EcclesiaDe Unitate Ecclesiae: On the Unity of the Church by Augustine
Bishop Augustine to his most beloved brothers in the care of our administration: The salvation which is in Christ and the peace of his unity and love be with you all and may your entire spirit, soul, and body be preserved until the day of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I. You remember, brothers, that a very small part of the letter of the Donatist bishop of Constantine once came into our hands and out of love for you I wrote what I had responded to this portion. But when afterwards the full letter was sent to us by the brethren who are there, it was fitting to respond to it from the beginning, just as we are presently doing. In this way you know that we wanted to do this so that, the debate having been made public, what was said either by us or by them might appear to all without any eagerness for disagreement. For we have learned that this letter is in the hands of many people who have memorized much of it, considering much of what he said against us to be true. But now if anybody should wish to read what we responded, they will understand perfectly what should be cast aside and what should be retained. For those arguments are not our own, as they themselves can consider if they wish to judge without taking sides: for all arguments are brought forth and proven from Holy Scripture such that one cannot deny them unless he confess himself to be an enemy of those Scriptures. But concerning this work of ours, I see what those most tenacious defenders of that wicked cause could say: namely that I answered the letter of one absent, where he might not hear my words to which he might immediately respond. Therefore, let him defend the words of his letter and, if he can, let him show that he was not refuted and defeated by my responses. Or, if he does not wish, let him also do to this letter of mine what I do to his, to which I have already responded. Indeed, he has written that letter to his followers, just as I have written this letter to mine, to which, if he wishes, he may respond.
II, 2. The question is certainly raised among us, where is the Church: whether among us or among them. At any rate, it is one, which our elders called Catholic, as they show from the name itself, since it is for the whole. For according to the whole, it is called kaq olonin Greek. This Church is the body of Christ as the Apostle says for the sake of his body, that is, the Church (Col. I, 24) whence it is clear that he who is not in the members of Christ cannot have Christian salvation. The members of Christ are joined to one another through love of unity, and through the same love they adhere to the head, which is Christ Jesus. For the entirety which is said of Christ is head and body. The head itself is the only begotten son of the living God, Jesus Christ, the body of which he is the savior(Ephes. V, 23) who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification (Rom. II, 25). His body is the Church of which it is said so as to present the Church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind (Ephes. V, 27). But among us and the Donatists the question is, where is this body, that is, where is the Church? Therefore, what would we do? Seek it in our words or in the words of its head, our Lord Jesus Christ? I think that we ought rather seek it in his words who is truth and knows best his own body, for the Lord knows those who are his (II Tim. II, 19).
II, 3. Pay attention to what are our own words, in which it is not fitting that the Church be sought and see there what differs between our words and theirs; and yet we do not wish for the Church to be sought in our own words. Whatever we offer by turns on our own behalf concerning the handing over of our divine books, the offering of incense (to the pagan gods), or persecutions are our words. And indeed, in such questions they keep this method: that either both are considered true or what is said by us or by them or both are false or ours are true and theirs false, or ours false and theirs true. And we show that in all of these things there is no reproach of the Christian world with which we are in communion. For if the reproaches, and what we say against them and what they say against us, are true, let us do what the Apostle says forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven you (Ephes. IV, 32) that ill-disposed men, not those who by chance were or are among us nor those who were or are among them, not hinder our harmony and bond of peace, their one crime having been corrected, that they separate themselves from the unity of the whole world since they hold on to such things. But if both are false or what we hold before them or they before us concerning surrendering or the persecution of innocents, I see no cause for strife, if they who separated themselves for no reason amend themselves. But if we speak the truth, we prove the deeds we make known both with letters of the Emperor (to whom they first wrote and afterwards appealed) and with the communion of the whole world. Moreover, what they say is demonstrated to be false for this reason, that at that time, when the same question was raised, they could minimally support their cause. The greater madness of sacrilegious obstinacy, as well as persecutions of innocent souls, will rise against them, than if they were held on the crime of schism alone. And those crimes are charged not to all, but to those who are willing; yet schism is a crime of all. Furthermore, if they wish to be true the charges of surrendering the books and persecution, which they present, and the charges presented by us to be false, they are not thus cleared of the charge of schism. Indeed, these former charges can pertain to certain individuals, not to the entire Christian world. If they consider someone to be lost by connection to the world (I refrain from mentioning how even the saints tolerated many known evils in the company of men for the benefit of peace), I say, these ones show how they are not lost by their contact; they either do not know or did not know at the time that those sacrilegious defilers of the sacred modesty of women hide or hid among them. They would say that they were not contaminated by this because they were ignorant. How therefore is the world contaminated which still does not know whether what they say is true? We think these things now proven and demonstrated by us. They are left ignorant, therefore they are left innocent and although that is no crime of theirs, this begins to be our most wicked crime. Should we hasten and teach them what we know? What is that? If that they are innocent, they are innocent while ignorant, for we preserve our innocence not by acknowledging the crimes of men, but by not consenting to what was known, moreover, by not rashly making judgments concerning what is not known. And through this, as I have said, the world is innocent which is ignorant of the crimes that are said to have been committed by them against certain individuals, even if they are said to be true. Moreover, those who separate themselves from the innocent lose their own innocence by the very crime of separation and schism. And now they teach us that they speak truth against certain individuals, that they might separate us from them, against whom they have nothing true to say.
4. For the whole world tells them this, which is indeed very brief in speech, but very robust in truth. The African bishops were certainly struggling amongst themselves, in case they could not restrain the dissension arisen between them, so that those whose cause was good might remain in communion with the whole world through the bond of unity with those placed together in harmony or with those degraded ones who contended in bad faith; it remained, namely, that the overseas bishops, where the greater part of the catholic Church was extended, should decide on the disagreements of the African colleagues, as, clearly, those who accuse others of the crime of improper ordination were insisting. If this was not done, it is the fault of those by whom it ought to have been done, not of the whole world which did not know those things reported to it. But if it was done, how did those ecclesiastical judges err, if they should in no way condemn those crimes, even if true and reported to them, were nevertheless not proven to them? Could evil men (who could not be made manifest to them) have defiled them? But if they were manifested to them and by some slothfulness or acquiescence they did not wish to remove such people from communion, and by a false judgment they also pronounced their sentences upon them, what is the fault of the world that did not know that bad judges had tried the case and did not believe that they had judged badly concerning whom the world could not itself judge? For just as the crime of accused men, if it remained hidden from the judges, certainly did not contaminate them, so also the crime of judges (if there was any) cannot really contaminate it, since it was hidden from the world. And so we are in communion innocently with these innocents, not knowing today what was done at that time. For this reason we today learned, even if what they say against certain people is true, there is no reason why we should withdraw from those innocents who don’t know this and cross over to those who are all enmeshed on that account by the crime of schism because they do that which they persuade us to do; so that not by the examples of the apostles do we tolerate evil men, but by the example of heretics we desert good men. Let us pretend (which is not possible) that the world can today clearly recognize with us that the crimes of certain ones, whom [the Donatists] accuse, are true; could the world be made more innocent from this than it was before it acknowledged this? For just as those unrecognized evil ones could not stain them, even if they were still alive today, so those who have already departed from this life, even when recognized, cannot stain them. If, therefore, our case rests in our words concerning certain individuals’ crimes, which we accuse each other of, it is nevertheless unassailable, even if we today acknowledge that what we say against them is false or what they say against us is true. What do they have with which they might respond: either those things we say are true and what they say are false or both are false or both are true, since they are defeated because they desire with all their wishes that their charges might be believed.
5. But, as I had begun to say, let us not listen to “you say this, I say that” but let us listen to “the Lord says this.” Certainly, there are the Lord’s books, on whose authority we both agree, to which we concede, and which we serve; there we seek the Church, there we argue our case. Here they would perhaps say “What do you seek in the books which you surrendered to the flames?” To this I respond “What do you fear in these books being read if you guarded them from the flames?” Certainly he is believed to have handed them over who is convicted for not agreeing to their being read. Or if perhaps these books might point out their betrayer, just as the Lord did Judas; let them read in them that Caecilian or those who ordained him expressly and by name were the future betrayers of those same books, and if I did not excommunicate them, I myself could be judged to have handed [the books] over along with them. But we do not find in these books that those who ordained Majorinus were considered traitors, although we read this elsewhere. Therefore, those charges which we read in turn against ourselves not from the divine canonical books, but from elsewhere, are removed from our midst. If they do not wish that these charges be removed, let them see that if either side’s charges are true, there was no reason for their separation to flee those whom they considered guilty; and if either side’s charges are false, there was no reason for their separation to flee those whom they found to be with no fault; and if our charges are true but theirs false, there was no reason for their separation, since they should look instead to correct themselves and remain in unity; and if ours are false and theirs true, there was no reason for their separation, since they should not abandon the innocent part of the world to which they were neither willing nor able to demonstrate their case.
6. Perhaps someone might ask me “Why do you wish those charges to be removed from your midst even if they are made known while your own community remains unassailable?” I do not wish the holy Church to be founded on human evidence, but on divine oracles. For if the Holy Scriptures delineated the Church in Africa alone and among a few Cutzupitani or Monteses in Rome and in the household or patrimony of a Spanish woman, whatever is published elsewhere from other writings none but the Donatists would hold as the Church. If Holy Scripture determined the Church to be among a few Mauri in the province of Caesarea, one ought to go over to the Rogatists; if among a few Tripolitani and Byzaceni and provincials, the Maximianists would have arrived at the Church; if among the Orientals alone, the Church should be sought among the Arians and Eunomians and Macedonians and whatever others are there. Who could count each individual heresy of the individual nations? But if the Church of Christ is delineated among all peoples with divine and most certain evidence of the canonical Scriptures, whatever they should bring to bear and whoever should read it should say Look! Here is the Messiah! Or, There he is! Let us rather hear, if we are his sheep, the voice of our pastor saying Do not believe it(Matth. XVIV, 23). Indeed, those individual churches are not found among many nations, where that Church is; but this Church, which is everywhere, is found even where they are. Therefore, we seek it in the holy canonical Scriptures.
IV, 7. Christ is both head and body. The head is the only begotten son of God and the body is his Church, bridegroom and bride, two in one flesh. Whoever dissents from Holy Scripture concerning the head is not in the Church, even if he is found in all places in which the Church is designated. And, in return, whoever is in agreement with Holy Scripture concerning the head and is not in communion with the unity of the Church is not in the Church, since he separates himself from the witnessing of Christ himself concerning Christ’s body, which is the Church. For example, whoever does not believe that Christ came in the flesh from the Virgin Mary out of the seed of David, of which the Scripture of God speaks very openly, or that he was raised in the very body in which he was crucified and buried, is not in the Church, even if he is found in all of the countries in which the Church is, since he does not adhere to the head itself of the Church, which is Christ Jesus. Nor is he deceived in some obscurity of divine Scripture, but he contradicts its most open and known evidence. Likewise, whoever indeed believes that Christ Jesus came in the flesh, as has been said, and that he rose in the same flesh in which he was born and suffered and that he is the son of God, God from God, one with the Father, the unchangeable Word of the Father, through whom all things were made, but nevertheless so separates himself from the body, which is the Church, that his communion is not with the entirety wherever it is extended but is found in some separate part; it is clear that he is not in the Catholic Church. For this reason, since our question with the Donatists is not concerning the head, but concerning the body, that is, not concerning the savior Jesus Christ himself, but concerning his Church; the head over which we agree shows to us the body over which we disagree so that through his words we might now cease from disagreeing. He is the only begotten son and Word of God and for this reason the holy prophets were not able to speak the truth unless it was shown them by truth itself, which is the Word of God, and it was commanded that they speak. In the same manner, in earlier times the Word of God resounded through the prophets, then through itself when the Word became flesh and lived among us (John I,14); then through the apostles whom he sent to preach about him so that salvation might be spread continually to the ends of the earth. In all these things the Church is to be sought.
V, 8. But because scurrilous people often say many things against some or on behalf of other issues, many things posited figuratively and obscurely in order to exercise reasoning minds through images of riddles or the two-fold understanding of ambiguity are sometimes believed by a false interpretation to agree. This I preach and promise, that we prize whatever is open and clear. If these things were not found in Holy Scripture, there would be no way by which things closed might be opened and obscure things clarified. For example, see how easy it would be for us to say against them or for them to say against us what the Lord said against the Pharisees: For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matth. XXIII, 27-28). These things might be said by us against them or by them against us, unless it might first be proven by the clearest evidence there is, which ones feign themselves to be just when they are unjust. What even minimally sane person might not know that this is spoken more from reviled fickleness than from convincing truth? Indeed, the Lord was saying those things against the Pharisees as the Lord, that is, as the knower of our hearts and the witness and judge of all human secrets. We ought first to find and demonstrate what we charge lest we ourselves are instead charged with the very serious crime of insane temerity. Indeed, if they teach that we are such people, we should in no way reject that we are censured and bruised by such words of Holy Scripture. So if we teach that they are such men, it will be similarly in our power to strike those already signified and convicted with those rebukes of the Lord.
9. So also those things which have been posited obscurely and wrapped in veils of metaphor ought meanwhile to be set aside and they can be interpreted according to our understanding and according to theirs. Indeed it is the task of clever men to judge and discern who might more credibly interpret these things, but we do not wish in this case to entrust in these contests of cleverness our argument which interests people. Nobody doubts, by our faith in our history, that the Church was prefigured in the ark of Noah so that the household of a just man might be set free from the sinners destroyed by the flood. This would perhaps seem to be a conjecture of our human imagination, except that Peter said this in his epistle. But because he did not say there (in case any of us might want to say so) that all the kinds of animals were there, since the future Church was being foretold to all the nations, perhaps it appears otherwise to the Donatists and they wish to interpret this in a different way. In the same way, if they interpret something formulated obscurely and ambiguously to benefit their own opinion, if it is clear to us that it says something else there which resounds on our own behalf, what will be the end of this? For a certain bishop of theirs, when he made a speech among the people in Hippo, as we have heard, said that this same ark of Noah was sealed with bitumen on the inside for this reason, that it not draw off it water; and it was so also on the outside, that it not let in any water. At any rate, he wishes to strengthen this interpretation to this end, that it not be believed whether baptism can go outside the Church or that whoever would be baptized outside the Church might be received. He seemed to say something important and it was acclaimed by those who were willingly listening and who were not carefully thinking about what they had heard so that they might perceive (which was easy to do) that it could not be done that a structure of wood would not admit water from the outside if it does not draw it off from within; but if it draws off water from that side that is within, it follows that it admits from that side that is external. But even if what he said be true of conjoined wood, who could prevent me if I could say something different concerning the ark sealed with bitumen on both sides, so that it would be uncertain that that thing pointed to their interpretation or a different one altogether? For it would not be absurd (or even much more probable) to say that through bitumen charity is signified since it is a hard-headed glue and a most impetuous substance. Whence is it said in the Psalm My soul clings to you (Psal. LXII,9—i.e. LXIII,8) except by most fervent charity? Since it is prescribed that our charity be for one another and for all, for this reason is the ark sealed with bitumen within and without. Or, since it is written Love bears all things (I Cor. XIII,7). The very power of bearing, steadfast in unity, is signified through bitumen, with which the ark is covered, within and without, since evils are borne within and without, lest the structure of peace be broken up. In this disputation of ours let us desist from such interpretations and let us seek something obvious by which the Church may be made manifest.
