, and excite them to dangerous and vehement enmity against us.

3. I do not doubt that, in submitting this in the way of petition or respectful suggestion to the consideration of your Excellency, I act agreeably to the wishes of all my colleagues throughout Africa; and I think that it is your duty to take measures, as could be easily done, on whatever opportunity may first arise, to make it understood by these vain men (whose salvation we seek, although they resist us), that it was to the care, not of Stilicho, but of the son of Theodosius, that those laws which have been sent into Africa for the defence of the Church of Christ owed their promulgation. On account of these things, then, the presbyter whom I have mentioned already, the bearer of this letter, who is from the district of Milevi, was ordered by his bishop, the venerable Severus, who joins me in cordial salutations to you, whose love we esteem most genuine, to pass through Hippo-regius, where I am; because, when we happened to meet together in time of serious tribulation and distress to the Church, we sought an opportunity of writing to your Highness, but found none. I had indeed already sent one letter in regard to the business of our holy brother and colleague Boniface, bishop of Cataqua; but the heavier calamities destined to cause us greater agitation had not then befallen us, regarding which, and the means whereby something may be done with the best counsel for their prevention or punishment, according to the method of Christ, the bishops who have sailed hence on that errand will be able more conveniently to confer with you, in whose cordial goodwill towards us we rejoice, inasmuch as they are able to report to you something which has been, so far as limited time permitted, the result of careful and united consultation. But as to this other matter, namely, that the province be made to know how the mind of our most gracious and religious emperor stands towards the Church, I recommend, nay, I beg, beseech, and implore you, to take care that no time be lost, but that its accomplishment be hastened, even before you see the bishops who have gone from us, so soon as shall be possible for you, in the exercise of your most eminent vigilance on behalf of the members of Christ who are now in circumstances of the utmost danger; for the Lord has provided no small consolation for us under these trials, seeing that it has pleased Him to put much more now than formerly in your power, although we were already filled with joy by the number and the magnitude of your good offices.

4. We rejoice much in the firm and stedfast faith of some, and these not few in number, who by means of these laws have been converted to the Christian religion, or from schism to Catholic peace, for whose eternal welfare we are glad to run the risk of forfeiting temporal welfare. For on this account especially we now have to endure at the hands of men, exceedingly and obdurately perverse, more grievous assaults of enmity, which some of them, along with us, bear most patiently; but we are in very great fear because of their weakness, until they learn, and are enabled by the help of the Lord’s most compassionate grace, to despise with more abundant strength of spirit the present world and man’s short day. May it please your Highness to deliver the letter of instructions which I have sent to my brethren the bishops when they come, if, as I suppose, they have not yet reached you. For we have such confidence in the unfeigned devotion of your heart, that with the Lord’s help we desire to have you not only giving us your assistance, but also participating in our consultations.

To Boniface, His Colleague in the Episcopal Office, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. You ask me to state “whether parents do harm to their baptized infant children, when they attempt to heal them in time of sickness by sacrifices to the false gods of the heathen.” Also, “if they do thereby no harm to their children, how can any advantage come to these children at their baptism, through the faith of parents whose departure from the faith does them no harm?” To which I reply, that in the holy union of the parts of the body of Christ, so great is the virtue of that sacrament, namely, of baptism, which brings salvation, that so soon as he who owed his first birth to others, acting under the impulse of natural instincts, has been made partaker of the second birth by others, acting under the impulse of spiritual desires, he cannot be thenceforward held under the bond of that sin in another to which he does not with his own will consent. “Both the soul of the father is mine,” saith the Lord, “and the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die;” but he does not sin on whose behalf his parents or any other one resort, without his knowledge, to the impiety of worshipping heathen deities. That bond of guilt which was to be cancelled by the grace of this sacrament he derived from Adam, for this reason, that at the time of Adam’s sin he was not yet a soul having a separate life, i.e. another soul regarding which it could be said, “both the soul of the father is mine, and the soul of the son is mine.” Therefore now, when the man has a personal, separate existence, being thereby made distinct from his parents, he is not held responsible for that sin in another which is performed without his consent. In the former case, he derived guilt from another, because, at the time when the guilt which he has derived was incurred, he was one with the person from whom he derived it, and was in him. But one man does not derive guilt from another, when, through the fact that each has a separate life belonging to himself, the word may apply equally to both—”The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

2. But the possibility of regeneration through the office rendered by the will of another, when the child is presented to receive the sacred rite, is the work exclusively of the Spirit by whom the child thus presented is regenerated. For it is not written, “Except a man be born again by the will of his parents, or by the faith of those presenting the child, or of those administering the ordinance,” but, “Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit.” By the water, therefore, which holds forth the sacrament of grace in its outward form, and by the Spirit who bestows the benefit of grace in its inward power, cancelling the bond of guilt, and restoring natural goodness [reconcilians bonum naturae], the man deriving his first birth originally from Adam alone, is regenerated in Christ alone. Now the regenerating Spirit is possessed in common both by the parents who present the child, and by the infant that is presented and is born again; wherefore, in virtue of this participation in the same Spirit, the will of those who present the infant is useful to the child. But when the parents sin against the child by presenting him to the false gods of the heathen, and attempting to bring him under impious bonds unto these false gods, there is not such community of souls subsisting between the parents and the child, that the guilt of one party can be common to both alike. For we are not made partakers of guilt along with others through their will, in the same way as we are made partakers of grace along with others through the unity of the Holy Spirit; because the one Holy Spirit can be in two different persons without their knowing in respect to each other that by Him grace is the common possession of both, but the human spirit cannot so belong to two individuals as to make the blame common to both in a case in which one of the two sins, and the other does not sin. Therefore a child, having once received natural birth through his parents, can be made partaker of the second (or spiritual) birth by the Spirit of God, so that the bond of guilt which he inherited from his parents is cancelled; but he that has once received this second birth by the Spirit of God cannot be made again partaker of natural birth through his parents, so that the bond once cancelled should again bind him. And thus, when the grace of Christ has been once received, the child does not lose it otherwise than by his own impiety, if, when he becomes older, he turn out so ill. For by that time he will begin to have sins of his own, which cannot be removed by regeneration, but must be healed by other remedial measures.

3. Nevertheless, persons of more advanced fears, whether they be parents bringing their children, or others bringing any little ones, who attempt to place those who have been baptized under obligation to profane worship of heathen gods, are guilty of spiritual homicide. True, they do not actually kill the children’s souls, but they go as far towards killing them as is in their power. The warning, “Do not kill your little ones,” may be with all propriety addressed to them; for the apostle says, “Quench not the Spirit;” not that He can be quenched, but that those who so act as if they wished to have Him quenched are deservedly spoken of as quenchers of the Spirit. In this sense also may be rightly understood the words which most blessed Cyprian wrote in his letter concerning the lapsed, when, rebuking those who in the time of persecution had sacrificed to idols, he says, “And that nothing might be wanting to fill up the measure of their crime, their infant children, carried in arms, or led thither by the hands of their parents, lost, while yet in their infancy, that which they had received as soon as life began.” They lost it, he meant, so far at least as pertained to the guilt of the crime of those by whom they were compelled to incur the loss: they lost it, that is to say, in the purpose and wish of those who perpetrated on them such a wrong. For had they actually in their own persons lost it, they must have remained under the divine sentence of condemnation without any plea; but if holy Cyprian had been of this opinion, he would not have added in the immediate context a plea in their defence, saying, “Shall not these say, when the judgment-day has come: We have done nothing; we have not of our own accord hastened to participate in profane rites, forsaking the bread and the cup of the Lord; the apostasy of others caused our destruction; we found our parents murderers, for they deprived us of our Mother the Church and of our Father the Lord, so that, through the wrong done by others, we were ensnared, because, while yet young and unable to think for ourselves, we were by the deed of others, and while wholly ignorant of such a crime, made partners in their sin’?” This plea in their defence he would not have subjoined had he not believed it to be perfectly just, and one which would be of service to these infants at the bar of divine judgment. For if it is said by them with truth, “We have done nothing,” then “the soul that sinneth, it shall die;” and in the just dispensation of judgment by God, those shall not be doomed to perish whose souls their parents did, so far at least as concerns their own guilt in the transaction, bring to ruin.

4. As to the incident mentioned in the same letter, that a girl who was left as an infant in charge of her nurse, when her parents had escaped by sudden flight, and was made by that nurse to take part in the profane rites of idolatrous worship, had afterwards in the Church expelled from her mouth, by wonderful motions, the Eucharist when it was given to her, this seems to me to have been caused by divine interposition, in order that persons of riper years might not imagine that in this sin they do no wrong to the children, but rather might understand, by means of a bodily action of obvious significance on the part of those who were unable to speak, that a miraculous warning was given to themselves as to the course which would have been becoming in persons who, after so great a crime, rushed heedlessly to those sacraments from which they ought by all means, in proof of penitence, to have abstained. When Divine Providence does anything of this kind by means of infant children, we must not believe that they are acting under the guidance of knowledge and reason; just as we are not called upon to admire the wisdom of asses, because once God was pleased to rebuke the madness of a prophet by the voice of an ass. If, therefore, a sound exactly like the human voice was uttered by an irrational animal, and this was to be ascribed to a divine miracle, not to faculties belonging to the ass, the Almighty could, in like manner, through the spirit of an infant (in which reason was not absent, but only slumbering undeveloped), make manifest by a motion of its body something to which those who had sinned against both their own souls and their children behoved to give heed. But since a child cannot return to become again a part of the author of his natural life, so as to be one with him and in him, but is a wholly distinct individual, having a body and a soul of his own, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”

5. Some, indeed, bring their little ones for baptism, not in the believing expectation that they shall be regenerated unto life eternal by spiritual grace, but because they think that by this as a remedy the children may recover or retain bodily health; but let not this disquiet your mind, because their regeneration is not prevented by the fact that this blessing has no place in the intention of those by whom they are presented for baptism. For by these persons the ministerial actions which are necessary are performed, and the sacramental words are pronounced, without which the infant cannot be consecrated to God. But the Holy Spirit who dwells in the saints, in those, namely, whom the glowing flame of love has fused together into the one Dove whose wings are covered with silver, accomplishes His work even by the ministry of bond-servants, of persons who are sometimes not only ignorant through simplicity, but even culpably unworthy to be employed by Him. The presentation of the little ones to receive the spiritual grace is the act not so much of those by whose hands they are borne up (although it is theirs also in part, if they themselves are good believers) as of the whole society of saints and believers. For it is proper to regard the infants as presented by all who take pleasure in their baptism, and through whose holy and perfectly-united love they are assisted in receiving the communion of the Holy Spirit. Therefore this is done by the whole mother Church, which is in the saints, because the whole Church is the parent of all the saints, and the whole Church is the parent of each one of them. For if the sacrament of Christian baptism, being always one and the same, is of value even when administered by heretics, and though not in that case sufficing to secure to the baptized person participation in eternal life, does suffice to seal his consecration to God; and if this consecration makes him who, having the mark of the Lord, remains outside of the Lord’s flock, guilty as a heretic, but reminds us at the same time that he is to be corrected by sound doctrine, but not to be a second time consecrated by repetition of the ordinance;—if this be the case even in the baptism of heretics, how much more credible is it that within the Catholic Church that which is only straw should be of service in bearing the grain to the floor in which it is to be winnowed, and by means of which it is to be prepared for being added to the heap of good grain!

6. I would, moreover, wish you not to remain under the mistake of supposing that the bond of guilt which is inherited from Adam cannot be cancelled in any other way than by the parents themselves presenting their little ones to receive the grace of Christ; for you write: “As the parents have been the authors of the life which makes them liable to condemnation, the children should receive justification through the same channel, through the faith of the same parents;” whereas you see that many are not presented by parents, but also by any strangers whatever, as sometimes the infant children of slaves are presented by their masters. Sometimes also, when their parents are deceased, little orphans are baptized, being presented by those who had it in their power to manifest their compassion in this way. Again, sometimes foundlings which heartless parents have exposed in order to their being cared for by any passer-by, are picked up by holy virgins, and are presented for baptism by these persons, who neither have nor desire to have children of their own: and in this you behold precisely what was done in the case mentioned in the Gospel of the man wounded by thieves, and left half dead on the way, regarding whom the Lord asked who was neighbour to him, and received for answer: “He that showed mercy on him.”

7. That which you have placed at the end of your series of questions you have judged to be the most difficult, because of the jealous care with which you are wont to avoid whatever is false. You state it thus: “If I place before you an infant, and ask, Will this child when he grows up be chaste?’ or Will he not be a thief?’ you will reply, I know not.’ If I ask, Is he in his present infantile condition thinking what is good or thinking what is evil?’ you will reply, I know not.’ If, therefore, you do not venture to take the responsibility of making any positive statement concerning either his conduct in after life or his thoughts at the time, what is that which parents do, when, in presenting their children for baptism, they as sureties (or sponsors) answer for the children, and say that they do that which at that age they are incapable even of understanding, or, at least, in regard to which their thoughts (if they can think) are hidden from us? For we ask those by whom the child is presented, Does he believe in God?’ and though at that age the child does not so much as know that there is a God, the sponsors reply, He believes;’ and in like manner answer is returned by them to each of the other questions. Now I am surprised that parents can in these things answer so confidently on the child’s behalf as to say, at the time when they are answering the questions of the persons administering baptism, that the infant is doing what is so remarkable and so excellent; and yet if at the same hour I were to add such questions as, Will the child who is now being baptized be chaste when he grows up? Will he not be a thief?’ probably no one would presume to answer, He will’ or He will not,’ although there is no hesitation in giving the answer that the child believes in God, and turns himself to God.” Thereafter you add this sentence in conclusion: “To these questions I pray you to condescend to give me a short reply, not silencing me by the traditional authority of custom, but satisfying me by arguments addressed to my reason.”

8. While reading this letter of yours over and over again, and pondering its contents so far as my limited time permitted, memory recalled to me my friend Nebridius, who, while he was a most diligent and eager student of difficult problems, especially in the department of Christian doctrine, had an extreme aversion to the giving of a short answer to a great question. If any one insisted upon this, he was exceedingly displeased; and if he was not prevented by respect for the age or rank of the person, he indignantly rebuked such a questioner by stern looks and words; for he considered him unworthy to be investigating matters such as these, who did not know how much both might be said and behoved to be said on a subject of great importance. But I do not lose patience with you, as he was wont to do when one asked a brief reply; for you are, as I am, a bishop engrossed with many cares, and therefore have not leisure for reading any more than I have leisure for writing any prolix communication. He was then a young man, who was not satisfied with short statements on subjects of this kind, and being then himself at leisure, addressed his questions concerning the many topics discussed in our conversations to one who was also at leisure; whereas you, having regard to the circumstances both of yourself the questioner, and of me from whom you demand the reply, insist upon my giving you a short answer to the weighty question which you propound. Well, I shall do my best to satisfy you; the Lord help me to accomplish what you require.

9. You know that in ordinary parlance we often say, when Easter is approaching, “Tomorrow or the day after is the Lord’s Passion,” although He suffered so many years ago, and His passion was endured once for all time. In like manner, on Easter Sunday, we say, “This day the Lord rose from the dead,” although so many years have passed since His resurrection. But no one is so foolish as to accuse us of falsehood when we use these phrases, for this reason, that we give such names to these days on the ground of a likeness between them and the days on which the events referred to actually transpired, the day being called the day of that event, although it is not the very day on which the event took place, but one corresponding to it by the revolution of the same time of the year, and the event itself being said to take place on that day, because, although it really took place long before, it is on that day sacramentally celebrated. Was not Christ once for all offered up in His own person as a sacrifice? and yet, is He not likewise offered up in the sacrament as a sacrifice, not only in the special solemnities of Easter, but also daily among our congregations; so that the man who, being questioned, answers that He is offered as a sacrifice in that ordinance, declares what is strictly true? For if sacraments had not some points of real resemblance to the things of which they are the sacraments, they would not be sacraments at all. In most cases, moreover, they do in virtue of this likeness bear the names of the realities which they resemble. As, therefore, in a certain manner the sacrament of Christ’s body is Christ’s body, and the sacrament of Christ’s blood is Christ’s blood, in the same manner the sacrament of faith is faith. Now believing is nothing else than having faith; and accordingly, when, on behalf of an infant as yet incapable of exercising faith, the answer is given that he believes, this answer means that he has faith because of the sacrament of faith, and in like manner the answer is made that he turns himself to God because of the sacrament of conversion, since the answer itself belongs to the celebration of the sacrament. Thus the apostle says, in regard to this sacrament of Baptism: “We are buried with Christ by baptism into death.” He does not say, “We have signified our being buried with Him,” but “We have been buried with Him.” He has therefore given to the sacrament pertaining to so great a transaction no other name than the word describing the transaction itself.

10. Therefore an infant, although he is not yet a believer in the sense of having that faith which includes the consenting will of those who exercise it, nevertheless becomes a believer through the sacrament of that faith. For as it is answered that he believes, so also he is called a believer, not because he assents to the truth by an act of his own judgment, but because he receives the sacrament of that truth. When, however, he begins to have the discretion of manhood, he will not repeat the sacrament, but understand its meaning, and become conformed to the truth which it contains, with his will also consenting. During the time in which he is by reason of youth unable to do this, the sacrament will avail for his protection against adverse powers, and will avail so much on his behalf, that if before he arrives at the use of reason he depart from this life, he is delivered by Christian help, namely, by the love of the Church commending him through this sacrament unto God, from that condemnation which by one man entered into the world. He who does not believe this, and thinks that it is impossible, is assuredly an unbeliever, although he may have received the sacrament of faith; and far before him in merit is the infant which, though not yet possessing a faith helped by the understanding, is not obstructing faith by any antagonism of the understanding, and therefore receives with profit the sacrament of faith.

I have answered your questions, as it seems to me, in a manner which, if I were dealing with persons of weaker capacity and disposed to gainsaying, would be inadequate, but which is perhaps more than sufficient to satisfy peaceable and sensible persons. Moreover, I have not urged in my defence the mere fact that the custom is thoroughly established, but have to the best of my ability advanced reasons in support of it as fraught with very abundant blessing.

To the Very Devout Italica, an Handmaid of God, Praised Justly and Piously by the Members of Christ, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. Up to the time of my writing this reply, I had received three letters from your Grace, of which the first asked urgently a letter from me, the second intimated that what I wrote in answer had reached you, and the third, which conveyed the assurance of your most benevolent solicitude for our interest in the matter of the house belonging to that most illustrious and distinguished young man Julian, which is in immediate contact with the walls of our Church. To this last letter, just now received, I lose no time in promptly replying, because your Excellency’s agent has written to me that he can send my letter without delay to Rome. By his letter we have been greatly distressed, because he has taken pains to acquaint us with the things which are taking place in the city (Rome) or around its walls, so as to give us reliable information concerning that which we were reluctant to believe on the authority of vague rumours. In the letters which were sent to us previously by our brethren, tidings were given to us of events, vexatious and grievous, it is true, but much less calamitous than those of which we now hear. I am surprised beyond expression that my brethren the holy bishops did not write to me when so favourable an opportunity of sending a letter by your messengers occurred, and that your own letter conveyed to us no information concerning such painful tribulation as has befallen you,—tribulation which, by reason of the tender sympathies of Christian charity, is ours as well as yours. I suppose, however, that you deemed it better not to mention these sorrows, because you considered that this could do no good, or because you did not wish to make us sad by your letter. But in my opinion, it does some good to acquaint us even with such events as these: in the first place, because it is not right to be ready to “rejoice with them that rejoice,” but refuse to “weep with them that weep;” and in the second place, because “tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

2. Far be it, therefore, from us to refuse to hear even of the bitter and sorrowful things which befall those who are very dear to us! For in some way which I cannot explain, the pain suffered by one member is mitigated when all the other members suffer with it. And this mitigation is effected not by actual participation in the calamity, but by the solacing power of love; for although only some suffer the actual burden of the affliction, and the others share their suffering through knowing what these have to bear, nevertheless the tribulation is borne in common by them all, seeing that they have in common the same experience, hope, and love, and the same Divine Spirit. Moreover, the Lord provides consolation for us all, inasmuch as He hath both forewarned us of these temporal afflictions, and promised to us after them eternal blessings; and the soldier who desires to receive a crown when the conflict is over, ought not to lose courage while the conflict lasts, since He who is preparing rewards ineffable for those who overcome, does Himself minister strength to them while they are on the field to battle.

3. Let not what I have now written take away your confidence in writing to me, especially since the reason which may be pled for your endeavouring to lessen our fears is one which cannot be condemned. We salute in return your little children, and we desire that they may be spared to you, and may grow up in Christ, since they discern even in their present tender age how dangerous and baneful is the love of this world. God grant that the plants which are small and still flexible may be bent in the right direction in a time in which the great and hardy are being shaken. As to the house of which you speak, what can I say beyond expressing my gratitude for your very kind solicitude? For the house which we can give they do not wish; and the house which they wish we cannot give, for it was not left to the church by my predecessor, as they have been falsely informed, but is one of the ancient properties of the church, and it is attached to the one ancient church in the same way as the house about which this question has been raised is attached to the other.

