On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

made manifest, by a plenary Council many years afterwards, what was the more perfect way, and
that not by the institution of any novelty, but by confirming what was old.

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Chapter 23.—31. Cyprian writes also to Pompeius1542 about this selfsame matter, and clearly
shows in that letter that Stephen, who, as we learn, was then bishop of the Roman Church, not only
did not agree with him upon the points before us, but even wrote and taught the opposite views.
But Stephen certainly did not "communicate with heretics,"1543 merely because he did not dare to
impugn the baptism of Christ, which he knew remained perfect in the midst of their perversity.
For if none have baptism who entertain false views about God, it has been proved sufficiently, in
my opinion, that this may happen even within the Church. "The apostles," indeed, "gave no
injunctions on the point;"1544 but the custom, which is opposed to Cyprian, may be supposed to have
had its origin in apostolic tradition, just as there are many things which are observed by the whole
Church, and therefore are fairly held to have been enjoined by the apostles, which yet are not
mentioned in their writings.
32. But it will be urged that it is written of heretics that "they are condemned of themselves."1545
What then? are they not also condemned of themselves to whom it was said, "For wherein thou
judgest another, thou condemnest thyself?"1546 But to these the apostle says, "Thou that preachest
a man should not steal, dost thou steal?"1547 and so forth. And such truly were they who, being
bishops and established in Catholic unity with Cyprian himself, used to plunder estates by treacherous
frauds, preaching all the time to the people the words of the apostle, who says, "Nor shall extortioners
inherit the kingdom of God."1548
33. Wherefore I will do no more than run shortly through the other sentiments founded on the
same rules, which are in the aforesaid letter written to Pompeius. By what authority of holy Scripture
is it shown that "it is against the commandment of God that persons coming from the society of
heretics, if they have already there received the baptism of Christ, are not baptized again?"1549 But
it is clearly shown that many pretended Christians, though they are not joined in the same bond of
charity with the saints, without which anything holy that they may have been able to possess is of

1542

Cypr. Ep. lxxiv., which is examined by Augustin in the remaining chapters of this book.

1543

Cypr. Ep.lxxiv. 2.

1544

Cypr. Ep.lxxiv. 2.

1545

Tit. iii. 11.

1546

Rom. ii. 1.

1547

Rom. ii. 21.

1548

1 Cor. vi. 10.

1549

Cypr. Ep. lxxiv. 4.

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