On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’1726 Therefore the false and unrighteous baptism of
heretics is to be repudiated by us, and contradicted with all solemnity of witness, seeing that from
their mouth issues not life, but poison, not heavenly grace, but blaspheming of the Trinity. And
so it is plain that heretics coming to the Church ought to be baptized with perfect and Catholic
baptism, that, being purified from the blasphemy of their presumption, they may be reformed by
the grace of the Holy Spirit." 1727
70. Clearly, if the baptism is not consecrated in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost, it should be considered to be of the heretics, and repudiated as unrighteous by us
with all solemnity of witness; but if we discern this name in it, we do better to distinguish the words
of the gospel from heretical error, and approve what is sound in them, correcting what is faulty.


Chapter 37.—71. Libosus of Vaga1728 said: "The Lord says in the gospel, ‘I am the truth;’1729
He did not say, I am custom. Therefore, when the truth is made manifest, let custom yield to truth;
so that, if even in time past any one did not baptize heretics in the Church, he may now begin to
baptize them."1730
72. Here he has in no way tried to show how that is the truth to which he says that custom
ought to yield. But it is of more importance that he helps us against those who have separated
themselves from unity, by confessing that the custom existed, than that he thinks it ought to yield
to a truth which he does not show. For the custom is of such a nature, that if it admitted sacrilegious
men to the altar of Christ without the cleansing of baptism, and polluted none of the good men who
remained in unity, then all who have cut themselves off from the same unity, in which they could
not be polluted by the contagion of any evil persons whatsoever, have separated themselves without
reason, and have committed the manifest sacrilege of schism. But if all perished in pollution through
that custom, from what cavern do they issue without the original truth, and with all the cunning of
calumny? If, however, the custom was a right one by which heretics were thus received, let them
abandon their madness, let them confess their error; let them come to the Catholic Church, not that
they may be bathed again with the sacrament of baptism, but that they may be cured from the wound
of severance.


Matt. xxviii. 19.


Conc. Carth. sec. 29.


Vaga was in ecclesiastical province of Byzacium. The name of a Libosus occurs in Cypr. Ep. lxvii.


John xiv. 6.


Conc. Carth. sec. 30.