On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

it with united prayer and earnest groanings of suppliant devotion, humbly deferring all the time to
the decision of those who were to give their judgment after me, in case they should set forth anything
as already known and determined. And, therefore, how much the more must I be considered to
have given my opinion now without prejudice to the utterance of more diligent research or authority
higher than my own!


Chapter 54.—103. But now I think that it is fully time for me to bring to their due termination
these books also on the subject of baptism, in which our Lord God has shown to us, through the
words of the peaceful Bishop Cyprian and his brethren who agreed with him, how great is the love
which should be felt for catholic unity; so that even where they were otherwise minded until God
should reveal even this to them, 1918 they should rather bear with those who thought differently from
themselves, than sever themselves from them by a wicked schism; whereby the mouths of the
Donatists are wholly closed, even if we say nothing of the followers of Maximian. For if the wicked
pollute the good in unity, then even Cyprian himself already found no Church to which he could
be joined. But if the wicked do not infect the good in unity, then the sacrilegious Donatist has no
ground to set before himself for separation. But if baptism is both possessed and transferred by
the multitude of others who work the works of the flesh, of which it is said, that "they which do
such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God,"1919 then it is possessed and transferred also by
heretics, who are numbered among those works; because they could have transferred it had they
remained, and did not lose it by their secession. But men of this kind confer it on their fellows as
fruitlessly and uselessly as the others who resemble them, inasmuch as they shall not inherit the
kingdom of God. And as, when those others are brought into the right path, it is not that baptism
begins to be present, having been absent before, but that it begins to profit them, having been already
in them; so is it the case with heretics as well. Whence Cyprian and those who thought with him
could not impose limits on the Catholic Church, which they would not mutilate. But in that they
were otherwise minded we feel no fear, seeing that we too share in their veneration for Peter; yet
in that they did not depart from unity we rejoice, seeing that we, like them, are founded on the rock.




Phil. iii. 15.


Gal. v. 19-21.