Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists (1917) Book 3. pp. 120-179.


The Four Reasons on Account of which it was not possible to bring about unity without Severity.

  • Because the Schismatics had built Churches 'that were not wanted.'
  • Because Donatus of Carthage had appealed to the Emperor to bring about Unity.
  • Because Donatus of Bagaia collected Bands of Armed Men to stop the Work of Unity.
  • Because none of those Things with which the Work of Unity has been reproached came to pass in Opposition to the Will of God.

I. The severities against the Donatists were provoked by themselves, and Catholics ought not to be blamed for them.

I have written in my second Book (as I think, at sufficient length) concerning the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, and about her Endowments, and of the Saviour's inheritance. It remains for me to show, in the first place, the errors of the schismatics; secondly, to point out how it came to pass that unity was enforced; and thirdly, to prove who brought it about that an armed force was sent.

That much severity was shown by the makers of unity cannot be denied. But why impute this to |121 Leontius, Macarius or Taurinus 1? Ascribe it rather to your own ancestors, who, as the prophet has written, 'have themselves eaten sour grapes, that your teeth may be set on edge.' 2

They are primarily responsible, who divided the people of God and built basilicas which were not wanted.3

Secondly, Donatus of Carthage ought to be blamed, for it was in consequence of his appeal 4 that an attempt was made to enforce unity at the next opportunity.

Thirdly, Donatus of Bagaia, who got together a mob of madmen, so that Macarius asked for the help of an armed force, in order to protect himself and the interests which had been committed to his care.

Then came armed men 'with their quivers,' 5 and 'every town was filled with those who shout.' 6 Unity |122 was proclaimed, and you all 'took to flight.' 7 To no man was it said 'Deny God'; to none was the commandment given 'Burn the Scriptures'; to none was it said 'Place incense in the censer'; or 'Pull down the basilicas.' These are the commands which give birth to martyrs. Unity was proclaimed. There were merely exhortations that the people should assemble in one place, to pray together to God and His Christ. At first there were no threats 8; no one had seen a weapon or a prison; there were, as I have said, exhortations merely. Yet you were all filled with fear; you fled; you trembled----so that which has been written in the fifty-second Psalm was certainly said of you:

'They trembled for fear where there was no fear.' 9

Then all your Bishops, with their clergy, 'took to flight.' Some died. The 'more hardy' were 'captured and banished to a distance.' 10

II. These things happened to the Donatists through the just punishment of God.

Still, none of these things was done at our instigation, none by our advice, none with our privity, none by our aid. They were all done through the grief of God,11 (who grieved bitterly,12) to punish your sin against |123 the water of Baptism which, contrary to His command, you had moved a second time,13 drawing to yourselves,14 as it were, the water of the ancient pool.15 I know not whether it contained that Fish by which is understood Christ,16 the Fish captured, as we read in the book of the Patriarch Tobias----captured in the River Tigris, of which the gall and the liver were taken by [young] Tobias as a protection for his wife Sara, and to give sight to his father in his blindness----that Fish through the entrails of which 17 Asmodeus,18 the devil, was put to flight by Sara the maiden (by whom is understood the Church), and blindness was removed from Tobias.19 This is that Fish, which in Baptism, through the |124 Invocation of God,20 is placed in the waters of the font, so that what had been water is, from the Fish,21 also called 'piscina.'

This is that Fish, the name of which in Greek contains in its one name alone, through each of its letters, a number of holy names, ΙΧΘΥΣ, that is to say in Latin, Iesus Christus, Dei Filius, Salvator----Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour.22 This 'piscina,' which in the whole Catholic Church throughout the world is joyfully filled with saving waters for the life of the human race, you have drawn away 23 according to your own wills; and have made null that one only Baptism 24 (through which walls have been built up for the protection of men 25), and have made as it were other walls,26 building |125 an unworthy building, since you have not been able to build up without throwing down.

And what kind of building can that be which is built out of a ruin? 27 This it is over which God grieves and weeps, through the prophet Isaiah,28 saying that the daughter of His people (generis) was laid low. For it is the genus of God to have no genus.29 He is of Himself,30 and He remaineth for ever. And like to Him in this is the water, of which we do not read that it was created.31 To avenge the injury done to this water,32 God points out His Tears, which you have caused Him. These He declares can be dried by no consolation, addressing you by Isaiah His prophet:

'Depart from me, I will weep bitterly. No one will be able to comfort me, for the laying low of the daughter of my people.' 33

In this passage our innocence is defended, whilst God with grief makes clear His wrath against you, giving the cause and alleging the reason.

Besides, He does not say 'in Sion,' 34 for it is not |126 in the whole of Sion,35 but only in its valley 36 that judgements were delivered. Not that Mount Sion which in Syrian Palestine is separated by only a small river from the walls of Jerusalem,37 on the summit of which there is not the great plain, on which were 38 the seven synagogues, whither the Jewish people might assemble and learn the law given to Moses----but where no lawsuits were heard and no judgements were given by any, for it was a place of teaching, not of controversial discussion. (If anything of this sort had to be done, it was done within the walls of Jerusalem.) Therefore was it written in Isaiah the prophet:

'The Law shall go forth from Sion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.' 39 |127 

It was not therefore on this Mount Sion that Isaiah beheld the valley, but on the holy mountain, that is the Church, which has reared her head throughout all the Roman world, beneath the whole expanse of Heaven.

This is the mountain on which the Son of God rejoices that He is made King by God the Father, saying:

'That He hath made me King upon His holy hill of Sion' 40 ----

that is, over the Church, of which He is King and Spouse and Head----not on the hill [in Palestine],41 where there were no gates beloved by God, but on the mount, by which the Church is spiritually signified. The gates of this Church are entered by the innocent, the just and the merciful, by the pure of heart, and the virgins. These are the gates of which the Holy Ghost makes mention, through David, in the eighty-sixth Psalm, when He says:

'Her foundations are upon the holy hills; the Lord loveth the Gates of Sion' 42 ----

not the gates of that material mountain,43 where now, after the triumphs of the Emperor Vespasian, there are no gates, and scarce any traces of its ancient ruins are to be found.

Wherefore, the spiritual Sion is the Church, in which Christ was made King by God the Father----that is in the whole world, where there is One Catholic Church |128 . . . for the most holy prophet David bears witness in another place also that Sion is the Church:

'Laud thy God, O Sion, for he hath made fast the bars of thy gates. He hath blessed thy children within thee.' 44

We understand the various provinces of the whole world to represent the various valleys of the mountain.45 And since Isaiah had not his vision of the whole mountain, but of one valley, that means in Africa alone, for in Africa alone your fathers were pleased to build fresh temples, although the first were amply sufficient. In Africa alone walls were cast down, and in order that walls might be made 46 the water of the holy font was turned to a wrong purpose, and novelty was introduced by you against antiquity, and water of human origin was provided, against that which is divine.47 |129 

Chiding the valley of Sion, God challenges all this,48 demanding 49:

'What aileth you that you have gone up into superfluous temples? Every city is full of those who clamour. Their wounded were not wounded by the sword, and those who are dead in thee are not dead in battle. From the smallest to the greatest all thy princes are in error, wandering upon the hills. 50 They have been turned to flight, and those who have been taken have been grievously bound.51 And thy strong ones have been put to flight to a far distance. Let me go, for I will weep bitterly. No one will be able to |130 console me for the devastation of the daughter of my people. And the Elamites 52 shall come up with their quivers.'

Elamites in the Latin tongue 53 are called choirs of the camps.54 And he goes on to say:

'Your inmost recesses shall be made public,55 and the secrets of the House of Israel shall be laid bare.' 56

This has happened in Africa alone, and God pointed out for what reason all this was done, blaming you with these words:

'Because 57 you have diverted the water of the old pool into your city, and have cast down the walls of Jerusalem to build another wall, and have made a pool between the two walls. You have paid no heed to the old pool, nor to Him who created it in the beginning.' 58

So you see, my brother Parmenian, that you, by whose first fathers the seed of all these things was sown, find yourselves burdened with the crop. |131 

III. The pride of Donatus.

Secondly, Donatus of Carthage was responsible, for through his poisonous wiles 59 the question of [effecting] unity was first mooted.

I shall be able to show that the makers of unity did nothing at our instigation, nor of their own wickedness, but that everything happened through provocatory causes, which were set in motion by Donatus of Carthage, in his lightness of heart, and were due to the actions of individuals controlled by him, whilst he was struggling to be thought great. Is there anyone that can be ignorant of all this excepting yourself; for, since you were a stranger,60 they have been able to get you to believe idle fables?

Again, who can deny a fact, to which the whole of Carthage is the leading witness, that the Emperor Constans did not originally send Paul and Macarius to bring about unity, but to be his almoner, in order that the poor people 61 in the various churches might be afforded assistance, by means of which they might breathe anew, be clothed, fed, and rejoice?

But when they came to Donatus, your father, and told him why they had come, he, as was usual with him, fell into a rage, and burst out with these words:

'What has the Emperor to do with the Church?'

And, from the fountain of his levity, he poured forth torrents of reproaches no less evil-sounding than those with which he had once upon a time not hesitated to |132 assail the prefect Gregory----calling him 'Gregory, the stain upon the Senate, the disgrace of Prefects,' and the like. Gregory replied to him with patience worthy of a Bishop.62 Copies of these letters exist and are in the mouths of many chanted everywhere.63 Then Donatus----against the commands of the Apostle Paul----planned to do a wrong to those in high places, and to kings,64 on behalf of whom, if he had listened to the Apostle, he would have prayed every day, since this is the teaching of the blessed Apostle Paul:

'Pray for kings and for powers, that with them we may lead a quiet and tranquil life.' 65

For the State is not in the Church, but the Church is in the State, that is to say, in the Roman Empire,66 |133 which Christ calls Libanus in the Canticle of Canticles, saying:

'Come, my spouse, whom I have found,67 come from Libanus,'

that is to say, from the Roman Empire, where are the holy offices of the priesthood,68 and modesty and virginity, which exist not amongst foreign peoples,69 and which, if they did exist, could not be safe from outrage. With reason does Paul teach us that we must pray for kings and powers, even though the Emperor be living a pagan life.70 How much more, then, if he be a Christian----how much more if he fears God, and is pious, and full of mercy, as facts prove this one 71 to have been?

For he had sent ornaments to the Houses of God, he had sent alms for the poor, nothing to Donatus 72! Why, then, did Donatus act like a madman? Why was he full of anger? Why did he refuse the gifts which had been sent? For when the commissioners announced that they were going through the different |134 provinces, and that they would give alms to those who were Mailing to accept them, he declared that he had sent letters everywhere in advance to forbid that anything which had been brought should be distributed anywhere amongst the poor. Oh, this is the way to console the wretched, to provide for the needs of the poor, to come to the aid of sinners! God cries out:

'It is I who have made both the rich man and the poor man.' 73

Not that He was unable to give to the poor man also. But, if He had given to the poor as well as to the rich, the sinner would not be able to discover any means of helping himself. On this account has it been written that:

'Even as water puts out a fire, so do alms-deeds wipe out sin.' 74

It is certain that both are now with God----the one who wished to give, and the other who stood in the way of his giving. Well, if God were now to say to Donatus 'O Bishop, what do you wish to make out Constants to have been? If he was innocent, why would you not receive from an innocent giver? If he was a sinner, why did you not permit aims to be given by him, for whose sake I made the poor man?' When questioned after this fashion, what sort of face will he show? Why in his levity and madness did he work so hard to keep good things from so many 75 poor people? |135 

He believed that he held dominion over Carthage; and since there is no one superior to the Emperor excepting God alone (who made the Emperor), Donatus, in raising himself above the Emperor, had already, as it were, passed the boundaries apportioned to humanity, so that he almost regarded himself, not as man, but as God, when he refused to revere him, who, after God, was feared by mankind.