10. Indeed, it is written in the book of Judges, Then Gideon said to God, “In order to see whether you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said, I am going to lay a fleece of wool on the threshing floor; if there is dew on the fleece alone, and it is dry on the ground, then I shall know that you will deliver Israel by my hand, as you have said.” And it was so. When he rose early next morning and squeezed the fleece, he wrung enough dew from the fleece to fill a bowl with water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not let your anger burn against me, let me speak one more time; let me, please, make trial with the fleece just once more. Let it be dry only on the fleece, and on all the ground let there be dew.” And God did so that night. It was dry on the fleece only, and on all the ground there was dew(Judges VI, 36-40). I do not see what else is here prefigured and foretold than that we understand the floor as the world, and the place where the fleece is as the people of Israel. For we know that that particular people was suffused with the grace of the divine covenant just as with heavenly dew; for all of the nations around them it was just like dryness, since they lacked this gift. But there was this gift on the fleece amongst that people, that is in the metaphor and as if in a cloud of mystery, since it had not yet been revealed. But now we see the world fed by the dew now revealed through the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was then signified in that figure of speech: their priesthood which they had, having been lost, that people remained just as on the dry fleece because they did not understand Christ in the Scriptures. And yet not in such metaphors do I want us to seek the Church, although I do not see what else could be understood here. Meanwhile, let us set aside entirely those things that require interpretation of this sort; not because what is interpreted in this way from such metaphors is false, but, because they require an interpreter, I do not want our skills to be deployed in these activities. Revealed truth, however, shouts, shines, bursts forth on ears refusing to listen, strikes the eyes of dissemblers. Nobody seeks a place for his false opinions in these hiding places. Let it confound every attempt at contradiction; let it smite the brows of all the impudent.
VI, 11. O Donatists, read Genesis. “By myself I have sworn says the Lord: “Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen. XXII,16-18). What do you say to this? Do you argue with us with the perversity of the Jews to say that the offspring of Abraham is to be understood only in the people born of Abraham’s flesh? But the Jews do not read the apostle Paul in their synagogues whom you read in your assemblies. Therefore, let us listen to what the Apostle says. For now we seek how the offspring of Abraham is to be understood. Brothers and sisters, I give an example from daily life: Once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say, “And to offsprings,” as of many; but it says, “And to your offspring,” that is, to one person, who is Christ (Gal. III,15-16). Behold in what offspring all nations are blessed. Behold the will of God. Open your ears. He says, “Once a person’s will has been ratified, no one adds to it or annuls it.” Why do you annul the will of God by saying that it was not complete in all nations and that it had already perished from the nations in whom was the offspring of Abraham? Why do you add to it by saying that in no lands does Christ remain the heir except where he has Donatus as co-heir? We do not envy anybody. Read to us from the Law, Prophets, Psalter, the Gospel itself, the Epistles. Read and we believe, just as we read to you from Genesis and the Apostle that in the offspring of Abraham, which is Christ, all nations are blessed.
12. Hear this same will to Isaac, son of Abraham Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham, And Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I will show you. Reside in this land as an alien and I will be with you and will bless you; for to you and to your descendents I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands; and all the nations of the earth shall gain blessing for themselves through your offspring, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen XXVI,1-5). Answer this. The offspring of Abraham is also the same offspring of Isaac, which is Christ. What Christian does not now know how Christ came from the tribe of Judah in the flesh from the Virgin.
13. Hear this same will to Jacob. Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen XXVIII,10-15). Behold what promise you resist; behold what a firm will you annul. God says I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you, and you contradict this saying that we should believe whatever crime you cast before a world that is unaware of it and ignores you rather than believe God saying I will not leave you until I have done this.
14. Read to us from the canonical Scriptures that those whom you accuse by name betrayed the divine books; read texts as clear as those we have read to you from Genesis. We do not ask of you what that stone signifies that Jacob placed under his head when he slept; or what the ladder signifies that was placed on the ground whose top reached to heaven; what the angels of God signify ascending and descending on it. Let wiser and more learned men seek those things and speak to a people at peace, where mischievous contradiction will not clamor against them arming its impudence concerning the obscurity of the sign or the riddle of the expression. The hearts of the faithful are not lacking, which the Lord commemorates in the Gospel where he says, when he sees the Israelite in whom there was no deceit, that Jacob who saw the ladder was himself called Israel. Therefore, those are not lacking whom the Lord then commemorates; indeed he says there, “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John I,51) that is, upon the offspring of Abraham, in which all nations are blessed. But I do not force these things on the unwilling. Listen to this “and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring.” Give me this Church if it is among you. Show that you are in communion with all nations, which you now see blessed in this offspring. Give this and, your anger put aside, receive it, not from me, but from that very one in whom all nations are blessed. It will have been enough to have remembered these things from the first book of the law. More things are made known to those reading without impious strife and with pious love.
VII, 15. What do we read in the prophets? How great and how clear is the evidence of the Church spread through all the nations in the entire world! From this I shall call to mind a few things, leaving more to those reading at their leisure with the fear of God. Let us receive divine answers through the mouth of holy Isaiah and let us investigate his words just as the oracles of God. May the fierce and harmful contests of human strife be still. May we incline our ears to the word of God: there Isaiah says when he foresaw through God’s revelation the holy Church that we might see in the words of one speaking of things to come those things now already present. He says the earth is full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. And on that day the root of Jesse will rise up to have power over the peoples, the nations will hope in him (Is. 11:9-10). No Christian is in any way ignorant that the root of Jesse is Christ born of the seed of David according to the flesh; if anybody remain quarrelsome, let him contend with the Apostle who uses this testimony in his epistles (Rom. 15:22). He says Israel will blossom and put forth shoots and the earth will be filled with fruit (Is. 27:6). Likewise he says I, God, am first and am in those things that will come. The nations have seen God and the ends of the earth were afraid (Is. 41:4-5). This is what Scripture says elsewhere First and last (Apoc. 22:13), as is A and W, which are letters known to all as the sign of Christ. For this, which is “last” here is placed “and I am those things that will come.” Against this revelation those who do not wish to believe (or rather those who do not wish to see fulfilled what follows) say “The nations have seen and the ends of the earth were afraid.” Likewise, a little later Jacob my servant, I shall take him up, the chosen Israel, my soul lifts him up. I have given my spirit in him; he will bring judgment on the nations. He will not cry out or stop nor will his voice be heard outside. A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not quench but faithfully he will bring forth judgment. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he places his judgment on the earth and in his name the nations will hope (Is. 42:1-4). This testimony is to be understood concerning Christ and is placed in the Gospel (Mt. 12:18-21). Let him who hears this contradict it. But who does not hear it may he hope in it, together with the nations, and may he not depart from the unity of the nations hoping in it. If he should depart, let him return lest he perish.
VII, 16. And a little later he says Thus says the Lord of Israel, in time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you (Is. 49:8). Certainly when the Apostle Paul cites those words he shows that they are not fulfilled unless among Christians. For he concludes saying Behold, now is the acceptable time, now the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). Let us therefore hear what Isaiah adds I have given you as a covenant to the people to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages (Is. 49:8). And then having said more he adds Lo, these shall come from far away, these from the north and the sea and others from the lands of the Persians. Sing for joy o heavens and exult o earth. Send forth delight o mountains for God has comforted his people and has encouraged his lowly people. But Zion said the Lord has forsaken me and God has forgotten me. Can a mother forget her son or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget but I will not forget you says the Lord. See I have inscribed your walls on the palms of my hands. You are perpetually in my sight and you will shortly be built up by those who destroyed you (Is. 49:12-17). And so since we are not permitted through the voice of the Apostle to understand this concerning the Jewish people but concerning the Christians, we understand in this what Isaiah says here And you will shortly be built up by those who destroyed you, that it was earlier predicted that the kings of the world who first persecuted the Church afterwards helped it. But since many of them would die in their iniquity, he adds and those who laid you waste go away from you (Is. 49:17). Then since all the nations were joined to the Church, he follows Lift up your eyes all around and see I live says the Lord. You will bind them all on and you will arrange them as the ornament of a new bride since your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land now will be too crowded for your inhabitants and those who swallowed you up will be far away. For the children you lost will say in your hearing This place is too crowded for me; make room for me to settle. Then you will say in your heart Who has born me these since I know that I am without children and widow? So who has reared these? I was left all alone — where then have these come from? Thus says the Lord I will soon lift up my hand to the nations and raise my signal to the islands and I shall lead your children to your bosom; they will carry your daughters on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers and queens your nurses. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord and you will not be put to shame (Is. 49:18-23). A little later he adds Listen to me, listen my people, you kings also pay attention to me since my law goes forth from me and my judgment is as a light to the nations. Soon my justice will approach and my salvation will go out and in my arm the nations will be saved (Is. 51:4-5). Concerning this arm, let us consult the writing of the apostles. For when the Apostle Paul raised the testimony of this same prophet concerning the faithlessness of the Jews, because Christ was not revealed to them, he posited this Who has believed our message and the arm of the Lord to which it was revealed (Rom.10:16). Then, in the following passage Isaiah adds At once the ruins of Jerusalem break forth in happiness, for the Lord has comforted his people and brought forth Jerusalem and bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations and all the nations of the earth shall see the salvation which is from God (Is. 52:9-10). Who is so deaf, who so foolish, who so mentally blind to contradict such obvious evidence?
VII, 17. But let us move on to more obvious things. Certainly we know that the most holy wedding in the Scriptures is the bridegroom and bride Christ and the Church. Isaiah described them both, unless perhaps I am mistaken in one of them, that should something happen to one of them, both would be lost, which is said concerning marriage in the vow, just as the Apostle testifies two become one flesh (Eph. 5:31). In this way therefore is this described earlier. After many things which Isaiah says concerning that so that the Jews themselves were silent it would not be too long to cite them all. Pay attention to this text they shall bear their iniquities; therefore he will possess much by inheritance and hewill divide his spoil with the strong. Because of this his soul was handed over to death and he was numbered with the transgressors and he bore the sins of many and he was betrayed on account of our transgressions (Is. 53:11-12). We say that these things were earlier predicted and prophesied of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why was this bridegroom handed over to death? Why was he judged among the transgressors? What did he do by so humbling his exaltedness? What did he gain? Who is so deaf that he does not hear these things? Who is so insensible that he doesn’t understand? Who is so blind that he doesn’t see? Therefore he will possess much by inheritance and he will divide his spoil with the strong. Because of this his soul was handed over to death and he was numbered with the transgressors. Why, heretics, do you glory in your small number if our Lord Jesus Christ was handed over to death that he might possess much by inheritance? And who are those many or how broadly do they occupy the earth? Let us listen to what follows.
VII, 18. The bridegroom having been announced and presented, the bride goes forth in the words of Isaiah. Let us read of her in the truth of the divine pages and let us acknowledge her in the world. This aforementioned evidence of the holy Church the Apostle Paul also posited; this is not evidence by which the argumentative reluctance of the heretics might escape. Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout you who have not been in labor. For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married (Is. 54:1). Where is, I say, the reason that you glory in your small number? Are they not many concerning whom it is said a little later Therefore he will possess much by inheritance. For what is his inheritance, unless his Church? For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, clearly wishing the Synagogue of the Jews to be understood as the married woman, since it received the law. From this, what we say can now be determined. They compare their multitude among the Africans or established in Africa with the multitude of the Jews throughout the world wherever they were dispersed and they see how they are very small by comparison. How then will they ascribe what was said of them, the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married? Again they compare the multitude of Christians among all the nations with whom they are not in communion and let them see how few in comparison are all the Jews and yet sometimes they understand that in the catholic Church spread throughout the world that prophecy was fulfilled: the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married. But to the married woman the desolate woman given preference in the number of her children is a mystery, a riddle; yet this is the Church of Christ concerning which it was said the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married; whoever contradicts this does not contradict me, but the Apostle (Gal 4:27).
VII, 19. How she would have many children he subsequently adds saying For the Lord said Enlarge the site of your tent and your courtyards, do not hold back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes, spread out to the right and to the left. Your descendents will possess the nations and will settle the deserted towns. Do not fear, for you will prevail, do not be anxious that you will be detestable. You will forget the shame of your youth and the disgrace of your widowhood you will remember no more. For I am the Lord who made you, the Lord is his name, who freed you and the God of Israel will be called the God of the whole world (Is. 54:1-5). Behold how [the Church] was ordered to extend its cords until the God of Israel is called the God of the whole world. Indeed, concerning that Church it is said in another place through the same prophet For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until my justice goes forth like light. And my salvation will shine like a torch and the nations shall see your vindication and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the Lord will call and you will be a crown of beauty in the sight of the Lord and a royal diadem in the hand of your God, you shall no more be termed forsaken and your land shall no more be termed desolate. You shall be called my delight and your land the whole world (Is. 62:1-4). How could it still be demanded that this be said more clearly? See how many things come from one prophet and how clear they are! And yet they do not resist and contradict any man, but the spirit of God and most obvious truth; and nevertheless they who wish to glory in the name of Christian envy the glory of Christ himself lest those things, that were announced earlier about him, are thought to be fulfilled since they are already not announced but shown, seen, experienced. But now concerning all the prophets of the announced Church which we perceive, just as we read, I wish to gather all the evidence in this single letter, I fear that I myself might seem to judge as being few those things that are so many, so that from Isaiah alone if I wish to gather everything, I would exceed the limits of a normal discourse.
VIII, 20. Let us now listen to a few things from the Psalms that had earlier been sung and now we see with great joy those things already fulfilled. Let us listen to and judge first the very psalm that Petilianus cited in his letter, with what impudence I can’t imagine. The Lord said to me “You are my son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me and I will make the nations your heritage and the ends of the earth your possession (Ps. 2:7-8). What Christian has ever doubted that this was predicted of Christ or has understood that this heredity was anything other than the Church. And since it would have good and bad men within the same bond of oaths, he says You shall rule them with a rod of iron, you will break them like a potter’s vessel (Ps. 2:9). Indeed, with this same firm and inflexible justice the good are ruled and the wicked beaten.
