Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 27.--Infants Must Feed on Christ.
Will, however, any man be so bold as to say that this statement has no relation to infants, and that they can have life in them without partaking of His body and blood -- on the ground that He does not say, Except one eat, but |Except ye eat;| as if He were addressing those who were able to hear and to understand, which of course infants cannot do? But he who says this is inattentive; because, unless all are embraced in the statement, that without the body and the blood of the Son of man men cannot have life, it is to no purpose that even the elder age is solicitous of it. For if you attend to the mere words, and not to the meaning, of the Lord as He speaks, this passage may very well seem to have been spoken merely to the people whom He happened at the moment to be addressing; because He does not say, Except one eat; but Except ye eat. What also becomes of the statement which He makes in the same context on this very point: |The bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world?| For, it is according to this statement, that we find that sacrament pertains also to us, who were not in existence at the time the Lord spoke these words; for we cannot possibly say that we do not belong to |the world,| for the life of which Christ gave His flesh. Who indeed can doubt that in the term world all persons are indicated who enter the world by being born? For, as He says in another passage, |The children of this world beget and are begotten.| From all this it follows, that even for the life of infants was His flesh given, which He gave for the life of the world; and that even they will not have life if they eat not the flesh of the Son of man.