On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

remain unpunished, unless those guilty of them correct themselves, if the patience of God leading
them to repentance1315 give them time for correction.

Chapter 19.—25. They indeed who say that baptism is not to be repeated, because only hands
were laid on those whom Philip the deacon had baptized,1316 are saying what is quite beside the
point; and far be it from us, in seeking the truth, to use such arguments as this. Wherefore we are
all the further from "yielding to heretics,"1317 if we deny that what they possess of Christ’s Church
is their own property, and do not refuse to acknowledge the standard of our General because of the
crimes of deserters; nay, all the more because "the Lord our God is a jealous God,"1318 let us refuse,
whenever we see anything of His with an alien, to allow him to consider it his own. For of a truth
the jealous God Himself rebukes the woman who commits fornication against Him, as the type of
an erring people, and says that she gave to her lovers what belonged to Him, and again received
from them what was not theirs but His. In the hands of the adulterous woman and the adulterous
lovers, God in His wrath, as a jealous God, recognizes His gifts; and do we say that baptism,
consecrated in the words of the gospel, belongs to heretics? and are we willing, from consideration
of their deeds, to attribute to them even what belongs to God, as though they had the power to
pollute it, or as though they could make what is God’s to be their own, because they themselves
have refused to belong to God?
26. Who is that adulterous woman whom the prophet Hosea points out, who said, "I will go
after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, and everything that
befits me?"1319 Let us grant that we may understand this also of the people of the Jews that went
astray; yet whom else are the false Christians (such as are all heretics and schismatics) wont to
imitate, except false Israelites? For there were also true Israelites, as the Lord Himself bears witness
to Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."1320 But who are true Christians,
save those of whom the same Lord said, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he
it is that loveth me?"1321 But what is it to keep His commandments, except to abide in love? Whence
also He says, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another;" and again, "By

1315

Rom. ii. 4.

1316

Acts viii. 5-17.

1317

Because Cyprian, in his letter to Jubaianus (Ep. lxxiii. 10), had urged as following from this, that "there is no reason,
dearest brother, why we should think it right to yield to heretics that baptism which was granted to the one and only Church."

1318

Deut. iv. 24.

1319

Hos. ii. 5, cp. LXX.

1320

John i. 47.

1321

John xiv. 21.

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