Finally, the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, rebukes the prince of Tyre, that is to say, the prince of Carthage, with these words:

'O Son of man, speak against the prince of Tyre, saith the Lord God, because thine heart has been puffed up, and thou hast said I am God.' 76

That Tyre is Carthage is shown, in the first place, by Isaiah, when, after describing the vision of Tyre, he goes on:

'Howl, O ye ships of Carthage.' 77

In the second place this is also proved by profane literature,78 and, if there be any other city called by this name, there is no other in which any of those things were done which are known to have been done at Carthage.

'Speak,' says the Lord, 'against the prince of Tyre.' He does not command the prophet to speak against any secular king,79 nor was he to speak to many, |136 but to one----that is to Donatus, Bishop of Carthage. For it was not fitting for Ezekiel, whose words I have just quoted,80 to compare to any man, excepting to a prince, that Bishop who claimed for himself (as we have said) princedom over Carthage, who puffed up his heart, and thought himself to be superior to men and wished to have even all his own colleagues beneath him----from whose offerings he would never deign to accept aught. Now, his conscience, and Christ his God bear witness to this----and the complaints of many.81 For in his very intercourse with others, he did them this wrong, that he acted in some secret way or other, alone by himself, and afterwards only in a perfunctory manner 82 mingled with the rest. |137 

In this fashion was his heart puffed up, so that in the end he seemed to himself no longer to be man, but God.

Moreover, in the mouths of the people he was seldom called a Bishop, but was spoken of as 'Donatus of Carthage.' And deservedly was he both addressed and chided as Prince of Tyre (that is of Carthage), because he was the first of the Bishops,83 as though he were something more than the rest. And whilst he wished to have nothing common to mankind,84 he lifted up his heart, not like the heart of a man, but like the heart of a god,85 since he desired to be something more than other men.86

But God follows after Donatus with these words:

'Thou hast said, I am God.' 87

For though he did not make use of this expression, still he either himself accomplished, or suffered, that which would bring about its result.88 He puffed up his heart in such a way as to think that no other man ought to be compared with him, and, in the swelling of his own mind, he seemed to himself to be something higher than the others. Since whatever is above men, in a sort of way is God.89 |138 

Besides, whereas Bishops ought to serve God, he demanded so much for himself from his Bishops, that they all had to venerate him with no less fear than they venerated God----because to himself he seemed to be God. And though men are wont to swear by God alone, he allowed men to swear by him, as if by God. If this were done by any man in mistake, it was his duty to forbid it. As, then, he did not forbid it, to himself he seemed to be God. Again, whilst all those who believed in Christ were, before the day of his insolence, called Christians, he ventured to divide the people with God, so that those who followed him were no longer called Christians, but Donatists, and when any people visited him from any province of Africa, he did not ask those questions (which the custom of men always calls for) about the weather, about peace and war, about the harvest, but to everyone who came into his presence, he spoke thus:

'How goes my party in your part of the world?' 90

As though he had now really divided the people with God, so that, without faltering, he dared to call it his 'party.' For, from his time to the present day, whenever any action is brought before the public courts on ecclesiastical affairs; all [of his sect] have, on being questioned (as we read in the records of the proceedings), spoken in such a way as to assert that they belong to the party of Donatus. Concerning Christ they kept silence. And what am I to say of their clergy, when I read the petition which (as I have stated in the first book 91) was sent to Constantine, |139 subscribed by Bishops in this manner: 'Given by Capito and by Nasutius, Dignus, and the other Bishops of the party of Donatus'? 92 They, we know, made their complaints against Bishops, who, whilst they did not belong to the party of Donatus, dwelt in the Catholic Church of Christ.93

Since, then, Donatus did not live as a Bishop amongst his fellow-Bishops, and refused to be a man amongst men, it is certain that he puffed up his heart and seemed to himself to be God. And as for the Bishops by whom you were consecrated, their names, my brother Parmenian, are well known to you, and you know also where they lived, and which of them made a petition to return home----in your company. You know, too, who it was to whom they made this petition, and you know his character.94 Now, all this we have learned through their having brought before the judges in Africa this same old petition in which they had written: 'Given by the Bishops of the party of Donatus.' 95

What reply, I ask, will they make in the approaching Judgement of God, since they in this world acknowledged equivalently 96 that they belonged, not to the Church of Christ, but freely confessed that they were |140 of the party of Donatus, though it is written in the Gospel that Christ has said:

'He that confesses Me before men, him will I confess before My Father'? 97

These men confessed, not Christ, but Donatus.

That the evidence by which clearly to identify the person of Donatus might be by no means scanty there is yet another proof, with which the above-mentioned accusation was closed. God had said that Donatus 98 would not die upon the earth.99 That this is the case is known to all. He dwelt in the house of God, but lived in the heart of the sea. We read that the sea always signifies the world. It was not enough for him to be beloved by some Christian people, but, by reason of his acquaintance with worldly letters, he was also in the heart of the sea, that is, was beloved by the world,100 and on account of his knowledge seemed to himself to be wise. But of this wisdom of his God made little,101 saying:

'Art thou more wise than Daniel?' 102

With how great reason, and how well, has been humbled that wisdom of his, which made him think himself wiser than was Daniel (when he refused the gifts of the King), and would not accept that which had been sent by a Christian Emperor. And he |141 seemed to himself to be a new Daniel, or to have been raised above Daniel in wisdom, for we read that Daniel, when he was once required to receive presents from King Balthassar----a ring; a chain and the rest----answered thus:

'Thy gifts to thyself, O King.' 103

He answered with wisdom, and did not hurl abuse at the King, and did not blame him for what he offered, but put the matter off for a while.

Quite otherwise Donatus, who both spoke to Constans as abusive words as he knew how, and refused what had been destined for the poor. We can see the wisdom of holy Daniel in not accepting that day the gifts that were offered him. For the question that they asked him was still [known only] in Heaven, and it would have been the act of a fool to receive any kind of reward for that which he had not yet in his power to reveal. Therefore he was for the time unwilling to accept these presents. Afterwards, when God showed him what he should say to the King, he told it to Balthassar, and, later on, gladly accepted that which he was known formerly to have rejected.104 Deservedly, therefore, does God rebuke the Prince of Tyre (that is Donatus), when He asks him:

'Art thou more wise than Daniel?' 105  |142

But oh! how far removed is the presumption of Donatus from the character of Daniel! For what Balthassar gave, he gave to Daniel, not to the poor; but that which Constans, the Christian Emperor, had sent, he had sent to the poor, not to Donatus.

So to Donatus God said:

'The wise men have not taught thee their wisdom' 106;

for thou hast refused to learn from the words of Solomon:

'Hide thy bread in the heart of the poor man, and he shall pray for thee.' 107

Moreover, he would not learn from Daniel himself the lesson which Daniel gave to Nebuchadnezzar, as to how one who had offended God might make satisfaction:

'And do thou, O King,' he said, 'hear my advice, and may it find favour in thy sight. Redeem thy sins by alms-deeds, and the unjust things that thou hast done by having compassion upon the poor.' 108

Daniel advised a king, who was a sinner and sacrilegious, to give alms. Donatus, who has deserved to be blamed,109 hindered Constans, a Christian Emperor, from doing deeds of mercy. Therefore is he blameworthy, because wise men have not taught him their wisdom,110 for he did not suffer the gifts sent by this King to be distributed through his hands.

From all these things it is certain that Donatus |143 was the fountain from which flowed the causes of the evils which ensued.111

IV. An account of violent deeds done by Donatists against Donatists.

So, you see, my brother Parmenian, to whose charge any severity that may have occurred in the work of bringing about unity ought to be attributed. You say that an armed force was asked for by us Catholics. If so, how is it that no one at that time ever saw an armed soldier in the proconsular Province?

Paul and Macarius came in order to console the poor everywhere,112 and exhort everyone individually 113 to unity. But when they drew near to the city of Bagaia, then it was that the second Donatus 114 (as we have already written) who was the Bishop of that city, in his desire to oppose an obstacle to unity, and to place a check in the way of the above-mentioned legates of the Emperor, sent his heralds through the neighbourhood, and especially to all the fairs, and called upon his fighting dervishes 115 to come in a body to a place which he had fixed for them. So it was |144 that at that juncture those men were called together, whose madness had been deemed by these same Bishops, only a short time previously, to have been set on fire by their wickedness.

For when men of this sort were, before the attainment of unity, wandering about in every place, and in their insanity called Axido and Fasir 'Captains of the Saints,' no man could rest secure in his possessions. Written acknowledgments of indebtedness had lost their value. At that time no creditor was free to press his claim, and all were terrified by the letters of these fellows, who boasted that they were 'Captains of the Saints.' If there was any delay in obeying their commands, of a sudden a host of madmen flew to the place. A reign of terror was established. Creditors were hemmed in with perils, so that they who had a right to be supplicated on account of that which was due to them, were driven, through fear of death, to be themselves the humble suppliants. Very soon everyone lost what was owing to him----even to very large amounts, and held himself to have gained something in escaping from the violence of these men.

Even journeys could not be made with perfect safety, for masters were often thrown out of their own chariots and forced to run, in servile fashion, in front of their own slaves, seated in their lord's place. By the judgement and command of these outlaws, the condition of masters and slaves was completely reversed.

So when the Bishops of your party were reproached [with this state of affairs], they are said to have written |145 to Taurinus, who was at the time in possession of civil authority,116 saying that as men of this class could not be corrected by the Church,117 they requested that they should be punished 118 by the above-mentioned officer.

In answer to this letter Taurinus ordered an armed force to go through the fairs, where these mad vagrants were accustomed to wander about.

In the district round Octavum 119 a large number were put to death, of whom many were beheaded. Even to the present day we may count their bodies by the whitened altars or tables.120 When the custom was introduced of burying some in the basilicas, the priest Clarus 121 in the district of Subula was required by his Bishop to undo the burial.122 Through this it came to be known that what was done had been |146 done through a command,123 when not even burial in the House of God was permitted them.

Afterwards the numbers of these fanatics had once more increased; so Donatus of Bagaia found the means of getting together from them a furious horde with which to oppose Macarius.

Of the same class were those who, out of desire for a false martyrdom, hired men to strike and kill them to their own destruction.124 From amongst these also they were drawn who cast themselves down headlong from the summits of lofty mountains, throwing away their good-for-nothing lives.125

See the character of these men, from whom a Bishop, the second Donatus, provided himself with cohorts! |147 

Alarmed, then, at this state of terror, those who had brought the treasure to distribute amongst the poor, conceived the plan, in such extreme necessity, of asking for soldiers from the Prefect 126 Silvester, not to do violence to anyone, but to put an end to the violence which had been arranged by the above-mentioned Bishop Donatus.

In this way did it come to pass that soldiers were seen in arms. Now, consider to whom it is right, or possible, to attribute that which followed afterwards. The fanatics had got together an enormous horde, and it is known that they had prepared an ample commissariat.127 They had turned a basilica into a sort of public granary, where they awaited those upon whom they might expend their savagery; and they would have done whatever their madness might have urged, had not the presence of an armed force stood in their way.

