On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

he thinks."1596 By which discourses he clearly shows that these subjects were being handled by
them at a time when they were not yet received as decided beyond all question, but were being
investigated with great care as being yet unrevealed. We, therefore, maintaining on the subject of
the identity of all baptisms what must be acknowledged everywhere to be the custom1597 of the
universal Church, and what is confirmed by the decision of general Councils,1598 and taking greater
confidence also from the words of Cyprian, which allowed me even then to hold opinions differing
from his own without forfeiting the right of communion, seeing that greater importance and praise
were attached to unity, such as the blessed Cyprian and his colleagues, with whom he held that
Council, maintained with those of different opinions, disturbing and overthrowing thereby the
seditious calumnies of heretics and schismatics in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, who, speaking
by His apostle, says, "Forbearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace;"1599 and again, by the mouth of the same apostle, "If in anything ye be otherwise
minded, God shall reveal even this unto you,"1600—we, I say, propose for consideration and discussion
the opinions of the holy bishops, without violating the bond of unity and peace with them, in
maintaining which we imitate them so far as we can by the aid of the Lord Himself.

483

Chapter 8.—11. Cæcilius of Bilta1601 said: "I know of one baptism in the one Church and of
none outside the Church. The one will be where there is true hope and sure faith. For so it is
written, ‘One faith, one hope, one baptism.’1602 Not among heretics, where there is no hope and a
false faith; where all things are done by a lie; where one possessed of a devil exorcises; the question
of the sacrament is asked by one from whose mouth and words proceeds a cancer; the faithless
gives faith; the guilty gives pardon for sins and Antichrist baptizes in the name of Christ; one
accursed of God blesses; the dead promises life; the unpeaceful gives peace; the blasphemer calls
on God; the profane administers the priesthood; the sacrilegious sets up the altar. To all this is

1596

Cypr. Ep. lxix. 12.

1597

De baptismi simplicitate ubique agnoscendam consuetudinem. The Benedictines give the reading of some Mss.: "De
baptismi simplicitate ubique agnoscenda," etc., "maintaining the custom of the universal Church to acknowledge everywhere
the identity of baptism."

1598

Conciliis universalibus.

1599

Eph. iv. 2, 3.

1600

Phil. iii. 15.

1601

Bilta (Biltha, Vilta) was in Africa Proconsularis. This Cæcilius is probably the same as the one addressed by Cyprian in
Ep. lxiii., and who unites with Cyprian and other bishops in letters addressed to others. Epp. iv. (to Pomponius), lvii., lxvii.,
lxx.

1602

Eph. iv. 4, 5.

671