On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

with gratitude that he had received instruction. Ought we then to be thought unreasonably persistent
if we desire to consider this same epistle by which Jubaianus was convinced? For till such time as
we are also convinced (if there are any arguments of truth whereby this can be done), Cyprian
himself has established our security by the right of Catholic communion.
5. For he goes on to say: "It remains that we severally declare our opinion on this same subject,
judging no one, nor depriving any one of the right of communion if he differ from us."1266 He allows
me, therefore, without losing the right of communion, not only to continue inquiring into the truth,
but even to hold opinions differing from his own. "For no one of us," he says, "setteth himself up
as a bishop of bishops, or by tyrannical terror forces his colleagues to a necessity of obeying."
What could be more kind? what more humble? Surely there is here no authority restraining us
from inquiry into what is truth. "Inasmuch as every bishop," he says, "in the free use of his liberty
and power, has the right of forming his own judgment, and can no more be judged by another than
he can himself judge another,"—that is, I suppose, in those questions which have not yet been
brought to perfect clearness of solution; for he knew what a deep question about the sacrament was
then occupying the whole Church with every kind of disputation, and gave free liberty of inquiry
to every man, that the truth might be made known by investigation. For he was surely not uttering
what was false, and trying to catch his simpler colleagues in their speech, so that, when they should
have betrayed that they held opinions at variance with his, he might then propose, in violation of
his promise, that they should be excommunicated. Far be it from a soul so holy to entertain such
accursed treachery; indeed, they who hold such a view about such a man, thinking that it conduces
to his praise, do but show that it would be in accordance with their own nature. I for my part will
in no wise believe that Cyprian, a Catholic bishop, a Catholic martyr, whose greatness only made
him proportionately humble in all things, so as to find favor before the Lord,1267 should ever,
especially in the sacred Council of his colleagues, have uttered with his mouth what was not echoed
in his heart, especially as he further adds, "But we must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who alone has the power both of setting us in the government of His Church, and of judging
of our acts therein."1268 When, then, he called to their remembrance so solemn a judgment, hoping
to hear the truth from his colleagues, would he first set them the example of lying? May God avert
such madness from every Christian man, and how much more from Cyprian! We have therefore
the free liberty of inquiry granted to us by the most moderate and most truthful speech of Cyprian.

Chapter 4.—6. Next his colleagues proceed to deliver their several opinions. But first they
listened to the letter written to Jubaianus; for it was read, as was mentioned in the preamble. Let


See above, II. ii. 3.


Ecclus. iii. 18.


See above, II. ii. 3.