On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

water of the Church is full of faith, and salvation, and holiness"1338 to those who use it rightly. No
one, however, can use it well outside the Church. But to those who use it perversely, whether
within or without the Church, it is employed to work punishment, and does not conduce to their
reward. And so baptism "cannot be corrupted and polluted," though it be handled by the corrupt
or by adulterers, just as also "the Church herself is uncorrupt, and pure, and chaste."1339 And so no
share in it belongs to the avaricious, or thieves, or usurers,—many of whom, by the testimony of
Cyprian himself in many places of his letters, exist not only without, but actually within the
Church,—and yet they both are baptized and do baptize, with no change in their hearts.
3. For this, too, he says, in one of his epistles1340 to the clergy on the subject of prayer toGod,
in which, after the fashion of the holy Daniel, he represents the sins of his people as falling upon
himself. For among many other evils of which he makes mention, he speaks of them also as
"renouncing the world in words only and not in deeds;" as the apostle says of certain men, "They
profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him."1341 These, therefore, the blessed Cyprian
shows to be contained within the Church herself, who are baptized without their hearts being
changed for the better, seeing that they renounce the world in words and not in deeds, as the Apostle
Peter says, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away
of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience),"1342 which certainly they had not of
whom it is said that they "renounced the world in words only, and not in deeds;" and yet he does
his utmost, by chiding and convincing them, to make them at length walk in the way of Christ, and
be His friends rather than friends of the world.


Chapter 3.—4. And if they would have obeyed him, and begun to live rightly, not as false but
as true Christians, would he have ordered them to be baptized anew? Surely not; but their true
conversion would have gained this for them, that the sacrament which availed for their destruction
while they were yet unchanged, should begin when they changed to avail for their salvation.
5. For neither are they "devoted to the Church"1343 who seem to be within and live contrary to
Christ, that is, act against His commandments; nor can they be considered in any way to belong to
that Church, which He so purifies by the washing of water, "that He may present to Himself a
glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing."1344 But if they are not in that Church



Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 11.


Cypr. Ep. xi. 1.


Tit. i. 16.


1 Pet. iii. 21.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 11.


Eph. v. 26, 27.