To Donatus His Noble and Deservedly Honourable Lord, and Eminently Praiseworthy Son, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I would indeed that the African Church were not placed in such trying circumstances as to need the aid of any earthly power. But since, as the apostle says, “there is no power but of God,” it is unquestionable that, when by you the sincere sons of your Catholic Mother help is given to her, our help is in the name of the Lord, “who made heaven and earth.” For oh, noble and deservedly honourable lord, and eminently praiseworthy son, who does not perceive that in the midst of so great calamities no small consolation has been bestowed upon us by God, in that you, such a man, and so devoted to the name of Christ, have been raised to the dignity of proconsul, so that power allied with your goodwill may restrain the enemies of the Church from their wicked and sacrilegious attempts? In fact, there is only one thing of which we are much afraid in your administration of justice, viz., lest perchance, seeing that every injury done by impious and ungrateful men against the Christian society is a more serious and heinous crime than if it had been done against others, you should on this ground consider that it ought to be punished with a severity corresponding to the enormity of the crime, and not with the moderation which is suitable to Christian forbearance. We beseech you, in the name of Jesus Christ, not to act in this manner. For we do not seek to revenge ourselves in this world; nor ought the things which we suffer to reduce us to such distress of mind as to leave no room in our memory for the precepts in regard to this which we have received from Him for whose truth and in whose name we suffer; we “love our enemies,” and we “pray for them.” It is not their death, but their deliverance from error, that we seek to accomplish by the help of the terror of judges and of laws, whereby they may be preserved from falling under the penalty of eternal judgment; we do not wish either to see the exercise of discipline towards them neglected, or, on the other hand, to see them subjected to the severer punishments which they deserve. Do you, therefore, check their sins in such a way, that the sinners may be spared to repent of their sins.

2. We beg you, therefore, when you are pronouncing judgment in cases affecting the Church, how wicked soever the injuries may be which you shall ascertain to have been attempted or inflicted on the Church, to forget that you have the power of capital punishment, and not to forget our request. Nor let it appear to you an unimportant matter and beneath your notice, my most beloved and honoured son, that we ask you to spare the lives of the men on whose behalf we ask God to grant them repentance. For even granting that we ought never to deviate from a fixed purpose of overcoming evil with good, let your own wisdom take this also into consideration, that no person beyond those who belong to the Church is at pains to bring before you cases pertaining to her interests. If, therefore, your opinion be, that death must be the punishment of men convicted of these crimes, you will deter us from endeavouring to bring anything of this kind before your tribunal; and this being discovered, they will proceed with more unrestrained boldness to accomplish speedily our destruction, when upon us is imposed and enjoined the necessity of choosing rather to suffer death at their hands, than to bring them to death by accusing them at your bar. Disdain not, I beseech you, to accept this suggestion, petition, and entreaty from me. For I do not think that you are unmindful that I might have great boldness in addressing you, even were I not a bishop, and even though your rank were much above what you now hold. Meanwhile, let the Donatist heretics learn at once through the edict of your Excellency that the laws passed against their error, which they suppose and boastfully declare to be repealed, are still in force, although even when they know this they may not be able to refrain in the least degree from injuring us. You will, however, most effectively help us to secure the fruit of our labours and dangers, if you take care that the imperial laws for the restraining of their sect, which is full of conceit and of impious pride, be so used that they may not appear either to themselves or to others to be suffering hardship in any form for the sake of truth and righteousness; but suffer them, when this is requested at your hands, to be convinced and instructed by incontrovertible proofs of things which are most certain, in public proceedings in the presence of your Excellency or of inferior judges, in order that those who are arrested by your command may themselves incline their stubborn will to the better part, and may read these things profitably to others of their party. For the pains bestowed are burdensome rather than really useful, when men are only compelled, not persuaded by instruction, to forsake a great evil and lay hold upon a great benefit.

To Memor, My Lord Most Blessed, and with All Veneration Most Beloved, My Brother and Colleague Sincerely Longed For, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. I ought not to write any letter to your holy Charity, without sending at the same time those books which by the irresistible plea of holy love you have demanded from me, that at least by this act of obedience I might reply to those letters by which you have put on me a high honour indeed, but also a heavy load. Albeit, while I bend because of the load, I am raised up because of your love. For it is not by an ordinary man that I am loved and raised up and made to stand erect, but by a man who is a priest of the Lord, and whom I know to be so accepted before Him, that when you raise to the Lord your good heart, having me in your heart, you raise me with yourself to Him. I ought, therefore, to have sent at this time those books which I had promised to revise. The reason why I have not sent them is that I have not revised them, and this not because I was unwilling, but because I was unable, having been occupied with many very urgent cares. But it would have shown inexcusable ingratitude and hardness of heart to have permitted the bearer, my holy colleague and brother Possidius, in whom you will find one who is very much the same as myself, either to miss becoming acquainted with you, who love me so much, or to come to know you without any letter from me. For he is one who has been by my labours nourished, not in those studies which men who are the slaves of every kind of passion call liberal, but with the Lord’s bread, in so far as this could be supplied to him from my scanty store.

2. For to men who, though they are unjust and impious, imagine that they are well educated in the liberal arts, what else ought we to say than what we read in those writings which truly merit the name of liberal,—”if the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” For it is through Him that men come to know, even in those studies which are termed liberal by those who have not been called to this true liberty, anything in them which deserves the name. For they have nothing which is consonant with liberty, except that which in them is consonant with truth; for which reason the Son Himself hath said: “The truth shall make you free.” The freedom which is our privilege has therefore nothing in common with the innumerable and impious fables with which the verses of silly poets are full, nor with the fulsome and highly-polished falsehoods of their orators, nor, in fine, with the rambling subtleties of philosophers themselves, who either did not know anything of God, or when they knew God, did not glorify Him as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; so that, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and four-footed beasts, and to creeping things, or who, though not wholly or at all devoted to the worship of images, nevertheless worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. Far be it, therefore, from us to admit that the epithet liberal is justly bestowed on the lying vanities and hallucinations, or empty trifles and conceited errors of those men—unhappy men, who knew not the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, by which alone we are “delivered from the body of this death,” and who did not even perceive the measure of truth which was in the things which they knew. Their historical works, the writers of which profess to be chiefly concerned to be accurate in narrating events, may perhaps, I grant, contain some things worthy of being known by “free” men, since the narration is true, whether the subject described in it be the good or the evil in human experience. At the same time, I can by no means see how men who were not aided in their knowledge by the Holy Spirit, and who were obliged to gather floating rumours under the limitations of human infirmity, could avoid being misled in regard to very many things; nevertheless, if they have no intention of deceiving, and do not mislead other men otherwise than so far as they have themselves, through human infirmity, fallen into a mistake, there is in such writings an approach to liberty.

3. Forasmuch, however, as the powers belonging to numbers in all kinds of movements are most easily studied as they are presented in sounds, and this study furnishes a way of rising to the higher secrets of truth, by paths gradually ascending, so to speak, in which Wisdom pleasantly reveals herself, and in every step of providence meets those who love her, desired, when I began to have leisure for study, and my mind was not engaged by greater and more important cares, to exercise myself by writing those books which you have requested me to send. I then wrote six books on rhythm alone, and proposed, I may add, to write other six on music, as I at that time expected to have leisure. But from the time that the burden of ecclesiastical cares was laid upon me, all these recreations have passed from my hand so completely, that now, when I cannot but respect your wish and command,—for it is more than a request,—I have difficulty in even finding what I had written. If, however, I had it in my power to send you that treatise, it would occasion regret, not to me that I had obeyed your command, but to you that you had so urgently insisted upon its being sent. For five books of it are all but unintelligible, unless one be at hand who can in reading not only distinguish the part belonging to each of those between whom the discussion is maintained, but also mark by enunciation the time which the syllables should occupy, so that their distinctive measures may be expressed and strike the ear, especially because in some places there occur pauses of measured length, which of course must escape notice, unless the reader inform the hearer of them by intervals of silence where they occur.

The sixth book, however, which I have found already revised, and in which the product of the other five is contained, I have not delayed to send to your Charity; it may, perhaps, be not wholly unsuited to one of your venerable age. As to the other five books, they seem to me scarcely worthy of being known and read by Julian, our son, and now our colleague, for, as a deacon, he is engaged in the same warfare with ourselves. Of him I dare not say, for it would not be true, that I love him more than I love you; yet this I may say, that I long for him more than for you. It may seem strange, that when I love both equally, I long more ardently for the one than the other; but the cause of the difference is, that I have greater hope of seeing him; for I think that if ordered or sent by you he come to us, he will both be doing what is suitable to one of his years, especially as he is not yet hindered by weightier responsibilities, and he will more speedily bring yourself to me.

I have not stated in this treatise the kinds of metre in which the lines of David’s Psalms are composed, because I do not know them. For it was not possible for any one, in translating these from the Hebrew (of which language I know nothing), to preserve the metre at the same time, lest by the exigencies of the measure he should be compelled to depart from accurate translation further than was consistent with the meaning of the sentences. Nevertheless, I believe, on the testimony of those who are acquainted with that language, that they are composed in certain varieties of metre; for that holy man loved sacred music, and has more than any other kindled in me a passion for its study.

May the shadow of the wings of the Most High be for ever the dwelling-place of you all, who with oneness of heart occupy one home, father and mother, bound in the same brotherhood with your sons, being all the children of the one Father. Remember us.

To Deogratias, My Brother in All Sincerity, and My Fellow-Presbyter, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. In choosing to refer to me questions which were submitted to yourself for solution, you have not done so, I suppose, from indolence, but because, loving me more than I deserve, you prefer to hear through me even those things which you already know quite well. I would rather, however, that the answers were given by yourself, because the friend who proposed the questions seems to be shy of following advice from me, if I may judge from the fact that he has written no reply to a letter of mine, for what reason he knows best. I suspect this, however, and there is neither ill-will nor absurdity in the suspicion; for you also know very well how much I love him, and how great is my grief that he is not yet a Christian; and it is not unreasonable to think that one whom I see unwilling to answer my letters is not willing to have anything written by me to him. I therefore implore you to comply with a request of mine, seeing that I have been obedient to you, and, notwithstanding most engrossing duties, have feared to disappoint the wish of one so dear to me by declining to comply with your request. What I ask is this, that you do not refuse yourself to give an answer to all his questions, seeing that, as you have told me, he begged this from you; and it is a task to which, even before receiving this letter, you were competent; for when you have read this letter, you will see that scarcely anything has been said by me which you did not already know, or which you could not have come to know though I had been silent. This work of mine, therefore, I beg you to keep for the use of yourself and of all other persons whose desire for instruction you deem it suited to satisfy. But as for the treatise of your own composition which I demand from you, give it to him to whom this treatise is most specially adapted, and not to him only, but also all others who find exceedingly acceptable such statements concerning these things as you are able to make, among whom I number myself. May you live always in Christ, and remember me.

2. Question I. Concerning the resurrection. This question perplexes some, and they ask, Which of two kinds of resurrection corresponds to that which is promised to us? is it that of Christ, or that of Lazarus? They say, “If the former, how can this correspond with the resurrection of those who have been born by ordinary generations, seeing that He was not thus born? If, on the other hand, the resurrection of Lazarus is said to correspond to ours, here also there seems to be a discrepancy, since the resurrection of Lazarus was accomplished in the case of a body not yet dissolved, but the same body in which he was known by the name of Lazarus; whereas ours is to be rescued after many centuries from the mass in which it has ceased to be distinguishable from other things. Again, if our state after the resurrection is one of blessedness, in which the body shall be exempt from every kind of wound, and from the pain of hunger, what is meant by the statement that Christ took food, and showed his wounds after His resurrection? For if He did it to convince the doubting, when the wounds were not real, He practised on them a deception; whereas, if He showed them what was real, it follows that wounds received by the body shall remain in the state which is to ensue after resurrection.”

3. To this I answer, that the resurrection of Christ and not of Lazarus corresponds to that which is promised, because Lazarus was so raised that he died a second time, whereas of Christ it is written: “Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over Him.” The same is promised to those who shall rise at the end of the world, and shall reign for ever with Christ. As to the difference in the manner of Christ’s generation and that of other men, this has no bearing upon the nature of His resurrection, just as it had none upon the nature of His death, so as to make it different from ours. His death was not the less real because of His not having been begotten by an earthly father; just as the difference between the mode of the origination of the body of the first man, who was formed immediately from the dust of the earth, and of our bodies, which we derive from our parents, made no such difference as that his death should be of another kind than ours. As, therefore, difference in the mode of birth does not make any difference in the nature of death, neither does it make any difference in the nature of resurrection.

4. But lest the men who doubt this should, with similar scepticism, refuse to accept as true what is written concerning the first man’s creation, let them inquire or observe, if they can at least believe this, how numerous are the species of animals which are born from the earth without deriving their life from parents, but which by ordinary procreation reproduce offspring like themselves, and in which, notwithstanding the different mode of origination, the nature of the parents born from the earth and of the offspring born from them is the same; for they live alike and they die alike, although born in different ways. There is therefore no absurdity in the statement that bodies dissimilar in their origination are alike in their resurrection. But men of this kind, not being competent to discern in what respect any diversity between things affects or does not affect them, so soon as they discover any unlikeness between things in their original formation, contend that in all that follows the same unlikeness must still exist. Such men may as reasonably suppose that oil made from fat should not float on the surface in water as olive oil does, because the origin of the two oils is so different, the one being from the fruit of a tree, the other from the flesh of an animal.

5. Again, as to the alleged difference in regard to the resurrection of Christ’s body and of ours, that His was raised on the third day not dissolved by decay and corruption, whereas ours shall be fashioned again after a long time, and out of the mass into which undistinguished they shall have been resolved,—both of these things are impossible for man to do, but to divine power both are most easy. For as the glance of the eye does not come more quickly to objects which are at hand, and more slowly to objects more remote, but darts to either distance with equal swiftness, so, when the resurrection of the dead is accomplished “in the twinkling of an eye,” it is as easy for the omnipotence of God and for the ineffable expression of His will to raise again bodies which have by long lapse of time been dissolved, as to raise those which have recently fallen under the stroke of death. These things are to some men incredible because they transcend their experience, although all nature is full of wonders so numerous, that they do not seem to us to be wonderful, and are therefore accounted unworthy of attentive study or investigation, not because our faculties can easily comprehend them, but because we are so accustomed to see them. For myself, and for all who along with me labour to understand the invisible things of God by means of the things which are made, I may say that we are filled not less, perhaps even more, with wonder by the fact, that in one grain of seed, so insignificant, there lies bound up as it were all that we praise in the stately tree, than by the fact that the bosom of this earth, so vast, shall restore entire and perfect to the future resurrection all those elements of human bodies which it is now receiving when they are dissolved.

6. Again, what contradiction is there between the fact that Christ partook of food after His resurrection, and the doctrine that in the promised resurrection-state there shall be no need of food, when we read that angels also have partaken of food of the same kind and in the same way, not in empty and illusive simulation, but in unquestionable reality; not, however, under the pressure of necessity, but in the free exercise of their power? For water is absorbed in one way by the thirsting earth, in another way by the glowing sunbeams; in the former we see the effect of poverty, in the latter of power. Now the body of that future resurrection-state shall be imperfect in its felicity if it be incapable of taking food; imperfect, also, if, on the other hand, it be dependent on food. I might here enter on a fuller discussion concerning the changes possible in the qualities of bodies, and the dominion which belongs to higher bodies over those which are of inferior nature; but I have resolved to make my reply short, and I write this for mind so endowed that the simple suggestion of the truth is enough for them.

7. Let him who proposed these questions know by all means that Christ did, after His resurrection, show the scars of His wounds, not the wounds themselves, to disciples who doubted; for whose sake, also, it pleased Him to take food and drink more than once, lest they should suppose that His body was not real, but that He was a spirit, appearing to them as a phantom, and not a substantial form. These scars would indeed have been mere illusive appearances if no wounds had gone before; yet even the scars would not have remained if He had willed it otherwise. But it pleased Him to retain them with a definite purpose, namely, that to those whom He was building up in faith unfeigned He might show that one body had not been substituted for another, but that the body which they had seen nailed to the cross had risen again. What reason is there, then, for saying, “If He did this to convince the doubting, He practised a deception”? Suppose that a brave man, who had received many wounds in confronting the enemy when fighting for his country, were to say to a physician of extraordinary skill, who was able so to heal these wounds as to leave not a scar visible, that he would prefer to be healed in such a way that the traces of the wounds should remain on his body as tokens of the honours he had won, would you, in such a case, say that the physician practised deception, because, though he might by his art make the scars wholly disappear, he did by the same art, for a definite reason, rather cause them to continue as they were? The only ground upon which the scars could be proved to be a deception would be, as I have already said, if no wounds had been healed in the places where they were seen.

8. Question II. Concerning the epoch of the Christian religion, they have advanced, moreover, some other things, which they might call a selection of the more weighty arguments of Porphyry against the Christians: “If Christ,” they say, “declares Himself to be the Way of salvation, the Grace and the Truth, and affirms that in Him alone, and only to souls believing in Him, is the way of return to God, what has become of men who lived in the many centuries before Christ came? To pass over the time,” he adds, “which preceded the founding of the kingdom of Latium, let us take the beginning of that power as if it were the beginning of the human race. In Latium itself gods were worshipped before Alba was built; in Alba, also, religious rites and forms of worship in the temples were maintained. Rome itself was for a period of not less duration, even for a long succession of centuries, unacquainted with Christian doctrine. What, then, has become of such an innumerable multitude of souls, who were in no wise blameworthy, seeing that He in whom alone saving faith can be exercised had not yet favoured men with His advent? The whole world, moreover, was not less zealous than Rome itself in the worship practised in the temples of the gods. Why, then,” he asks, “did He who is called the Saviour withhold Himself for so many centuries of the world? And let it not be said,” he adds, “that provision had been made for the human race by the old Jewish law. It was only after a long time that the Jewish law appeared and flourished within the narrow limits of Syria, and after that, it gradually crept onwards to the coasts of Italy; but this was not earlier than the end of the reign of Caius, or, at the earliest, while he was on the throne. What, then, became of the souls of men in Rome and Latium who lived before the time of the Caesars, and were destitute of the grace of Christ, because He had not then come?”

9. To these statements we answer by requiring those who make them to tell us, in the first place, whether the sacred rites, which we know to have been introduced into the worship of their gods at times which can be ascertained, were or were not profitable to men. If they say that these were of no service for the salvation of men, they unite with us in putting them down, and confess that they were useless. We indeed prove that they were baneful; but it is an important concession that by them it is at least admitted that they were useless. If, on the other hand, they defend these rites, and maintain that they were wise and profitable institutions, what, I ask, has become of those who died before these were instituted? for they were defrauded of the saving and profitable efficacy which these possessed. If, however, it be said that they could be cleansed from guilt equally well in another way, why did not the same way continue in force for their posterity? What use was there for instituting novelties in worship.

10. If, in answer to this, they say that the gods themselves have indeed always existed, and were in all places alike powerful to give liberty to their worshippers, but were pleased to regulate the circumstances of time, place, and manner in which they were to be served, according to the variety found among things temporal and terrestrial, in such a way as they knew to be most suitable to certain ages and countries, why do they urge against the Christian religion this question, which, if it be asked in regard to their own gods, they either cannot themselves answer, or, if they can, must do so in such a way as to answer for our religion not less than their own? For what could they say but that the difference between sacraments which are adapted to different times and places is of no importance, if only that which is worshipped in them all be holy, just as the difference between sounds of words belonging to different languages and adapted to different hearers is of no importance, if only that which is spoken be true; although in this respect there is a difference, that men can, by agreement among themselves, arrange as to the sounds of language by which they may communicate their thoughts to one another, but that those who have discerned what is right have been guided only by the will of God in regard to the sacred rites which were agreeable to the Divine Being. This divine will has never been wanting to the justice and piety of mortals for their salvation; and whatever varieties of worship there may have been in different nations bound together by one and the same religion, the most important thing to observe was this how far, on the one hand, human infirmity was thereby encouraged to effort, or borne with while, on the other hand, the divine authority was not assailed.

11. Wherefore, since we affirm that Christ is the Word of God, by whom all things were made and is the Son, because He is the Word, not a word uttered and belonging to the past but abides unchangeably with the unchangeable Father, Himself unchangeable, under whose rule the whole universe, spiritual and material, is ordered in the way best adapted to different times and places, and that He has perfect wisdom and knowledge as to what should be done, and when and where everything should be done in the controlling and ordering of the universe,—most certainly, both before He gave being to the Hebrew nation, by which He was pleased, through sacraments suited to the time, to prefigure the manifestation of Himself in His advent, and during the time of the Jewish commonwealth, and, after that, when He manifested Himself in the likeness of mortals to mortal men in the body which He received from the Virgin, and thenceforward even to our day, in which He is fulfilling all which He predicted of old by the prophets, and from this present time on to the end of the world, when He shall separate the holy from the wicked, and give to every man his due recompense,—in all these successive ages He is the same Son of God, co-eternal with the Father, and the unchangeable Wisdom by whom universal nature was called into existence, and by participation in whom every rational soul is made blessed.

