Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume IV/Donatist Controversy/On Baptism/Book VI/Chapter 3

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Chapter 3.—5.  But I think that we have sufficiently shown, both from the canon of Scripture, and from the letters of Cyprian himself, that bad men, while by no means converted to a better mind, can have, and confer, and receive baptism, of whom it is most clear that they do not belong to the holy Church of God, though they seem to be within it, inasmuch as they are covetous, robbers, usurers, envious, evil thinkers, and the like; while she is one dove,[1] modest and chaste, a bride without spot or wrinkle,[2] a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed, an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits,[3] with all similar properties which are attributed to her; and all this can only be understood to be in the good, and holy, and just,—following, that is, not only the operations of the gifts of God, which are common to good and bad alike, but also the inner bond of charity conspicuous in those who have the Holy Spirit, to whom the Lord says, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." [4]


  1. Cant. vi. 8, 9.
  2. Eph. v. 27; Cp. Aug. Retract. ii. 18.
  3. Cant. iv. 12, 13.
  4. John xx. 23.