On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

retains them, not according to the will of men, but according to the will of God and the prayers of
the saints who are spiritual, who "judge all things, but themselves are judged of no man."1310 For
the rock retains, the rock remits; the dove retains, the dove remits; unity retains, unity remits. But
the peace of this unity exists only in the good, in those who are either already spiritual, or are
advancing by the obedience of concord to spiritual things; it exists not in the bad, whether they
make disturbances abroad, or are endured within the Church with lamentations, baptizing and being
baptized. But just as those who are tolerated with groanings within the Church, although they do
not belong to the same unity of the dove, and to that "glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle,
or any such thing,"1311 yet if they are corrected, and confess that they approached to baptism most
unworthily, are not baptized again, but begin to belong to the dove, through whose groans those
sins are remitted which were retained in them who were estranged from her peace; so those also
who are more openly without the Church, if they have received the same sacraments, are not freed
from their sins on coming, after correction, to the unity of the Church, by a repetition of baptism,
but by the same law of charity and bond of unity. For if "those only may baptize who are set over
the Church, and established by the law of the gospel and ordination as appointed by the Lord,"
were they in any wise of this kind who seized on estates by treacherous frauds, and increased their
gains by compound interest? I trow not, since those are established by ordination as appointed of
the Lord, of whom the apostle, in giving them a standard, says, "Not greedy, not given to filthy
lucre." 1312 Yet men of this kind used to baptize in the time of Cyprian himself; and he confesses
with many lamentations that they were his fellow-bishops, and endures them with the great reward
of tolerance. Yet did they not confer remission of sins, which is granted through the prayers of the
saints, that is, the groans of the dove, whoever it be that baptizes, if those to whom it is given belong
to her peace. For the Lord would not say to robbers and usurers, "Whose soever sins ye remit, they
shall be remitted to him; and whose soever sins ye retain, they shall be retained." "Outside the
Church, indeed, nothing can be either bound or loosed, since there there is no one who can either
bind or loose;" but he is loosed who has made peace with the dove, and he is bound who is not at
peace with the dove, whether he is openly without, or appears to be within.
24. But we know that Dathan, Korah, and Abiram,1313 who tried to usurp to themselves the
right of sacrificing, contrary to the unity of the people of God, and also the sons of Aaron who
offered strange fire upon the altar,1314 did not escape punishment. Nor do we say that such offenses


1 Cor. ii. 15.


Eph. v. 27. Cp. Retract. ii. 18, quoted above on I. xvii.


Tit. i. 7.


Num. xvi.


Lev. x. 1, 2.