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

it therefore be read among ourselves also, that we too, with the help of God, may discover from it
what we ought to think. "What!" I think I hear some one saying, "do you proceed to tell us what
Cyprian wrote to Jubaianus?" I have read the letter, I confess, and should certainly have been a
convert to his views, had I not been induced to consider the matter more carefully by the vast weight
of authority, originating in those whom the Church, distributed throughout the world amid so many
nations, of Latins, Greeks, barbarians, not to mention the Jewish race itself, has been able to
produce,—that same Church which gave birth to Cyprian himself,—men whom I could in no wise
bring myself to think had been unwilling without reason to hold this view,—not because it was
impossible that in so difficult a question the opinion of one or of a few might not have been more
near the truth than that of more, but because one must not lightly, without full consideration and
investigation of the matter to the best of his abilities, decide in favor of a single individual, or even
of a few, against the decision of so very many men of the same religion and communion, all endowed
with great talent and abundant learning. And so how much was suggested to me on more diligent
inquiry, even by the letter of Cyprian himself, in favor of the view which is now held by the Catholic
Church, that the baptism of Christ is to be recognized and approved, not by the standard of their
merits by whom it is administered, but by His alone of whom it is said, "The same is He which
baptizeth,"1269 will be shown naturally in the course of our argument. Let us therefore suppose that
the letter which was written by Cyprian to Jubaianus has been read among us, as it was read in the
Council.1270 And I would have every one read it who means to read what I am going to say, lest he
might possibly think that I have suppressed some things of consequence. For it would take too
much time, and be irrelevant to the elucidation of the matter in hand, were we at this moment to
quote all the words of this epistle.

Chapter 5.—7. But if any one should ask what I hold in the meantime, while discussing this
question, I answer that, in the first place, the letter of Cyprian suggested to me what I should hold
till I should see clearly the nature of the question which next begins to be discussed. For Cyprian
himself says: "But some will say, ‘What then will become of those who in times past, coming to
the Church from heresy, were admitted without baptism?’"1271 Whether they were really without
baptism, or whether they were admitted because those who admitted them conceived that they had
partaken of baptism, is a matter for our future consideration. At any rate, Cyprian himself shows
plainly enough what was the ordinary custom of the Church, when he says that in past time those
who came to the Church from heresy were admitted without baptism.


John i. 33.


The Council of Carthage.


Epist. lxxiii. 23, to Jubianus.