12. Therefore, from the beginning of the human race, whosoever believed in Him, and in any way knew Him, and lived in a pious and just manner according to His precepts, was undoubtedly saved by Him, in whatever time and place he may have lived. For as we believe in Him both as dwelling with the Father and as having come in the flesh, so the men of the former ages believed in Him both as dwelling with the Father and as destined to come in the flesh. And the nature of faith is not changed, nor is the salvation made different, in our age, by the fact that, in consequence of the difference between the two epochs, that which was then foretold as future is now proclaimed as past. Moreover, we are not under necessity to suppose different things and different kinds of salvation to be signified, when the self-same thing is by different sacred words and rites of worship announced in the one case as fulfilled, in the other as future. As to the manner and time, however, in which anything that pertains to the one salvation common to all believers and pious persons is brought to pass, let us ascribe wisdom to God, and for our part exercise submission to His will. Wherefore the true religion, although formerly set forth and practised under other names and with other symbolical rites than it now has, and formerly more obscurely revealed and known to fewer persons than now in the time of clearer light and wider diffusion, is one and the same in both periods.

13. Moreover, we do not raise any objection to their religion on the ground of the difference between the institutions appointed by Numa Pompilius for the worship of the gods by the Romans, and those which were up till that time practised in Rome or in other parts of Italy; nor on the fact that in the age of Pythagoras that system of philosophy became generally adopted which up to that time had no existence, or lay concealed, perhaps, among a very small number whose views were the same, but whose religious practice and worship was different: the question upon which we join issue with them is, whether these gods were true gods, or worthy of worship, and whether that philosophy was fitted to promote the salvation of the souls of men. This is what we insist upon discussing; and in discussing it we pluck up their sophistries by the root. Let them, therefore, desist from bringing against us objections which are of equal force against every sect, and against religion of every name. For since, as they admit, the ages of the world do not roll on under the dominion of chance, but are controlled by divine Providence, what may be fitting and expedient in each successive age transcends the range of human understanding, and is determined by the same wisdom by which Providence cares for the universe.

14. For if they assert that the reason why the doctrine of Pythagoras has not prevailed always and universally is, that Pythagoras was but a man, and had not power to secure this, can they also affirm that in the age and in the countries in which his philosophy flourished, all who had the opportunity of hearing him were found willing to believe and follow him? And therefore it is the more certain that, if Pythagoras had possessed the power of publishing his doctrines where he pleased and when he pleased, and if he had also possessed along with that power a perfect foreknowledge of events, he would have presented himself only at those places and times in which he foreknew that men would believe his teaching. Wherefore, since they do not object to Christ on the ground of His doctrine not being universally embraced,—for they feel that this would be a futile objection if alleged either against the teaching of philosophers or against the majesty of their own gods,—what answer, I ask, could they make, if, leaving out of view that depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God within which it may be that some other divine purpose lies much more deeply hidden, and without prejudging the other reasons possibly existing, which are fit subjects for patient study by the wise, we confine ourselves, for the sake of brevity in this discussion, to the statement of this one position, that it pleased Christ to appoint the time in which He would appear and the persons among whom His doctrine was to be proclaimed, according to His knowledge of the times and places in which men would believe on Him? For He foreknew, regarding those ages and places in which His gospel has not been preached, that in them the gospel, if preached, would meet with such treatment from all, without exception, as it met with, not indeed from all, but from many, at the time of His personal presence on earth, who would not believe in Him, even though men were raised from the dead by Him; and such as we see it meet with in our day from many who, although the predictions of the prophets concerning Him are so manifestly fulfilled, still refuse to believe, and, misguided by the perverse subtlety of the human heart, rather resist than yield to divine authority, even when this is so clear and manifest, so glorious and so gloriously published abroad. So long as the mind of man is limited in capacity and in strength, it is his duty to yield to divine truth. Why, then, should we wonder if Christ knew that the world was so full of unbelievers in the former ages, that He righteously refused to manifest Himself or to be preached to those of whom He foreknew that they would not believe either His words or His miracles? For it is not incredible that all may have been then such as, to our amazement, so many have been from the time of His advent to the present time, and even now are.

15. And yet, from the beginning of the human race, He never ceased to speak by His prophets, at one time more obscurely, at another time more plainly, as seemed to divine wisdom best adapted to the time; nor were there ever wanting men who believed in Him, from Adam to Moses, and among the people of Israel itself, which was by a special mysterious appointment a prophetic nation, and among other nations before He came in the flesh. For seeing that in the sacred Hebrew books some are mentioned, even from Abraham’s time, not belonging to his natural posterity nor to the people of Israel, and not proselytes added to that people, who were nevertheless partakers of this holy mystery, why may we not believe that in other nations also, here and there, some more were found, although we do not read their names in these authoritative records? Thus the salvation provided by this religion, by which alone, as alone true, true salvation is truly promised, was never wanting to any one who was worthy of it, and he to whom it was wanting was not worthy of it. And from the beginning of the human family, even to the end of time, it is preached, to some for their advantage, to some for their condemnation. Accordingly, those to whom it has not been preached at all are those who were foreknown as persons who would not believe; those to whom, notwithstanding the certainty that they would not believe, the salvation has been proclaimed are set forth as an example of the class of unbelievers; and those to whom, as persons who would believe, the truth is proclaimed are being prepared for the kingdom of heaven and for the society of the holy angels.

16. Question III. Let us now look to the question which comes next in order. “They find fault,” he says, “with the sacred ceremonies, the sacrificial victims, the burning of incense, and all the other parts of worship in our temples; and yet the same kind of worship had its origin in antiquity with themselves, or from the God whom they worship, for He is represented by them as having been in need of the first-fruits.”

17. This question is obviously founded upon the passage in our Scriptures in which it is written that Cain brought to God a gift from the fruits of the earth, but Abel brought a gift from the firstlings of the flock. Our reply, therefore, is, that from this passage the more suitable inference to be drawn is, how ancient is the ordinance of sacrifice which the infallible and sacred writings declare to be due to no other than to the one true God; not because God needs our offerings, seeing that, in the same Scriptures, it is most clearly written, “I said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord, for Thou hast no need of my good,” but because, even in the acceptance or rejection or appropriation of these offerings, He considers the advantage of men, and of them alone. For in worshipping God we do good to ourselves, not to Him. When, therefore, He gives an inspired revelation, and teaches how He is to be worshipped, He does this not only from no sense of need on His part, but from a regard to our highest advantage. For all such sacrifices are significant, being symbols of certain things by which we ought to be roused to search or know or recollect the things which they symbolize. To discuss this subject satisfactorily would demand of us something more than the short discourse in which we have resolved to give our reply at this time, more particularly because in other treatises we have spoken of it fully. Those also who have before us expounded the divine oracles, have spoken largely of the symbols of the sacrifices of the Old Testament as shadows and figures of things then future.

18. With all our desire, however, to be brief, this one thing we must by no means omit to remark, that the false gods, that is to say, the demons, which are lying angels, would never have required a temple, priesthood, sacrifice, and the other things connected with these from their worshippers, whom they deceive, had they not known that these things were due to the one true God. When, therefore, these things are presented to God according to His inspiration and teaching, it is true religion; but when they are given to demons in compliance with their impious pride, it is baneful superstition. Accordingly, those who know the Christian Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testaments do not blame the profane rites of Pagans on the mere ground of their building temples, appointing priests, and offering sacrifices, but on the ground of their doing all this for idols and demons. As to idols, indeed, who entertains a doubt as to their being wholly devoid of perception? And yet, when they are placed in these temples and set on high upon thrones of honour, that they may be waited upon by suppliants and worshippers praying and offering sacrifices, even these idols, though devoid both of feeling and of life, do, by the mere image of the members and senses of beings endowed with life, so affect weak minds, that they appear to live and breathe, especially under the added influence of the profound veneration with which the multitude freely renders such costly service.

19. To these morbid and pernicious affections of the mind divine Scripture applies a remedy, by repeating, with the impressiveness of wholesome admonition, a familiar fact, in the words, “Eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not,” etc. For these words, by reason of their being so plain, and commending themselves to all people as true, are the more effective in striking salutary shame into those who, when they present divine worship before such images with religious fear, and look upon their likeness to living beings while they are venerating and worshipping them, and utter petitions, offer sacrifices, and perform vows before them as if present, are so completely overcome, that they do not presume to think of them as devoid of perception. Lest, moreover, these worshippers should think that our Scriptures intend only to declare that such affections of the human heart spring naturally from the worship of idols, it is written in the plainest terms, “All the gods of the nations are devils.” And therefore, also, the teaching of the apostles not only declares, as we read in John, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” but also, in the words of Paul, “What say I then? that the idol is anything, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.” From which it may be clearly understood, that what is condemned in heathen superstitions by the true religion is not the mere offering of sacrifices (for the ancient saints offered these to the true God), but the offering of sacrifices to false gods and to impious demons. For as the truth counsels men to seek the fellowship of the holy angels, in like manner impiety turns men aside to the fellowship of the wicked angels, for whose associates everlasting fire is prepared, as the eternal kingdom is prepared for the associates of the holy angels.

20. The heathen find a plea for their profane rites and their idols in the fact that they interpret with ingenuity what is signified by each of them, but the plea is of no avail. For all this interpretation relates to the creature, not to the Creator, to whom alone is due that religious service which is in the Greek language distinguished by the word latreia. Neither do we say that the earth, the seas, the heaven, the sun, the moon, the stars, and any other celestial influences which may be beyond our ken are demons; but since all created things are divided into material and immaterial, the latter of which we also call spiritual, it is manifest that what is done by us under the power of piety and religion proceeds from the faculty of our souls known as the will, which belongs to the spiritual creation, and is therefore to be preferred to all that is material. Whence it is inferred that sacrifice must not be offered to anything material. There remains, therefore, the spiritual part of creation, which is either pious or impious,—the pious consisting of men and angels who are righteous, and who duly serve God; the impious consisting of wicked men and angels, whom we also call devils. Now, that sacrifice must not be offered to a spiritual creature, though righteous, is obvious from this consideration, that the more pious and submissive to God any creature is, the less does he presume to aspire to that honour which he knows to be due to God alone. How much worse, therefore, is it to sacrifice to devils, that is, to a wicked spiritual creature, which, dwelling in this comparatively dark heaven nearest to earth, as in the prison assigned to him in the air, is doomed to eternal punishment. Wherefore, even when men say that they are offering sacrifices to the higher celestial powers, which are not devils, and imagine that the only difference between us and them is in a name, because they call them gods and we call them angels, the only beings which really present themselves to these men, who are given over to be the sport of manifold deceptions, are the devils who find delight and, in a sense, nourishment in the errors of mankind. For the holy angels do not approve of any sacrifice except what is offered, agreeably to the teaching of true wisdom and true religion, unto the one true God, whom in holy fellowship they serve. Therefore, as impious presumption, whether in men or in angels, commands or covets the rendering to itself of those honours which belong to God, so, on the other hand, pious humility, whether in men or in holy angels, declines these honours when offered, and declares to whom alone they are due, of which most notable examples are conspicuously set forth in our sacred books.

21. In the sacrifices appointed by the divine oracles there has been a diversity of institution corresponding to the age in which they were observed. Some sacrifices were offered before the actual manifestation of that new covenant, the benefits of which are provided by the one true offering of the one Priest, namely, by the shed blood of Christ; and another sacrifice, adapted to this manifestation, and offered in the present age by us who are called Christians after the name of Him who has been revealed, is set before us not only in the gospels, but also in the prophetic books. For a change, not of the God, who is worshipped, nor of the religion itself, but of sacrifices and of sacraments, would seem to be proclaimed without warrant now, if it had not been foretold in the earlier dispensation. For just as when the same man brings to God in the morning one kind of offering, and in the evening another, according to the time of day, he does not thereby change either his God or his religion, any more than he changes the nature of a salutation who uses one form of salutation in the morning and another in the evening: so, in the complete cycle of the ages, when one kind of offering is known to have been made by the ancient saints, and another is presented by the saints in our time, this only shows that these sacred mysteries are celebrated not according to human presumption, but by divine authority, in the manner best adapted to the times. There is here no change either in the Deity or in the religion.

22. Question IV. Let us, in the next place, consider what he has laid down concerning the proportion between sin and punishment when, misrepresenting the gospel, he says: “Christ threatens eternal punishment to those who do not believe in Him;” and yet He says in another place, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” “Here,” he remarks, “is something sufficiently absurd and contradictory; for if He is to award punishment according to measure, and all measure is limited by the end of time, what mean these threats of eternal punishment?”

23. It is difficult to believe that this question has been put in the form of objection by one claiming to be in any sense a philosopher; for he says, “All measure is limited by time,” as if men were accustomed to no other measures than measures of time, such as hours and days and years, or such as are referred to when we say that the time of a short syllable is one-half of that of a long syllable. For I suppose that bushels and firkins, urns and amphorae, are not measures of time. How, then, is all measure limited by time? Do not the heathen themselves affirm that the sun is eternal? And yet they presume to calculate and pronounce on the basis of geometrical measurements what is the proportion between it and the earth. Whether this calculation be within or beyond their power, it is certain, notwithstanding, that it has a disc of definite dimensions. For if they do ascertain how large it is, they know its dimensions, and if they do not succeed in their investigation, they do not know these; but the fact that men cannot discover them is no proof that they do not exist. It is possible, therefore, for something to be eternal, and nevertheless to have a definite measure of its proportions. In this I have been speaking upon the assumption of their own view as to the eternal duration of the sun, in order that they may be convinced by one of their own tenets, and obliged to admit that something may be eternal and at the same time measurable. And therefore let them not think that the threatening of Christ concerning eternal punishment is not to be believed because of His also saying, “In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.”

24. For if He had said, “That which you have measured shall be measured unto you,” even in that case it would not have been necessary to take the clauses as referring to something which was in all respects the same. For we may correctly say, That which you have planted you shall reap, although men plant not fruit but trees, and reap not trees but fruit. We say it, however, with reference to the kind of tree; for a man does not plant a fig-tree, and expect to gather nuts from it. In like manner it might be said, What you have done you shall suffer; not meaning that if one has committed adultery, for example, he shall suffer the same, but that what he has in that crime done to the law, the law shall do unto him, i.e. forasmuch as he has removed from his life the law which prohibits such things, the law shall requite him by removing him from that human life over which it presides. Again, if He had said, “As much as ye shall have measured, so much shall be measured unto you,” even from this statement it would not necessarily follow that we must understand punishments to be in every particular equal to the sins punished. Barley and wheat, for example, are not equal in quality, and yet it might be said, “As much as ye shall have measured, so much shall be measured unto you,” meaning for so much wheat so much barley. Or if the matter in question were pain, it might be said, “As great pain shall be inflicted on you as you have inflicted on others;” this might mean that the pain should be in severity equal, but in time more protracted, and therefore by its continuance greater. For suppose I were to say of two lamps, “The flame of this one was as hot as the flame of the other,” this would not be false, although, perchance, one of them was earlier extinguished than the other. Wherefore, if things be equally great in one respect, but not in another, the fact that they are not alike in all respects does not invalidate the statement that in one respect, as admitted, they are equally great.

25. Seeing, however, that the words of Christ were these, “In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you,” and that beyond all question the measure in which anything is measured is one thing, and that which is measured in it is another, it is obviously possible that with the same measure with which men have measured, say, a bushel of wheat, there may be measured to them thousands of bushels, so that with no difference in the measure there may be all that difference in the quantity, not to speak of the difference of quality which might be in the things measured; for it is not only possible that with the same measure with which one has measured barley to others, wheat may be measured to him, but, moreover, with the same measure with which he has measured grain, gold may be measured to him, and of the grain there may have been one bushel, while there may be very many of the gold. Thus, although there is a difference both in kind and quantity, it may be nevertheless truly said in reference to things which are thus unlike: “In the measure in which he measured to others it is measured unto him.”

The reason, moreover, why Christ uttered this saying is sufficiently plain from the immediately preceding context. “Judge not,” He said, “that ye be not judged; for in the judgment in which ye judge ye shall be judged.” Does this mean that if they have judged any one with injustice they shall themselves be unjustly judged? Of course not; for there is no unrighteousness with God. But it is thus expressed, “In the judgment in which ye judge ye shall be judged,” as if it were said, In the will in which ye have dealt kindly with others ye shall be set at liberty, or in the will in which ye have done evil to others ye shall be punished. As if any one, for example, using his eyes for the gratification of base desires, were ordered to be made blind, this would be a just sentence for him to hear, “In those eyes by which thou hast sinned, in them hast thou deserved to be punished.” For every one uses the judgment of his own mind, according as it is good or evil, for doing good or for doing evil. Wherefore it is not unjust that he be judged in that in which he judges, that is to say, that he suffer the penalty in the mind’s faculty of judgment when he is made to endure those evils which are the consequences of the sinful judgment of his mind.

26. For while other torments which are prepared to be hereafter inflicted are visible, torments occasioned by the same central cause, namely, a depraved will,—it is also the fact that within the mind itself, in which the appetite of the will is the measure of all human actions, sin is followed immediately by punishment, which is for the most part increased in proportion to the greater blindness of one by whom it is not felt. Therefore when He had said, “With [or rather, as Augustin renders it, In] what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged,” He went on to add, “And in what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.” A good man, that is to say, will measure out good actions in his own will, and in the same shall blessedness be measured unto him; and in like manner, a bad man will measure out bad actions in his own will, and in the same shall misery be meted out to him; for in whatsoever any one is good when his will aims at what is good, in the same he is evil when his will aims at what is evil. And therefore it is also in this that he is made to experience bliss or misery, viz. in the feeling experienced by his own will, which is the measure both of all actions and of the recompenses of actions. For we measure actions, whether good or bad, by the quality of the volitions which produce them, not by the length of time which they occupy. Were it otherwise, it would be regarded a greater crime to fell a tree than to kill a man. For the former takes a long time and many strokes, the latter may be done with one blow in a moment of time; and yet, if a man were punished with no more than transportation for life for this great crime committed in a moment, it would be said that he had been treated with more clemency than he deserved, although, in regard to the duration of time, the protracted punishment is not in any way to be compared with the sudden act of murder. Where, then, is anything contradictory in the sentence objected to, if the punishments shall be equally protracted or even alike eternal, but differing in comparative gentleness and severity? The duration is the same; the pain inflicted is different in degree, because that which constitutes the measure of the sins themselves is found not in the length of time which they occupy, but in the will of those who commit them.

27. Certainly the will itself endures the punishment, whether pain be inflicted on the mind or on the body; so that the same thing which is gratified by the sin is smitten by the penalty, and so that he who judgeth without mercy is judged without mercy; for in this sentence also the standard of measure is the same only in this point, that what he did not give to others is denied to him, and therefore the judgment passed on him shall be eternal, although the judgment pronounced by him cannot be eternal. It is therefore in the sinner’s own measure that punishments which are eternal are measured out to him, though the sins thus punished were not eternal; for as his wish was to have an eternal enjoyment of sin, so the award which he finds is an eternal endurance of suffering.

The brevity which I study in this reply precludes me from collecting all, or at least as many as I could of the statements contained in our sacred books as to sin and the punishment of sin, and deducing from these one indisputable proposition on the subject; and perhaps, even if I obtained the necessary leisure, I might not possess abilities competent to the task. Nevertheless, I think that in the meantime I have proved that there is no contradiction between the eternity of punishment and the principle that sins shall be recompensed in the same measure in which men have committed them.

28. Question V. The objector who has brought forward these questions from Porphyry has added this one in the next place: Will you have the goodness to instruct me as to whether Solomon said truly or not that God has no Son?

