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

which are their own are corrected when they return, so in that which is not theirs His presence
should be recognised, from whom it is.

Chapter 12.—17. But the blessed Cyprian shows that it was no new or sudden thing that he
decided, because the practice had already begun under Agrippinus. "Many years," he says, "and
much time has passed away since, under Agrippinus of honored memory, a large assembly of
bishops determined this point." Accordingly, under Agrippinus, at any rate, the thing was new.
But I cannot understand what Cyprian means by saying, "And thenceforward to the present day,
so many thousand heretics in our provinces, having been converted to our Church, showed no
hesitation or dislike, but rather with full consent of reason and will, have embraced the opportunity
of the grace of the laver of life and the baptism unto salvation,"1285 unless indeed he says,
"thenceforward to the present day," because from the time when they were baptized in the Church,
in accordance with the Council of Agrippinus, no question of excommunication had arisen in the
case of any of the rebaptized. Yet if the custom of baptizing those who came over from heretics
remained in force from the time of Agrippinus to that of Cyprian, why should new Councils have
been held by Cyprian on this point? Why does he say to this same Jubaianus that he is not doing
anything new or sudden, but only what had been established by Agrippinus? For why should
Jubaianus be disturbed by the question of novelty, so as to require to be satisfied by the authority
of Agrippinus, if this was the continuous practice of the Church from Agrippinus till Cyprian?
Why, lastly, did so many of his colleagues urge that reason and truth must be preferred to custom,
instead of saying that those who wished to act otherwise were acting contrary to truth and custom

Chapter 13.—18. But as regards the remission of sins, whether it is granted through baptism
at the hands of the heretics, I have already expressed my opinion on this point in a former book;1286
but I will shortly recapitulate it here. If remission of sins is there conferred by the sacredness of
baptism, the sins return again through obstinate perseverance in heresy or schism; and therefore
such men must needs return to the peace of the Catholic Church, that they may cease to be heretics
and schismatics, and deserve that those sins which had returned on them should be cleansed away
by love working in the bond of unity. But if, although among heretics and schismatics it be still
the same baptism of Christ, it yet cannot work remission of sins owing to this same foulness of


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 3.


Above, Book I. c. xi. sqq.