Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 22 [XX.]--Even Infants, When Unbaptized, are in the Power of the Devil; Exorcism in the Case of Infants, and Renunciation of the Devil.
Now the Christian faith unfalteringly declares, what our new heretics have begun to deny, both that they who are cleansed in the laver of regeneration are redeemed from the power of the devil, and that those who have not yet been redeemed by such regeneration are still captive in the power of the devil, even if they be infant children of the redeemed, unless they be themselves redeemed by the self-same grace of Christ. For we cannot doubt that that blessing of God applies to every stage of human life, which the apostle describes when he says concerning Him: |Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.| From this power of darkness, therefore, of which the devil is the prince, -- in other words, from the power of the devil and his angels, -- infants are delivered when they are baptized; and whosoever denies this, is convicted by the truth of the Church's very sacraments, which no heretical novelty in the Church of Christ is permitted to destroy or change, so long as the Divine Head rules and helps the entire body which He owns -- small as well as great. It is true, then, and in no way false, that the devil's power is exorcised in infants, and that they renounce him by the hearts and mouths of those who bring them to baptism, being unable to do so by their own; in order that they may be delivered from the power of darkness, and be translated into the kingdom of their Lord. What is that, therefore, within them which keeps them in the power of the devil until they are delivered from it by Christ's sacrament of baptism? What is it, I ask, but sin? Nothing else, indeed, has the devil found which enables him to put under his own control that nature of man which the good Creator made good. But infants have committed no sin of their own since they have been alive. Only original sin, therefore, remains, whereby they are made captive under the devil's power, until they are redeemed therefrom by the laver of regeneration and the blood of Christ, and pass into their Redeemer's kingdom, -- the power of their enthraller being frustrated, and power being given them to become |sons of God| instead of children of this world.