VIII, 21. Who is so unreasonable and foolish to divine eloquence that he does not recognize the Gospel itself when the psalm is sung where it says They have pierced my hands and feet and counted all my bones. They stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among themselves and for my clothes they cast lots (Ps. 21:18). When the Evangelist recounted this event he remembered this text. What is equal to the price of this cross, to such humbling of exaltedness, to that most innocent and divine blood, except what is said there in the following verses All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord. And all the families of the nations shall worship before him. For dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over all the nations (Ps. 21:27-28). Didn’t the Apostle explain what was said through the preachers of the New Testament where it is written Their voice goes out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world (Ps. 19:4). And this is understood of who else but Christ. God, the Lord of gods, spoke and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to the setting; out of Zion the form of his beauty … (Ps. 49:1-2) Of whom but Christ is this saying Anxious, I slept? And why he is anxious follows: The sons of men, their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues are sharp swords (Ps. 57:4). Whose, but those who shouted Crucify him, Crucify him? And why all of this? whose benefit, whose gain? Listen to what follows: Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth (Ps. 57:5). See, you have Christ asleep in his passion and by his resurrections ascended above the heavens. And why is his glory over all the earth unless it is that his Church is throughout the whole world? In these two very brief verses I question you, heretics, about everything that is between us. He said Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth. Why do you preach that the Lord Christ is exalted above the heaven and you are not in communion with his glory over all the earth.
VIII, 22. The seventy-first [i.e. 72nd] psalm is entitled For Solomon. But because such things are said there that cannot be fitting for that temporal king who afterwards was a grave sinner, they are asserted most invincibly to have been predicted of Christ against the Jews themselves. No Christian would deny this, for such things are said that beyond doubt pertain to Christ. And there are said these things where the Church is acknowledged throughout the whole world and all kings subjected to Christ. And he will have dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth (Ps. 72:8) From the River, certainly, where the Holy Spirit manifested him in the form of a dove and as a voice from heaven. Then it follows May the Ethiopians bow down before him and his enemies lick the dust. May the kings of Tarshish and the isles render him tribute, may the kings of the Arabs and Saba bring gifts. May all the kings fall down before him, all nations give him service. (Ps. 72:9-11) And a little later And all the tribes of the earth will be blessed in him, all nations will prize him. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who alone worked wonders and blessed be his glorious one forever and ever and all the earth will be filled with his glory. Amen. Amen (Ps. 45:17) Go now Donatists and shout So may it not be done. So may it not be done [i.e. No amen]. The word of God saying “Amen. Amen,” has conquered you. See the Church spread throughout the world is made manifest in the psalms, on which the king’s glory rests. Whence also the queen herself is the bride of whom it is said in the forty-fourth [i.e. 45th] psalm at your right hand stands the queen in gold dressed wrapped round in variety [Ps 45:9], and in order to encourage her, divine speech continues Hear, O daughter, see and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house since the king desired your beauty (Ps. 45:10-11). Pay attention to how the divine prophecy began to speak to the bride of Christ: Hear, it says, daughter and see. You wish to neither hear what has foretold nor see it fulfilled and yet, unwilling, you hear and see. Hear therefore, what is said to her a little later, hear from the divine page how it is foretold and see how it is fulfilled in all the earth. In place of ancestors sons are born to you; you will make them princes over all the earth (Ps. 44:16). How much evidence from the Scriptures on this matter do I pass over, those who read know and so do I. But I do not wish to weight down the letter to which I demand a response.
IX, 23. What would they say to these things that we cited from the law and prophets and psalms concerning the Church of Christ spread throughout the world which they perversely prefer to resist rather than properly be in communion? What, I ask, would they say? That these things are false or enigmatic? But they dare not say that they are false, for they are pressed by a weight of such great authority. Therefore, when they say that these things are true, they contend that they cannot have been fulfilled, as if it were something else to accuse the prophecy of the crime of falsehood than to say that what was foretold could not have been fulfilled. This is to say that this is not prophecy but pseudoprophecy. And when you ask of them why these things could not have been fulfilled, they answer, “because men do not wish it to be.” They say, “since man was created with free will, and if he wishes he believes in Christ, if he does not wish he does not believe; if he wishes he perseveres in that which he believes, if he does not wish he does not persevere. And for this reason when the Church began to grow throughout the world men did not wish to persevere and the Christian religion fell away from all the nations, except for Donatus’ party.” As if the Spirit of God did not know the future desires of men. What extremely foolish person would say this? Why did it not rather foretell what future thing it knew concerning the will of men? For in this way, in which they think these things were foretold, whoever wishes can be a prophet, so that when those things that he foretold aren’t fulfilled, he might answer “men aren’t willing, for they are Christians by free choice.” Somebody can prophesy in this way that Christ wouldn’t suffer on the cross but die by a sword, so that, when it happened otherwise, he might answer “What did I do? Men established with free will didn’t wish to do what I had foretold and they did what they wanted.” Now to whom didn’t it occur how many things could be prophesied in that way by whatever men? For who doubted that Judas didn’t certainly betray Christ if he wanted and Peter didn’t deny him three times if he didn’t want. But for this reason there was a definite prediction concerning those things, since God also foresaw future wishes.
X, 24. Nevertheless, although these things are clear also to uncomprehending hearts, let us hear here the voice of the Word itself expressed through the mouth of the man. Certainly when he showed himself after his resurrection to be touched and felt by the hands of his doubting disciples and when in their presence he received and ate what they offered him, he told them these are my words that I spoke to you when I was still with you that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44). Concerning whom but him were they written, which we have also cited from the law, the prophets, and the psalms, as I have shown in individual instances? So when he says in [I] who am Truth, everything must be fulfilled. How do they deny it unless they are enemies of the truth? But if they say that these things are still enigmatic, let us listen to the head itself, the truest indicator of the body. For when he said that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled, just as we have questioned if when he said about me it should there be understood the Church on account of the phrase two will become one flesh (Eph 5:31) so that not only concerning the head, but also concerning the body do we hold divine words as certain. The evangelist follows, saying then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and he said to them thus it is written it is fitting that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day (Luke 24:46). Here the head itself is shown which offered itself to the hands of the disciples to be touched. See how he adds this about the body, which is the Church, that it allows us to err neither in the bridegroom nor in the bride and repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). What could be more true, more divine, more obvious than this utterance? It disgusts me to commend this with my own words while it does not shame the heretics to oppose it with theirs.
X, 25. They may say this evidence, which we have posited from the law, the prophets, and the psalms is enigmatic and spoken figuratively and could be otherwise interpreted (although I have acted in this, as much as I am able, that they are not able to claim this). But look, they say it was never spoken enigmatically or hidden in the veil of riddle what Christ himself said Thus it is written that it is fitting that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47). If this is enigmatic Disturbed I slept, is this not at all enigmatic it is fitting that the Christ suffer (Ps. 57:4)? If this is enigmatic Be exalted O God above the heavens (Ps. 57:5) is this in no way enigmatic and rise on the third day? Likewise, if this is enigmatic Let your glory be over all the earth, is this in no way enigmatic repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations? If this is enigmatic God the Lord of gods spoke and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to the setting (Ps 50:1) is this not enigmatic repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations? If the earth is summoned from the rising of the sun to its setting, so he says I came not to call the just, but sinners to repentance (Matt. 9:13). If this is not enigmatic Out of Zion, the perfection of his beauty (Ps. 50:2) is this not enigmatic beginning from Jerusalem. For Zion itself is Jerusalem. But what do they answer me? They say that those things that I posited from the law, the prophets and the psalms do not relate to those words of the Lord which are read in the Gospel; I am not concerned and do not object. Yet certainly unless this was foretold in the law, prophets, and psalms or in that evidence that I myself have employed, the Lord would never have said it is fitting that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms be fulfilled, and their sense revealed, that they might understand the Scriptures, he taught those same things that were written of him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms. In this way, as it says, Thus it is written it is thus fitting that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. But although his body was seen and touched, he wanted to strengthen his hesitant disciples with greater evidence from the Scriptures than that he apply himself visible and tangible to human senses. So let us hold the Church delineated from the mouth of the Lord from where it would begin and until it would fully arrive; namely begin from Jerusalem and arrive in all the nations.
X, 26. If anybody should now say that Jerusalem is not to be understood as that visible city, but is posited figuratively, so that it is understood spiritually as the entire Church spiritually in the heavens and in part pilgrim on earth, he could also say that it was written figuratively That is was fitting that Christ suffer, and rise on the third day. Whoever says that is not to be held a Christian in any way. And so, just as that is posited literally, so also is it added concerning the Church of all nations beginning from Jerusalem. For the Lord revealed that these things were spoken of him in the law, the prophets, and the psalms and certainly that revelation could not have been figurative; it would not otherwise be a revelation. Then, when Jerusalem posited figuratively and understood spiritually signifies the universal Church, how does the universal Church begin from the universal Church, just as Jerusalem begins from Jerusalem? It is clear, therefore, that it is posited literally of that city, from which the Church is proven to have begun, and this is clear, leaving no treacherous hiding place for heretical cunning. Thus, he continues, saying And you their witnesses; and I send my promise over you. But you sit in the city until that you are cloaked in virtue from above. Certainly in which city he ordered them to sit until they were cloaked in virtue from above, that is with the Holy Spirit, which he promised he would send, from this city he foretold the Church would begin. But if they do not think that this is Jerusalem, let them listen to what follows: Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and they were continually in the temple praising God (Luke 24:50-53). See where that city is demonstrated in which they were ordered to sit until they should be clothed in virtue from above.
XI, 27. Here indeed it is omitted how many days he was with them after he showed himself after his passion alive to their eyes and hands. But the Acts of the Apostles is not silent where by this same demonstration of the Lord’s words the Church that would exist throughout the world is announced. Nobody is allowed altogether to doubt unless he doubts in his own faith in Holy Scripture, that it is the visible city of Jerusalem from which the Church began after the resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and that he did not wish to show them anything other than the places of this land where he would give it a beginning and how he would spread it from there through all places. For thus it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, First, Theophilus, I spoke of all that Jesus did and taught until the day he chose the apostles through the Holy Spirit commanding them to preach the Gospel; after his suffering he preached himself about the kingdom of God. While he stayed with them he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for his promise, which you have heard, he said, from my own mouth, that John indeed baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit, which you will receive after not many days. But, coming together they asked him, “Lord at this time will you restore the Kingdom of Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times which the Father has placed in his own power, but you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit coming from above upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8). See, it is obvious here from where the Church would begin and where it would go.
XI, 28. What do they say to this, they who so arrogantly call themselves Christians and so openly contradict Christ. We hold to this Church, we admit no human accusations against those divine utterances. It moves us greatly that our Lord, whom not to believe is sacrilegious and impious, in his last words spoken on earth, left this last saving evidence of the primitive church. For having said these things, he soon ascended into heaven. He wished to fortify our ears against those whom he had predicted in earlier times would rise up and say Look, here is the Christ. Look, there he is (Mt. 24:23). He warned us not to believe them. Nor is there any excuse for us if we believe them against the voice of our shepherd that is so clear, so open, so obvious that no one whether insensible or slow witted could say, “I didn’t understand,” for who wouldn’t understand Thus it is fitting that the Christ suffer and rise on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47). Who wouldn’t understand You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. When he had said this he was lifted up and a cloud took him up and they saw him going into heaven (Acts 1:8-10). What is this I ask? When these last words are heard of a dying man who would go among the dead, no one says he lied, and he is judged an impious heretic who perchance makes light of them. So how do we flee the wrath of God if, either not believing or belittling, we spurn the last words of the only son of God, our Lord and savior, who would go to heaven and from there watch who neglects these words and who observes them and then would come to judge concerning all of them. I have the most obvious voice of my shepherd commending the Church to me without any ambiguity. I will blame myself if I should be led astray or wander from his flock which is the Church itself, through the words of men when he has especially warned me, saying, those who are my sheep hear my voice and follow me (John 10:27). See, his voice is clear and open. Having heard it, who does not follow him? How will he dare to say he is his sheep? No one tells me “O, what does Donatus say, what does Parmenianus say, or Pontius or any of them? No one agrees with the catholic bishops if they are anywhere by chance mistaken in holding any opinion contrary against the canonical Scriptures of God. But if they maintain the bond of unity and love and they fall into error, it will be done to them what the Apostle says if you think differently about anything, this too God will reveal to you (Phil. 3:15). But now those divine utterances about the universal Church are so obvious that the heretics cannot rant against them unless out of perversity of mind or blind rage.
XI, 29. But we have shown that the Church, foretold by its bridegroom in the word of God, either in the law, prophets, and psalms or in his own mouth, would begin from Jerusalem and reach to the ends of the earth and how it would begin from Jerusalem and then spread throughout the world bearing fruit. In this same word of God, it is also demonstrated through the apostles, as was written in the Acts of the Apostles, which I have cited, the Lord said You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, he had said this as he was lifted up and a cloud took him up from their eyes. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, look, two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand there looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alpheus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas, son of James. All these were devoting themselves together to prayer with the women and Mary who was the mother of Jesus and his brothers. In those days, Peter rose up in the midst of the disciples and spoke. There was a crowd of around one hundred and twenty men (Acts 1:5-15). Then Peter spoke how Matthias would be chose in places of Judas, the betrayer of the Lord, and after his selection Scripture continues: And when the days of Pentecost were fulfilled, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire room where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in various languages as the Spirit gave them to speak. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this utterance the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Amazed and astonished, they said, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And who is it that we hear, each of us in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome. Jews and foreigners, Cretans and Arabs, in their own languages they heard them speaking about God’s deeds of power. All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another. What is this? Some mocked them saying, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter standing with the eleven disciples raised his voice and spoke to them, “Men of Judea and you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you (Acts 2:1-14), etc. With which words he encouraged them in faith. When he finished saying these things, Scripture follows Now when they had heard this, they were cut to the heart, saying to Peter and the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do? Show us.” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you will receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children and for all who are far away, whomever the Lord calls. And he testified to them with many other words saying, “Be saved from this corrupt generation. Having heard this speech they believed and were baptized and that day about three thousand persons were added (Acts 2:37-41). See how it was begun from Jerusalem, then the Church would go through all languages, which was foretold in those who received the Holy Spirit, were strengthened, and spoke in all languages.
