Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter 87.—190.  Petilianus said:  "For neither has the Lord God at any time rejoiced in human blood, seeing that He was even willing that Cain, the murderer of his brother, should continue to exist in his murderer’s life."

191.  Augustin answered:  If God was unwilling that death should be inflicted on him who slew his brother, preferring that he should continue to exist in his murderer’s life, see whether this be not the cause why, seeing that the heart of the king is in the hand of God, whereby he has himself enacted many laws for your correction and reproof, yet no law of the king has commanded that you should be put to death, perhaps with this very object, that any one of you who persists in the obstinate self-will of his sacrilegious madness should be tortured with the punishment of the fratricide Cain, that is to say, with the life of a murderer.  For we read that many were slain in mercy by Moses the servant of the Lord; for in that he prayed thus in intercession to the Lord for their wicked sacrilege, saying, "O Lord, if Thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which Thou hast written,"  2208 his unspeakable charity and mercy are plainly shown.  Could it be, then, that he was suddenly changed to cruelty, when, on descending from the mount, he ordered so many thousands to be slain?  Consider, therefore, whether it may not be a sign of greater anger on the part of God, that, whilst so many laws have been enacted against you, you have not been ordered by any emperor to be put to death.  Or do you think that you are not to be compared to that fratricide?  Hearken to the Lord speaking through His prophet:  "From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering; for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of hosts." 2209   On this brother’s sacrifice you show that you look with malignant eyes, over and above the respect which God pays to it; and if ye have ever heard that "from the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised," 2210 which is that living sacrifice of which it is said, "Offer unto God thanksgiving," 2211 then will your countenance fall like that of yonder murderer.  But inasmuch as you cannot kill the whole world, you are involved in the same guilt by your mere hatred, according to the words of John, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer." 2212   And I would that any innocent brother might rather fall into the hands of your Circumcelliones, to be murdered by their weapons, than be subjected to the poison of your tongue and rebaptized.



Ex. xxxii. 28-32.


Mal. i. 11.


Ps. cxiii. 3.


Ps. l. 14.


1 John iii. 15.

Next: Chapter 88