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

of Christ and the perversity of the devil, as another within the Church may have at once the baptism
of Christ and the envy of the devil.
18. But it will be urged that baptism after a heretic is much more required, because John was
not a heretic, and yet baptism was repeated after him. On this principle, a man may say, much
more must we rebaptize after a drunkard, because John was sober, and yet baptism was repeated
after him. And we shall have no answer to make to such a man, save that the baptism of Christ
was given to those who were baptized by John, because they had it not; but where men have the
baptism of Christ, no iniquity on their part can possibly effect that the baptism of Christ should fail
to be in them.
19. It is not therefore true that "by baptizing first, the heretic obtains the right of baptism;"1507
but because he did not baptize with his own baptism, and though he did not possess the right of
baptizing, yet that which he gave is Christ’s, and he who received it is Christ’s. For many things
are given wrongfully and yet they are not therefore said to be non-existent or not given at all. For
neither does he who renounces the world in word only and not in deed receive baptism lawfully,
and yet he does receive it. For both Cyprian records that there were such men in the Church in his
day, and we ourselves experience and lament the fact.
20. But it is strange in what sense it can be said that "baptism and the Church cannot in any
way be separated and detached from one another."1508 For if baptism remains inseparably in him
who is baptized, how can it be that he can be separated from the Church, and baptism cannot? But
it is clear that baptism does remain inseparably in the baptized person; because into whatever depth
of evil, and into whatever fearful whirlpool of sin the baptized person may fall, even to the ruin of
apostasy, he yet is not bereft of his baptism. And therefore, if through repentance he returns, it is
not given again, because it is judged that he could not have been bereft of it. But who can ever
doubt that a baptized person can be separated from the Church? For hence all the heresies have
proceeded which deceive by the use of Christian terms.

Chapter 16.—Wherefore, since it is manifest that the baptism remains in the baptized person
when he is separated from the Church, the baptism which is in him is certainly separated with him.
And therefore not all who retain the baptism retain the Church, just as not all who retain the Church
retain eternal life. Or if we say that only those retain the Church who observe the commandments
of God, we at once concede that there are many who retain baptism, and do not retain the Church.
21. Therefore the heretic is not "the first to seize baptism," since he has received it from the
Church. Nor, though he seceded, could baptism have been lost by him whom we assert no longer
to retain the Church, and yet allow to retain baptism. Nor does any one "yield his birthright, and


Cypr. Ep. lxxiii. 25.