On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

far as concerns the sacrament of baptism, there should not be an addition of something that was
wanting, but a turning to profit of what was in them. And the holy Cyprian indeed, now that the
corruptible body no longer presseth down the soul, nor the earthly tabernacle presseth down the
mind that museth upon many things,1759 sees with greater clearness that truth to which his charity
made him deserving to attain. May he therefore help us by his prayers, while we labor in the
mortality of the flesh as in a darksome cloud, that if the Lord so grant it, we may imitate so far as
we can the good that was in him. But if he thought otherwise than right on any point, and persuaded
certain of his brethren and colleagues to entertain his views in a matter which he now sees clearly
through the revelation of Him whom he loved, let us, who are far inferior to his merits, yet following,
as our weakness will allow, the authority of the Catholic Church of which he was himself a
conspicuous and most noble member, strive our utmost against heretics and schismatics, seeing
that they, being cut off from the unity which he maintained, and barren of the love with which he
was fruitful, and fallen away from the humility in which he stood, are disavowed and condemned
the more by him, in proportion as he knows that they wish to search out his writings for purposes
of treachery, and are unwilling to imitate what he did for the maintainance of peace,—like those
who, calling themselves Nazarene Christians, and circumcising the foreskin of their flesh after the
fashion of the Jews, being heretics by birth in that error from which Peter, when straying from the
truth, was called by Paul1760 persist in the same to the present day. As therefore they have remained
in their perversity cut off from the body of the Church, while Peter has been crowned in the primacy
of the apostles through the glory of martyrdom, so these men, while Cyprian, through the abundance
of his love, has been received into the portion of the saints through the brightness of his passion,
are obliged to recognize themselves as exiles from unity, and, in defence of their calumnies, set up
a citizen of unity as an opponent against the very home of unity. Let us, therefore, go on to examine
the other judgments of that Council after the same fashion.

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Chapter 2.—2. Marcus of Mactaris1761 said: "It is not to be wondered at if heretics, being enemies
and opponents of the truth, claim to themselves what has been entrusted and vouchsafed to other
men. What is marvellous is that some of us, traitors to the truth, uphold heretics and oppose
Christians; therefore we decree that heretics should be baptized."1762
3. To him we answer: It is indeed much more to be wondered at, and deserving of expressions
of great praise, that Cyprian and his colleagues had such love for unity that they continued in unity
with those whom they considered to be traitors to the truth, without any apprehension of being

1759

Wisd. ix. 15.

1760

Gal. ii. 11.

1761

Mactaris (Macthari) was in ecclesiastical province of Byzacium. This bishop is probably the Marcus of Cypr. Ep. lxx.

1762

Conc. Carth. sec. 38.

701