XI, 30. Now how it would go out through the other nations Peter himself foretold when he said the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, whomever the Lord our God calls; then let us see. Subsequently, things are told that then were done in Jerusalem until the passion of Stephen the deacon, where even Saul is noted consenting to his death. When this was done, it continues that day a severe persecution began against the Church in Jerusalem and all except the apostles who remained in Jerusalem were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1). See then how it was fulfilled what the Lord had said in succession you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. This had already been done in Jerusalem; it followed in Judea and Samaria, on account of which they were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria. For it is soon said of them now those who were scattered went from place to place proclaiming the word of God (Acts 8:4). The apostles had gone having heard that Samaria had received the Holy Spirit through the imposition of their hands. So it is said of Peter and John Peter and John having testified to the word of God returned to Jerusalem and proclaimed the good news to many villages of the Samaritans. Then it is told of that eunuch who returning from Jerusalem was baptized by Philip and it is said of Philip the angel of the Lord snatched Philip from him and the eunuch did not see him any more and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found coming to Azotus and returning he proclaimed the good news through all the towns until he came to Caesarea (Acts 8:39-40). See, he was found preaching the Gospel throughout the towns of Judea and Samaria. He stayed to preach to all the nations as the Lord had said, to the ends of the earth. Saul is called from heaven, a preacher is made from a persecutor, and the Lord says of him to Ananias go, for he is a vessel of my election to bring my name before the Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel to be glorified; for I shall show him how much he will suffer for the sake of my name (Acts 9:15-16). So we now hold the Church in Jerusalem, through all Judea and Samaria, which is said a little later very plainly, meanwhile, the churches throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were built up and strengthened in the fear of the Lord and were filled with the comfort of the Holy Spirit(Acts 9:31). Then, after passing over a few things, one comes to the place where Cornelius the centurion believed and was baptized with his family who were all uncircumcised pagans. Before this was done, Peter saw in an ecstasy while he was praying the heaven opened and a certain vessel bound at four corners like a clear linen cloth in which was every kind of quadruped, and wild animal, and birds of the air. And a voice arose Get up, Peter, kill and ear. But Peter said, “Lord, I have never eaten anything profane and unclean.” The voice again said to him, “What God has made clean you do not call profane” (Acts 10:11-15). That what was seen through this are signified the nations who would believe, there is no need for us to guess. Indeed, that same apostle explains this in the vessel shown to him, when he entered the home where Cornelius was and many had gathered, he said to them, “You know very well how it is not allowed for a Jew to associate or with or visit a foreigner, but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean (Acts 10:28). Thus, he expounded that utterance that he had heard concerning the animals displayed in the cloth, what God has made clean you do not call profane. Now, to whom does it not appear that in that vessel the world is signified with all the nations? It was bound at the four corners because of the known parts of the globe, East and West, South and North, which Scripture mentions so often. It takes a long time to mention those places around which Paul, sent to the nations, traveled spreading the word of God and strengthening newborn churches. When the Jews of Antioch resisted him, he and Barnabas spoke to them, It was proper that the word of God be spoken first to you, Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, “I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles that you might be a salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:46-47). Subsequently it says, When the Gentiles heard this, they received the word of God and as many as had been destined for eternal life believed (Acts 13:48). See, here is cited the evidence from the prophet Isaiah that we also pose, that it might be salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa 49:6).
XII, 31. So that I not mention those Gentiles, who after the time of the apostles believed and came to the Church, but only those whom we find in the sacred literature (the Acts and the Epistles of the Apostles and in the Apocalypse of John) which we both embrace and to which we both are subject, let them speak to us how they perished in the African dissension, for we received this not from the councils of arguing bishops, not from disputations, not from legal or municipal acts, but from holy canonical literature. How could the church of Antioch where first the Christian disciples were called, perish from the crimes of Africans? What such impetuous African wind could spread a plaque carried so far, where not even the names of those through whom or from whom this evil arose could be known in Athens, Iconius, Lystris? Who destroyed the churches founded by the labor of the apostles? At the end of the Epistle to the Romans, the same Apostle, teacher of the Gentiles says, On some points I have written to you rather boldly, just as one reminding you, because of the grace which was given to me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, consecrating the Gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I have glory in Christ Jesus before God, for I do not dare speak of anything which Christ has not completed through me for the obedience of the Gentiles by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that from Jerusalem and as far around as Illyricum I will have filled them with the Gospel of Christ (Rom 15:15-19). Ask, Donatists, if you don’t know, ask how many resting places there are round-trip by land from Jerusalem to Illyricum. If we count that many churches, tell us how they could perish on account of African arguments. You keep only the letters of the Apostle to the Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Thessalonians, the Colossians for reading; but we keep the letters for reading and for faith and the churches themselves for communion. Now, however, there is not one church in Galatia, but countless churches. And see how he greeted the Corinthians, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, including all the saints throughout Achaia (2 Cor 1:1). How many churches do you think there are in all Achaia? Perhaps you do not know where Achaia is and you make judgments on such an unknown province out of such blindness that you say it perished from the crimes of Africans. Are not all the places that Peter names, Pontus, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia full of blossoming churches? What? What the churches are to which John wrote: Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea (for I have already mentioned Ephesus), some one of you might tell me where they are and how distant they are from one another. Perhaps now by reading or listening you might seek to understand. Understand therefore how far removed they are from Africa and tell us why with sacrilegious boldness you find fault with them which are altogether unknown to you and manifested in apostolic epistles and why you say with such madness that they perished from the crimes of Africans. I know what was afterwards written about them in the holy canonical books. I do not know what you say about them. Certainly, just as we read about these churches of Christ from the books that you also honor, so also you read to us how they perished from the books that we honor. Would it please you if against the churches, that are the members of the one Church spread throughout the whole world which the Holy Spirit commends and bears to us through his Scriptures, we might believe whatever slanders made by men delivered from anywhere? This does indeed please you but it does not please us. You see who is more justly pleased but, conquered by animosity, you do not wish to be conquered by truth. See, here are the Scriptures of God; see, in them the churches are signified and expressed by the name of the entire world and by individual name. What your elders put before their colleagues they do not know; what judges judged this case, they do not know; how then did they perish? Here are the Scriptures in which I believe; here are the churches with which I am in communion. Where I read there names to you, there read their crimes to me.
XII, 32. But if you shout or read aloud from some other place, we do not admit, believe, or receive your voice after we have heard the voice of our shepherd through the mouths of the prophets, through his own voice, and through the mouths of the evangelists so openly declared to us. Those who are my sheep, says the heavenly shepherd, hear my voice and follow me (John 10:27). His voice concerning the Church is not enigmatic. Whoever does not want to wander from his flock, hears it and follows it. His very faithful manager, a teacher of the Gentiles in truth and faith (1 Tim 2:7), because he himself [i.e. Jesus] speaks in him, says I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel, because there is no other; unless some are confusing you and wanting to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let there be anathema upon him. As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let there be anathema upon him (Gal 1:6-9). It was announced to us that the Church would exist throughout the world. The Lord himself testified that this was foretold in the law, the prophets, and the psalms. He foretold when he ascended to heaven that it would begin from Jerusalem and would remain throughout all nations and that witnesses to him would be in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. These words followed: how it began from Jerusalem and then went forth into Judea and Samaria and then to the entire world, where the Church still grows until at last it has claimed the remaining nations where it still doesn’t exist, it is subsequently shown to the witnesses in the Holy Scriptures. Whoever proclaims a contrary gospel, let there be anathema upon him.
XIII. However, he preaches a different gospel who says that the Church perished from the rest of the world and remained only in Africa among Donatus’ party. Therefore let there be anathema to him; or let him read this to me in the Holy Scriptures and there would be no anathema.
XIII, 33. “I’ll read it,” he says, “for Enoch also among men pleased God and was carried away and afterwards, the entire world having been destroyed by flood, only Noah with his wife and sons and their nurses deserved to be rescued in the ark.” They also add the story of Lot because he alone with his sons was rescued from Sodom, also of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because these few were pleasing to God in a land given over to idols and demons. Afterwards, the people of Israel now having been multiplied during the times of the kings in the promised land given to all twelve tribes of Israel, they remember ten tribes divided and entrusted to a servant of Solomon, but two remained for Solomon’s son for the kingdom, which was Jerusalem. “So also now,” they say, “the entire world rebelled, but we remained, just like those two tribes in the temple of God, that is, in the Church. And so, although many disciples followed Jesus Christ the Lord, seventy-two abandoning him, only twelve remained.” With these and similar examples the heretics dare to render agreeable their paucity and they do not stop blaspheming the multitude of the Church spread throughout the world in its saints. But I ask of them, if this is absent, if I do not wish to believe those examples cited by them, how would they convince me? Is it not in the Holy Scriptures, where they are read with such clarity that whoever receives this literature in faith cannot but confess those things to be most true? Moreover, if I am compelled to believe that these examples are true, since they are written there where I could not say that what is written there is false, why then do they not believe from these same Scriptures in the Church spread throughout the world? See, we believe all those things. Let them also believe what the Lord says that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47); let them believe what he said when at last he would ascend into heaven you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Should these or those things be believed to be true, there will be no strife among us because these things will not be impeded by those truths nor those by these truths. “And we,” they say, “believe those things and confess they were fulfilled but afterwards the world rebelled and only the communion of Donatus remained. “Let them read this to us, just as they read of Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their two tribes which were left once the ten were separated, and of the twelve apostles who remained when the rest left. Let them likewise read this; we do not at all resist. But if they do not read this from Holy Scripture but they try to persuade us with their own arguments, I believe those things that are read in Holy Scriptures; I do not believe those things said by heretics. But because they think they should be compared to those two tribes that remained with Solomon’s son, let them read and they will repent choosing this. For these two peoples are remembered thus in Scriptures: the part that was in Jerusalem is named Judah, but that other one that was divided with the servant of Solomon in a greater number is called Israel. Let them hear what the prophets say about each; how they say that Judah was worse than Israel such that they claim that Israel, having turned away, was justified by the sins of dissembling Judah. That is, their sins were so serious that Israel could be called just by comparison. Nevertheless, neither the sins of one or the other could harm the just men who are found to have been on both sides. For also on that side that they posit as an example of perdition, that is, in Israel, were the holy prophets. So that I might remain silent concerning the others, there was the memorable Elijah to whom it was said I have left seven thousand men who have not bent their knees before God (1Kings 19:18). For this reason, should that part of the people in no way be considered to have been like heretics, for God ordered these same tribes to be separated, not that the religion, but that the kingdom be divided and in this way he was avenged against the kingdom of Judah. God in no way ordered that schism or heresy arise. It is not because there are many kingdoms divided in the world that Christian unity is divided, since on either side the catholic Church is found.
XIII, 34. I think that this should be remembered concerning Judah and Israel, so that the Donatists should principally be admonished that it is no harm to the just placed in the midst of the impious, regardless of what is said against those peoples on account of the great number of the impious, so that they might stop gathering as evidence whatever is said through the prophets or the mouth of the Lord or the evangelists against the tares or the chaff of the world. Divine speech mostly disapproves of the impious mobs of the Church who are not considered in the Church; but because of the convenants which they hold in common with the saints, there is present in them a certain form of devotion whose power they deny just as the Apostle says holding to the form of devotion, but denying its power (2Tim 3:5). God rebukes them as if all were such and no good remained. Then indeed we are admonished that all of them are called in this category, that is, all are sons of Gehenna, to which God knows in advance that they are destined. Therefore, they acting either clumsily or falsely, collect such things from Scripture that are found said against bad men mixed with the good until the end of the world or concerning the devastation of the ancient people of the Jews and they want to twist them against the Church of God so that it seems as if it failed or perished from the earth. Let them stop bringing up such things if they want to respond to this epistle. For we do not say that the Church is so spread throughout the world that we should say that only good men participate in its sacraments and not also the evil and that they are much more numerous so that the former are few by comparison, although on their own they make an enormous number.
XIV, 35. We have countless pieces of evidence both of the mixture of bad men with good together in covenantal communion, such as wicked Judas lived from the beginning among eleven good men, and of the small number of good men in comparison to the many bad and again of the great number of good men considered on their own. From these I note a few examples, lest I go on for a long time. There is something in the Song of Songs, which every Christian understands was said of the Holy Church, as a lily among the brambles, so is my love among the maidens (Cant. 2:2). Why does he call them brambles unless because of the baseness of their way of life and why does he call them maidens unless because of the communion of sacraments? Ezekiel sees certain ones marked with a sign lest they should die alongside the wicked, concerning whom it is said to him, those who groan and lament sins and iniquity of my people which are done in their midst (Ez 9:4). He would not have said his people, which he soon would order to perish with only those others left unharmed, if this people did not hold his covenant. The Lord says concerning the overseen tares let both of them grow together to the harvest (Mt. 13:30). That is the wheat and the tares, and he interprets the harvest as the end of the age, but the field where both are sown is the world. And so it is fitting that until the end of the age both grow throughout the world. They are now not allowed to surmise or assert that all good men have fallen away from the world so that they only remain with Donatus’ party. They strive against the very clear statement of the Lord, the field is that world and let both grow until the harvest and the harvest is the end of the age (Mt 13:38. 30. 39). There is another very clear parable on the mixture of good and evil with the same communion of sacraments and the connection which the Lord himself posits and explains the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down and put the best ones into their baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the evil from the midst of the just and throw them into the furnace of fire. There there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 13:47-50). Therefore, no mingling with the wicked should terrify the good so that they would want to break their nets and go out from the congregation of unity in order not to bear men not destined for the kingdom of heaven in sacramental fellowship since when they come to the shore, that is, the end of the age, the necessary separation will be made, not by human boldness but by divine judgment.
XIV, 36. Concerning the small number of the good, the Lord himself speaks very openly, enter through the narrow gate. How wide and spacious is the path that leads to destruction and there are many who take it; how narrow the gate and hard the road that leads to life and there are few who enter on it (Mt. 7:13-14). The Donatists think that they are those few and for this reason they say that the world has perished but that they remained in that small number which the Lord has praised. Compared to these, we set before them the Rogatists and Maximianists who separated themselves from them, if they think they should be glorified for their small number. Let them read and see how much evidence is found that, although their small number in comparison to the multitude of the wicked is commended by the Lord, Scripture was not silent on the multitude of the good considered in and of itself. Why is it promised that the offspring of Abraham will be just as the stars of heaven and the sands of the sea, unless on account of the countless multitude when the Apostle claims it was said for this reason through Isaac descendents will be named for you since they are not considered children of the flesh but children of the promise (Rom. 9:7-8)? Why the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married (Is. 54:1)? Why many will come from the East and West and will recline [i.e. at table] with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the children of the kingdom will go into the outer darkness (Mt 8:11-12), that is the faithless Jews? Why does the Apostle say that he might purify us as an abundant people for himself, an imitator of good works (Tit. 2:14)? Why does the Apocalypse say that there are thousands of thousands of holy children of the Church? See, they are many considered in themselves, but few in comparison to the unjust.
