And--these intervening points having accordingly been got rid of--I return to the second of Corinthians; in order to prove that this saying also of the apostle, "Sufficient to such a man be this rebuke which (is administered) by many," is not suitable to the person of the fornicator. For if he had sentenced him "to be surrendered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh," of course he had condemned rather than rebuked him. Some other, then, it was to whom he willed the "rebuke" to be sufficient; if, that is, the fornicator had incurred not "rebuke" from his sentence, but "condemnation." For I offer you withal, for your investigation, this very question: Whether there were in the first Epistle others, too, who "wholly saddened" the apostle by "acting disorderly,"(2) and "were wholly saddened" by him, through incurring (his) "rebuke," according to the sense of the second Epistle; of whom some particular one may in that (second Epistle) have received pardon. Direct we, moreover, our attention to the entire first Epistle, written (that I may so say) as a whole, not with ink, but with gall; swelling, indignant, disdainful, comminatory, invidious, and shaped through (a series of) individual charges, with an eye to certain individuals who were, as it were, the proprietors of those charges? For so had schisms, and emulations, and discussions, and presumptions, and elations, and contentions required, that they should be laden with invidiousness, and rebuffed with curt reproof, and filed down by haughtiness, and deterred by austerity. And what kind of invidiousness is the pungency of humility? "To God I give thanks that I have baptized none of you, except Crispus and Gaius, lest any say that I have baptized in mine own name."(3) "For neither did I judge to know anything among you but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."(4) And, "(I think) God hath selected us the apostles (as) hindmost, like men appointed to fight with wild beasts; since we have been made a spectacle to this world, both to angels and to men:" And, "We have been made the offscourings of this world, the refuse of all:" And, "Am I not free? am I not an apostle? have I not seen Christ Jesus our Lord?"(5) With what kind of superciliousness, on the contrary, was he compelled to declare, "But to me it is of small moment that I be interrogated by you, or by a human court-day; for neither am I conscious to myself (of any guilt);" and, "My glory none shall make empty."(6) "Know ye not that we are to judge angels?"(7) Again, of how open censure (does) the free expression (find utterance), how manifest the edge of the spiritual sword, (in words like these): "Ye are already enriched! ye are already satiated! ye are already reigning!" (8) and, "If any thinks himself to know, he knoweth not yet how it behaves him to know I"(9) Is he not even then "smiting some one's face,"(10) in saying, "For who maketh thee to differ? What, moreover, hast thou which thou hast not received? Why gloriest thou as if thou have not received?" (11) Is he not withal "smiting them upon the mouth,"(12) (in saying): "But some, in (their) conscience, even until now eat (it) as if (it were) an idol-sacrifice. But, so sinning, by shocking the weak consciences of the brethren thoroughly, they will sin against Christ."(13) By this time, indeed, (he mentions individuals) by name: "Or have we not a power of eating., and of drinking, and of leading about women, just as the other apostles withal, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" and, "If others attain to (a share) in power over you, (may) not we rather?" In like manner he pricks them, too, with an individualizing pen: "Wherefore, let him who thinketh himself to be standing, see lest he fall;" and, "If any seemeth to be contentious, we have not such a custom, nor (has) the Church of the Lord." With such a final clause (as the following), wound up with a malediction, "If any loveth not the Lord Jesus, be he anathema maranatha," he is, of course, striking same particular individual through.

But I will rather take my stand at that point where the apostle is more fervent, where the fornicator himself has troubled others also. "As if I be not about to come unto you, some are inflated. But I will come with more speed, if the Lord shall have permitted, and will learn not the speech of those who are inflated, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in speech, but in power. And what will ye? shall I come unto you in a rod, or in a spirit of lenity?" For what was to succeed? "There is heard among you generally fornication, and such fornication as (is) not (heard) even among the Gentiles, that one should have his own father's wife. And are ye inflated, and have ye not rather mourned, that he who hath committed such a deed may be taken away from the midst of you?" For whom were they to "mourn?" Of course, for one dead. To whom were they to mourn? Of course, to the Lord, in order that in some way or other he may be "taken away from the midst of them;" not, of course in order that he may be put outside the Church. For a thing would not have been requested of God which came within the official province of the president (of the Church); but (what would be requested of Him was), that through death--not only this death common to all, but one specially appropriate to that very flesh which was already a corpse, a tomb leprous with irremediable uncleanness--he might more fully (than by simple excommunication) incur the penalty of being "taken away" from the Church. And accordingly, in so far as it was meantime possible for him to be "taken away," he "adjudged such an one to be surrendered to Satan for the destruction of the flesh." For it followed that flesh which was being cast forth to the devil should be accursed, in order that it might be discarded from the sacrament of blessing, never to return into the camp of the Church.

And thus we see in this place the apostle's severity divided, against one who was "inflated," and one who was "incestuous:" (we see the apostle) armed against the one with "a rod," against the other with a sentence,--a "rod," which he was threatening; a sentence, which he was executing: the former (we see) still brandishing, the latter instantaneously hurtling; (the one) wherewith he was rebuking, and (the other) wherewith he was condemning. And certain it is, that forthwith thereafter the rebuked one indeed trembled beneath the menace of the uplifted rod, but the condemned perished under the instant infliction of the penalty. Immediately the former retreated fearing the blow, the latter paying the penalty. When a letter of the self-same apostle is sent a second time to the Corinthians, pardon is granted plainly; but it is uncertain to whom, because neither person nor cause is advertised. I will compare the cases with the senses. If the "incestuous" man is set before us, on the same platform will be the "inflated" man too. Surely the analogy, of the case is sufficiently maintained, when the "inflated" is rebuked, but the "incestuous" is condemned. To the "inflated" pardon is granted, but after rebuke; to the "incestuous" no pardon seems to have been granted, as under condemnation. If it was to him for whom it was feared that he might be "devoured by mourning" that pardon was being granted, the "rebuked" one was still in danger of being devoured, losing heart on account of the commination, and mourning on account of the rebuke. The "condemned" one, however, was permanently accounted as already devoured, alike by his fault and by his sentence; (accounted, that is, as one) who had not to "mourn," but to suffer that which, before suffering it, he might have mourned. If the reason why pardon was being granted was "lest we should be defrauded by Satan," the loss against which precaution was being taken had to do with that which had not yet perished. No precaution is taken in the use of a thing finally despatched, but in the case of a thing still safe. But the condemned one --condemned, too, to the possession of Satan--had already perished from the Church at the moment when he had committed such a deed, not to say withal at the moment of being forsworn by the Church itself. How should (the Church) fear to suffer a fraudulent loss of him whom she had already lost on his ereption, and whom, after condemnation, she could not have held? Lastly, to what will it be becoming for a judge to grant indulgence? to that which by a formal pronouncement he has decisively settled, or to that which by an interlocutory sentence he has left in suspense? And, of course, (I am speaking of) that judge who is not wont "to rebuild those things which he has destroyed, lest he be held a transgressor."(1)

