On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

to whose members they do not belong, they are not in the Church of which it is said, "My dove is
but one; she is the only one of her mother;"1345 for she herself is without spot or wrinkle. Or else
let him who can assert that those are members of this dove who renounce the world in words but
not in deeds. Meantime there is one thing which we see, from which I think it was said, "He that
regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord,"1346 for God judgeth every day. For, according to His
foreknowledge, who knows whom He has foreordained before the foundation of the world to be
made like to the image of His Son, many who are even openly outside, and are called heretics, are
better than many good Catholics. For we see what they are to-day, what they shall be to-morrow
we know not. And with God, with whom the future is already present, they already are what they
shall hereafter be. But we, according to what each man is at present, inquire whether they are to
be to-day reckoned among the members of the Church which is called the one dove, and the Bride
of Christ without a spot or wrinkle,1347 of whom Cyprian says in the letter which I have quoted
above, that "they did not keep in the way of the Lord, nor observe the commandments given unto
them for their salvation; that they did not fulfill the will of their Lord, being eager about their
property and gains, following the dictates of pride, giving way to envy and dissension, careless
about single-mindedness and faith, renouncing the world in words only and not in deeds, pleasing
each himself, and displeasing all men."1348 But if the dove does not acknowledge them among her
members, and if the Lord shall say to them, supposing that they continue in the same perversity,
"I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity;"1349 then they seem indeed to be in the
Church, but are not; "nay, they even act against the Church. How then can they baptize with the
baptism of the Church,"1350 which is of avail neither to themselves, nor to those who receive it from
them, unless they are changed in heart with a true conversion, so that the sacrament itself, which
did not avail them when they received it whilst they were renouncing the world in words and not
in deeds, may begin to profit them when they shall begin to renounce it in deeds also? And so too
in the case of those whose separation from the Church is open; for neither these nor those are as
yet among the members of the dove, but some of them perhaps will be at some future time.

Chapter 4.—6. We do not, therefore, "acknowledge the baptism of heretics,"1351 when we refuse
to baptize after them; but because we acknowledge the ordinance to be of Christ even among evil


Song of Sol. vi. 9.


Rom. xiv. 6.


Retract. ii. 18, quoted on I. 17.


Cypr. Ep. xi. I, first part loosely quoted.


Matt. vii. 23.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 11.


Ib., lxiii. 12, quando a nobis baptisma eorum in acceptum refertur.