On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

Church of Christ, then your communion is not the Church of Christ. For that is one, wherever it
is, of which it is said, "My dove is but one; she is the only one of her mother;"1181 nor can there be
just so many churches as there are schisms. But if we should say that sins are not there remitted,
then, say they, there is no true baptism there; and therefore ought you to baptize those whom you
receive from us. And since you do not do this, you confess that you are not in the Church of Christ.
16. To these we reply, following the Scriptures, by asking them to answer themselves what
they ask of us. For I beg them to tell us whether there is any remission of sins where there is not
charity; for sins are the darkness of the soul. For we find St. John saying, "He that hateth his brother
is still in darkness."1182 But none would create schisms, if they were not blinded by hatred of their
brethren. If, therefore, we say that sins are not remitted there, how is he regenerate who is baptized
among them? And what is regeneration in baptism, except the being renovated from the corruption
of the old man? And how can he be so renovated whose past sins are not remitted? But if he be
not regenerate, neither does he put on Christ; from which it seems to follow that he ought to be
baptized again. For the apostle says, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ;"1183 and if he has not so put on Christ, neither should he be considered to have been
baptized in Christ. Further, since we say that he has been baptized in Christ, we confess that he
has put on Christ; and if we confess this, we confess that he is regenerate. And if this be so, how
does St. John say, "He that hateth his brother remaineth still in darkness," if remission of his sins
has already taken place? Can it be that schism does not involve hatred of one’s brethren? Who
will maintain this, when both the origin of, and perseverance in schism consists in nothing else
save hatred of the brethren?
17. They think that they solve this question when they say: "There is then no remission of sins
in schism, and therefore no creation of the new man by regeneration, and accordingly neither is
there the baptism of Christ." But since we confess that the baptism of Christ exists in schism, we
propose this question to them for solution: Was Simon Magus endued with the true baptism of
Christ? They will answer, Yes; being compelled to do so by the authority of holy Scripture. I ask
them whether they confess that he received remission of his sins. They will certainly acknowledge
it. So I ask why Peter said to him that he had no part in the lot of the saints. Because, they say, he
sinned afterwards, wishing to buy with money the gift of God, which he believed the apostles were
able to sell.

Chapter 12.—18. What if he approached baptism itself in deceit? were his sins remitted, or
were they not? Let them choose which they will. Whichever they choose will answer our purpose.


Song of Sol. vi. 9.


1 John ii. 11.


Gal. iii. 27.