For, when quartermasters 128 were, as is usual, sent ahead of the soldiers, they were not received with due respect 129----contrary to the command of the Apostle, who says

'Honour to whom honour is due, custom to whom custom, tribute to whom tribute. Owe no man anything.' 130

Those who had been sent on horseback were maltreated by the men whose names you have blown about |148 with the fan of hatred.131 They were the authors of their own wrongs, and. by their example, through the injuries which they inflicted upon others, brought upon themselves whatever sufferings they may have endured. The soldiers who had been thus molested went back to their quarters,132 and everyone resented that which two or three had endured. All were profoundly stirred up, and not even their officers could hold back these soldiers in their anger. In this way that came to pass, which you have recorded thus, to create prejudice against unity. These events, and others which you have mentioned, have their own causes, and the persons whose names I have given are responsible. We have not even seen them, though we have heard of them, just as you have done.

If to have heard of a thing makes us guilty, we hold you to be partners of our guilt, since you have heard of it likewise; if to know of a thing by hearing gives freedom from responsibility, then that which was done, in consequence of your appeal,133 by others, ought not to be ascribed to us.

You set down your complaints in due order, saying that under Leontius and under Ursacius a very large number 134 suffered wrongfully, that some were put to |149 death under Paulus and Macarius, that under their successors unnamed individuals were proscribed for a time. What has this to do with us, or with the Catholic Church? It is you who have brought about everything of which you complain, for you refused to accept gladly the peace which had been praised by God, valuing the inheritance of schism more highly than the precepts given us by the Saviour.

You have brought accusations against the makers of unity. Blame unity itself, if you can! For I imagine that you do not deny that unity is the supreme good? 135

How does the character of the workmen affect us, provided it be certain that they effected a work which is good? For the grape is trodden and pressed underfoot by sinful workmen, yet thence comes the wine with which Sacrifice is offered to God.136 Oil, too, is made by wretched people,137 some of whom are men of evil lives and unclean tongues, yet it is used without reproach 138 in condiments,139 in lamps, even in the holy Chrism.140 |150 

V. Excuse is made for the severities exercised by the champions of unity.

You say that the makers of unity did evil things.141 Perhaps this was according to the Will of God, who is sometimes pleased to permit that which He might have prevented. For some evil things are done in an evil way 142; some evil things are done in a good way.143 The murderer 144 does an evil thing in an evil way, the judge does an evil thing in a good way when he punishes the murderer.145

For this is the Voice of God:

'Thou shalt not kill' 146;


'If any man shall be found sleeping with a woman who has a husband, you shall kill both,' 147

is also His Voice. |151 

One God, and two differing Voices. Thus when Phineas, the priest's son, found an adulterer with an adulteress, he stood with raised sword in his hand and hesitated between the two divine Voices. One sounded in his ears:

'Thou shalt not kill' 148

the other:

You shall kill both.' 149

Were he to strike, he would act contrary to law.150 Were he not to strike, he would fail in his duty.151 He chose the offence which was better 152 ----to strike. And perhaps there were not wanting those who would have wished to brand him as a murderer for inflicting this punishment. But God, that He might show that some evil things are done in a good way, spoke thus:

'Phineas has lessened 153 My wrath.'

Thus God was pleased with the act of homicide, because thereby adultery was punished. What if God has now been pleased with those things which you |152 say that you have suffered----you who refused to have unity, well pleasing to God, with the whole [Catholic] world, and with the 'Shrines' of the Apostles? 154

VI. Against the alleged Donatist martyrs.

I am now compelled, against my will, to make mention of those men----whom I do not wish to mention----who are placed by you amongst the martyrs, by whom you swear, as the one thing which those of your communion hold sacred.155 I should indeed prefer to pass them over in silence, but this is forbidden me by considerations of truth. On account of the names of these men, a mad hatred yelps thoughtlessly 156 against unity, and on account of them there are some who reject unity with contumely, thinking that it is something to be fled from or assailed, because Marculus and Donatus are said to have been slain and to be dead. As if no one at all ought ever to be killed in punishment of offences against God. No one ought to have been injured by the makers of unity, but neither ought the divine precepts to be despised by Bishops, to whom, the command was given:

'Seek peace, and thou shalt obtain it' 157

and once more:

'How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.' 158 |153 

And again:

'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the Sons of God.' 159

Whatever evils those persons who refused to hear these words willingly, or loyally to carry them out, may have endured, they have themselves----if to be killed is an evil----brought their own evil upon themselves.160

VII. Macarius is defended from the Donatist calumnies.

But you contend that Macarius is to be blamed, because you think that his actions were not in accordance with the Will of God. Yet you will find men of old who were guilty of similar conduct. You should bring your charge first against Moses himself, the Lawgiver,161 who, coming down from Mount Sinai, when the Tables of the Law on which it had been written:

'Thou shalt not kill,'

had scarce been promulgated,162 ordered three thousand men to be killed in one instant.163

Put Macarius aside for a little while. First appeal to 164 Phineas, the priest's son, whom I mentioned just |154 now,165 to judge you----if indeed you know where to find any judge excepting God. For that which you blame has been praised by God in His own person, because it was done through zeal for God.166 Meanwhile suppress for the moment 167 charges prompted by hatred against Macarius.

First give your mind 168 to the Prophet Elias, who at the brook Cison,169 in obedience to the Will of God, slew four hundred and fifty men. But perhaps you will answer that these were slain deservedly----your partisans 170 unjustly. Punishment never follows 171 without due cause. Moses inflicted punishment (as we have said), and Elias, and Phineas----but you will not have it that Macarius punished with justice.

If those who are said to have been killed had in no way offended, it may be granted that Macarius was guilty in that which was done by him alone----a business of which we know nothing, but which was provoked by you.

Why is prejudice created against us for things that were done by somebody else? Moreover, you are the cause of that which is said to have occurred, |155 for it came about on your account, who were 'outside' 172 (even as you are still outside), not on account of us, who dwell 'within,' and have never departed from the root.173

But, since we have spoken concerning the above instances in order, let us now see why Moses commanded three thousand to be slain, why Phineas two, why Elias four hundred and fifty, why Macarius those two whose names you daily (as I have already said) fan with the fan of hatred.174

It is clear that those were punished who despised a divine command; for

'Thou shalt not make a graven image' 175

is the Voice of God, and

'Thou shalt not commit adultery' 176

is the Voice of the same God. The same God has said

'Thou shalt not offer sacrifice to idols ' 177


'Thou shalt not make a schism.' 178


'Seek peace and thou shalt obtain it' 179

is the Commandment of the same God.

In the days of Moses the people of Israel worshipped the head of a calf, which they had made in a sacrilegious |156 fire 180; on this account three thousand men deserved death, because they despised the Voice of God. Phineas at one blow slew the adulterers. He deserved to be praised by God, because he put to death those who despised His Commands. And the four hundred and fifty whom we read to have been slain by Elias, were slain for this reason, that, contrary to the Command of God----false prophets that they were----they had despised the divine Precepts. So also those two whose death you lay to the charge of Macarius are not far removed from false prophets. (For that God said you would be false prophets, we shall prove very soon.) And in refusing to look at Peace, lest they should dwell in unity with their brethren, they stood out obstinately against the Commands and against the Will of God.

So you see that similar things were done by Moses and Phineas and Elias and Macarius, because the Commands of one God were vindicated by them all.

But I see you now distinguishing between times, and saying that the times before the Gospel were different from those after the Gospel,181 and you can bring forward the fact that it has been written that Peter put back into his sheath the sword with which he had cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, whom, as though out of devotion,182 he might have slain. |157 

But Christ had come to suffer, not to be defended. And if Peter had carried out his intention, it would have appeared that in the Passion of Christ, a servant was punished, not a people freed.

VIII. That neither can Macarius be called a persecutor, nor can those who were put to death by him be called martyrs.

For that Macarius did not draw forth the sword which Peter sheathed, is proved by God, who, speaking to the valley of Sion, says:

'They that have been wounded in thee were not wounded by the sword.' 183

Show, if you can, that any one man in the time of Macarius was struck with the sword. He goes on to say:

'They that died in thee did not die in war.' 184

So you should consider carefully whether it be not rash to call men, who experienced no war waged against Christians, by the name of martyrs.

For nothing was at that time either done or heard, such as it has been customary to do or say in a war against Christians 185----in a war that is called persecution, like that which was carried on under two of the four beasts which Daniel saw rising from the sea.186

Of these beasts, the first was like a lion. This was the persecution under Decius and Valerian. The second was like a bear. This was the second persecution under Diocletian and Maximian, when impious magistrates waged war against the Christian Name----amongst whom, sixty years and more ago, were Anulinus in the Proconsular Province, and Florus in Numidia. |158 

It is well known to all what their carefully planned cruelty 187 brought about. War, declared against the Christians, was raging furiously. In the temples of the demons the devil was triumphant. The altars were smoking with unclean odours,188 and those who could not 189 come to the sacrilegious sacrifices were everywhere driven to offer incense.190 Every spot was made into a temple of abomination.191 Old men, soon to be on their deathbeds, were defiled 192; unwitting infancy was polluted; little children were carried by their mothers to the shameful deed; parents were driven to the bloodless slaughter of their children 193; some were driven to destroy the temples of the living God, others to deny Christ, others to burn the books of God,194 others to offer incense.

Not even you will be able to pretend that any of these things was done by Macarius. Under the persecutor Florus, Christians were forced to the temples of idols; under Macarius, the slothful 195 were ordered 196 to the [Christian] basilica. Under Florus, the command was given to deny Christ and pray to idols. Under Macarius, on the contrary, all were warned that one |159 God should be prayed to by all together in the Church.197

Since then you see that no war was waged against Christians; and that God mentions that some have died without war, saying 'And they who died in thee did not die in war' 198; and that those may well be held to be but doubtful martyrs who were not urged either to sacrilegious sacrifices, or to profane offering of incense,199 or to denial of the Name of God; and that there is no path to martyrdom excepting through confession----with what reason can you call those men martyrs, who were not confessors? Or, which among them was driven 200 to deny Christ, and confessed His Name?

So, if there can be no martyrdom apart from confession of the Name of Christ----and if in this case no one confessed Christ----and if that which you assert to have been done, was done in vindication of the Commands of God----and if, whereas God had prophesied that this should come to pass, His Commands were vindicated, whilst you are unable to prove that we had any share in it----if these things be so, consider whether it be not merely idle, but also superstitious, to place those who died without persecution 201 where they are, who, having confessed Christ, were allowed to die on behalf of the Name of God.

Or, if you will have it that they are martyrs----prove |160 that they were lovers of Peace (in which are laid the first foundations of martyrdom), or that unity, beloved by God, was dear to them, or that they lived in charity with their brethren----(for that all Christians are brothers we have proved in our first Book, and shall also prove beyond doubt in our fourth).

Those men who (as you maintain) ought to be called martyrs, refused to recognise their brethren, and had no charity.

And let it not be said in their excuse that they were unwilling to hold communion with Betrayers, since it has been most clearly proved that they themselves were the sons of Betrayers. Therefore you have no way of excusing them, for it is abundantly clear that they had not charity, without which martyrdom can neither be [rightly] named nor have any existence, without which the very greatest and most commanding 202 virtue loses its effect, without which the knowledge of all tongues is worthless, without which even the fellowship of angels is of no avail----as says the Apostle Paul:

'If I have the power of commanding mountains so as to move them from place to place, and if I speak with the tongues of all nations, even of angels, and if I deliver my body to the flames, and have not charity in me, I am nothing. But I shall be as tinkling brass 203 in the desert, so that the effect of my word should die away there, where there is none to hear.' 204

If one so great,205 if the blessed Paul, if the Vessel |161 of Election, declares that (although possessing commanding virtue 206 and the company of angels) he is nothing, unless he have charity, consider whether they ought not to be called something very different from martyrs, who, having deserted charity, may, by reason of that desertion, perhaps have suffered something.