Come, now, if he had not "wholly saddened" so many persons in the first Epistle; if he had "rebuked" none, had "terrified"(2) none; if he had "smitten" the incestuous man alone; if, for his cause, he had sent none into panic, had struck (no) "inflated" one with consternation,--would it not be better for you to suspect, and more believing for you to argue, that rather some one far different had been in the same predicament at that time among the Corinthians; so that, rebuked, and terrified, and already wounded with mourning, he therefore--the moderate nature of his fault permitting it--subsequently received pardon, than that you should interpret that (pardon as granted) to an incestuous fornicator? For this you had been bound to read, even if not in an Epistle, yet impressed upon the very character of the apostle, by (his) modesty more clearly than by the instrumentality of a pen: not to steep, to wit, Paul, the "apostle of Christ,"(3) the "teacher of the nations in faith and verity,"(4) the "vessel of election,"(5) the founder of Churches, the censor of discipline, (in the guilt of) levity so great as that he should either have condemned rashly one whom he was presently to absolve, or else rashly absolved one whom he had not rashly condemned, albeit on the ground of that fornication which is the result of simple immodesty, not to say on the ground of incestuous nuptials and impious voluptuousness and parricidal lust,--(lust) which he had refused to compare even with (the lusts of) the nations, for fear it should be set down to the account of custom; (lust) on which he would sit in judgment though absent, for fear the culprit should "gain the time;"(1) (lust) which he had condemned after calling to his aid even "the Lord's power," for fear the sentence should seem human. Therefore he has trifled both with his own "spirit,"(2) and with "the angel of the Church,"(3) and with "the power of the Lord," if he rescinded what by their counsel he had formally pronounced.


If you hammer out the sequel of that Epistle to illustrate the meaning of the apostle, neither will that sequel be found to square with the obliteration of incest; lest even here the apostle be put to the blush by the incongruity of his later meanings. For what kind (of hypothesis) is it, that the very moment after making a largess of restoration to the privileges of ecclesiastical peace to an incestuous fornicator, he should forthwith have proceeded to accumulate exhortations about turning away from impurities, about pruning away of blemishes, about exhortations to deeds of sanctity, as if he had decreed nothing of a contrary nature just before? Compare, in short, (and see) whether it be his province to say, "Wherefore, having this ministration, in accordance with (the fact) that we have obtained mercy, we faint not; but renounce the secret things of disgrace,"(4) who has just released from condemnation one manifestly convicted of, not "disgrace" merely, but crime too: whether it be Ms province, again, to excuse a conspicuous immodesty, who, among the counts of his own labours, after" straits and pressures," after" fasts and vigils," has named "chastity" also:(5) whether it be, once more, his province to receive back into communion whatsoever reprobates, who writes, "For what society (is there) between righteousness and iniquity? what communion, moreover, between light and darkness? what consonance between Christ and Belial? or what part for a believer with an unbeliever? or what agreement between the temple of God and idols?" Will he not deserve to hear constantly(the reply); "And in what manner do you make a separation between things which, in the former part of your Epistle, by restitution of the incestuous one, you have joined? For by his restoration to concorporate unity with the Church, righteousness is made to have fellowship with iniquity, darkness has communion with light, Belial is consonant with Christ, and believer shares the sacraments with unbeliever. And idols may see to themselves: the very vitiator of the temple of God is converted into a temple of God: for here, too, he sap, 'For ye are a temple of the living God. For He saith, That I will dwell in you, and will walk in (you), and will be their God, and they shall be to Me a people. Wherefore depart from the midst of them, be separate, and touch not the unclean.'(6) This (thread of discourse) also you spin out, O apostle, when at the very moment you yourself are offering your hand to so huge a whirlpool of impurities; nay, you superadd yet further, 'Having therefore this promise, beloved, cleanse we ourselves out from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting chastity in God's fear.'"(7) I pray you, had he who fixes such (exhortations) in our minds been recalling some notorious fornicator into the Church? or is his reason for writing it, to prevent himself from appearing to you in the present day to have so recalled him? These (words of his) will be in duty bound alike to serve as a prescriptive rule for the foregone, and a prejudgment for the following, (parts of the Epistle). For in saying, toward the end of the Epistle, "Lest, when I shall have come, God humble me, and I bewail many of those who have formerly sinned, and have not repented of the impurity which they have committed, the fornication, and the vileness,"(8) he did not, of course, determine that they were to be received hack (by him into the Church) if they should have entered (the path of) repentance, whom he was to find in the Church, but that they were to be bewailed, and indubitably ejected, that they might lose (the benefit of) repentance. And, besides, it is not congruous that he, who had above asserted that there was no communion between light and darkness, righteousness and iniquity, should in this place have been indicating somewhat touching communion. But all such are ignorant of the apostle as understand anything in a sense contrary to the nature and design of the man himself, contrary to the norm and rule of his docrines; so as to presume that he, a teacher of every sanctity, even by his own example, an execrator and expiator of every impurity, and universally consistent with himself in these points, restored ecclesiastical privileges to an incestuous person sooner than to some more mild offender.


