On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

also divided from us in the body, than are those who live within the Church in a carnal and worldly
fashion, and are separated from us in the spirit.

Chapter 52.—100. Of all these several classes, then, no one doubts respecting those first, who
are in the house of God in such a sense as themselves to be the house of God, whether they be
already spiritual, or as yet only babes nurtured with milk, but still making progress with earnestness
of heart, towards that which is spiritual, that such men both have baptism so as to be of profit to
themselves, and transmit it to those who follow their example so as to benefit them; but that in its
transmission to those who are false, whom the Holy Spirit shuns, though they themselves, so far
as lies with them, confer it so as to be of profit, yet the others receive it in vain, since they do not
imitate those from whom they receive it. But they who are in the great house after the fashion of
vessels to dishonor, both have baptism without profit to themselves, and transmit it without profit
to those who follow their example: those, however, receive it with profit, who are united in heart
and character, not to their ministers, but to the holy house of God. But those who are more
thoroughly separated, so as to be rather out of the house than in the house, have baptism without
any profit to themselves; and, moreover, there is no profit to those who receive it from them, unless
they be compelled by urgent necessity to receive it, and their heart in receiving it does not depart
from the bond of unity: yet nevertheless they possess it, though the possession be of no avail; and
it is received from them, even when it is of no profit to those who so receive it, though, in order
that it may become of use, they must depart from their heresy or schism, and cleave to that house
of God. And this ought to be done, not only by heretics and schismatics, but also by those who are
in the house through communion in the sacraments, yet so as to be outside the house through the
perversity of their character. For so the sacrament begins to be of profit even to themselves, which
previously was of no avail.


Chapter 53.—101. The question is also commonly raised, whether baptism is to be held valid
which is received from one who had not himself received it, if, from some promptings of curiosity,
he had chanced to learn how it ought to be conferred; and whether it makes no difference in what
spirit the recipient receives it, whether in mockery or in sincerity: if in mockery, whether the
difference arises when the mockery is of deceit, as in the Church, or in what is thought to be the
Church; or when it is in jest, as in a play: and which is the more accursed, to receive it deceitfully
in the Church, or in heresy or schism without deceit, that is to say, with full sincerity of heart: or
whether it be worse to receive it deceitfully in heresy or in good faith in a play, if any one were to
be moved by a sudden feeling of religion in the midst of his acting. And yet, if we compare such
an one even with him who receives it deceitfully in the Catholic Church itself, I should be surprised
if any one were to doubt which of the two should be preferred; for I do not see of what avail the