On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

polluted by them. For when Marcus said, "It is marvellous that some of us, traitors to the truth,
uphold heretics and oppose Christians," it seemed natural that he should add, Therefore we decree
that communion should not be held with them. This he did not say; but what he does say is,
"Therefore we decree that heretics should be baptized," adhering to what the peaceful Cyprian had
enjoined in the first instance, saying, "Judging no man, nor removing any from the right of
communion if he entertain a different opinion." While, therefore, the Donatists calumniate us and
call us traditors, I should be glad to know, supposing that any Jew or pagan were found, who, after
reading the records of that Council should call both us and them, according to their own rules,
traitors to the truth, how we should be able to make our joint defense so as to refute and wash away
so grave a charge. They give the name of traditors to men whom they were never able in times
past to convict of the offense, and whom they cannot now show to be involved in it, being themselves
rather shown to be liable to the same charge. But what has this to do with us? What shall we say
of them who, by their own showing, are unquestionably traitors? For if we, however falsely, are
called traditors, because, as they allege, we took part in the same communion with traditors, we
have all taken part with the traditors in question, seeing that in the time of the blessed Cyprian the
party of Donatus had not yet separated itself from unity. For the delivery of the sacred books, from
which they began to be called traditors, occurred somewhat more than forty years after his
martyrdom. If, therefore, we are traditors, because we sprang from traditors, as they believe or
pretend, we both of us derive our origin from those other traitors. For there is no room for saying
that they did not communicate with these traitors, since they call them men of their own party. In
the words of the Council which they are most forward to quote, "Some of us," it declares, "traitors
to the truth, uphold heretics." To this is added the testimony of Cyprian, showing clearly that he
remained in communion with them, when he says, "Judging no man, nor removing any from the
right of communion if he entertain a different opinion." For those who entertained a different
opinion were the very persons whom Marcus calls traitors to the truth because they upheld heretics,
as he maintains, by receiving them into the Church without baptism. That it was, moreover, the
custom that they should be so received, is testified both by Cyprian himself in many passages, and
by some bishops in this Council. Whence it is evident that, if heretics have not baptism, the Church
of Christ of those days was full of traitors, who upheld them by receiving them in this way. I would
urge, therefore, that we plead our cause in common against the charge of treason which they cannot
disavow, and therein our special case will be argued against the charge of delivering the books,
which they could not prove against us. But let us argue the point as though they had convicted us;
and what we shall answer jointly to those who urge against both of us the general treason of our
forefathers, that we will answer to these men who urge against us that our forefathers gave up the
sacred books. For as we were dead because our forefathers delivered up the books, which caused
them to divide themselves from us, so both we and they themselves are dead through the treason
of our forefathers, from whom both we and they are sprung. But since they say they live, they hold
that that treason does not in any way affect them, therefore neither are we affected by the delivery
of the books. And it should be observed that, according to them, the treason is indisputable: while,

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