Necessary it is, therefore, that the (character of the) apostle should be continuously pointed out to them; whom I will maintain to be such in the second of Corinthians withal, as I know (him to be) in all his letters. (He it is) who even in the first (Epistle) was the first of all (the apostles) to dedicate the temple of God: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that in you the Lord dwells?"(1)--who likewise, for the consecrating and purifying (of) that temple, wrote the law pertaining to the temple-keepers: "If any shall have marred the temple of God, him shall God mar; for the temple of God is holy, which (temple) are ye."(2) Come, now; who in the world has (ever) redintegrated one who has been "marred" by God (that is, delivered to Satan with a view to destruction of the flesh), after subjoining for that reason, "Let none seduce himself;"(3) that is, let none presume that one "marred" by God can possibly be redintegrated anew? Just as, again, among all other crimes--nay, even before all others--when affirming that "adulterers, and fornicators, and effeminates, and co-habitors with males, will not attain the kingdom of God," he premised, "Do not err"(4)--to wit, if you think they will attain it. But to them from whom "the kingdom" is taken away, of course the life which exists in the kingdom is not permitted either. Moreover, by superadding, "But such indeed ye have been; but ye have received ablution, but ye have been sanctified, in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God;"(5) in as far as he puts on the paid side of the account such sins before baptism, in so far after baptism he determines them irremissible, if it is true, (as it is), that they are not allowed to "receive ablution" anew. Recognise, too, in what follows, Paul(in the character of) an immoveable column of discipline and its rules: "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: God maketh a full end both of the one and of the others; but the body (is) not for fornication, but for God:"(6) for "Let Us make man," said God, "(conformable) to Our image and likeness." "And God made man; (conformable) to the image and likeness of God made He him."(7) "The Lord for the body:" yes; for "the Word was made flesh."(8) "Moreover, God both raised up the Lord, and will raise up us through His own power;"(9) on account, to wit, of the union of our body with Him. And accordingly, "Know ye not your bodies(to be) members of Christ?" because Christ, too, is God's temple. "Overturn this temple, and I will in three days' space resuscitate it."(10) "Taking away the members of Christ, shall I make (them) members of an harlot? Know ye not, that whoever is agglutinated to an harlot is made one body? (for the two shall be (made) into one flesh): but whoever is agglutinated to the Lord is one spirit? Flee fornication."(11) If revocable by pardon, in what sense am I to flee it, to turn adulterer anew? I shall gain nothing if I do flee it: I shall be "one body," to which by communion I shall be agglutinated. "Every sin which a human being may have committed is extraneous to the body; but whoever fornicateth, sinneth against his own body."(12) And, for fear you should fly to that statement for a licence to fornication, on the ground that you will be sinning against a thing which is yours, not the Lord's, he takes you away from yourself, and awards you, according to his previous disposition, to Christ: "And ye are not your own;" immediately opposing (thereto), "for bought ye are with a price"--the blood, to wit, of the Lord:(13) "glorify and extol the Lord in your body."(14) See whether he who gives this injunction be likely to have pardoned one who has disgraced the Lord, and who has cast Him down from (the empire of) his body, and this indeed through incest. If you wish to imbibe to the utmost all knowledge of the apostle, in order to understand with what an axe of censorship he lops, and eradicates, and extirpates, every forest of lusts, for fear of permitting aught to regain strength and sprout again; behold him desiring souls to keep a fast from the legitimate fruit of nature--the apple, I mean, of marriage: "But with regard to what ye wrote, good it is for a man to have no contact with a woman; but, on account of fornication, let each one have his own wife: let husband to wife, and wife to husband, render what is due."(15) Who but must know that it was against his will that he relaxed the bond of this "good," in order to prevent fornication? But if he either has granted, or does grant, indulgence to fornication, of course he has frustrated the design of his own remedy. and will be bound forthwith to put the curb upon the nuptials of continence, if the fornication for the sake of which those nuptials are permitted shall cease to be feared. For (a fornication) which has indulgence granted it will not be feared. And yet he professes that he has granted the use of marriage "by way of indulgence, not of command."(16) For he "wills" all to be on a level with himself. But when things lawful are (only) granted by way of indulgence, who hope for things unlawful? "To the unmarried" also, "and widows," he says, "It is good, by his example, to persevere" (in their present state); "but if they were too weak, to marry; because it is preferable to marry than to bum." (1) With what fires, I pray you, is it preferable to "burn"--(the fires) of concupiscence, or (the fires) of penalty? Nay, but if fornication is pardonable, it will not be an object of concupiscence. But it is more (the manner) of an apostle to take forethought for the fires of penalty. Wherefore, if it is penalty which "burns," it follows that fornication, which penalty awaits, is not pardonable. Meantime withal, while prohibiting divorce, he uses the Lord's precept against adultery as an instrument for providing, in place of divorce, either perseverance in widowhood, or else a reconciliation of peace: inasmuch as "whoever shall have dismissed a wife (for any cause) except the cause of adultery, maketh her commit adultery; and he who marrieth one dismissed by a husband committeth adultery."(2) What powerful remedies does the Holy Spirit furnish, to prevent, to wit, the commission anew of that which He wills not should anew be pardoned!

Now, if in all cases he says it is best for a man thus to be; "Thou art joined to a wife seek not loosing" (that you may give no occasion to adultery); "thou art loosed from a wife, seek not a wife," that you may reserve an opportunity for yourself: "but withal, if thou shalt have married a wife, and if a virgin shall have married, she sinneth not; pressure, however, of the flesh such shall have,"--even here he is granting a permission by way of "sparing them."(3) On the other hand, he lays it down that "the time is wound up," in order that even "they who have wives may be as if they had them not." "For the fashion of this world is passing away,"--(this world) no longer, to wit, requiting (the command), "Grow and multiply." Thus he wills us to pass our life "without anxiety," because "the unmarried care about the Lord, how they may please God; the married, however, muse about the world,(4) how they may please their spouse."(5) Thus he pronounces that the "preserver of a virgin" doeth" better" than her "giver in marriage."(6) Thus, too, he discriminatingly judges her to be more blessed, who, after losing her husband subsequently to her entrance into the faith, lovingly embraces the opportunity of widowhood.(7) Thus he commends as Divine all these counsels of continence: "I think,"(8) he says, "I too have the Spirit of God."(9)

Who is this your most audacious asserter of all immodesty, plainly a "most faithful" advocate of the adulterous, and fornicators, and incestuous, in whose honour he has undertaken this cause against the Holy Spirit, so that he recites a false testimony from (the writings of) His apostle? No such indulgence granted Paul, who endeavours to obliterate "necessity of the flesh" wholly from (the list of) even honourable pretexts (for marriage unions). He does grant "indulgence," I allow;--not to adulteries, but to nuptials. He does "spare," I allow;--marriages, not harlotries. He tries to avoid giving pardon even to nature, for fear he may flatter guilt. He is studious to put restraints upon the union which is heir to blessing, for fear that which is heir to curse be excused. This (one possibility) was left him--to purge the flesh from (natural) dregs, for (cleanse it) from (foul) stains he cannot. But this is the usual way with perverse and ignorant heretics; yes, and by this time even with Psychics universally: to arm themselves with the opportune support of some one ambiguous passage, in opposition to the disciplined host of sentences of the entire document:


