On Baptism, Against The Donatists

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

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Philip Schaff

the baptism of the covetous bishops. For no one denies that in the Lord’s field John was as wheat,
bearing an hundred-fold, if that be the highest rate of increase; also no one doubts that covetousness,
which is idolatry, is reckoned in the Lord’s harvest among the chaff. Why then is a man baptized
again after receiving baptism from the wheat, and not after receiving it from the chaff? If it was
because he was better than John that Paul baptized after John, why did not also Cyprian baptize
after his usurious colleagues, than whom he was better beyond all comparison? If it was because
they were in unity with him that he did not baptize after such colleagues, neither ought Paul to have
baptized after John, because they were joined together in the same unity. Can it be that defrauders
and extortioners belong to the members of that one dove, and that he does not belong to it to whom
the full power of the Lord Jesus Christ was shown by the appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form
of a dove?1494 Truly he belongs most closely to it; but the others, who must be separated from it
either by the occasion of some scandal, or by the winnowing at the last day, do not by any means
belong to it, and yet baptism was repeated after John and not after them. What then is the cause,
except that the baptism which Paul ordered them to receive was not the same as that which was
given at the hands of John? And so in the same unity of the Church, the baptism of Christ cannot
be repeated though it be given by an usurious minister; but those who receive the baptism of John,
even from the hands of John Himself, ought to be afterwards baptized with the baptism of Christ.


Chapter 12.—14. Accordingly, I too might use the words of the blessed Cyprian to turn the
hearts of those that hear me to the consideration of something truly marvellous, if I were to say
"that John, who was accounted greater among the prophets,—he who was filled with divine grace
while yet in his mother’s womb; he who was upheld in the spirit and power of Elias; who was not
the adversary, but a forerunner and herald of the Lord: who not only foretold our Lord in words,
but also showed Him to the sight; who baptized Christ Himself, through whom all others are
baptized,"1495—he was not worthy to baptize in such wise that those who were baptized by him
should not be baptized again after him; and shall no one think that a man should be baptized in the
Church after he had been baptized by the covetous, by defrauders, by extortioners, by usurers? Is
not the answer ready to this invidious question, Why do you think this unmeet, as though either
John were dishonored, or the covetous man honored? But His baptism ought not to be repeated,
of whom John says, "The same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."1496 For whoever be
the minister by whose hands it is given, it is His baptism of whom it was said, "The same is He
which baptizeth." But neither was the baptism of John himself repeated, when the Apostle Paul
commanded those who had been baptized by him to be baptized in Christ. For what they had not


Matt. iii. 16; John i. 33.


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 25.


John i. 33.