On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

Chapter 4.—6. Victor of Gor1765 said: "Seeing that sins are forgiven only in the baptism of the
Church, he who admits heretics to communion without baptism is guilty of two errors contrary to
reason; for, on the one hand, he does not cleanse the heretics, and, on the other, he defiles the
Christians."1766
7. To this we answer that the baptism of the Church exists even among heretics, though they
themselves are not within the Church; just as the water of Paradise was found in the land of Egypt,
though that land was not itself in Paradise. We do not therefore admit heretics to communion
without baptism; and since they come with their waywardness corrected, we receive not their sins,
but the sacraments of Christ. And, in respect of the remission of their sins, we say again here
exactly what we said above. And certainly, in regard of what he says at the end of his judgment,
declaring that he "is guilty of two errors contrary to reason, seeing that on the one hand he does
not cleanse the heretics, and on the other he defiles the Christians," Cyprian himself is the first and
the most earnest in repudiating this with the colleagues who agreed with him. For neither did he
think that he was defiled, when, on account of the bond of peace, he decreed that it was right to
hold communion with such men, when he used the words, "Judging no one, nor removing any from
the right of communion if he entertain a different opinion." Or, if heretics defile the Church by
being admitted to communion without being baptized, then the whole Church has been defiled in
virtue of that custom which has been so often recorded here. And just as those men call us traditors
because of our forefathers, in whom they were able to prove nothing of the sort when they laid the
charge against them, so, if every man partakes of the character of those with whom he may have
held communion, all were then made heretics. And if every one who asserts this is mad, it must
be false that Victor says, when he declares that "he who admits heretics to communion without
baptism, not only fails to cleanse the heretics, but pollutes the Christians as well." Or if this be
true, they were then not admitted without baptism, but those men had the baptism of Christ, although
it was given and received among heretics, who were so admitted in accordance with that custom
which these very men acknowledged to exist; and on the same grounds they are even now rightly
admitted in the same manner.

1765

Gor (Gorduba) is variously supposed to be Garra in ecclesiastical province of Mauritania Cæsariensis, or Garriana in
ecclesiastical province of Byzacium. The name of a bishop Victor occurs in Cypr. Epp. iv., lvii., lxii., lxvii. In Ep. lxx. the
names of three.

1766

Conc. Carth. sec. 40.

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