On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

Agrippinus and Cyprian, and whose unity neither Agrippinus nor Cyprian ever deserted, nor those
who agreed with them, although they entertained different views from the rest of their brethren—all
of them remaining in the same communion of unity with the very men from whom they differed
in opinion. But let the Donatists themselves consider what their true position is, if they neither can
say whence they derived their origin, if the Church had already been destroyed by the plague-spot
of communion with heretics and schismatics received into her bosom without baptism; nor again
agree with Cyprian himself, for he declared that he remained in communion with those who received
heretics and schismatics, and so also with those who were received as well: while they have
separated themselves from the communion of the whole world, on account of the charge of having
delivered up the sacred books, which they brought against the men whom they maligned in Africa,
but failed to convict when brought to trial beyond the sea; although, even had the crimes which
they alleged been true, they were much less heinous than the sins of heresy and schism; and yet
these could not defile Cyprian in the persons of those who came from them without baptism, as he
conceived, and were admitted without baptism into the Catholic communion. Nor, in the very point
in which they say that they imitate Cyprian, can they find any answer to make about acknowledging
the baptism of the followers of Maximianus, together with those whom, though they belonged to
the party that they had first condemned in their own plenary Council, and then gone on to prosecute
even at the tribunal of the secular power, they yet received back into their communion, in the
episcopate of the very same bishop under whom they had been condemned. Wherefore, if the
communion of wicked men destroyed the Church in the time of Cyprian, they have no source from
which they can derive their own communion; and if the Church was not destroyed, they have no
excuse for their separation from it. Moreover, they are neither following the example of Cyprian,
since they have burst the bond of unity, nor abiding by their own Council, since they have recognized
the baptism of the followers of Maximianus.

Chapter 3.—4. Let us therefore, seeing that we adhere to the example of Cyprian, go on now
to consider Cyprian’s Council. What says Cyprian? "Ye have heard," he says, "most beloved
colleagues, what Jubaianus our fellow-bishop has written to me, consulting my moderate ability
concerning the unlawful and profane baptism of heretics, and what answer I gave him,—giving a
judgment which we have once and again and often given, that heretics coming to the Church ought
to be baptized and sanctified with the baptism of the Church. Another letter of Jubaianus has
likewise been read to you, in which, agreeably to his sincere and religious devotion, in answer to
our epistle, he not only expressed his assent, but returned thanks also, acknowledging that he had
received instruction."1265 In these words of the blessed Cyprian, we find that he had been consulted
by Jubaianus, and what answer he had given to his questions, and how Jubaianus acknowledged

1265

See above, II. ii. 3.

595