On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

individuals for the better, and that we ought not each to strive pertinaciously for what he has once
imbibed and held, but if anything has appeared better and more useful, he should willingly embrace
it."1240 At any rate, in these words he not only advised those to agree with him who saw no better
course, but also exhorted any who could to bring forward arguments by which the maintenance of
the former custom might rather be established; that if they should be of such a nature as not to admit
of refutation, he might show in his own person with what sincerity he said "that we ought not each
to strive pertinaciously for what he has once imbibed and held, but that, if anything has appeared
better and more useful, he should willingly embrace it."1241 But inasmuch as none appeared, except
such as simply urged the custom against him, and the arguments which they produced in its favor
were not of a kind to bring conviction to a soul like his, this mighty reasoner was not content to
give up his opinions, which, though they were not true, as he was himself unable to see, were at
any rate not confuted, in favor of a custom which had truth on its side, but had not yet been
confirmed. And yet, had not his predecessor Agrippinus, and some of his fellow-bishops throughout
Africa, first tempted him to desert this custom, even by the decision of a Council, he certainly
would not have dared to argue against it. But, amid the perplexities of so obscure a question, and
seeing everywhere around him a strong universal custom, he would rather have put restraint upon
himself by prayer and stretching forth his mind towards God, so as to have perceived or taught that
for truth which was afterwards decided by a plenary Council. But when he had found relief amid
his weariness in the authority of the former Council1242 which was held by Agrippinus, he preferred
maintaining what was in a manner the discovery of his predecessors, to expending further toil in
investigation. For, at the end of his letter to Quintus, he thus shows how he has sought repose, if
one may use the expression, for his weariness, in what might be termed the resting-place of
authority.1243

Chapter 9.—14. "This, moreover," says he, "Agrippinus, a man of excellent memory, with the
rest, bishops with him, who at that time governed the Church of the Lord in the province of Africa
and Numidia, did establish and, after the investigation of a mutual Council had weighed it, confirm;
whose sentence, being both religious and legitimate and salutary in accordance with the Catholic
faith and Church, we also have followed." 1244 By this witness he gives sufficient proof how much
more ready he would have been to bear his testimony, had any Council been held to discuss this
1240

Cypr. Ep. lxxi.

1241

Cypr. Ep. lxxi.

1242

The former Council of Carthage was held by Agrippinus early in the third century, the ordinary date given being 215-7
A.D.; others 186-7.

1243

Tanquam lectulo auctoritatis.

1244

Cypr. Ep. lxxi. 4.

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