Part 4
Chapter 3—Of Original Sin

Section 18—Optatus Milevitanus. A.D. 370.

Optatus of Mileviowns the original corruption of human nature,[1] when he says, “Every man that is born, although he may be born of Christian parents, sine spiritu immundo esse non possit, ‘cannot be without an unclean spirit,' which must be excluded and separated from man before the salutary laver,” meaning baptism. He denies that men, or means, or ordinances, can of themselves remove the pollution of sin. “The filth and spots of the mind,” says he,[2] “none can wash but he who is the Maker of the mind.” Many other things are observed by him in the same chapter against the Donatists, who he thought took that to themselves which belonged to God. He indeed ascribes the willing of what is good to man, not to a natural man, but to a Christian man: mentioning the words of the apostle (1 John 1:8), “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” he makes this observation:[3] “He that said this wisely reserved himself for the grace of God; for it is of a Christian man to will that which is good, and to run in that which he wins well, but to man it is not given to perfect—for it is ours to win, it is ours to run, it is of God to perfect.”


[1] Adv. Parmen. 1.4, p. 92.

[2] Ibid. 1. 5, p. 103.

[3] Ibid. 1. 2, p. 51.