On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

Chapter 11.—16. For this reason, then, we hold them to be enemies, because we speak the
truth, because we are afraid to be silent, because we fear to shrink from pressing our point with all
the force that lies within our power, because we obey the apostle when he says, "Preach the word;
be instant in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort."1253 But, as the gospel says, "They love
the praise of men more than the praise of God;"1254 and while they fear to incur blame for a time,
they do not fear to incur damnation for ever. They see, too, themselves what wrong they are doing;
they see that they have no answer which they can make, but they overspread the inexperienced
with mists, whilst they themselves are being swallowed up alive,—that is, are perishing knowingly
and willfully. They see that men are amazed, and look with abhorrence on the fact that they have
divided themselves into many schisms, especially in Carthage,1255 the capital and most noted city
of all Africa; they have endeavored to patch up the disgrace of their rags. Thinking that they could
annihilate the followers of Maximianus, they pressed heavily on them through the agency of Optatus
the Gildonian;1256 they inflicted on them many wrongs amid the cruellest of persecutions. Then
they received back some, thinking that all could be converted under the influence of the same terror;
but they were unwilling to do those whom they received the wrong of baptizing afresh those who
had been baptized by them in their schism, or rather of causing them to be baptized again within
their communion by the very same men by whom they had been baptized outside, and thus they at
once made an exception to their own impious custom. They feel how wickedly they are acting in
assailing the baptism of the whole world, when they have received the baptism of the followers of
Maximianus. But they fear those whom they have themselves rebaptized, lest they should receive
no mercy from them, when they have shown it to others; lest these should call them to account for
their souls when they have ceased to destroy those of other men.

Chapter 12.—17. What answer they can give about the followers of Maximianus whom they
have received, they cannot divine. If they say, "Those we received were innocent," the answer is
obvious, "Then you had condemned the innocent." If they say, "We did it in ignorance," then you
judged rashly (just as you passed a rash judgment on the traditors), and your declaration was false


2 Tim. iv. 2.


John xii. 43.


He is alluding to that chief schism among the Donatists, which occurred when Maximianus was consecrated bishop of
Carthage, in opposition to Primianus, probably immediately after the Synod of Cabarsussum, 393.


Optatus, a Donatist bishop of Thamogade in Numidia, was called Gildonianus from his adherence to Gildo, Count of
Africa, and generalissimo of the province under the elder Theodosius. On his death, in 395 A.D., Gildo usurped supreme
authority, and by his aid Optatus was enabled to oppress the Catholics in the province, till, in 398 A.D., Gildo was defeated by
his brother Mascezel, and destroyed himself, and Optatus was put in prison, where he died soon afterwards. He is not to be
confounded with Optatus, Bishop of Milevis, the strenuous opponent of the Donatists.