IX. It was necessary to bring about unity in Africa.

The whole world rejoices concerning Catholic unity, excepting a portion of Africa, in which a conflagration has been blown up from a spark. You complain that some evil deeds or other 207 were committed by the makers of unity. No complaint of this kind is made by Italy, or by Gaul, or by Spain, or by Pannonia, or by Galatia, or by Greece, or by any of the Provinces of Asia.

No one was sent there to put things right,208 because there was nothing there which needed setting right.209 No tailor 210 (so to speak) was sent to them, because amongst them there was no rent to repair.

Here, too, in Africa, of old----so long as the people remained in unity----the garment had been whole, but it was torn by the envious hand of an enemy. It may be said, metaphorically, that pieces, coming originally from one garment, were hanging loose,211 and that branches, coming from the same root, were divided one from another.212 |162 

Why does part prefer itself before part? 213 Why does one piece of the garment raise itself above the second, though it cannot prove itself to be better? What if the despised piece were to say:

'Why dost them sound thine own praises only? Have we not grown up together? Have we not been together in the hands of those who made us up into one, and have we not together been cleansed by Him who washed us 214? An enemy has wished to cut us off 215 from one another; an adversary has wished to mar 216 our beauty.'

In part of the garment we are still one, but we hang on different sides.217 For that which has been rent 218 has been partly 219 divided, not totally,220 since it is surely certain that you and we have one ecclesiastical discipline,221 and if men's minds are at war, the Sacraments are not at war.222 Finally, we can also say:

'Together we believe the same truths,223 and have been |163 sealed with one Seal,224 nor have we been baptised otherwise than you; in like manner 225 we read the divine Testament; in like manner together we worship one God; the Prayer of the Lord 226 is one with you and with us. But since, as we have just said, part had been rent asunder, the work of mending 227 had become necessary, whilst parts [of the garment] were hanging on either side.' 228

When he who arranges or works at a matter of this sort 229 wishes to restore the garment to its former appearance, he torments 230 the threads that are next to his hand.231 The tailor, who wounds whilst he is mending the rent, displeases you. He who brought it about that the tailor has had the opportunity of offending,232 should displease you even more. And [remember] that the things which you allege to have been committed by the makers of unity either should be attributed to your fathers,233 of whose actions they |164 were the result, or came from the Will of God. But we had nothing to do with them.

X. It is shown from Ezekiel that the severity employed against the Donatists was by the will of God.

How will it be if the severities (great though they may have been) were nevertheless inflicted----as we have said----by the Will of God? For we read in the Prophet Ezekiel of a whitened wall, against which God threatened storm, rain, thunderbolts 234 and accusations:

'There shall be false prophets to build up a wall which is ready to fall, 235 crying "Peace, peace"----and where is peace?' 236

Call to mind how of old you tore away one from another the members of Mother Church.237 For you were not able to seduce any one family at once. Either the wife departed and the husband stayed behind, or the parents were seduced and the children refused to follow them, or the brother stood firm, when his sister wandered off. At your instigation divisions were made between man and wife----between parents and their children----and you could not even leave in peace that which natural law permits.238 |165 

No doubt, you have said:

'Peace be with you'; 

but God on the other hand asks:

'Peace, and where is peace?'

that is to say:

'Why do you give a salutation concerning that which you have not? Why do you name that which you have destroyed? Peace you love not, yet do you give a salutation concerning peace.'

'They,' He says, 'built a wall which is ready to fall.' 239

The House of God is one.240

They who have gone out and wished to make a |166 party,241 have built a wall, not a house, for there is no second God, to dwell in a second house.242

On this account false prophets are said to have made a wall, and if a door be placed 243 in this wall, anyone who enters through that door is [still] outside.244 Nor can a single wall have the Corner Stone----the Stone which is Christ, who, receiving into Himself two peoples----Gentiles and Jews----joins both walls with the bond of peace.245

For a wall has as many disadvantages as a house has advantages. The house protects all that is shut within it, turns the edge 246 of the storm, throws off 247 the rain, keeps out murderer 248 and thief 249 and beast. Thus also the Catholic Church embraces all the sons of peace in her bosom and breast. On the other hand the wall, which has been built in a ruinous state,250 supports no corner stone 251; it has a purposeless door 252; it keeps nothing inside it 253; but is soaked with the |167 rain,254 is struck by the storm, and is able neither to keep off the murderer, nor to stop the thief when he approaches.

The wall belongs to the house, but is not the house.

So your party is a quasi-church, but is not the Catholic Church.255

'And,' He says, 'they whiten it.' That is to say that you judge yourselves alone to be saints. You complain that you have had some sufferings (though we had nothing to do with them). Therefore it is certain that these were sufferings which you endured alone, for the time of peace is different from the time of persecution.

If you consider that it was a persecution, tell us, what had all the Provinces, of which the Catholic Church is composed,256 to suffer together with you?

Since it was 'punishment,' not persecution, the wall suffered alone, against which God threatened storm, rain, thunderbolts and accusations, for thus did He speak:

'Why have you built up a ruin? Why have you made it white? Why have you painted 257 it? This is against My Will, saith the Lord.' 258

You are displeased with the days of a Leontius, of an Ursacius, of a Macarius and the rest. Put right 259 the Will of God, if you can, who has said: |168 

'I will rise against the wall in My wrath, and will send upon it much storm and rain, floods and thunderbolts,260 and I will strike the wall that is ready to fall, and its joints shall be loosened.' 261

And do not let any of your party object with the question:

'If unity is a good thing, how is it that, after having been so often brought about, it has not been able to last?'

For this reason, that the matter has been arranged thus by God, who threatened storm, rain, stones and accusations.262 Now these four things could not happen at the same time. First there was a storm |169 under Ursacius.263 The wall 264 was then shaken, but did not fall, so that rain might have an opportunity to work.265 Rain then followed under Gregory.266 The wall was made wet, but was not swamped,267 so that the stones might have their opportunity. Under the makers of unity the stones followed after the rain. The wall was scattered about,268 but built itself up again from its foundations. Three things have already been accomplished. Accusations are still due to you, but how they are to come and when, is known to Him, who has been pleased to make these declarations concerning you.

XI. It is shown that the Donatists are deceivers.

And that no one might doubt as to the meaning of this, God has added these words:

'The things which I speak concern not the clay 269 or the side 270 [of the wall] or the wall [itself], but false prophets who deceive 271 My people.' 272

Consider whom this word 'deceive' fits. All were in communion with us. You rushed in upon us in our absence,273 but, in order to possess those whom you coveted, you had to beguile them----and all men know what are your words of beguilement. |170 

You are wont to say:

'Look behind you.' 274

You are wont to say:

'Redeem your souls.' 274  

You are wont to say to Christian men----even to clerics:

'Be ye Christians.' 274

But in saying 'Look behind you,' you are acting against the gospel, in which it has been written:

'No man who holds the handle of the plough and looks behind him shall enter the kingdom of heaven.' 275

And do you wish to know what was the fate of the one who looked behind, and of the one who looked before? Remember those who escaped from Sodom ----Lot and his wife. She looked behind her and was changed into a pillar of salt, whilst he who looked before him escaped free.276 Why then do you say 'Look behind you '? Moreover, when you say 'Redeem your souls,' I would ask from whom did you buy them, that you should sell them? Who is that angel who deals in souls as in the market-place? 277 When you say 'Redeem your souls' you are renouncing the Redeemer, for Christ alone is the Redeemer of souls, which before His coming were possessed by the Devil. These Christ our Saviour redeemed in His Blood, as the Apostle says:

'You have been bought at a great price.' 278  |171 

For it is certain that we have been all redeemed by the Blood of Christ. Christ has not sold those whom He redeemed. Souls bought by Christ cannot be sold, to be redeemed again----as you would have it 279----by you.

Again, how can a soul have two Lords? Or, is there, perhaps, a second Redeemer? What prophets have announced that a second is to come? What Gabriel has spoken a second time to a second Mary? What Virgin has a second time given birth to a Child? Who has worked new or second deeds of power? 280

If there is none, save One, who has redeemed the souls of all believers, what means it that you say 'Redeem your souls '? What kind of thing is this that you say to Christian men----even to clerics----'Be ye Christians'? And you dare to say to each one, as though you expected a miracle 281:

'Gaius Seius, or Gaia Seia,282 art thou still a pagan man or woman?'

You call him, who has acknowledged 283 that he has been converted to God, a pagan----him you call a pagan, who has been washed by us or by you neither in our name, nor in yours, but in the Name of Christ (for some there are who have been baptised by you, and |172 have afterwards passed over to our Communion)----him you call a pagan, who before the altar 284 has prayed to God the Father through His Son. For whoever has believed, has believed in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, yet him you call a pagan after his Profession of Faith!

If----which God forbid----any Christian should fall away,285 he may be called a sinner; a pagan he cannot be a second time.286

But all these things you wish to be held of no account. And if he, whom you deceive, listens to you,287 then his consent alone, and the stretching forth of your hand,288 and a few words spoken by you are enough in your sight 289 to make a Christian out of a Christian,290 and he seems to you to be a Christian who has done what you want, rather than the man whom Faith has drawn [to Baptism].

XII. A calumny that had been brought against Macarius.

And if anyone should be rather slow in giving adhesion to your deceitful words, you have no lack of arguments, with which you may with some ease 291 persuade men, even against their will, to do what you like----telling them that it has been heard from the lips of your old Bishops 292 that he who partook or |173 received 293 of the sacrifice of unity as it drew near,294 partook of a sacrilegious sacrifice.295 We do not deny that this was said by some, who, as is certain, afterwards offered, with complete security, that sacrifice from which shortly before they had held back the people.296 But one consideration made them speak in this fashion, quite another consideration determined their action.297

For with regard to those who are reported to have said these things, they were led thus to speak by a false rumour which had filled their ears, and those of all the people. For it was said that Paul and Macarius would come at that time, to be present at the sacrifice, and that, when the altars were set in festal array,298 they would bring out an image,299 which they would first place upon the altar, and that then in this way was the sacrifice to be offered.

As soon as their ears heard this, not only were their minds disquieted, but everyone's tongue was stirred up to use these words, so that all who had heard the story cried out:

'He who partakes of this, partakes of a sacrilege.' 300 |174 And rightly would this have been said, if any corresponding truth had attached to such a tale.

But when the above-mentioned officers arrived, nothing was seen of that, concerning which a little before lying reports had been spread. Christian eyes saw nothing to shock them, their sight afforded no proof of those things which had upset their hearing.

No stain was beheld, and the solemn rite was observed after the accustomed manner.301 When they saw that in the divine sacrifices 302 nothing was changed, or added or taken away, the Peace which God has praised was pleasing to men of good will.303

On this account none of those ought to be blamed who from your body has made his way to Peace.304 They who had been disturbed by an unfortunate story were strengthened by the simple and pure truth. And let it not be said that he [who came from you to Unity] of the bitter has made the sweet, or that of the sweet he has made the bitter.

The bitterness, which was proclaimed by falsehood, remained and continued in the breast of [mere] opinion; the truth which was seen with the eyes, having its own sweetness in itself,305 was separated from the boundaries of a false opinion. So neither was that which is sweet made out of bitterness, nor was that |175 which is bitter made out of sweetness. For what was seen was something else and quite different,306 and the report had been very far from 307 the actual facts.