XV, 37. “Concerning us,” they say, “it is said they will be first who were last (Mt. 20:16). The Gospel came afterwards to Africa and consequently nowhere in the apostolic letters is it written that Africa believed. Concerning the eastern and other nations that are cited in the holy books receiving the Christian faith, it is said they will be last who were first because they would retreat from the faith.” Is this not the cunning of heretics we should guard against, willing to convert the words of God from the truth in which they were spoken to the perversity in which the heretics exist? Why do we not rather understand this of the Jews who were made last although they were first and concerning the gentile Christians who were made first although they were last? Even if I couldn’t prove this interpretation by some very certain evidence, it should suffice for the judicious listener that I find a conclusion in these words in which it would appear that the Donatists carried away nothing so certain that it could be doubted that even if it weren’t Jews and Gentiles concerning whom I interpret this passage, even some barbarous nations believed after Africa. It is therefore certain that Africa was not last in order of belief. It happens that the Lord himself explains about whom he had said this and stopped up the mouths of slanderers. Speaking to the Jews, who would say to him, you taught in our streets … when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrown out. And people will come from East and West, from North and South, and will recline [i.e. at table] in the Kingdom of God. See they are last who will be first and they are first who will be last. Here certainly is something found that will not be contradicted.
XV, 38. Likewise they say that the Lord spoke of the apostasy of the world when the Son of Man comes, do you think he will find faith on earth? (Luke 18:8). We do not interpret this saying either as that perfection of faith that is so difficult in men that even in the admirable saints, like Moses himself, they were anxious or could have been anxious, or as that abundance of iniquity and small number of good men, about which we have already said enough. Moreover, the Lord said this, as if in doubt, for he didn’t say, “The Son of Man coming will not find faith on earth,” but “Do you think he will find faith on earth?” It is not fitting for him who knows all things to doubt anything, but his doubt is a sign of our doubt since human weakness was sometimes mentioned because of the many scandals burgeoning around the end of time. Of this it is said in the psalms my soul sleeps for weariness; strengthen me in your words (Ps. 119:28). Why my does soul sleep for weariness unless because of what the Lord says since iniquity increases, the love of many will grow cold (Mt. 24:12). There are those therefore throughout the world for whom since iniquity increases, the love of many will grow cold and in turn there are those throughout the world who by enduring to the end will be saved, since he says let both of them grow together until the harvest and the harvest is the end of the age and the field is the world (Mt. 13:30, 39, 38). This is the voice of that human weakness save me, Lord, since there is no one holy; truth has been diminished by the sons of men (Ps. 12:1). And among those there is one heart and one soul of the faithful in God shouting save me, Lord. Thus it is that one man who says save me, Lord as it consists of many it is said a little later in the same psalm because of the misery of the helpless and the groaning of the poor I will rise up says the Lord (Ps. 12:5). A little later it is said in the plural You will save us; you will guard us from this generation forever (Ps 12:7). From which generation, unless from that spoken of above there is no one holy; truth has been diminished by the sons of men. But both kinds are throughout the world until the end since he says let both of them grow together until the harvest, and the field is the world, the harvest is the end of the age. For that is one man which is the body of Christ consisting from many just as Enoch pleasing to God was borne away and as Lot was rescued from Sodom and Noah from the flood. In him is the misery of the helpless and the groaning of the poor since his soul sleeps from weariness when he seeks to be strengthened in the words of God. But in this psalm he says from where this weariness comes weariness keeps me from the sinners abandoning your law (Ps. 119:53). Likewise he shouts when his heart is distressed by the same weariness; but let them see why he shouts from the ends of the earth I call to you when my heart is distressed (Ps. 61:2). He truly suffers persecution for justice, not only if he suffers bodily punishment (for this is not always the case) but that as long as iniquity lasts, he suffers torments, namely of the heart, since weariness keeps him from sinners abandoning the law of God. Lot suffered no persecution in Sodom where no one harmed him living there with bodily punishment, but the just man living in their sight and hearing torments his just soul by the unrighteous actions of others (2Pet. 2:8). Of this the Apostle says all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2Tim. 3:12). But of those who abandon the law of God (of whom he says that this is the same as the body of Christ itself) I saw them senseless and I waste away (Ps. 119:158). But wicked people and impostors will grow worse erring and bringing others into error (2Tim. 3:13). But both kinds will be throughout the world until the end, since he says let them both grow until the harvest; the field is the world, the harvest the end of the age.
XV, 39. Yet I am amazed that they do not attend to what they say when they cite as if on their own behalf what the Lord said when the Son of Man comes do you think he will find faith on earth? As if Africa weren’t on earth. If he said this as if he would not find faith at all anywhere or as if he spoke concerning a certain country and it was uncertain about where he was speaking or as if he spoke of an entire country but they don’t find it as he didn’t speak of Africa. Let them really see lest perhaps in the following words he concealed such things as they are. For when he said when the Son of Man comes do you think he will find faith on the earth, I believe that vain and inflated thoughts rise in the heart for certain arrogant heretics who separated themselves from the unity of the world on some part of the earth because they were just while other nations through whom the communion of the Church was being broadened were perishing or falling away from the faith. The evangelist continues he told this parable to some who appeared just and spurned others(Luke 18:9) and he follows with the two praying in the temple, a Pharisee and a tax collector in whom were signified the arrogant glorying in good works and the humble confession of sins. If they are prepared to respond to this epistle, let them abandon providing evidence which we cite with them either on the ruin of the Jews or the tares or the chaff or the bad fish of the entire world; just as we assert by the most obvious evidence that the Church is spread throughout the entire world, so also let them bring forth something obvious from which they may show that it was foretold that with the other nations perishing from the faith of Christ, only Africa would remain and bishops would be sent to wherever from Africa.
XVI, 40. “It was written,” they say, “in the Song of Songs, the bride, that is, the Church, speaking to the bridegroom tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon (Cant 1:7). This is the only evidence they think resonates on their own behalf since Africa is placed in the southern part of the globe. From this I first ask how the Church would question Christ that he announce to it where the Church should be, for there are not two Churches but one. Or let them show, since they do not deny that the Church says these words to Christ, what is the Church that asks and what is the Church about which it asks. For it asks where it might come to its bridegroom and says to him, tell me, you whom my soul loves, where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon. It is still that Church that speaks and asks where that Church is at noon. It asks where do you pasture, where do you make it lie down and the answer is at noon, as if the bridegroom responds at noon I pasture, at noon I make it lie down, but all these words pertain to the question: where do you pasture, where do you make it lie down at noon? She then says lest I be like one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions (Cant 1:7). But now he answers, if you do not know yourself, O splendor among women (Cant 1:8), etc. Therefore, it is not shown by these words that the Church is only in the South but is established in all parts of the world. Perhaps she asks, what pertains to her communion at noon, that is where her bridegroom grazes his flock and makes it lie down at noon since he grazes his own sheep and makes them lie down in his pastures. Certain of his members, that is the good faithful, come from overseas provinces in Africa and when they heard that here was the party of Donatus, fearing that they might fall into the hands of some rebaptizer, they call on Christ praying and saying tell me, you whom my soul loves, where do you pasture your flock, where do you make it lie down at noon, that is where is the noon where you pasture and make it lie down, that is who has love and does not divide the unity. And see what she adds, lest I be like one who is veiled beside the flocks of your companions, that is lest perhaps I be not beside your flock but near the flocks of your companions, who, although they were at first with you, did not wish to gather your flock but their own flocks, and they did not hear you saying whoever does not gather with me scatters (Mt 12:30) or what you said to Peter feed my sheep (John 21:17), not your own sheep. But this is not veiled since it is not beneath a bushel but beneath a candle that it might light all who are in the house (and about whom it is said a city built on a hill cannot be hid (Mt. 5:14)). But it is as if veiled to the Donatists who hear such clear and obvious evidence which shows the Church to the whole world and they prefer to dash against the mountain with their eyes closed than ascend it, which, although it was a stone cut from the mountain without hands, grew and was made a huge mountain and filled the entire universe.
XVI, 41. This can be understood in another way: where do you pasture your flock, where do you make it lie down at noon? The voice of the speaker in the psalms is in the person of Moses, servant of God: make your right hand known to me and make men educated in heart in your wisdom (Ps. 90:12). Noon is said to be in them because of the enormous light of wisdom and the enormous heat of love. From this, when the Spirit of God encourages someone to good works through the Prophet, he promises this to him your gloom will be like the noonday (Is. 58:10). But if any place in the world should be interpreted as being in noon, the words themselves, as I have said, that all produce a single question do not allow anyone to twist their meaning to his own opinion. If, as if to somebody asking the question where does he pasture, where does he make it lie down at noon, it is responded concerning an earthly place at noon, we should not receive this as Africa. Africa is indeed in the southern part of the world but towards the south-west, not towards the south where noon truly is. There the sun halves the day, beneath which region of the sky Egypt is found. If, therefore, the bridegroom, asked by the bride about a rather intimately beloved place and his certain secret resting place, would answer that it was at noon, the catholic Church would much more probably recognize this in its own members who are in Egypt in the thousands of servants of God who live in the holy company of hermits, struggling to attain the perfection of the Gospel precept where it is said do you wish to be perfect? Go sell all that you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me (Mt 19:21). How much better it would be that the Son of God would be said to pasture his flock and make it lie down there separately than in the restless crowds of raging Circumcellions, which is an evil proper to Africa! Isaiah prophesies in this way about Egypt that day there will be an altar in the land of the Egyptians and an inscription to the Lord at their borders. It will be a sign forever to the Lord. Since they cry to the Lord because of their oppressors, he will send them a man who will save them and will protect them while judging them. The Lord will be known to the Egyptians and the Egyptians will fear the Lord and they will make sacrifices and offer prayers to the Lord. The Lord will strike and will heal them with his mercy and return to the Lord and he will listen to them and heal them (Is 19:19-22). What do they say to this? Why are they not in communion with the Church that was foretold of the Egyptians? Or if Egypt signifies the world in this prophetic allegory why are they not in communion with the world?
XVI, 42. Let them then thoroughly examine the Scriptures and against so much evidence by which it is shown that the Church of Christ is spread throughout the entire world, let them bring forth one thing as certain or obvious as this is, by which they might show that the Church of Christ has perished from the other nations and that it remained only in Africa as if from a separate beginning, not from Jerusalem but from Carthage where they first raised a bishop against a bishop. If we wish to interpret the prince of Tyre as Donatus, since Carthage is also called Tyre, what is prophesied against him by Ezekiel? It points greatly to him what is said to him I shall show you that you are a man and not god (Ez 28:2). They glory more in his name that in God’s even though God alone is without sin and is that priest who intercedes for us since it is said of him God who is blessed forever (Rom 9:5). Those followers of Donatus want themselves to be seen without sin such that they even assert themselves to be the justifiers of men and that their oil is not the oil of a sinner. It is deservedly said to the prince of Tyre you have said “I am a god” though you are a man and not a god (Ez 28:9); to whom it is also said are you are indeed better than Daniel (Ez 28:3). David confessed his sins and those of his people, but the Donatists following the prince of Tyre say that they are heard praying for the sins of the people since they themselves are without sin. It is deservedly said to the prince of Tyre you are indeed better than Daniel. See, we can find something appropriate: this great evil arose from the head of Africa, that is, from Carthage (for people know how fittingly Tyre is taken as Carthage); yet we do not do this with such words. Perhaps Tyre signifies something else; how much more so does the word noon when they compel these words to different interpretation.
XVI, 43. But as they are not allowed to at least seek something by which they might prove that it was foretold that the other nations falling away from the Christian faith, the Church would remain in Africa alone, let them attend to that which I have often cited that letboth grow together to the harvest and the field is the world, the harvest is the end of the age. Not us, but the Lord himself interprets his own parable. There is something else very obvious that altogether takes away from the effort of seeking from where they might prove that the Church returned to Africans alone after the world was lost. It could be otherwise and not be discovered. But it cannot be and is not discovered. Let them stop looking for what they can’t find, not because it is hidden, but because it does not exist. There are still some nations among whom the Gospel has not been preached. It is necessary that all things foretold of Christ and the Church be fulfilled. Therefore it is fitting also that it be preached among them. When this is done, there will be an end to this.
XVII. How do they then say that it has already been finished, what the Lord said, that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:47), but that afterwards, the other nations having fallen away, only Africa remained for Christ since that is yet to be fulfilled. This is not yet fulfilled? When it would be fulfilled the end would come, for so says the Lord and this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come (Mt. 24:14). How then, when the faith of all the nations was complete, did the loss of the nations except for Africa follow since the very faith of all the nations was not yet fulfilled?
XVII, 44. Unless perhaps this thing remains for the foolishness of these men: that they say that not from those churches that were founded through the efforts of the apostles was the preaching of the Gospel to all nations fulfilled, but they perished and their restoration and the acquisition of the remaining nations would be out of Africa through Donatus’ sect. I think they would laugh when they heard this and yet unless they say this which they would be embarrassed to say they do not have anything at all to say. But what do they say to us? We do not look askance at anyone. Let them read to us from the Holy Scriptures and we will believe. I say, let them read to us from the canon of divine books, that so many cities, which continually to the present day hold their baptism transmitted through the apostles, have perished from the faith of Christ on account of the crimes of Africans unknown to them and must again be baptized by Donatus’ sect and then the Gospel is to be proclaimed to the other nations that have not yet heard. Let them read to us (why do they delay, why are they reluctant, why do they block the salvation of the nations?) let them read and with this reading let them send new apostles to all the nations to be rebaptized and to the remaining ones to be baptized.
XVII, 45. But let them clearly see, when they come to the Epistle to the Colossians, how they might read or hear the Epistle given to them where the Apostle says to them in our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hearing of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you heard of before in the word of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so also in you from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth (Col. 1:3-6). These words agree with the Gospel where it is said the kingdom of heaven is like a man sowing good seed in his field (Mt 13:24) and he afterwards explains that the field here is the world. Just as this is foretold to grow until the harvest from where it is sown, so the Apostle says bearing fruit and growing in the whole world so also in you from the day you heard. It grows up to the end since it is up to the harvest, for the harvest is the end of the age(Mt. 13:39). Not only the Colossians, to whom it was written, but all the others among whom this Epistle is read where it is established that through the apostolic letters the good seed was sown, that they had already begun to grow and bear fruit, they would then say, “What do you bring us? The good seed must indeed be sown again when from what was sown it grows up to the harvest?” If you say that it perished in those places what was sown through the Apostle and therefore it is to be sown again out of Africa, it will be answered, “Read to us from the divine oracles.” This you truly cannot read, unless you first show that it was written that the seed before it was sown there grew up to the harvest. And since by no mean does divine speech contradict itself, you will in no way find anything here that you could cite against something so obvious. It remains then that you say this not from divine books but from yourselves. It is therefore answered very fittingly “May anathema be upon you” for the churches founded by the effort of the apostles understand with how much care it was preached to them if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you receive, let there be anathema upon him (Gal 1:9).
