On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

Church from heresy, were admitted without baptism?’ The Lord is able of His mercy to grant
pardon, and not to sever from the gifts of His Church those who, being out of simplicity admitted
to the Church, have in the Church fallen asleep."1260

Chapter 14.—19. But which is the worse, not to be baptized at all, or to be twice baptized, it
is difficult to decide. I see, indeed, which is more repugnant and abhorrent to men’s feelings; but
when I have recourse to that divine balance, in which the weight of things is determined, not by
man’s feelings, but by the authority of God, I find a statement by our Lord on either side. For He
said to Peter, "He who is washed has no need of washing a second time;"1261 and to Nicodemus,
"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."1262
What is the purport of the more secret determination of God, it is perhaps difficult for men like us
to learn; but as far as the mere words are concerned, any one may see what a difference there is
between "has no need of washing," and "cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." The Church,
lastly, herself holds as her tradition, that without baptism she cannot admit a man to her altar at all;
but since it is allowed that one who has been rebaptized may be admitted after penance, surely this
plainly proves that his baptism is considered valid. If, therefore, Cyprian thought that those whom
he considered to be unbaptized yet had some share in pardon, in virtue of the bond of unity, the
Lord has power to be reconciled even to the rebaptized by means of the simple bond of unity and
peace, and by this same compensating power of peace to mitigate His displeasure against those by
whom they were rebaptized, and to pardon all the errors which they had committed while in error,
on their offering the sacrifice of charity, which covereth the multitude of sins; so that He looks not
to the number of those who have been wounded by their separation, but to the greater number who
have been delivered from bondage by their return. For in the same bond of peace in which Cyprian
conceived that, through the mercy of God, those whom he considered to have been admitted to the
Church without baptism, were yet not severed from the gifts of the Church, we also believe that
through the same mercy of God the rebaptized can earn their pardon at His hands.

Chapter 15.—20. Since the Catholic Church, both in the time of the blessed Cyprian and in
the older time before him, contained within her bosom either some that were rebaptized or some
that were unbaptized, either the one section or the other must have won their salvation only by the
force of simple unity. For if those who came over from the heretics were not baptized, as Cyprian

Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 23 to Jubaianus.


John xiii. 10. "Qui lotus est, non habet necessitatem iterum lavandi." The Latin, with the A.V., loses the distinction
between ὁ λελουμένος, "he that has bathed," and νίπτειν, "to wash:" and further wrongfully introduces the idea of repetition.


John iii. 5.