On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

NPNF (V1-04)


Philip Schaff

good, or altogether null and void. And so, when he is converted either to Catholic unity, or to a
mode of living worthy of so great a sacrament, he begins to have not another and a lawful baptism,
but that same baptism in a lawful manner. Nor does the remission of irrevocable sins follow on
baptism, unless a man not only have lawful baptism, but have it lawfully; and yet it does not follow
that if a man have it not lawfully, so that his sins are either not remitted, or, being remitted, are
brought on him again, therefore the sacrament of baptism should be in the baptized person either
bad or null and void. For as Judas, to whom the Lord gave a morsel, gave a place within himself
of the devil, not by receiving what was bad, but by receiving it badly,1477 so each person, on receiving
the sacrament of the Lord, does not cause that it is bad because he is bad himself, or that he has
received nothing because he has not received it to salvation. For it was none the less the body of
the Lord and the blood of the Lord, even in those to whom the apostle said, "He that eateth
unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself."1478 Let the heretics therefore seek in the
Catholic Church not what they have, but what they have not,—that is, the end of the commandment,
without which many holy things may be possessed, but they cannot profit. "Now, the end of the
commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned."1479
Let them therefore hasten to the unity and truth of the Catholic Church, not that they may have the
sacrament of washing, if they have been already bathed in it, although in heresy, but that they may
have it to their health.

Chapter 9.—10. Now we must see what is said of the baptism of John. For "we read in the
Acts of the Apostles, that those who had already been baptized with the baptism of John were yet
baptized by Paul,"1480 simply because the baptism of John was not the baptism of Christ, but a
baptism allowed by Christ to John, so as to be called especially John’s baptism; as the same John
says, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven."1481 And that he might not
possibly seem to receive this from God the Father in such wise as not to receive it from the Son,
speaking presently of Christ Himself, he says, "Of His fullness have all we received."1482 But by
the grace of a certain dispensation John received this, which was to last not for long, but only long
enough to prepare for the Lord the way in which he must needs be the forerunner. And as our Lord
was presently to enter on this way with all humility, and to lead those who humbly followed Him


John xiii. 27.


1 Cor. xi. 29.


1 Tim. i. 5.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 24; Acts xix. 3-5.


John iii. 27.


John i. 16.