On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

worthy of the devil. But never in any point to entertain an opinion at variance with the truth is
perfection found only in the angels. Since then we are men, yet forasmuch as in hope we are angels,
whose equals we shall be in the resurrection,1222 at any rate, so long as we are wanting in the
perfection of angels, let us at least be without the presumption of the devil. Accordingly the apostle
says, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man."1223 It is therefore part
of man’s nature to be sometimes wrong. Wherefore he says in another place, "Let us therefore, as
many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal
even this unto you."1224 But to whom does He reveal it when it is His will (be it in this life or in
the life to come), save to those who walk in the way of peace, and stray not aside into any schism?
Not to such as those who have not known the way of peace,1225 or for some other cause have broken
the bond of unity. And so, when the apostle said, "And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God
shall reveal even this unto you," lest they should think that besides the way of peace their own
wrong views might be revealed to them, he immediately added, "Nevertheless, whereto we have
already attained, let us walk by the same rule."1226 And Cyprian, walking by this rule, by the most
persistent tolerance, not simply by the shedding of his blood, but because it was shed in unity (for
if he gave his body to be burned, and had not charity, it would profit him nothing1227), came by the
confession of martyrdom to the light of the angels, and if not before, at least then, acknowledged
the revelation of the truth on that point on which, while yet in error, he did not prefer the maintenance
of a wrong opinion to the bond of unity.

Chapter 6.—7. What then, ye Donatists, what have ye to say to this? If our opinion about
baptism is true, yet all who thought differently in the time of Cyprian were not cut off from the
unity of the Church, till God revealed to them the truth of the point on which they were in error,
why then have ye by your sacrilegious separation broken the bond of peace? But if yours is the
true opinion about baptism, Cyprian and the others, in conjunction with whom ye set forth that he
held such a Council, remained in unity with those who thought otherwise; why, therefore, have ye
broken the bond of peace? Choose which alternative ye will, ye are compelled to pronounce an
opinion against your schism. Answer me, wherefore have ye separated yourselves? Wherefore
have ye erected an altar in opposition to the whole world? Wherefore do ye not communicate with
the Churches to which apostolic epistles have been sent, which you yourselves read and acknowledge,

Matt. xxii. 30.


1 Cor x. 13.


Phil. iii. 15.


Rom. iii. 17; see on i. 19, 29.


Phil. iii. 16.


1 Cor. xiii. 3.