On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."1322 But who can
doubt that this was spoken not only to those who heard His words with their fleshly ears when He
was present with them, but also to those who learn His words through the gospel, when He is sitting
on His throne in heaven? For He came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill.1323 But the fulfilling
of the law is love.1324 And in this Cyprian abounded greatly, insomuch that though he held a different
view concerning baptism, he yet did not forsake the unity of the Church, and was in the Lord’s
vine a branch firmly rooted, bearing fruit, which the heavenly Husbandman purged with the knife
of suffering, that it should bear more fruit.1325 But the enemies of this brotherly love, whether they
are openly without, or appear to be within, are false Christians, and antichrists. For when they have
found an opportunity, they go out, as it is written: "A man wishing to separate himself from his
friends, seeketh opportunities."1326 But even if occasions are wanting, while they seem to be within,
they are severed from that invisible bond of love. Whence St. John says, "They went out from us,
but they were not of us; for had they been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us."1327
He does not say that they ceased to be of us by going out, but that they went out because they were
not of us. The Apostle Paul also speaks of certain men who had erred concerning the truth, and
were overthrowing the faith of some; whose word was eating as a canker. Yet in saying that they
should be avoided, he nevertheless intimates that they were all in one great house, but as vessels
to dishonor,—I suppose because they had not as yet gone out. Or if they had already gone out,
how can he say that they were in the same great house with the honorable vessels, unless it was in
virtue of the sacraments themselves, which even in the severed meetings of heretics are not changed,
that he speaks of all as belonging to the same great house, though in different degrees of esteem,
some to honor and some to dishonor? For thus he speaks in his Epistle to Timothy: "But shun
profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat
as doth a canker; of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying
that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation
of God standeth firm, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one
that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels
of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If
a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for
the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work."1328 But what is it to purge oneself from such


John xiii. 34, 35.


Matt. v. 17.


Rom. xiii. 10.


John xv. 1-5.


Prov. xviii. 1, cp. Hieron, and LXX.


1 John ii. 19.


2 Tim. ii. 16-21.