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

that "you must know that they were condemned by the truthful voice of a plenary Council."1257 For
indeed the innocent could never be condemned by a voice of truth. If they say, "We did not condemn
them," it is only necessary to cite the Council, to cite the names of bishops and states alike. If they
say, "The Council itself is none of ours," then we cite the records of the proconsular province,
where more than once they quoted the same Council to justify the exclusion of the followers of
Maximianus from the basilicas, and to confound them by the din of the judges and the force of their
allies. If they say that Felicianus of Musti, and Prætextatus of Assavæ, whom they afterwards
received, were not of the party of Maximianus, then we cite the records in which they demanded,
in the courts of law, that these persons should be excluded from the Council which they held against
the party of Maximianus. If they say, "They were received for the sake of peace," our answer is,
"Why then do ye not acknowledge the only true and full peace? Who urged you, who compelled
you to receive a schismatic whom you had condemned, to preserve the peace of Donatus, and to
condemn the world unheard, in violation of the peace of Christ?" Truth hems them in on every
side. They see that there is no answer left for them to make, and they think that there is nothing
left for them to do; they cannot find out what to say. They are not allowed to be silent. They had
rather strive with perverse utterance against truth, than be restored to peace by a confession of their


Chapter 13.—18. But who can fail to understand what they may be saying in their hearts?
"What then are we to do," say they, "with those whom we have already rebaptized?" Return with
them to the Church. Bring those whom you have wounded to be healed by the medicine of peace:
bring those whom you have slain to be brought to life again by the life of charity. Brotherly union
has great power in propitiating God. "If two of you," says our Lord, "shall agree on earth as touching
anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them."1258 If for two men who agree, how much
more for two communities? Let us throw ourselves together on our knees before the Lord. Do you
share with us our unity; let us share with you your contrition and let charity cover the multitude of
sins.1259 Seek counsel from the blessed Cyprian himself. See how much he considered to depend
upon the blessing of unity, from which he did not sever himself to avoid the communion of those
who disagreed with him; how, though he considered that those who were baptized outside the
communion of the Church had no true baptism, he was yet willing to believe that, by simple
admission into the Church, they might, merely in virtue of the bond of unity, be admitted to a share
in pardon. For thus he solved the question which he proposed to himself in writing as follows to
Jubaianus: "But some will say, ‘What then will become of those who, in times past, coming to the


The Council of Bagai. See above, I. v. 7.


Matt. xviii. 19.


1 Pet. iv. 8.