On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

heart are saved in the unity of the ark through the same water, through which all who are in heart
without, whether they are also in body without or not, die as enemies of unity. As therefore it was
not another but the same water that saved those who were placed within the ark, and destroyed
those who were left without the ark, so it is not by different baptisms, but by the same, that good
Catholics are saved, and bad Catholics or heretics perish. But what the most blessed Cyprian thinks
of the Catholic Church, and how the heretics are utterly crushed by his authority; notwithstanding
the much I have already said, I have yet determined to set forth by itself, if God will, with somewhat
greater fullness and perspicuity, so soon as I shall have first said about his Council what I think is
due from me, which, in God’s will, I shall attempt in the following book.

479

Book VI.
In which is considered the Council of Carthage, held under the authority and presidency of Cyprian,
to determine the question of the baptism of heretics.
Chapter 1.—1. It might perhaps have been sufficient, that after the reasons have been so often
repeated, and considered, and discussed with such variety of treatment, supplemented too, with the
addition of proofs from holy Scripture, and the concurrent testimony of so many passages from
Cyprian himself, even those who are slow of heart should thus understand, as I believe they do,
that the baptism of Christ cannot be rendered void by any perversity on the part of man, whether
in administering or receiving it. And when we find that in those times, when the point in question
was decided in a manner contrary to ancient custom, after discussions carried on without violation
of saving charity and unity, it appeared to some even eminent men who were bishops of Christ,
among whom the blessed Cyprian was specially conspicuous, that the baptism of Christ could not
exist among heretics or schismatics, this simply arose from their not distinguishing the sacrament
from the effect or use of the sacrament; and because its effect and use were not found among heretics
in freeing them from their sins and setting their hearts right, the sacrament itself was also thought
to be wanting among them. But if we turn our eyes to the multitude of chaff within the Church,
since these also who are perverse and lead an abandoned life in unity itself appear to have no power
either of giving or retaining remission of sins, seeing that it is not to the wicked but the good sons
that it was said, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins
ye retain, they are retained,"1582 yet that such persons both have, and give, and receive the sacrament
of baptism, was sufficiently manifest to the pastors of the Catholic Church dispersed over the whole
world, through whom the original custom was afterwards confirmed by the authority of a plenary

1582

John xx. 23.

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