XVIII, 46. Since in Holy Scripture the Church is clearly recognized beginning from Jerusalem and growing through all nations until it embraces all up to the end of the age, not only the grain but also its refuse is mentioned. First you who are upright must be in communion with the grain and then you see what you may call tares or chaff. Otherwise, you think out of detestable error to adorn the wicked with promises of the good and accuse the good with crimes of the wicked. Certainly, we hold in our hands documents with which we shall prove that your elders, by whose schism we are divided, handed over the holy books to the flames, following municipal decrees, and couldn’t deny it, following ecclesiastical; these same men were among those judges who delivered sentences in Carthage against Caecilian and his absent colleagues. Certainly, in these same municipal and ecclesiastical decrees these traitors are found who afterwards are brought forth by you just as ones who condemn absent traitors. Certainly, Nundinianius, your deacon at that time, revealed the business of Lucilla before Zenophilus the governor, which earned the condemnation from the bishops of Caecilian, who was made an enemy preaching the truth. Certainly, they afterwards sent letters to the emperor Constantine and they did not agree with those sent by him, as they had sought, just as the bishops had determined, and afterwards they accused these same men before him like unjust judges. By other letters sent by them to Arles they appealed to the emperor himself and he having listened between the sides, the slanderers were discovered and condemned in the obstinacy of their rage. Certainly you yourselves say that the Christian holiness was thoroughly destroyed from so many nations in which the Apostle left it well founded, since they are in communion with those whom your elders condemned at the Carthaginian council of seventy bishops. Are you not now in communion with those whom you 310 condemned with Maximian at the council of Bagai? Is it not read that Praetextatus of Assuri was condemned in that council and was accused and attacked by you for his acts for the proconsul and yet he was raised up in the honor for which he had been condemned and died in communion with you? Was not Felicianus of Musi condemned by the bishops in the same council in the same way for the same reason, accused before the judges, afterwards received by you and now lives with you as a bishop? Are not those who were baptized by those condemned men now in communion with you in the same baptism? But clearly if so many overseas churches founded by the work of the apostles are in communion in their sacraments with those whom they don’t even condemn when they are accused before them and they listen to them once they have been cleansed and absolved by others, they lose salvation and the Christian religion. The sect of Donatus condemns whom it wishes and so exaggerates in this sacrilegious condemnation of their schisms that it does not hesitate to compare them to those whom the earth has swallowed and, when it wishes, is again in communion with those raised to the same honor and remains holy and complete. O rule of the Law of Numa! O privileges of Bagai! And baptism in Christ is extinguished in those who received it in the apostolic churches; but in those whom the damned impious (as was written in the council of Bagai) Praetextatus and Felicianus baptized, the baptism of Christ is spared, not because it is the baptism of Christ but because it was given through those who deserved to depart as bishops from those who condemn them and to return as bishops to those who condemn them.
XVIII, 47. Certainly all these deeds, which I have cited now for a while, we recite from imperial letters and ecclesiastical, municipal, and proconsular decrees. And yet, O Donatists, if you accept that Church spread throughout the world, which is expressed and delineated with the most obvious evidence from the canonical Scriptures, all these things should not prevail at all against you since the crimes of the chaff wouldn’t be judged against you if you were the grain of wheat in it and if you were the chaff and the crimes were yours, you would not be prejudiced against the wheat of the Lord’s harvest which was thus sown in the world and grew to the end of the age. In this way then, if perhaps you should bring some evidence against our chaff which you still haven’t proven to us, we would not hold against you so many of those things that I have cited and thus nothing you say, however true, obvious, or well proven could be prejudicial against our grain spread throughout the world. Then let all the delaying reluctance be removed. Whatever is falsely presented concerning the sins of men conscience consents to and it no longer is held forth as evidence. Whatever is truly presented concerning the sins of men and either cannot be proven or should be proven and can’t be, is not held forth. Whatever is truly presented concerning the sins of men and is proven and does not pertain to the grain that lies hidden among the chaff but to the chaff itself that will be separated in the end, is not held forth. We can present this much more abundantly and obviously, not that we establish our case in it with the emptiness with which they establish theirs, but that we then show them that we don’t want to trust in such things since we do not invent such things that we say lest we spend the time useful for necessary things in things that are not necessary. They therefore do this, since they cannot find evidence resting on robust and firm truth with which they might defend their case and they want to seem to say something, while they are ashamed to remain silent and they are not embarrassed to speak inanities. All such things then removed, let them demonstrate their Church, if they can, not in the speeches and murmurs of African, not in the councils of their bishops, not in the epistles of whatever debates, not in false signs and prodigies, since we are prepared and cautioned against them by the word of the Lord, but in the precept of the law, in the predictions of the prophets, in the songs of the psalms, in the utterances of the one shepherd himself, in the preaching of the evangelists, that is in all the canonical authority of the holy books, and not such that they might gather and cite things that are spoken obscurely or ambiguously or metaphorically which anyone might interpret according to his own opinion as he wishes. Such things cannot be properly understood and explained unless first those things that are said most openly are held with a strong faith.
XVII, 48. Whoever then prepares himself to respond to this Epistle, I warn him ahead of time, lest he say to me “They gave the Lord’s books over to the flames, they sacrificed to the pagans’ idols, they persecuted us most unjustly, and you agree with them in everything.” I briefly answer what I have always answered, “either you speak falsely, or if it is true, what you say does not pertain to the grain of Christ but to the chaff.” The Church does not then perish which, winnowed at the last judgment, will be cleansed by the separation of all of them. I seek where the Church itself is which by hearing and acting upon the words of Christ builds on the rock and by hearing and acting supports those who hearing but not acting build on sand; where the wheat is that grows among tares until the harvest, not what the tares have done or do; where the beloved of Christ is in the midst of bad daughters like a lily in the midst of thorns, not what those thorns have done or do; where the good fish are who until they arrive at the shore tolerate the bad fish caught in the same way, not what those bad fish have done or do.
XIX, 49. Once these snares of delays have been laid aside let him show that the Church should be preserved in Africa alone with so many other nations lost or that it should be repaired and fulfilled among all nations from Africa. Let him show this that he not say, “it is true because I say this or because my colleague has said this or some colleagues of mine or our bishops or clergy or laity or it is true for this reason that Donatus or Pontius or somebody else has performed these or those miracles or that men pray to the memory of our dead or that these or those facts are relevant here or that our brother or sister has had some vision while awake or has dreamed some vision while asleep.” Let these fictions of lying men or omens of treacherous spirits be removed. Or is it not true what is said, if some miracles of the heretics were performed we should be very cautious, because the Lord said that certain men would be deceitful who by performing some signs would deceive the elect, if that were possible. He adds vehemently, take note, I have told you beforehand (Mt 24:25). The Apostle also warns about this now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons (1Tim 4:1). Moreover, if anyone praying in memory of heretics is heard, not by merit of the location but by merit of his desire does he receive good or ill. Thus it is written the spirit of the Lord has filled the world (Wis 1:7) and a jealous ear hears all things (Wis 1:10). Many are heard by an angry God of whom the Apostle says God gave them up to the lust of their hearts (Rom 1:24) and to many a favorable God does not bestow what they wish that he might bestow what is useful. The Apostle said the same thing about the goad of his flesh, the angel of Satan, which he said was given to him to box him lest he become insolent from the greatness of his revelation three times I appealed to the Lord about this that it would leave me, and he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you for power is made perfect in weakness” (2Cor. 12:8-9). Do we not read that some are heard by the Lord God on the peaks of the mountains of Judea, which heights nevertheless were displeasing to God so that the kings who didn’t overturn them were found with fault and those who overturned them were praised? From this it is understood that the condition of the petitioner is stronger than the place of the petition. Concerning false visions let them read what was written that even Satan disguises himself as an angel of the light (2Cor 11:14) and that dreams have deceived many (Sir. 34:7). Let them also hear what the pagans say was miraculously done or seen from their temples and yet the gods of the peoples are demons but the Lord made the heavens (Ps 96:5). Therefore, many are heard and in many ways, not just catholic Christians but also pagans and Jews and heretics given over to various errors and superstitions. They are however heard either by deceiving spirits who nevertheless do nothing unless they are allowed, God judging ineffably from on high what should be bestowed to each person, whether by God himself either for the punishment of wickedness or for the consolation of misery or for a warning to seek eternal salvation. No one arrives at that salvation and eternal life unless he have Christ as his head. No one can have Christ as his head unless he be in his body, which is the Church, which we ought to acknowledge just as the head itself in the Holy canonical Scriptures, and not seek in the various murmurs, opinions, deeds, words, and visions of men.
XIX, 50. Let no one who is prepared to respond to me therefore set this before me that I don’t say that I should be believed that the communion of Donatus is not the Church of Christ on this account, that certain men who were bishops among them were convicted by ecclesiastical, municipal, and judicial decrees of having given divine instruments over to the flames, or that in the judgment of the bishops, which they sought from the emperor, they did not maintain their case or that appealing to the emperor himself they even deserved a sentence from him against them or that there are such leaders of the Circumcellians among them, or that the Circumecellians commit such evil, or that there are those among them who cast themselves from precipices or sacrifice others to be consumed in flames whom they themselves burned or they force their slaughter upon unwilling men through terror and they seek so many voluntary and insane deaths so that they will be loved by people or that these drunken flocks of vagabonds mixed with wantonness bury themselves day and night in wine at their tombs and annihilate themselves in disgrace. May this crowd be the chaff and not judge the grain if they adhere to the Church. But they may not show whether they adhere to the Church unless from the canonical books of the divine Scriptures since we do not say that it should be believed of us that we are in the Church of Christ on this account that Optatus of Milevis or Ambrose of Milan or countless other bishops in communion with us commended that Church to which we adhere or that this Church was preached by the councils of our colleagues or that throughout the whole world, in the holy places that our communion frequents, so many miracles either of answered prayers or of healings are performed that the bodies of martyrs that lay hidden for so many years were revealed to Ambrose because they could hear many petitioners and a man blind for many years who was well known in the city of Milan received his sight at those bodies or since this one saw in a dream and that one heard in an ecstasy either that he should not go to Donatus’ sect or that he should abandon Donatus’ sect. Whatever such things happened in the catholic Church should therefore be approved of. Because they happen in the catholic Church, the Church is not therefore shown to be catholic, just because these things happen in it. The Lord Jesus himself, when he rose from the dead, offered his body to be seen by the eyes of his disciples and touched with their hands in case they nevertheless think they experienced some trick. He considered them more strengthened by the evidence of the law, the prophets, and the psalms, showing what was predicted earlier was fulfilled in him. So he commends his Church, saying that repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. He asserted that this was written in the law, the prophets, and the psalms; we adhere to this commended by his own mouth. This is the evidence of our case, this the foundation, this the support.
XIX, 51. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that it was said of certain believers that they daily examined the Scriptures to see whether these things were so. Certainly, what are these Scriptures, unless the canonical ones of the law and the prophets? To this are added the Gospels, the apostolic Epistles, the Acts of the Apostles, the Apocalypse of John. Examine all these and bring forth something obvious by which you might show that the Church either remained in Africa alone or would come out of Africa so that what the Lord said might be fulfilled, this good news will be proclaimed throughout the world as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come (Mt. 24:14). But bring forth something which doesn’t need an interpreter nor from which it might be demonstrated by you something that was said on another matter and that you dared twist to your own opinion. You see that single thing that you are accustomed to bring forth where you pasture them, where you make them lie down at noon (Cant. 1:6) how when we examine all these words in this passage for a while, it indicates something other than you think, and if it means what you want, the Maximinianists would overcome you in this, for at noon whoever are in the province of Byzacian Tripoli, where they are, more than in Numidia where you are in power. They can so much more faithfully and clearly glory in the noon that you could not exclude them from this interpretation unless you hold the true catholic understanding of these words, showing them that according to the four corners of the world the noon is more from the south than from Africa [i.e. the southwest], but according to the figurative speech of the Scriptures, the perfect illumination of the mind and the greatest fervor of love is called the noon, whence it is written your gloom will be like the noonday (Is. 58:10). Therefore, bring forth something that may not be more truly interpreted against you but that does not need an interpreter, just as this doesn’t need an interpreter in your offspring all nations will be blessed (Gen 22:18), since the offspring of Abraham as Christ is not my interpretation but the Apostle’s; just as this doesn’t need an interpreter you shall be called my delight and your land the whole world (Is. 62:4), since it is spoken to her whom no Christian understands as other than the Church of Christ; just as this doesn’t need an interpreter all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord and all the lands of the nations shall worship in his sight for dominion is his and he rules over the nations (Ps. 22:27-28 ) since it is written in this psalm where the passion of the Lord is also revealed by the witness of the Gospel; just as this doesn’t need an interpreter it is fitting that Christ suffer and rise again on the third day and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47); just as this doesn’t need an interpreter and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) for the following history, strengthened by canonical documents testifies that the Church began from Jerusalem and went from there around Judea, Samaria, and the other nations; just as this doesn’t need an interpreter and this good news will be proclaimed as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come (Mt. 24:14), for when he was questioned about the end of this age after he spoke about the beginnings of birthpangs he said the end is not yet (Mt. 24:6), he foretold that the end would be after the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world to all nations; just as this doesn’t need an interpreter, the Lord himself whom no one can contradict interpreted it and expounded it in this parable which he himself told and he said the good seed was the children of the kingdom, the field was the world, and the harvest was the end of the age. Bring forth one such thing by which it might very openly be declared that Africa was either left alone among the remainder or alone was preserved as the beginning of renewing and filling the world. It is not commended by so much evidence that Africa was left alone or from it alone the world was renewed and fulfilled. But if you cannot show what we so justly ask of you, submit to the truth, be silent, go to sleep, and awaken from rage into salvation.
XIX, 52. Or do you still say, “If the Church is among you, how do you compel us to its peace through persecution? Or if we are wicked, why do you seek us? And if we are the tares, let us grow to the harvest.” As if we, in what way we can, would do something else unless the wheat be uprooted when the tares are separated before their time, for whatever good men there would be for eternity, even if earlier they were wicked, are not tares but wheat in the foreknowledge of God. Thus you accuse us, why do we seek you if you are wicked as if you would not have perished since you are wicked and therefore you should be sought since you have perished, so that, lost, you are sought, sought, you are found, found, you are recalled just as that sheep by a shepherd, just as that coin by the woman, just as that son who had been dead and lived again, had perished and was found. He sought you alive among the saints and he commands that you be sought.
