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

asserts, they were not rightly admitted into the Church; and yet he himself did not despair of their
obtaining pardon from the mercy of God in virtue of the unity of the Church. So again, if they
were already baptized, it was not right to rebaptize them. What, therefore, was there to aid the
other section, save the same charity that delighted in unity, so that what was hidden from man’s
weakness, in the consideration of the sacrament, might not be reckoned, by the mercy of God, as
a fault in those who were lovers of peace? Why, then, while ye fear those whom ye have rebaptized,
do ye grudge yourselves and them the entrance to salvation? There was at one time a doubt upon
the subject of baptism; those who held different opinions yet remained in unity. In course of time,
owing to the certain discovery of the truth, that doubt was taken away. The question which, unsolved,
did not frighten Cyprian into separation from the Church, invites you, now that it is solved, to return
once more within the fold. Come to the Catholic Church in its agreement, which Cyprian did not
desert while yet disturbed with doubt; or if now you are dissatisfied with the example of Cyprian,
who held communion with those who were received with the baptism of heretics, declaring openly
that we should "neither judge any one, nor deprive any one of the right of communion if he differ
from us,"1263 whither are ye going, ye wretched men? What are ye doing? You are bound to fly
even from yourselves, because you have advanced beyond the position where he abode. But if
neither his own sins nor those of others could stand in his way, on account of the abundance of his
charity and his love of brotherly kindness and the bond of peace, do you return to us, where you
will find much less hindrance in the way of either us or you from the fictions which your party
have invented.


Book III.
Augustin undertakes the refutation of the arguments which might be derived from the epistle of
Cyprian to Jubaianus, to give color to the view that the baptism of Christ could not be conferred
by heretics.
Chapter 1.—1. I think that it may now be considered clear to every one, that the authority of
the blessed Cyprian for the maintenance of the bond of peace, and the avoiding of any violation of
that most wholesome charity which preserves unity in the Church, may be urged on our side rather
than on the side of the Donatists. For if they have chosen to act upon his example in rebaptizing
Catholics, because he thought that heretics ought to be baptized on joining the Catholic Church,
shall not we rather follow his example, whereby he laid down a manifest rule that one ought in no
wise, by the establishment of a separate communion, to secede from the Catholic communion, that


See above, cii. 3.