On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)

Philip Schaff

short. And this course they would certainly not have chosen to adopt, had they not thought that
more harm would have been done to their cause by the offense men would have taken at the repetition
of the baptism, than by the reputation lost in abandoning their defense. And this I would not say
with any idea that we ought to be restrained by consideration of human feelings, if the truth
compelled those who came from heretics to be baptized afresh. But because the holy Cyprian says,
"that heretics might have been all the more impelled to the necessity of coming over, if only they
were to be rebaptized in the Catholic Church,"1474 on this account I have wished to place on record
the intensity of the repugnance to this act which is seated deeply in the heart of nearly every one,—a
repugnance which I can believe was inspired by God Himself, that the Church might be fortified
by the instinct of repugnance against any possible arguments which the weak cannot dispel.

Chapter 7.—8. Truly, when I look at the actual words of Cyprian, I am warned to say some
things which are very necessary for the solution of this question. "For if they were to see," he says,
"that it was settled and established by our formal decision and vote, that the baptism with which
they are baptized in heresy is considered just and lawful, they will think that they are in just and
lawful possession of the Church also, and all its other gifts."1475 He does not say "that they will
think they are in possession," but "in just and lawful possession of the gifts of the Church." But
we say that we cannot allow that they are in just and lawful possession of baptism. That they are
in possession of it we cannot deny, when we recognize the sacrament of the Lord in the words of
the gospel. They have therefore lawful baptism, but they do not have it lawfully. For whosoever
has it both in Catholic unity, and living worthily of it, both has lawful baptism and has it lawfully;
but whosoever has it either within the Catholic Church itself, as chaff mixed with the wheat, or
outside, as chaff carried away by the wind, has indeed lawful baptism, but not lawfully. For he has
it as he uses it. But the man does not use it lawfully who uses it against the law,—which every one
does, who, being baptized, yet leads an abandoned life, whether inside or without the Church.

Chapter 8.—9. Wherefore, as the apostle said of the law, "The law is good, if a man use it
lawfully,"1476 so we may fairly say of baptism, Baptism is good, if a man use it lawfully. And as
they who used the law unlawfully could not in that case cause that it should not be in itself good,
or make it null and void, so any one who uses baptism unlawfully, either because he lives in heresy,
or because he lives the worst of lives, yet cannot cause that the baptism should be otherwise than


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 24.




1 Tim. i. 8.