XX, 53. Concerning persecution, your complaint will be settled if you think and understand first that not all persecution is blameworthy; otherwise it would not laudably be said who secretly slanders a neighbor, I will persecute him (Ps. 101:4). We see every day the son complain about his father as if about a persecutor and a wife about her husband and a slave about his master and a farmer about his landlord and an accused about his judge and a soldier or a settler about a commander or king when they often with the most orderly power prohibit and restrain the men subject to them from more serious evils through the fear of relatively light punishment; but they also often deter them from a good life and good works by threats and anger. When they prohibit them from evil and forbidden things, they are correctors and advisers, but when it is from good and allowed things, they are persecutors and oppressors. They are blamed who prohibit from evil if the measure of coercion exceeds the measure of sin. Likewise, they should justly be faulted who confusedly and disorderedly leap against those who should be coerced and who have been subject to them by no law.
XX, 54. In the same manner, we justly censure the inordinate licentiousness and arrogant folly of your Circumcellians, even when they are violent to some of the worst men, since it is not good to punish illegal acts illegally and deter from illegal things illegally. But when innocents are persecuted either for some unknown reason or out of most unjust enmity, who among them would not shudder at this most wicked villainy? But because you think the rage of the Maximianists is to be coerced through public laws so that you oppress them, beaten down through the orders of judges, the administration of officials, and the help of citizens from the basilicas they occupied to consideration of their wickedness, we do not approve because you pursued that in them which you yourselves have done, nay much less than you have done. They raised an altar of impious dissension against the sect of Donatus, but you raised one against the entire world and against the words of the one who commended his Church beginning from Jerusalem throughout all nations. Moreover, if the Maximianists illegally and madly dared to resist the orders of the judges effected against them, would they not acquire a judgment against themselves, as the Apostle says, whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed; and those who resist will incur judgment; for rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad (Rom. 13:2-3)? Therefore, although their bad conduct existed, which you tried to contain through duly appointed power, if they wished to oppose the laws on behalf of their own bad conduct with worse conduct was it not from you and not from themselves that they suffered whatever evil happened to them? For this reason, whoever would have wanted to blaspheme against the God of Shadraq, Mishaq, and Abdenago and according to the edict of the king would have been destroyed with his household, was it because of these three men for whom, freed from the fire, the king decreed this after he was moved, or because of the king himself, and not rather because of themselves that they suffered that deserved evil? And if those forty Jews who conspired to kill Paul rushed upon the armed men, by whom Paul was escorted to arrange his protection, did Paul destroy them and not they themselves by resisting the force?
XX, 55. On this account consider these things carefully without disturbance of the mind, without stormy contention, without the bitterness of hatred which the leaders of our communion have established against you, for which reason you suffer and if you find that you are in the Church of Christ rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven (Mt. 5:12). You will be crowned just as martyrs, but they will be judged as the persecutors of martyrs. But if you have raised an altar against the Church of Christ and away from Christian unity, which is spread throughout the world and have been separated by sacrilegious schism from the body of Christ, which is the Church spread throughout the world, and by rebaptizing and blaspheming and attacking as much as possible, Holy and canonical Scripture convicts you of resisting. You are judged as impious and sacrilegious, but they who resolve to deter and coerce you gently with warnings of punishment or the loss of property, honors, or money in order that you reflect on why you suffer these things and abandon your acknowledged sacrilege and are freed from eternal damnation, are judged most careful rulers and devout advisers. Catholic Christian rulers owe you this love so that they might judge that your sacrilege deservedly not be punished on account of Christian clemency and they do not dismiss it altogether unpunished on account of Christian concern. God, whose mercy you do not wish to acknowledge in these annoyances you bewail, has performed this in them. But we, as much as it is in us, as much as the Lord gives and allows us, do not move these laws of very gentle coercion against you, unless that the catholic Church on account of the weakness of the infirm be preserved free from you terrors, so that they may be allowed to select without fear what they would believe or follow so that if your people should do anything violently against us then you, whom we hold like hostages in our farms and cities, do not suffer things like what your people do but through duly ordered judgments you, subject to the laws, are punished with monetary losses. If this appears burdensome to you, let your own people spare you and remain quiet; but if they who are beneath you or with you rage against you by not remaining quiet, you have nothing to complain about to us, who have placed in your power so that even you following your heresy suffer no punishment if the catholic Church suffers no violence from you or your people. But if some violence was done with you unwilling and unable to curb it, you would be warned mercifully and justly of these losses, which you would have from those whom you think you are not contaminated by and from there you would be compelled to understand how you make empty slanders against the Church of Christ spread throughout the world, and you would not now object to us that we persecute you, but rather to your own people if they prefer that we be harassed by their violence and you be worn down by our laws than that they be soothed from their accustomed rage. If you hatefully and calamitously suffer something from our people not observing the manner and vow of Christian charity, I would quickly say that they are not ours but either they would be if they corrected themselves or they should be separated from us in the end if they endured in their malice. Yet we do not break our nets on account of the bad fish nor do we desert the great house on account of the vessels made for humble use. But if by the same rule you say that they from whom the catholic Church suffers such things are not yours, prove your opinion, correct your error, encircle the unity of spirit in the bond of peace. If these do not contaminate you nor those us, let us not slander each other in turn with crimes that do not belong to us; in one love let us grow our grain and at the same time let us tolerate the chaff until the winnowing.
XX, 56. For this reason, if the evidence of the canonical Scriptures needs no interpreter, which commends the Church standing in communion with the whole world and you can find no such right for your separation in Africa established from the same books, you do not justly complain of persecution which the Church endures more gravely the more broadly it is spread and it bears all things in faith, hope, and love, not just such things which your Circumcellians and such other inflict on their members where they can but all scandals of various injustices abounding throughout the whole world, concerning which the Lord shouted woe to the world because of scandals (Mt. 18:7). The son persecutes the father more seriously by living badly than the father the son by punishing him and the handmaid persecuted Sarah more seriously through her unjust arrogance than Sarah her through deserved discipline and they persecuted the Lord more seriously of whom it was said zeal for your house will consume me (Jn. 2:17) than he them when he overturned their tables and drove them from the temple with a whip. What more do you have that you could say?
XXI, 57. Does it please you now if we bring forth this last charge of yours into our midst? “See,” they say, “you adhere to the Church. How do we take it up if we would want to go over to you?” Briefly I answer, “You take it up in the same way as that Church gathers, as we find in the holy canonical books.” Indeed, after you put aside your passion for argument, with which everyone swells who does not want to be conquered by the truth of God and are conquered by their own perversity, you can easily understand that the divine sacraments are both in good and bad, but in the former for salvation and in the latter for damnation. And although so much separates those who handle them worthily and unworthily, yet these same sacraments are designed for the good for reward, for the bad for judgment.
XXI, 58. On this account, when the Lord baptized more people than John, as was written in the Gospel where the evangelist writes, although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized (Jn. 4:2), although so much separates Peter and Judas, yet nothing separated the baptism given through Peter and that through Judas, for that which was given through them was one, although they were not one, and it was of Christ. One of them tended toward the members of Christ and the other to the side of the devil. But although John the Baptist and the apostle Paul were one, since each was a friend of the bridegroom, nevertheless, since there was not one baptism which was given by John and which was given by Paul, Paul ordered them to be baptized in the baptism of Christ, who had been baptized in the baptism of John. And so, it was called the baptism of John, which was given through Paul, and it was not called the baptism of Paul but he says that he ordered them baptized in Christ (Acts 19:4). See, John and Paul are one and they do not give one baptism; see, Peter and Judas are not one and they give one baptism; but Peter and Paul are one and they give one baptism. Abraham and Cornelius are one, justified by faith, and they did not receive one sacrament; likewise, Cornelius and Simon Magus are not one and they received one sacrament; but Cornelius and the eunuch, whom Philip baptized on his journey, are one and they received one sacrament. Therefore, although there is one sacrament, neither different donors nor different receivers make what is one something other than one.
XXI, 59. But the Donatists, when they want to be man’s what is Christ’s, struggle to persuade us of these most false and absurd things, that there are as many baptisms as there are men through whom it is given. And so what the Lord says concerning man and his works the good tree bears good fruit and the bad tree bears bad fruit (Mt. 7:17), they struggle to twist to this meaning that a man baptized by a good man is good and one baptized by a bad man is bad. From this it follows these things, even if they don’t want it to, that one baptized by a better man is better and one baptized by a worse man is worse. From this it is done that those, whom Jesus himself didn’t baptize before the passion of the Lord but his disciples did, would have been born much more holy if they were baptized by him. Who could even think how much difference there would be between him and them, by whom they would have been baptized. Therefore, did he deprive them their holier birth whom he preferred to be baptized by his disciples when he was here? Certainly whoever believes this is insane. Therefore, what did the Lord deign to show by this unless that it was his what would be given, through whom it would be given, that he baptize, concerning which the friend of the bridegroom had said he is the one who baptizes(Jn. 1:33), through the hands of whatever minister who believes in him someone would be baptized? Paul also says I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name (1Cor. 1:14-15). Therefore, would he believe that he deprived men of greater sanctification if how much better he was, the better one could be baptized who was baptized by him? No, rather the intention of that most careful and faithful dispenser was to be cautious against this and whoever thinks himself baptized in a more holy fashion because he was baptized by a holier minister and because he bestowed on a slave what was the Lord’s.
XXI, 60. And so although good and bad may give and receive the sacrament of baptism, those reborn spiritually in the body and members of Christ are not built up unless they are good, and certainly that Church is in the good when it is said as a lily among the brambles, so is my love among the maidens (Cant. 2:2). He is among these who build upon the rock, that is, who hear the words of Christ and act, because Peter confesses him to be Christ the Son of God, he thus says and on this rock I will build my Church (Mt. 16:18). It is not therefore among those who build on sand, that is, those who hear the words of Christ and do not act, for he said whoever hears these words of mine and builds upon them I will compare to the wise man who builds his house on rock (Mt. 7:24) and a little later whoever hears these words of mine and does not act on them I will compare to the foolish man who builds his house on sand (Mt. 7:26). Whoever then is incorporated by the bond of love in the building established on the rock and the lily shining among brambles, he certainly will possess the kingdom of God. But whoever builds upon sand or is considered among the brambles, who would have doubted that he will not possess the kingdom of God? Certainly, the sacrament of baptism does not benefit such people nor yet on account of their unstable foundation and their barren malice is some injury even made by the sacrament they receive.
XXII, 61. Then in that place in the letter of Paul the Apostle, which he wrote to the Galatians, consider, without any eagerness for argument, how it is proper that those correcting their heretical error, if they have the sacrament they ought to have, may receive that which is lacking for them and what is present in them is not rejected and blasphemed; he says the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). And so they are not all in the lily or on the rock and heretics have been placed among them. Why then do you not baptize (that I may pass over many other things) those who were once drunken, lustful, envious, who will not possess the Kingdom of God and therefore are not on the rock and beyond doubt are not considered to be in the Church, since he says on this rock I will build my Church and you want us to baptize those who were once heretics, who have been counted among those same thorns that would not possess the Kingdom of God and in whom likewise the sacraments are not present, when these same sacraments are the same; but they do not benefit since although the sacraments are proper, the heretics themselves are perverse.
XXII, 62. Reflecting and considering these things without any obstinacy, you could easily understand that what is wrong in someone ought to be corrected, what is proper ought to be approved of, what is lacking ought to be given him, and what is present ought to be acknowledged. And so let the heretic arriving at this, that he might be made catholic, correct his own error, not violate the sacrament of Christ, receive the bond of peace which he doesn’t have and without which the baptism he does have cannot benefit him; each of these two things, baptism and justice, are necessary to obtain the kingdom of God. Indeed, in one who despises the baptism of Christ there can be no justice and in him who has no justice it can exist, but it has no benefit, likewise Truth said the same thing no one can enter the Kingdom of Heaven without being born of the water and the spirit (Jn. 3:5). Likewise, Truth said unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 5:20), that not only baptism, but also justice might lead to the Kingdom; for anyone from whom one or both were lacking, he would not arrive there. For this reason, when it is said to the heretics, “justice is lacking from you which no one can have without love and the bond of peace” and when they say that many have baptism but not justice, and, if they do not say so, divine Scripture would convince them, I wonder how they might think when we do not wish to baptize again those not having their own baptism but Christ’s. And so we do this and if we judge that they lack nothing and since the baptism which they are found to have is not given to them in the catholic Church, they are judged to receive nothing from it when they receive it, without which what they have advances them to ruin, not to salvation. If we do not wish to believe this, it suffices that we adhere to this Church which is shown by the most obvious evidence of Holy and canonical Scripture.
XXII, 63. Let the heretic now say, “How do you gather me in?” I quickly respond, “Just as the Church for which Christ advances his evidence gathers him in.” Do you think you know better how you are to be gathered in than our Savior, the physician for your wound? Perhaps you say to me here, “read to me then how Christ ordered those to be gathered in who wanted to pass from heresy to the Church.” Neither I nor you reads this openly or clearly, for if John were a heretic and baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, according to whose baptism Paul ordered men to be baptized, you would obtain what you say, so that I would have nothing contrary I could say. Again, if Peter, to whom the Lord said one who has bathed does not need to wash (Jn. 13:10), were baptized by heretics in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I would obtain something to say so that you would have nothing contrary to say. But now since we do not find in the Scriptures that some passed from the heretics to the Church and were gathered in like I say or like you say, I think if there were some wise man to whom the Lord Christ would offer his evidence, and he would be consulted by us on this question, in no way would we doubt that what he said happened lest we would be judged to reject both him and the Lord Christ whose evidence was being commended. But Christ offers the evidence of his Church. See, read the Gospel where he says it is fitting that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem (Lk. 24:46-47). In which way then that the Church gathers them in throughout all nations beginning from Jerusalem, in that way you are gathered in when all doubts and delays have been removed. If you don’t want this, you struggle not with me or any other man who wishes to gather you in in this way, but most harmfully with the Savior himself against your own salvation, you who doesn’t wish to believe, you should be gathered in in the way the Church gathers you in, which he whom you say it is execrable not to believe commends with his own evidence.
XXIII, 64. But Jeremiah said truly you are to me like deceitful water, having no faith (Jer. 15:18). He didn’t speak of the water you think; read carefully, for he called deceitful water that great number of lying men in prophetic speech, just as they are accustomed to speak figuratively, just as we know that peoples are called by the name of waters in the Apocalypse. Thus, Jeremiah said why do those who sorrow me prevail? My wound from which I shall be healed is strong; truly you are like deceitful water, having no faith (Jer. XV:18). He called the wound made for him like a deceitful water, but he called that same wound those who made themselves sorrowful. He said those who sorrow me afterwards he said my wound and above he said they prevail, after this he said is strong.
