On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

cannot be consecrated, and He Himself consecrates His sacrament, that in the recipient, either
before he is baptized, or when he is baptized, or at some future time when he turns in truth to God,
that very sacrament may be profitable to salvation, which, were he not to be converted, would be
powerful to his destruction. But who is there who does not know that there is no baptism of Christ,
if the words of the gospel in which consists the outward visible sign be not forthcoming? But you
will more easily find heretics who do not baptize at all, than any who baptize without those words.
And therefore we say, not that every baptism (for in many of the blasphemous rites of idols men
are said to be baptized), but that the baptism of Christ, that is, every baptism consecrated in the
words of the gospel, is everywhere the same, and cannot be vitiated by any perversity on the part
of any men.1684
48. We must certainly not lightly pass over in this judgment that he here inserted a clause, and
says, "Wherefore we must strive, with all such efforts as conduce to peace, that no one who has
been infected," etc. For he had regard to those words of the blessed Cyprian in his opening speech,
"Judging no man, nor depriving any of the right of communion if he entertain a different view."
See of what power is the love of unity and peace in the good sons of the Church, that they should
choose rather to show tolerance towards those whom they called sacrilegious and profane, being
admitted, as they thought, without the sacrament of baptism, if they could not correct them as they
thought was right, than on their account to break that holy bond, lest on account of the tares the
wheat also should be rooted out,1685—permitting, so far as rested with them, as in that noblest
judgment of Solomon, that the infant body should rather be nourished by the false mother than be
cut in pieces.1686 But this was the opinion both of those who held the truer view about the sacrament
of baptism, and of those to whom God, in consideration of their great love, was purposing to reveal
any point in which they were otherwise minded.

Chapter 26.—49. Privatianus of Sufetula1687 said: "He who says that heretics have the power
of baptizing should first say who it was that founded heresy. For if heresy is of God, it may have
the divine favor; but if it be not of God, how can it either have or confer on any one the grace of
God?"1688

1684

See above, III. cc. 14, 15.

1685

Matt. xiii. 29.

1686

1 Kings iii. 26.

1687

Sufetula was a town in ecclesiastical province of Byzacene, twenty-five miles from Sufes (same province), of which the
name is a diminutive. Bp. Privatianus is mentioned in Cypr. Epp. lvi., lvii.

1688

Conc. Carth. sec. 19.

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