On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

discord and wickedness of dissent, then the same baptism begins to be of avail for the remission
of sins when they come to the peace of the Church,—[not]1287 that what has been already truly
remitted should not be retained; nor that heretical baptism should be repudiated as belonging to a
different religion, or as being different from our own, so that a second baptism should be
administered; but that the very same baptism, which was working death by reason of discord outside
the Church, may work salvation by reason of the peace within. It was, in fact, the same savor of
which the apostle says, "We are a sweet savor of Christ in every place;" and yet, says he, "both in
them that are saved and in them that perish. To the one we are the savor of life unto life; and to
the other the savor of death unto death."1288 And although he used these words with reference to
another subject, I have applied them to this, that men may understand that what is good may not
only work life to those who use it aright, but also death to those who use it wrong.

Chapter 14.—19. Nor is it material, when we are considering the question of the genuineness
and holiness of the sacrament, "what the recipient of the sacrament believes, and with what faith
he is imbued." It is of the very highest consequence as regards the entrance into salvation, but is
wholly immaterial as regards the question of the sacrament. For it is quite possible that a man may
be possessed of the genuine sacrament and a corrupted faith, as it is possible that he may hold the
words of the creed in their integrity, and yet entertain an erroneous belief about the Trinity, or the
resurrection, or any other point. For it is no slight matter, even within the Catholic Church itself,
to hold a faith entirely consistent with the truth about even God Himself, to say nothing of any of
His creatures. Is it then to be maintained, that if any one who has been baptized within the Catholic
Church itself should afterwards, in the course of reading, or by listening to instruction, or by quiet
argument, find out, through God’s own revelation, that he had before believed otherwise than he
ought, it is requisite that he should therefore be baptized afresh? But what carnal and natural man
is there who does not stray through the vain conceits1289 of his own heart, and picture God’s nature
to himself to be such as he has imagined out of his carnal sense, and differ from the true conception
of God as far as vanity from truth? Most truly, indeed, speaks the apostle, filled with the light of
truth: "The natural man," says he, "receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God."1290 And yet herein
he was speaking of men whom he himself shows to have been baptized. For he says to them, "Was


Non ut jam vere dimissa non retineantur. One of the negatives here appears to be superfluous, and the former is omitted
in Amerbach’s edition, and in many of the Mss., which continue the sentence, "non ut ille baptismus," instead of "neque ut ille,"
etc. If the latter negative were omitted, the sense would be improved, and "neque" would appropriately remain.


2 Cor. ii. 15, 16.




1 Cor ii. 14.