On Baptism, Against The Donatists

The Seven Books of Augustin, Bishop of Hippo, On Baptism, Against the Donatists

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

opinion of his, wherein it seemed to him that those who came from among heretics were to be
received otherwise than either they had been in former days, as he himself bears witness, or are
now received, as is the reasonable custom, confirmed by a plenary Council of the whole Christian
world, do I set against him my own view, but that of the holy Catholic Church, which he so loved
and loves, in which he brought forth such abundant fruit with tolerance, whose entirety he himself
was not, but in whose entirety he remained; whose root he never left, but, though he already brought
forth fruit from its root, he was purged by the heavenly Husbandman that he should bring forth
more fruit;1516 for whose peace and safety, that the wheat might not be rooted out together with the
tares, he both reproved with the freedom of truth, and endured with the grace of charity, so many
evils on the part of men who were placed in unity with himself.

Chapter 18.—24. Whence Cyprian himself1517 again admonishes us with the greatest fullness,
that many who were dead in their trespasses and sins, although they did not belong to the body of
Christ, and the members of that innocent and guileless dove (so that if she alone baptized, they
certainly could not baptize), yet to all appearance seemed both to be baptized and to baptize within
the Church. And among them, however dead they are, their baptism nevertheless lives, which is
not dead, and death shall have no more dominion over it. Since, therefore, there be dead men within
the Church, nor are they concealed, for else Cyprian would not have spoken of them so much, who
either do not belong at all to that living dove, or at least do not as yet belong to her; and since there
be dead men without, who yet more clearly do not belong to her at all, or not as yet; and since it is
true that "another man cannot be quickened by one who himself liveth not,"—it is therefore clear
that those who within are baptized by such persons, if they approach the sacrament with true
conversion of heart, are quickened by Him whose baptism it is. But if they renounce the world in
word and not in deed, as Cyprian declares to be the case with some who are within, it is then manifest
that they are not themselves quickened unless they be converted, and yet that they have true baptism
even though they be not converted. Whence also it is likewise clear that those who are dead without,
although they neither "live themselves, nor quicken others," yet have the living baptism, which
would profit them unto life so soon as they should be converted unto peace.

Chapter 19.—25. Wherefore, as regards those who received the persons who came from heresy
in the same baptism of Christ with which they had been baptized outside the Church, and said "that
they followed ancient custom," as indeed the Church now receives such, it is in vain urged against

John xv. 2.


In this and the following chapter, Augustin is examining the seventy-first epistle of Cyprian to his brother Quintas, bishop
in Mauritania. Here LXXI. 1.