On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

Council; so that even the sheep which was straying outside, and had received the mark of the Lord
from false plunderers outside, if it seek the salvation of Christian unity, is purified from error, is
freed from captivity, is healed of its wound, and yet the mark of the Lord is recognized rather than
rejected in it; since the mark itself is often impressed both by wolves and on wolves, who seem
indeed to be within the fold, but yet are proved by the fruits of their conduct, in which they persevere
even to the end, not to belong to that sheep which is one in many; because, according to the
foreknowledge of God, as many sheep wander outside, so many wolves lurk treacherously within,
among whom the Lord yet knoweth them that are His, which hear only the voice of the Shepherd,
even when He calls by the voice of men like the Pharisees, of whom it was said, "Whatsoever they
bid you observe that observe and do."1583
2. For as the spiritual man, keeping "the end of the commandment," that is, "charity out of a
pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned,"1584 can see some things less clearly
out of a body which is yet "corruptible and presseth down the soul,"1585 and is liable to be otherwise
minded in some things which God will reveal1586 to him in His own good time if he abide in the
same charity, so in a carnal and perverse man something good and useful may be found, which has
its origin not in the man himself, but in some other source. For as in the fruitful branch there is
found something which must be purged that it may bring forth more fruit, so also a grape is often
found to hang on a cane that is barren and dry or fettered. And so, as it is foolish to love the portions
which require purging in the fruitful branch, while he acts wisely who does not reject the sweet
fruit wherever it may hang, so, if any one cuts himself off from unity by rebaptizing, simply because
it seemed to Cyprian that one ought to baptize again those who came from the heretics, such a man
turns aside from what merits praise in that great man, and follows what requires correction, and
does not even attain to the very thing he follows after. For Cyprian, while grievously abhorring,
in his zeal for God, all those who severed themselves from unity, thought that thereby they were
separated from baptism itself; while these men, thinking it at most a slight offense that they
themselves are severed from the unity of Christ, even maintain that His baptism is not in that unity,
but issued forth with them. Therefore they are so far from the fruitfulness of Cyprian, as not even
to be equal to the parts in him which needed purging.

Chapter 2.—3. Again, if any one not having charity, and walking in the abandoned paths of a
most wicked life, seems to be within while he really is without, and at the same time does not seek
for the repetition of baptism even in the case of heretics, it in no wise helps his barrenness, because


Matt. xxiii. 3.


1 Tim. i. 5.


Wisd. ix. 15.


Phil. iii. 15.