On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

the pressure of any persecution, they give their bodies with us to be burned for the faith which they
like us confess: yet because they do all these things apart from the Church, not "forbearing one
another in love," nor "endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace," 1171 insomuch
as they have not charity, they cannot attain to eternal salvation, even with all those good things
which profit them not.

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Chapter 10.—13. But they think within themselves that they show very great subtlety in asking
whether the baptism of Christ in the party of Donatus makes men sons or not; so that, if we allow
that it does make them sons, they may assert that theirs is the Church, the mother which could give
birth to sons in the baptism of Christ; and since the Church must be one, they may allege that ours
is no Church. But if we say that it does not make them sons, "Why then," say they, "do you not
cause those who pass from us to you to be born again in baptism, after they have been baptized
with us, if they are not thereby born as yet?"
14. Just as though their party gained the power of generation in virtue of what constitutes its
division, and not from what causes its union with the Church. For it is severed from the bond of
peace and charity, but it is joined in one baptism. And so there is one Church which alone is called
Catholic; and whenever it has anything of its own in these communions of different bodies which
are separate from itself, it is most certainly in virtue of this which is its own in each of them that
it, not they, has the power of generation. For neither is it their separation that generates, but what
they have retained of the essence of the Church; and if they were to go on to abandon this, they
would lose the power of generation. The generation, then, in each case proceeds from the Church,
whose sacraments are retained, from which any such birth can alone in any case proceed,—although
not all who receive its birth belong to its unity, which shall save those who persevere even to the
end. Nor is it those only that do not belong to it who are openly guilty of the manifest sacrilege of
schism, but also those who, being outwardly joined to its unity, are yet separated by a life of sin.
For the Church had herself given birth to Simon Magus through the sacrament of baptism; and yet
it was declared to him that he had no part in the inheritance of Christ.1172 Did he lack anything in
respect of baptism, of the gospel, of the sacraments? But in that he wanted charity, he was born in
vain; and perhaps it had been well for him that he had never been born at all. Was anything wanting
to their birth to whom the apostle says, "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, even as babes
in Christ"? Yet he recalls them from the sacrilege of schism, into which they were rushing, because
they were carnal: "I have fed you," he says, "with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were
not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among
you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and

1171

Eph. iv. 2, 3.

1172

Acts viii. 13, 21.

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