Challenge me to front the apostolic line of battle; look at his Epistles: they all keep guard in defence of modesty, of chastity, of sanctity; they all aim their missiles against the interests of luxury, and lasciviousness, and lust. What, in short, does he write to the Thessalonians withal? "For our consolation(10) (originated) not of seduction, nor of impurity:" and, "This is the will of God, your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; that each one know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour, not in the lust of concupiscence, as (do) the nations which are ignorant of God."(11) What do the Galatians read? "Manifest are the works of the flesh." What are these? Among the first he has set "fornication, impurity, lasciviousness:" "(concerning) which I foretell you, as I have foretold, that whoever do such acts are not to attain by inheritance the kingdom of God."(12) The Romans, moreover,--what learning is more impressed upon them than that there must be no dereliction of the Lord after believing? "What, then, say we? Do we persevere in sin, in order that grace may superabound? Far be it. We, who are dead to sin, how shall we live in it still? Are ye ignorant that we who have been baptized in Christ have been baptized into His death? Buried with Him, then, we have been, through the baptism into the death, in order that, as Christ hath risen again from the dead, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been buried together in the likeness of His death, why, we shall be (in that) of (His) resurrection too; knowing this, that our old man hath been crucified together with Him. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall live, too, with Him; knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no more dieth, (that) death no more hath domination over Him. For in that He died to sin, He died once for all; but in that He liveth, to God He liveth. Thus, too, repute ye yourselves dead indeed to sin, but living to God through Christ Jesus."(1) Therefore, Christ being once for all dead, none who, subsequently to Christ, has died, can live again to sin, and especially to so heinous a sin. Else, if fornication and adultery may by possibility be anew admissible, Christ withal will be able anew to die. Moreover, the apostle is urgent in prohibiting" sin from reigning in our mortal body,"(2) whose "infirmity of the flesh" he knew. "For as ye have tendered your members to servile impurity and iniquity, so too now tender them servants to righteousness unto holiness." For even if he has affirmed that "good dwelleth not in his flesh,"(3) yet (he means) according to "the law of the letter,"(4) in which he "was:" but according to "the law of the Spirit,"(5) to which he annexes us, he frees us from the "infirmity of the flesh." "For the law," he says, "of the Spirit of life hath manumitted thee from the law of sin and of death."(6) For albeit he may appear to be partly disputing from the standpoint of Judaism, yet it is to us that he is directing the integrity and plenitude of the rules of discipline,--(us), for whose sake soever, labouring (as we were) in the law, "God hath sent, through flesh, His own Son, in similitude of flesh of sin; and, became of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh; in order that the righteousness of the law," he says, "might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to flesh, but according to (the) Spirit. For they who walk according to flesh are sensible as to those things which are the flesh's, and they who (walk) according to (the) Spirit those which (are) the Spirit's." (7) Moreover, he has affirmed the "sense of the flesh" to be "death;" (8) hence too, "enmity," and enmity toward God;(9) and that "they who are in the flesh," that is, in the sense of the flesh, "cannot please God:"(10) and, "If ye live according to flesh," he says, "it will come to pass that ye die."(11)But what do we understand "the sense of the flesh" and "the life of the flesh"(to mean), except whatever "it shames (one) to pronounce?"(12) for the other (works) of the flesh even an apostle would have named.(13) Similarly, too, (when writing) to the Ephesians, while recalling past (deeds), he warns (them) concerning the future: "In which we too had our conversation, doing the concupiscences and pleasures of the flesh."(14) Branding, in fine, such as had denied themselves--Christians, to wit--on the score of having "delivered themselves up to the working of every impunity,"(15) "But ye," he says, "not so have learnt Christ." And again he says thus: "Let him who was wont to steal, steal no more."(16) But, similarly, let him who was wont to commit adultery hitherto, not commit adultery; and he who was wont to fornicate hitherto, not fornicate: for he would have added these (admonitions) too, had he been in the habit of extending pardon to such, or at all willed it to be extended--(he) who, not willing pollution to be contracted even by a word, says, "Let no base speech proceed out of your mouth."(17) Again: "But let fornication and every impurity not be even named among you, as becometh saints,"(18)--so far is it from being excused,--"knowing this, that every fornicator or impure (person) hath not God's kingdom. Let none seduce you with empty words: on this account cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of unbelief."(19) Who "seduces with empty words" but he who states in a public harangue that adultery is remissible? not seeing into the fact that its very foundations have been dug out by the apostle, when he puts restraints upon drunkennesses and revellings, as withal here: "And be not inebriated with wine, in which is voluptuousness."(20) He demonstrates, too, to the Colossians what "members" they are to "mortify" upon earth: "fornication, impurity, lust, evil concupiscence," and "base talk."(21) Yield up, by this time, to so many and such sentences, the one (passage) to which you cling. Paucity is cast into the shade by multitude, doubt by certainty, obscurity by plainness. Even if, for certain, the apostle had granted pardon of fornication to that Corinthian, it would be another instance of his once for all contravening his own practice to meet the requirement of the time. He circumcised Timotheus alone, and yet did away with circumcision.(1)


"But these (passages)," says (our opponent), "will pertain to the interdiction of all immodesty, and the enforcing of all modesty, yet without prejudice to the place of pardon; which (pardon) is not forthwith quite denied when sins are condemned, since the time of the pardon is concurrent with the condemnation which it excludes."

This piece of shrewdness on the part of the Psychics was (naturally) sequent; and accordingly we have reserved for this place the cautions which, even in the times of antiquity, were openly taken with a view to the refusing of ecclesiastical communion to cases of this kind.

For even in the Proverbs, which we call Paroemiae, Solomon specially (treats) of the adulterer (as being) nowhere admissible to expiation. "But the adulterer," he says, "through indigence of senses acquireth perdition to his own soul; sustaineth dolors and disgraces. His ignominy, moreover, shall not be wiped away for the age. For indignation, full of jealousy, will not spare the man in the day of judgment."(2) If you think this said about a heathen, at all events about believers you have already heard (it said) through Isaiah:" Go out from the midst of them, and be separate, and touch not the impure."(3) You have at the very outset of the Psalms, "Blessed the man who hath not gone astray in the counsel of the impious, nor stood in the way of sinners, and sat in the state-chair of pestilence;"(4) whose voice,(5) withal,(is heard) subsequently: "I have not sat with the conclave of vanity; and with them who act iniquitously will I not enter"--this (has to do with "the church" of such as act ill--"and with the impious will I not sit;"(6) and, "I will wash with the innocent mine hands, and Thine altar will I surround, Lord"(7)--as being" a host in himself"--inasmuch as indeed "With an holy (man), holy Thou wilt be; and with an innocent man, innocent Thou wilt be; and with an elect, elect Thou wilt be; and with a perverse, perverse Thou wilt be."(8) And elsewhere: "But to the sinner saith the Lord, Why expoundest thou my righteous acts, and takest up my testament through thy mouth? If thou sawest a thief, thou rannest with him; and with adulterers thy portion thou madest."(9) Deriving his instructions, therefore, from hence, the apostle too says: "I wrote to you in the Epistle, not to be mingled up with fornicators: not, of course, with the fornicators of this world"--and so forth--" else it behoved you to go out from the world. But now I write to you, if any is named a brother among you, (being) a fornicator, or an idolater" (for what so intimately joined?), "or a defrauder" (for what so near akin?), and so on, "with such to take no food even,"(10) not to say the Eucharist: because, to wit, withal "a little leaven spoileth the flavour of the whole lump."(11) Again to Timotheus: "Lay hands on no one hastily, nor communicate with others' sins."(12) Again to the Ephesians: "Be not, then, partners with them: for ye were at one time darkness."(13) And yet more earnestly: "Communicate not with the unfruitful works of darkness; nay rather withal convict them. For (the things) which are done by them in secrecy it is disgraceful even to utter."(14) What more disgraceful than immodesties? If, moreover, even from a "brother" who "walketh idly"(15) he warns the Thessalonians to withdraw themselves, how much more withal from a fornicator! For these are the deliberate judgments of Christ, "loving the Church," who "hath delivered Him self up for her, that He may sanctify her (purifying her utterly by the layer of water) in the word, that He may present the Church to Him self glorious, not having stain or wrinkle"--of course after the laver--"but (that) she may be holy and without reproach;"(16) thereafter, to wit, being "without wrinkle" as a virgin, "without stain" (of fornication) as a spouse, "without disgrace" (of vileness), as having been "utterly purified."

