On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

in accordance with whose tenor you say that you order your lives? Answer me, wherefore have
ye separated yourselves? I suppose in order that ye might not perish by communion with wicked
men. How then was it that Cyprian, and so many of his colleagues, did not perish? For though
they believed that heretics and schismatics did not possess baptism, yet they chose rather to hold
communion with them when they had been received into the Church without baptism, although
they believed that their flagrant and sacrilegious sins were yet upon their heads, than to be separated
from the unity of the Church, according to the words of Cyprian, "Judging no one, nor depriving
any one of the right of communion if he differ from us."
8. If, therefore, by such communion with the wicked the just cannot but perish, the Church had
already perished in the time of Cyprian. Whence then sprang the origin of Donatus? where was
he taught, where was he baptized, where was he ordained, since the Church had been already
destroyed by the contagion of communion with the wicked? But if the Church still existed, the
wicked could do no harm to the good in one communion with them. Wherefore did ye separate
yourselves? Behold, I see in unity Cyprian and others, his colleagues, who, on holding a council,
decided that those who have been baptized without the communion of the Church have no true
baptism, and that therefore it must be given them when they join the Church. But again, behold I
see in the same unity that certain men think differently in this matter, and that, recognizing in those
who come from heretics and schismatics the baptism of Christ, they do not venture to baptize them
afresh. All of these catholic unity embraces in her motherly breast, bearing each other’s burdens
by turns, and endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,1228 till God should
reveal to one or other of them any error in their views. If the one party held the truth, were they
infected by the others, or no? If the others held the truth, were they infected by the first, or no?
Choose which ye will. If there was contamination, the Church even then ceased to exist; answer
me, therefore, whence came ye forth hither? But if the Church remained, the good are in no wise
contaminated by the bad in such communion; answer me, therefore, why did ye break the bond?
9. Or is it perhaps that schismatics, when received without baptism, bring no infection, but that
it is brought by those who deliver up the sacred books?1229 For that there were traditors of your
number is proved by the clearest testimony of history. And if you had then brought true evidence
against those whom you were accusing, you would have proved your cause before the unity of the
whole world, so that you would have been retained whilst they were shut out. And if you endeavored
to do this, and did not succeed, the world is not to blame, which trusted the judges of the Church
rather than the beaten parties in the suit; whilst, if you would not urge your suit, the world again is
not to blame, which could not condemn men without their cause being heard. Why, then, did you
separate yourselves from the innocent? You cannot defend the sacrilege of your schism. But this
I pass over. But so much I say, that if the traditors could have defiled you, who were not convicted
by you, and by whom, on the contrary, you were beaten, much more could the sacrilege of
1228

Eph. iv. 3.

1229

Traditores sanctorum librorum.

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