On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

Chapter 15.—24. Crescens of Cirta1636 said: "The letters of our most beloved Cyprian to
Jubaianus, and also to Stephen,1637 having been read in so large an assembly of our most holy
brethren in the priesthood, containing as they do so large a body of sacred testimony derived from
the Scriptures that give us our God,1638 that we have every reason to assent to them, being all united
by the grace of God, I give my judgment that all heretics or schismatics who wish to come to the
Catholic Church should not enter therein unless they have been first exorcised and baptized; with
the obvious exception of those who have been originally baptized in the Catholic Church, these
being reconciled and admitted to the penance of the Church by the imposition of hands."1639
25. Here we are warned once more to inquire why he says, "Except, of course, those who have
been originally baptized in the Catholic Church." Is it because they had not lost what they had
before received? Why then could they not also transmit outside the Church what they were able
to possess outside? Is it that outside it is unlawfully transmitted? But neither is it lawfully possessed
outside, and yet it is possessed; so it is unlawfully given outside, but yet it is given. But what is
given to the person returning from heresy who had been baptized inside, is given to the person
coming to the Church who had been baptized outside,—that is, that he may have lawfully inside
what before he had unlawfully outside. But perhaps some one may ask what was said on this point
in the letter of the blessed Cyprian to Stephen, which is mentioned in this judgment, though not in
the opening address to the Council,—I suppose because it was not considered necessary. For
Crescens stated that the letter itself had been read in the assembly, which I have no doubt was done,
if I am not mistaken, as is customary, in order that the bishops, being already assembled, might
receive some information at the same time on the subject contained in that letter. For it certainly
has no bearing on the present subject; and I am more surprised at Crescens having thought fit to
mention it at all, than at its having been passed over in the opening address. But if any one thinks
that I have shrunk from bringing forward something which has been urged in it that is essential to
the present point, let him read it and see that what I say is true; or if he finds it otherwise, let him
convict me of falsehood. For that letter contains nothing whatsoever about baptism administered
among heretics or schismatics, which is the subject of our present argument.1640

1636

Cirta, an inland city of the Massylii in Numidia, was rebuilt by Constantine, and called Constantina.

1637

See below, on sec. 25.

1638

Ex Scripturis deificis.

1639

Conc. Carth. sec. 8.

1640

There are two letters extant from Cyprian to Stephen, No. 68, respecting Marcianus of Arles, who had joined Novatian,
and No. 72, on a Council concerning heretical baptism. It is clear, however, from Ep. lxxiv. 1, that this Council, and consequently
the letter to Stephen, was subsequent to the Council under consideration; and consequently Augustin is right in ignoring it, and
referring solely to the former. Dr. Routh thinks the words an interpolation, of course before Augustin’s time; and they may
perhaps have been inserted by some one who had Cyprian’s later letter to Stephen before his mind. Rel. Sac. iii. p. 194.

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