On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

Chapter 26.—34. A few things still remain to be noticed in the epistle to Jubaianus; but since
these will raise the question both of the past custom of the Church and of the baptism of John,
which is wont to excite no small doubt in those who pay slight attention to a matter which is
sufficiently obvious, seeing that those who had received the baptism of John were commanded by
the apostle to be baptized again 1468 they are not to be treated in a hasty manner, and had better be
reserved for another book, that the dimensions of this may not be inconveniently large.

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Book V.
He examines the last part of the epistle of Cyprian to Jubaianus, together with his epistle to Quintus,
the letter of the African synod to the Numidian bishops, and Cyprian’s epistle to Pompeius.
Chapter 1.—1. We have the testimony of the blessed Cyprian, that the custom of the Catholic
Church is at present retained, when men coming from the side of heretics or schismatics, if they
have received baptism as consecrated in the words of the gospel, are not baptized afresh. For he
himself proposed to himself the question, and that as coming from the mouth of brethren either
seeking the truth or contending for the truth. For in the course of the arguments by which he wished
to show that heretics should be baptized again, which we have sufficiently considered for our present
purpose in the former books, he says: "But some will say, What then will become of those who in
times past, coming to the Church from heresy, were admitted without baptism?"1469 In this question
is involved the shipwreck of the whole cause of the Donatists, with whom our contest is on this
point. For if those had not really baptism who were thus received on coming from heretics, and
their sins were still upon them, then, when such men were admitted to communion, either by those
who came before Cyprian or by Cyprian himself, we must acknowledge that one of two things
occurred,—either that the Church perished then and there from the pollution of communion with
such men, or that any one abiding in unity is not injured by even the notorious sins of other men.
But since they cannot say that the Church then perished through the contamination arising from
communion with those who, as Cyprian says, were admitted into it without baptism—for otherwise
they cannot maintain the validity of their own origin if the Church then perished, seeing that the
list of consuls proves that more than forty years elapsed between the martyrdom of Cyprian and
the burning of the sacred books,1470 from which they took occasion to make a schism, spreading
abroad the smoke of their calumnies,—it therefore is left for them to acknowledge that the unity

1468

Acts xix. 3-5.

1469

Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. ad Jubaian. 23.

1470

See below, Book VII. c. 2, 3.

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