On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

exist in those whom the apostle declares to be already born indeed by the sacrament of the new
covenant, but yet capable, as being natural, of receiving the things of the Spirit of God. For, as in
the sacraments of the old covenant some persons were already spiritual, belonging secretly to the
new covenant, which was then concealed, so now also in the sacrament of the new covenant, which
has been by this time revealed, many live who are natural. And if they will not advance to receive
the things of the Spirit of God, to which the discourse of the apostle urges them, they will still
belong to the old covenant. But if they advance, even before they receive them, yet by their very
advance and approach they belong to the new covenant; and if, before becoming spiritual, they are
snatched away from this life, yet through the protection of the holiness of the sacrament they are
reckoned in the land of the living, where the Lord is our hope and our portion. Nor can I find any
truer interpretation of the scripture, "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect"1192
considering what follows, "And in Thy book shall all be written."1193

Chapter 16.—25. But the same mother which brought forth Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and
Abraham, brought forth also Moses and the prophets who succeeded him till the coming of our
Lord; and the mother which gave birth to them gave birth also to our apostles and martyrs, and all
good Christians. For all these that have appeared have been born indeed at different times, but are
included in the society of our people; and it is as citizens of the same state that they have experienced
the labors of this pilgrimage, and some of them are experiencing them, and others will experience
them even to the end. Again, the mother who brought forth Cain, and Ham, and Ishmael, and Esau,
brought forth also Dathan and others like him in the same people; and she who gave birth to them
gave birth also to Judas the false apostle, and Simon Magus, and all the other false Christians who
up to this time have persisted obstinately in their carnal affections, whether they have been mingled
in the unity of the Church, or separated from it in open schism. But when men of this kind have
the gospel preached to them, and receive the sacraments at the hand of those who are spiritual, it
is as though Rebecca gave birth to them of her own womb, as she did to Esau; but when they are
produced in the midst of the people of God through the instrumentality of those who preach the
gospel not sincerely,1194 Sarah is indeed the mother, but through Hagar. So when good spiritual
disciples are produced by the preaching or baptism of those who are carnal, Leah, indeed, or Rachel,
gives birth to them in her right as wife, but from the womb of a handmaid. But when good and
faithful disciples are born of those who are spiritual in the gospel, and either attain to the development
of spiritual age, or do not cease to strive in that direction, or are only deterred from doing so by

1192

Ps. cxxxix. 16.

1193

Cf. Hieron, and LXX. A.V. "In Thy book were all my members written."

1194

Non caste; οὐχ ἀγνῶς. Phil. i. 16. Hieron. non sincere.

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