On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

have so happened that he sought union with the Church, he should not have received what he already
possessed, but be made to set right the points wherein he had gone astray?

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Chapter 8.—10. Nor indeed were the prayers of the Gentile Cornelius unheard, nor did his
alms lack acceptance; nay, he was found worthy that an angel should be sent to him, and that he
should behold the messenger, through whom he might assuredly have learned everything that was
necessary, without requiring that any man should come to him. But since all the good that he had
in his prayers and alms could not benefit him unless he were incorporated in the Church by the
bond of Christian brotherhood and peace, he was ordered to send to Peter, and through him learned
Christ; and, being also baptized by his orders, he was joined by the tie of communion to the
fellowship of Christians, to which before he was bound only by the likeness of good works.1162
And indeed it would have been most fatal to despise what he did not yet possess, vaunting himself
in what he had. So too those who, by separating themselves from the society of their fellows, to
the overthrow of charity, thus break the bond of unity, if they observe none of the things which
they have received in that society, are separated in everything; and so any one whom they have
joined to their society, if he afterwards wish to come over to the Church, ought to receive everything
which he has not already received. But if they observe some of the same things, in respect of these
they have not severed themselves; and so far they are still a part of the framework of the Church,
while in all other respects they are cut off from it. Accordingly, any one whom they have associated
with themselves is united to the Church in all those points in which they are not separated from it.
And therefore, if he wish to come over to the Church, he is made sound in those points in which
he was unsound and went astray; but where he was sound in union with the Church, he is not cured,
but recognized,—lest in desiring to cure what is sound we should rather inflict a wound. Therefore
those whom they baptize they heal from the wound of idolatry or unbelief; but they injure them
more seriously with the wound of schism. For idolaters among the people of the Lord were smitten
with the sword;1163 but schismatics were swallowed up by the earth opening her mouth.1164 And the
apostle says, "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I
am nothing."1165
11. If any one is brought to the surgeon, afflicted with a grievous wound in some vital part of
the body, and the surgeon says that unless it is cured it must cause death, the friends who brought
him do not, I presume, act so foolishly as to count over to the surgeon all his sound limbs, and,
drawing his attention to them, make answer to him, "Can it be that all these sound limbs are of no

1162

Acts x.

1163

Ex. xxxii.

1164

Num. xvi.

1165

1 Cor. xiii. 2.

564