29. The answer is brief: Solomon not only did not say this, but, on the contrary, expressly said that God hath a Son. For in one of his writings Wisdom saith: “Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth.” And what is Christ but the Wisdom of God? Again, in another place in the book of Proverbs, he says: “God hath taught me wisdom, and I have learned the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up into heaven and descended? who hath gathered the winds in His fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name?” Of the two questions concluding this quotation, the one referred to the Father, namely, “What is His name?”—with allusion to the foregoing words, “God hath taught me wisdom,”—the other evidently to the Son, since he says, “or what is His Son’s name?”—with allusion to the other statements, which are more properly understood as pertaining to the Son, viz. “Who hath ascended up into heaven and descended?”—a question brought to remembrance by the words of Paul: “He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens;”—”Who hath gathered the winds in His fists?” i.e. the souls of believers in a hidden and secret place, to whom, accordingly, it is said, “Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God;”—”Who hath bound the waters in a garment?” whence it could be said, “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ;”—”Who hath established all the ends of the earth?” the same who said to His disciples, “Ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

30. Question VI. The last question proposed is concerning Jonah, and it is put as if it were not from Porphyry, but as being a standing subject of ridicule among the Pagans; for his words are: “In the next place, what are we to believe concerning Jonah, who is said to have been three days in a whale’s belly? The thing is utterly improbable and incredible, that a man swallowed with his clothes on should have existed in the inside of a fish. If, however, the story is figurative, be pleased to explain it. Again, what is meant by the story that a gourd sprang up above the head of Jonah after he was vomited by the fish? What was the cause of this gourd’s growth?” Questions such as these I have seen discussed by Pagans amidst loud laughter, and with great scorn.

31. To this I reply, that either all the miracles wrought by divine power may be treated as incredible, or there is no reason why the story of this miracle should not be believed. The resurrection of Christ Himself upon the third day would not be believed by us, if the Christian faith was afraid to encounter Pagan ridicule. Since, however, our friend did not on this ground ask whether it is to be believed that Lazarus was raised on the fourth day, or that Christ rose on the third day, I am much surprised that he reckoned what was done with Jonah to be incredible; unless, perchance, he thinks it easier for a dead man to be raised in life from his sepulchre, than for a living man to be kept in life in the spacious belly of a sea monster. For without mentioning the great size of sea monsters which is reported to us by those who have knowledge of them, let me ask how many men could be contained in the belly which was fenced round with those huge ribs which are fixed in a public place in Carthage, and are well known to all men there? Who can be at a loss to conjecture how wide an entrance must have been given by the opening of the mouth which was the gateway of that vast cavern? unless, perchance, as our friend stated it, the clothing of Jonah stood in the way of his being swallowed without injury, as if he had required to squeeze himself through a narrow passage, instead of being, as was the case, thrown headlong through the air, and so caught by the sea monster as to be received into its belly before he was wounded by its teeth. At the same time, the Scripture does not say whether he had his clothes on or not when he was cast down into that cavern, so that it may without contradiction be understood that he made that swift descent unclothed, if perchance it was necessary that his garment should be taken from him, as the shell is taken from an egg, to make him more easily swallowed. For men are as much concerned about the raiment of this prophet as would be reasonable if it were stated that he had crept through a very small window, or had been going into a bath; and yet, even though it were necessary in such circumstances to enter without parting with one’s clothes, this would be only inconvenient, not miraculous.

32. But perhaps our objectors find it impossible to believe in regard to this divine miracle that the heated moist air of the belly, whereby food is dissolved, could be so moderated in temperature as to preserve the life of a man. If so, with how much greater force might they pronounce it incredible that the three young men cast into the furnace by the impious king walked unharmed in the midst of the flames! If, therefore, these objectors refuse to believe any narrative of a divine miracle, they must be refuted by another line of argument. For it is incumbent on them in that case not to single out some one to be objected to, and called in question as incredible, but to denounce as incredible all narratives in which miracles of the same kind or more remarkable are recorded. And yet, if this which is written concerning Jonah were said to have been done by Apuleius of Madaura or Apollonius of Tyana, by whom they boast, though unsupported by reliable testimony, that many wonders were performed (albeit even the devils do some works like those done by the holy angels, not in truth, but in appearance, not by wisdom, but manifestly by subtlety),—if, I say, any such event were narrated in connection with these men to whom they give the flattering name of magicians or philosophers, we should hear from their mouths sounds not of derision, but of triumph. Be it so, then; let them laugh at our Scriptures; let them laugh as much as they can, when they see themselves daily becoming fewer in number, while some are removed by death, and others by their embracing the Christian faith, and when all those things are being fulfilled which were predicted by the prophets who long ago laughed at them, and said that they would fight and bark against the truth in vain, and would gradually come over to our side; and who not only transmitted these statements to us, their descendants, for our learning, but promised that they should be fulfilled in our experience.

33. It is neither unreasonable nor unprofitable to inquire what these miracles signify, so that, after their significance has been explained, men may believe not only that they really occurred, but also that they have been recorded, because of their possessing symbolical meaning. Let him, therefore, who proposes to inquire why the prophet Jonah was three days in the capacious belly of a sea monster, begin by dismissing doubts as to the fact itself; for this did actually occur, and did not occur in vain. For if figures which are expressed in words only, and not in actions, aid our faith, how much more should our faith be helped by figures expressed not only in words, but also in actions! Now men are wont to speak by words; but divine power speaks by actions as well as by words. And as words which are new or somewhat unfamiliar lend brilliancy to a human discourse when they are scattered through it in a moderate and judicious manner, so the eloquence of divine revelation receives, so to speak, additional lustre from actions which are at once marvellous in themselves and skilfully designed to impart spiritual instruction.

34. As to the question, What was prefigured by the sea monster restoring alive on the third day the prophet whom it swallowed? why is this asked of us, when Christ Himself has given the answer, saying, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so must the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” ? In regard to the three days in which the Lord Christ was under the power of death, it would take long to explain how they are reckoned to be three whole days, that is, days along with their nights, because of the whole of the first day and of the third day being understood as represented on the part of each; moreover, this has been already stated very often in other discourses. As, therefore, Jonah passed from the ship to the belly of the whale, so Christ passed from the cross to the sepulchre, or into the abyss of death. And as Jonah suffered this for the sake of those who were endangered by the storm, so Christ suffered for the sake of those who are tossed on the waves of this world. And as the command was given at first that the word of God should be preached to the Ninevites by Jonah, but the preaching of Jonah did not come to them until after the whale had vomited him forth, so prophetic teaching was addressed early to the Gentiles, but did not actually come to the Gentiles until after the resurrection of Christ from the grave.

35. In the next place, as to Jonah’s building for himself a booth, and sitting down over against Nineveh, waiting to see what would befall the city, the prophet was here in his own person the symbol of another fact. He prefigured the carnal people of Israel. For he also was grieved at the salvation of the Ninevites, that is, at the redemption and deliverance of the Gentiles, from among whom Christ came to call, not righteous men, but sinners to repentance. Wherefore the shadow of that gourd over his head prefigured the promises of the Old Testament, or rather the privileges already enjoyed in it, in which there was, as the apostle says, “a shadow of things to come,” furnishing, as it were, a refuge from the heat of temporal calamities in the land of promise. Moreover, in that morning-worm, which by its gnawing tooth made the gourd wither away, Christ Himself is again prefigured, forasmuch as, by the publication of the gospel from His mouth, all those things which flourished among the Israelites for a time, or with a shadowy symbolical meaning in that earlier dispensation, are now deprived of their significance, and have withered away. And now that nation, having lost the kingdom, the priesthood, and the sacrifices formerly established in Jerusalem, all which privileges were a shadow of things to come, is burned with grievous heat of tribulation in its condition of dispersion and captivity, as Jonah was, according to the history, scorched with the heat of the sun, and is overwhelmed with sorrow; and notwithstanding, the salvation of the Gentiles and of the penitent is of more importance in the sight of God than this sorrow of Israel and the “shadow” of which the Jewish nation was so glad.

36. Again, let the Pagans laugh, and let them treat with proud and senseless ridicule Christ the Worm and this interpretation of the prophetic symbol, provided that He gradually and surely, nevertheless, consume them. For concerning all such Isaiah prophesies, when by him God says to us, “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings: for the moth shall eat them up as a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be for ever.” Let us therefore acknowledge Christ to be the morning-worm, because, moreover, in that psalm which bears the title, “Upon the hind of the morning,” He has been pleased to call Himself by this very name: “I am,” He says, “a worm, and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” This reproach is one of those reproaches which we are commanded not to fear in the words of Isaiah, “Fear ye not the reproach of men.” By that Worm, as by a moth, they are being consumed who under the tooth of His gospel are made to wonder daily at the diminution of their numbers, which is caused by desertion from their party. Let us therefore acknowledge this symbol of Christ; and because of the salvation of God, let us bear patiently the reproaches of men. He is a Worm because of the lowliness of the flesh which He assumed—perhaps, also, because of His being born of a virgin; for the worm is generally not begotten, but spontaneously originated in flesh or any vegetable product [sine concubitu nascitur]. He is the morning-worm, because He rose from the grave before the dawn of day. That gourd might, of course, have withered without any worm at its root; and finally, if God regarded the worm as necessary for this work, what need was there to add the epithet morning-worm, if not to secure that He should be recognised as the Worm who in the psalm, “pro susceptione matutina,” sings, “I am a worm, and no man”?

37. What, then, could be more palpable than the fulfilment of this prophecy in the accomplishment of the things foretold? That Worm was indeed despised when He hung upon the cross, as is written in the same psalm: “They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him;” and again, when this was fulfilled which the psalm foretold, “They pierced my hands and my feet. They have told all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture,”—circumstances which are in that ancient book described when future by the prophet with as great plainness as they are now recorded in the gospel history after their occurrence. But if in His humiliation that Worm was despised, is He to be still despised when we behold the accomplishment of those things which are predicted in the latter part of the same psalm: “All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His presence. For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and He shall govern among the nations”? Thus the Ninevites “remembered, and turned unto the Lord.” The salvation granted to the Gentiles on their repentance, which was thus so long before prefigured, Israel then, as represented by Jonah, regarded with grief, as now their nation grieves, bereft of their shadow, and vexed with the heat of their tribulations. Any one is at liberty to open up with a different interpretation, if only it be in harmony with the rule of faith, all the other particulars which are hidden in the symbolical history of the prophet Jonah; but it is obvious that it is not lawful to interpret the three days which he passed in the belly of the whale otherwise than as it has been revealed by the heavenly Master Himself in the gospel, as quoted above.

38. I have answered to the best of my power the questions proposed; but let him who proposed them become now a Christian at once, lest, if he delay until he has finished the discussion of all difficulties connected with the sacred books, he come to the end of this life before he pass from death to life. For it is reasonable that he inquire as to the resurrection of the dead before he is admitted to the Christian sacraments. Perhaps he ought also to be allowed to insist on preliminary discussion of the question proposed concerning Christ—why He came so late in the world’s history, and of a few great questions besides, to which all others are subordinate. But to think of finishing all such questions as those concerning the words, “In what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you,” and concerning Jonah, before he becomes a Christian, is to betray great unmindfulness of man’s limited capacities, and of the shortness of the life which remains to him. For there are innumerable questions the solution of which is not to be demanded before we believe, lest life be finished by us in unbelief. When, however, the Christian faith has been thoroughly received, these questions behove to be studied with the utmost diligence for the pious satisfaction of the minds of believers. Whatever is discovered by such study ought to be imparted to others without vain self-complacency; if anything still remain hidden, we must bear with patience an imperfection of knowledge which is not prejudicial to salvation.

To My Lord and Brother, Augustin, Rightly and Justly Worthy of Esteem and of All Possible Honour, Nectarius Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. In reading the letter of your Excellency, in which you have overthrown the worship of idols and the ritual of their temples, I seemed to myself to hear the voice of a philosopher, not of such a philosopher as the academician of whom they say, that having neither new doctrine to propound nor earlier statements of his own to defend, he was wont to sit in gloomy corners on the ground absorbed in some deep reverie, with his knees drawn back to his forehead, and his head buried between them, contriving how he might as a detractor assail the discoveries or cavil at the statements by which others had earned renown; nay, the form which rose under the spell of your eloquence and stood before my eyes was rather that of the great statesman Cicero, who, having been crowned with laurels for saving the lives of many of his countrymen, carried the trophies won in his forensic victories into the wondering schools of Greek philosophy, when, as one pausing for breath, he laid down the trumpet of sonorous voice and language which he had blown with blast of just indignation against those who had broken the laws and conspired against the life of the republic, and, adopting the fashion of the Grecian mantle, unfastened and threw back over his shoulders the toga’s ample folds.

2. I therefore listened with pleasure when you urged us to the worship and religion of the only supreme God; and when you counselled us to look to our heavenly fatherland, I received the exhortation with joy. For you were obviously speaking to me not of any city confined by encircling ramparts, nor of that commonwealth on this earth which the writings of philosophers have mentioned and declared to have all mankind as its citizens, but of that City which is inhabited and possessed by the great God, and by the spirits which have earned this recompense from Him, to which, by diverse roads and pathways, all religions aspire,—the City which we are not able in language to describe, but which perhaps we might by thinking apprehend. But while this City ought therefore to be, above all others, desired and loved, I am nevertheless of opinion that we are bound not to prove unfaithful to our own native land,—the land which first imparted to us the enjoyment of the light of day, in which we were nursed and educated, and (to pass to what is specially relevant in this case) the land by rendering services to which men obtain a home prepared for them in heaven after the death of the body; for, in the opinion of the most learned, promotion to that celestial City is granted to those men who have deserved well of the cities which gave them birth, and a higher experience of fellowship with God is the portion of those who are proved to have contributed by their counsels or by their labours to the welfare of their native land.

As to the remark which you were pleased wittily to make regarding our town, that it has been made conspicuous not so much by the achievements of warriors as by the conflagrations of incendiaries, and that it has produced thorns rather than flowers, this is not the severest reproof that might have been given, for we know that flowers are for the most part borne on thorny bushes. For who does not know that even roses grow on briars, and that in the bearded heads of grain the ears are guarded by spikes, and that, in general, pleasant and painful things are found blended together?

3. The last statement in your Excellency’s letter was, that neither capital punishment nor bloodshed is demanded in order to compensate for the wrong done to the Church, but that the offenders must be deprived of the possessions which they most fear to lose. But in my deliberate judgment, though, of course, I may be mistaken, it is a more grievous thing to be deprived of one’s property than to be deprived of life. For, as you know, it is an observation frequently recurring in the whole range of literature, that death terminates the experience of all evils, but that a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity of wretchedness; for it is worse to live miserably than to put an end to our miseries by death. This fact, also, is declared by the whole nature and method of your work, in which you support the poor, minister healing to the diseased, and apply remedies to the bodies of those who are in pain, and, in short, make it your business to prevent the afflicted from feeling the protracted continuance of their sufferings.

Again, as to the degree of demerit in the faults of some as compared with others, it is of no importance what the quality of the fault may seem to be in a case in which forgiveness is craved. For, in the first place, if penitence procures forgiveness and expiates the crime—and surely he is penitent who begs pardon and humbly embraces the feet of the party whom he has offended—and if, moreover, as is the opinion of some philosophers, all faults are alike, pardon ought to be bestowed upon all without distinction. One of our citizens may have spoken somewhat rudely: this was a fault; another may have perpetrated an insult or an injury: this was equally a fault; another may have violently taken what was not his own: this is reckoned a crime; another may have attacked buildings devoted to secular or to sacred purposes: he ought not to be for this crime placed beyond the reach of pardon. Finally, there would be no occasion for pardon if there were no foregoing faults.

4. Having now replied to your letter, not as the letter deserved, but to the best of my ability, such as it is, I beg and implore you (oh that I were in your presence, that you might also see my tears!) to consider again and again who you are, what is your professed character, and what is the business to which your life is devoted. Reflect upon the appearance presented by a town from which men doomed to torture are dragged forth; think of the lamentations of mothers and wives, of sons and of fathers; think of the shame felt by those who may return, set at liberty indeed, but having undergone the torture; think what sorrow and groaning the sight of their wounds and scars must renew. And when you have pondered all these things, first think of God, and think of your good name among men; or rather think of what friendly charity and the bonds of common humanity require at your hands, and seek to be praised not by punishing but by pardoning the offenders. And such things may indeed be said regarding your treatment of those whom actual guilt condemns on their own confession: to these persons you have, out of regard to your religion, granted pardon; and for this I shall always praise you. But now it is scarcely possible to express the greatness of that cruelty which pursues the innocent, and summons those to stand trial on a capital charge of whom it is certain that they had no share in the crimes alleged. If it so happen that they are acquitted, consider, I beseech you, with what ill-will their acquittal must be regarded by their accusers who of their own accord dismissed the guilty from the bar, but let the innocent go only when they were defeated in their attempts against them.

May the supreme God be your keeper, and preserve you as a bulwark of His religion and an ornament to our country.

To Nectarius, My Noble Lord and Brother, Justly Worthy of All Honour and Esteem, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Chap. I

1. I have read the letter which you kindly sent in answer to mine. Your reply comes at a very long interval after the time when I despatched my letter to you. For I had written an answer to you when my holy brother and colleague Possidius was still with us, before he had entered on his voyage; but the letter which you have been pleased to entrust to him for me I received on March 27th, about eight months after I had written to you. The reason why my communication was so late in reaching you, or yours so late in being sent to me, I do not know. Perhaps your prudence has only now dictated the reply which your pride formerly disdained. If this be the explanation, I wonder what has occasioned the change. Have you perchance heard some report, which is as yet unknown to us, that my brother Possidius had obtained authority for proceedings of greater severity against your citizens, whom—you must excuse me for saying this—he loves in a way more likely to promote their welfare than you do yourself? For your letter shows that you apprehended something of this kind when you charge me to set before my eyes “the appearance presented by a town from which men doomed to torture are dragged forth,” and to “think of the lamentations of mothers and wives, of sons and of fathers; of the shame felt by those who may return, set at liberty indeed, but having undergone the torture; and of the sorrow and groaning which the sight of their wounds and scars must renew.” Far be it from us to demand the infliction, either by ourselves or by any one, of such hardships upon any of our enemies! But, as I have said, if report has brought any such measures of severity to your ears, give us a more clear and particular account of the things reported, that we may know either what to do in order to prevent these things from being done, or what answer we must make in order to disabuse the minds of those who believe the rumour.

2. Examine more carefully my letter, to which you have so reluctantly sent a reply, for I have in it made my views sufficiently plain; but through not remembering, as I suppose, what I had written, you have in your reply made reference to sentiments widely differing from mine, and wholly unlike them. For, as if quoting from memory what I had written, you have inserted in your letter what I never said at all in mine. You say that the concluding sentence of my letter was, “that neither capital punishment nor bloodshed is demanded in order to compensate for the wrong done to the Church, but that the offenders must be deprived of that which they most fear to lose;” and then, in showing how great a calamity this imports, you add and connect with my words that you “deliberately judge—though you may perhaps be mistaken—that it is a more grievous thing to be deprived of one’s possessions than to be deprived of life.” And in order to expound more clearly the kind of possessions to which you refer, you go on to say that. it must be known to me, “as an observation frequently recurring in the whole range of literature, that death terminates the experience of all evils, but that a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity of wretchedness.” From which you have drawn the conclusion that it is “worse to live miserably than to put an end to our miseries by death.”

3. Now I for my part do not recollect reading anywhere—either in our [Christian] literature, to which I confess that I was later of applying my mind than I could now wish that I had been, or in your [Pagan] literature, which I studied from my childhood—that “a life of indigence only confers upon us an eternity of wretchedness.” For the poverty of the industrious is never in itself a crime; nay, it is to some extent a means of withdrawing and restraining men from sin. And therefore the circumstance that a man has lived in poverty here is no ground for apprehending that this shall procure for him after this brief life “an eternity of wretchedness;” and in this life which we spend on earth it is utterly impossible for any misery to be eternal, seeing that this life cannot be eternal, nay, is not of long duration even in those who attain to the most advanced old age. In the writings referred to, I for my part have read, not that in this life—as you think, and as you allege that these writings frequently affirm—there can be an eternity of wretchedness, but rather that this life itself which we here enjoy is short. Some, indeed but not all, of your authors have said that death is the end of all evils: that is indeed the opinion of the Epicureans, and of such others as believe the soul to be mortal. But those philosophers whom Cicero designates “consulates” in a certain sense, because he attaches great weight to their authority, are of opinion that when our last hour on earth comes the soul is not annihilated, but removes from its tenement, and continues in existence for a state of blessedness or of misery, according to that which a man’s actions, whether good or bad, claim as their due recompense. This agrees with the teaching of our sacred writings, with which I wish that I were more fully conversant. Death is therefore the end of all evils—but only in the case of those whose life is, pure, religious, upright, and blameless; not in the case of those who, inflamed with passionate desire for the trifles and vanities of time, are proved to be miserable by the utter perversion of their desires, though meanwhile they esteem themselves happy, and are after death compelled not only to accept as their lot, but to realize in their experience far greater miseries.

4. These sentiments, therefore, being frequently expressed both in some of your own authors, whom you deem worthy of greater esteem, and in all our Scriptures, be it yours, O worthy lover of the country which is on earth your fatherland, to dread on behalf of your countrymen a life of luxurious indulgence rather than a life of indigence; or if you fear a life of indigence, warn them that the poverty which is to be more studiously shunned is that of the man who, though surrounded with abundance of worldly possessions, is, through the insatiable eagerness wherewith he covets these, kept always in a state of want, which, to use the words of your own authors, neither plenty nor scarcity can relieve. In the letter, however, to which you reply, I did not say that those of your citizens who are enemies to the Church were to be corrected by being reduced to that extremity of indigence in which the necessaries of life are wanting, and to which succour is brought by that compassion of which you have thought it incumbent on you to point out to me that it is professed by us in the whole plan of those labours wherein we “support the poor, minister healing to the diseased, and apply remedies to the bodies of those who are in pain;” albeit, even such extremity of want as this would be more profitable than abundance of all things, if abused to the gratification of evil passions. But far be it from me to think that those about whom we are treating should be reduced to such destitution by the measures of coercion proposed.