So, you perceive that you have brought forward your abusive accusation unjustly, making up a story, at your own pleasure, of whatever you liked, to tear in pieces 308 Macarius and Taurinus. You have lost that, which you were quite clever enough to have seen, whilst hatred has led astray your senses, and closed the avenues of your understanding.


XIII. In what way and why Macarius was admitted to Communion.

Now your malice has come to such a pitch that you say that Macarius after these events ought not to have been admitted to Communion, but rather should have been repelled by Catholic Bishops. In the first place, communion has only one name, but various modes. A Bishop is in communion with a Bishop in one way and a layman is in communion with a Bishop in another way. |176 

Secondly, it would be a grave matter if Macarius had done that which he is said to have done, of his own will, since those who act thus are punished by the public courts and the Roman laws. For that man is a murderer who, compelled by no necessity, by no one's commands, by no superior authority, but, driven on by rage, of his own will, does what the laws forbid. But it was in consequence of your appeal 310 that Macarius did what he is said to have done.

He was not a Bishop, and did not discharge the duties of a Bishop. Neither did he lay hands on anyone, nor did he offer sacrifice. Wherefore, as it is clear that he had nothing to do with the functions of Bishops, no Bishop was polluted by reason of one who did not offer sacrifice with Bishops. Nothing remains for you but to urge that he communicated with the people, and, indeed, it is certain that he spoke amongst the people, but only to press some point, not to preach----which belongs to Bishops.311 For he spoke, if he was able to speak at all, stripped of any authority. On the other hand, a Bishop's discourse is approved by all, being adorned with sanctity, that is to say, with a twofold salutation. For a Bishop does not commence to say anything to the people without first saluting the people in the name of God. As he begins, so does he end. Every sermon in the church is begun by the name of God and with the name of God is also ended. |177 Which of you will dare to say that Macarius saluted the people after the manner of Bishops? Therefore, since he neither saluted before he spoke, nor ventured to salute after having spoken, nor laid his hand on anyone, nor offered sacrifice to God with episcopal rite, how can you say that the College of Bishops can have been polluted, although you see that Macarius had nothing to do with any episcopal duty?

Your malice, having been in this point trodden under foot by the footprints of truth, is seen again to raise its head. For you say that he ought not even to have communicated amongst laymen. Yet it is certain that he was (as the Apostle Paul shows) a minister of the Will of God, and what wonder, if even the pagan judges should be considered ministers of the Will of God, according to the Apostle who says:

'The judge does not bear the sword without reason,312 for he is a minister of the Will of God.'

So, too, Macarius was a judge in his own person. And if he did not act judicially, he ought, by the laws of Rome, to have been punished by the judges. Or, if you say that even so Macarius should not have been admitted to communion, still we do not see that he ought to have been repelled, who acted in the same kind of manner as did Moses, whom God did not reject after twenty-three thousand men had been killed, but called him to speak with Him a second time.313 We do not see that he ought to have been repelled, who did the same thing as did Phineas (whom I have mentioned above), and then deserved to receive Divine praise.314 It does not seem to us that he ought to have been repelled, who did that which was done by Elias the prophet, when he slew so many false prophets.315 (For that they too were false teachers we have proved above.) |178 

XIV. That even if Macarius was guilty, he ought not to have been repelled from Communion.

But were we to keep silence concerning these examples and admit with you that Macarius was guilty----even so, he ought not to have been repelled by us in the absence of an accuser. For it has been written that no man should be condemned before his case has been heard.

Tell us, then, who accused him and was not listened to? Tell us (if you can) that Macarius confessed his fault and that we did not pronounce sentence. For after all, we are in the Church judges of a kind,316 as you yourselves do not deny. Indeed, you maintain that we ought to judge in accordance with truth. We, then, cannot do that which God has not done. In His Judgement He has thought well to separate persons, and has not willed that one man should be at the same time accuser and judge. For no man can in one case at the same moment bear the weight of two persons,317 so as to be in the same judgement both accuser and judge. This is a thing which God has not done by His omnipotence, but, in order to set before us the form of passing judgement, has taught us that neither should a guilty man be condemned without an accuser, nor should he be the accuser, who would be the judge in the same case.

Accordingly, at the very beginning of the world, when men were commencing to be born, after his brother Abel had been killed by Cain, we read that God called Cain and asked him where was his brother.318 He doubled his sin and said that he did not know, as though he would make God ignorant, and when could there be anything not known to God, under whose eyes and countenance are all things which are done? Nevertheless, God does not judge without an accuser and asks concerning a thing which surely He knew. And yet you wish us to repel one whom we have not seen doing any evil, and who has had no one |179 to accuse him. I perceive here what your malice is about to whisper: you will say that what has been done has not escaped our knowledge. We acknowledge that we have heard about it, but to condemn one whom no man has ventured to accuse would be to sin. If you tell us that his deed has not escaped us, will you tell God, who had seen the brother's murder, why He asked about it? It would not have been right for us to do something which God refused to do, when He would not pass sentence, excepting on one who was guilty. You must find an accuser. Otherwise the condemnation could not be just----unless he who should pass sentence was himself to be the accuser! Wherefore God says:

'Behold thy brother's blood. It cries to me from the earth.' 319

Thus it is that, since by no means can you prove that Macarius was accused before us by any man, you cannot find fault with our judgement.

[Footnotes moved to the end and renumbered]

1. 1  We find the names of Ursacius and Paulus joined to those of Macarius and Leontius in iii, 4. (Cf. also iii, 10, and for Taurinus iii, 4; iii, 12.)

2. 2  Jeremiah xxi, 29: 'ut vobis stupescerent dentes, ipsi uvas acidas comederunt.' The Vulgate has: 'Patres comederunt uvam acerbam et dentes filiorum obstupuerunt.'

3. 3  Basilicas non necessarias. We find this expression many times in Optatus. It is first used by him in i, 10, where the churches of heretics are said to have no relationship with Christ and are contrasted with His lawful Bride. Elsewhere it is a technical phrase and means simply that the Donatist churches are 'not wanted.' It evidently is a quotation----probably from a judgement, cither of Miltiades or of Arles----or possibly the words were those of Eunomius and Olimpius (i, 26). The Donatists erected new churches, refusing to go to the old ones. There is no doubt a μείωσις. The intention of the inventor of the expression was to avoid hurting the feelings of the Donatists by calling their new churches schismatical. They are simply non necessariae----' not wanted.'

4. 4  qui provocavit----to the Emperor----to his horror (cf. Appendix, pp. 393, 396,397).

5. 5  Cf. Is. xxii, 6: et Elam sumpsit pharetram.

6. 6  repleta est unaquaeque civitas vociferantium. St. Optatus in his next chapter thus quotes Is. xxii, 2. Du Pin must have forgotten this when, without MS. authority, he supplied clamoribus after vociferantium.

7. 1 Is. xxii, 3.

8. 2 terror (in active sense).

9. 3 Ps. lii, 6.

10. 4 qui fortiores sunt etc. Cf. Is. xxii, 3----quoted thus in the next chapter: 'Omnes principes tui in fugam conversi sunt, et qui capti sunt graviter alligati et fortiores tui longe fugati sunt.'

11. 5 in dolore Dei. Cf. iv, 9 (quod dolet Deus) and i, 2.

12. 6 Is. xxii, 4. St. Optatus has led up to this quotation by his various references to this chapter of Isaiah.

13. 1  By rebaptising Catholics.

14. 2  transducentes ad vos aquam antiquae piscinae. Cf. Is. xxii, 9, which St. Optatus will soon quote from his version: 'Quoniam convertistis aquam antiquae piscinae ad civitatem vestram.'

15. 3  The reference is to the pool of Bethsaida (cf. John v, 4), the waters of which were regarded by Tertullian as typical of Baptism (De Baptism. v and vi). The Angel was only allowed to move the pool once each time for healing. Optatus looks upon this fact as a figure of the unity of Baptism.

16. 4 The metaphor here is slightly changed. The 'piscina' is understood as a lake full of fish. St. Optatus asks sarcastically whether Christ was in that lake, meaning that the sacrilegious rebaptisms of the Donatists, in this unlike True Baptism, gave Christ to no man. It is well known, of course, that the Fish was a principal emblem of Christ among the early Christians. 

17. 5 eiusdem piscis visceribus. 

18. 6 Cf. Paradise Lost, iv, 168-170:

'Than Asmodeus, with the fishy fume 
That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse 
Of Tobit's son.'

19. 7 'See Tobias vi, 9-10. St. Optatus mystically applies this narrative. Sara is the Church which puts the Evil One to flight through Christ. Christ is the one protection of His Church; by Christ alone, through His Church, is blindness removed from men.

20. 1  per invocationem. The Invocation of God, that is to say, the Blessing of the Font, puts Christ (the Fish) into what was mere empty water, so that it becomes a Fishpond. But in the second Baptism of the Donatists there was no Christ, therefore no symbolic Fish.

21. 2  a pisce.

22. 3  Cf. Tertullian (De Baptismo i): 'Sed nos pisciculi secundum ἴχθυν nostrum Iesum Christum in quo nascimur, nec aliter quam in aqua permanendo salvi sumus.'

23. 4 transduxistis once more. Cf. Is. xxii, 9.

24. 5 solvistis singulare Baptisma.

25. 6 ex quo Baptismate hominibus muri facti sunt ad tutelam. The reference is to Is. xxii, 11, 12: 'Et deicistis muros Hierusalem, ut faceretis alteram munitionem et constituistis aquam inter duas munitiones et ad piscinam antiquam (= the first----the Catholic Baptism) adtendere noluistis.' The thought of St. Optatus is that the Donatists by rebaptising pulled down the first wall and built up a second (alteros muros, duas munitiones). This was to build an edifice on a ruin. Hence, as he will say immediately, comes the sorrow of God filiam esse contritam. ('Recedite a Me, amare flebo. Nolite incumbere ut consolemini Me super vastitate filiae populi Mei.' Is. xxii, 4. Vulgate.)

26. 7 Cf. iii. 10: 'foras exeuntes . . . parietem fecerunt,' etc.

27. 1   Cf. iii, 10.

28. 2  Cf. Is. xxii, 4.

29. 3  We here have another 'paronomasia' or play upon words, of which St. Optatus, like many of the Fathers, was so fond.

30. 4  ex se est.

31. 5  The reference is to the description of the Creation of the World in Genesis, where we read: 'The Spirit of God was borne over the waters,' without any account of the creation of the waters themselves.

32. 6  in cuius aquae iniuria.

33. 7  Isaiah xxii, 4: 'Missum Me facite, amare plorabo: nemo poterit consolare Me in contritione filiae generis Mei.' The Vulgate has 'vastatione' for 'contritione.'

34. 8  St. Optatus is continuing his argument from Isaiah xxii, where, instead of The Burden of the Valley of the Vision, he evidently read The Vision of the Valley of Sion. St. Jerome tells us that the LXX had Verbum Vallis Sionis for Onus Vallis Visionis. Optatus' point here is that the subject of this prophecy is not the actual Mount Sion, but the spiritual Sion, which is the Catholic Church. (In v, 4 he writes: 'Sion Ecclesiam esse in tertio libro probavimus.')

35. 1  In tota Sion. Only G has tota, but it seems to have probably slipped out of the older MSS., as a little later Optatus has in toto monte.

36. 2  Is. xxii, 5. Vulgate In valle visionis.

