On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

devotion, in answer to our epistle, he not only expressed his assent to it, but also gratefully
acknowledged that he had received instruction. It remains that we should individually express our
opinions on this same subject, judging no one, and removing no one from the right of communion
if he should entertain a different opinion. For neither does any one of us set himself up as a bishop
of bishops, or by tyrannical terror force his colleagues to the necessity of obeying, since every
bishop, in the free use of his liberty and power, has the right of free judgment, and can no more be
judged by another than he can himself judge another. But we are all awaiting the judgment of our
Lord Jesus Christ who alone has the power both of preferring us in the government of His Church,
and of judging of our actions."1592

Chapter 7.—10. I have already, I think, argued to the best of my power, in the preceding books,
in the interests of Catholic unanimity and counsel, in whose unity these continued as pious members,
in reply not only to the letter which Cyprian wrote to Jubaianus, but also to that which he sent to
Quintus, and that which, in conjunction with certain of his colleagues, he sent to certain other
colleagues, and that which he sent to Pompeius. Wherefore it seems now to be fitting to consider
also what the others severally thought, and that with the liberty of which he himself would not
deprive us, as he says, "Judging no one, nor removing any from the right of communion if he
entertain different opinions." And that he did not say this with the object of arriving at the hidden
thoughts of his colleagues, extracted as it were from their secret lurking-places, but because he
really loved peace and unity, is very easily to be seen from other passages of the same sort, where
he wrote to individuals as to Jubaianus himself. "These things," he says, "we have written very
shortly in answer to you, most beloved brother, according to our poor ability, not preventing any
one of the bishops by our writing or judgment, from acting as he thinks right, having a free exercise
of his own judgment."1593 And that it might not seem that any one, because of his entertaining
different opinions in this same free exercise of his judgment, should be driven from the society of
his brethren, he goes on to say, "We, so far as lies in us, do not strive on behalf of heretics against
our colleagues and fellow-bishops, with whom we maintain godly unity and the peace of our
Lord;"1594 and a little later he says, "Charity of spirit, respect for our fraternity, the bond of faith,
the harmony of the priesthood, are by us maintained with patience and gentleness."1595 And so also
in the epistle which he wrote to Magnus, when he was asked whether there was any difference in
the efficacy of baptism by sprinkling or by immersion, "In this matter," he says, "I am too modest
and diffident to prevent any one by my judgment from thinking as he deems right, and acting as


Conc. Carth., the seventh under Cyprian, A.D. 256. Introduction.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 26.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 26.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 26.