What if, even here, you should conceive to reply that communion is indeed denied to sinners, very especially such as had been "polluted by the flesh,"(17) but (only) for the present; to be restored, to wit, as the result of penitential suing: in accordance with that clemency of God which prefers a sinner's repentance to his death?(18)--for this fundamental ground of your opinion must be universally attacked. We say, accordingly, that if it had been competent to the Divine clemency to have guaranteed the demonstration of itself even to the post-baptismally lapsed, the apostle would have said thus: "Communicate not with the works of darkness, unless they shall have repented;" and, "With such take not food even, unless after they shall have wiped, with rolling at their feet, the shoes of the brethren;" and, "Him who shall have marred the temple of God, shall God mar, unless he shall have shaken off from his head in the church the ashes of all hearths." For it had been his duty, in the case of those things which he had condemned, to have equally determined the extent to which he had (and that conditionally) condemned them--whether he had condemned them with a temporary and conditional, and not a perpetual, seventy. However, since in all Epistles he both prohibits such a character, (so sinning) after believing, from being admitted (to the society of believers); and, if admitted, detrudes him from communion, without hope of any condition or time; he sides more with our opinion, pointing out that the repentance which the Lord prefers is that which before believing, before baptism, is esteemed better than the death of the sinner,--(the sinner, I say,) once for all to be washed through the grace of Christ, who once for all has suffered death for our sins. For this (rule), even in his own person, the apostle has laid down. For, when affirming that Christ came for this end, that He might save sinners,(1) of whom himself had been the "first," what does he add? "And I obtained mercy, because I did (so) ignorantly in unbelief."(2) Thus that clemency of God, preferring the repentance of a sinner to his death, looks at such as are ignorant still, and still unbelieving, for the sake of whose liberation Christ came; not (at such) as already know God, and have learnt the sacrament of the faith. But if the clemency of God is applicable to such as are ignorant still, and unbelieving, of course it follows that repentance invites clemency to itself; without prejudice to that species of repentance after believing, which either, for lighter sins, will be able to obtain pardon from the bishop, or else, for greater and irremissible ones, from God only.(3)


But how far (are we to treat) of Paul; since even John appears to give some secret countenance to the opposite side? as if in the Apocalypse he has manifestly assigned to fornication the auxiliary aid of repentance, where, to the angel of the Thyatirenes, the Spirit sends a message that He "hath against him that he kept (in communion) the woman Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophet, and teacheth,(4) and seduceth my servants unto fornicating and eating of idolsacrifice. And I gave her bounteously a space of time, that she might enter upon repentance; nor is she willing to enter upon it on the count of fornication. Behold, I will give her into a bed, and her adulterers with herself into greatest pressure, unless they shall have repented of her works."(5) I am content with the fact that, between apostles, there is a common agreement in rules of faith and of discipline. For, "Whether (it be) I," says (Paul), "or they, thus we preach."(6) Accordingly, it is material to the interest of the whole sacrament to believe nothing conceded by John, which has been taffy refused by Paul. This harmony of the Holy Spirit whoever observes, shall by Him be conducted into His meanings. For (the angel of the Thyatirene Church) was secretly introducing into the Church, and urging justly to repentance, an heretical woman, who had taken upon herself to teach what she had learnt from the Nicolaitans. For who has a doubt that an heretic, deceived by (a spurious baptismal) rite, upon discovering his mischance, and expiating it by repentance, both attains pardon and is restored to the bosom of the Church? Whence even among us, as being on a par with an heathen, nay even more than heathen, an heretic likewise, (such an one) is purged through the baptism of truth from each character,(7) and admitted (to the Church). Or else, if you are certain that that woman had, after a living faith, subsequently expired, and turned heretic, in order that you may claim pardon as the result of repentance, not as it were for an heretical, but as it were for a believing, sinner: let her, I grant, repent; but with the view of ceasing from adultery, not however in the prospect of restoration (to Church-fellowship) as well. For this will be a repentance which we, too, acknowledge to be due much more (than you do); but which we reserve, for pardon, to God.(8)

In short, this Apocalypse, in its later passages, has assigned "the infamous and fornicators," as well as "the cowardly, and unbelieving, and murderers, and sorcerers, and idolaters," who have been guilty of any such crime while professing the faith, to "the lake of fire,"(9) without any conditional condemnation. For it will not appear to savour of (a bearing upon) heathens, since it has (just) pronounced with regard to believers, "They who shall have conquered shall have this inheritance; and I will be to them a God, and they to me for sons;" and so has subjoined: "But to the cowardly, and unbelieving, and infamous, and fornicators, and murderers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, (shall be) a share in the lake of fire and sulphur, which (lake) is the second death." Thus, too, again "Blessed they who act according to the precepts, that they may have power over the tree of life and over the gates, for entering into the holy city. Dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, out!"(1)--of course, such as do not act according to the precepts; for to be sent out is the portion of those who have been within. Moreover "What have I to do to judge them who are without?"(2) had preceded (the sentences now in question).

