On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

ye sons of men?"1235 But why does the Lord Himself say, "Judge not according to the appearance,
but judge righteous judgment,"1236 if we may not judge any man? Lastly, why, in the case of those
traditors, whom they have judged unrighteously, have they themselves ventured to pass any
judgments at all on another man’s servants? To their own master they were standing or falling.
Or why, in the case of the recent followers of Maximianus, have they not hesitated to bring forward
the judgment delivered with the infallible voice, as they aver, of a plenary Council, in such terms
as to compare them with those first schismatics whom the earth swallowed up alive? And yet some
of them, as they cannot deny, they either condemned though innocent, or received back again in
their guilt. But when a truth is urged which they cannot gainsay, they mutter a truly wholesome
murmuring: "It is our will: ‘Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master
he standeth or falleth.’" But when a weak sheep is espied in the desert, and the pastor who should
reclaim it to the fold is nowhere to be seen, then there is setting of teeth, and breaking of the weak
neck: "Thou wouldst be a good man, wert thou not a traditor. Consult the welfare of thy soul; be
a Christian." What unconscionable madness! When it is said to a Christian, "Be a Christian," what
other lesson is taught, save a denial that he is a Christian? Was it not the same lesson which those
persecutors of the Christians wished to teach, by resisting whom the crown of martyrdom was
gained? Or must we even look on crime as lighter when committed with threatening of the sword
than with treachery of the tongue?
11. Answer me this, ye ravening wolves, who, seeking to be clad in sheep’s clothing,1237 think
that the letters of the blessed Cyprian are in your favor. Did the sacrilege of schismatics defile
Cyprian, or did it not? If it did, the Church perished from that instant, and there remained no source
from which ye might spring. If it did not, then by what offense on the part of others can the guiltless
possibly be defiled, if the sacrilege of schism cannot defile them? Wherefore, then, have ye severed
yourselves? Wherefore, while shunning the lighter offenses, which are inventions of your own,
have ye committed the heaviest offense of all, the sacrilege of schism? Will ye now perchance
confess that those men were no longer schismatics or heretics who had been baptized without the
communion of the Church, or in some heresy or schism, because by coming over to the Church,
and renouncing their former errors, they had ceased to be what formerly they were? How then was
it, that though they were not baptized, their sins remained not on their heads? Was it that the baptism
was Christ’s, but that it could not profit them without the communion of the Church; yet when they
came over, and, renouncing their past error, were received into the communion of the Church by
the laying on of hands, then, being now rooted and founded in charity, without which all other
things are profitless, they began to receive profit for the remission of sins and the sanctification of

1235

Ps. lviii. 1. Aug.: Si vere justitiam diligitis, recte judicate filii hominum. Cp. Hieron.: Si vere utique justitiam loquimini,
recta judicate filii hominum.

1236

John vii. 24.

1237

Matt. vii. 15.

585