THE STATE'S RELATIONS TO RELIGION. 473 $257. The power of the state to legislate in this sphere was un- opmions after the questioned, and its use, as we have seen, con- rise of Christianity. stant QR one occasion^ however, after Chris- tianity had acquired a strong foothold in Africa, a heretical sect almost struck out a new theory of the relations between church and state. The Donatists in Africa, having separated from and denounced the orthodox church on the ground that it allowed persons who had given up the sacred books in Diocletian's persecution to administer baptism and other rites, and had thus acknowledged that the outward form in their hands was valid; a great controversy was kindled, and, at length, the civil power intervened. From mildness the offi- cers of the state passed over to persecution of the Donatists, first under Constans (A.D. 347), afterwards under Honorius (414), when Augustin approved of the resort to violence.* The Donatists, under their sense of injury, appear to have discovered and proclaimed the wrong of using force in mat- ters pertaining to opinion, and to have approached the prin- ciple of a separation between church and state. Neander (ii., 212, Torrey's Transl.) remarks that "the point of view first set forth in a clear light by Christianity, when it made religion the common good of all mankind and raised it up above all political restrictions, was by the Donatists manfully asserted, in opposition to a theory of ecclesiastical rights at variance with the spirit of the gospel, and which had sprung up out of a new mixture of ecclesiastical with political interests. They could not succeed so well in unfolding the relations of the church to the state [as in opposing force in religion], for here they easily passed over from one extreme to the other. If * In a lost work, centra part. Donati^ lib. ii.. he had said that " he did not approve of heretics being forced into communion by the secular power." Now (retract^ ii., 5), he gives as a reason for his change of opinion, that then he had not learned by experience how much evil they would dare to do, owing to their impunity, nor how- much they would be benefited by "diligent discipline."