From the Epistle also of John they forthwith cull (a proof). It is said: "The blood of His Son purifieth us utterly from every sin."(3) Always then, and in every form, we will sin, if always and from every sin He utterly purifies us; or else, if not always, not again after believing; and if not from sin, not again from fornication. But what is the point whence (John) has started? He had predicated "God" to be "Light," and that "darkness is not in Him," and that "we lie if we say that we have communion with Him, and walk in darkness."(4) "If, however," he sap, "we walk in the light, we shall have communion with Him, and the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord purifieth us utterly from every sin."(5) Walking, then, in the light, do we sin? and, sinning in the light, shall we be utterly purified? By no means. For he who sins is not in the light, but in darkness. Whence, too, he points out the mode in which we shall be utterly purified from sin--(by) "walking in the light," in which sin cannot be committed. Accordingly, the sense in which he says we "are utterly purified" is, not in so far as we sin, but in so far as we do not sin. For, "walking in the light," but not having communion with darkness, we shall act as they that are "utterly purified;" sin not being quite laid down, but not being wittingly committed. For this is the virtue of the Lord's blood, that such as it has already purified from sin, and thenceforward has set "in the light," it renders thenceforward pure, if they shall continue to persevere walking in the light. "But he subjoins," you say, "'If we say that we have not sin, we are seducing ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, faithful and just is He to remit them to us, and utterly purify us from every unrighteousness.'"(6) Does he say "from impurity?" (No): or else, if that is so, then (He "utterly purifies" us) from "idolatry" too. But there is a difference in the sense. For see yet again: "If we say," he says, "that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."(7) All the more fully: "Little children, these things have I written to you, lest ye sin; and if ye shall have sinned, an Advocate we have with God the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and, He is the propitiation for our sins."(8) "According to these words," you say, "it will be admitted both that we sin, and that we have pardon." What, then, will become (of your theory), when, proceeding (with the Epistle), I find something different? For he affirms that we do not sin at all; and to this end he treats at large, that he may make no such concession; setting forth that sins have been once for all deleted by Christ, not subsequently to obtain pardon; in which statement the sense requires us (to apply the statement) to an admonition to chastity. "Every one," he says, "who hath this hope, maketh himself chaste, because He too is chaste. Every one who doeth sin, doeth withal iniquity;(9) and sin is iniquity.(10) And ye know that He hath been manifested to take away sins"--henceforth, of course, to be no more incurred, if it is true, (as it is,) that he subjoins, "Every one who abideth in Him sinneth not; every one who sinneth neither hath seen nor knoweth Him. Little children, let none seduce you. Every one who doeth righteousness is righteous, as He withal is righteous. He who doeth sin is of the devil, inasmuch as the devil sinneth from the beginning. For unto this end was manifested the Son of God, to undo the works of the devil:" for He has "undone" them withal, by setting man free through baptism, the "handwriting of death" having been "made a gift of" to him:" and accordingly, "he who is being born of God doeth not sin, because the seed of God abideth in him; and he cannot sin, because he hath been born of God. Herein are manifest the sons of God and the sons of the devil."(12) Wherein? except it be (thus): the former by not sinning, from the time that they were born from God; the latter by sinning, because they are from the devil, just as if they never were born from God? But if he says, "He who is not righteous is not of God,"(13) how shall he who is not modest again become (a son) of God, who has already ceased to be so?

"It is therefore nearly equivalent to saying that John has forgotten himself; asserting, in the former part of his Epistle, that we are not without sin, but now prescribing that we do not sin at all: and in the one case flattering us somewhat with hope of pardon, but in the other assetting with all stringency, that whoever may have sinned are no sons of God." But away with (the thought): for not even we ourselves forget the distinction between sins, which was the starting-point of our digression. And (a right distinction it was); for John has here sanctioned it; in that there are some sins of daily committal, to which we all are liable: for who will be free from the accident of either being angry unjustly, and retaining his anger beyond sunset;(1) or else even using manual violence or else carelessly speaking evil; or else rashly swearing; or else forfeiting his plighted word or else lying, from bashfulness or "necessity?" In businesses, in official duties, in trade, in food, in sight, in hearing, by how great temptations are we plied! So that, if there were no pardon for such sins as these, salvation would be unattainable to any. Of these, then, there will be pardon, through the successful Suppliant of the Father, Christ. But there are, too, the contraries of these; as the graver and destructive ones, such as are incapable of pardon--murder, idolatry, fraud, apostasy, blasphemy; (and), of come, too, adultery and fornication; and if there be any other "violation of the temple of God." For these Christ will no more be the successful Header: these will not at all be incurred by one who has been born of God, who will cease to be the son of God if he do incur them.

Thus John's rule of diversity will be established; arranging as he does a distinction of sins, while he now admits and now denies that the sons of God sin. For (in making these assertions) he was looking forward to the final clause of his letter, and for that (final clause) he was laying his preliminary bases; intending to say, in the end, more manifestly: "If any knoweth his brother to be sinning a sin not unto death, he shall make request, and the Lord shall give life to him who sinneth not unto death. For there is a sin unto death: not concerning that do I say that one should make request."(2) He, too, (as I have been), was mindful that Jeremiah had been prohibited by God to deprecate (Him) on behalf of a people which was committing mortal sins. "Every unrighteousness is sin; and there is a sin unto death.(3) But we know that every one who hath been born of God sinneth not"(4)--to wit, the sin which is unto death. Thus there is no course left for you, but either to deny that adultery and fornication are mortal sins; or else to confess them irremissible, for which it is not permitted even to make successful intercession.


The discipline, therefore, of the apostles properly (so called), indeed, instructs and determinately directs, as a principal point, the overseer of all sanctity as regards the temple of God to the universal eradication of every sacrilegious outrage upon modesty, without any mention of restoration. I wish, however, redundantly to superadd the testimony likewise of one particular comrade of the apostles,--(a testimony) aptly suited for confirming, by most proximate right, the discipline of his masters. For there is extant withal an Epistle to the Hebrews under the name of Barnabas--a man sufficiently accredited by God, as being one whom Paul has stationed next to himself in the uninterrupted observance of abstinence: "Or else, I alone and Barnabas, have not we the power of working?"(5) And, of course, the Episfie of Barnabas is more generally received among the Churches than that apocryphal "Shepherd" of adulterers. Warning, accordingly, the disciples to omit all first principles, and strive rather after perfection, and not lay again the foundations of repentance from the works of the dead, he says: "For impossible it is that they who have once been illuminated, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have participated in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the word of God and found it sweet, when they shall--their age already setting--have fallen away, should be again recalled unto repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and dishonouring Him."(6) "For the earth which hath drunk the rain often descending upon it, and hath borne grass apt for them on whose account it is tilled withal, attaineth God's blessing; but if it bring forth thorns, it is reprobate, and nighest to cursing, whose end is (doomed) unto utter burning."(7) He who learnt this from aposties, and taught it with apostles, never knew of any "second repentance" promised by apostles to the adulterer and fornicator.

