On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye
after their works: for they say and do not."1401 Whence the apostle also says of those envious and
malicious ones who yet preach salvation through Christ, "Whether in pretense, or in truth, let Christ
be preached."1402 Wherefore, both within and without, the waywardness of man is to be corrected,
but the divine sacraments and utterances are not to be attributed to men. He is not, therefore, a
"patron of heretics" who refuses to attribute to them what he knows not to belong to them, even
though it be found among them. We do not grant baptism to be theirs; but we recognize His baptism
of whom it is said, "The same is He which baptizeth,"1403 wheresoever we find it. But if "the
treacherous and blasphemous man" continue in his treachery and blasphemy, he receives no
"remission of sins either without" or within the Church; or if, by the power of the sacrament, he
receives it for the moment, the same force operates both without and within, as the power of the
name of Christ used to work the expulsion of devils even without the Church.


Chapter 12.—19. But he urges that "we find that the apostles, in all their epistles, execrated
and abhorred the sacrilegious wickedness of heretics, so as to say that ‘their word does spread as
a canker.’"1404 What then? Does not Paul also show that those who said, "Let us eat and drink, for
to-morrow we die," were corrupters of good manners by their evil communications, adding
immediately afterwards, "Evil communications corrupt good manners;" and yet he intimated that
these were within the Church when he says, "How say some among you that there is no resurrection
of the dead?"1405 But when does he fail to express his abhorrence of the covetous? Or could anything
be said in stronger terms, than that covetousness should be called idolatry, as the same apostle
declared?1406 Nor did Cyprian understand his language otherwise, inserting it when need required
in his letters; though he confesses that in his time there were in the Church not covetous men of an
ordinary type, but robbers and usurers, and these found not among the masses, but among the
bishops. And yet I should be willing to understand that those of whom the apostle says, "Their
word does spread as a canker," were without the Church, but Cyprian himself will not allow me.
For, when showing, in his letter to Antonianus,1407 that no man ought to sever himself from the

Matt. xxiii. 2, 3.


Phil. i. 18; see on ch. 7. 10.


John i. 33.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 15; 2 Tim. ii. 17.


1 Cor. xv. 32, 33, 12.


Eph. v. 5.


Antonianus, a bishop of Numidia, wrote 252 A.D., to Cyprian, favoring his milder view in opposition to the purism of
Novatian: subsequently Novatian wrote to him, advocating the purist movement and impugning the laxity of Cornelius, bp. of