On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

the hearts of those who confess and die for the true faith in the unity of charity take precedence of
each other in different points, the Lord Himself will know, by the hidden and wondrous dispensation
of whose grace the thief hanging on the cross once for all confesses Him, and is sent on the selfsame
day to paradise,1215 while Peter, the follower of our Lord, denies Him thrice, and has his crown
postponed:1216 for us it were rash to form a judgment from the evidence. But if any one were now
found compelling a man to be circumcised after the Jewish fashion, as a necessary preliminary for
baptism, this would meet with much more general repudiation by mankind, than if a man should
be compelled to be baptized again. Wherefore, if Peter, on doing this, is corrected by his later
colleague Paul, and is yet preserved by the bond of peace and unity till he is promoted to martyrdom,
how much more readily and constantly should we prefer, either to the authority of a single bishop,
or to the Council of a single province, the rule that has been established by the statutes of the
universal Church? For this same Cyprian, in urging his view of the question, was still anxious to
remain in the unity of peace even with those who differed from him on this point, as is shown by
his own opening address at the beginning of the very Council which is quoted by the Donatists.
For it is as follows:

Chapter 2.—3. "When, on the calends of September, very many bishops from the provinces
of Africa,1217 Numidia, and Mauritania, with their presbyters and deacons, had met together at
Carthage, a great part of the laity also being present; and when the letter addressed by Jubaianus1218
to Cyprian, as also the answer of Cyprian to Jubaianus, on the subject of baptizing heretics, had
been read, Cyprian said: ‘Ye have heard, most beloved colleagues, what Jubaianus, our
fellow-bishop, has written to me, consulting my moderate ability concerning the unlawful and
profane baptism of heretics, and what answer I gave him,—giving a judgment which we have once
and again and often given, that heretics coming to the Church ought to be baptized, and sanctified
with the baptism of the Church. Another letter of Jubaianus has likewise been read to you, in which,
agreeably to his sincere and religious devotion, in answer to our epistle, he not only expressed his
assent, but returned thanks also, acknowledging that he had received instruction. It remains that
we severally declare our opinion on this subject, judging no one, nor depriving any one of the right
of communion if he differ from us. For no one of us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or, by
tyrannical terror, forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying, inasmuch as every bishop, in the
free use of his liberty and power, has the right of forming his own judgment, and can no more be
judged by another than he can himself judge another. But we must all await the judgment of our

1215

Luke xxiii. 40-43.

1216

Matt. xxvi. 69-75.

1217

That is, the proconsular province of Africa, or Africa Zeugitana, answering to the northern part of the territory of Tunis.

1218

The letters of Jubaianas, Mauritanian bishop, are not extant.

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