On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

14. But yet because "by the envy of the devil death entered into the world, and they that do
hold of his side do find it,"1386 not because they are created by God, but because they go astray of
themselves, as Cyprian also says himself, seeing that the devil, before he was a devil, was an angel,
and good, how can it be that they who are of the devil’s side are in the unity of Christ? Beyond all
doubt, as the Lord Himself says, "an enemy hath done this," who "sowed tares among the wheat."1387
As therefore what is of the devil within the fold must be convicted, so what is of Christ without
must be recognized. Has the devil what is his within the unity of the Church, and shall Christ not
have what is His without? This, perhaps, might be said of individual men, that as the devil has
none that are his among the holy angels, so God has none that are His outside the communion of
the Church. But though it may be allowed to the devil to mingle tares, that is, wicked men, with
this Church which still wears the mortal nature of flesh, so long as it is wandering far from God,
he being allowed this just because of the pilgrimage of the Church herself, that men may desire
more ardently the rest of that country which the angels enjoy, yet this cannot be said of the
sacraments. For, as the tares within the Church can have and handle them, though not for salvation,
but for the destruction to which they are destined in the fire, so also can the tares without, which
received them from seceders from within; for they did not lose them by seceding. This, indeed, is
made plain from the fact that baptism is not conferred again on their return, when any of the very
men who seceded happen to come back again. And let not any one say, Why, what fruit hath the
tares? For if this be so, their condition is the same, so far as this goes, both inside and without.
For it surely cannot be that grains of corn are found in the tares inside, and not in those without.
But when the question is of the sacrament, we do not consider whether the tares bear any fruit, but
whether they have any share of heaven; for the tares, both within and without, share the rain with
the wheat itself, which rain is in itself heavenly and sweet, even though under its influence the tares
grow up in barrenness. And so the sacrament, according to the gospel of Christ, is divine and
pleasant; nor is it to be esteemed as naught because of the barrenness of those on whom its dew
falls even without.

Chapter 10.—15. But some one may say that the tares within may more easily be converted
into wheat. I grant that it is so; but what has this to do with the question of repeating baptism?
You surely do not maintain that if a man converted from heresy, through the occasion and opportunity
given by his conversion, should bear fruit before another who, being within the Church, is more
slow to be washed from his iniquity, and so corrected and changed, the former therefore needs not
to be baptized again, but the churchman to be baptized again, who was outstripped by him who
came from the heretics, because of the greater slowness of his amendment. It has nothing, therefore,


Wisd. ii. 24, 25.


Matt. xiii. 28, 25.