Chap. II

5. Though you did not consider it worth while to read my letter over when it was to be answered, perhaps you have at least so far esteemed it as to preserve it, in order to its being brought to you when you at any time might desire it and call for it; if this be the case, look over it again, and mark carefully my words: you will assuredly find in it one thing to which, in my opinion, you must admit that you have made no reply. For in that letter occur the words which I now quote: “We do not desire to gratify our anger by vindictive retribution for the past, but we are concerned to make provision in a truly merciful spirit for the future. Now wicked men have something in respect to which they may be punished, and that by Christians, in a merciful way, and so as to promote their own profit and well-being. For they have these three things—life and health of the body, the means of supporting that life, and the means and opportunities of living a wicked life. Let the two former remain untouched in the possession of those who repent of their crime; this we desire, and this we spare no pains to secure. But as to the third, if it please God to deal with it as a decaying or diseased part, which must be removed with the pruning-knife, He will in such punishment prove the greatness of his compassion.” If you had read over these words of mine again, when you were pleased to write your reply, you would have looked upon it rather as an unkind insinuation than as a necessary duty to address to me a petition not only for deliverance from death, but also for exemption from torture, on behalf of those regarding whom I said that we wished to leave unimpaired their possession of bodily life and health. Neither was there any ground for your apprehending our inflicting a life of indigence and of dependence upon others for daily bread on those regarding whom I had said that we desired to secure to them the second of the possessions named above, viz. the means of supporting life. But as to their third possession, viz. the means and opportunities of living wickedly, that is to say—passing over other things—their silver with which they constructed those images of their false gods, in whose protection or adoration or unhallowed worship an attempt was made even to destroy the church of God by fire, and the provision made for relieving the poverty of very pious persons was given up to become the spoil of a wretched mob, and blood was freely shed—why, I ask, does your patriotic heart dread the stroke which shall cut this away, in order to prevent a fatal boldness from being in everything fostered and confirmed by impunity? This I beg you to discuss fully, and to show me in well-considered arguments what wrong there is in this; mark carefully what I say, lest under the form of a petition in regard to what I am saying you appear to bring against us an indirect accusation.

6. Let your countrymen be well reported of for their virtuous manners, not for their superfluous wealth; we do not wish them to be reduced through coercive measures on our account to the plough of Quintius [Cincinnatus], or to the hearth of Fabricius. Yet by such extreme poverty these statesmen of the Roman republic not only did not incur the contempt of their fellow-citizens, but were on that very account peculiarly dear to them, and esteemed the more qualified to administer the resources of their country. We neither desire nor endeavour to reduce the estates of your rich men, so that in their possession should remain no more than ten pounds of silver, as was the case with Ruffinus, who twice held the consulship, which amount the stern censorship of that time laudably required to be still further reduced as culpably large. So much are we influenced by the prevailing sentiments of a degenerate age in dealing more tenderly with minds that are very feeble, that to Christian clemency the measure which seemed just to the censors of that time appears unduly severe; yet you see how great is the difference between the two cases, the question being in the one, whether the mere fact of possessing ten pounds of silver should be dealt with as a punishable crime, and in the other, whether any one, after committing other very great crimes, should be permitted to retain the sum aforesaid in his possession; we only ask that what in those days was itself a crime be in our days made the punishment of crime. There is, however, one thing which can be done, and ought to be done, in order that, on the one hand, severity may not be pushed even so far as I have mentioned, and that, on the other, men may not, presuming on impunity, run into excess of exultation and rioting, and thus furnish to other unhappy men an example by following which they would become liable to the severest and most unheard of punishments. Let this at least be granted by you, that those who attempt with fire and sword to destroy what are necessaries to us be made afraid of losing those luxuries of which they have a pernicious abundance. Permit us also to confer upon our enemies this benefit, that we prevent them, by their fears about that which it would do them no harm to forfeit, from attempting to that which would bring harm to themselves. For this is to be termed prudent prevention, not punishment of crime; this is not to impose penalties, but to protect men from becoming liable to penalties.

7. When any one uses measures involving the infliction of some pain, in order to prevent an inconsiderate person from incurring the most dreadful punishments by becoming accustomed to crimes which yield him no advantage, he is like one who pulls a boy’s hair in order to prevent him from provoking serpents by clapping his hands at them; in both cases, while the acting of love is vexatious to its object, no member of the body is injured, whereas safety and life are endangered by that from which the person is deterred. We confer a benefit upon others, not in every case in which we do what is requested, but when we do that which is not hurtful to our petitioners. For in most cases we serve others best by not giving, and would injure them by giving, what they desire. Hence the proverb, “Do not put a sword in a child’s hand.” “Nay,” says Cicero, “refuse it even to your only son. For the more we love any one, the more are we bound to avoid entrusting to him things which are the occasion of very dangerous faults.” He was referring to riches, if I am not mistaken, when he made these observations. Wherefore it is for the most part an advantage to themselves when certain things are removed from persons in whose keeping it is hazardous to leave them, lest they abuse them. When surgeons see that a gangrene must be cut away or cauterized, they often, out of compassion, turn a deaf ear to many cries. If we had been indulgently forgiven by our parents and teachers in our tender years on every occasion on which, being found in a fault, we begged to be let off, which of us would not have grown up intolerable? which of us would have learned any useful thing? Such punishments are administered by wise care, not by wanton cruelty. Do not, I beseech you, in this matter think only how to accomplish that which you are requested by your countrymen to do, but carefully consider the matter in all its bearings. If you overlook the past, which cannot now be undone, consider the future; wisely give heed, not to the desire, but to the real interests of the petitioners who have applied to you. We are convicted of unfaithfulness towards those whom we profess to love, if our only care is lest, by refusing to do what they ask of us, their love towards us be diminished. And what becomes of that virtue which even your own literature commends, in the ruler of his country who studies not so much the wishes as the welfare of his people?

Chap. III

8. You say “it is of no importance what the quality of the fault may be in any case in which forgiveness is craved.” In this you would state the truth if the matter in question were the punishment and not the correction of men. Far be it from a Christian heart to be carried away by the lust of revenge to inflict punishment on any one. Far be it from a Christian, when forgiving any one his fault, to do otherwise than either anticipate or at least promptly answer the petition of him who asks forgiveness; but let his purpose in doing this be, that he may overcome the temptation to hate the man who has offended him, and to render evil for evil, and to be inflamed with rage prompting him, if not to do an injury, at least to desire to see the infliction of the penalties appointed by law; let it not be that he may relieve himself from considering the offender’s interest, exercising foresight on his behalf, and restraining him from evil actions. For it is possible, on the one hand, that, moved by more vehement hostility, one may neglect the correction of a man whom he hates bitterly, and, on the other hand, that by correction involving the infliction of some pain one may secure the improvement of another whom he dearly loves.

9. I grant that, as you write, “penitence procures forgiveness, and blots out the offence,” but it is that penitence which is practised under the influence of the true religion, and which has regard to the future judgment of God; not that penitence which is for the time professed or pretended before men, not to secure the cleansing of the soul for ever from the fault, but only to deliver from present apprehension of pain the life which is so soon to perish. This is the reason why in the case of some Christians who confessed their fault, and asked forgiveness for having been involved in the guilt of that crime,—either by their not protecting the church when in danger of being burned, or by their appropriating a portion of the property which the miscreants carried off,—we believed that the pain of repentance had borne fruit, and considered it sufficient for their correction, because in their hearts is found that faith by which they could realize what they ought to fear from the judgment of God for their sin. But how can there be any healing virtue in the repentance of those who not only fail to acknowledge, but even persist in mocking and blaspheming Him who is the fountain of forgiveness? At the same time, towards these men we do not cherish any feeling of enmity in our hearts, which are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him whose judgment both in this life and in the life to come we dread, and in whose help we place our hope. But we think that we are even taking measures for the benefit of these men, if, seeing that they do not fear God, we inspire fear in them by doing something whereby their folly is chastened, while their real interests suffer no wrong. We thus prevent that God whom they despise from being more grievously provoked by their greater crimes, to which they would be emboldened by a disastrous assurance of impunity, and we prevent their assurance of impunity from being set forth with even more mischievous effect as an encouragement to others to imitate their example. In fine, on behalf of those for whom you make intercession to us, we intercede before God, beseeching Him to turn them to Himself, and to teach them the exercise of genuine and salutary repentance, purifying their hearts by faith.

10. Behold, then, how we love those men against whom you suppose us to be full of anger,—loving them, you must permit me to say, with a love more prudent and profitable than you yourself cherish towards them; for we plead on their behalf that they may escape much greater afflictions, and obtain much greater blessings. If you also loved these men, not in the mere earthly affections of men, but with that love which is the heavenly gift of God, and if you were sincere in writing to me that you gave ear with pleasure to me when I was recommending to you the worship and religion of the Supreme God, you would not only wish for your countrymen the blessings which we seek on their behalf, but you would yourself by your example lead them to their possession. Thus would the whole business of your interceding with us be concluded with abundant and most reasonable joy. Thus would your title to that heavenly fatherland, in regard to which you say that you welcomed my counsel that you should fix your eye upon it, be earned by a true and pious exercise of your love for the country which gave you birth, when seeking to make sure to your fellow-citizens, not the vain dream of temporal happiness, nor a most perilous exemption from the due punishment of their faults, but the gracious gift of eternal blessedness.

11. You have here a frank avowal of the thoughts and desires of my heart in this matter. As to what lies concealed in the counsels of God, I confess it is unknown to me; I am but a man; but whatever it be, His counsel stands most sure, and incomparably excels in equity and in wisdom all that can be conceived by the minds of men. With truth is it said in our books, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; but the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Wherefore, as to what time may bring forth, as to what may arise to simplify or complicate our procedure, in short, as to what desire may suddenly be awakened by the fear of losing or the hope of retaining present possessions; whether God shall show Himself so displeased by what they have done that they shall be punished with the more weighty and severe sentence of a disastrous impunity, or shall appoint that they shall be compassionately corrected in the manner which we propose, or shall avert whatever terrible doom was being prepared for them, and convert it into joy by some more stern but more salutary correction, leading to their turning unfeignedly to seek mercy not from men but from Himself,—all this He knoweth; we know not. Why, then, should your Excellency and I be spending toil in vain over this matter before the time? Let us for a little while lay aside a care the hour of which has not yet come, and, if you please, let us occupy ourselves with that which is always pressing. For there is no time at which it is not both suitable and necessary for us to consider in what way we can please God; because for a man to attain completely in this life to such perfection that no sin whatever shall remain in him is either impossible or (if perchance any attain to it) extremely difficult: wherefore without delay we ought to flee at once to the grace of Him to whom we may address with perfect truth the words which were addressed to some illustrious man by a poet, who declared that he had borrowed the lines from a Cumaean oracle, or ode of prophetic inspiration: “With thee as our leader, the obliteration of all remaining traces of our sin shall deliver the earth from perpetual alarm.” For with Him as our leader, all sins are blotted out and forgiven; and by His way we are brought to that heavenly fatherland, the thought of which as a dwelling-place pleased you greatly when I was to the utmost of my power commending it to your affection and desire.

Chap. IV

12. But since you said that all religions by diverse roads and pathways aspire to that one dwelling-place, I fear lest, perchance, while supposing that the way in which you are now found tends thither, you should be somewhat reluctant to embrace the way which alone leads men to heaven. Observing, however, more carefully the word which you used, I think that it is not presumptuous for me to expound its meaning somewhat differently; for you did not say that all religions by diverse roads and pathways reach heaven, or reveal, or find, or enter, or secure that blessed land, but by saying in a phrase deliberately weighed and chosen that all religions aspire to it, you have indicated, not the fruition, but the desire of heaven as common to all religions. You have in these words neither shut out the one religion which is true, nor admitted other religions which are false; for certainly the way which brings us to the goal aspires thitherward, but not every way which aspires thitherward brings us to the place wherein all who are brought thither are unquestionably blest. Now we all wish, that is, we aspire, to be blest; but we cannot all achieve what we wish, that is, we do not all obtain what we aspire to. That man, therefore, obtains heaven who walks in the way which not only aspires thitherward, but actually brings him thither, separating himself from others who keep to the ways which aspire heavenward without finally reaching heaven. For there would be no wandering if men were content to aspire to nothing, or if the truth which men aspire to were obtained. If, however, in using the expression “diverse ways,” you meant me not to understand contrary ways, but different ways, in the sense in which we speak of diverse precepts, which all tend to build up a holy life,—one enjoining chastity, another patience or faith or mercy, and the like,—in roads and pathways which are only in this sense diverse, that country is not only aspired unto but actually found. For in Holy Scripture we read both of ways and of a way,—of ways, e.g. in the words, “I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto Thee;” of a way, e.g. in the prayer, “Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth.” Those ways and this way are not different; but in one way are comprehended all those of which in another place the Holy Scripture saith, “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth.” The careful study of these ways furnishes theme for a long discourse, and for most delightful meditation; but this I shall defer to another time if it be required.

13. In the meantime, however,—and this, I think, may suffice in the present reply to your Excellency,—seeing that Christ has said, “I am the way,” it is in Him that mercy and truth are to be sought: if we seek these in any other way, we must go astray, following a path which aspires to the true goal, but does not lead men thither. For example, if we resolved to follow the way indicated in the maxim which you mentioned, “All sins are alike,” would it not lead us into hopeless exile from that fatherland of truth and blessedness? For could anything more absurd and senseless be said, than that the man who has laughed too rudely, and the man who has furiously set his city on fire, should be judged as having committed equal crimes? This opinion, which is not one of many diverse ways leading to the heavenly dwelling-place, but a perverse way leading inevitably to most fatal error, you have judged it necessary to quote from certain philosophers, not because you concurred in the sentiment, but because it might help your plea for your fellow-citizens—that we might forgive those whose rage set our church in flames on the same terms as we would forgive those who may have assailed us with some insolent reproach.

14. But reconsider with me the reasoning by which you supported your position. You say, “If, as is the opinion of some philosophers, all faults are alike, pardon ought to be bestowed upon all without distinction.” Thereafter, labouring apparently to prove that all faults are alike, you go on to say, “One of our citizens may have spoken somewhat rudely: this was a fault; another may have perpetrated an insult or an injury: this was equally a fault.” This is not teaching truth, but advancing, without any evidence in its support, a perversion of truth. For to your statement, “this was equally a fault,” we at once give direct contradiction. You demand, perhaps, proof; but I reply, What proof have you given of your statement? Are we to hear as evidence your next sentence, “Another may have violently taken away what was not his own: this is reckoned a misdemeanour”? Here you own yourself to be ashamed of the maxim which you quoted; you had not the assurance to say that this was equally a fault, but you say “it is reckoned a misdemeanour.” But the question here is not whether this also is reckoned a misdemeanour, but whether this offence and the others which you mentioned are faults equal in demerit, unless, of course, they are to be pronounced equal because they are both offences; in which case the mouse and the elephant must be pronounced equal because they are both animals, and the fly and the eagle because they both have wings.

15. You go still further, and make this proposition: “Another may have attacked buildings devoted to secular or to sacred purposes: he ought not for this crime to be placed beyond the reach of pardon.” In this sentence you have indeed come to the most flagrant crime of your fellow-citizens, in speaking of injury done to sacred buildings; but even you have not affirmed that this is a crime equal only to the utterance of an insolent word. You have contented yourself with asking, on behalf of those who were guilty of this, that forgiveness which is rightly asked from Christians on the ground of their overflowing compassion, not on the ground of an alleged equality of all offences. I have already quoted a sentence of Scripture, “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth.” They shall therefore find mercy if they do not hate truth. This mercy is granted, not as if it were due on the ground of the faults of all being only equal to the fault of those who have uttered rude words, but because the law of Christ claims pardon for those who are penitent, however inhuman and impious their crime may have been. I beg you, esteemed sir, not to propound these paradoxes of the Stoics as rules of conduct for your son Paradoxus, whom we wish to see grow up in piety and in prosperity, to your satisfaction. For what could be worse for himself, yea, what more dangerous for yourself, than that your ingenuous boy should imbibe an error which would make the guilt, I shall not say of parricide, but of insolence to his father, equal only to that of some rude word inconsiderately spoken to a stranger?

16. You are wise, therefore, to insist, when pleading with us for your countrymen on the compassion of Christians, not on the stern doctrines of the Stoical philosophy, which in no wise help, but much rather hinder, the cause which you have undertaken to support. For a merciful disposition, which we must have if it be possible for us to be moved either by your intercession or by their entreaties, is pronounced by the Stoics to be an unworthy weakness, and they expel it utterly from the mind of the wise man, whose perfection, in their opinion, is to be as impassive and inflexible as iron. With more reason, therefore, might it have occurred to you to quote from your own Cicero that sentence in which, praising Caesar, he says, “Of all your virtues, none is more worthy of admiration, none more graceful, than your clemency.” How much more ought this merciful disposition to prevail in the churches which follow Him who said, “I am the way,” and which learn from His word, “All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth”! Fear not, then, that we will try to bring innocent persons to death, when in truth we do not even wish the guilty to experience the punishment which they deserve, being moved by that mercy which, joined with truth, we love in Christ. But the man who, from fear of painfully crossing the will of the guilty, spares and indulges vices which must thereby gather more strength, is less merciful than the man who, lest he should hear his little boy crying, will not take from him a dangerous knife, and is unmoved by fear of the wounds or death which he may have to bewail as the consequence of his weakness. Reserve, therefore, until the proper time the work of interceding with us for those men, in loving whom (excuse my saying so) you not only do not go beyond us, but are even hitherto refusing to follow our steps; and write rather in your reply what influences you to shun the way which we follow, and in which we beseech you to go along with us towards that fatherland above, in which we rejoice to know that you take great delight.

17. As to those who are by birth your fellow-citizens, you have said indeed that some of them, though not all, were innocent; but, as you must see if you read over again my other letter, you have not made out a defence for them. When, in answer to your remark that you wished to leave your country flourishing, I said that we had felt thorns rather than found flowers in your countrymen, you thought that I wrote in jest. As if, forsooth, in the midst of evils of such magnitude we were in a mood for mirth. Certainly not. While the smoke was ascending from the ruins of our church consumed by fire, were we likely to joke on the subject? Although, indeed, none in your city appeared in my opinion innocent, but those who were absent, or were sufferers, or were destitute both of strength and of authority to prevent the tumult, I nevertheless distinguished in my reply those whose guilt was greater from those who were less to blame, and stated that there was a difference between the cases of those who were moved by fear of offending powerful enemies of the Church, and of those who desired these outrages to be committed; also between those who committed them and those who instigated others to their commission; resolving, however, not to institute inquiry in regard to the instigators, because these, perhaps, could not be ascertained without recourse to the use of tortures, from which we shrink with abhorrence, as utterly inconsistent with our aims. Your friends the Stoics, who hold that all faults are alike, must, however, if they were the judges, pronounce them all equally guilty; and if to this opinion they join that inflexible sternness wherewith they disparage clemency as a vice, their sentence would necessarily be, not that all should be pardoned alike, but that all should be punished alike. Dismiss, therefore, these philosophers altogether from the position of advocates in this case, and rather desire that we may act as Christians, so that, as we desire, we may gain in Christ those whom we forgive, and may not spare them by such indulgence as would be ruinous to themselves. May God, whose ways are mercy and truth, be pleased to enrich you with true felicity!

To Victorianus, His Beloved Lord and Most Longed-for Brother and Fellow-Presbyter, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

1. My heart has been filled with great sorrow by your letter. You asked me to discuss certain things at great length in my reply; but such calamities as you narrate claim rather many groans and tears than prolix treatises. The whole world, indeed, is afflicted with such portentous misfortunes, that there is scarcely any place where such things as you describe are not being committed and complained of. A short time ago some brethren were massacred by the barbarians even in those deserts of Egypt in which, in order to perfect security, they had chosen places remote from all disturbance as the sites of their monasteries. I suppose, moreover, that the outrages which they have perpetrated in the regions of Italy and Gaul are known to you also; and now similar events begin to be announced to us from many provinces of Spain, which for long seemed exempt from these evils. But why go to a distance for examples? Behold! in our own county of Hippo, which the barbarians have not yet touched, the ravages of the Donatist clergy and Circumcelliones make such havoc in our churches, that perhaps the cruelties of barbarians would be light in comparison. For what barbarian could ever have devised what these have done, viz. casting lime and vinegar into the eyes of our clergymen, besides atrociously beating and wounding every part of their bodies? They also sometimes plunder and burn houses, rob granaries, and pour out oil and wine; and by threatening to do this to all others in the district, they compel many even to be re-baptized. Only yesterday, tidings came to me of forty-eight souls in one place having submitted, under fear of such things, to be rebaptized.