For excellently was he wont to interpret the law, and keep its figures even in (the dispensation of) the Truth itself. It was with a reference, in short, to this species of discipline that the caution was taken in the case of the leper: "But if the speckled appearance shall have become efflorescent over the skin, and shall have covered the whole skin from the head even unto the feet through all the visible surface, then the priest, when he shall have seen, shall utterly cleanse him: since he hath wholly turned into white he is clean. But on the day that there shall have been seen in such an one quick colour, he is defiled.", (The Law) would have the man who is wholly turned from the pristine habit of the flesh to the whiteness of faith--which (faith) is esteemed a defect and blemish in (the eyes of) the world(2)--and is wholly made new, to be understood to be "clean;" as being no longer "speckled," no longer dappled with the pristine and the new (intermixt). If, however, after the reversal (of the sentence of uncleanness), ought of the old nature shall have revived with its tendencies, that which was beginning to be thought utterly dead to sin in his flesh must again be judged unclean, and must no more be expiated by the priest. Thus adultery, sprouting again from the pristine stock, and wholly blemishing the unity of the new colour from which it had been excluded, is a defect that admits of no cleansing. Again, in the case of a house: if any spots and cavities in the party-walls had been reported to the priest, before he entered to inspect that house he bids all (its contents) be taken away from it; thus the belongings of the house would not be unclean. Then the priest, if, upon entering, he had found greenish or reddish cavities, and their appearance to the sight deeper down within the body of the party-wall, was to go out to the gate, and separate the house for a period within seven days. Then, upon returning on the seventh day, if he should have perceived the taint to have become diffused in the party-walls, he was to order those stones in which the taint of the leprosy had been to be extracted and cast away outside the city into an unclean place; and other stones, polished and sound, to be taken and replaced in the stead of the first, and the house to be plastered with other mortar.(3) For, in coming to the High Priest of the Father--Christ--all impediments must first be taken away, in the space of a week, that the house which remains, the flesh and the soul, may be clean; and when the Word of God has entered it, and has found "stains of red and green," forthwith must the deadly and sanguinary passions "be extracted" and "cast away" out of doors--for the Apocalypse wtthal has set "death" upon a "green horse," but a "warrior" upon a "red"(4)--and in their stead must be under-strewn stones polished and apt for conjunction, and firm,--such as are made (by God) into (sons) of Abraham,(5)--that thus the man may be fit for God. But if, after the recovery and reformation, the priest again perceived in the same house ought of the pristine disorders and blemishes, he pronounced it unclean, and bade the timbers, and the stones, and all the structure of it, to be pulled down, and cast away into an unclean place.(6) This will be the man --flesh and soul--who, subsequently to reformation, after baptism and the entrance of the priests, again resumes the scabs and stains of the flesh, and "is case away outside the city into an unclean place,"--" surrendered," to wit, "to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,"--and is no more rebuilt in the Church after his ruin. So, too, with regard to lying with a female slave, who had been betrothed to an husband, but not yet redeemed, not yet set free: "provision," says (the Law), shall be made for her, and she shall not die, because she was not yet manumitted for him for whom she was being kept.(7) For flesh not yet manumitted to Christ, for whom it was being kept,(8) used to be contaminated with impunity: so now, after manumission, it no more receives pardon.


If the apostles understood these (figurative meanings of the Law) better, of course they were more careful (with regard to them than even apostolic men). But I will descend even to this point of contest now, making a separation between the doctrine of apostles and their power. Discipline governs a man, power sets a seal upon him; apart from the fact that power is the Spirit, but the Spirit is God. What, moreover, used (the Spirit) to teach? That there must be no communicating with the works of darkness.(9) Observe what He bids. Who, moreover, was able to forgive sins? This is His alone prerogative: for "who remitteth sins but God alone?"(10) and, of course, (who but He can remit) mortal sins, such as have been committed against Himself,(11) and against His temple? For, as far as you are concerned, such as are chargeable with offence against you personally, you are commanded, in the person of Peter, to forgive even seventy times sevenfold.(12) And so, if it were agreed that even the blessed apostles had granted any such indulgence (to any crime) the pardon of which (comes) from God, not from man, it would be competent (for them) to have done so, not in the exercise of discipline, but of power. For they both raised the dead,(13) which God alone (can do), and restored the debilitated to their integrity,(14) which none but Christ (can do); nay, they infflicted plagues too, which Christ would not do.

For it did not beseem Him to be severe who had come to suffer. Smitten were both Ananias(1) and Elymas(2)--Ananias with death, Elymas with blindness--in order that by this very fact it might be proved that Christ had had the power of doing even such (miracles). So, too, had the prophets (of old) granted to the repentant the pardon of murder, and therewith of adultery, inasmuch as they gave, at the same time, manifest proofs of seventy.(3) Exhibit therefore even now to me,(4) apostolic sir, prophetic evidences, that I may recognise your divine virtue, and vindicate to yourself the power of remitting such sins! If, however, you have had the functions of discipline alone allotted you, and (the duty) of presiding not imperially, but ministerially;(5) who or how great are you, that you should grant indulgence, who, by exhibiting neither the prophetic nor the apostolic character, lack that virtue whose property it is to indulge?

"But," you say, "the Church has the power of forgiving sins." This I acknowledge and adjudge more (than you; I) who have the Paraclete Himself in the persons of the new prophets, saying, "The Church has the power to forgive sins; but I will not do it, lest they commit others withal." "What if a pseudo-prophetic spirit has made that declaration?" Nay, but it would have been more the part of a subverter on the one hand to commend himself on the score of clemency, and on the other to influence all others to sin. Or if, again, (the pseudo-prophetic spirit) has been eager to affect this (sentiment) in accordance with "the Spirit of truth,"(6) it follows that "the Spirit of truth" has indeed the power of indulgently granting pardon to fornicators, but wills not to do it if it involve evil to the majority.

I now inquire into your opinion, (to see) from what source you usurp this right to "the Church."