37. 3 We have here a digression which shows, and probably was intended to show, St. Optatus' acquaintance with the topography of Jerusalem. Sion was outside of Jerusalem. We read as follows in the narrative of a Bordeaux pilgrim to the Holy Land, to be found in Itinera Hierosolymitana (CSEL. vol. 29, p. 22): 'Item exeuntibus Hierusalem ut ascendas Sion, in parte sinistra et deorsum in Valle iuxta murum est piscina, quae dicitur Silua [i.e. Siloe] . . . Intus autem intra murum Sion paret locus, ubi palatium habuit David. Et septem synagogue, quae illic fuerunt, una tantum remansit, reliquae autem arantur et seminantur, sicut Isaias propheta dixit.'

38. 4 fuerant. The Bordeaux pilgrim, whom I have just quoted, wrote in 333, about thirty years before St. Optatus. Nothing else seems to be known concerning these seven synagogues.

39. 5 Is. ii, 3. The topographical digression finishes with this quotation.

40. 1 Psalm ii, 6.

41. 2 The material hill.

42. 3 Psalm lxxxvi, 1.

43. 4 non illius corporalis montis.

44. 1  Psalm cxlvii, 1, 2.

45. 2  per singulas provincias totius orbis valles singulas intellegimus montis. Casaubon suggests that St. Optatus wrote this by a slip of the pen instead of per singulas valles montis intellegimus singulas provincias totius orbis. As an alternative he conjectures that we should read praeterea for per. But surely St. Optatus may have thought it more elegant to write it as the MSS. give it. 'By the provinces we understand the valleys.'

46. 3  in qua sola deiecti sunt muri et, ut fierent muri, aqua sanctae piscinae transversa est. Ziwsa brackets ut fierent muri, which is omitted by RBGv, evidently regarding it as incomprehensible. But it represents 'ut faceretis alteram munitionem' in Optatus' version of Is. xxii, 20. RBv have aqua sancta et piscina for aqua sanctae piscinae. The reference is still to the rebaptism by Donatists. They who were already Christians were, by an impious novelty, rebaptised, that they might become Christians. (Cf. v, 3: 'Qui rebaptizatur, iam Christianus fuerat; quomodo dici potest iterum Christianus?')

47. 4 'In una valle, hoc est sola Africa, in qua sola, cum sufficerent templa Dei, quae fuerant, alia facere voluerunt principes vestri, in qua sola deiecti sunt muri, et, ut fierent muri, aqua sanctae piscinae trans-

versa est, et novitas contra antiquitatem a vobis instituta est, et aqua humana contra divinam ordinata est' (cf. v, 3 etc.). By aqua humana is meant water used by rebaptisers. By aqua divina is meant the water used in Baptism, which, in accordance with Catholic doctrine, is one, and once for all. This is a sort of summing up in which St. Optatus endeavours, with considerable ingenuity, to show once more that Is. xxii, 1-11 has reference to the Donatists. We shall perhaps see this more clearly if we place his words in juxtaposition with his Latin version of Isaiah, which he knew to be familiar to his readers.

St. Optatus.       Isaias.
Cum sufficerent templa Dei, alia facere voluerunt = 'Ascendistis in templa supervacanea.'
Principes vestri = 'Omnes principes tui.'
In qua sola deiecti sunt muri = 'Deiicistis muros Hierusalem.'
Ut fierent muri = 'Ut faceretis alteram munitionem . . . inter duas munitiones.' 
Aqua sanctae piscinae transversa est = 'Convertistis aquam antiquae piscinae.'
Novitas contra antiquitatem = 'Ad piscinam antiquam adtendere noluistis.' 
Aqua humana contra divinam = 'Nec ad Eum . . . qui creavit illam.'

48. 1  hoc totum interrogat.

49. 2  Is. xxii, 1.

50. 3  errore sunt . . . errantes in montibus.

51. 4 graviter adligati.

52. 1  St. Jerome (in loco) writes that Elam ---- ascensus eorum. He adds that Elamites = contemptores.

53. 2  Casaubon conjectures that Optatus by a mistake of memory thought that Elamite was found for Sulamite in Cant. vii, i: 'Quid videbis in Sulamite nisi choros castrorum?'

54. 3 chori castrorum seems to refer to the military bands----the singers of the camp.

55. 4 penetralia vestra deferentur ad publicum. Cf. Is. xxii, 8, Vulgate: 'Et revelabitur operimentum ludae.' LXX 'Et revelabunt portas Iudae, et aspicient die illo in domos electas civitatis.'

56. 5 et secreta domus Israhel nudabuntur. Cf. Vulgate: 'Et scissuras civitatis David videbitis.' LXX: 'Et revelabunt abscondita domorum arcis David.'

57. 6 quoniam. 'Because.' This is emphatic. This was the cause of whatever violence may have been done by the troops of Macarius.

58. 7 Is. xxii, 11 sq: 'You refused to pay heed to the old pool'----that is to say, you would not count the first Baptism as valid, and you despised 'Him, who created it in the beginning.'

59. 1  veneficio. G has beneficio, but there can be little doubt that veneficio, which has the support of all the other MSS., is the true reading. Beneficio is obviously a guess, to escape the difficulty of veneficio.

60. 2  quia peregrimus es (cf. i, 5; ii, 4; ii, 7).

61. 3  paupertas.

62. 1  patientia episcopali.

63. 2  multorum ore ubique cantantur. Cf. St. Augustine (Retract. i, 21): 'ut ore multorum vibique cantatur.'

64. 3  potestatibus et regibus iniuriam facere.

65. 4  i Tim. ii, 1.

66. 5  now enim respublica est in Ecclesia, sed Ecclesia in republica est, id est in Imperio Romano. It had from very early times been the custom in the Christian Church to pray for the prosperity of the Emperor and the Empire. The preservation and the well-being of the Christian Church was considered to be in a certain sense dependent on the preservation and the well-being of the Roman Empire, inasmuch as the fall of the Empire was commonly expected to synchronise with the coming of Antichrist and the end of the world----a time of utmost stress and affliction for the Church of Christ on earth. It must also be remembered that St. Optatus is writing of the local conditions of his time. In no sense could the Empire, as a whole, be said to be in the Church (even theologically), for as a matter of fact a considerable part of the Empire was still pagan. On the other hand the Church was confined within the temporal jurisdiction of the Empire and overlapped by it on every side. Thus Lord Bryce writes with reference to this passage in Optatus: 'Christianity as well as civilisation became conterminous with the Roman Empire' (Bryce's The Holy Roman Empire, p. 11, eighth edition). The Church therefore had at that period no claim upon the Empire, as such, excepting to be treated with justice; whereas the Empire had this claim upon the Church, that the Church, being an external organisation within itself (though in a different order), should strive to promote peace and harmony and avoid unnecessary antagonism. Such good offices and hearty co-operation the temporal ruler has always a right to expect from the spiritual society within his borders. This the Catholic Church consistently remembered; Donatus as consistently forgot.

67. 1 veni, sponsa Mea inventa (cf. Cant. iv, 8).

68. 2 sacerdotia sancta.

69. 3 in barbaris gentibus.

70. 4 qui gentiliter viveret.

71. 5 Constans.

72. 6 nihil Donato. Perhaps this should be translated: 'This was nothing to Donatus.'

73. 1 Proverbs xxii, 2.

74. 2 Eccles. iii, 33.

75. 3 tantis (cf. Vulgate: sed haec quid sunt inter tantos? Ioan. vi, 9).

76. 1  Ez. xxviii, 2.

77. 2  Is. xxiii, 1. The Vulgate has naves maris; the Hebrew 'Ships of Tarshish '; the Old Latin (as we see from St. Optatus and St. Ambrose) naves Carthaginis; the LXX πλοῖα Καρχηδόνος.

78. 3  mundanae litterae.

79. 4  non adversus saecularem aliquem regem.

80. 1  It may be well to give here in English those sentences in Ez. xxviii, 2-9, which, as Optatus thinks, may be applied to Donatus the Great. (We possess an African text of the passage in Tyconius Donatista, but I translate from the Vulgate.)

2.  'O Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre: Thus saith the Lord God: Because thine heart has been puffed up, and thou hast said "I am God, and I have sat on the Chair of God [Tyconius has habitationem Dei habitavi) in the heart of the sea," although thou art a man and not God,

3.  Behold thou art wiser than Daniel. [St. Optatus, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and Tyconius read with the LXX Numquid tu sapientior quant Daniel?]

5.  And thine heart has been lifted up in thy strength;

6.  Therefore, thus saith the Lord God: Because thine heart has been lifted up as though it were the heart of God,

8.  Thou shalt die the death of them that are slain [Tyconius has morte vulneratorum] in the heart of the sea.

9.  Wilt thou still say before them that slay thee "I am God," whereas thou art a man and not God, and art in the hand of them that slay thee?'

81. 2  in qua re media est fides, etc. Du Pin explains thus: 'Testis est conscientia eius.' Albaspinaeus understands Fides to mean Lex Christiana.

82. 3  ut solus secreto nescio quid ageret et postea ceteris perfunctorie misceretur. Du Pin thinks that by the first phrase of this sentence it is to be inferred that Donatus offered the Divine Mysteries by himself, and held aloof from the public meetings of the other Bishops, clergy or faithful, with whom he would only mix from time to time (perfunctorie) as a great act of condescension.

83. 1 sc. of the Bishops of Africa, where Carthage was the chief See.

84. 2 nihil humanum voluit habere.

85. 3  Ez. xxviii, 6.

86. 4  a ceteris hominibus aliquid plus esse. 

87. 5 Ez. xxviii, 2.

88. 6  quod effectum huius vocis impleret.

89. 7  quia quicquid est supra homines, iam quasi Deus est.

90. 1 quid apud vos agitur de parte mea?

91. 2 i, 22.

92. 1  Cf. note 3, p. 43.

93. 2  in Christi Catholica habitabant.

94. 3  quorum nomina bene nosti, et ubi fuerint non ignoras, et qui vel a quo petierint et qualem rogaverint, ut redirent et tecum redirc potuissent, et nos didicimus, etc. St. Optatus quite lost his thread in this long sentence, where we find one of his numerous anacolutha. In my English rendering I have endeavoured to make it grammatical----involved it must always remain.

95. 4  Cf. once more note 3, p. 43.

96. 5  alio modo ---- aliquo modo.

97. 1  Matt, x, 32. Luke xii, 8.

98. 2  illum.

99. 3  The reference is to Ez.xxviii, 8: 'Morieris in interitu occisorum in corde marts'----in the heart of the sea.

100. 4 id est in amore saeculi. That is, he was beloved by worldly people.

101. 5  hanc sapientiam eius evacuavit Deus.

102. 6  Ez. xxviii, 3.

103. 1  Dan. v, 17.

104. 2  St. Optatus evidently thinks that Daniel could not answer Belshazzar on the same day, but gave his interpretation the next day and then accepted the King's gifts with joy! This seems to us an exceedingly odd notion, and curiously enough there is no suggestion of it in the Book of Daniel, so one wonders from what source Optatus derived it.

105. 3  Ez. xxviii, 3.

106. 1 Dan. ii, 27.

107. 2 Eccles. xxix, 15.

108. 3 Dan. iv, 24.

109. 4 i.e. in Ezekiel.

110. 5 C.f. Dan. ii, 27.

111. 1  unde constat Donatum malarum fontem caussarum. (Cf. for caussa in this sense i, 27; iii. 3: 'seminata est caussa'; iii, 14.)

112. 2  qui pauperes ubique dispungerent.

113. 3  singulos.