2. These things should make us weep, but not wonder; and we ought to cry unto God that not for our merit, but according to His mercy, He may deliver us from so great evils. For what else was to be expected by the human race, seeing that these things were so long ago foretold both by the prophets and in the Gospels? We ought not, therefore, to be so inconsistent as to believe these Scriptures when they are read by us, and to complain when they are fulfilled; rather, surely, ought even those who had refused to believe when they read or heard these things in Scripture to become believers now when they behold the word fulfilled; so that under this great pressure, as it were, in the olive-press of the Lord our God, although there be the dregs of unbelieving murmurs and blasphemies, there is also a steady out flowing of pure oil in the confessions and prayers of believers. For unto those men who incessantly reproach the Christian faith, impiously saying that the human race did not suffer such grievous calamities before the Christian doctrine was promulgated throughout the world, it is easy to find a reply in the Lord’s own words in the gospel, “That servant which knew not his lord’s will, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes; but the servant which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.” What is there to excite surprise, if, in the Christian dispensation, the world, like that servant, knowing the will of the Lord, and refusing to do it, is beaten with many stripes? These men remark the rapidity with which the gospel is proclaimed: they do not remark the perversity with which by many it is despised. But the meek and pious servants of God, who have to bear a double portion of temporal calamities, since they suffer both at the hands of wicked men and along with them, have also consolations peculiarly their own, and the hope of the world to come; for which reason the apostle says, “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in us.”

3. Wherefore, my beloved, even when you meet those whose words you say you cannot bear, because they say, “If we have deserved these things for our sins, how comes it that the servants of God are cut off not less than ourselves by the sword of the barbarians, and the handmaids of God are led away into captivity?”—answer them humbly, truly, and piously in such words as these: However carefully we keep the way of righteousness, and yield obedience to our Lord, can we be better than those three men who were cast into the fiery furnace for keeping the law of God? And yet, read what Azarias, one of those three, said, opening his lips in the midst of the fire: “Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers: Thy name is worthy to be praised and glorified for evermore; for Thou art righteous in all the things that Thou hast done to us; yea, true are all Thy works: Thy ways are right, and all Thy judgments truth. In all the things which Thou hast brought upon us, and upon the holy city of our fathers, even Jerusalem, Thou hast executed true judgment; for according to truth and judgment didst Thou bring all these things upon us because of our sins. For we have sinned and committed iniquity, departing from Thee. In all things have we trespassed, and not obeyed Thy commandments, nor kept them, neither done as Thou hast commanded us, that it might go well with us. Wherefore all that Thou hast brought upon us, and everything that Thou hast done to us, Thou hast done in true judgment. And Thou didst deliver us into the hands of lawless enemies, most hateful forsakers of God, and to an unjust king, and the most wicked in all the world. And now we cannot open our mouths: we are become a shame and reproach to Thy servants, and to them that worship Thee. Yet deliver us not up wholly, for Thy name’s sake, neither disannul Thou Thy covenant; and cause not Thy mercy to depart from us, for Thy beloved Abraham’s sake, for Thy servant Isaac’s sake, and for Thy holy Israel’s sake, to whom Thou hast spoken, and promised that Thou wouldst multiply their seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that lieth upon the sea-shore. For we, O Lord, are become less than any nation, and be kept under this day in all the world because of our sins.” Here, my brother, thou mayest surely see how men such as they, men of holiness, men of courage in the midst of tribulation,—from which, however, they were delivered, the flame itself fearing to consume them, were not silent about their sins, but confessed them, knowing that because of these sins they were deservedly and justly brought low.

4. Nay, can we be better men than Daniel himself, concerning whom God, speaking to the prince of Tyre, says by the prophet Ezekiel, “Art thou wiser than Daniel?” who also is placed among the three righteous men to whom alone God saith that He would grant deliverance,—pointing, doubtless, in them to three representative righteous men,—declaring that he would deliver only Noah, Daniel, and Job, and that they should save along with themselves neither son nor daughter, but only their own souls? Nevertheless, read also the prayer of Daniel, and see how, when in captivity, he confesses not only the sins of his people, but his own also, and acknowledges that because of these the justice of God has visited them with the punishment of captivity and with reproach. For it is thus written: “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said: O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments; we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from Thy precepts and from Thy judgments: neither have we hearkened unto Thy servants the prophets, which spake in Thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee. O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against Him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord, to walk in His laws which He set before us by His servants the prophets. Yea, all Israel have transgressed Thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey Thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against them. And He hath confirmed His words which He spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil; for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities and understand Thy truth. Therefore hath the Lord watched upon the evil, and brought it upon us; for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He doeth; for we obeyed not His voice. And now, O Lord our God, that hast brought Thy people forth out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and hast gotten Thee renown as at this day; we have sinned, we have done wickedly. O Lord, according to all Thy righteousness, I beseech Thee, let Thine anger and Thy fury be turned away from Thy city Jerusalem, Thy holy mountain, because, for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us. Now, therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of Thy servant, and His supplications, and cause Thy face to shine upon Thy sanctuary which is desolate, for the Lord’s sake. O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name; for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do: defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God; for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy name. And while I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people . . .” Observe how he spoke first of his own sins, and then of the sins of his people. And he extols the righteousness of God, and gives praise to God for this, that He visits even His saints with the rod, not unjustly, but because of their sins. If, therefore, this be the language of men who by reason of their eminent sanctity found even encompassing flames and lions harmless, what language would befit men standing on a level so low as we occupy, seeing that, whatever righteousness we may seem to practise, we are very far from being worthy of comparison with them?

5. Lest, however, any one should think that those servants of God, whose death at the hand of barbarians you relate, ought to have been delivered from them in the same manner as the three young men were delivered from the fire, and Daniel from the lions, let such an one know that these miracles were performed in order that the kings by whom they were delivered to these punishments might believe that they worshipped the true God. For in His hidden counsel and mercy God was in this manner making provision for the salvation of these kings. It pleased Him, however, to make no such provision in the case of Antiochus the king, who cruelly put the Maccabees to death; but He punished the heart of the obdurate king with sharper severity through their most glorious sufferings. Yet read what was said by even one of them—the sixth who suffered: “After him they brought also the sixth, who, being ready to die, said, Be not deceived without cause; for we suffer these things for ourselves, having sinned against God: therefore marvellous things are done unto us; but think not thou that takest in hand to strive against God and His law that thou shalt escape unpunished.’“ You see how these also are wise in the exercise of humility and sincerity, confessing that they are chastened because of their sins by the Lord, of whom it is written: “Whom the Lord loveth He correcteth,” and “He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;” wherefore the Apostle says also, “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged; but when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

6. These things read faithfully, and proclaim faithfully; and to the utmost of your power beware, and teach others that they must beware, of murmuring against God in these trials and tribulations. You tell me that good, faithful, and holy servants of God have been cut off by the sword of the barbarians. But what matters it whether it is by sickness or by sword that they have been set free from the body? The Lord is careful as to the character with which His servants go from this world—not as to the mere circumstances of their departure, excepting this, that lingering weakness involves more suffering than a sudden death; and yet we read of this same protracted and dreadful weakness as the lot of that Job to whose righteousness God Himself, who cannot be deceived, bears such testimony.

7. Most calamitous, and much to be bewailed, is the captivity of chaste and holy women; but their God is not in the power of their captors, nor does He forsake those captives whom He knows indeed to be His own. For those holy men, the record of whose sufferings and confessions I have quoted from the Holy Scriptures, being held in captivity by enemies who had carried them away, uttered those words, which, preserved in writing, we can read for ourselves, in order to make us understand that servants of God, even when they are in captivity, are not forsaken by their Lord. Nay, more, do we know what wonders of power and grace the almighty and merciful God may please to accomplish by means of these captive women even in the land of the barbarians? Be that as it may, cease not to intercede with groanings on their behalf before God, and to seek, so far as your power and His providence permits you, to do for them whetever can be done, and to give them whatever consolation can be given, as time and opportunity may be granted. A few years ago, a nun, a grand-daughter of Bishop Severus, was carried off by barbarians from the neighbourhood of Sitifa, and was by the marvellous mercy of God restored with great honour to her parents. For at the very time when the maiden entered the house of her barbarian captors, it became the scene of much distress through the sudden illness of its owners, all the barbarians—three brothers, if I mistake not, or more—being attacked with most dangerous disease. Their mother observed that the maiden was dedicated to God, and believed that by her prayers her sons might be delivered from the danger of death, which was imminent. She begged her to intercede for them, promising that if they were healed she should be restored to her parents. She fasted and prayed, and straightway was heard; for, as the result showed, the event had been appointed that this might take place. They therefore, having recovered health by this unexpected favour from God, regarded her with admiration and respect, and fulfilled the promise which their mother had made.

8. Pray, therefore, to God for them, and beseech Him to enable them to say such things as the holy Azariah, whom we have mentioned, poured forth along with other expressions in his prayer and confession before God. For in the land of their captivity these women are in circumstances similar to those of the three Hebrew youths in that land in which they could not sacrifice to the Lord their God in the manner prescribed: they cannot either bring an oblation to the altar of God, or find a priest by whom their oblation may be presented to God. May God therefore grant them grace to say to Him what Azariah said in the following sentences of his prayer: “Neither is there at this time prince, or prophet, or leader, or burnt-offering, or sacrifice, or oblation, or incense, or place to sacrifice before Thee, and to find mercy: nevertheless, in a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be accepted. Like as in the burnt-offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten thousands of fat lambs, so let our sacrifice be in Thy sight this day. And grant that we may wholly go after Thee; for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in Thee. And now we follow Thee with all our heart: we fear Thee and seek Thy face. Put us not to shame, but deal with us after Thy loving-kindness, and according to the multitude of Thy mercies. Deliver us also according to Thy marvellous works, and give glory to Thy name, O Lord; and let all them that do Thy servants hurt be ashamed: and let them be confounded in all their power and might, and let their strength be broken: and let them know that Thou art Lord, the only God, and glorious over the whole world.”

9. When His servants use these words, and pray fervently to God, He will stand by them, as He has been wont ever to stand by His own, and will either not permit their chaste bodies to suffer any wrong from the lust of their enemies, or if He permit this, He will not lay sin to their charge in the matter. For when the soul is not defiled by any impurity of consent to such wrong, the body also is thereby protected from all participation in the guilt; and in so far as nothing was committed or permitted by lust on the part of her who suffers, the whole blame lies with him who did the wrong, and all the violence done to the sufferer will be regarded not as implying the baseness of wanton compliance, but as a wound blamelessly endured. For such is the worth of unblemished purity in the soul, that while it remains intact, the body also retains its purity unsullied, even although by violence its members may be overpowered.

I beg your Charity to be satisfied with this letter, which is very long considering my other work (although too short to meet your wishes), and is somewhat hurriedly written, because the bearer is in haste to be gone. The Lord will furnish you with much more abundant consolation if you read attentively His holy word.

To Fortunatus, My Colleague in the Priesthood, My Lord Most Blessed, and My Brother Beloved with Profound Esteem, and to the Brethren Who are with Thee, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Your Holiness is well acquainted with Faventius, a tenant on the estate of the Paratian forest. He, apprehending some injury or other at the hands of the owner of that estate, took refuge in the church at Hippo, and was there, as fugitives are wont to do, waiting till he could get the matter settled through my mediation. Becoming every day, as often happens, less and less alarmed, and in fact completely off his guard, as if his adversary had desisted from his enmity, he was, when leaving the house of a friend after supper, suddenly carried off by one Florentinus, an officer of the Count, who used in this act of violence a band of armed men sufficient for the purpose. When this was made known to me, and as yet it was unknown by whose orders or by whose hands he had been carried off, though suspicion naturally fell on the man from whose apprehended injury he had claimed the protection of the Church, I at once communicated with the tribune who is in command of the coast-guard. He sent out soldiers, but no one could be found. But in the morning we learned in what house he had passed the night, and also that he had left it after cock-crowing, with the man who had him in custody. I sent also to the place to which it was reported that he had been removed: there the officer above-named was found, but refused to allow the presbyter whom I had sent to have even a sight of his prisoner. On the following day I sent a letter requesting that he should be allowed the privilege which the Emperor appointed in cases such as his, namely, that persons summoned to appear to be tried should in the municipal court be interrogated whether they desired to spend thirty days under adequate surveillance in the town, in order to arrange their affairs, or find funds for the expense of their trial, my expectation being that within that period of time we might perhaps bring his matters to some amicable settlement. Already, however, he had gone farther under charge of the officer Florentinus; but my fear is, lest perchance, if he be brought before the tribunal of the magistrate, he suffer some injustice. For although the integrity of that judge is widely famed as incorruptible, Faventius has for his adversary a man of very great wealth. To secure that money may not prevail in that court, I beg your Holiness, my beloved lord and venerable brother, to have the kindness to give the accompanying letter to the honourable magistrate, a man very much beloved by us, and to read this letter also to him; for I have not thought it necessary to write twice the same statement of the case. I trust that he will delay the hearing of the case, because I do not know whether the man is innocent or guilty. I trust also that he will not overlook the fact that the laws have been violated in his having been suddenly carried off, without being brought, as was enacted by the Emperor, before the municipal court, in order to his being asked whether he wished to accept the benefit of the delay of thirty days, so that in this way we may get the affair settled between him and his adversary.

To Generosus, My Noble and Justly Distinguished Lord, My Honoured and Much-Loved Son, Augustin Sends Greeting in the Lord.

Although the praises and favourable report of your administration and your own illustrious good name always give me the greatest pleasure because of the love which we feel due to your merit and to your benevolence, on no occasion have I hitherto been burdensome to your Excellency as an intercessor requesting any favour from you, my much-loved lord and justly-honoured son. When, however, your Excellency has learned from the letters which I have sent to my venerable brother and colleague, Fortunatus, what has occurred in the town in which I serve the Church of God, your kind heart will at once perceive the necessity under which I have been constrained to trespass by this petition on your time, already fully occupied. I am perfectly assured that, cherishing towards us the feeling which, in the name of Christ, we are fully warranted to expect, you will act in this matter as becomes not only an upright, but also a Christian magistrate.

From Dioscorus to Augustin.

To you, who esteem the substance, not the style of expression, as important, any formal preamble to this letter would be not only unnecessary, but irksome. Therefore, without further preface, I beg your attention. The aged Alypius had often promised, in answer to my request, that he would, with your help, furnish a reply to a very few brief questions of mine in regard to the Dialogues of Cicero; and as he is said to be at present in Mauritania, I ask and earnestly entreat you to condescend to give, without his assistance, those answers which, even had your brother been present, it would doubtless have fallen to you to furnish. What I require is not money, it is not gold; though, if you possessed these, you would, I am sure, be willing to give them to me for any fit object. This request of mine you can grant without effort, by merely speaking. I might importune you at a greater length, and through many of your dear friends; but I know your disposition, that you do not desire to be solicited, but show kindness readily to all, if only there be nothing improper in the thing requested: and there is absolutely nothing improper in what I ask. Be this, however, as it may, I beg you to do me this kindness, for I am on the point of embarking on a voyage. You know how very painful it is to me to be burdensome to any one, and much more to one of your frank disposition; but God alone knows how irresistible is the pressure of the necessity under which I have made this application. For, taking leave of you, and committing myself to divine protection, I am about to undertake a voyage; and you know the ways of men, how prone they are to censure, and you see how any one will be regarded as illiterate and stupid who, when questions are addressed to him, can return no answer. Therefore, I implore you, answer all my queries without delay. Send me not away downcast. I ask this that so I may see my parents; for on this one errand I have sent Cerdo to you, and I now delay only till he return. My brother Zenobius has been appointed imperial remembrancer, and has sent me a free pass for my journey, with provisions. If I am not worthy of your reply, let at least the fear of my forfeiting these provisions by delay move you to give answers to my little questions. May the most high God spare you long to us in health! Papas salutes your excellency most cordially.

Augustin to Dioscorus.

Chap. I

1. You have sent suddenly upon me a countless multitude of questions, by which you must have purposed to blockade me on every side, or rather bury me completely, even if you were under the impression that I was otherwise unoccupied and at leisure; for how could I, even though wholly at leisure, furnish the solution of so many questions to one in such haste as you are, and, in fact, as you write, on the eve of a journey? I would, indeed, be prevented by the mere number of the questions to be resolved, even if their solution were easy. But they are so perplexingly intricate, and so hard, that even if they were few in number, and engaging me when otherwise wholly at leisure, they would, by the mere time required, exhaust my powers of application, and wear out my strength. I would, however, fain snatch you forcibly away from the midst of those inquiries in which you so much delight, and fix you down among the cares which engage my attention, in order that you may either learn not to be unprofitably curious, or desist from presuming to impose the task of feeding and fostering your curiosity upon men among whose cares one of the greatest is to repress and curb those who are too inquisitive. For if time and pains are devoted to writing anything to you, how much better and more profitably are these employed in endeavours to cut off those vain and treacherous passions (which are to be guarded against with a caution proportioned to the ease with which they impose upon us, by their being disguised and cloaked under the semblance of virtue and the name of liberal studies), rather than in causing them to be, by our service, or rather obsequiousness, so to speak, roused to a more vehement assertion of the despotism under which they so oppress your excellent spirit.

2. For tell me what good purpose is served by the many Dialogues which you have read, if they have in no way helped you towards the discovery and attainment of the end of all your actions? For by your letter you indicate plainly enough what you have proposed to yourself as the end to be attained by all this most ardent study of yours, which is at once useless to yourself and troublesome to me. For when you were in your letter using every means to persuade me to answer the questions which you sent, you wrote these words: “I might importune you at greater length, and through many of your dear friends; but I know your disposition, that you do not desire to be solicited, but show kindness readily to all, if only there be nothing improper in the thing requested: and there is absolutely nothing improper in what I ask. Be this, however, as it may, I beg you to do me this kindness, for I am on the point of embarking on a voyage.” In these words of your letter you are indeed right in your opinion as to myself, that I am desirous of showing kindness to all, if only there be nothing improper in the request made; but it is not my opinion that there is nothing improper in what you ask. For when I consider how a bishop is distracted and overwrought by the cares of his office clamouring on every side, it does not seem to me proper for him suddenly, as if deaf, to withdraw himself from all these, and devote himself to the work of expounding to a single student some unimportant questions in the Dialogues of Cicero. The impropriety of this you yourself apprehend, although, carried away with zeal in the pursuit of your studies, you will by no means give heed to it. For what other construction can I put on the fact that, after saying that in this matter there is absolutely nothing improper, you have immediately subjoined: “Be this, however, as it may, I beg you to do me this kindness, for I am on the point of embarking on a voyage”? For this intimates that in your view, at least, there is no impropriety in your request, but that whatever impropriety may be in it, you nevertheless ask me to do what you ask, because you are about to go on a voyage. Now what is the force of this supplementary plea—”I am on the point of embarking on a voyage”? Do you mean that, unless you were in these circumstances, I ought not to do you service in which anything improper may be involved? You think, forsooth, that the impropriety can be washed away by salt water. But even were it so, my share at least of the fault would remain unexpiated, because I do not propose undertaking a voyage.

3. You write, further, that I know how very painful it is to you to be burdensome to any one, and you solemnly protest that God alone knows how irresistible is the necessity under which you make the application. When I came to this statement in your letter, I turned my attention eagerly to learn the nature of the necessity; and, behold, you bring it before me in these words: “You know the ways of men, how prone they are to censure, and how any one will be regarded as illiterate and stupid who, when questions are addressed to him, can return no answer.” On reading this sentence, I felt a burning desire to reply to your letter; for, by the morbid weakness of mind which this indicated, you pierced my inmost heart, and forced your way into the midst of my cares, so that I could not refuse to minister to your relief, so far as God might enable me—not by devising a solution of your difficulties, but by breaking the connection between your happiness and the wretched support on which it now insecurely hangs, viz. the opinions of men, and fastening it to a hold which is firm and immovable. Do you not, O Dioscorus, remember an ingenious line of your favourite Persius, in which he not only rebukes your folly, but administers to your boyish head, if you have only sense to feel it, a deserved correction, restraining your vanity with the words, “To know is nothing in your eyes unless another knows that you know”? You have, as I said before, read so many Dialogues, and devoted your attention to so many discussions of philosophers—tell me which of them has placed the chief end of his actions in the applause of the vulgar, or in the opinion even of good and wise men? But you,—and what should make you the more ashamed,—you, when on the eve of sailing away from Africa, give evidence of your having made signal progress, forsooth, in your studies here, when you affirm that the only reason why you impose the task of expounding Cicero to you upon bishops, who are already oppressed with work and engrossed with matters of a very different nature, is, that you fear that if, when questioned by men prone to censure, you cannot answer, you will be regarded by them as illiterate and stupid. O cause well worthy to occupy the hours which bishops devote to study while other men sleep!

