On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

corrected; and, on the other hand, that the perfection of baptism could not be impaired by their
perversity, while refusing to be corrected: and again, that no further perfection is added to baptism
in them because they are submitting to correction; but that, while they themselves are quitting their
iniquity, that which was before within them to their destruction is now beginning to be of profit
for salvation. For, learning this, they will both recognize the need of salvation in Catholic unity,
and will cease to claim as their own what is really Christ’s, and will not confound the sacrament
of truth, although existing in themselves, with their own individual error.
6. To this we may add a further reason, that men, by a sort of hidden inspiration from heaven,
shrink from any one who for the second time receives baptism which he had already received in
any quarter whatsoever, insomuch that the very heretics themselves, when their arguments start
with that subject, rub their forehead in perplexity, and almost all their laity, even those who have
grown old in their body, and have conceived an obstinate animosity against the Catholic Church,
confess that this one point in their system displeases them; and many who, for the sake of gaining
some secular advantage, or avoiding some disadvantage, wish to secede to them, strive with many
secret efforts that they may have granted to them, as a peculiar and individual privilege, that they
should not be rebaptized; and some, who are led to place credence in their other vain delusions and
false accusations against the Catholic Church, are recalled to unity by this one consideration, that
they are unwilling to associate with them lest they should be compelled to be rebaptized. And the
Donatists, through fear of this feeling, which has so thorough possession of all men’s hearts, have
consented to acknowledge the baptism which was conferred among the followers of Maximianus,
whom they had condemned, and so to cut short their own tongues and close their mouths, in
preference to baptizing again so many men of the people of Musti, and Assuræ, and other districts,
whom they received with Felicianus and Prætextatus, and the others who had been condemned by
them and afterwards returned to them.

Chapter 6.—7. For when this is done occasionally in the case of individuals, at great intervals
of time and space, the enormity of the deed is not equally felt; but if all were suddenly to be brought
together who had been baptized in course of time by the aforesaid followers of Maximianus, either
under pressure of the peril of death or at their Easter solemnities, and it were told them that they
must be baptized again, because what they had already received in the sacrilege of schism was null
and void, they might indeed say what obstinate perseverance in their error would compel them to
say, that they might hide the rigor and iciness of their hardness under any kind of false shade of
consistency against the warmth of truth. But in fact, because the party of Maximianus could not
bear this, and because the very men who would have to enforce it could not endure what must needs
have been done in the case of so many men at once, especially as those very men would be
rebaptizing them in the party of Primianus who had already baptized them in the party of
Maximianus, for these reasons their baptism was received, and the pride of the Donatists was cut