On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

that such a view is taught or learned, but yet for the sake of some temporal emolument has desired
to be baptized in the Catholic unity, or, having been already baptized in it, is unwilling on account
of the said emolument to secede from it, he is not only to be considered as seceding, but his offense
is aggravated, in so far as to the error of heresy and the division of unity he adds the deceit of
hypocrisy. Wherefore the depravity of each man, in proportion as it is more dangerous and wanting
in straightforwardness, must be corrected with the more earnestness and energy; and yet, if he has
anything that is good in him, especially if it be not of himself, but from God, we ought not to think
it of no value because of his depravity, or to be blamed like it, or to be ascribed to it, rather than to
His bountiful goodness, who even to a soul that plays the harlot, and goes after her lovers, yet gives
His bread, and His wine, and His oil, and other food or ornaments, which are neither from herself
nor from her lovers, but from Him who in compassion for her is even desirous to warn her to whom
she should return.1440

Chapter 17.—25. "Can the power of baptism," says Cyprian, "be greater or better than
confession? than martyrdom? that a man should confess Christ before men, and be baptized in his
own blood? And yet," he goes on to say, "neither does this baptism profit the heretic, even though
for confessing Christ he be put to death outside the Church."1441 This is most true; for, by being
put to death outside the Church, he is proved not to have had charity, of which the apostle says,
"Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."1442 But if
martyrdom is of no avail for this reason, because it has not charity, neither does it profit those who,
as Paul says, and Cyprian further sets forth, are living within the Church without charity in envy
and malice; and yet they can both receive and transmit true baptism. "Salvation," he says, "is not
without the Church."1443 Who says that it is? And therefore, whatever men have that belongs to
the Church, it profits them nothing towards salvation outside the Church. But it is one thing not
to have, another to have so as to be of no use. He who has not must be baptized that he may have;
but he who has to no avail must be corrected, that what he has may profit him. Nor is the water in
the baptism of heretics "adulterous,"1444 because neither is the creature itself which God made evil,
nor is fault to be found with the words of the gospel in the mouths of any who are astray; but the
fault is theirs in whom there is an adulterous spirit, even though it may receive the adornment of
the sacrament from a lawful spouse. Baptism therefore can "be common to us, and the heretics,"1445

Hos. ii. 5-8.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 21.


1 Cor. xiii. 3.


Cyp. l.c.


Cyp. l.c.


Cyp. l.c.