4. You seem to me to be prompted to mental effort night and day by no other motive than ambition to be praised by men for your industry and acquisitions in learning. Although I have ever regarded this as fraught with danger to persons who are striving after the true and the right, I am now, by your case, more convinced of the danger than before. For it is due to no other cause than this same pernicious habit that you have failed to see by what motive we might be induced to grant to you what you asked; for as by a perverted judgment you yourself are urged on to acquire a knowledge of the things about which you put questions, from no other motive than that you may receive praise or escape censure from men, you imagine that we, by a like perversity of judgment, are to be influenced by the considerations alleged in your request. Would that, when we declare to you that by your writing such things concerning yourself we are moved, not to grant your request, but to reprove and correct you, we might be able to effect for you also complete emancipation from the influence of a boon so worthless and deceitful as the applause of men! “It is the manner of men,” you say, “to be prone to censure.” What then? “Any one who can make no reply when questions are addressed to him,” you say, “will be regarded as illiterate and stupid.” Behold, then, I ask you a question not concerning something in the books of Cicero, whose meaning, perchance, his readers may not be able to find, but concerning your own letter and the meaning of your own words. My question is: Why did you not say, “Any one who can make no reply will be proved to be illiterate and stupid,” but prefer to say, “He will be regarded as illiterate and stupid “? Why, if not for this reason, that you yourself already understand well enough that the person who fails to answer such questions is not in reality, but only in the opinion of some, illiterate and stupid? But I warn you that he who fears to be subjected to the edge of the pruning-hook by the tongues of such men is a sapless log, and is therefore not only regarded as illiterate and stupid, but is actually such, and proved to be so.

5. Perhaps you will say, “But seeing that I am not stupid, and that I am specially earnest in striving not to be stupid, I am reluctant even to be regarded as stupid.” And rightly so; but I ask, What is your motive in this reluctance? For in stating why you did not hesitate to burden us with those questions which you wish to have solved and explained, you said that this was the reason, and that this was the end, and an end so necessary in your estimation that you said it was of overwhelming urgency,—lest, forsooth, if you were posed with these questions and gave no answer, you should be regarded as illiterate and stupid by men prone to censure. Now, I ask, is this [jealousy as to your own reputation] the whole reason why you beg this from us, or is it because of some ulterior object that you are unwilling to be thought illiterate and stupid? If this be the whole reason, you see, as I think, that this one thing [the praise of men] is the end pursued by that vehement zeal of yours, by which, as you admit, a burden is imposed on us. But, from Dioscorus, what can be to us a burden, except that burden which Dioscorus himself unconsciously bears,—a burden which he will begin to feel only when he attempts to rise,—a burden of which I would fain believe that it is not so bound to him as to defy his efforts to shake his shoulders free? And this I say not because these questions engage your studies, but because they are studied by you for such an end. For surely you by this time feel that this end is trivial, unsubstantial, and light as air. It is also apt to produce in the soul what may be likened to a dangerous swelling, beneath which lurk the germs of decay, and by it the eye of the mind becomes suffused, so that it cannot discern the riches of truth. Believe this, my Dioscorus, it is true: so shall I enjoy thee in unfeigned longing for truth, and in that essential dignity of truth by the shadow of which you are turned aside. If I have failed to convince you of this by the method which I have now used, I know no other that I can use. For you do not see it; nor can you possibly see it so long as you build your joys on the crumbling foundation of human applause.

6. If, however, this be not the end aimed at in these actions and by this zeal of yours, but there is some other ulterior reason for your unwillingness to be regarded as illiterate and stupid, I ask what that reason is. If it be to remove impediments to the acquisition of temporal riches, or the obtaining of a wife, or the grasping of honours, and other things of that kind which are flowing past with a headlong current, and dragging to the bottom those who fall into them, it is assuredly not our duty to help you towards that end, nay, rather we ought to turn you away from it. For we do not so forbid your fixing the aim of your studies in the precarious possession of renown as to make you leave, as it were, the waters of the Mincius and enter the Eridanus, into which, perchance, the Mincius would carry you even without yourself making the change. For when the vanity of human applause has failed to satisfy the soul, because it furnishes for its nourishment nothing real and substantial, this same eager desire compels the mind to go on to something else as more rich and productive; and if, nevertheless, this also belong to the things which pass away with time, it is as when one river leads us into another, so that there can be no rest from our miseries so long as the end aimed at in our discharge of duty is placed in that which is unstable. We desire, therefore, that in some firm and immutable good you should fix the home of your most stedfast efforts, and the perfectly secure resting-place of all your good and honourable activity. Is it, perchance, your intention, if you succeed by the breath of propitious fame, or even by spreading your sails for its fitful gusts, in reaching that earthly happiness of which I have spoken, to make it subservient to the acquisition of the other—the sure and true and satisfying good? But to me it does not seem probable—and truth itself forbids the supposition—that it should be reached either by such a circuitous way when it is at hand, or at such cost when it is freely given.

7. Perhaps you think that we ought to turn the praise of men itself to good account as an instrument for making others accessible to counsels regarding that which is good and useful; and perhaps you are anxious lest, if men regard you as illiterate and stupid, they think you unworthy to receive their earnest or patient attention, if you were either exhorting any one to do well, or reproving the malice and wickedness of an evil-doer. If, in proposing these questions, you contemplated this righteous and beneficent end, we have certainly been wronged by your not giving the preference to this in your letter as the consideration by which we might be moved either to grant willingly what you asked, or, if declining your request, to do so on the ground of some other cause which might perchance prevent us, but not on the ground of our being ashamed to accept the position of serving or even not resisting the aspirations of your vanity. For, I pray you, consider how much better and more profitable it is for you to receive from us with far more certainty and with less loss of time those principles of truth by which you can for yourself refute all that is false, and by so doing be prevented from cherishing an opinion so false and contemptible as this—that you are learned and intelligent if you have studied with a zeal in which there is more pride than prudence the worn-out errors of many writers of a bygone age. But this opinion I do not suppose you now to hold, for surely I have not in vain spoken so long to Dioscorus things so manifestly true; and from this, as understood, I proceed with my letter.

Chap. II

8. Wherefore, seeing that you do not consider a man illiterate and stupid merely on the ground of ignorance of these things, but only if he be ignorant of the truth itself, and that, consequently, the opinions of any one who has written or may have written on these subjects are either true, and therefore are already held by you, or false, and therefore you may be content not to know them, and need not be consumed with vain solicitude about knowing the variety of the opinions of other men under the fear of otherwise remaining illiterate and stupid,—seeing, I say, that this is the case, let us now, if you please, consider whether, in the event of other men, who are, as you say, prone to censure, finding you ignorant of these things, and therefore regarding you, though falsely, as an illiterate and stupid person, this mistake of theirs ought to have so much weight with you as to make it not unseemly for you to apply to bishops for instruction in these things. I propose this on the assumption that we now believe you to be seeking this instruction in order that by it you may be helped in recommending the truth to men, and in reclaiming men who, if they supposed you to be illiterate and stupid in regard to those books of Cicero, would regard you as a person from whom they considered it unworthy of them to receive any useful or profitable instruction. Believe me, you are under a mistake.

9. For, in the first place, I do not at all see that, in the countries in which you are so afraid of being esteemed deficient in education and acuteness, there are any persons who will ask you a single question about these matters. Both in this country, to which you came to learn these things, and at Rome, you know by experience how little they are esteemed, and that, in consequence, they are neither taught nor learned; and throughout all Africa, so far are you from being troubled by any such questioner, that you cannot find any one who will be troubled with your questions, and are compelled by the dearth of such persons to send your questions to bishops to be solved by them: as if, indeed, these bishops, although in their youth, under the influence of the same ardour—let me rather say error—which carries you away, they were at pains to learn these things as matters of great moment, permitted them still to remain in memory now that their heads are white with age and they are burdened with the responsibilities of episcopal office; or as if, supposing them to desire to retain these things in memory, greater and graver cares would not in spite of their desire banish them from their hearts; or as if, in the event of some of these things lingering in recollection by the force of long habit, they would not wish rather to bury in utter oblivion what was thus remembered, than to answer senseless questions at a time when, even amidst the comparative leisure enjoyed in the schools and in the lecture-rooms of rhetoricians, they seem to have so lost both voice and vigour that, in order to have instruction imparted concerning them, it is deemed necessary to send from Carthage to Hippo,—a place in which all such things are so unwonted and so wholly foreign, that if, in taking the trouble of writing an answer to your question, I wished to look at any passage to discover the order of thought in the context preceding or following the words requiring exposition, I would be utterly unable to find a manuscript of the works of Cicero. However, these teachers of rhetoric in Carthage who have failed to satisfy you in this matter are not only not blamed, but, on the contrary, commended by me, if, as I suppose, they have not forgotten that the scene of these contests was wont to be, not the Roman forum, but the Greek gymnasia. But when you have applied your mind to these gymnasia, and have found even them to be in such things bare and cold, the church of the Christians of Hippo occurred to you as a place where you might lay down your cares, because the bishop now occupying that see at one time took fees for instructing boys in these things. But, on the one hand, I do not wish you to be still a boy, and, on the other hand, it is not becoming for me, either for a fee or as a favour, to be dealing now in childish things. This, therefore, being the case—seeing, that is to say, that these two great cities, Rome and Carthage, the living centres of Latin literature, neither try your patience by asking you such questions as you speak of, nor care patiently to listen to you when you propound them, I am amazed in a degree beyond all expression that a young man of your good sense should be afraid lest you should be afflicted with any questioner on these subjects in the cities of Greece and of the East. You are much more likely to hear jackdaws in Africa than this manner of conversation in those lands.

10. Suppose, however, in the next place, that I am wrong, and that perchance some one should arise putting questions like these,—a phenomenon the more unwelcome because in those parts peculiarly absurd,—are you not much more afraid lest far more readily men arise who, being Greeks, and finding you settled in Greece, and acquainted with the Greek language as your mother tongue, may ask you some things in the original works of their philosophers which Cicero may not have put into his treatises? If this happen, what reply will you make? Will you say that you preferred to learn these things from the books of Latin rather than of Greek authors? By such an answer you will, in the first place, put an affront upon Greece; and you know how men of that nation resent this. And in the next place, they being now wounded and angry, how readily will you find what you are too anxious to avoid, that they will count you on the one hand stupid, because you preferred to learn the opinions of the Greek philosophers, or, more properly speaking, some isolated and scattered tenets of their philosophy, in Latin dialogues, rather than to study the complete and connected system of their opinions in the Greek originals, and, on the other hand, illiterate, because, although ignorant of so many things written in your language, you have unsuccessfully laboured to gather some of them together from writings in a foreign tongue. Or will you perhaps reply that you did not despise the Greek writings on these subjects, but that you devoted your attention first to the study of Latin works, and now, proficient in these, are beginning to inquire after Greek learning? If this does not make you blush, to confess that you, being a Greek, have in your boyhood learned Latin, and are now, like a man of some foreign nation, desirous of studying Greek literature, surely you will not blush to own that in the department of Latin literature you are ignorant of some things, of which you may perceive how many versed in Latin learning are equally ignorant, if you will only consider that, although living in the midst of so many learned men in Carthage, you assure me that it is under the pressure of necessity that you impose this burden on me.

11. Finally, suppose that you, being asked all those questions which you have submitted to me, have been able to answer them all. Behold! you are now spoken of as most learned and most acute; behold! now this insignificant breath of Greek laudation raises you to heaven. Be it yours now to remember your responsibilities and the end for which you coveted these praises, namely, that to men who have been easily won to admire you by these trifles, and who are now hanging most affectionately and eagerly on your lips, you may impart some truly important and wholesome instruction; and I should like to know whether you possess, and can rightly impart to others, that which is truly most important and wholesome. For it is absurd if, after learning many unnecessary things with a view to preparing the ears of men to receive what is necessary, you be found not to possess those necessary things for the reception of which you have by these unnecessary things prepared the way; it is absurd if, while busying yourself with learning things by which you may win men’s attention, you refuse to learn that which may be poured into their minds when their attention is secured. But if you reply that you have already learned this, and say that the truth supremely necessary is Christian doctrine, which I know that you esteem above all other things, placing in it alone your hope of everlasting salvation, then surely this does not demand a knowledge of the Dialogues of Cicero, and a collection of the beggarly and divided opinions of other men, in order to your persuading men to give it a hearing. Let your character and manner of life command the attention of those who are to receive any such teaching from you. I would not have you open the way for teaching truth by first teaching what must be afterwards unlearned.

12. For if the knowledge of the discordant and mutually contradictory opinions of others is of any service to him who would obtain an entrance for Christian truth in overthrowing the opposition of error, it is useful only in the way of preventing the assailant of the truth from being at liberty to fix his eye solely on the work of controverting your tenets, while carefully hiding his own from view. For the knowledge of the truth is of itself sufficient both to detect and to subvert all errors, even those which may not have been heard before, if only they are brought forward. If, however, in order to secure not only the demolition of open errors, but also the rooting out of those which lurk in darkness, it is necessary for you to be acquainted with the erroneous opinions which others have advanced, let both eye and ear be wakeful, I beseech you,—look well and listen well whether any of our assailants bring forward a single argument from Anaximenes and from Anaxagoras, when, though the Stoic and Epicurean philosophies were more recent and taught largely, even their ashes are not so warm as that a single spark can be struck out from them against the Christian faith. The din which resounds in the battle-field of controversy now comes from innumerable small companies and cliques of sectaries, some of them easily discomfited, others presuming to make bold resistance,—such as the partisans of Donatus, Maximian, and Manichaeus here, or the unruly herds of Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians, and Cataphrygians and other pests which abound in the countries to which you are on your way. If you shrink from the task of acquainting yourself with the errors of all these sects, what occasion have we in defending the Christian religion to inquire after the tenets of Anaximenes, and with idle curiosity to awaken anew controversies which have slept for ages, when already the cavillings and arguments even of some of the heretics who claimed the glory of the Christian name, such as the Marcionites and the Sabellians, and many more, have been put to silence? Nevertheless, if it be necessary, as I have said, to know beforehand some of the opinions which war against the truth, and become thoroughly conversant with these, it is our duty to give a place in such study to the heretics who call themselves Christians, much rather than to Anaxagoras and Democritus.

Chap. III

13. Again, whoever may put to you the questions which you have propounded to us, let him understand that, under the guidance of deeper erudition and greater wisdom, you are ignorant of things like these. For if Themistocles regarded it as a small matter that he was looked upon as imperfectly educated when he had declined to play on the lyre at a banquet, and at the same time, when, after he had confessed ignorance of this accomplishment, one said, “What, then, do you know?” gave as his reply, “The art of making a small republic great”—are you to hesitate about admitting ignorance in trifles like these, when it is in your power to answer any one who may ask, “What, then, do you know?”—”The secret by which without such knowledge a man may be blessed”? And if you do not yet possess this secret, you act in searching into those other matters with as blind perversity as if, when labouring under some dangerous disease of the body, you eagerly sought after dainties in food and finery in dress, instead of physic and physicians. For this attainment ought not to be put off upon any pretext whatever, and no other knowledge ought, especially in our age, to receive a prior place in your studies. And now see how easily you may have this knowledge if you desire it. He who inquires how he may attain a blessed life is assuredly inquiring after nothing else than this: where is the highest good? in other words, wherein resides man’s supreme good, not according to the perverted and hasty opinions of men, but according to the sure and immovable truth? Now its residence is not found by any one except in the body, or in the mind, or in God, or in two of these, or in the three combined. If, then, you have learned that neither the supreme good nor any part whatever of the supreme good is in the body, the remaining alternatives are, that it is in the mind, or in God, or in both combined. And if now you have also learned that what is true of the body in this respect is equally true of the mind, what now remains but God Himself as the One in whom resides man’s supreme good?—not that there are no other goods, but that good is called the supreme good to which all others are related. For every one is blessed when he enjoys that for the sake of which he desires to have all other things, seeing that it is loved for its own sake, and not on account of something else. And the supreme good is said to be there because at this point nothing is found towards which the supreme good can go forth, or to which it is related. In it is the resting-place of desire; in it is assured fruition; in it the most tranquil satisfaction of a will morally perfect.

14. Give me a man who sees at once that the body is not the good of the mind, but that the mind is rather the good of the body: with such a man we would, of course, forbear from inquiring whether the highest good of which we speak, or any part of it, is in the body. For that the mind is better than the body is a truth which it would be utter folly to deny. Equally absurd would it be to deny that that which gives a happy life, or any part of a happy life, is better than that which receives the boon. The mind, therefore, does not receive from the body either the supreme good or any part of the supreme good. Men who do not see this have been blinded by that sweetness of carnal pleasures which they do not discern to be a consequence of imperfect health. Now, perfect health of body shall be the consummation of the immortality of the whole man. For God has endowed the soul with a nature so powerful, that from that consummate fulness of joy which is promised to the saints in the end of time, some portion overflows also upon the lower part of our nature, the body,—not the blessedness which is proper to the part which enjoys and understands, but the plenitude of health, that is, the vigour of incorruption. Men who, as I have said, do not see this war with each other in unsatisfactory debates, each maintaining the view which may please his own fancy, but all placing the supreme good of man in the body, and so stir up crowds of disorderly carnal minds, of whom the Epicureans have flourished in pre-eminent estimation with the unlearned multitude.

15. Give me a man who sees at once, moreover, that when the mind is happy, it is happy not by good which belongs to itself, else it would never be unhappy: and with such a man we would, of course, forbear from inquiring whether that highest and, so to speak, bliss-bestowing good, or any part of it, is in the mind. For when the mind is elated with joy in itself, as if in good which belongs to itself, it is proud. But when the mind perceives itself to be mutable,—a fact which may be learned from this, even though nothing else proved it, that the mind from being foolish may be made wise,—and apprehends that wisdom is unchangeable, it must at the same time apprehend that wisdom is superior to its own nature, and that it finds more abundant and abiding joy in the communications and light of wisdom than in itself. Thus desisting and subsiding from boasting and self-conceit, it strives to cling to God, and to be recruited and reformed by Him who is unchangeable; whom it now understands to be the Author not only of every species of all things with which it comes in contact, either by the bodily senses or by intellectual faculties, but also of even the very capacity of taking form before any form has been taken, since the formless is defined to be that which can receive a form. Therefore it feels its own instability more, just in proportion as it clings less to God, whose being is perfect: it discerns also that the perfection of His being is consummate because He is immutable, and therefore neither gains nor loses, but that in itself every change by which it gains capacity for perfect clinging to God is advantageous, but every change by which it loses is pernicious, and further, that all loss tends towards destruction; and although it is not manifest whether any thing is ultimately destroyed, it is manifest to every one that the loss brings destruction so far that the object no longer is what it was. Whence the mind infers that the one reason why things suffer loss, or are liable to suffer loss, is, that they were made out of nothing; so that their property of being, and of permanence, and the arrangement whereby each finds even according to its imperfections its own place in the complex whole, all depend on the goodness and omnipotence of Him whose being is perfect, and who is the Creator able to make out of nothing not only something, but something great; and that the first sin, i.e. the first voluntary loss, is rejoicing in its own power: for it rejoices in something less than would be the source of its joy if it rejoiced in the power of God, which is unquestionably greater. Not perceiving this, and looking only to the capacities of the human mind, and the great beauty of its achievements in word and deed, some, who would have been ashamed to place man’s supreme good in the body, have, by placing it in the mind, assigned to it unquestionably a lower sphere than that assigned to it by unsophisticated reason. Among Greek philosophers who hold these views, the chief place both in number of adherents and in subtlety of disputation has been held by the Stoics, who have, however, in consequence of their opinion that in nature everything is material, succeeded in turning the mind rather from carnal than material objects.

16. Among those, again, who say that our supreme and only good is to enjoy God, by whom both we ourselves and all things were made, the most eminent have been the Platonists, who not unreasonably judged it to belong to their duty to confute the Stoics and Epicureans—the latter especially, and almost exclusively. The Academic School is identical with the Platonists, as is shown plainly enough by the links of unbroken succession connecting the schools. For if you ask who was the predecessor of Arcesilas, the first who, announcing no doctrine of his own, set himself to the one work of refuting the Stoics and Epicureans, you will find that it was Polemo; ask who preceded Polemo, it was Xenocrates; but Xenocrates was Plato’s disciple, and by him appointed his successor in the academy. Wherefore, as to this question concerning the supreme good, if we set aside the representatives of conflicting views, and consider the abstract question, you find at once that two errors confront each other as diametrically opposed—the one declaring the body, and the other declaring the mind to be the seat of the supreme good of men. You find also that truly enlightened reason, by which God is perceived to be our supreme good, is opposed to both of these errors, but does not impart the knowledge of what is true until it has first made men unlearn what is false. If now you consider the question in connection with the advocates of different views, you will find the Epicureans and Stoics most keenly contending with each other, and the Platonists, on the other hand, endeavouring to decide the controversy between them, concealing the truth which they held, and devoting themselves only to prove and overthrow the vain confidence with which the others adhered to error.

