Part Three: The Pelagian Crisis (411–430)
Article 220: Aftermath of the Imperial Condemnation of Donatism
Aftermath of the Imperial Condemnation of Donatism
At the beginning of 412 Augustine was responding to Honoratus and composing De peccatorum meritis et remissione III (De baptismo paruulorum) to Marcellinus. He had written an abridgement of the conference of Carthage and had finished a letter to lay Donatists on the same conference.1 Without doubt the letter to the Donatists is the writing entitled Post collationem contra Donatistas.2 The letter is long and carefully written, addressed not to the Donatist bishops, but to their laity. In it Augustine refutes the calumnies and vain pretexts alleged by Donatist bishops for not submitting to Marcellinus’ judgment. In the abridgement Augustine noted what had occurred at the conference.3 The same subject is treated at less length in a later letter to the Council of Cirta or Zerthe, on June 14, 412.4
In the letter addressed to the Donatists, Augustine witnesses the Catholic resolve to pursue the Donatists and halt their violence by legal authority—words and instructions had not corrected them.5 Catholics were not at the point of blood-letting; on the contrary they were working to lighten the rigor and severity of imperial laws. Thus Augustine wrote after the law of January 30, 412.
Doubtless Marcellinus sent the emperor a report of the success of the conference, as the imperial commission had expressly charged him. The Donatists had also entreated the emperor for judgment. Honorius was obliged to speak. Possidius assures us he responded...