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Chapter V.—Of Manichæus Pertinaciously Teaching False Doctrines, and Proudly Arrogating to Himself the Holy Spirit.

8. But yet who was it that ordered Manichæus to write on these things likewise, skill in which was not necessary to piety? For Thou hast told man to behold piety and wisdom, 386 of which he might be in ignorance although having a complete knowledge of these other things; but since, knowing not these things, he yet most impudently dared to teach them, it is clear that he had no acquaintance with piety. For even when we have a knowledge of these worldly matters, it is folly to make a profession of them; but confession to Thee is piety. It was therefore with this view that this straying one spake much of these matters, that, standing convicted by those who had in truth learned them, the understanding that he really had in those more difficult things might be made plain. For he wished not to be lightly esteemed, but went about trying to persuade men “that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter and Enricher of Thy faithful ones, was with full authority personally resident in him.” 387 When, therefore, it was disp. 82 covered that his teaching concerning the heavens and stars, and the motions of sun and moon, was false, though these things do not relate to the doctrine of religion, yet his sacrilegious arrogance would become sufficiently evident, seeing that not only did he affirm things of which he knew nothing, but also perverted them, and with such egregious vanity of pride as to seek to attribute them to himself as to a divine being.

9. For when I hear a Christian brother ignorant of these things, or in error concerning them, I can bear with patience to see that man hold to his opinions; nor can I apprehend that any want of knowledge as to the situation or nature of this material creation can be injurious to him, so long as he does not entertain belief in anything unworthy of Thee, O Lord, the Creator of all. But if he conceives it to pertain to the form of the doctrine of piety, and presumes to affirm with great obstinacy that whereof he is ignorant, therein lies the injury. And yet even a weakness such as this in the dawn of faith is borne by our Mother Charity, till the new man may grow up “unto a perfect man,” and not be “carried about with every wind of doctrine.” 388 But in him who thus presumed to be at once the teacher, author, head, and leader of all whom he could induce to believe this, so that all who followed him believed that they were following not a simple man only, but Thy Holy Spirit, who would not judge that such great insanity, when once it stood convicted of false teaching, should be abhorred and utterly cast off? But I had not yet clearly ascertained whether the changes of longer and shorter days and nights, and day and night itself, with the eclipses of the greater lights, and whatever of the like kind I had read in other books, could be expounded consistently with his words. Should I have found myself able to do so, there would still have remained a doubt in my mind whether it were so or no, although I might, on the strength of his reputed godliness, 389 rest my faith on his authority.



Job 28.28 in LXX. reads: Ἰδοὺ ἡ θεοσέβεά ἐστι σοφία.


This claim of Manichæus was supported by referring to the Lord’s promise (John 16:12, 13) to send the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to guide the apostles into that truth which they were as yet “not able to bear.” The Manichæans used the words “Paraclete” and “Comforter,” as indeed the names of the other two persons of the blessed Trinity, in a sense entirely different from that of the gospel. These terms were little more than the bodily frame, the soul of which was his own heretical belief. Whenever opposition appeared between that belief and the teaching of Scripture, their ready answer was that the Scriptures had been corrupted (De Mor. Ecc. Cath. xxviii. and xxix.); and in such a case, as we find Faustus contending (Con. Faust. xxxii. 6), the Paraclete taught them what part to receive and what to reject, according to the promise of Jesus that He should “guide them into all truth,” and much more to the same effect. Augustin’s whole argument in reply is well worthy of attention. Amongst other things, he points out that the Manichæan pretension to having received the promised Paraclete was precisely the same as that of the Montanists in the previous century. It should be observed that Beausobre (Histoire, i. 254, 264, etc.) vigorously rebuts the charge brought against Manichæus of claiming to be the Holy Ghost. An interesting examination of the claims of Montanus will be found in Kaye’s Tertullian, pp. 13 to 33.


Eph. 4:13, 14.


See vi. sec. 12, note, below.

Next: Chapter VI