On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

and tookest my1330 broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine
incense before them. My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I
fed thee, thou hast even set it before thine idols for a sweet savor: and this thou hast done."1331 For
she turns all the sacraments, and the words of the sacred books, to the images of her own idols,
with which her carnal mind delights to wallow. Nor yet, because those images are false, and the
doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy,1332 are those sacraments and divine utterances therefore
so to lose their due honor, as to be thought to belong to such as these; seeing that the Lord says,"
Of my gold, and my silver, and my broidered garments, and mine oil, and mine incense, and my
meat," and so forth. Ought we, because those erring ones think that these things belong to their
seducers, therefore not to recognize whose they really are, when He Himself says, "And she did
not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her money"? For He did not say
that she did not have these things because she was an adulteress; but she is said to have had them,
and that not as belonging to herself or her lovers, but to God, whose alone they are. Although,
therefore, she had her fornication, yet those things wherewith she adorned it, whether as seduced
or in her turn seducing, belonged not to her, but to God. If these things were spoken in a figure of
the Jewish nation, when the scribes and Pharisees were rejecting the commandment of God in order
to set up their own traditions, so that they were in a manner committing whoredom with a people
which was abandoning their God; and yet for all that, whoredom at that time among the people,
such as the Lord brought to light by convicting it, did not cause that the mysteries should belong
to them, which were not theirs but God’s, who, in speaking to the adulteress, says that all these
things were His; whence the Lord Himself also sent those whom He cleansed from leprosy to the
same mysteries, that they should offer sacrifice for themselves before the priests, because that
sacrifice had not become efficacious for them, which He Himself afterwards wished to be
commemorated in the Church for all of them, because He Himself proclaimed the tidings to them
all;—if this be so, how much the more ought we, when we find the sacraments of the New Testament
among certain heretics or schismatics, not to attribute them to these men, nor to condemn them, as
though we could not recognize them? We ought to recognize the gifts of the true husband, though
in the possession of an adulteress, and to amend, by the word of truth, that whoredom which is the
true possession of the unchaste woman, instead of finding fault with the gifts, which belong entirely
to the pitying Lord.
28. From these considerations, and such as these, our forefathers, not only before the time of
Cyprian and Agrippinus, but even afterwards, maintained a most wholesome custom, that whenever
they found anything divine and lawful remaining in its integrity even in the midst of any heresy or
schism, they approved rather than repudiated it; but whatever they found that was alien, and peculiar


In Hieron, and LXX., as well as in the English version, this is in the second person, vestimenta tua multicolaria; τὸν
ἱματισμὸν τὸν ποικίλον σου.


Ezek. xvi. 17-19.


1 Tim. iv. 1, 2.