114. 4 alter Donatus. This word alter used here of Donatus of Bagaia makes it absolutely certain that Optatus knew nothing of the distinction between Donatus of Black Huts and Donatus the Great (cf. note 3, p. 45).

115. 5 circumcelliones agonisticos. St. Augustine (con. Cresconium, i, 28) describes the conduct of these men, and gives the etymology of the word circumcelliones: 'Quis enim nescit hoc genus hominum in horrendis facinoribus inquietum, ab utilibus operibus otiosum, crudelissimum in mortibus alienis, vilissimum in suis, maxime in agris territans et victus sui caussa cellas circumiens rusticanas, unde et circumcellionum nomen accepit, universo mundo pene famosissimum Africani erroris opprobrium?'

116. 1 tunc Comiti.

117. 2 in Ecclesia corrigi non posse.

118. 3 acciperent disciplinam.

119. 4  A town in Numidia. Amongst the Bishops who were assembled at the Carthaginian Council under St. Cyprian we read of Victor ab Octavo.

120. 5  per dealbatas aras aut mensas potuerunt numerari. That is to say, whitened tombs made in the shape of an altar. As the Donatists pretended to look upon these fanatics, who had been justly put to death for murder and other crimes, as martyrs, they raised altars over their graves. (It is well known that the first Christians used to say Mass on altars erected over the bodies of martyrs, e.g. in the Catacombs.) These altars were sometimes called Tables, as in the Catholic Church of the present day. Thus St. Augustine writes (Sermo de div. 113): 'Denique, sicut nostis, quicunque Carthaginem nostis, in eodem loco Mensa Dei constructa est, et tamen mensa dicitur Cypriani: non quia ibi est umquam Cyprianus epulatus, sed quia ibi est immolatus, et quia ipsa immolatione sua paravit hanc mensam: non in qua pascat sive pascatur; sed in qua sacrificium Deo, cui et ipse obtains est, offeratur.'

121. 6  A Donatist priest.

122. 7  ut insepultam faceret sepulturam. This phrase shows that St. Optatus was acquainted with Cicero (Phil. i, 1).

123. 1  unde proditum est mandatum fuisse fieri quod factum est. The command (mandatum) was, I think, that of the Donatist Bishops. At first the circumcellions erected altars over their dead, but in the open air and not in the churches. The later Donatists, when they honoured these slain circumcellions as martyrs, forgot not only that it was their own Bishops who (after the custom had been introduced of burying them in the churches) had ordered their bodies to be exhumed,but also that these same Bishops had begged Taurinus to repress them, since ecclesiastical discipline had no effect. Therefore they, not the Catholics, were responsible for the massacres ('quod factum est'). Both Casaubon and Du Pin, however, understand mandatum to refer to a command not of Donatist, but of Catholic, Bishops, and think that St. Optatus means to say that prejudice was created against Catholics by the exhumation of the dead circumcellions, and that on this account Catholics were reproached for the alleged massacres. But they seem to forget that Optatus has just stated that this was done by the order of a Donatist Bishop. It is difficult to see how his command carried out by the Donatist priest Clarus could create prejudice against Catholics.

124. 2  sibi percussores in suam perniciem conducebant. (Cf. i, 16.)

125. 3  qui ex altorum montium cacuminibus viles animas proicientes se praecipites dabant. Cf. S. Augustine, Tract. ii. in Ioannem: 'Flammis se donant, aquis se praefocant, praecipitio se collidunt, et pereunt.'

126. 1  Comite.

127. 2  habebant vocatorum infinitam turbam et annonam conpetentem constat fuisse praeparatam.

128. 3  metatores (seu mensores castrorum).

129. 4  conpetenter (ἁρμοδίως).  

130. 5 Rom. xiii, 7.

131. 1 contusi sunt ab iis, quorum nomina flabello invidiae ventilasti. This phrase is repeated a little further on (iii, 7): quorum nomina cotidie, ut supra dixi, flabello invidiae ventilatis. Parmenian had evidently made much use of the names of two Donatists (whom Macarius had put to death), in order to stir up ill feeling against Catholics (flabello invidiae). St. Optatus here says that these men had brought their death upon themselves by the injuries that they had inflicted on the soldiers of Macarius.

132. 2 numeros suos (literally the rank and file).

133. 3 vobis provocantibus (to the Emperor).

134. 4 quam plurimos.

135. 1 nam aestimo vos non negare Unitatem summum bonum esse. Cf. 'Scisma summum malum esse et vos negare minime poteritis ' (i,21).

136. 2 inde Deo sacrificium offertur.

137. 3  a sordidis.

138. 4  simpliciter erogatur. Du Pin writes 'id est eo innocue utuntur.'

139. 5  in sapore. Apparently this refers to the use of oil in ordinary life----as we should say, in salads. If this is so, in lumine, which follows, probably does not refer to lamps in churches.

140. 6  These principles may perhaps seem to contradict that which St. Optatus urged, in his first Book, against the Donatist schism, on account of the character of its originators. But even though it must be granted that, under ordinary circumstances, a man's sin does not vitiate the character of his work, yet evil conduct and bad lives clearly discredit the founders of a new religion or sect, who, as is manifest, stand in an altogether exceptional position. Further, in the first book Optatus had argued against the Donatists from Donatist principles. They said that the Catholic Church had apostatised by communicating with Betrayers. Optatus of course denies that this was a fact, and proves not only that the Donatists themselves had communicated with Betrayers, but also that the very founders of their sect were Betrayers. It was an argumentum ad hominem, but in the passage before us, as elsewhere, he argues from the true principle that the character of a workman does no detriment to his work.

141. 1 malos fuisse.

142. 2 male.

143. 3 bene.

144. 4  latro (cf. i, 19, note 9, p. 166).

145. 5  St. Optatus evidently had not heard of the distinction drawn by moralists (which, as soon as one has heard it, clears up the whole difficulty) between that which is intrinsically evil or evil in itself, and can therefore never be done lawfully, and that which is in itself 'indifferent,' and therefore derives its moral character from circumstances and from the intention of the agent.

146. 6  Exod. xx, 13; Deut. v, 17; Matt, v, 21.

147. 7  Deut. xxii, 22; Levit. xx, 10.

148. 1 non occides.

149. 2 occidetis utrosque.

150. 3 peccaret.

151. 4 delinqueret.

152. 5 elegit melius peccatum. The word peccatum like peccaret [supra) is not used here in the real sense of sin----a fault against conscience----but of a fault against an apparently unrestricted Law of God, which was seen to be abrogated by another commandment, and is therefore called loosely peccatum. 'Melius peccatum' is an oratorical trick----an oxymoron. Cf. 'tacitus loquitur' (v, 3 ); 'stulta sapientia' (vi, 1); and (iii, 9): 'ut sartor peccare potuisset.' For this use of peccare cf. Cicero (Or. 21): 'non modo in vita, sed saepissime et in poematis et in oratione, peccatur'; and again: 'Peccare est tanquam transilire lineas' (Parad. 3, 1).

153. 6 mitigavit. Numbers xxv, 11.

154. 1  qui unitatem cum toto orbe terrarum et cum Memoriis Apostolorum, quae Deo placita est, habere noluistis. Optatus once more urges union with (1) the rest of Catholic Christendom, and (2) with the Apostolic See of Rome, where rest the bodies of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (cf. ii, 4).

155. 2  tanquam per unicam religionem vestrae communionis. Religio is here the sacredness of an oath.

156. 3  inconsiderate rabida latrat invidia.

157. 4 Ps. xxxiii, 15.

158. 5 Ps. cxxxii, 1.

159. 1  Matt, v, 9.

160. 2  mali sui ipsi sunt caussa. Cf. S. August. (c. Hit. Petil. ii. 20): 'Illi, de quibus maximam invidiam facere soletis, Marculus et Donatus, ut moderatius dixerim, incertum est, utrum se praecipitaverint, . . . quapropter de omnibus talibus invidiosis criminibus hoc vobis . . . libera et secura voce respondet [Ecclesia Catholica]: Si non probatis quod dicitis, ad neminem pertinet; si autem probatis, ad me non pertinet.' This is precisely the statement and argument of St. Optatus in this Book.

161. 3  Legislatorem.

162. 4 prope-necdum propositis tabulis legis.

163. 5  Cf. Ex. xxxii, 13; Ex. xxi, 23; Deut. v, 17; Matt. v, 21.

164. 6  in iudicium provocate.

165. 1  Cf. Num. xxv, 20.

166. 2  nam quod accusatis, in persona ipsius a Deo laudatum est, quod in zelo Dei factum est. Both Ziwsa and Du Pin print a comma after ipsius, but I venture to think that it should be rather after accusatis, and have translated accordingly.

167. 3  subprimite interim.

168. 4  recurrite primo.

169. 5  Cf. 3 Kings xviii, 40. 

170. 6 illos . . . istos.

171. 7 nunquam sequitur vindicta. Killing is not to be called 'punishment' unless when due cause has been given. 'Therefore,' says St. Optatus to the Donatists, 'you object that in the case of Macarius it should not be called "punishment," but murder.'

172. 1  foris. Outside the Church.

173. 2  qui intus habitamus, et nunquam de radice recessimus.

174. 3  flabello invidiae ventilatis (cf. iii, 4).

175. 4  Ex. xx, 4.

176. 5 Deut. v, 8.

177. 6 Cf. Ex. xx, 5. 

178. 7 Cf. 1 Cor. i, 10; xii, 25.

179. 8 Ps. xxxiii, 15.

180. 1  quod illis sacrilega flamma conflavit.

181. 2  This is probably what all modern readers of St. Optatus will have been thinking. Nor can we honestly say that St. Optatus is very happy in the reply which he hazards.

182. 3  quasi devotus.

183. 1 Is. xxii, 2.

184. 2 Ibid.

185. 3 in bello Christianorum.

186. 4 Cf. Dan. vii, 3 sq.

187. 1   artificiosa crudelitas.

188. 2  immundis fumabant arae nidoribus.

189. 3  Through illness or old age.

190. 4 Hence those guilty of this sin were called Turificati. 

191. 5 omnis locus templum erat ad scel us. 

192. 6 inquinabantur.

193. 7  Incruenta parricidia facere cogebantur. The murders by parents of their children's souls were incruenta parricidia. For parricidium cf. note 3, p. 40.

194. 8  Leges divinas (the Holy Scriptures).

195. 9  pigri----literally slothful. This, however, seems to have been a word of general reproach, applied indifferently by Donatists to Catholics, and by Catholics to Donatists (cf. vi, 8).

196. 10 conpellebantur.

197. 1  ut Deus unus pariter in Ecclesia ab omnibus rogavetur.

198. 2  Is. xxii, 2. The repetition of this text shows the importance attached to it by Optatus. This cannot seem to us moderns anything but extraordinary.

199. 3  inmunda incensa.

200. 4  coactus est.

201. 5 sine bello.

202. 1  imperiosa.

203. 2  aeramentum (anything made of brass or copper, see Pliny xxxv, 15) tinniens.

204. 3 Partly a quotation and partly a paraphrase of 1 Cor. xiii, 19. 

205. 4 si tanta res.

206. 1 quamvis in imperiosa virtute.

207. 2 nescio quae esse commissa.

208. 3 emendator.

209. 4 emendandum.

210. 5 sartor.

211. 6  pendebant quodam modo panni de una vestis origine.

212. 7  St. Optatus here abruptly changes the metaphor. But he at once leaves the thought of the tree and its branches, which he has already developed (ii, 9), and returns to the garment and its rents.

