On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

schismatics and heretics, received into the Church, as you maintain, without baptism, have defiled
Cyprian. Yet he did not separate himself. And inasmuch as the Church continued to exist, it is
clear that it could not be defiled. Wherefore, then, did you separate yourselves, I do not say from
the innocent, as the facts proved them, but from the traditors, as they were never proved to be?
Are the sins of traditors, as I began to say, heavier than those of schismatics? Let us not bring in
deceitful balances, to which we may hang what weights we will and how we will, saying to suit
ourselves, "This is heavy and this is light;" but let us bring forward the sacred balance out of holy
Scripture, as out of the Lord’s treasure-house, and let us weigh them by it, to see which is the
heavier; or rather, let us not weigh them for ourselves, but read the weights as declared by the Lord.
At the time when the Lord showed, by the example of recent punishment, that there was need to
guard against the sins of olden days, and an idol was made and worshipped, and the prophetic book
was burned by the wrath of a scoffing king, and schism was attempted, the idolatry was punished
with the sword,1230 the burning of the book by slaughter in war and captivity in a foreign land,1231
schism by the earth opening, and swallowing up alive the leaders of the schism while the rest were
consumed with fire from heaven.1232 Who will now doubt that that was the worse crime which
received the heavier punishment? If men coming from such sacrilegious company, without baptism,
as you maintain, could not defile Cyprian, how could those defile you who were not convicted but
supposed betrayers of the sacred books?1233 For if they had not only given up the books to be burned,
but had actually burned them with their own hands, they would have been guilty of a less sin than
if they had committed schism; for schism is visited with the heavier, the other with the lighter
punishment, not at man’s discretion, but by the judgment of God.

Chapter 7.—10. Wherefore, then, have ye severed yourselves? If there is any sense left in you,
you must surely see that you can find no possible answer to these arguments. "We are not left,"
they say, "so utterly without resource, but that we can still answer, It is our will. ‘Who art thou
that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth.’"1234 They do not
understand that this was said to men who were wishing to judge, not of open facts, but of the hearts
of other men. For how does the apostle himself come to say so much about the sins of schisms and
heresies? Or how comes that verse in the Psalms, "If of a truth ye love justice, judge uprightly, O

1230

Ex. xxxii.

1231

Jer. xxxvi.

1232

Num. xvi.

1233

Non convicti sed conficti traditores.

1234

Rom. xiv. 4.

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