Anti-pelagian Writings by St. Augustine
Chapter 26 [XX.]--No One, Except He Be Baptized, Rightly Comes to the Table of the Lord.
Now they take alarm from the statement of the Lord, when He says, |Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God;| because in His own explanation of the passage He affirms, |Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.| And so they try to ascribe to unbaptized infants, by the merit of their innocence, the gift of salvation and eternal life, but at the same time, owing to their being unbaptized, to exclude them from the kingdom of heaven. But how novel and astonishing is such an assumption, as if there could possibly be salvation and eternal life without heirship with Christ, without the kingdom of heaven! Of course they have their refuge, whither to escape and hide themselves, because the Lord does not say, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot have life, but -- |he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.| If indeed He had said the other, there could have risen not a moment's doubt. Well, then, let us remove the doubt; let us now listen to the Lord, and not to men's notions and conjectures; let us, I say, hear what the Lord says -- not indeed concerning the sacrament of the laver, but concerning the sacrament of His own holy table, to which none but a baptized person has a right to approach: |Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye shall have no life in you.| What do we want more? What answer to this can be adduced, unless it be by that obstinacy which ever resists the constancy of manifest truth?