On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

20. For that sins which have been remitted do return upon a man, where there is no brotherly
love, is most clearly taught by our Lord, in the case of the servant whom He found owing Him ten
thousand talents, and to whom He yet forgave all at his entreaty. But when he refused to have pity
on his fellow-servant who owed him a hundred pence, the Lord commanded him to pay what He
had forgiven him. The time, then, at which pardon is received through baptism is as it were the
time for rendering accounts, so that all the debts which are found to be due may be remitted. Yet
it was not afterwards that the servant lent his fellow-servant the money, which he had so pitilessly
exacted when the other was unable to pay it; but his fellow-servant already owed him the debt,
when he himself, on rendering his accounts to his master, was excused a debt of so vast an amount.
He had not first excused his fellow-servant, and so come to receive forgiveness from his Lord.
This is proved by the words of the fellow-servant: "Have patience with me, and I will pay thee
all." Otherwise he would have said, "You forgave me it before; why do you again demand it?"
This is made more clear by the words of the Lord Himself. For He says, "But the same servant
went out, and found one of his fellow-servants which was owing1185 him a hundred pence."1186 He
does not say, "To whom he had already forgiven a debt of a hundred pence." Since then He says,
"was owing him," it is clear that he had not forgiven him the debt. And indeed it would have been
better, and more in accordance with the position of a man who was going to render an account of
so great a debt, and expected forbearance from his lord, that he should first have forgiven his
fellow-servant what was due to him, and so have come to render the account when there was such
need for imploring the compassion of his lord. Yet the fact that he had not yet forgiven his
fellow-servant, did not prevent his lord from forgiving him all his debts on the occasion of receiving
his accounts. But what advantage was it to him, since they all immediately returned with redoubled
force upon his head, in consequence of his persistent want of charity? So the grace of baptism is
not prevented from giving remission of all sins, even if he to whom they are forgiven continues to
cherish hatred towards his brother in his heart. For the guilt of yesterday is remitted, and all that
was before it, nay, even the guilt of the very hour and moment previous to baptism, and during
baptism itself. But then he immediately begins again to be responsible, not only for the days, hours,
moments which ensue, but also for the past,—the guilt of all the sins which were remitted returning
on him, as happens only too frequently in the Church.

Chapter 13.—21. For it often happens that a man has an enemy whom he hates most unjustly;
although we are commanded to love even our unjust enemies, and to pray for them. But in some
sudden danger of death he begins to be uneasy, and desires baptism, which he receives in such
haste, that the emergency scarcely admits of the necessary formal examination of a few words,

1185

Debebat. Hieron, debebat, LXX. ὤφειλεν.

1186

Matt. xviii. 23-35.

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