If, because the Lord has said to Peter, "Upon this rock will I build My Church,"(7) "to thee have I given the keys of the heavenly kingdom;" (8) or, "Whatsoever thou shale have bound or loosed in earth, shall be bound or loosed in the heavens,"(9) you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has derived to you, that is, to every Church akin to Peter, what sort of man are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, conferring (as that intention did) this (gift) personally upon Peter? "On thee," He says, "will I build My Church; "and," I will give to thee the keys," not to the Church; and, "Whatsoever thou shall have based or bound," not what they shall have loosed or bound. For so withal the result teaches. In (Peter) himself the Church was reared; that is, through (Peter) himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what (key): "Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you," and so forth.(10) (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ's baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which (kingdom) are "loosed" the sins that were beforetime "bound;" and those which have not been "loosed" are "bound," in accordance with true salvation; and Ananias he "bound" with the bond of death, and the weak in his feet he "absolved" from his defect of health. Moreover, in that dispute about the observance or non-observance of the Law, Peter was the first of all to be endued with the Spirit, and, after making preface touching the calling of the nations, to say, "And now why are ye tempting the Lord, concerning the imposition upon the brethren of a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to support? But however, through the grace of Jesus we believe that we shall be saved m the same way as they."(11) This sentence both "loosed" those parts of the law which were abandoned, and "bound" those which were reserved. Hence the power of loosing and of binding committed to Peter had nothing to do with the capital sins of believers; and if the Lord had given him a precept that he must grant pardon to a brother sinning against him even "seventy times sevenfold," of course He would have commanded him to "bind"--that is, to "retain"(12)--nothing subsequently, unless perchance such (sins) as one may have committed against the Lord, not against a brother. For the forgiveness of (sins) committed in the case of a man is a prejudgment against the remission of sins against God.

What, now, (has this to do) with the Church, and) your (church), indeed, Psychic? For, in accordance with the person of Peter, it is to spiritual men that this power will correspondently appertain, either to an apostle or else to a prophet. For the very Church itself is, properly and principally, the Spirit Himself, in whom is the Trinity of the One Divinity--Father, Son. and Holy Spirit.(13) (The Spirit) combines that Church which the Lord has made to consist in "three." And thus, from that time forward,(14) every number (of persons) who may have combined together into this faith is accounted "a Church," from the Author and Consecrator (of the Church). And accordingly "the Church," it is true, will forgive sins: but (it will be) the Church of the Spirit, by means of a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops. For the right and arbitrament is the Lord's, not the servant's; God's Himself, not the priest's.


But you go so far as to lavish this "power" upon martyrs withal! No sooner has any one, acting on a preconceived arrangement, put on the bonds--(bonds), moreover, which, in the nominal custody now in vogue,(1) are soft ones--than adulterers beset him, fornicators gain access to him; instantly prayers echo around him; instantly pools of tears (from the eyes) of all the polluted surround him; nor are there any who are more diligent in purchasing entrance into the prison than they who have lost(the fellowship of) the Church! Men and women are violated in the darkness with which the habitual indulgence of lusts has plainly familiarized them; and they seek peace at the hands of those who are risking their own! Others betake them to the mines, and return, in the character of communicants, from thence, where by this time another "martyrdom" is necessary for sins committed after "martyrdom." "Well, who on earth and in the flesh is faultless?" What "martyr" (continues to be) an inhabitant of the world(2) supplicating? pence in hand? subject to physician and usurer? Suppose, now, (your "martyr") beneath the glaive, with head already steadily poised; suppose him on the cross, with body already outstretched; suppose him at the stake, with the lion already let loose; suppose him on the axle, with the fire already heaped; in the very certainty, I say, and possession of martyrdom: who permits man to condone (offences) which are to be reserved for God, by whom those (offfences) have been condemned without discharge, which not even apostles (so far as I know)--martyrs withal themselves--have judged condonable? In short, Paul had already "fought with beasts at Ephesus," when he decreed "destruction" to the incestuous person.(3) Let it suffice to the martyr to have purged his own sins: it is the part of ingratitude or of pride to lavish upon others also what one has obtained at a high price. (4) Who has redeemed another's death by his own, but the Son of God alone? For even in His very passion He set the robber free.(5) For to this end had He come, that, being Himself pure from sin,(6) and in all respects holy,(7) He might undergo death on behalf of sinners.(8) Similarly, you who emulate Him in condoning sins, if you yourself have done no sin, plainly suffer in my stead. If, however, you are a sinner, how will the oil of your puny torch be able to suffice for you and for me?(9)

I have, even now, a test whereby to prove (the presence of) Christ (in you). If Christ is in the martyr for this reason, that the martyr may absolve adulterers and fornicators, let Him tell publicly the secrets of the heart, that He may thus concede (pardon to) sins; and He is Christ. For thus it was that the Lord Jesus Christ showed His power: "Why think ye evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Thy sins are remitted thee; or, Rise and walk? Therefore, that ye may know the Son of man to have the power upon earth of remitting sins, I say to thee, paralytic, Rise, and walk."(10) If the Lord set so much store by the proof of His power as to reveal thoughts, and so impart health by His command, lest He should not be believed to have the power of remitting sins; it is not lawful for me to believe the same power (to reside) in any one, whoever he be, without the same proofs. In the act, however, of urgently entreating from a martyr pardon for adulterers and fornicators, you yourself confess that crimes of that nature are not to be washed away except by the martyrdom of the criminal himself, while you presume (they can be washed away) by another's If this is so, then martyrdom will be another baptism. For "I have withal," saith He, "another baptism."(11) Whence, too, it was that there flowed out of the wound in the Lord's side water and blood, the materials of either baptism? I ought, then, by the first baptism too to (have the fight of) setting another free if I can by the second: and we must necessarily force upon the mind (of our opponents this conclusion): Whatever authority, whatever reason, restores ecclesiastical peace to the adulterer and fornicator, the same will be bound to come to the aid of the murderer and idolater in their repentance,--at all events, of the apostate, and of course of him whom, in the battle of his confession, after hard struggling with torments, savagery has overthrown. Besides, it were unworthy of God and of His mercy, who prefers the repentance of a sinner to his death, that they should have easier return into (the bosom of) the Church who have fallen in heat of passion, than they who have fallen in hand-to-hand combat.(1) Indignation urges us to speak. Contaminated bodies you will recall rather than gory ones! Which repentance is more pitiable--that which prostrates tickled flesh, or lacerated? Which pardon is, in all causes, more justly concessible--that which a voluntary, or that which an involuntary, sinner implores? No one is compelled with his will to apostatize; no one against his will commits fornication. Lust is exposed to no violence, except itself: it knows no coercion whatever. Apostasy, on the contrary, what ingenuities of butchery and tribes of penal inflictions enforce! Which has more truly apostatized--he who has lost Christ amid agonies, or (he who has done so) amid delights? he who when losing Him grieved, or he who when losing Him sported? And yet those scars graven on the Christian combatant--scars, of course, enviable in the eyes of Christ, because they yearned after Conquest, and thus also glorious, because failing to conquer they yielded; (scars) after which even the devil himself yet sighs; (scars) with an infelicity of their own, but a chaste one, with a repentance that mourns, but blushes not, to the Lord for pardon--will anew be remitted to such, because their apostasy was expiable! In their case alone is the "flesh weak." Nay, no flesh so strong as that which crushes out the Spirit!

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