XXIII, 65. Do this there where it is written abstain from foreigners’ water and do not drink from a foreign source (Prov. 5:15). You think of what is said of the baptism that is among the heretics, that it is therefore foreign water because heretics will not possess the Kingdom of God. As if it would not be so among the drunkards, the envious and others of this type, of whom it is likewise said that they will not possess the Kingdom of God. And yet, in all such things, if they were baptized according to the Gospel, it is the baptism of Christ and not their own. From this, that water is not foreign, although they are foreign to whom it would be said I do not know you(Mt. 7:23). Why would I rather not interpret foreign water and foreign source to be the doctrine of a malicious spirit, by whom those alienated from God are deceived and seduced through the ignorance which is in them because of the blindness of their hearts. The Apostle expressly reinforces this now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teaching of demons (1Tim. 4:1). This is the foreign water and the foreign source, for if the water is interpreted as good, as the Holy Spirit, why would it not be understood as bad and as the malicious spirit? Not always where Scripture names water does it wish this to be understood as the sacrament of baptism, but sometimes as this, sometimes as something else. The disciples of the Lord had already baptized others with this visible baptism, before the Holy Spirit came upon them according to his promise, concerning which Jesus says, let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let the one who believes in me drink (Jn 7:37-38). And the evangelist follows, explaining this from which it was said now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were about to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit since Jesus was not yet glorified (Jn. 7:39). See, he calls the water the Spirit which had not yet been given, although that water of baptism would have been given to many.
XXIII, 66. There is also this which is written, which likewise you do not understand drink water from your own cistern and from the source of your own wells. Should streams of water run in the plazas? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for sharing with strangers (Prov. 5:15-17). The Holy Spirit indicates not visible baptism, which even those alienated from God can possess, that is those who will not possess the Kingdom of God, but this gift, which is proper only to those who will reign with Christ forever, since, as the Apostle says, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). That breadth of heart that love makes which he says is spread around and about which he said thus to the Corinthians our heart is wide open to you(2Cor. 6:11) is signified by the name of plazas.
XXIII, 67. Then we hear this openly, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1Jn. 4:1); we hear this figuratively abstain from the foreigners’ water and do not drink from a foreign source (Prov. 5:15). For even those alienated from God can have many gifts of God, not just those held in common with stones and trees, such as being and subsisting, not only those held in common with livestock such as breathing and sentience, but also the greater gifts proper now to men such as reason, speech, countless useful arts and many others. These gifts which were given through the house of God, some of which those alienated from God, that is, those who would not possess the Kingdom of God, have, to whom it will be said in the end I do not know you and when they say in your name we prophesy and have much power since he says if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing (1Cor. 13:2). This then is the gift of the Holy Spirit proper to the saints with whom no one alienated from God is in communion. This is absent from all the malicious and the sons of Gehenna, even if they were baptized in the baptism of Christ, just as Simon had been baptized. This is also lacking from the heretics; they receive this when they come corrected and they sincerely embrace the bond of unity. If they do not receive this, even those possessing the baptism of Christ, they would not possess the Kingdom of Christ since they had not approached that source of the running waters in the plazas of the saints which is not flowing outside; from which source God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). So stop citing that evidence which you do not understand or you interpret on our behalf against yourselves. For if it can be interpreted as posited ambiguously for us or for you, certainly it would not help your cause at all, since we, if we should wish to use such things, would use countless pieces of evidence which likewise would not help our cause at all. But truly, such evidence sustains a bad cause by making delays.
XXIII, 68. “See,” they say, “water flowed from the body of the Lord.” And how does this help you, O heretic? “Very much,” they say, “for baptism doesn’t signify anything but being in the body of the Lord, that is, in the Church.” You would say more correctly from the body of the Lord, that is from the Church, although it is already well known that by that water baptism is signified, which perhaps should still be investigated rather carefully. We also say that the baptism you have is from the body of the Lord, that is, from the Church, even though you yourselves are not in it, like all who build not upon rock but upon sand. Yet why do you not attend to that water by which you say that baptism is signified, that not only was in the body of the Lord but also went out from his body, and this through the wound of a persecutor? Neither heretics nor any of the wicked would have dragged the sacraments with them outside the Church, if they guarded the wholeness of unity in the body of the Lord. But even you see how profound this is and by what depth of mystery it is hidden.
XXIV, 69. Now let this be enough; stop working with such texts. Everything of this type you have brought forward is either to our benefit, or that I might limit much of my own case, it is certain to whose benefit it is. But you willingly linger in obscurities, lest you be compelled to speak openly. Behold the Church. I ask, why are you passive? Behold the Church commended and announced, foretold and shown with so much obvious evidence from the Holy Scripture as we have heard, so have we seen (Ps. 48:8). Why do you delay how you might be gathered in? Why do you refuse to be thus gathered in, as the Church for which the one who cannot lie offers evidence gathers you in. Teach that which the canonical Scripture openly said that he who might be baptized among heretics was to be baptized in the catholic Church in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Even if you can’t teach this, teach to you own communion, that is to Donatus’ sect where you learned this, that some obvious and clear evidence is offered by the canonical Scriptures and I shall say that people should go over to you and that the heretics shouldn’t be gathered in any other way from how the church in which you are gathers them in, since it has been made clear by such evidence. Why do you rage, why are you disturbed? You do not find in the canonical Scriptures what we demand of you. What you are accustomed to say where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon (Cant. 1:7), you see what it is and how it does not benefit you. Do not then seek such things since even if the sect of Donatus were in northern regions which are opposite to the southern regions, he would say it was said of him Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great king (Ps. 48:2). Certainly the city of the great king is nothing if not the Church, and that doubtlessly means the Church rather than this where you pasture your flock, where you make it lie down at noon? But perhaps Marcion the heretic used that evidence who is said to have been from Pontus which is in the north. Again, if the sect of Donatus were in the west, he would say that this was said of him journey to him who ascends over the sun’s setting; his name is the Lord (Ps. 68:4). Perhaps he would say this is loftier to ascend over the setting sun than make it lie down at noon. These are mysterious, secret, symbolic; we beg of you something obvious that doesn’t need an interpreter.
XXIII, 70. And so I gather you in in the same way the offspring of Abraham gathers in in whom all nations shall gain blessing (Gen. 22:18). This would perhaps be mysterious, had Paul not revealed the seed of Abraham, which is Christ. Thus I gather you in in the same way that that desolate woman gathers whose many children will be more than the children of her that is married (Is. 54:1), which would be mysterious had Paul not said that she is the Church, our mother, to whom it was said the Lord who redeemed you, he will be called the God of the whole earth (Is. 54:5); to whom it was said your land the whole world (Is. 62:4); just as that queen gathers, concerning whom it is said in the Psalms at your right hand stands the queen (Ps. 45:9) and to whom it is said sons are born to you in place of ancestors, you will make them princes in all the earth (Ps. 45:16). Moreover, that I not go on too long, I thus gather you in, just as the Church gathers through all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Lk. 24:47), just as the Church gathers, which is a witness to Christ in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to all the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). He gathers you in, who said this of the Church, who displays it with such words, lest anyone doubt about it. Thus, I gather you in, in the same way he gathers the wheat sown in the field which grew with the tares until the harvest; for they are the children of the kingdom, the field is the world, the harvest is the end of the age (Mt. 13:38-19). The Lord expounded it, it is the Gospel; these are the words of the Lord, they are clear. I could say to you, thus I gather you in, in the same way you gathered in those whom Praetextatus and Felicianus, condemned by you, baptized outside your communion, to which you would not have anything at all to say in response. But I would rather say this, which prevails most invincibly against those Maximianists who altogether overcame you in two pieces of evidence which you are accustomed to use without any skill and yet very often, concerning your small number and concerning the noonday. I would then say this which would destroy all of you just as you rose against us, so we gather you in, if you wish to be corrected, in the same way the Church gathers you in which the Lord Jesus said would begin from Jerusalem and we read in the Acts of the Apostles that it had begun and would go throughout all nations and we read in the Acts that it had gone through many before it came to Africa, and it would go through all before the end would come since the Lord himself said this good news will be proclaimed in all nations and then the end will come(Mt. 24:14). Behold, his refuse, because iniquity increases, the love of many will grow cold (Mt. 24:12). Behold, his grain, but the one who endures to the end will be saved (Mt. 24:13). Where is it mentioned here the Africa of Donatus’ sect? Behold, again his grain, so that you might know, the Apostle said, how you ought to behave in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the sacrament of devotion which was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory (1Tim. 3:15-16). Behold his refuse, now the Spirit, he says, expressly says that in the last times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons (1Tim. 4:1), etc. Where is it mentioned here the Africa of Donatus’ sect, that there might remain in it a pillar and bulwark of truth or a sacrament of devotion, of which it might hasten so much continually to the end that Paul says it is proclaimed among the Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory?
XXIV, 71. Why should I bring forth more things then? Whoever would think to respond to this epistle, let him search through the Scriptures and either let him bring forth clear evidence concerning Africa in which alone or from which alone Donatus’ sect is (which he cannot bring forth, since Scripture cannot be opposed to these clear citations we have brought forth) or if he seeks credulous followers of his suspicions or charges or slanders and he wishes to lead them to another gospel (but there is no other) and preach to us one other than what we have received, even if he were an angel from heaven, there would have been an anathema, since the devil, who also fell from heaven because he did not stand in the truth preached to man something other than what he had received from the Lord God, if there were an anathema upon man, these first parents of our flesh would not have fallen into the punishment of death nor would they have departed from that place of happiness.
XXV, 72. On this account, dearest ones to whom I am writing this epistle, hold to that command of the shepherd with a very firm and faithful heart who laid down his life for his sheep and now glorified and exalted sits at the right hand of God the Father saying those who are my sheep hear my voice and follow me (Jn. 10:27). You hear his most obvious voice not only through his law and the prophets and psalms, but also through his own mouth commending his future Church and in reading you will see these things which he foretold in the way in which they followed in order in the Acts and the epistles of the apostles, which complete the canon of the divine Scriptures. This is not an obscure speech in which they might deceive you whom the Lord himself foretold would say here is the Christ. There he is. Look! He is in the wilderness (Mt. 24:23, 26), as if to show where there is no great crowd; look! He is in the inner rooms (Mt. 24:26), as if to show he is in the secret traditions and teachings. You have the Church spread everywhere and growing to the harvest; you have the city, of which he who founded it said, a city built on a hill cannot be hid (Mt. 5:14). This is therefore one which is well known not in some region of the world, but everywhere. Sometimes it suffers these passing storms even in its grain so that it is not recognized in certain places; yet it lives hidden there. Nor can the divine speech be deceived since it grows up to the harvest.
XXV, 73. And so, also in other nations often some members of the Church have been oppressed and overshadowed by the prevalent dissensions of heresies and schisms. And yet, because they had been present, a little later they became evident with no hesitation and in Africa itself after that restless and stormy council of Tigisi in Carthage, where the corruption wrought by the noble woman Lucilla was cited according to judicial decrees when from there letters were sent nearly through all Africa, by which the churches of Christ had spread. The letters of the council were believed (for it could not have happened otherwise) and it was as if it appeared that the Lord’s grain had died in some part of the field; but it had in no way died, which was truly the grain predestined and sown and spreading fruitfully from a deep root. With an uninjured conscience some had believed the letters of the council, for nothing unbelievable was said by men concerning other men nor did they believe anything against the Gospel. But afterwards they brought their most obstinate struggle with a mad tenacity all the way to sacrilegious dissension against the entire Christian world and it was made known to the good faithful, whom a false charge by Caecilian had alienated. They saw that they, if they persisted in that communion, had the bad opinion not just of a certain man or certain men but of the Church spread throughout the entire world and they preferred to believe in the Gospel of Christ than in the council of the colleagues. And so, having left them behind, many bishops, clergy, and laity returned to a catholic peace, because, even before they did this they were considered among the wheat. They were not then doing this when their opposition was directed against men insinuated against them by their colleagues, not against the Church of God which grows in all nations. And so the grain in Africa which the Son of Man had sown remained grain and from that it grew until now and it grows and then it will bear fruit up to the harvest and it will grow as it does in the entire world.
XXV, 74. Some, even of good will, erred for a rather long time in that schism through carnal darkness even after the rage of the malicious against the Church of God was confirmed just as if the ripe grain were trampled under foot and the strength were worn away while the root of the plant remained alive. Yet even that grain God recognized as his own, although, in order that it live again, it needed to be exposed and rebuked. It was not said in the same way to Peter get behind me, Satan (Mt. 16:23), as it was said of Judas one of you is the devil (Jn. 6:70). Certain ones contradicted the most obvious truth with wicked zeal. They had been uprooted or cut off, but they did not remain in their faithlessness, as the Apostle says of certain broken branches, they were replanted or sown again by a divine hand. Then someone is unfruitful, but is not yet cut short from the root when out of wicked desire he does those works of which it is said those who do such things will not inherit from the Kingdom of God (Gal. 5:21); but when because of those works he begins to resist most obvious truth by which he is contradicted, then he is cut off. There are many such men in the communion of sacraments within the Church and yet they are not now in the Church. Rather if anyone is cut off when he is visibly excommunicated it will follow that he is then sown when he is visibly restored to communion. Why? If he should approach feigning and bear a most inimical heart against truth and the Church, although that solemnity should be accomplished in him, is he not reconciled and sown? May he not be. Just as one already in communion is not yet sown, so also whoever bears an inimical mind against the truth by which he is conquered and exposed, before he is visibly excommunicated, has already been cut off. So it is done that both the good seed and the bad seed grow together throughout the field to the harvest, that is the children of the Kingdom and the wicked children grow together throughout the world until the end of the age, these bearing fruit with tolerance, those growing bitter with barrenness.
XXV, 75. But you, supported by so much obvious evidence from the law, prophets, psalms, the Lord himself, and the apostles concerning the Church spread throughout the world, demand of them that they show some clear evidence from the canonical books out of Africa that pertains to Donatus’ sect. It cannot be found in any way as I have already said that the Church, as they say and which is not true, was foretold to perish so quickly from so many nations, with so much evidence so exaltedly and doubtlessly and it was silent concerning that Church which they want to be their own which, as they contend, was to remain until the end. Be mindful of what was said to that rich man when he was tormented in hell and he wanted a message to be sent to his brothers from the dead: they have, he said, Moses and the prophets (Lk. 16:29). And when he said they would not believe unless someone from the dead was sent to them: if they do not listen to Moses and the prophets neither will they believe if someone rises from the dead (Lk. 16:31). Moses said that in the offspring of Abraham, all nations shall be blessed (Gen. 22:18); the prophets said you shall be called my delight and your land the entire world (Is. 62:4) and all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord (Ps. 22:27). They did not want to believe in these and so many other so obvious pronouncements demonstrating the Church. The Lord rose from the dead and said that repentance and the forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. Those who had not believed Moses and the prophets did not also believe the Lord rising from the dead; what remains unless that they gain the torments of that rich man? You who are fleeing these while there is still time before you depart from this life, remain constant in the divine utterances so that you are not disturbed in this life and after this life you deserve to receive what was promised to the offspring of Abraham.