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

on the brightness of a holy soul which abundance of charity1208 would fain have covered; the latter
is a stain in their nether foulness which the hatred of peace in their countenance ostentatiously
brings to light. But the subject for our further consideration, relating to the authority of the blessed
Cyprian, we will commence from a fresh beginning.


Book II.
In which Augustin proves that it is to no purpose that the Donatists bring forward the authority of
Cyprian, bishop and martyr, since it is really more opposed to them than to the Catholics. For
that he held that the view of his predecessor Agrippinus, on the subject of baptizing heretics in
the Catholic Church when they join its communion, should only be received on condition that
peace should be maintained with those who entertained the opposite view, and that the unity
of the Church should never be broken by any kind of schism.
Chapter 1.—1. How much the arguments make for us, that is, for catholic peace, which the
party of Donatus profess to bring forward against us from the authority of the blessed Cyprian, and
how much they prove against those who bring them forward, it is my intention, with the help of
God, to show in the ensuing book. If, therefore, in the course of my argument, I am obliged to
repeat what I have already said in other treatises (although I will do so as little as I can,) yet this
ought not to be objected to by those who have already read them and agree with them; since it is
not only right that those things which are necessary for instruction should be frequently instilled
into men of dull intelligence, but even in the case of those who are endowed with larger
understanding, it contributes very much both to make their learning easier and their powers of
teaching readier, where the same points are handled and discussed in many various ways. For I
know how much it discourages a reader, when he comes upon any knotty question in the book
which he has in hand, to find himself presently referred for its solution to another which he happens
not to have. Wherefore, if I am compelled, by the urgency of the present questions, to repeat what
I have already said in other books, I would seek forgiveness from those who know those books
already, that those who are ignorant may have their difficulties removed; for it is better to give to
one who has already, than to abstain from satisfying any one who is in want.
2. What, then, do they venture to say, when their mouth is closed1209 by the force of truth, with
which they will not agree? "Cyprian," say they, "whose great merits and vast learning we all know,


Charitatis ubera.