On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

of bodies arises from continuity of position, so in the agreement of wills there is a kind of contact
between souls. If, therefore, a man who has severed himself from unity wishes to do anything
different from that which had been impressed on him while in the state of unity, in this point he
does sever himself, and is no longer a part of the united whole; but wherever he desires to conduct
himself as is customary in the state of unity, in which he himself learned and received the lessons
which he seeks to follow, in these points he remains a member, and is united to the corporate whole.

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Chapter 2.—3. And so the Donatists in some matters are with us; in some matters have gone
out from us. Accordingly, those things wherein they agree with us we do not forbid them to do;
but in those things in which they differ from us, we earnestly encourage them to come and receive
them from us, or return and recover them, as the case may be; and with whatever means we can,
we lovingly busy ourselves, that they, freed from faults and corrected, may choose this course.
We do not therefore say to them, "Abstain from giving baptism," but "Abstain from giving it in
schism." Nor do we say to those whom we see them on the point of baptizing, "Do not receive the
baptism," but "Do not receive it in schism." For if any one were compelled by urgent necessity,
being unable to find a Catholic from whom to receive baptism, and so, while preserving Catholic
peace in his heart, should receive from one without the pale of Catholic unity the sacrament which
he was intending to receive within its pale, this man, should he forthwith depart this life, we deem
to be none other than a Catholic. But if he should be delivered from the death of the body, on his
restoring himself in bodily presence to that Catholic congregation from which in heart he had never
departed, so far from blaming his conduct, we should praise it with the greatest truth and confidence;
because he trusted that God was present to his heart, while he was striving to preserve unity, and
was unwilling to depart this life without the sacrament of holy baptism, which he knew to be of
God, and not of men; wherever he might find it. But if any one who has it in his power to receive
baptism within the Catholic Church prefers, from some perversity of mind, to be baptized in schism,
even if he afterwards bethinks himself to come to the Catholic Church, because he is assured that
there that sacrament will profit him, which can indeed be received but cannot profit elsewhere,
beyond all question he is perverse, and guilty of sin, and that the more flagrant in proportion as it
was committed wilfully. For that he entertains no doubt that the sacrament is rightly received in
the Church, is proved by his conviction that it is there that he must look for profit even from what
he has received elsewhere.

Chapter 3.—4. There are two propositions, moreover, which we affirm,—that baptism exists
in the Catholic Church, and that in it alone can it be rightly received,—both of which the Donatists
deny. Likewise there are two other propositions which we affirm,—that baptism exists among the
Donatists, but that with them it is not rightly received, of which two they strenuously confirm the

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