17. It was not in the power of the Platonists, however, to be so efficient in supporting the side of reason enlightened by truth, as the others were in supporting their own errors. For from them all there was then withheld that example of divine humility, which, in the fullness of time, was furnished by our Lord Jesus Christ,—that one example before which, even in the mind of the most headstrong and arrogant, all pride bends, breaks, and dies. And therefore the Platonists, not being able by their authority to lead the mass of mankind, blinded by love of earthly things, into faith in things invisible,—although they saw them moved, especially by the arguments of the Epicureans, not only to drink freely the cup of the pleasures of the body to which they were naturally inclined, but even to plead for these, affirming that they constitute man’s highest good; although, moreover, they saw that those who were moved to abstinence from these pleasures by the praise of virtue found it easier to regard pleasure as having its true seat in the soul, whence the good actions, concerning which they were able, in some measure, to form an opinion, proceeded,—at the same time, saw that if they attempted to introduce into the minds of men the notion of something divine and supremely immutable, which cannot be reached by any one of the bodily senses, but is apprehensible only by reason, which, nevertheless, surpasses in its nature the mind itself, and were to teach that this is God, set before the human soul to be enjoyed by it when purged from all stains of human desires, in whom alone every longing after happiness finds rest, and in whom alone we ought to find the consummation of all good,—men would not understand them, and would much more readily award the palm to their antagonists, whether Epicureans or Stoics; the result of which would be a thing most disastrous to the human race, namely, that the doctrine, which is true and profitable, would become sullied by the contempt of the uneducated masses. So much in regard to Ethical questions.

18. As to Physics, if the Platonists taught that the originating cause of all natures is immaterial wisdom, and if, on the other hand, the rival sects of philosophers never got above material things, while the beginning of all things was attributed by some to atoms, by others to the four elements, in which fire was of special power in the construction of all things,—who could fail to see to which opinion a favourable verdict would be given, when the great mass of unthinking men are enthralled by material things, and can in no wise comprehend that an immaterial power could form the universe?

19. The department of dialectic questions remains to be discussed; for, as you are aware, all questions in the pursuit of wisdom are classified under three heads,—Ethics, Physics, and Dialectics. When, therefore, the Epicureans said that the senses are never deceived, and, though the Stoics admitted that they sometimes are mistaken, both placed in the senses the standard by which truth is to be comprehended, who would listen to the Platonists when both of these sects opposed them? Who would look upon them as entitled to be esteemed men at all, and much less wise men, if, without hesitation or qualification, they affirmed not only that there is something which cannot be discerned by touch, or smell, or taste, or hearing, or sight, and which cannot be conceived of by any image borrowed from the things with which the senses acquaint us, but that this alone truly exists, and is alone capable of being perceived, because it is alone unchangeable and eternal, but is perceived only by reason, the faculty whereby alone truth, in so far as it can be discovered by us, is found?

20. Seeing, therefore, that the Platonists held opinions which they could not impart to men enthralled by the flesh; seeing also that they were not of such authority among the common people as to persuade them to accept what they ought to believe until the mind should be trained to that condition in which these things can be understood,—they chose to hide their own opinions, and to content themselves with arguing against those who, although they affirmed that the discovery of truth is made through the senses of the body, boasted that they had found the truth. And truly, what occasion have we to inquire as to the nature of their teaching? We know that it was not divine, nor invested with any divine authority. But this one fact merits our attention, that whereas Plato is in many ways most clearly proved by Cicero to have placed both the supreme good and the causes of things, and the certainty of the processes of reason, in Wisdom, not human, but divine, whence in some way the light of human wisdom is derived—in Wisdom which is wholly immutable, and in Truth always consistent with itself; and whereas we also learn from Cicero that the followers of Plato laboured to overthrow the philosophers known as Epicureans and Stoics, who placed the supreme good, the causes of things, and the certainty of the processes of reason, in the nature either of body or of mind,—the controversy had continued rolling on with successive centuries, so that even at the commencement of the Christian era, when the faith of things invisible and eternal was with saving power preached by means of visible miracles to men, who could neither see nor imagine anything beyond things material, these same Epicureans and Stoics are found in the Acts of the Apostles to have opposed themselves to the blessed Apostle Paul, who was beginning to scatter the seeds of that faith among the Gentiles.

21. By which thing it seems to me to be sufficiently proved that the errors of the Gentiles in ethics, physics, and the mode of seeking truth, errors many and manifold, but conspicuously represented in these two schools of philosophy, continued even down to the Christian era, notwithstanding the fact that the learned assailed them most vehemently, and employed both remarkable skill and abundant labour in subverting them. Yet these errors we see in our time to have been already so completely silenced, that now in our schools of rhetoric the question what their opinions were is scarcely ever mentioned; and these controversies have been now so completely eradicated or suppressed in even the Greek gymnasia, notably fond of discussion, that whenever now any school of error lifts up its head against the truth, i.e. against the Church of Christ, it does not venture to leap into the arena except under the shield of the Christian name. Whence it is obvious that the Platonist school of philosophers felt it necessary, having changed those few things in their opinions which Christian teaching condemned, to submit with pious homage to Christ, the only King who is invincible, and to apprehend the Incarnate Word of God, at whose command the truth which they had even feared to publish was immediately believed.

22. To Him, my Dioscorus, I desire you to submit yourself with unreserved piety, and I wish you to prepare for yourself no other way of seizing and holding the truth than that which has been prepared by Him who, as God, saw the weakness of our goings. In that way the first part is humility; the second, humility; the third, humility: and this I would continue to repeat as often as you might ask direction, not that there are no other instructions which may be given, but because, unless humility precede, accompany, and follow every good action which we perform, being at once the object which we keep before our eyes, the support to which we cling, and the monitor by which we are restrained, pride wrests wholly from our hand any good work on which we are congratulating ourselves. All other vices are to be apprehended when we are doing wrong; but pride is to be feared even when we do right actions, lest those things which are done in a praiseworthy manner be spoiled by the desire for praise itself. Wherefore, as that most illustrious orator, on being asked what seemed to him the first thing to be observed in the art of eloquence, is said to have replied, Delivery; and when he was asked what was the second thing, replied again, Delivery; and when asked what was the third thing, still gave no other reply than this, Delivery; so if you were to ask me, however often you might repeat the question, what are the instructions of the Christian religion, I would be disposed to answer always and only, “Humility,” although, perchance, necessity might constrain me to speak also of other things.

Chap. IV

23. To this most wholesome humility, in which our Lord Jesus Christ is our teacher—having submitted to humiliation that He might instruct us in this—to this humility, I say, the most formidable adversary is a certain kind of most unenlightened knowledge, if I may so call it, in which we congratulate ourselves on knowing what may have been the views of Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, Pythagoras, Democritus, and others of the same kind, imagining that by this we become learned men and scholars, although such attainments are far removed from true learning and erudition. For the man who has learned that God is not extended or diffused through space, either finite or infinite, so as to be greater in one part and less in another, but that He is wholly present everywhere, as the Truth is, of which no one in his senses will affirm that it is partly in one place, partly in another—and the Truth is God Himself—such a man will not be moved by the opinions of any philosopher soever who believes [like Anaximenes] that the infinite air around us is the true God. What matters it to such a man though he be ignorant what bodily form they speak of, since they speak of a form which is bounded on all sides? What matters it to him whether it was only as an Academician, and merely for the purpose of confuting Anaximenes, who had said that God is a material existence,—for air is material,—that Cicero objected that God must have form and beauty? or himself perceived that truth has immaterial form and beauty, by which the mind itself is moulded, and by which we judge all the deeds of the wise man to be beautiful, and therefore affirmed that God must be of the most perfect beauty, not merely for the purpose of confuting an antagonist, but with profound insight into the fact that nothing is more beautiful than truth itself, which is cognisable by the understanding alone, and is immutable? Moreover, as to the opinion of Anaximenes, who held that the air is generated, and at the same time believed it to be God, it does not in the least move the man who understands that, since the air is certainly not God, there is no likeness between the manner in which the air is generated, that is to say, produced by some cause, and the manner, understood by none except through divine inspiration, in which He was begotten who is the Word of God, God with God. Moreover, who does not see that even in regard to material things he speaks most foolishly in affirming that air is generated, and is at the same time God, while he refuses to give the name of God to that by which the air has been generated,—for it is impossible that it could be generated by no power? Yet once more, his saying that the air is always in motion will have no disturbing influence as proof that the air is God upon the man who knows that all movements of body are of a lower order than movements of the soul, but that even the movements of the soul are infinitely slow compared with His who is supreme and immutable Wisdom.

24. In like manner, if Anaxagoras or any other affirm that the mind is essential truth and wisdom, what call have I to debate with a man about a word? For it is manifest that mind gives being to the order and mode of all things, and that it may be suitably called infinite with respect not to its extension in space, but to its power, the range of which transcends all human thought. Nor [shall I dispute his assertion] that this essential wisdom is formless; for this is a property of material things, that whatever bodies are infinite are also formless. Cicero, however, from his desire to confute such opinions, as I suppose, in contending with adversaries who believed in nothing immaterial, denies that anything can be annexed to that which is infinite, because in things material there must be a boundary at the part to which anything is annexed. Therefore he says that Anaxagoras “did not see that motion joined to sensation and to it” (i.e. linked to it in unbroken connection) “is impossible in the infinite” (that is, in a substance which is infinite), as if treating of material substances, to which nothing can be joined except at their boundaries. Moreover, in the succeeding words—”and that sensation of which the whole system of nature is not sensible when struck is an impossibility”—Cicero speaks as if Anaxagoras had said that mind—to which he ascribed the power of ordering and fashioning all things—had sensation such as the soul has by means of the body. For it is manifest that the whole soul has sensation when it feels anything by means of the body; for whatever is perceived by sensation is not concealed from the whole soul. Now, Cicero’s design in saying that the whole system of nature must be conscious of every sensation was, that he might, as it were, take from the philosopher that mind which he affirms to be infinite. For how does the whole of nature experience sensation if it be infinite? Bodily sensation begins at some point, and does not pervade the whole of any substance unless it be one in which it can reach an end; but this, of course, cannot be said of that which is infinite. Anaxagoras, however had not said anything about bodily sensation. The word “whole,” moreover, is used differently when we speak of that which is immaterial, because it is understood to be without boundaries in space, so that it may be spoken of as a whole and at the same time as infinite—the former because of its completeness, the latter because of its not being limited by boundaries in space.

25. “Furthermore,” says Cicero, “if he will affirm that the mind itself is, so to speak, some kind of animal, there must be some principle from within from which it receives the name animal,’“—so that mind, according to Anaxagoras, is a kind of body, and has within it an animating principle, because of which it is called “animal.” Observe how he speaks in language which we are accustomed to apply to things corporeal,—animals being in the ordinary sense of the word visible substances,—adapting himself, as I suppose, to the blunted perceptions of those against whom he argues; and yet he has uttered a thing which, if they could awake to perceive it, might suffice to teach them that everything which presents itself to our minds as a living body must be thought of not as itself a soul, but as an animal having a soul. For having said, “There must be something within from which it receives the name animal,” he adds, “But what is deeper within than mind?” The mind, therefore, cannot have any inner soul, by possessing which it is an animal; for it is itself that which is innermost. If, then, it is an animal, let it have some external body in relation to which it may be within; for this is what he means by saying, “It is therefore girt round by an exterior body,” as if Anaxagoras had said that mind cannot be otherwise than as belonging to some animal. And yet Anaxagoras held the opinion that essential supreme Wisdom is mind, although it is not the peculiar property of any living being, so to speak, since Truth is near to all souls alike that are able to enjoy it. Observe, therefore, how wittily he concludes the argument: “Since this is not the opinion of Anaxagoras” (i.e. seeing that he does not hold that that mind which he calls God is girt about with an external body, through its relation to which it could be an animal), “we must say that mind pure and simple, without the addition of anything” (i.e. of any body) “through which it may exercise sensation, seems to be beyond the range and conceptions of our intelligence.”

26. Nothing is more certain than that this lies beyond the range and conception of the intelligence of Stoics and Epicureans, who cannot think of anything which is not material. But by the word “our” intelligence he means “human” intelligence; and he very properly does not say, “it lies beyond our intelligence,” but “it seems to lie beyond.” For their opinion is, that this lies beyond the understanding of all men, and therefore they think that nothing of the kind can be. But there are some whose intelligence apprehends, in so far as this is given to man, the fact that there is pure and simple Wisdom and Truth, which is the peculiar property of no living being, but which imparts wisdom and truth to all souls alike which are susceptible of its influence. If Anaxagoras perceived the existence of this supreme Wisdom, and apprehended it to be God, and called it Mind, it is not by the mere name of this philosopher—with whom, on account of his place in the remote antiquity of erudition, all raw recruits in literature (to adopt a military phrase) delight to boast an acquaintance—that we are made learned and wise; nor is it even by our having the knowledge through which he knew this truth. For truth ought to be dear to me not merely because it was not unknown to Anaxagoras, but because, even though none of these philosophers had known it, it is the truth.

27. If, therefore, it is unbecoming for us to be elated either by the knowledge of the man who peradventure apprehended the truth, by which knowledge we obtain, as it were, the appearance of learning, or even by the solid possession of the truth itself, whereby we obtain real acquisitions in learning, how much less can the names and tenets of those men who were in error assist us in Christian learning and in making known things obscure? For if we be men, it would be more fitting that we should grieve on account of the errors into which so many famous men fell, if we happen to hear of them, than that we should studiously investigate them, in order that, among men who are ignorant of them, we may enjoy the gratification of a most contemptible conceit of knowledge. For how much better would it be that I should never have heard the name of Democritus, than that I should now with sorrow ponder the fact that a man was highly esteemed in his own age who thought that the gods were images which emanated from solid bodies, but were not solid themselves; and that these, circling this way and that way by their independent motion, and gliding into the minds of men, make the divine power enter into the region of their thoughts, although, certainly, that body from which the image emanated may be rightly judged to surpass the image in excellence and proportion, as it surpasses it in solidity. Hence his opinion wavered, as they say, and oscillated, so that sometimes he said that the deity was some kind of nature from which images emanate, and which nevertheless can be thought of only by means of those images which he pours forth and sends out, that is, which from that nature (which he considered to be something material and eternal, and on this very account divine) were borne as by a kind of evaporation or continuous emanation, and came and entered into our minds, so that we could form the thought of a god or gods. For these philosophers conceive of no cause of thought in our minds, except when images from those bodies which are the object of our thoughts come and enter into our minds; as if, forsooth, there were not many things, yea, more than we can number, which, without any material form, and yet intelligible, are apprehended by those who know how to apprehend such things. Take as an example essential Wisdom and Truth, of which if they can frame no idea, I wonder why they dispute concerning it at all; if, however, they do frame some idea of it in thought, I wish they would tell me either from what body the image of truth comes into their minds, or of what kind it is.

28. Democritus, however, is said to differ here also in his doctrine on physics from Epicurus; for he holds that there is in the concourse of atoms a certain vital and breathing power, by which power (I believe) he affirms that the images themselves (not all images of all things, but images of the gods) are endued with divine attributes, and that the first beginnings of the mind are in those universal elements to which he ascribed divinity, and that the images possess life, inasmuch as they are wont either to benefit or to hurt us. Epicurus, however, does not assume anything in the first beginnings of things but atoms, that is, certain corpuscles, so minute that they cannot be divided or perceived either by sight or by touch; and his doctrine is, that by the fortuitous concourse (clashing) of these atoms, existence is given both to innumerable worlds and to living things, and to the souls which animate them, and to the gods whom, in human form, he has located, not in any world, but outside of the worlds, and in the spaces which separate them; and he will not allow of any object of thought beyond things material. But in order to these becoming an object of thought, he says that from those things which he represents as formed of atoms, images more subtle than those which come to our eyes flow down and enter into the mind. For according to him, the cause of our seeing is to be found in certain images so huge that they embrace the whole outer world. But I suppose that you already understand their opinions regarding these images.

29. I wonder that Democritus was not convinced of the error of his philosophy even by this fact, that such huge images coming into our minds, which are so small (if being, as they affirm, material, the soul is confined within the body’s dimensions), could not possibly, in the entirety of their size, come into contact with it. For when a small body is brought into contact with a large one, it cannot in any wise be touched at the same moment by all points of the larger. How, then, are these images at the same moment in their whole extent objects of thought, if they become objects of thought only in so far as, coming and entering into the mind, they touch it, seeing that they cannot in their whole extent either find entrance into so small a body or come in contact with so small a mind? Bear in mind, of course, that I am speaking now after their manner; for I do not hold the mind to be such as they affirm. It is true that Epicurus alone can be assailed with this argument, if Democritus holds that the mind is immaterial; but we may ask him in turn why he did not perceive that it is at once unnecessary and impossible for the mind, being immaterial, to think through the approach and contact of material images. Both philosophers alike are certainly confuted by the facts of vision; for images so great cannot possibly touch in their entirety eyes so small.

30. Moreover, when the question is put to them, how it comes that one image is seen of a body from which images emanate in countless multitudes, their answer is, that just because the images are emanating and passing in such multitudes, the effect produced by their being crowded and massed together is, that out of the many one is seen. The absurdity of this Cicero exposes by saying that their deity cannot be thought of as eternal, for this very reason, that he is thought of through images which are in countless multitudes flowing forth and passing away. And when they say that the forms of the gods are rendered eternal by the innumerable hosts of atoms supplying constant reinforcements, so that other corpuscles immediately take the place of those which depart from the divine substance, and by the same succession prevent the nature of the gods from being dissolved, Cicero replies, “On this ground all things would be eternal as well as the gods,” since there is nothing which has not the same boundless store of atoms by which it may repair its perpetual decays. Again, he asks how their god could be otherwise than afraid of coming to destruction, seeing that he is without a moment’s intermission beaten and shaken by an unceasing incursion of atoms,—beaten, inasmuch as he is struck by atoms rushing upon him, and shaken, inasmuch as he is penetrated by atoms rushing through him. Nay, more; seeing that from himself there emanate continually images (of which we have said enough), what good ground can he have for persuasion of his own immortality?

31. As to all these ravings of the men who entertain such opinions, it is especially deplorable that the mere statement of them does not suffice to secure their rejection without any one controverting them in discussion; instead of which, the minds of men most gifted with acuteness have accepted the task of copiously refuting opinions which, as soon as they were enunciated, ought to have been rejected with contempt even by the slowest intellects. For even granting that there are atoms, and that these strike and shake each other by clashing together as chance may guide them, is it lawful for us to grant also that atoms thus meeting in fortuitous concourse can so make anything as to fashion its distinctive forms, determine its figure, polish its surface, enliven it with color, or quicken it by imparting to it a spirit?—all which things every one sees to be accomplished in no other way than by the providence of God, if only he loves to see with the mind rather than with the eye alone, and asks this faculty of intelligent perception from the Author of his being. Nay, more; we are not at liberty even to grant the existence of atoms themselves, for, without discussing the subtle theories of the learned as to the divisibility of matter, observe how easily the absurdity of atoms may be proved from their own opinions. For they, as is well known, affirm that there is nothing else in nature but bodies and empty space, and the accidents of these, by which I believe that they mean motion and striking, and the forms which result from these. Let them tell us, then, under which category they reckon the images which they suppose to flow from the more solid bodies, but which, if indeed they are bodies, possess so little solidity that they are not discernible except by their contact with the eyes when we see them, and with the mind when we think of them. For the opinion of these philosophers is, that these images can proceed from the material object and come to the eyes or to the mind, which, nevertheless, they affirm to be material. Now, I ask, do these images flow from atoms themselves? If they do, how can these be atoms from which some bodily particles are in this process separated? If they do not, either something can be the object of thought without such images, which they vehemently deny, or we ask, whence have they acquired a knowledge of atoms, seeing that they can in nowise become objects of thought to us? But I blush to have even thus far refuted these opinions, although they did not blush to hold them. When, however, I consider that they have even dared to defend them, I blush not on their account, but for the race of mankind itself whose ears could tolerate such nonsense.

Chap. V

32. Wherefore, seeing that the minds of men are, through the pollution of sin and the lust of the flesh, so blinded that even these monstrous errors could waste in discussion concerning them the leisure of learned men, will you, Dioscorus, or will any man of an servant mind, hesitate to affirm that in no way could better provision have been made for the pursuit of truth by mankind than that a Man, assumed into ineffable and miraculous union by the Truth Himself, and being the manifestation of His Person on the earth, should by perfect teaching and divine acts move men to saving fait