On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

Chapter 15.—20. Accordingly, if Marcion consecrated the sacrament of baptism with the words
of the gospel, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,"1294 the sacrament
was complete, although his faith expressed under the same words, seeing that he held opinions not
taught by the Catholic truth, was not complete, but stained with the falsity of fables.1295 For under
these same words, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," not Marcion
only, or Valentinus, or Arius, or Eunomius, but the carnal babes of the Church themselves (to whom
the apostle said, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal"), if they could be
individually asked for an accurate exposition of their opinions, would probably show a diversity
of opinions as numerous as the persons who held them, "for the natural man receiveth not the things
of the Spirit of God." Can it, however, be said on this account that they do not receive the complete
sacrament? or that, if they shall advance, and correct the vanity of their carnal opinions, they must
seek again what they had received? Each man receives after the fashion of his own faith; yet how
much does he obtain under the guidance of that mercy of God, in the confident assurance of which
the same apostle says, "If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto
you"?1296 Yet the snares of heretics and schismatics prove for this reason only too pernicious to the
carnally-minded, because their very progress is intercepted when their vain opinions are confirmed
in opposition to the Catholic truth, and the perversity of their dissension is strengthened against the
Catholic peace. Yet if the sacraments are the same, they are everywhere complete, even when they
are wrongly understood, and perverted to be instruments of discord, just as the very writings of the
gospel, if they are only the same, are everywhere complete, even though quoted with a boundless
variety of false opinions. For as to what Jeremiah says:—"Why do those who grieve me prevail
against me? My wound is stubborn, whence shall I be healed? In its origin it became unto me as
lying water, having no certainty,"1297—if the term "water" were never used figuratively and in the
allegorical language of prophecy except to signify baptism, we should have trouble in discovering
what these words of Jeremiah meant; but as it is, when "waters" are expressly used in the
Apocalypse1298 to signify "peoples," I do not see why, by "lying water having no certainty," I should
not understand, a "lying people, whom I cannot trust."


Matt. xxviii. 19.


Cp. Concilium Arelatense, A.D. 314, can. 8. "De Afris, quod propria lege utuntur ut rebaptizent; placuit ut si ad ecclesiam
aliquis de hæresi venerit, interrogent eum symbolum; et si perviderint eum in Patre, et Filio, et Spiritu sancto esse baptizatum,
manus ei tantum imponatur, ut accipiat Spiritum sanctum. Quod si interrogatus non responderit hanc Trinitatem, baptizetur."


Phil. iii. 15.


Jer. xv. 18, cp. LXX.


Rev. xvii. 15.