213. 1  ut quid se pars parti anteponit? The Donatists had preferred themselves before Catholics, saying in justification of their schism that the Catholic Church had become corrupt.

214. 2  lotorem.

215. 3 excidere.

216. 4 deformare.

217. 5  in parte vestis adhuc unum sumus, sed in diversa pendemus.

218. 6  scissum est. St. Optatus here tries to establish a distinction between scindere, to tear away without dividing from the garment, and abscindere or excidere (the word he had just used), to tear away, or cut off, altogether----totally.

219. 7  ex parte.

220. 8 ex toto.

221. 9 ecclesiastica conversatio.

222. 10  si hominum litigant mentes, non litigant sacramenta. So Catholics now remind the 'Orthodox' Greeks that they use the same Sacraments, and by this remembrance exhort them to unity.

223. 11  pares credimus.

224. 1  uno sigillo signati sumus, sc. in Confirmation. St. Optatus goes on to speak of Baptism; elsewhere (v, 1) he writes of the seal of Circumcision: 'Iudaei hoc sigillo se insigniri gloriantur.'

225. 2  pariter.

226. 3  Oratio dominica. Some have seen here a reference to the holy Sacrifice of the Altar----the Lord's Prayer per eminentiam.

227. 4  sartura.

228. 5  partibus hinc atque inde pendentibus. It is most true that the One Catholic Church can never be divided. Yet, when large numbers of men, still keeping the Faith, fall into schism, they may be said to hang loosely to her in the manner described by Optatus in the text: thus ever since the great Division between East and West, the separated Eastern Bishops have been summoned to the Oecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church, as well as the Uniats who are in her full communion.

229. 6  huius rei artifex aut operarius.

230. 7  conpungit.

231. 8  vicina fila.

232. 9  ut sartor peccare potuisset. (For peccare cf. note 5, p. 151.)

233. 10  ad parentes vestros pertinent.

234. 1 lapides petrobolos. 

235. 2 ruinosam (cf. iii, 2).

236. 3  Cf. Ez. xiii, 10. There is, however, nothing to be found here, in any extant version, of 'accusations,' unless they be found in the words 'Ubi est litura quam linistis?' (Ez. xiii, 12). (Cf. note 3, p. 168.)

237. 4  Matris Ecclesiae.

238. 5  persuasionibus vestris divisa sunt corpora et nomina pietatis, et non potuistis praetcr miller e quod legitimum est. In this very obscure passage, at first reading, it will probably seem that pietatis refers to corpora as well as to nomina. But this can hardly be the case. I think that it is clear that corpora refers to the relationship between husband and wife, nomina pietatis to that between parents and their children. The chief difficulty is as to the meaning of quod legitimum est. The context shows that St. Optatus is referring to the division between brother and sister. He has to bring in an idea to correspond to corpora and nomina pietatis. An unmarried man and woman under ordinary circumstances ought not to live alone in the same house, but natural law makes an exception for brother and sister. 'You,' he says, 'do not spare that affectionate union which natural law approves' (quod legitimum est). Albaspinaeus, however, refers quod legitimum est not to the institution of the family, to which Optatus has just been alluding, but to that which is coming, and understands it thus: 'And yet you have not been able to omit the customary salutations.' But this involves a full stop after pietatis, which is awkward; besides it is exceedingly doubtful whether quod legitimum est can bear this meaning. Still it may be noted that in ii, 12, St. Optatus uses the phrase praeterire illud legitimum for passing over that 'which is prescribed' at Mass. In his references to the sad divisions in families caused by Donatism, St. Optatus shows a strange forgetfulness of the fact that such divisions were foretold by its divine Founder as an inevitable consequence of the spread of Christianity itself (Matt, x, 34; Luke xii, 51). Moreover, they must necessarily have followed upon that conversion of individual Donatists to the Catholic Church which throughout his work Optatus so urgently advocates.

239. 1  Cf. Ez. xiii, 10.

240. 2  Domus Dei una est. (Cf. iii, 2: Fecistis quasi alteros muros.)

241. 1  partem.

242. 2  quia non est alter Deus, qui alter am domum inhabitet.

243. 3  conlocata. (Cf. ii, 2, Cathedram conlocaret.)

244. 4  foris (sc. outside the One Church, which is the One House of God, of which St. Optatus has just written: 'The House of God is one').

245. 5  nodo pacis. The metaphor seems to require cement rather than knot. The two walls abut upon the Corner Stone, which makes them into one wall (cf. Eph. ii, 20-21).

246. 6 retundit.

247. 7 diffundit.

248. 8 latronem.

249. 9 furem. The difference between latro and fur is that the former word carries with it the idea of violence----in Optatus even of murder (cf. i, 19 etc.).

250. 10  aedificatus ruinosus.

251. 11  nec lapidem angularem sustinet (for one wall has no corner).

252. 12  ianuam sine caussa habet (cf. supra: 'quicunque intraverit foris est'----for when you enter the door you are still out of doors).

253. 13  nec inclusa custodit (for it is a straight line, and one straight line cannot enclose a space).

254. 1  pluvia udatur (for it has no roof).

255. 2  pars vestra quasi ecclesia est, sed Catholica non est. (Cf. 'quasi necessaria,' v, 4.)

256. 3  est constituta.

257. 4 linistis.

258. 5 Cf. Ez. xiii, 12-14.

259. 6 emendate.

260. 1  lapides petrobolos.

261. 2  Ez. xiii, 13, 14.

262. 3  Cf. Ez. xiii, 13, 14. In the Vulgate we read 'Et erumpere faciam (a) spiritum tempestatum in indignatione Mea et (b) imber inundans in furore Meo erit, et (c) lapides grandes in ira in consumptionem. Et destruam parietem, quem linistis, et cadet.' From St. Jerome's commentary we find that the LXX had 'Et disrumpam spiritum auferentem in furore Meo, et pluvia inundans in ira Mea erit; et lapides magnos (περιβόλους) in furore inducam in consummationem. Et suffodiam parietem, quem linistis, et cadet, et ponam earn super terrain et revelabuntur fundamenta eius, et cadet et consummemini cum increpationibus; et cognoscetis quia ego Dominus.' St. Optatus' African version gives us (a) tempestatem nimiam (b) et pluviam, diluvia (c) et lapides petrobolos, et (d) accusationes. Where are these last accusaiiones? Probably they are the equivalent of the increpationes of St. Jerome. The Greek of the LXX has καὶ συντελεσθήσεσθε μετ̕ ἐλέγχων (μετ̕ ἐλέγχων = cum accusationibus.) The accusationes were to be the last calamity that should beset the Donatists. Then they were to fall. One wonders whether perhaps St. Optatus thought, though he did not like to say so expressly, that his book contained these destined 'accusations '!

263.  1 Cf. iii, 4.

264. 2  The Donatist schism.

265. 3  That something might be left for the rain to do.

266. 4  Cf. iii, 3.

267. 5 udatus est, sed non maduit.

268. 6  dispersus.

269. 7  luto.

270. 8   latere.

271. 9  seducunt.

272. 10  Cf. Ez. xiii, 2.

273. 11  nobis absentibus inruistis.

274. 1 Adlendite post vos. Redimite animas vestras. Estote Christiani. These were evidently catchwords in common use among the Donatists.

275. 2 nemo tenens manicam aratri post se adtendens (cf. Luke ix, 62).

276. 3  Cf. Gen. xix, 26.

277. 4  quis est ille nescio quis angelus, qui nundinas facit animarum? 

278. 5 1 Cor. vi, 20; vii, 28.

279. 1  sicut vultis.

280. 2  quis virtutes novas aut alter as fecit? (Cf. 'Suam virtutem mittere'; 'a Filio Dei tantas celebrari virtutes,' v, 8.)

281. 3  cum miraculo quodam.

282. 4  Common names, as if we should say 'Mary, or Nicholas' (cf. vi, 8). So St. Augustine (De Bapt. ii, 7) tells us that the Donatists used to say to Catholics 'Bonus homo esses, si non esses Traditor, consule animae tuae, esto Christianus.'

283. 5  professus est. Sc. by Baptism.

284. 1  ante aram. Catechumens were not allowed to pray before the altar and were not taught the Our Father until just before Baptism.

285. 2  deliquerit.

286. 3  For a baptised man to become a pagan would be a miracle (miraculum quoddam), for' quod factum est (sc. Baptisma) infectum non potest fieri.'

287. 4  si tibi consenserit.

288. 5 In Penance.

289. 6 tam tibi.

290. 7 christianum faciunt de christiano.

291. 8 quasi facile.

292. 9 qui iamdudum in vestro collegio fuerant.

293. 1  qui gustaret aut acciperet.

294. 2  de sacrificio adventantis unitatis, = 'of the Sacrifice of [the newly recovered] Unity,' i.e. who communicated at the general Communion of union.

295. 3  de sacro----sc. sacrilege St. Optatus will explain immediately that the Donatists put about the calumny that Paulus and Macarius would cause the images of the Emperors to be exposed on the altar during the offering of the Sacrifice of the Eucharist in their camp. Hence they concluded that the Catholic Sacrifice was not dissimilar to the sacrifice of the Pagans----a sacrilege (sacro).

296. 4  quos constat postea tota securitate fecisse, unde paulo ante populos deterrebant.

297. 5 alia ratio exegit has voces, alia invitavit in factum.

298. 6 cum alt aria solemniter aptarentur.

299. 7 sc. of the Emperor.

300. 8 qui inde gustat de sacro gustat.

301. 1  visa est puritas, et ritu solito solemnis consuetudo perspecta est.

302. 2  divinis sacrificiis.

303. 3  volentibus:----the reference is to 'Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.'

304. 4  i.e. to the Unity of the Church (cf. i, 1 etc.). qui de collegio vestro ad Pacem transitum fecit.

305. 5 in se.

306. 1  et aliud et extra est. Casaubon remarks here that he does not think that St. Optatus meant to say anything more than what no doubt he might have said much more simply; 'That which is seen is very different from that which is heard.' But he adds that, by the word extra, bitter gossip, which is outside of us, and is only heard, may perhaps be here subtly contrasted with the inherent sweetness which truth has in itself, and which we can, if we will, see for ourselves.

307. 2  longe fuerat. Had been a complete misrepresentation.

308. 3  ut lacerares.

309. 4  These two chapters are given both by Ziwsa and Du Pin as the last two chapters (vi and vii) of Book VII, but are evidently an appendix (written later) to Book III. (cf. p. 271).

310. 1 vobis provocantibus, sc. to the Emperor (see iii, 1).

311. 2 non tandem tractandi, quod est Episcoporum. We learn from St. Jerome and from St. Possidius in his life of St. Augustine that in the churches of Africa priests were not permitted to preach in the presence of a Bishop. But Casaubon has no difficulty in showing that Baronius was mistaken in thinking that this custom ----which St. Augustine tells us (Ep. lxxvii) was abolished in his lifetime----was ever universal, or that priests were anywhere forbidden to preach excepting when a Bishop was present. Still preaching the Word of God has always been regarded in the Catholic Church as per se the duty of a Bishop, only per accidens that of a priest.

312. 1 Rom. xiii, 4.

313. 2 Cf. Ex. xxxii, 28.

314. 3 Cf. Num. xxv, 11.

315. 4 Cf. 3 Kings xviii, 40.

316. 1  sumus enim qualescumque iudices in Ecclesia. Qualescumque is written modestly, in comparison with secular judges.

317. 2  duas portare personas.

318. 3  Gen. iv, 9.

319. 1 Gen. iv, 10.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2006. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.

Greek text is rendered using unicode.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts