On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

we shall see presently. Meanwhile, it is clear from the words of this man also that the custom was
the other way.

Chapter 9.—12. Likewise Honoratus of Tucca1278 said: "Since Christ is the Truth, we ought
to follow truth rather than custom."1279 By all these declarations it is proved that we are not excluded
from the communion of the Church, till it shall have been clearly shown what is the nature of the
truth, which they say must be preferred to our custom. But if the truth has made it clear that the
very regulation ought to be maintained which the said custom had prescribed, then it is evident
both that this custom was not established or confirmed in vain, and also that, in consequence of the
discussions in question, the most wholesome observance of so great a sacrament, which could
never, indeed, have been changed in the Catholic Church, was even more watchfully guarded with
the most scrupulous caution, when it had received the further corroboration of Councils.

Chapter 10.—13. Therefore Cyprian writes to Jubaianus as follows, "concerning the baptism
of heretics, who, being placed without, and set down out of the Church," seem to him to "claim to
themselves a matter over which they have neither right nor power. Which we," he says, "cannot
account valid or lawful, since it is clear that among them it is unlawful."1280 Neither, indeed, do we
deny that a man who is baptized among heretics, or in any schism outside the Church, derives no
profit from it so far as he is partner in the perverseness of the heretics and schismatics; nor do we
hold that those who baptize, although they confer the real true sacrament of baptism, are yet acting
rightly, in gathering adherents outside the Church, and entertaining opinions contrary to the Church.
But it is one thing to be without a sacrament, another thing to be in possession of it wrongly, and
to usurp it unlawfully. Therefore they do not cease to be sacraments of Christ and the Church,
merely because they are unlawfully used, not only by heretics, but by all kinds of wicked and
impious persons. These, indeed, ought to be corrected and punished, but the sacraments should be
acknowledged and revered.
14. Cyprian, indeed, says that on this subject not one, but two or more Councils were held;
always, however, in Africa. For indeed in one he mentions that seventy-one bishops had been
assembled,1281—to all whose authority we do not hesitate, with all due deference to Cyprian, to




Conc. Carth. sec. 77.


Ctpr. Ep. lxxiii. 1.


Ctpr. Ep. lxxiii. 1.